Tricycle.com asks 17 practitioners The Question: "What in Buddhism have you changed your mind about, and why?"
My personal favourite, or perhaps, the one that resonates most profoundly with me, is this reply by Steve Hagen:
I used to think I could be a Buddhist, but it seems you can only be a Buddhist by not being a Buddhist. To take on any kind of identity at all is to misunderstand the subtlety of what the Buddha taught. Saying “I’m a Buddhist” only makes “me” distinct and different from others who might call themselves something else. And what have I done? I’ve frozen myself into an identity. Now perhaps I’m proud of myself because I’m following the Superior Way. Or maybe I’m more likely to take offense. After all, I chose Buddhism, didn’t I? Obviously it’s better than your way.
This deluded understanding only encourages endless trouble. It doesn’t mesh at all with the exceedingly sane and practical teachings of the Buddha. What he showed us is how not to embroil ourselves in such confusion and suffering.
We won’t find freedom by making ourselves into something particular, including “a Buddhist.” Gautama’s teaching points out that we’re never anything in particular—in fact, we can’t even find that thing we commonly preoccupy ourselves with: “me.”
Taking on an identity and slapping on a label cheapens the Buddha’s message and invites more heartache, anger, hatred, pride, and confusion. Instead, we need to see such confusion for what it is and not get entangled in it.