re: Carly--not sure what you mean by "thinking couched in standstill." Buddhism? Not as I understand or practice it!Let's have a robust and meaningful round-table. This is not an attack on you personally, but my and other's view of a trend. It isn't harshness that I wish to impart. Your recent comment that the polite thing to do is keep opinions to self, seems like political correctness to me. Very dangerous. Perhaps you are not a true Buddhist. All I can see is that you and the others talk about things, but your religion and preoccupation with 'consciousness' hasn't actually changed anything much in hundreds of years that I've noticed. Buddhists seem like drop-outs to me, guys in monastaries and other types of (mental) sanctuaries needing support. Teachings like not doing any harm have, so far, proven ineffective on the world stage. And your spiritual leader doesn't look like he's suffering to me, jetting around, selling books, and laughing about everything. He seems rather corporate to me, selling the Buddha brand of religion. The last thing I want is to see Buddhism take control of the world. Its zealous advocates seem like "Christian soldiers" to me, history repeating itself.I haven't seen anything in this old religion which lays out a concrete plan for real change in the real world. But I've heard a lot of talk about things which have all been hashed over before by wiser pundits. I honestly think most people don't take you guys seriously. I often wonder if you all have really thought this thing out to its logical conclusions. But what do I know, I'm just a lowly artist and heretic with a background in world-wide communications? Perhaps if somebody could compile a short-list to remind me of the great changes in the world Buddhism has wrought, I could see it as more than regression.
I’m honestly not sure where to start on this one, Carly. It seems to me to miss a lot of points. Still, let me try.First, I did say, yes, that I was taught that the polite thing to do was to keep my opinions to myself; but I thought to have added that this was something I myself had learned was not a useful strategy. I would think that the work I’ve been doing for the past three years and more, first on The Bush Diaries, then on The Buddha Diaries would prove the point. In fact, I’m at once puzzled and pissed off that you’d think otherwise.Next, I’d have thought that a reading of The Buddha Diaries would make it clear that I have never laid claim to being a “true Buddhist”—or even, in fact, a Buddhist. I have always phrased things rather carefully to clarify that I’m continually learning from the Buddhist teachings, but that I have refrained from accepting the name or the religion—least of all to accept it without question. Indeed, the “religion” itself requires the continual rejection of unquestioned ideas. That’s what I like about it.I object, too, to your attributing other beliefs to me that I have never held. The Dalai Lama, for example, is not, and never was “my” spiritual leader. I have a great deal to learn from him, and I accept and admire many—but not all—of his positions. If I quote from his books from time to time, that does not make him any more my “leader” than anyone else in whose work I find wisdom and inspiration.As for Buddhism “taking over the world,” I also would not have that—nor indeed would I have any other religion do that. I think I have made enough of a point of my religious skepticism in The Buddha Diaries not to have to defend—intellectually, not personally—on that score. I also don’t see it to be the function of Buddhism, or any other religion, to “lay out a concrete plan for real change in the real world.” Its purpose, for me—as is the purpose of other religions—is to help me learn how to better spend the short time that I have to live on earth, both for myself and for my fellow human beings. It helps me to develop and maintain an intellectual and moral compass. It is not political—though it may inform political opinion.What puzzles me most—and here I may be misreading you—is what I sense to be the anger behind what you write. The sarcasm in your last two sentences is surely beneath your own standards of discussion! It seems to me sometimes that you want my blog to be your blog. It might be a good time to suggest, again, that you start your own. I, for one, would read it, and comment as and when…Apologies to all for this long response to a comment. Let’s just say that I felt the need. Best to all, PeterAtLarge
Very well put.
I don't think anyone has to worry about Buddhism taking over the world. It's not known to be a domineering "religion." It usually just lets people be to choose the path they want to choose.There aren't even any Buddhist missionaries. There might be one here or there but they would be the over-whelming minority. One is free to come and go within the "religion."We work on ourselves and if that helps make the world a better place then all the better.Personally, as a Buddhist I could care less if people take me seriously. It doesn't keep me up at night knowing that you aren't impressed with Buddhism. Your seeming efforts to belittle and criticize Buddhism is no more effective then trying to take down a massive dam by spitting on it.It matters not either if the dam (Buddhism) crumbles and disappears one day as change is inevitable in all things. We are taught that it isn't wise even to cling to our "religion." So even Buddhism itself won't last forever. Buddhism is merely a path, a guide, a compass of sorts. If the guide is no longer useful then one should and is even encouraged by the Buddha to discard it.I don't care if Buddhism only has one adherent, me. It still helps me be the best person that I can be and that's all I am looking for or could hope for.Peter: I love the stickers. That looks like my car. ;)
James."It doesn't keep me up at night knowing that you aren't impressed with Buddhism. Your seeming efforts to belittle and criticize Buddhism is no more effective then trying to take down a massive dam by spitting on it."You, sir, have a very big ego. And your reaction is that your religion is a huge impregnable thing. I am uneasy about people who are in their own world.
Peter.P: All your points are well-taken. I grant you all the things you've replied. I stand corrected on the first comment about silence and politeness. Though you state your opinions, you are very polite. When I comment with reaction, mine are diametrically opposed and I get right to the strength of the debate. I re-read those statements and don't see that I intended sarcasm, however. I see this has become an emotional issue for you. Perhaps we have reached stasis and I think only I have the stamina for further exchange. I realize you are at a more retiring age than I.Sometimes it doesn't seem that you hold much skepticism and that you have a glowing opinion of this nihilistic religion based on suffering and nothingness. I mean, you are heavily supporting it. You are pushing it as a way of life. It's the whole cloth of your correspondence.I am not angry, but frustrated to see ex-Christians who take up this similar practice in place of their old ideas and repeat the same mistakes of Christianity, i.e., with the kind of fervor that this is somehow the ultimate. When in fact, it is a very uncreative doctrine, out of date, and which puts down and doesn't allow a lot of experience in life. It preaches denial, since it doesn't account for reality. But my biggest fear is that it is insidious, just as bad as the things it seeks to replace. Remember, I have had numerous discussions with younger adherents than you all up and down the coast, and they are bonkers over this concept, out of their minds. The smarter ones among them are beginning to complain about the American version.I am glad to hear that you hold some reserve for it. I haven't noticed any arguments against it though. It often seems you are a spokesman for it. You have placed this idol in your garden, physically as well as spiritually. Perhaps you think it's none of my business and you may be right. I admit, I am giving you a hard time....in the effort to form my own ideas and in concern for you. I have been very diligent to learn about Buddhism and the things you talk about do not get into the more worrisome aspects of it. This upsets me a bit, it's true, because to support something which might not be good for people at its base, to accept and proselytize the parts one likes is to support the whole of it. That's what Republicans do! That's what people did in Nazi Germany. They voted affirmative for something they did not fully understand. I don't think that's far-fetched. And please don't try to separate political thought from religion in this super-charged atmosphere - it's concrete, not illusion. What you are preaching is translating into political action, art, and other things, and you know it. But is the BASIS of Buddhism good for people? Highly doubtful. It's good for monks.So, even though you make reservations, the overall impression is - this is the right path. I don't believe it is and have huge problems with that. If you don't like dissension, that is even worse.But, it's time to cool down.You are a supporter and I am a heretic, but remember friends we can also be by way of our attachment in adversity, as much as a Buddhist cannot accept such a truth of life. The real anti-buddhist meaning is that we form an equilibrium, and I think we do that quite well. I just wish we could talk outside the dogma and codewords of stale beliefs. How do you make progress, when every few ideas you have to stop and define the buzzwords?I have no need to blog. I only have need to be at the heart of the most pressing contemporary issues. I am sorry if I am unwelcome. I have the greatest respect for you and your flock as human beings. denn
You're right, Carly, I don't have the stamina to pursue this one further. Let's call it a day, for now, as you suggest. I do need to say one thing, however: while I welcome dissent and discussion, I am unhappy when passion leads from honest dialog to invective. I would not want The Buddha Diaries to become a place where it's considered okay to insult or belittle those who express contrary opinions, no matter how much one disagrees with them. That happens too much on other blogs. Let's not let it happen here, okay?
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