Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

Those Darn Religious Folk

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 31, 2010

I’m reading the wonderful Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, courtesy of Happygirl. Early in the piece she’s working as a waitress in a bland hotel restaurant where, despite her best intentions, she discovers “customers are the enemy”.

The worst, for some reason, are the Visible Christians– like the ten-person table, all jolly and sanctified after Sunday night service, who run me mercilessly and then leave me $1 on a $92 bill. Or the guy with the crucifiction T-shirt (‘Someone to Look Up To’) who complains that his baked potato is too hard and his iced tea too icy (I cheerfully fix both) and leaves no tip at all. As a general rule, people wearing crosses or “What would Jesus do?” buttons look at us disapprovingly no matter what we do, as if they were confusing waitressing with Mary Magalene’s original profession.” ~ p 36

Depending on whose statistics you read over 75% of the USA identify as Christian. That’s three out of every four people you meet! So: How come the USA has the huge crime rate, divorce rate and sectarianism it does? Why do political debates there turn into hate-fests? Why is racism, homophobia and sexism still so common? Why is the US military still killing thousands overseas? Why is the USA not a paradise of love and acceptance? Why are there so many poor and homeless people and drug addicts there? Why is alcoholism and spouse abuse rampant? Why is the USA the world’s largest producer and consumer of porn?

Why, if the USA is largely populated by people who follow Jesus, do so many working people struggle in poverty and debt even while the richest 1% earn hundreds of millions annually? I don’t mean to offend anyone, I dearly love both the country and my friends who live there. There just seems to be a huge disconnect between beliefs and practice.

When I was a churchian, this sort of thing would make me sad. It still makes me sad. There’s something about hypocrisy that rankles us worse than many religious crimes.

What about you?

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waitress

Posted in agnostic, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , | 36 Comments »

Mixed Nuts

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 16, 2010

Today’s Spritzophrenia Street is brought to you by the letter Orange, and the number Fish. It’s a wild, rollicking ride through what I’m currently reading, so lets get started.

The Laughter of God

I will argue that [science and spirituality] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience. Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence. But science is powerless to answer questions such as “Why did the universe come into being?” “What is the meaning of human existence?” “What happens after we die?”

Meditation

continued…

One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen. The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.

First, I should explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.

~ Francis Collins The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) p 6,7

We now move from the sublime to the ridiculous – but perhaps the ridiculous can be spiritually helpful too?

I believe that people who have a good sense of humor are usually intuitive people in general. Show me someone who has no sense of humor, and I will show you a very stiff, boring person with no insight whatsoever.

~ Warren Shiller quoted in Romy Shiller Who Knew (Trafford, 2010) p 32

Could a sense of humour mark the kind of intuition that helps along the spiritual path?

You may have heard the recent news that the bones of John the Baptist have allegedly been found. Barth’s Notes has an amusing piece— amusing because of the language and feisty-ness of the Bulgarian officials, who it seems need tourist dollars. Hence they’re eager to proclaim authenticity. The evidence seems pretty flimsy to me, see Rollston Debunks Stupid John the Baptist’s Bones Claim.

Sorry Bulgaria, writing as someone who is open to the idea that faith could be a valid way of life, “faith” in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is not faith— it’s dogmatism and idiocy.

Speaking of idiocy, Insane Clown Posse’s track Miracles. Thanks to Marty Atheist Climber for alerting me. Mysteries do not prove impossibilities, especially when it appears we aren’t to try and figure them out. I do like some ICP, particularly Let’s Go All The Way, but check these lyrics:

Water, fire, air and dirt
F**king magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherf**kers lying, and getting me pissed

Bahahaha! While perhaps it’s a metaphorical point they’re trying to make, it does come across as celebrating ignorance. Even better, today Marty tweeted me the hilarious SNL spoof of the song:

Eat, Pray, Lust

Following on from the allegations about Eat, Pray, Love

Sex between gurus and disciples is common, sociologists and other experts say. The New Yorker magazine reported in November 1994 that female followers of deceased Swami Muktananda, the man who made Chetanananda a swami, had sex with them. Many devotees later left after learning about the sexual allegations.

~ from here.

I’ve had this in my notes for some time. Now I realise Swami Muktananda is the one who guru-fied Liz Gilbert’s Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (formerly Malti Shetty). Another book in my current pile is a biography about following a guru:

All of the people whom [guru Paul Brunton, alias P.B.] had chosen… as his disciples were singularly favoured. They were to be at the center of the salvation of the universe. There could be no greater honor. This was a universe as simply organised as a boy’s adventure story. I found a similar atmosphere when I read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings years later.

[P.B.] is not an egregious example of a false prophet. The story I have to tell about him is not an exposé in the classic sense, although I have nothing against such exposés. Tales by insiders of what really goes on in these cults are not only fascinating gossip, they are instructive of the kind of world this spirituality builds. … I was able to observe, especially in me and my father and in Paul Brunton, the clash, the romanticism, and the ultimate tragedy of these attempts to escape the imperfections of the human condition. I was a direct participant, and I did not escape its consequences.

~Jeffrey Masson My Father’s Guru: A Journey through Spirituality and Disillusion (Harper Collings, 1993) p xiv, xv

Things Mistaken for Meditation

Another misguided notion about meditation is that it’s about becoming enlightened.

You can’t become enlightened. It’s not possible.

You can’t become enlightened for the same reason that you can’t come into contact with Truth: you’re already here, immersed in it. It’s like trying to become human, or searching high and low for air.

When we search for enlightenment, we’re like a fish searching for water or a bird seeking the sky. Enlightenment isn’t something you can pursue. And, anyway, you don’t need to, because it’s already right where you are. Meditation is not about straining or striving for some special state of mind. It’s about letting our habitual striving drop away and simply experiencing what’s present before we make anything of it.

~ Steve Hagen Meditation: Now or Never (HarperOne, 2007) p 21

I’ve begun a very basic practice of meditation, after I get up in the morning. I’ve been quietly pleased with my progress so far, no doubt this is the ‘beginners luck’ that most new practices enjoin. Perhaps I’ll report back sometime, if this blog is about searching for higher reality it will pay me to occasionally record such things.

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Tell me in the comments

Which of the above tickled your buttons? Have a great day y’all.

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Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, cosmology, God, Hinduism, humor, humour, personal development, Science, spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Misconduct in Eat Pray Love’s Guru?

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 15, 2010

Just a quick update to note I’ve updated my Eat Pray Love post to include some criticisms from Salon.

“What [readers of EPL] probably won’t know is that the unnamed guru is a hugely controversial figure who has disappeared from public view amid allegations of manipulation, financial misconduct and intimidation. And as that guru’s organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA), has come under fire, her own guru … has been accused of sexual abuse, molestation and sexual intercourse with minor girls.”

Intriguing…

Posted in ethics, Hinduism, Sociology | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Eat, Pray, Love

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 12, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert’s title speaks of simple human needs and I really wanted to call this “Eat Poo, Love”. I can’t, because I like her book. It’s about the best Western-based introduction to Hinduism you can buy, not to mention it’s great true-life chick lit; beginning with unhappy marriage and bitter divorce and ending with finding twue wove, it deserves its best-seller status. Whatever one may think of her religious experiences Gilbert is no bimbo, between the lines she shows she’s read and thought deeper than Deepak Chopra 101.

Now Julia Roberts has made the film. I suppose I’ll see it at some point but I’m sorry Julia, you’re just not who I see in that role. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the religious stuff is squashed into something fairly shallow by its Hollywoodisation. Who am I kidding, the book is always better than the film. Apparently Julia’s nervous no-one will see it, poor thing.

Facebook chatting with famous Chicago actress friend Kara, she told me “This store near me is selling Indian things and Indonesian things with the Eat Pray Love tag – buy a journal, buy a meditation mat, just like the book! BLAH.” The irony wasn’t lost on me. I replied, “This movie is all about giving up material things and going to an ashram. So here, BUY SOME STUFF.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

The book is a good introduction to Hinduism because it gives a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for a (Western) Hindu, a religion I find quite hard to fathom given it’s huge age, diversity and – to be honest – weirdness. I respect the fact she hasn’t identified her guru or the ashram, I think there’s integrity in that. Her guru is a woman, surprisingly. How common is that in Hinduism, anyone know? Another good book on Hinduism is Huston Smith’s The World Religions, which is the first book that really got me inside the Hindu mindset.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter where she probably had her trippiest experience. Much of her book is a little more mundane, so I wouldn’t want to misrepresent her.

As a reader and seeker, I always get frustrated at this moment in somebody else’ spiritual memoirs – that moment in which the soul excuses itself from time and place and merges with the infinite. … I don’t want to say that what I experienced that Thursday afternoon in India was indescribable, even though it was. I’ll try to explain anyway. Simply put, I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in the rush I suddenly understood the workings of the universe completely. I left my body, I left my room, I left the planet, I stepped through time and entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The void was conscious and it was intelligent. The void was God, which means that I was inside God. But not in a gross, physical way – not like I was Liz Gilbert stuck inside a chunk of God’s thigh muscle. I just was part of God. In addition to being God, I was both a tiny piece of the universe and exactly the same size as the universe. (“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir – and I can personally attest now that this is true.)

It wasn’t hallucinogenic, what I was feeling. It was the most basic of events. It was heaven, yes. It was the deepest love I’ve ever experienced, beyond anything I could have previously imagined, but it wasn’t euphoric.

I wondered, “Why have I been chasing happiness my whole life when bliss was here the entire time?”

I don’t know how long I hovered in this magnificent ether of union before I had a sudden urgent thought: “I want to hold on to this experience forever!” And that’s when I started to tumble out of it. Just those two little words – I want! – and I began to slide back to earth.

Eat, Pray, Love pages 208 – 210

How can you portray that in a film?

[Edit:] Thanks to Jon, who alerted me to Salon’s allegations about her Guru: “Accusations of financial misconduct, sex abuse scandals: The dark history of Elizabeth Gilbert’s yoga mentor”.

“What [readers of EPL] probably won’t know is that the unnamed guru is a hugely controversial figure who has disappeared from public view amid allegations of manipulation, financial misconduct and intimidation. And as that guru’s organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA), has come under fire, her own guru … has been accused of sexual abuse, molestation and sexual intercourse with minor girls.”

It seems Liz probably attended an ashram of this Siddha Yoga organisation, and there is a website for those who feel abused by this group. I’ve also been keeping an eye on Guruphiliac for some time, but don’t know if it has anything on Eat, Pray, Love.

What do you think? Perhaps you consider her more of a “New Age” adherent, rather than Hindu? That would be a good thing to discuss in the comments.

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We were talking about music as a gateway recently. Here’s another one you might find takes you there.

Jeff Buckley, covering of course, the masterful Leonard Cohen

Posted in agnostic, Hinduism, movies, New Age, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence

Posted by spritzophrenia on January 17, 2010

Not long I ago I wrote on the Dark Side of Buddhism. Michael Jerryson has just published a book on Buddhist violence and writes about it here. It’s not the only book on Buddhist warfare, reader Austin kindly alerted me to Zen at War, and Zen War Stories. A review says “Most don’t realize the extent of Zen Buddhism’s complicity with the Japanese war machine and the horrors it unleashed on Southeast Asia.Michael Jerryson writes:

The publication of Buddhist Warfare, a book I co-edited with Mark Juergensmeyer, is a bittersweet experience as it marks the culmination of a journey that began with an exploration of the peaceful aspects of Buddhism only to end up chronicling portions of its dark side. This journey, which consumed much of the last six years of my life, began in 2003 when my wife and I spent a little over a year in Thailand. It was then that I began to research Buddhist social activism which was going to be the topic of my dissertation.

Rather than look to archives, I decided to speak with Buddhist monks and nuns on the ground. I interviewed monks protecting the forests from big business and villagers from dangerous pesticides; I met and began to chronicle the activities of the first fully ordained Thai Buddhist nun, Dhammananda Bhikkuni; and I met with Thai Buddhist monastic intellectuals.

monk with toy gun
Monk with toy gun, Bhutan 2008

Military Monks

Then in January 2004, violent attacks broke out in the southern provinces of Thailand, some of which were directed at Buddhist monks. These attacks and the numerous ones to follow shocked the country. But, since contemporary issues and my research interests seemed to be converging, I thought: what better way to study Buddhist activism than to observe Buddhist monks engaged in peacemaking?

Unfortunately, I found very little of this.

During my visits between 2006 and 2008, southern Thai monks shared the challenges of living in their fear-infested communities. All but a few concentrated on survival; peacemaking was the last thing on their minds.

The constant fear and violence took a toll on them. Monks talked about the guns they had bought and now kept at their bedsides. Others spoke heatedly about the violent militant attacks on Buddhist civilians and monasteries. Although the cause of the violence is multilayered—owing much to corruption, drug trade, and corporatization—many monks also felt Islam was to blame. In their minds, the conflict was anchored to the larger discussion of religious violence: Muslims against Buddhists.

One day after teaching an English class for Buddhist novices at a monastery a young monk came over and pulled back the folds of his robe to reveal a Smith & Wesson. I later learned that he was a military monk—one of many covert, fully ordained soldiers placed in monasteries throughout Thailand. To these monks, peacemaking requires militancy.

Since my initial realization in 2004, I began to look critically at my earlier perspective on Buddhism—one that shielded an extensive and historical dimension to Buddhist traditions: violence. Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

Buddhist Propaganda

It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others. These Buddhist monks were not alone in this portrayal of Buddhism. As Donald S. Lopez Jr. and others have poignantly shown, academics quickly followed suit, so that by the 1960s U.S popular culture no longer depicted Buddhist traditions as primitive, but as mystical.

Yet these mystical depictions did not remove the two-dimensional nature of Western understanding. And while it contributed to the history of Buddhism, this presentation of an otherworldly Buddhism ultimately robbed Buddhists of their humanity.

Thupten Tsering, the co-director of “Windhorse,” encapsulates the effects of two-dimensional portrayal in a 1999 interview with the New York Times. “They see Tibetans as cute, sweet, warmhearted. I tell people, when you cut me, I bleed just like you.”

In an effort to combat this view and to humanize Buddhists, then, Mark Juergensmeyer and I put together a collection of critical essays that illustrate the violent history of Buddhism across Mongolia, Tibet, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India.

Our intention is not to argue that Buddhists are angry, violent people—but rather that Buddhists are people, and thus share the same human spectrum of emotions, which includes the penchant for violence.

Although the book only arrived at bookstores last month, it apparently touched some nerves in the academic community before its release. Some have objected to the cover [image right], which they feel is not an appropriate subject for Buddhism. Ironically, that is the very reason this collection of essays is so important: to address the apparent and widespread inability to acknowledge the violent side to religious traditions. It is this inability that robs its adherents of their humanity.

In a way, I wish I could return to that dream of Buddhist traditions as a purely peaceful, benevolent religion that lacks mortal failures and shortcomings. But I cannot. It is, ultimately, a selfish dream and it hurts other people in the process.

Buddhist Warfare certainly contributes to the broader discussion of religious violence, but on a more intimate and local level, I hope this collection will effect some significant change in the way Buddhism is perceived in the United States. Only time will tell.

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Thanks to my new readers, you may enjoy my more positive story: If you see the Buddha on the road, kiss him.

tful hahaha! Slut spillage on CA road.
listening to Wizzy Noise | Abyss

Posted in Buddhism, ethics, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Dark Side of the Buddha

Posted by spritzophrenia on January 6, 2010

I’m the illest Buddhist you’ve seen
all the ladies wanna meditate with me
I look so serene when I bust a lotus
but i don’t have an ego so I wouldn’t even notice
 

I think of you before I think of myself
that’s probably why people think I’m so chill
But still I’m hell of intense
my clothes have little bells and they smell like incense

Arj Barker in his hilarious “Sickest Buddhist” video, at right

Edit: Here’s a recent post on Buddhist meditation and anatman. September 2011.

Buddhism has attracted me for a long time. Gautama’s faith is seen by many Westerners as a non-faith that can be followed as a philosophy or practice with little reference to gods. This may in fact not be the case, as we’ll see below. The foundation of Buddhism is that life is suffering; it gets worse because we are reborn beyond death and continue to suffer, so we have to escape rebirth somehow. Compassion for others and non-attachment to this world is promoted. If you need it here’s a Western-style introduction to Buddhism and an overview of core teachings.

The Japan-ified Buddhism of “Zen” was trendy in the West. Mainly ‘cos the word Zen sounds cool. I read a fantastic book years ago about Zen and shooting things. Presumably not living things, although I’m not sure if that was made clear. Arrows were involved but I don’t think it was the classic Zen and the Art of Archery.

I do however have intellectual reservations about Buddhism. I think the logical implications of some of its beliefs actually end up being antihuman; life-denying and unliveable [2]. Bottom line, I have no evidence Buddhism is true. Christians for example can point to Y’shua’s (alleged) rising from the dead. It all passes or fails on that one event according to their chief 1st Century apologist which is at least disprovable, and possibly proveable. Mormons can point to US archaeology – which is a massive fail, sadly. I’ve searched in vain for a Buddhist apologetic that goes beyond “I experience this, so it might be true. You should try it.”

Nevertheless, Buddhism has a good rep in the West as a bunch of nice vegetarians in saffron robes who say profound things and spend a lot of time in the lotus position thinking deeply. I have a cynical enough view of humanity that I shouldn’t have bought into the innocence and perfection of its adherents, but like many, I did.

Recently a buddhist monk left a monastary in China, disgusted at the immorality he found there. The story’s had a lot of attention on Chinese blogs.

Some comments on the blog claim the story of the randy monks is a fake. It could indeed be fake, a fairly explicit story about monks indulging in gay sex is rather pornographic after all. If we find ourselves directed to a pay-per-view site in the next instalment I guess we’ll know. But the story could also be true. I’m not capable of investigative journalism on this; speaking Chinese and living in mainland China are pre-requisites I don’t have. A little IP address research might show something, but I’ll let someone else do that.

Sadly, there are other verified stories of monks into sex, drugs and alcohol and a woman who became the tulku (re-incarnated lama), Kalu Rinpoche’s sex slave. I’ve written about Buddhist teaching on drugs previously.

Searching for commentary I found more than I expected about the dark side of the Buddha (see disclaimer, [3] ). Committed Buddhist Sumangalo Khen writes that “Buddhist hypocrites are the worst kind”. He says “One of the most common issues reflecting [Buddhist hypocrisy] would be the way temple committees hate one another, some even try to rob the devotees of their faith and money.” [My edit.]

Angry Buddha

It’s not just the laity. Phony holy men are not approved of in Buddhism. Few Buddhist holy men are as well-known in the West as Tibet’s Dalai Lama. However The Dalai Lama is accused of religious persecution. One site asks Why is the Dalai Lama suppressing religious freedom?, claiming he is using his political power to destroy a centuries-old religious tradition, causing confusion and pain for thousands of Tibetans. I confess, I’ve found the West’s obsession with someone who believes in gods and demons a little strange. Of all the sects of Buddhism the Tibetan and Nepalese forms seem the furthest from the original Dharma to me. I’d suggest Therevada is the closest, but many Buddhists don’t have the view that Buddhism is a once-for-always revelation based on a fixed set of scriptures. It’s allowed to evolve, so to some it’s quite permissable for modern Buddhism to be quite different from its ancient orgins.

An example of Western Buddhist evolution is the idea that Buddhism can be atheist, “devout atheism or godless religion“, as one teacher puts it. Some years ago I read that Gautama wasn’t actually an atheist as such, he simply believed that the Hindu gods of his time were irrelevant to enlightenment. Whether that’s the case, his followers still spend plenty of time on deities, even appearing to deify Gautama himself. BuddhaNet claims there is “no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha.” I don’t believe this is so. In practice, Buddhist followers spend a significant amount of time on devotion. When they devote themselves to the original Buddha, other buddhas or bodhissatvas it’s not exactly the same as “worship” but I suspect is closer to god-worship than an atheist would like. Hence, in practice, the claim that Buddhism can be an atheistic religion may not be satisfactory for someone who finds any supernaturalism irrational.

There’s an interesting thread on a rationalist site where the originator says “Buddhism (my “religion”) seems to contain the most blatant hypocrites”. Note that many respondents there are not Buddhists. Says one former Buddhist:

Everywhere you get quotes of Einstein and other intellectuals about how scientific, rational, modern Buddhism is, that it is about reality, that karma is just the law of causality, and that rebirth is only the moment to moment transformation, that Buddhism is the religion of the future, or even that it isn’t a religion. 

But then once inside you find out that belief in afterlife (rebirth), karma as a moral retribution law, the omniscience of Buddha, miracles of Buddhas and Bodhisatvas, pure lands, complete obedience to one’s guru, sins (bad karma), gods (“devas”), supernatural powers, etc, are all seen as fundamental beliefs in Buddhism.


Personally I was fooled at first, believing the “advertising”, and once inside, when I saw how things really are, I quit.

Another respondent writes, contra this: “To have a less superstitious take on Buddhism is not to “pretend” that there are no Buddhists with a more superstitious take on Buddhism. There are textual bases and philosophical reasons to disagree with Buddhists who (for one example) think things like rebirth must mean the transmigration of souls. It’s no misrepresentation of Buddhism to have a different view from that. And I’ve seen no pretending that some Buddhists are not superstitious, so I don’t see the insincerity and hypocrisy that you speak of.”

Another quotes supernaturalist texts from Gautama:

This perversion of Buddhism was caused by Alan Watts and others in the Buddhist hippie movement. If you wanted you could also de-mystify Christianity in the same way these hippies perverted Buddhism to fit their agendas.

Most are easily fooled by the way Buddhism is portrayed. I also was fooled until I started reading the actual pali canons (the oldest known Buddhist scriptures) and found it really not much different from other religions with its ghosts, spirits, miracles. There’s ghosts, spirits, demons (Maras), gods (devas), supernormal powers (iddhis), etc…in Buddhism.

Gautama Buddha even said that man who refused to believe in his supernormal powers was a “misguided” man:
“Sariputta, this misguided man Sunakkhatta will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed.’

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One enjoys the various kinds of supernormal power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through an enclosure, through a mountain, as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hand he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he wields bodily mastery even as far as the Brahma-world.’

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘With the divine ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, that Blessed One hears both kinds of sounds, the heavenly and the human, those that are far as well as near.’

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One encompasses with his own mind the minds of other beings, other persons. He understands a mind affected by lust as affected by lust and a mind unaffected by lust as unaffected by lust; he understands a mind affected by hate as affected by hate and a mind unaffected by hate as unaffected by hate; he understands a mind affected by delusion as affected by delusion and a mind unaffected by delusion as unaffected by delusion; he understands a contracted mind as contracted and a distracted mind as distracted; he understands an exalted mind as exalted and an unexalted mind as unexalted; he understands a surpassed mind as surpassed and an unsurpassed mind as unsurpassed; he understands a concentrated mind as concentrated and an unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated; he understands a liberated mind as liberated and an unliberated mind as unliberated.’ (Maha-sihanada Sutta, 5-8)

The problem of Buddha’s sexism is another example of the evolution of Buddhist thought and practice. In Buddhist Channel Buddhist monk Dr Mettanando Bhikkhu lists some of the restrictive views on women: “Buddhists who are traditionally trained take for granted that [a quotation from the Buddha means] that women are inferior to men”. Some scholars take a nuanced view of sexist attitudes towards women in Buddhism. While acknowledging modern re-interpretations of some texts, Bhikkhu concludes that a traditional reading of Buddha would conclude he was sexist, and that “In Theravada countries, the Buddhist religion has never been in support of human rights and social justice. As long as there is no reformation of the religious education system in Buddhism and the Tripitaka, the religion will remain the biggest obstacle for the development of democracy and social justice in these countries.”

Are some Buddhists racist? Anthony Elmore, a proud black buddhist and Nichiren Shoshu devotee writes “The Buddha Nichiren Daishonin who we consider the ‘True Buddha’ of our modern age writes in the Gosho; “There should be no discrimination between those who propagate ‘Nam Myoho Renge Kyo’. ” He remains committed but believes his organisation is racist towards African-Americans. He comes up with the surprising statement that “the Ancient Buddhists were Africans and history proves this.”

Finally, although I haven’t read all of the content critically and I’m curious as to their agenda, this site alleges all kinds of horrors by Buddhists, including violence. See also Monks with Guns, a book about buddhist violence.

All is not well in the sangha. Wisdom Quarterly, an American Buddhist journal echoes my own belief that we’re all moral hypocrites. I’ve already blogged about Pagans and hypocrisy. I’ll possibly do one about Christian hypocrisy in future although I suspect most of us are already well aware of that. It may be time to meditate before an ancient angry Buddha statue. As an aside, is there something about old religious stuff that makes it art, not kitsch? If you’re really wanting Buddhist kitsch, try the Buddha phone.

Perhaps I shall remain Avidya [4] but I think I’ll continue my interest in Buddhism. I plan to take a meditation course at some point. But I’ll be doing it with my eyes open, no pun intended.

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Any comments?

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listening to Plus-Tech Squeeze Box | (unknown), Pryda | Remember
tful Fascinating video about the ‘Exponential Times’ we live in.

[1] I’m going to start picking a soundtrack for my posts. The idea is the music compliments the writing and I’m a huge music fan. Today’s soundtrack is Departure/Ride My See-Saw by the Moody Blues. It’s more of an ‘OM’-type New Age hippy thing really, but since we in the West are pretty ignorant it will do just nicely for a Buddhist soundtrack. I first heard this when I was around 17, I love it’s abandoned joy in seeking enlightenment. Plus, its The Moody Blues maaaan.

[2] I suppose I should have blogged about logical inconsistencies before making this statement. Briefly, if the goal of Buddhism is to lose your self and become absorbed into the oneness of Nirvana then ultimately one’s own self is of no value. Hence, why have compassion on others? Other people are also of no value, and will eventually become nothing when they achieve Nirvana. This is only a short summary and is criticised by some Buddhists. I don’t have space for the full discussion here, would you like me to write a longer post about these ideas sometime?

[3] Disclaimer: I’m well aware that a non-adherent of a religion usually makes mistakes in emphasis, nuance and understanding when writing about it. My apologies for any factual errors. I feel uncomfortable criticising a spiritual path from the outside so I’m relying on those writing from the inside. I also acknowledge the large number of good, moral buddhists.

[4] Avidya is a Buddhist term for one who is ignorant of spiritual truths.

The Moody Blues | Ride My See-Saw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGEye0b5JXw

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