Criticism of Buddhism

Please note that i wrote this back in early 2008. My views on Buddhism have changed and thus my words from back then might not necessarily reflect what i am thinking now. However, so much work and time went into the discussion in the comments, i want to leave these pages up, so that others may benefit from them. (September 5, 2011)


I have stumbled upon a very well written criticism of Buddhism that I can highly recommend. Of course, I had to add my comments – this is what I posted in response to Vexen’s analysis:

Thank you so much for posting your criticism of Buddhism, Vexen. As I mentioned in another comment, it is so desperately needed here in the West because everybody – from Sam Harris to Richard Dawkins – seems to think that Buddhism is harmless, peaceful, and consistent with science.

I would like to add a few comments, though.

At least in Japan, the social programs you laud were developed as a competition to Christian programs to enable missionary success, i.e., get people to convert to Buddhism rather than Christianity (see Brian Victoria “Zen at War”, p.17)

3. Western Buddhism
I think there is a Sangha at least here in the US. But it is different and rather commercialized. People meditate together and listen to Dharma talks and paying for that with “dana” – donations that enable some teachers to afford luxury cars. I do agree with you that the Buddhism that is known in the West is a rather sterilized version that conveniently ignores any of the questionable beliefs or historical abuses.

5. Nirvana and Self (any reason for having 5 before 4 ;-) )
It is interesting that a lot of the Buddhist apologists seem to miss the ultimate goal of Buddhism: to reach enlightenment or nirvana. Anybody who says that is criticized: Buddhists don’t have goals, you’re misunderstanding things, well, just look through the comments here… But if you read Buddhist text (I have only read them in English), it is clear, though, that this is what the goal is. And that’s why we’re reborn here on Earth because it’s the perfect middle ground. Of course, then your question comes up: why do so few of us reach that state? (changing your question slightly, hopefully, though maintaining the idea).

4. World Buddhist Morality
I am afraid that record is so clean because we Westerners are largely (kept) ignorant of the bloody parts. Read Brian Victoria’s “Zen at War” and your statement will, unfortunately, be shown to be false. Maybe there is less blood but Buddhism is not the peaceful religion that we’ve been led to believe. (Okay, so maybe I’d just reword the last sentence of your first paragraph: “Compared with other powerful religions, Buddhism appears to be saintly.” – rather than “is”).

6. Inhumane Dismissal of Suffering
I think this is really the most central element of Buddhist teaching: suffering. I would add to your arguments that “suffering” in Buddhism is defined solely as an individual problem and thus the solution can only be found at that level. Buddhism ignores completely any systemic creation of suffering, which makes the Four Noble Truths incomplete at best, false at worse. I will shamelessly advertise my own Website now, by asking you to look there for more details on that argument. Btw, the Zen priest Ichikawa Hakugen would agree with your assessment here, at least according to Brian Victoria’s summary of Hakugen’s argument (Victoria is a Soto Zen priest): “The doctrine of karma, with its corollary belief in good and bad karmic retribution, tends to serve as a kind of moral justification for social inequality.” Keep that quote handy the next time someone accuses you of ignorance – a Zen priest ignorant of Buddhism?!?

7. Buddhist Psychology is too idealistic
Wow! That is a point I hadn’t thought about yet.

8. Conclusion
Because of my comment to #4, I don’t agree with your assessment of Buddhism as “a wonderful religion socially, participating as a principle player in all forms of global peace & stability movements.” I think because of #6 and #7, it is inherently dangerous, just like any other religion. I completely agree with your second paragraph, though.

I would add that at least one of the tools developed in Buddhism might have some usefulness for some people: mindfulness meditation. It has been shown to reduce stress, help with pain management, lower blood pressure, and prevent the recurrence of depressive episodes (see the work around Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy). As you pointed out in #7, this tool is certainly no panacea and it might not be useful for everyone.






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Criticism of Buddhism — 285 Comments

  1. I’d like to invite comment on the Buddhist no-self doctrine as I don’t understand why the assertion of no-self should be applied to all human beings.

    Surely it would be more appropriate for someone whose experience indicates that they have no self to report this as their own experience? How can they possibly know that this experience is true for all human beings?

    In my own experience I started out with no self as an infant, and then various forms of self-ishness developed as I formed attachments to my desires, and learned to associate these with linguistic constructs such as “I” and “me” and the name i was given. But as I becamce an adult and noticed a little more about how the various forms of self-ishness didn’t seem to fit together to make a coherent whole or to have a centre I formed the idea that there appeared to be no single self-as-such, only many competing self-ish tendencies that succeeded one another.

    In my way of making meaning now, thirty years later, this earlier deepening of awareness was itself the seed of something more than no-self. As more and more experiences of observing my experience of no-self began to accumulate I started to undertake various practices, that then helped me to further develop my awareness of this no self experience. As these practices and the further awarenesses they disclosed stabilized and developed in me, I began experience my experience differently than I used to.

    For example I found that I more readily noticed the arising of reactions to my experience, in the form of desires and attachments, and even began to let them go again, sometimes, like passing clouds.

    To me, this kind of gradual stabilizing of awareness of my experience could usefully be understood as something like a self emerging in the midst of the experience of no-self. I also had the experience, from time to time, of some much deeper and larger sense of Self, which seemed to more or less subsume any personal sense of self, but this was not stable and I could not say “I” and mean that when i was not actually experiencing it, even though it was self-evident at the time of the experience that this Self never went away as such, only that my personal sense of self was not always transparent to it.

    Of course, I cannot know whether my experiences of the emergence of a self or Self from no-self are true for everyone, but only that they are satisfying for me. But it does occur to me that it is not really possible, as far as I can understand it, to argue that the Buddhist idea of no self is something that can said to necessarily be true for all human beings. After all, how can they know?

    • I know not very much about the theology of Buddhism. I was only introduced to meditation by a cousin (over the internet Je-Je!!!) but…
      I get the thought that what is really a thing to DO, or a tool (like prayer?) has been turned into religion, like the religious books of other religions because people are obsessed with words from birth. I don’t think it is or every has been. I think Buddha would find it strange to see gold statues of himself being worshipped!

      I think people ar too intellectually in mind when they say talk about having “no self” or having a self. It’s not the point for me, and not if there is a God or not. Just meditate and everything becomes clear…

      …but then who am I…? I’m just tripping off NOT thinking anymore in the sunshine or rain. :)

      RE: “In my own experience I started out with no self as an infant…”

      Yes, the way babies smile and are there in the moment is just like I am trying to get to and I think I ‘taste it’ through meditation. I do think that language make us think in only one way/line (mode?) and that by letting go of it we can see more …in some ways.

      Christina x

  2. P.S. I visit the Zen Center in Bilbao, Spain, where I live. If you ever come to Northern Spain:

    Dojo Zen Bilbao
    Hurtado de Amezaga, 23-1ER
    BILBAO
    48008 Spain
    Contact: Natxo Sanchez
    Tel.: (+34) 688-667-246
    http://www.zenbilbao.com
    E-mail: zenbilbao@wanadoo.es
    Denomination: Japanese Soto School
    Lineage: Taisen Deshimaru, Rapael Triet
    Teachers: Roland Yuno Rech, Doko Raphael Triet,
    Affiliated to: A.Z.I.

    :)

  3. Oh, sorry. You meant it is the fault of Zen practitioners that it is misunderstood because they stay silent? Well, perhaps it is because there isn’t much to say beyond the technique. That there is little point going into detail about benefits that become self-evident when you simply practice it. It’s a bit like a book I saw on the benefits of drinking plenty of water. Most people might as well just drink an extra cup of water and not read the book (especially since the content is unproven).

  4. RE: “ZEN people do not usually blog. They stay silent. Its your fault in the first place.”

    Thanks :-) This is not my blog, and I rarely comment so I don’t understand it being my fault. There are those much more devoted so perhaps I still have much to learn before I reserve comment. But I know Zen practitioners understand that to get people interested involves talking to them at first.

    RE: “On the other hand you cant really get away by saying that the criticisms are in a different realm.”

    I say criticisms come from thinking that is quite opposite to the Zen state. It is something you have to experience and I can’t see anyone who meditates successfully finding it pointless, destructive or unpleasant. There are some things that are simply beyond verbal description. How could you explain colours to those blind from birth, or the sound of trumpets to those deaf from birth? So yes, I think it is fair to say you cannot really be in a good position to criticise that which requires direct experience.

  5. ZEN people do not usually blog. They stay silent. Its your fault in the first place. On the other hand you cant really get away by saying that the criticisms are in a different realm.

  6. Haaha! Lovely people! My own practice of Zen has much more to do with escaping language trappings. Please remember that your criticisms are all from the realm of language, which to me is much like a dog barking at a flying bird.

    In short, humans have complex language and it is this that sets them apart from other living creatures. Indeed, language has enabled our species to do and understand truly extra-ordinary things. But it also has other consequences (see Aldous Huxley’s Lecture on Language). It enables us to believe in cartoonish concepts (e.g. stereotypes) and engage in derivative behaviours -both angelic and violent. Overthinking and obsessive thought feedback is also a problematic consequence of language-based thought.

    Meditiation or ANY strong focus away from words (like listening to music, life-drawing, painting, sculpture, crafts, sporting activities, matrial arts, archery, games, or just simple mindfulness) helps us escape these trappings of language and see things more holistically, as they are without interpretation. So, being mindful and getting away from language-thought regularly is all I would wish for you.

  7. Ok. I’m done. Really. I’m unsubscribing from this thread. Debating the veracity of a claim about coke distributing dieties is not a useful way to spend my time. Never say never, but bye for now.

  8. Sumedha..

    Are you trying to claim that Einstein would have bought the coke story? I know Freud was a coke head for a while. But although Einstein was I think inclined toward a spiritual attitude I think you do him injustice to use him as a support for this fanciful coke story.

    • Yeah, that’s right. The buddhists call it ‘intellectually formed delusions’. Where, the line of reasoning we use is faulty, leading us away from liberation.

  9. I think there is a difference between quiet reflection, which wise people have always done, and “meditation” as taught by vairous religious schools both Buddhist and Christian. One difference is in the “rules” and right and wrong way to do it. I have gained a lot of insight in long walks by the ocean, but it is not meditation according to any formal school. People have been doing it long before the days of Buddha of Jesus (assuming they existed).

    • Quiet reflection, such as admitting your faults to yourself or someone else, is an intellectual thing. The feelings that get invoked, while doing it, is something you can become more and more aware of, and start to hold them with concentration, and release them, so they never come back. Like, fear of something, for example. Getting rid of the problems within the mind, starts with honest reflection. A good honest look at what we are doing.

      Meditation has been around before the appearance of the Buddha, or Jesus.

    • The activity you refer to in Buddhism is called ‘contemplation’ and the same activity is referred to Christian texts. A serene backdrop and a mind that observes with the intent of understanding are the requirements. Meditation, while it might include this during a session, are different activities, and as Paul says, it has been there for a long time before the Buddha or Jesus.

  10. Kirishnamurti was a guru by occupation. That’s what he was raised to be and which paid well for him. He may not be yours but he was to many.

  11. Elma,

    I did not make any suggestion whatsoever that I believe Krishnamurti to be a guru. I simply suggested that I believe Brent might get a kick out of some of the things he said in that particular book. Thanks for the extrapolation, all the same. I know his history. I know that his “mentor” had a penchant for young boys like Jinnu was when he “discovered” him. Jinnu was not the first young boy this man believed to be “the one”. I do find it fascinating that he was, by most accounts, quite a dullard prior to his being groomed. He did transform into a formidable intellectual/philosopher. I think it demonstrates the potential within us all to become wise beyond our self-imposed limitations.

    Brent – Thanks again for sharing your experience. It is truly appreciated. I will continue to sit and be with my mind, warts and all. I suspect that my apprehension stems from something that has been lurking in the shadows so long that it fears the impending exposure. Such is the nature of our mind.

    Rachel – Thank you for allowing our discourse on your blog. The generosity found on these pages is refreshing, to say the least.

  12. Sorry to say this but you are all wrong. The TRUE buddhism is Theravada budddhism. Mahayana and Zen and other Buddhists schools are not the real thing. That is why Buddhism is a scam in Japan. If you want to learn the true buddhism you have to study Theravada. If you study Theravada, criticism will be very much less than the teachings of the other schools.

    • Well I, for one, am so glad that a TRUE Buddhist took the time out of their day to swing by and clear all THAT up!

        • No, I’m not Jewish. My family was Prostestant, but we never went to church. My parents “believed in god” the way most people do, as a rationalization for their already held beliefs. You know, my parents believed such and such, and lo and behold god did too! I was an atheist by high school. Although, I did listen to an awful lot of Bob Dylan back then (just his early stuff, before he went kooky with Jesus). So maybe the Jewishness rubbed off?

  13. If you are thinking you are not technically meditating or that is if you are sticking with your thoughts rather than letting them float by. You are probably relaxing and sitting still and thinking. Some of the feelings that come up for you might make someone else psychotic if under the direction of a leader. For this topic look into the Cultic Studies Association journal or books such as Snapping that discuss how meditation can be used to dissociate people to make them amenable to indoctrination. But I’m not sure you are really meditating. Does Shambhala teach you to think about things or to let go of thoughts and watch how things change and nothing is stable and therefore that there is no solid reality?

    • I think it’s to identify anything that intrudes into your consciousness. It might help to see the causes of an intrusion to see the point where the original ‘mind object’ was formed. Since you see that whatever is affecting you is actually formed through the senses that might have been faulty, or the effect of faulty thoughts that just come to you, you realize that it’s just the way it is and that it has nothing to do with ‘you’.

    • To clarify, what I am doing is meditation. I have sat still and relaxed and thought. It is an entirely different experience and is not meditation. It is not as useful or as intense as meditation at all, and is definitely not what I am doing when I sit with the INTENTION to meditate and assume the posture (sort of). I do think while I am meditating, however the nature of my thoughts is often quite unlike ANYTHING that of in “normal” day to day life, or even just sitting back and working stuff out conciously. An abusive leader is an abusive leader. I don’t have one of those (except myself sometimes, ha-ha). I cannot see how meditation itself could lead one to psychosis, unless one were already mentally ill in some way. It’s sort of self-regulating. The guy who does the Tantric Skeptic blog just posted a very good article about this, and I’ve asked him to post it here. If he doesn’t, I’ll do it myself! And yes, sometimes I’m “just thinking”. Maybe I shouldn’t be. I guess that just means I’m still not a very good meditator. It doesn’t mean, though, that I’m not meditating. I know I’m supposed to label thoughts and observe them etc. Often I do. I know I’m supposed to. Sometimes the train just gathers up a head of steam and away I go. Until I catch myself and start all over…again. Our thoughts are always in flux. Deep subject, lots to be said, but no , I am emphatically NOT “just relaxing”. I meet people who say they “meditate” when they are gardening or playing piano or sewing or taking a walk or staring out the window or something. These people, it seems to me, have never meditated. If they had, they would know the difference, and know that they are not meditating when engaged in any of these activities. Part of meditation is the (attempt) at stillness not only of the mind, but of the body. In my opinion, it is also about the idea that there is no escape from yourself. To be engaged in some activity seems to me to be an escape valve. Shambhala did teach that there was no solid reality. I thought they were just throwing around a bunch of metaphysical blah blah and sat at the back of the shrine room rolling my eyes. I don’t think it’s meditation that can be used to indoctrinate people so much as the philosophical and metaphysical nonsense that groups like Shambhala try to sell you on. If you can convince someone that the room that they are sitting in is not really there, what won’t they believe???

      • Have your senses ever misinterpreted what you later thought of as true? If this has happened once, then it has the possibility of happening again. Most of the thoughts in your head have been either directly received through your sense, or has been the result of analyzing information coming in through your senses. If there is a possibility that the senses are faulty, there is a possibility that your thoughts are wrong. There is a possibility that ALL your thoughts are wrong. Reality is as it is perceived through your faulty senses.

        What is this solid reality that people refer to?

  14. A little clarification that it wasn’t his followers (once he left the Theosophists) but his original promoters who tried to make him the messiah. His later followers I think were people in transition away from gurus. I do recommend reading The Guru Papers by Kramer and Alstad for anyone who considers following any guru. Of course Buddha is said to have said “Be a lamp unto yourself.”

    If I have time I’ll write a bit about Pema (original name Deidre) and about dangers of meditating (usually related to doing it under guidance of someone else who doesn’t allow stopping and who has a goal of breaking down resistance to implant their own ideas…so not a problem when done on one’s own unless you don’t know how to stop yourself…my own expereince is that walking and thinking works better than sitting and trying not to think…but the people who have the serious breakdowns usually are at a group setting where they can’t leave or are being guided and indoctrinated. It’s OK to have a psychosis if you want (or complete breakthrough) but better not under the direction of a spiritual leader.

    • I’d like to learn more about Pema. I really can’t remember a thing about the book of hers I read. I have this vague idea I thought it was really bland. And, well, guilt by association…she is with Shambhala…that can’t speak well of her judgement.

      I don’t think meditation itself is harmful. I’m a bit perplexed to hear about people who suffer psychotic breakdowns. It has only been beneficial to me, and I think as long as you pay attention to your own mind and body, they will tell you when enough is enough. I literally can’t sit if I’ve been going at it too much. Though yes, sitting and listening to someone indoctrinate you with “the faith” is a bad idea. Meditating is NOT about not thinking. I do a lot of thinking when I meditate. It’s about discerning what is useful thinking, and what is not useful thinking. Sometimes, it is about going deep into a memory or repressed emotion. Healthy, if unpleasant sometimes. Forcing yourself not to think is not a wise move. Teaching yourself to focus your thinking, is.

      • I stopped thinking for awhile when I was a lot younger and greener. Turned out to be a horrid year. I was still in college at that point and I turned into a complete imbecile. You’re right, observing thought isn’t the same as repressing thought. It helps to observe emotion too.

  15. A few comments if I may since I know something abotu Krishnamurti, living in his town. My brother went to his school. I know many people who attended his talks in the Oak Grove He is no better or worse than anyone else so why turn him into a guru? I’d say he is an antiguru guru so if you are into gurus and trying to transiton away maybe he is for you. Otherwise why bother. He was just a regular kid who the Theosophists randomly picked up to become the next messiah. When he figured out that that would entail his martyrdom he had a psychosis and then wisely bailed out. Since he had been set up with a big trust fund by his sponsors and had now real means of support and was accustomed to high living he set himself as an antiguru and made a good living at that..and was not cruxified wither. He liked fast cars and tennis and women. He had a long term affair with the married headmistress of my brother’s school. A regular guy in odd circumstances. Why would you want to make him your teacher?

    • Ah, thanks for that. Yes, now I remember my friend telling me all about Krishnamurti and his followers trying to hoist him up as the new messiah and such and he wanted nothing to do with the whole business. Smart guy. You’d think people would look at his example and not be fooled by the rest of these “spiritual” masters, but no.

  16. Brent,

    First of all, I applaud your enthusiastic skepticism. I was partially repelled by some of your seemingly vitriolic venting, but far be it from me to judge another man’s passionate perspective. Pardon the alliteration. What I mean to say is that I have a great respect for your refusal to accept anything too readily and at face value. If you have not read “The Awakening of Intelligence” by Jinnu Krishnamurti, I think you would get a kick out of him.

    I have just barely begun to practice meditation and have yet to subscribe fully to any particular religion, as such. I feel that what Pema Chodron teaches of Shambhala is in line with my views, but I also feel compelled to learn more of the Yoga sect of Hinduism. I don’t need all the deities, but the practices are, by all historical accounts I have found, the essential basis for Buddhism. That’s neither here nor there.

    My “ulterior motive” here is to cull information you may have garnered from your experiences while sitting. I hope you can trust that my initial praise of your passionate discourse was not simply an attempt at manipulating you into my favor. I truly respect your objective analytical skill, which is what compelled me to inquire of you regarding your experience. I know you wouldn’t lie and I know it would be a truly considered conveyance.

    You said that, at first, you were meditating roughly 5 or more hours per day. I am wondering for how many days did this endeavor endure? Secondly, what specifically was your experience during this time? I ask because I have been lead to believe that engaging in too intense of a meditation practice too prematurely can cause severe mental, emotional and physical distress, sometimes leading to psychotic breaks.

    I suppose that what I am driving at is that I am very anxious to engage in intense meditation practice such as you have, but am leery of doing myself harm. I would greatly appreciate any personal insight you would be willing to offer in this regard.

    Respectfully,
    Byron Evans

    • Never mind my previous reply. Here we go… a paragraph at a time so I don’t lose everything with a misplaced keystroke (like just now).

      First of all, I applaud your enthusiastic skepticism. I was partially repelled by some of your seemingly vitriolic venting, but far be it from me to judge another man’s passionate perspective. Pardon the alliteration. What I mean to say is that I have a great respect for your refusal to accept anything too readily and at face value. If you have not read “The Awakening of Intelligence” by Jinnu Krishnamurti, I think you would get a kick out of him.

      I do vent, sometimes with vitriol. As mentioned, I’ve reread some of my initial posts and cringed a bit. I was quite angry about the nonsense I heard and saw at the Shambhala retreat. And, there is so much nonsense people swallow without thinking about it. The Secret, Wayfarers, the Buddha’s reincarnation, the Four Seals, Chakras, Karma…My only exposure to Buddhism has been through Shambhala, which I now realize may have been a poor example of the traditions. However, living in rural Nova Scotia, I’m not likely to encounter any other, except through books and You Tube. My loss, perhaps. But I doubt I’d take any organized Buddhist group at their word. I read a bit of Krishanmurti years ago. Seems like a cool guy. I know a fellow who knew some fo his followers. Despite his protestations, they apparently tried to turn him into a guru. Everyone seems to want to follow somebody. I may pick up the book you mentioned when I am in the city next week.

    • I have just barely begun to practice meditation and have yet to subscribe fully to any particular religion, as such. I feel that what Pema Chodron teaches of Shambhala is in line with my views, but I also feel compelled to learn more of the Yoga sect of Hinduism. I don’t need all the deities, but the practices are, by all historical accounts I have found, the essential basis for Buddhism. That’s neither here nor there.

      I read one of Pema’s books. Can’t remember a thing about it. Everyone speaks highly of her though, and the Buddhist monks I met from the monastery where she lives in Cape Breton were all really decent people. Shambala itself, though… and Tibetan Buddhism? Be careful, young Skywalker, that way lies the Dark Side…

      I tried yoga for a while. Great for improving flexibility. Only so many hours in the day, though, and I found meditaion more useful, so I dropped it. Never got that far into it to get any “spiritual” benefits.

    • You said that, at first, you were meditating roughly 5 or more hours per day. I am wondering for how many days did this endeavor endure? Secondly, what specifically was your experience during this time? I ask because I have been lead to believe that engaging in too intense of a meditation practice too prematurely can cause severe mental, emotional and physical distress, sometimes leading to psychotic breaks.

      Ok, to the main course. First, my “formal” “training” in meditation consists of one free one hour session at the Shambhala Centre in Halifax, one month long retreat (Dathun), and the reading of a few books on the subject. So, if there are formal criterion one needs to be an expert, or even a mediocre teacher, of meditation, I doubt I have them. I started meditation at the suggestion of my therapist (a Buddhist) who said I should just go find someplace quiet and sit (which he apparently did to work out his problems). I had just rented a cabin in the woods, so I left the city and went to this cabin and began to sit with only the one hour of training. I guess I knew the therapist had sat for hours, and I knew about these Japanese people who go for a week to Mt. Fuji and sit for 20 hours a day. So, I just said to myself I’ll sit for five or six hours a day. I work seasonlly in the woods, and so have three months in the winter off. So that’s how I started. I just did it. No one told me it might be dangerous or anything. After three weeks, I knew it was working and kept at it. That was, six years ago??? Lost count. I try to get two hours a day in now when i’m working. Four to six whn I’m not. Two winters ago I was only doing two or three hours a day…rebelling a bit maybe, or just didn’t feel the long hours were as effective as they once were. But then I put the hours back up again. I try to sit every day, but of course that isn’t always possible. And sometimes it’s good to miss a day. So, the four to six hours a day is almost every day through the winter. I think 8 or 9 hours is the most I’ve done. At the retreat you do 6 to 8 hours pretty regularly. You should look up the guy who does the shutupandmeditate blog. He’s done one or two ten day intensive retreats.

    • I have been lead to believe that engaging in too intense of a meditation practice too prematurely can cause severe mental, emotional and physical distress, sometimes leading to psychotic breaks.

      I’ve never had anything like these things. (They all came BEFORE I meditated, ha-ha). I’ve never heard of them, either. That being said, it often is not a pleasant experience. But, it all depends on what you take into the practice with you. In my own case, there was a lot of repressed anger about my parents. (A LOT). So, you’re stuck sitting there with all this, and there is nowhere to hide. Not a fun time. I was at a lecture at the Shambhala centre once and some woman asked if meditation would help her deal with her child abuse issues. I felt like telling her, yes, it would, but be careful what you wish for. Every repressed feeling is going to get unrepresed, and you are going to have to sit there through it all. That’s why you are there. Welcome to your nightmare. SO, the question is, why do you want to meditate? What is your intention? That, to me, os the key word. Intention. What are you trying to do? Solve? Heal?

      I doubt you’ll have a psychotic episode. You may have some real bad days, though, dealing with all the stuff you’ve never dealt with. Every lousy feeling you’ve repressed comes at you. Every lousy thing done to you. Every lousy thing you’ve done. I have had some VERY intense experiences where I’ve blacked out for maybe 2 – 3 seconds when the repressed rage swept over me, and I’ve “come to” face down on the cushion with no memory of how I got there and the stuff on the night stand on the floor. That’s as intense as I’ve ever let it get. Then I just resume my seat and go at it again. It’s all in your head, and there’s no one there to hurt you. What happens is what happens. And the only person causing it to happen now is you. Which is great, because at least now, when you hear all the noise in your head, you can’t blame someone else for what’s happening. But that’s me. If you’re not dealing with anything that heavy, you may just sit serenely for two hours bored out of your skull, you lucky dog.

    • I know the monks at the Abbey in capre Breton mditate four hours per day. People on ten day or month long or three month retreats will do 7 to 10 hours.
      I did this on my own, so I was my own judge of what was appropriate.. At first, I couldn’t sit for twenty seconds without looking around. Now i can sit, on a good day, for two hours and pretty much stare at the floor like a zombie (an AWARE zombie, though!). When I began, though, I was desperate for something to work. That’s why I wen at it so hard, and still do. You my not be so desperate. Intention. There are days now when I am still unable to sit well because my mind is whirling. And if you sit too much, you’ll know it, because you won’t be able to sit. Your mind and body will let you know. Sometimes I sit with the intention of being there for three hours, and then realize I need to clean the cabin. So I don’t sit. Sometimes I say I’ll sit for an hour just because I know I’ll feel guilty if I don’t and christ am i sick of doing this, and I’ll be there for fours hours really gettin down into it.

      Best advice. Just do it. Read some books if you feel like it. I guess they have some good general advice. The truth is, I think, is that your own mind will guide you. That’s been my experience. YOu know why you want to do this. If you keep taht intention in “mind”, your “mind” will find it’s way. All’s it needs to know is that you want to go there, and it will take you. Whatever happens, happens. Bad feelings, good feelings, anger, happiness, rage…whatever. You DON”T know what the course is, because you’ve never gone there. That’s why you’re sitting.

      Hope that was helpful. I could go on and on. But, it’s Rachel’s Blog. If there is something specific I didn’t answer, just email. But really, talk is talk. Again, I doubt you need to have any serious worries about breakdowns. And if you do have one, maybe you needed one? Sit down and shut up and meditate.

    • PS

      I reread my posts. Ok. Don’t get hung up on how the books or others tell you meditation “should” be done. Try to follow the general guidleines about the breathe and hand placement and posture, but listen most closely to what your own mind and body is telling you. You may have to work up to certain postures or hand placement. Or not. Intention. As long as you are sitting and making an effort, that’s way more than half the battle.

      There is no such thing as failure. If you can’t follow your breathe for more than two seconds, welcome to your mind. That’s where you are. You’ll get better at it. If following your breathe is even what you want to focus on. It doesn’t have to be, it’s just one of many good ideas there can be. If you’re chattering to yourself for the entire two hour session, welcome to your mind! It’ll get better (some days…some days you’ll be back to square one).

      Just keep at it. You may need to take a break every ten minutes when you start. Your mind will probably take a break whether you want to or not, at first. It does that. Bad monkey! Just keep at it.

      You may hear advice about “labelling thoughts” as thoughts and letting them go. It is my experience this advice is best ignored. It’s just more chatter and is unnecessary. Also, some thoughts are pointless chatter. Some are what I call “teaching” thoughts. These should be given careful attention. They are why you are there.

      You asked about specific experiences. I’d be here all night. Just meditate, The whole point is to learn to trust your own mind. What happens happens, and is going to happen as soon as you start to sit. It’s already happening, you just aren’t as aware of it as you can be if you sit. So sit.

  17. I do see your points, Brent.

    If there really is some transcendental phenomena happening, then by definiton, it will never be observed scientifically and agreed upon by concensus, because it is transcendental – not common to normal experience.

    If you’re right, and there isn’t a spiritual dimension to our reality at all – If the materialist paradigm is correct, then either way, there will never be any possibility that someone can be convinced of it.

    I just carry on with my practice, with the aim of destroying my daily problems, and wishing that everyone be happy. Anything that becomes apparent, just is. For me, it’s important to carry on investigating my mind, and ridding it of all the bad stuff. The way I do it personally, is the preparatory practices, Lamrim and Mahamudra.

    The Kalama Sutta says it all really. You are right, we shouldn’t get too bogged down with the conceptual stuff, but aim for making ourselves and other people happy. That’s where it’s at.

    • Physical symptoms of transcendental phenomena can be observed though. There’s a lot of research going on on the effect of meditation on the mind, the lack of need for sustenance, increased physical durability/strength etc. The problem is that people find the results hard to digest. Vocal free thinkers usually have quite a rigid view of what free thinking really is.

      • “If your mind is too open, your brains will fall out” – Tim Minchin, another vocal freethinker who has a rigid idea of what free thinking really is. You know, expecting there to be actual evidence, little things like that. Imagine!

        • Check out some of the studies done on Indian yogis and what some American universities are doing on Buddhist monks. Available on youtube.

  18. Oh! PS…

    True story. Tibetan Buddhists are looking for their new Llama or whatever. Can’t find one in Tibet…jet travel and all I guess. But there is this Tibetan refugee living in Toronto, Canada. He somehow meets up with these Tibetan priests looking for their new leader (I heard this story on CBC radio a year ago, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the details, you can probably find it online – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio, the show is called Six Days, I think, and it was broadcast in October or November of 2010). He has a son and a daughter living with him in Toronto. The priests meet the son, and behold! the reincarnated leader! They want the son. The father believes this nonsense, and he lets his son go with the priests back to Tibet to be trained to be the new theocrat (because, although he is reincarnated, he can’t seem to remember a damn thing about any of his numerous past lives. Which is odd, considering he’s a reincarnated Llama. You’d think someone so evolved would remember that shit. It’s kinda important…) The daughter, a couple of years younger than her brother, is heartbroken, and doesn’t understand why her brother was taken away. Poor girl. I guess her concentration skills aren’t up to scratch yet. I know, I know, I’m criticizing BUDDHISTS again, and not BUDDHISM. Because everyone knows these child abducting theocratic power mongering deluded middle-ages mentality backwoods hicks aren’t REAL BUDDHISTS. They just think they are. Like all of you do…

          • Expecting rational, responsible thinking from those vested in intellectual cop-outs (god can do anything, reincarnation doesn’t have to be explained by evidence)(How is it reincarnation gets off the hook? How do you get to decide what is and is not subject to rational, empirical evidence and explanation? Convenient, when you get to make up the rules like that, isn’t it?). No, I won’t wait up. Do you beleieve in magic? Like I said, laughable.

  19. Was it these deities that gave the other kind of coke to Trungpa? Or was it a run of the mill drug dealer?

    It is tragic that his childhood was so traumatic that he felt the need to escape in drugs (recent tulkus have spoken more honestly about their traumatic childhoods).

    But it was criminal of him to encourage his students to escape into drugs (especially alclhol) and other froms of destructive acting out. If there were such a thing as an enlightened being I can’t imagine it would look like this.

  20. And…I’m done. Coke distributing dieties, declarative statements about the reality of reincarnation from those who offer no evidence, and then say that it’s everyone else who is deluded. Who claim to be a Buddhist so they may see reality more clearly, and then blithely ignore it, or make outrageous, unsupported statements about what said reality really is (unseen gods…).

    This is laughable. I might as well go on to some Christian website and debate the Holy Trinity and the TRUE meaning of the sermon on the mount.

    Doesn’t it suck that we aren’t perfect? I mean, doesn’t it really suck, and make you wish there was just one person in the whole world who was, against which we can measure our failings and strive to be more like? Don’t you wish that were true? Oh wait, you do…

      • Oh, thanks for that! Actually, I was just about to start something on the Münchhausen trilemma, that I have been putting off for far to long now. Your encouragement is very much appreciated!

        bl

  21. Hi Sumedha,

    I went on a Sri Lankan Buddhist retreat last year. Although mainly I practice Kadampa Buddhism. Thanks for the kind message.

    Its taken me a while. I used to be scared of authority figures and bosses, etc. One morning, I woke up, and all my fear had disappeared. These teachings work. So simple. It just takes time. We can all get enlightened eventually. Of.course it.is important to be aware of those who seek to manipulate. But it isn’t all like that. We shouldn’t become obsessed with bad teachers and stupid action of some people.

    The world has so much in it, that we can’t see at the moment. People get very attached to their own views, especially regarding the non-existence of deities. This view is wrong. Lots of beings exist, that at present, we can’t perceive. At the moment, our mind is like a window, but because of our impure mind, it is like the blind has been pulled down.

    Eventually, with concentration, love, kindness, compassion, it will open. Life gets very very interesting then..x

    Sumedha, I hope your practice is going well.

    • Hi Paul,

      I did a wiki-search for Kadampa Buddhism, and the information I got made me happy. In a previous comment I referred to Mahayana Buddhism an area that I am not much interested in, but I was referring to the massive body of text that sometimes strikes me as information that, having the same probability of being true as Theravada Buddhist teachings, is too vast for me to contemplate on during this life-time, though it doesn’t prevent me from going through material when I am presented with it.

      Prominent figures become very important in stressing areas of learning that might otherwise not jump out of the text. I remember seeing one of Ven. Ajahn Brahm’s (the head of an Australian branch of Buddhism, a teacher I have great respect for and hope I have the opportunity to meet one day) and he outlined a story where he was overcome with thirst as he was traveling through a forest and several deities appeared to him and each gave him a can of coke. While, it’s very hard for a current pro-agnostic mind to relate to an incident like this, it makes it that much easier to bridge the gap when a teacher of his stature relates such an incident.

      On the issue of sects in Buddhism and sectarianism in religions in general, I was fortunate enough to see a sermon given by the Ven. Dhamma Sangha and where after 6 years of meditation he refers to all religions, the trinity (Hindu) and brings together many ideologies, albeit using only a few words, and encourages any who listens to his words to realize that all religions are the same. This comment struck me hard as I had come to the same view after studying Christianity and Islam.

      I was going through a paper on the reflections by the Ven. Bikkhu Sujato on the monastic discipline for Buddhist nuns the past two weeks and I was about to ask you your views on the Vinaya for female members of the order until I realized that Kadampa Buddhism keeps it simple. It makes sense since people who follow Buddhism, especially in the West, seem to have the right orientation, and rules are mostly needed by people who don’t have the right objective in mind.

      • Prominent figures become very important in stressing areas of learning that might otherwise not jump out of the text. I remember seeing one of Ven. Ajahn Brahm’s (the head of an Australian branch of Buddhism, a teacher I have great respect for and hope I have the opportunity to meet one day) and he outlined a story where he was overcome with thirst as he was traveling through a forest and several deities appeared to him and each gave him a can of coke. While, it’s very hard for a current pro-agnostic mind to relate to an incident like this, it makes it that much easier to bridge the gap when a teacher of his stature relates such an incident.

        So, your Coke dispensing dieties. I wonder if they ever read this article:

        http://colombiajournal.org/colombia73.htm

        Odd that such enlightened beings would be distributing the products of a corporation accused of assasinating union leaders. And wouldn’t water have been better? I work in the woods and know all about heat-stroke and dehydration. Soda pop isn’t really the best thing. And then, it was nice of your dieties to take care of this one man who was thirsting, but what about the thousands who have no clean drinking water, or no drinking water period who die of malnutrition and dehydration every year? Don’t you think your dieties priorities are rather fucked up? Deeply immoral, even?

        I would put to you that your teacher is either a manipulative liar, or insane.

        And all religioins are one? Satan worshipping is a religion. Throwing that into the mix? And it took your teacher six years of meditation to plop that cliche onto your lap? Profound wisdom indeed…

        • When you hear someone say that seven apparitions gave him a coke each in a deserted area, that event really takes the focus away from the beverage itself lol. About soda being an antidote for dehydration, well, I’ve been looking through quite a few stories/videos of people going without food and water for months.

          The actual physical matter wouldn’t really make a difference if the consciousness had an effect on physical matter. Take for example the uncertainty principle in quantum physics where the observer was originally considered an active participant in the experiement due to the weight observing carried in experiements done with particles.

          The reason for me to have stated that little story though is because Paul mentioned the paranormal, and that was as believable a paranormal activity as I’ve heard.

          On coke leaders involved in inhuman activities, any physical product you can see has been involved in inhuman activity on some level, be it causing suffering to another being or being the prop for future suffering of beings. It’s not possible to see how products affect others with any certainty, at least for me.

          I try not to engage in activities that I can see beyond a reasonable doubt as being inhuman or as an activity that will help some other being act inhumanly, but that’s because those activities make me feel bad. I didn’t reply to your comment earlier since it just seemed argumentative and pretty ill thought out, but yesterday’s comments were pretty good. Really identify with some of your experiences/process during meditation.

          • So, dieties distributing coke to a spiritual teacher who then used this story to back up his own metaphysics strikes you as a “believable” paranormal activity? Wow…

            Did the dieties purchase the coke, or just conjour it out of thin air? Do you have any response to the moral questions I brought up (why the dieties saw fit to give this man coke, and not some child in Africa dying of malnutrition or a disease contracted from unclean drinking water?)

            If you are willing to let the standards of physics be broken to justify the beliefs of YOUR “faith”(buddhism), would you be willing to do the same for the claims of other religions who tell just as outrageous stories on behalf of their god/gods/supernatural entities? That wafer really IS the body of Jesus. Jesus really DID raise the dead. Etc etc… Are you willing to do that? Where is the line drawn if you do not ask for physical proof? How do you know where to daw the line? What IS your standard of proof? Your own gullibilty?

            The point about the coke leaders murdering union leaders is that a DIETY SHOULD BE AWARE of the inhuman acitivity associated with a human product. They are dieties! Why then, if they can conjour or purchase anything, wouldn’t they just have given the man some spring water?

            Again, I think your teacher is a liar. A big one. Not very in tune with his Right Speech. Or thought. Or action.

            What, precisely, did you find ill thought out about my arguements? Why is it “arguementative”?

          • ** So, dieties distributing coke to a spiritual teacher who then used this story to back up his own metaphysics strikes you as a “believable” paranormal activity? Wow…

            - Refer to my comment in response to Paul. You seem to misunderstand what I said, as I never said that I believed this story, though I believe that it’s a possibility. Also, I have memories from when I was an infant, when I was within my mother’s womb, and a few interesting memories before that, so even though doubts remain, scenarios like these seem like a possibility

            ** Did the dieties purchase the coke, or just conjour it out of thin air? Do you have any response to the moral questions I brought up (why the dieties saw fit to give this man coke, and not some child in Africa dying of malnutrition or a disease contracted from unclean drinking water?)

            - The question about conjuring coke is repetitive since I already said that if the consciousness could control matter, it wouldn’t be a problem, this also circumvents the moral problem. If there were deities of the kind Ven. Ajahn was referring to, they would be interested in making positive karma, so helping someone with a higher mental state would make sense.

            ** If you are willing to let the standards of physics be broken to justify the beliefs of YOUR “faith”(buddhism), would you be willing to do the same for the claims of other religions who tell just as outrageous stories on behalf of their god/gods/supernatural entities? That wafer really IS the body of Jesus. Jesus really DID raise the dead. Etc etc… Are you willing to do that? Where is the line drawn if you do not ask for physical proof? How do you know where to daw the line? What IS your standard of proof? Your own gullibilty?

            - I never claimed to be a Buddhist, and I am currently reading the bible with the intent of understanding what the writer is trying to say, and you’d be surprised how similar some of the occult parts of Christianity and Buddhism are (not to mention Islam).

            With reference to the wafer being the body of Christ, physical objects that a person’s consciousness thinks is something else will help that person, especially if it is delivered to increase faith, and faith is an integral part of Christianity (as well as Buddhism), then it will have a positive impact on that person. On Christ raising the dead, if ‘consciousness’ or a ‘thought stream’ attaches itself to a body during the second trimester of the development of a fetus (Buddhism), then there is a probability that a person with a mind developed enough to alter matter (Jesus), is able to alter a dead body to attract the same ‘consciousness’ or ‘thought stream’. The consciousness or thought stream would reside in Purgatory (Christianity) or a similar plane of existence (Buddhism) after its original detachment from the body.

            I’ve never heard of ‘standards of physics’, but general ‘laws’ that are made to encompass variables that have been observed to the point until the law is theorized. This doesn’t exclude other outcomes depending on the number of additional variables you are looking at. And none of what I said are probabilities are crossed by physics, that’s why I referred to the uncertainty principle in quantum theory, but you must not have read that sentence (do you know what the ‘uncertainty principle’ is?). Btw, just as an intellectual activity…can you name a law in physics that any of the events above is breaking?

            ** The point about the coke leaders murdering union leaders is that a DIETY SHOULD BE AWARE of the inhuman acitivity associated with a human product. They are dieties! Why then, if they can conjour or purchase anything, wouldn’t they just have given the man some spring water?

            - Part of this question is also repetitive so please refer to my previous comment. To the additional comment on deities being omniscient, at least in Buddhism they aren’t referred to as such.

            ** Again, I think your teacher is a liar. A big one. Not very in tune with his Right Speech. Or thought. Or action.

            - Lol. Where did I state that he was my teacher? Anyway, since you brought it up, I did learn quite a bit from him when I was going over his discourses, so I guess he was my teacher at that point. You must know more than me about assessing people’s speech/actions etc., so I won’t comment on the last few sentences since that’s your opinion (quickly reached too since you haven’t really read what he’s written or heard him speak lol, but if it interests other less hasty readers of this comment, he’s the head of the Australian order of monks and has studied extensively in Thailand and Nepal).

            ** What, precisely, did you find ill thought out about my arguements? Why is it “arguementative”?

            - I find it argumentative when I respond to something and I get asked the same question and it’s clear that the person who commented hasn’t read my comment with the intent of understanding what I’m saying. Some of your comments are ill thought out as they exclude the possibility of an event happening or the existence of something without proof that they do not exist.

          • Briefly:

            You have memories of being in your mother’s womb and a few before that. You are the only person I know who has ever claimed that to me. I’ve met hundreds of people by now in my life, and no one has ever claimed that. You live in the east? Funny, here in the west there are all kinds of people who claim to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus. Cultural influences. I wonder if you’d be making such claims if you were born in Idaho.

            Your response to my moral queries is simply laughhable. Just pathetic. Kind of disturbing, really. Are you really saying these dieties could conjure coke cans out of thin air? I must be misunderstanding you. I must be…

            On christ raising the dead and the wafer. Again, just laughable. Faith is no virtue.

            Probabilities….I read your post carefully. I understand the uncertainty principle. I did not miss anything. Tell me, when was the last time the dieties handed you a coke? Or anyone you know besides this self-serving teacher or whatever he is? Again, (at the risk of being repetitive and arguementative…) where did this coke come from??????? If it came out of thin air, I’d say the laws of physics were slightly challenged. Citing the uncertainty priniciple to suggest this event is possible is ridiculous. Magical thinking. Please don’t try to dress it up as science.

            The dieties aren’t omniscient…no, they’re just incredibly stupid and thoughtless. Yeah, give the llama or whatever he is a coke. Kids with unhealthy drinking water? Naahhh….who ever said THEY needed some good karma….This is just pathetic. Glad to hear you’re studying the bible. You’re going to make an excellent christian apologist.

            The only judgements I am making about this teacher or whatever he is is based upon the story you realted to me. Period. And yes, based on that story, I will judge him as a liar. Head of the Australian order of monks? Hmmm… alot invested in his “faith”, no? Hence, the story. Christian priests do the same. They fall for their own bullshit so badly they can no longer see it’s bullshit.

            Arguementative…you get the same question asked becasue you did not answer it the first time. No problem, as I can now see you never will. It’s not that I lack the intent of understanding what you are saying, it’s that I reject it as credible.

            Yeah, my comments are ill thought out because I want evidence. My bad. You’re right, of course. The world is just full of dieties handing out treats, dead people coming to life, miracle cures, souls floating around in unseen spiritual realms, and people returning time and again to inhabit new bodies. Happens all the time. Silly me. Silly narrow minded loudmouth rigid thinking uncertainty principle probablitiy denying me. I’m such a fool…

            Ok. Lesson learned. I won’t ask again. This is just nonsense, like I said before. Truly, I am sorry and regretful I asked twice. This is worse than arguing with a christian apologist. We clearly live on different planets. Enjoy the bible. You’re going to love it, I can tell…You should check out this guy on You Tube called Father Barron. I bet he’s right up your alley.

          • Quite a lot of studies done on people claiming to remember past lives in the US as well (I don’t…I remember a less sentient existence among happier beings). I live in Sri Lanka.

            What I am saying is that it is a possibility that there could be deities that could alter matter.

            Faith is important in achieving any goal. For example, sometimes when I am meditating doubt sets in whether I am making any progress at all. ‘Faith’ is what keeps me going. There is absolutely nothing that I do not have doubt about (and I haven’t met anyone who was 100% sure of something without deluding themselves). If I didn’t have a certain amount of faith in a positive outcome, I would have given up meditation a long time ago.

            The coke would have come from altered matter. I guess if it were possible, it could have even been made from air. Once again, this is a possibility.

            According to Buddhism, the deities wouldn’t have given the coke to give the Ven. Ajahn good karma, it would have been to give themselves good karma.

            You seem like a spirited guy, but you need to increase your knowledge in quite a few areas. Why are you getting so agitated? Lol. I’m just relating my experiences and my world-view.

            And don’t take so much pride in your thoughts. They are things that come to you naturally without you having to do anything for them. It’s as silly as taking pride in the way you look. That way you’ll be able to look at things a little more objectively.

            Anyway check out the kid who meditated for 6 years straight (with a few breaks due to disturbances etc.) The Discovery channel even did a documentary on him. There’s a video of him meditating for 72 hours straight, and then they ran out of film or something like that:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04xxJgKr6vc&feature=related

          • A few articles to help you with understanding the non-constant nature of the universe. A lot stemmed from the work of the great Albert Einstein:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave%E2%80%93particle_duality
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_interpretation
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoelectric_effect

            These are wiki entries, but any book on quantum mechanics will give you additional details.

            More than enough empirical evidence for what used to be considered ‘paranormal’.

          • Quite a lot of studies done on people claiming to remember past lives in the US as well (I don’t…I remember a less sentient existence among happier beings). I live in Sri Lanka.

            Yes, “claiming”. No actual proof. Would these be the same people “claiming” to have seen Bigfoot, been abducted by aliens, travelled to other planets telepathically, seen ufo’s, had out-of-body experiences, seen ghosts, bent forks with their minds, etc?

            What I am saying is that it is a possibility that there could be deities that could alter matter.

            And what I am saying is that such a claim would require proof. Extraordinary proof, since it is such an extraordinary claim. Otherwise, it is the belief of the credulous.

            Faith is important in achieving any goal. For example, sometimes when I am meditating doubt sets in whether I am making any progress at all. ‘Faith’ is what keeps me going. There is absolutely nothing that I do not have doubt about (and I haven’t met anyone who was 100% sure of something without deluding themselves). If I didn’t have a certain amount of faith in a positive outcome, I would have given up meditation a long time ago.

            I know exactly what you are talking about in terms of doubt about making progress in meditation. However, my persistence has NOTHING to do with “faith.” I persist because I am able to discern a measurable (to me) improvement in my state of being due to the efforts of my practice. That is not “faith’, it is practical observation of effort versus results. If I could discern no change, I would drop the practice. Faith is nothing but an intellectual cop-out or an arguement from ignorance. I have no “faith” in anything.

            The coke would have come from altered matter. I guess if it were possible, it could have even been made from air. Once again, this is a possibility.

            If you live in a fairyland where anything is possible (at least in a mind lacking much in the way of skepticism or a healthy critical attitude), I guess so.

          • According to Buddhism, the deities wouldn’t have given the coke to give the Ven. Ajahn good karma, it would have been to give themselves good karma.

            According to which Buddhism. There are several competing schools. Some of which I bet would be on the floor in a fit of giggles over your assertions of what is possible. Interestin the Ven. Ajahn spared himself the inconvenience of having witnesses to this event. Again, the moral aspect of this is disturbing. Kids dying of unclean water versus this one dude in the forest who’s probably pretty well off. And they generate good karma for themselves by giving him the coke. Uh-huh. You truly cannot see how wrong this looks? All you can see is a bunch of dieties out for brownie points? Disturbing.

            You seem like a spirited guy, but you need to increase your knowledge in quite a few areas. Why are you getting so agitated? Lol. I’m just relating my experiences and my world-view.

            I won’t be taking any advice about my need to increase my knowledge in quite a few areas from someone who misuses scientific theory the way you do. I’m sure my general knowledge is as good as yours. To toot my own horn for a sec, it’s one of the things I get compliemted on most consistently. And how would you even be able to judge this based on a few blog posts? I’ll spare you the rant on why this gets me so agitated. I can’t at this point be bothered to spend the time explaining. Your worldview is one I am happy not to share.

          • And don’t take so much pride in your thoughts. They are things that come to you naturally without you having to do anything for them. It’s as silly as taking pride in the way you look. That way you’ll be able to look at things a little more objectively

            Who said I take pride in my thoughts. I simply value skepticism and critical reasoning. You should try it some time. By “objectively”, don’t you mean the way YOU see them? And you’re accusing ME of pride? And thoughts don’t just come naturally, not the content of them, anyway. That takes education, learning, effort. What makes you think your outlook is any more “objective” than mine?

          • Anyway check out the kid who meditated for 6 years straight (with a few breaks due to disturbances etc.) The Discovery channel even did a documentary on him. There’s a video of him meditating for 72 hours straight, and then they ran out of film or something like that:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04xxJgKr6vc&feature=related

            Ok. There is a god. I was actually going to mention Buddha Boy in my last set of posts, and here you are sending it to me. However, I was going to mention it as an example of just how gullible people can be. You really believe this nonsense, don’t you? I’d like to see the whole 72 hours of tape, for starters. Then I would have a whole series of questions about purpose (besides his drivel about saving the world, I mean), drugs, profit etc. Ran out of film? Convenience, again…easily persuaded, aren’t we?

          • A few articles to help you with understanding the non-constant nature of the universe. A lot stemmed from the work of the great Albert Einstein:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave%E2%80%93particle_duality
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_interpretation
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoelectric_effect

            These are wiki entries, but any book on quantum mechanics will give you additional details.

            More than enough empirical evidence for what used to be considered ‘paranormal’.

            Why are you assuming I am not familiar with this material? Here a a few book I’ve read or listened to on mp3 lately:

            R. Rhodes – The Making of the Atomic Bomb (with LOTS of physics in it)
            R. Wright – The Evolution of God (not physics, but good for understanding how religion gets going and why people believe what isn’t factually true).
            Whitfield – A History of Science
            L. Krauss – A Universe from Nothing
            Richard Feynman – Selected Essays (ok, this one is a little light on the physics…)
            S. Hawking – The Grand Design

            And that’s just in the past couple of months.

            The difference between me and you isn’t knowledge. It’s that I try not to misapply it. (And maybe have a better understanding of what science can actually account for and explain than you seem to.)

    • The world has so much in it, that we can’t see at the moment. People get very attached to their own views, especially regarding the non-existence of deities. This view is wrong. Lots of beings exist, that at present, we can’t perceive. At the moment, our mind is like a window, but because of our impure mind, it is like the blind has been pulled down.

      People get very attached to their own views, especially regarding the existence of dieties. This is the wrong view. Especially since they can’t provide one shred of evidence for said existence, only offer up self-reinforcing (and self-flattering) statements about spooky knowledge and special powers of cooncentration the rest of us heathens lack. Which makes me want to side with the non-believers. And to that the rather dismal track record of dieties throughout history that are now, well…history.

  22. Elma :

    He wasn’t accusing you of lying. He was saddened by what Jun said, and said that he hoped that JUN was lying.

    Of course Buddhist traditions have people, who are corrupt. Why should the stupidity of others affect your in capacity to get rid of your own problems?

    Buddhism teahes the development of compassion and wisdom. our problems are then dissolved. This can only be done by us.

    • Hi Paul,

      Actually, if you study the Vinaya which deals with the guidelines for monks and nuns you soon see that the very light punishments you receive are actually only applicable if the perpetrator confesses to his/her transgressions from the Vinaya.

      It explains why it is so easy to get away transgressions in the order and why it is so easy for corrupt people who join for the wrong reasons to exist within the order. This same reason might also explain why the order has lasted 2,500 years!

      I read some of your earlier posts and they are very uplifting though you cover areas I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to venture into.

      You know you hear people saying that when you meditate you are actually helping the whole of humanity and you brush it off saying that that’s wishful thinking. But then you realize how helpful it is to see even a comment in as detached a setting as an internet forum and realize that you are directed in such a positive direction.

      May you achieve happiness and whatever goals you set yourself!

  23. My short reply is addressed to Sumedha, who is perhaps a crazy wisdom practitioner in that her/his first thought (worst thought) was that such a probably not uncommon occurance might be made up.

    • Sorry if I offended you as I meant no offense. I didn’t say that you were lying, but that I was hoping you were. I haven’t done much research about Buddhism in Japan and don’t have much interest in Mahayana Buddhism anyway.

      I live in Sri Lanka and I have associated with the Sangha here extensively. There is a lot of talk about paedophilia here etc. etc., but my experiences with the Sangha, while not as enlightening as I would wish, have been quite pleasant and profitable to me.

  24. Hi Brent,
    Thanks for posting back. I haven’t talked with anyone who had a (different) Shambhala psychotherapist than mine, though I know there are many out there and it is good to compare notes. I’ve read your back posts now and I find your situation moving and yourself very courageous: you are an independent thinker and trying to find a way to heal from your past trauma.
    From what you write I don’t think your Shambhala therapist was competent, especially if it led to your spending time at their retreat (since ethical therapists should not foist their personal religions or philosophies on their clients but should work in accord with recognized psychotherapeutic practices). It sounds like your other Shambhala “healers” were even more useless, however, since you got some benefit from meditation (but you shouldn’t spend a lot of money for a specialist to find that out). I really think if you finally decided you couldn’t really trust any of the Shambhala therapists that none of them was good for you: you certainly should be able to trust a therapist and get something of quality for your money. I hope you have gotten good (MD) medical help with the muscular pain.
    I’ve done a lot of research in the field of therapists who belong to cults and Shambhala in particular. Before I consulted this one (yes, a woman) I was ignorant of what any of that was about, though I knew quite a lot about Zen and had a favorable attitude toward it. If you are interested I will send you my reference list. A couple books I think you would get a lot out of if you haven’t discovered them already are The Guru Papers and The Passionate Mind Revisited by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. In addition to their overall critique of gurus they have a critique of the philosophy behind meditation (apart from its value as calming and relaxing), that is, the way it focuses on trying to break down or dissociate experience into illusory fragments rather than build and integrate in a whole gestalt. When people are fragmented they are more susceptible to indoctrination by cult leaders or others. This is way oversimplifying what they discuss. They are independent thinkers like you and have a website so you could download some of their interviews if interested.
    As for the “reality” of Shambhala on the ground as a cult movement I’d suggest, if you still have any interest in the subject and have to live with this group in Nova Scotia, reading The Other Side of Eden by John Steinbeck IV and Nancy Steinbeck. It’s interesting on a variety of subjects but very illuminating on Trungpa and his groupies, which they were.
    Given your traumatic background and PTSD I’d also recommend your reading something on the subject of trauma and dissociation and healing in that framework rather than via religion or crank therapists. The analyst who “got it” on trauma was Sandor Ferenczi. Jeffery Masson has written about the difference between Freud (who covered up abuse) and Ferenczi (who supported his patients’ real experience) in Assault on Truth. One book that I’ve recently found fascinating though highly technical is Dissociative Mind by Elizabeth Howell. A book that is worthwhile in general on trauma is Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery. A lot of the PTSD work is done with war veterans and victims of childhood sexual abuse but it pertains to any severe unusual damaging experience.
    No, I don’t live in Nova Scotia, though I have been there. I live in California. Tom Rich was Trungpa’s “regent,” the one who was supposed to fill in for him if he died and before his reincarnation showed up. However, the regent died first, of AIDS. In fact he gave it to some of his students after he knew he had it. I consider this murder. His excuse was that Trungpa told him he was so evolved he would not transmit it: in other words devotion to the leader absolved him. I think I heard about that excuse re Nuremburg but then things have deteriorated since those trials and people have used eating junk food as an excuse to get off of responsibility for murder. A group of the regent’s devotees hovered around him and have stayed on out here in California, and now they have joined the organization that has re-formed around one of Trungpa’s sons (not around his regent or reincarnation, mind you).
    Yes, my therapist was a woman and yes we both got PTSD and of course I don’t see her anymore. Among other things I think my talking with her was beginning to deprogram her (as often will happen with cultists when they get in serious contact with someone outside their group) and she began to disintegrate. She also was having a serious problem with another client that I didn’t know about. When she got paranoid about me and also began to lie and exhibit the type of character problems her “teachers” had then I got PTSD too as it mirrored some of my own early trauma.
    Since then I’ve questioned all Buddhism (are you aware that Shambhala/vajrayana is not at all like Mahayana such as Zen or hinayana/vipassana). Shambhala Buddhism really is more animism and magic and feudalism and considers itself beyond the simple do-good moralism of Zen, although recently they have attempted to co-opt a lot of the good stuff from Vietnamese Zen even though it is not compatible with Trungpa’s crazy wisdom ideas. Tibetan Buddhism in all varieties is very far from the teachings of the historic Buddha.
    I’d also recommend if you are interested in Buddhism in looking into the philosophy of Epicurus (Epicureanism). It was the dominant philosophy in the Ancient World before Christianity (which brought in eternal life, hard to fight that). Epicureanism like Buddhism is nontheistic, doesn’t believe in afterlife, and values enjoyment of life, friendship, and moderation as a way of living. This Western philosophy probably was highly influenced by contact with India. Epicureans gathered together in convivium groups of like-minded people, which is why people gather in Buddhist sanghas or in AA groups or bars or churches or Burning Man events.
    That’s all I have time for at the moment as I do have to work. I appreciate your taking time to write to me and I respect what you are doing for yourself and others (by sharing your thoughts and experience) and I wish you the best.
    Elma

    • Elma

      To clarify, none of the Shambala therapists I saw said I should go to the retreat. In fact, the first one I saw said bringing up Buddhism in therapy just didn’t work. When I asked the third one why he never brought up meditation before (after I’d been seeing him as part of group therapy or for my muscular pain for months) he said it was because most people he told about meditation tried it for a little bit and never pursued it further. I can’t remember now how exactly it got brought up. The reason I went on the retreat is because I was interested in learning more about meditation, and I went to the Shambala centre in Halifax (where I’d gotten the basic one hour starter instructions at a free session) and they put me in touch with this guy ( a long time Shambala member, but a layperson) who was living near where I live in rural Nova Scotia. It was him who told me about the retreat. I learned absolutely nothing of value about meditation there, but got a quick education on how ridiculous their beliefs were.

      The muscular pain is psychosomatic. Doctors can do nothing for it. I’ve tried everything. Meditation is the only thing that works, and it is working. You can send the reference list to brent.mosher@yahoo.com which is where maybe you should send any further emails, as this is probably all a bit off topic to the thread. Thanks. I’ll see about getting some of the books you mentioned next time I’m in the city.

      I do know about the whole Tom Rich scandal, but didn’t recognize the name as I only knew him by his Shambala name, which I can’t remember now. Yes, murder by AIDS. They tried to sweep it all under the rug. The guy who told me about the retreat was really upset about it, and broke off with the main group over it, to his credit, but still thinks Trungpa is some kind of genius and is totally brainwashed by Shambala. When I came back from the retreat and started voicing my doubts and had failed to “find joy” he said I probably hadn’t suffered enough. Uh-huh and goodbye…

      Anyway, thanks for the reply. Just use my email if you want to write back. I’ll probably post some general comments on here soon. I was posting for a while a couple of years ago. I haven’t got much time to read a lot about Buddhism. I did listen to some lectures by one teacher someone here recommended I listen to. And I’ve been reading the posts. There are some things I’d like to say about what I heard in the lectures and Coke distributing dieties, so maybe I will in a few days.

  25. Brent Mosher:

    I’m wondering how your psychotherapy is going? Your objections to Tibetan Buddhism are exactly the same as mine and I also had a Trungpa (and Tom Rich) devotee as a therapist. In the beginning I didn’t know what it entailed. It ended up pretty badly. She got PTSD when confronted with reality. She expressed no objection to lying (Antimoralism) and didnt hesitate to lie to me either. I also got PTSD! I reported on this at the International Cultic Studies Association meeting. I’m truly curious how you have fared in this.

    Another unbeliever…

    • Elma

      I haven’t been to a therapist for a few years now. The last one I saw (must be about five or six years now), who was part of Shambala, said the best thing I could do would be to go find someplace quiet and sit. So that’s what I did, and he was right. Meditation has been far more effective for me than therapy, and it’s free! I picked up a book on dealing with PTSD written by three doctors, and aside from the writing practices suggested (all rather useless to my thinking) the book was pretty much just meditation practiced repackaged as a psychotherapeutic treatment. So I threw the book in the fire (which is also where the Trungpa books wound up) and kept practicing.

      I don’t know who Tom Rich is. Are you from Halifax? When you say “she got PTSD when confronted with reality”, I’m not sure what you mean. Is “she” your therapist? Who was it? What happened? Do you mean you got PTSD from your therapy? Did you get involved with Shambala outside of your therapy?

      Briefly, I saw an acupuncturist recommended by a co-worker about 20 years ago who sensed I had a lot of issues. The acupuncture was completely ineffective (I now view acupuncture as a fraud, along with homeopathy and natural healing). He was a Shambala member, and worked at a clinic entirely staffed by Trungpa followers. He suggested I speak to one of their therapists, which I did for the next few months. He was ok, and did not bring up Shambala too much. I then left Halifax and saw a few regular psychiatrists. They were, without exception, truly awful.
      So I went back to the Shambala therapists. The first one I saw, looking back on it, was pretty ineffectual after the first few sessions where I think anyone half competent would have made progress with me, given the state I was in. After too many years of semi-regualar visits, I switched to another Shambala therapist (who was also a psychotherapist, but whom I’d initially seen about some muscular pain) and he was the one who suggested I try meditation. Which ended my interest in spending $100 per hour to see him anymore. I also saw a touch therapist a few times about the muscular problems I was having, and while the treatments were effective, the results didn’t last very long and I was back to square one within a few hours. She was also connected with Shambala. She once told me during a session that we “choose” our lives and thus should not complain about our pain. This did not sit well with me. She clearly meant we are reincarnated and our souls or whatever choose our sufferings. To me, this is delusional insanity. I also went to a group therapy session hosted by the two therapists from Shambala I had seen last.

      The Shambala trained therapists were better than the regular pyschiatrists I saw. However, I found therapy to be extremely slow and expensive. It also began to bother me, as I learned more about Shambala, that these seemingly intelligent men could believe such utter nonsense as espoused by Tibetan Buddhism, and be a devotee of such a shady character as Trungpa. They did not push their views, other than to occasionally use Buddhist doctrine and terminology to make a point as regards to how to best view a problem I was having. To provide a philosophical framework which they sincerely believed to be helpful. I didn’t mind this so much as the fact that sometimes their Buddhist filter was so thick they were not hearing what I was telling them. Though that seems to be a problem with professional people in general, who believe their education (in whatever field) has provided them with better insight into one’s problems than the person who is going through them. Their belief in reincarnation irked me as a preposterous belief for grown adults (though they said i didn’t have to believe in it to be a Buddhist).

      So, I can’t say I was traumatized by these therapists. In general, they were helpful, if expensive. I simply grew suspicious of their beliefs and adulation of Trungpa. I decided I could not really trust them. When I was turned on to meditation, I decided to pursue that instead. I have been thinking about seeing a therapist again. It won’t be someone from Shambala, but someone who appears to be progressive. Whether I will or not is still undecided, and whether she will be any good or not is also unknown.

      I hope that is helpful. I consider Shambala to be a cult overlayed upon, and a perversion of, Buddhist tradition. It is the only real life contact I have had with organized Buddhism, and realize it may be a poor representaive of Buddist traditions. From what I have read of Tibetan Buddhism, though, perversion and corruption seem to be the order of the day. The East’s version of the Catholic Church.

    • Are you serious? Am I misunderstanding you? Would a Japanese Buddhist priest who molested a 10 year old boy impede his enlightenment? I hope so. I would not want to be part of any moral universe/philosophy were that not true. This is akin to Christians who defend the actions of their muderous god. Can you condemn an athiest to eternal damnation for their lack of belief? I can’t. I think that makes me a better person than god. If a Buddhist is molesting someone, I certainly would hope it would affect his chances of enlightenment, if I believed there were such a thing, which I don’t.

        • All I can say is that I am far happier now without religion. “Enlightenment” is simply a religious ideal. The corruption of Buddhism in Japan made me sick to even be associated with such a set of beliefs and doctrines.

  26. RE: materialism among the Buddhist believers and the claim above that Buddhist monks try to renunciate worldly affairs. I found quite the opposite in Japan.

    The Buddhaspeak of the Japanese monks – (from my blog)

    When Japanese Buddhist priests talk among themselves in a situation which could be easily overheard, they use a coded slang system peppered with religious terms and boisterous x-rated slang that the uninitiated would have no idea of the meaning of. As it turns out, the slang of the Japanese clergy is the oldest form of slang spoken in Japan today.

    I found Buddhist slang to be the liveliest of the systems of Japanese slang in Japan, even more so than that used by the Yakuza.

    Full of cryptic religious metaphors and classical naughty puns, even experts of Japanese slang are left scratching their heads. Many terms are centuries old and taken from ancient Buddhist texts, designed to also have a religious meaning.

    It came as something of a shock to me when I started out in Japanese Buddhism that the various respected Buddhist sects have their own highly developed slang designed to disguise their materialistic ways. As Buddhists we were expected to renounce worldly ways and shun the pleasures of the world. Not so the Japanese!

    Everything from women and sex, to money and whoring. There are secret terms and codes for it all!

    Some of the more common slang terms I came across were:

    kishiko (place of truth) for toilet,

    moku (eyes) for money,

    ryõgyaku (spiritual globes) for testicles,

    nazu (caressing) for bondage,

    kotsuen hokki (sudden enlightenment) for erection,

    bodai no gokui (ultimate stage of enlightenment) for ejaculation,

    hibutsu (hidden Buddhas) for vagina,

    bonnon (Brahma’s voice) for screaming out during sex,

    koan (Buddhist riddles) for kissing,

    jõgyõ (pure practice) for sexual relations with only the one same male partner,

    and geten (non-Buddhist texts) for pornography.

    The Japanese priests penchant for little boys has a highly developed system of slang surrounding it too. I think there are probably more terms relating to sexual interactions with young boys than any other subject. Zennanshi (nice young boy) is the most common slang term for a Buddhist priest’s young male lover. A sexually active priest is called a zokubutsu (worldly Buddha) and he might take part in nembutsu, or chanting to the Buddha, (masterbation) with his young boys. A young boys penis wet with sperm is called a nurebotoke (wet Buddha). Jõdõ (entering the priests hall for a meal) means oral sex with a young boy. Then there is sandõ (three roads of transmigration) for oral, anal and masterbation with a young boy.

    The best one of all is when a priest is termed a bakebotoke (transformed Buddha). I used to think it had a true religious meaning until I learned that it mean’t a priest who wears women’s underwear under his robes or dresses in drag during his breaks!

  27. Chanaka: I agree totally. Too many people say that religion causes suffering. This isn’t true. Its our delusions that cause suffering.

    Depends on the Buddhist trading. But, there isn’t anything wrong with having expensive things. The object of renunciation, is attachment, not the external objects themselves.

    • Chanaka: I agree totally. Too many people say that religion causes suffering. This isn’t true. Its our delusions that cause suffering.

      Is belief in reincarnation and psychics a delusion?

      Depends on the Buddhist trading. But, there isn’t anything wrong with having expensive things. The object of renunciation, is attachment, not the external objects themselves.

      Whew! Donald Trump is breathing easier…

      • Belief in reincarnation isn’t a delusion, since we have all had inumerous past lives. They’re hidden from our experience, until we develop enough concentration, to access the very subtle mind. The usual story is that lots of people think this is wrong, because they have very little concentration ability.

        Same goes for psychics. Psychic awareness starts to appear when you feta tranquil abiding, a level of extremely strong concentration.

        Donald Trump: Depends on his mind. Not his belongings. I don’t think he’s Buddhist though.

        • Belief in reincarnation isn’t a delusion, since we have all had inumerous past lives. They’re hidden from our experience, until we develop enough concentration, to access the very subtle mind. The usual story is that lots of people think this is wrong, because they have very little concentration ability.

          Same goes for psychics. Psychic awareness starts to appear when you feta tranquil abiding, a level of extremely strong concentration.

          And your proof for any of this is what? You might as well be talking about angels. Or heaven. Or god. Or faeries in the garden. Of course most people don’t believe it becasue they “have very little concentration ability”. And you do, of course. Aren’t you and your fellow believers special. Paul, you have drunk the kool-aid…

  28. I agree that there are monks who uses Luxury cars. (but we do not know whether its a happy offering by a lay person) Buddhists monks try to renunciate worldly affairs. They find it easy to be simple with no expensive possessions. Is it bot the fault of Buddhism? NO. Is it Buddhism that causes them to behave so? It is like blaming Christianity for the Christian priests molesting children.

    Goal of a Buddhist is to be happy. It is Buddhists monks who seek Nirvana. Nirvana is seeing things as they are and it is not easy to do that. Because our mind is full of crap.

    • It is like blaming Christianity for the Christian priests molesting children.

      Actually, it’s pretty easy to blame Christianlity for for the priests who moest children. Christianity is a lie. There is, really, no such thing as “Christ”ianity since the whole story is a fabrication, as is the existence of a god. So, take a group of men, isolate them from the world, tell them sex is sin, offer no was for them to express their natural longings, fill them with nonsense about their moral virtue and serving god…yeah, that’s a good recipe for creating a monster. And then, for good measure, act REALLY SHOCKED when you find out! And like the same thing isn’t happening in Buddhist monasteries…

      Goal of a Buddhist is to be happy. It is Buddhists monks who seek Nirvana. Nirvana is seeing things as they are and it is not easy to do that. Because our mind is full of crap.

      Goal of a Buddhist is to be happy. Can we get a poll on that? Nirvana is seeing things as they are/ Again, can we get a poll? I’d like some clarification…

      Because our mind is full of crap. Do we have minds? I thought that waas open to debate amongst Buddhists? What is crap in the mind? Is reincarnation crap? How about Zen monks slapping their students around? Crap?

  29. Ed:

    If you see a Buddhist becoming angry, are you saying that the dharma is at fault?

    In what sense is the Tripitaka empty ideas? Are you making a reference to a lack of inherent existence?

  30. The Doctrines of Buddhism and Christianity are ideas and ideals.

    Watch those that profess this or that doctrine.
    Their life will be testimony to the value of what they practice.
    Note how they treat others and themselves.
    Listen how they speak about others and themselves.
    The Bible and The Tripitika are empty ideas.

    Just pay attention to the people embracing this or that “ism”.
    That will tell you all you need to know.

  31. I read your comments, and I was greatly impressed by the wise way you guys look at the world. Let me share some thoughts with you.

    I have been a Buddhist from childhood. After 28 years on this plannet I have not yet mastered the way to beat my ‘self’. my ‘self’ still likes tasty food, lazy living, pride and lust. I have read tonnes of books, listened to hundreds of Buddhist sermons in my country called Sri Lanka. But I very shamfully admit that I was forced on an education which nourished a ‘self’ in me. I was forced to earn money and do jobs which defined a ‘self’ in me. I joined temples and clans who meditate and are provided everything they need to keep their bodies alive. But still, such establishments are still corrrupt since the so called ‘guru’s are full of self in them. This is my criticism.

    The only positive in this journey is that is the despicability that I have towards everything I thought was good for me. My world became smaller and smaller. The more I live the more I realise the less I should live. And when I think that its all going to be over……. … I feel accomplishment, a happyness and a state of a cool mind.

    We Buddhist need a city of our own, away from the rat race of life for us to achieve nirvana when we dont have a proper leader to lead us.

    • Hi Daham,

      I am a Sri Lankan like you and I was at the Kanduboda meditation center for three weeks around 10 years ago. This place is excellent to gain deep insight into a Buddhist’s psyche. During your stay you will be following the 10 precepts and meditate up to 5 hours a day (vipassana).

      The rest of the time you will be practising less rigorous walking meditation etc.

      I am a little surprised to hear that you aren’t given an opportunity to practise Buddhist methodology to achieve Nirvana especially while staying in Sri Lanka. I have lived in quite a few countries and we are very lucky that our environment facilitates a Buddhist’s lifestyle.

      Feel free to e-mail me at crudhouse@yahoo.com if you need further assistance in pursuing your goal.

  32. Buddha:
    “This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me.”

    Then the God Brahma Sahampati appeared to the Buddha and said:
    “Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One-Well-Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.”
    Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn06/sn06.001.than.html

    • “This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me.”

      Then the God Brahma Sahampati appeared to the Buddha and said:
      “Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One-Well-Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.”

      This all sounds like what the Christians say. Of course “this generation” delights in attachment…don’t they all. And of course “there will be those who will understand”…and aren’t you glad you’re part of the in-group?

  33. As per my understanding,
    Buddhism – the teachings of Buddha.

    Sects of Buddhism – vehicles for Buddhists to board on to travel the path.

    Buddhists – people who believed in Buddha.

    True Buddhists – people who practice the teachings of Buddha.

    All Buddhists agree that the Tipitaka as a collection of suttas from the Buddha’s time.

    Buddhist monastery rules were set by Buddha so that the Sangha community is in order and live in harmony.

    Buddhists take vows as an expression of dedication to practice Buddhism.

    Buddha is defined as ‘the awaken one’.

    Buddhists who believe in rebirth/reincarnation or not, does not help in attaining enlightenment (nirvana) and it does not defines a true Buddhist or not.

    Kalama sutta points the way to identify and reject corrupted teachings.

    Recitation of Buddha’s teachings were verified and organized into the Tipitaka. Like the Vedas, the suttas are clearly designed to be chanted. They are full of mnemonic devices – rhyming verses, repetitions, numbered lists, stereotyped phrases, etc. Even before the Buddha’s passing, monks and nuns would regularly chant the suttas in congregation. This made it difficult to add, delete or change anything once a sutta had been settled and committed to the memory of the monastic community.

    There are three types of Buddha:
    Sama-sam-buddha = One who rediscovers the teachings and teaches the masses as the historical Buddha did (Siddhattha Gotama). This is always misinterpret as only one Buddha in all of humanity.
    Paccekabuddha = A silent buddha. One who attains full enlightenment, but does not teach others.
    Arahant = Fully enlightened person, who might teach others, but not as the one who rediscovered the teachings, just as one who learned it from a current dispensation. Therefore, there are many Buddhas in humanity.

    • There are three types of Buddha:
      Sama-sam-buddha = One who rediscovers the teachings and teaches the masses as the historical Buddha did (Siddhattha Gotama). This is always misinterpret as only one Buddha in all of humanity.
      Paccekabuddha = A silent buddha. One who attains full enlightenment, but does not teach others.
      Arahant = Fully enlightened person, who might teach others, but not as the one who rediscovered the teachings, just as one who learned it from a current dispensation. Therefore, there are many Buddhas in humanity.

      Name one.

  34. Question, what does the fact that buddhists in japan are immoral have to do with me believing in the buddha’s teaching. I could care less what others that call themselves buddhists do. Buddhism is not about following a given set of rules, or anything like that, and anybody taking advantage of others is not a true buddhist. To Anybody that likes this article and agrees with it i have news for you: you are not criticizing buddhism in any way, you are criticizing organized religion. none of this has to do with the actual teaching of any buddhas.

    • Define “true Buddhist”. And explain how, if there is such a thing as a “true Buddhist” there needs to be over 400 sects of Buddhism. If there is a “true Buddhist(m)”, shouldn’t one be enough? Please give me one thing upon which all Buddhists are in agreement. If Buddhism is not about following any set of rules (or anything like that), why do Buddhist monasteries have so many? Why do they take vows? Define what a “buddha” is? Would you care to tell the “Buddhists” who believe in reincarnation that they are not true “Buddhists” because true “Buddhists” do not believe in reincarnation? Would you like to tell one of the sects who believe THEIR sect is uncorrupted, and that the other sects are not so pure theat thye in fact have got it all wrong and YOU represent TRUE Buddhism? How are the teachings of the “Buddhas” any different from those of any wise person who doesn’t need (or hasn’t had thrust upon them) the title of Buddha? If THE Buddha supposedly taught 80,000 (!) lessons, how does a Buddhist remember them all. What would be the point in giving out 80,000 instructions to people who have trouble remembering seven digit phone numbers? Was their only one Buddha? One Enlightened Being in all of humanity? Doesn’t that sound a little Christ-like to you? Rather suspicious? Are claims of the supernatural part of Buddhism or not (including the belief in a Undying Conciousness taht goes beyond the death of the physical body)? Is Buddhism anything more than a claim to follow the Four Fold whatever and the Eightfold this and that, which ANYONE can claim to be doing (and, y’know, since we’re all imperfect, failing at most of the time) without bothering to call themselves a Buddhist? These claims that we are only critizing “Buddhists” and not “Buddhism” is tiresome. Buddhism is what Buddhists make it…Buddha lived and died thousands of years ago, and no one has any more idea of who he was than we do Christ. Zen monks slap their students around if they aren’t paying enough attention…think Buddha would have approved? Careful now…a REAL Buddhist might be lurking out there who will disagree with your answer.

    • If “Buddhism is not about following a given set of rules, or anything like that” then how can you say for sure that “anybody taking advantage of others is not a true buddhist”? It seems to me rather suspiciously like “not taking advantage of others” is a rule you have set up in the name of “true buddhism”.

      Well, and obviously, the distinction of a “true” X versus a “non-true” X smells suspiciously like a No True Scotsman argument.

  35. then direct your criticism towards those..(tibetan and all the other sects) not to buddha’s teachings…)
    the cruades were done by christians..but nowhere has christ preached aggression..(I am not christian)

    buddhism is not a philosphy…it is “experiential” ….philosophy is the menu and not the food

    is it a religion ? depends where you are coming from..buddhism is buddhism.how you define it is your problem and is conceptual..

    buddhism has NO beliefs…none,buddhism neither asserts nor denies god…unlike theists and atheist
    (which really are 2 sides of the same coin..based on beliefs..oneBELIEVES there is god the other BELIEVES there is no god…of cousre neither one KNOWS..hence an excercise in total futility.

    no we don’t need a relgion…but we do need some spiritual maturity..

    buddhism,is not for everyone…it is for those,who wish to inquire into the “who/what” am I…

    guru ??? hinduism again.!!!
    here is what buddha said on this subject..
    “…Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher(he included himself as well). But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings –……”
    NO followership !!!!~
    I think it was zen master Bassui who said “if you meet the buddha..kill him !!”

    I don’t adhere to any religion or sect…I am a scientist by profession…”To BE a buddhist” is a meaningless statement….I have yet to find something in buddhism that is worthy of criticism..but if I do..
    you can be rest assured,I’ll reap it apart and throw it in the garbage can ..no attachments!!!

    …Philosophy is always about and about and about,never hitting the target…one can talk about buddhism ,philosophise about it.for forever…but one will surely miss the target….

    • It is interesting to see how, in today’s rationalistic discourse, everybody tries to depict it as if everyone else were coming from belief, while the speaker doesn’t hold any beliefs at all. Regardless of whom you ask – it will always be THE OTHERS who are religious. Even radical fundamentalist christians will often chant the mantra “Christianity is not a religion – it is a personal relationship with christ”.

  36. reincarnation has nothing to do with buddha’s teachings..it is hinduism..
    who is this that is going to be reinacrnated ?inhinduism is tha atman (ultinmate self) in buddhism no such thing (anatman).

    buddhism has nothing to do with nihilism….and it is not the middle path eithert.
    it is about distinguishing “phenomenal” existence and” inherent ” existence..the latter as per quantum mechanics is impossible.(no absolute reality..only phenomenal rality !!)..which agrees perfectly with buddhism.

    to understand buddhism..take a course in quantum mechanics..all top notch physicists..A einstein,heisenberg,frijtof,dr.vuilleminet etc etc.. have praised buddhism…
    before spewing poison against buddhism…examine your understanding of buddhism..which is pathetic.

    buddhism is neither psychology nor philosophy…you can weave those around buddhism at your discretion. and peril…

    buddhism has no dogma unlike all other religions…it is waking up to one’s own reality..indeed not an easy task…

    ..albert einstein..probably smarter than you and I..had this to say

    “….
    Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.

    and:

    The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism
    albert einstein…not your averga joe

    • Zenner

      “reincarnation has nothing to do with buddha’s teachings..it is hinduism..
      who is this that is going to be reinacrnated ?inhinduism is tha atman (ultinmate self) in buddhism no such thing (anatman).”

      I would agree that reincarnation has nothing to do with buddha’s teachings. However, it has a lot to do with the teachings of many sects of buddhism, particularly tibetan buddhism.

      “buddhism has nothing to do with nihilism….and it is not the middle path eithert.
      it is about distinguishing “phenomenal” existence and” inherent ” existence..the latter as per quantum mechanics is impossible.(no absolute reality..only phenomenal rality !!)..which agrees perfectly with buddhism”

      As an atheist, I have no problem with accepting the priority of a phenomal reality over an inherent one.

      “to understand buddhism..take a course in quantum mechanics..all top notch physicists..A einstein,heisenberg,frijtof,dr.vuilleminet etc etc.. have praised buddhism…
      before spewing poison against buddhism…examine your understanding of buddhism..which is pathetic.”

      I would not “spew” “poison” against buddhism if it were not for the many buddhists who are “spewing” exactly what I/we critics are criticizing. Guru worship, institutional misogyny, magical beliefs, gods, animism, empty ritual, abduction of children believed to be reincarnated llamas, reincarnation of the self, theocratic authoritarianism, messianism, sexual abuse in the monasteries, etc. If my understanding of buddhism is pathetic, so is that of many of it’s practioners.

      “buddhism is neither psychology nor philosophy…you can weave those around buddhism at your discretion. and peril…”

      Funny, because many buddhists, in denying that buddhism is a religion, often defend it as a philosophy…but, what is this peril you speak of?

      “buddhism has no dogma unlike all other religions…it is waking up to one’s own reality..indeed not an easy task”

      Ideally, I suppose it wouldn’t have any dogma. The reality is far from that ideal however, and it is the business of those who would spew poison to point out buddhism failings on this mattter, rather than accept the dogma of defenders of the faith like yourself that buddhism, in the manner in which it is practiced by its various sects, has no dogma.

      “..albert einstein”

      Was right about many things, and wrong about others. What is “spiritual” supposed to mean. “Meaningful unity”? “Religious sense”?.

      “If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism”

      Who says we need any religion at all? But then, buddhism isn’t a religion…so I guess Albert was wrong about that…

  37. Pingback: buddha (face)palm « Shut up and meditate

  38. ok… it’s time to make some clarifications…
    1Buddhism meditations lead to psicosis state (read integral journals of ken wilber)
    2Buddhism is a nihilist doctrine (read aurobindo’s texts)
    3Buddhism is against reality (non-ego culture)
    4Buddhism is not atheist
    5sam Harris philosophy is Buddhism based
    6Buddhism may stay out of atheism
    7Buddhism http://www.humanreligions.info/buddhism_criticism.html
    8Buddhism rivisitations like thanissaru bikku or sam harris or anyone else are only point of view..
    9the same dalai lama in an interview with “”pirgiorgio odifreddi” says that buddhism is not compatible with occidental ways…
    10 Is easy to harris (harris meditated so many years under the dzochen instructions) to take on buddhist points of view on reality
    11 sam harris books are full of incongruence on history of buddhism too
    12 please….please… take harris out of four horsemen…

  39. Hi Rachel,
    For any of your doubts on Karma, there is going to be talk by Thanissaro Bhikku in Redwood City, CA on April 30th 2011. He is a well known authority on the Theravada Scriptures. I think it would be great to listen to his interpretation of Karma and Causality. You can go to http://www.sati.org to look up the schedule.
    Thanks,
    Srini.

    • I didn’t read the writings on this guy’s website that you or someone else mentioned, as I don’t have the time (or much interest). But I did find some lectures of his in audiobook format that I was able to listen to. The guy knows his meditation, that’s for sure. But, after I’ve been dong this for 30 years, I’ll bet I could write a pretty good pamphlet, too.

      However, everytime he mentioned that “according to the Buddha…” I wanted to throw my laptop through the wall. And, I can’t give you a direct quote here as I’d have to go through hours of audio to find it and I don’t have the time, he brought up how we “choose” our suffering in our various lifetimes, and so I won’t be looking to this guy as my teacher. I doubt he is one bit wiser than I am. More experienced meditator to be sure, but not one I’d go to looking for advice on anything else.

  40. “The doctrine of karma, with its corollary belief in good and bad karmic retribution, tends to serve as a kind of moral justification for social inequality.” Keep that quote handy the next time someone accuses you of ignorance – a Zen priest ignorant of Buddhism?!?”

    Except karma has nothing to do with good or bad, it is about cause and effect. Good and bad is attributed by the observer.

    Also, Buddhism is idealistic? Doing what does no harm or the smallest harm does have effect on the world, even if in a tiny way. Any positive effect on the world is a success. So no, Buddhism is not too idealistic.

  41. Hi Brent, how’s it going? I thought i’d start rambling again. Hope everyone is groovy..

    “I will make one point about Trungpa and his followers. The people in Shambala in Halifax do not think they are in a personality cult. Quite the contrary: they are certain theirs is the most uncorrupted lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. ”

    Yeah, I do find that quite a lot. ‘Oh.. We’re the SPECIAL Dharma. Yes, we have the QUICK path to enlightenment. Don’t mix traditions, as you’ll get confused. etc etc.’ I think, trying not to mix and match can be wise, as each tradition has their own style. But, with regards to a lot of traditions claiming that they are the most un-corrupted path.. Well.. I just take it all with a pinch of salt. Whatever. I know, after 6 years of doing this, that, if my mind feels low, and irritated, or confused, or fearful, then there is something to work on and release. So, I feed all my shitness into renunciation.

    So, the majority of them followed their guru and rationalized his behaviour. Once when I was discussing Buddhism with my therapist, who was a Buddhist and follower of Trungpa, I suggested to him that maybe his devotion to Trungpa was as deluded a belief as any Christian notion of eternal life.

    Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug lineage lineage, wrote a text, advising on what qualitites to look for, when looking for a suitable teacher, or outer Guru. What I’ve found, is that if people have a connection with a teacher, and they can easily uncover this light, joyful mind, that has a faith in the teacher, then it all just works beautifully. The negative imprints within our minds get dissolved. I feel it when watching Lama Yeshe’s videos on Youtube. When you think of a teacher somebody that you naturally admire, without having to convince yourself, then it’s easy to receive blessings from Buddhas (they are everywhere).

    So, even though Chogyam Trungpa’s behaviour rised a lot of doubts, to some people, who naturally connected with his personality and energy, it didn’t matter. They made progress. I thnik that my point is that, even if one were to meet Buddha Shakyamuni himself, 2500 or so years ago, then, if one didn’t have that connection, and thought of him as just an ordinary bloke, then that person would not receive much benefit.

    Trungpa’s style was the ‘meeting of two minds’, where the student completely opens to a teacher. I’ve experienced this, as one of my friends is psychic, and can see in to people’s minds. When I did some work with her, in the form of ‘Emotional release therapy’, the more open i was and the more honest I was about my faults, – about the things that dragged me down, the easier it was to release these emotions. My friend could actually see, with her awareness, if I was spacing out, or covering it over, or actually going straight into the emotion. It’s changed my view too, about spirituality, especially regarding purification techniques.

    So, basically, the idea in Buddhism, is to find a teacher that you connect with, and just work on dropping all the ego shields, that we all carry around all the time. The more the shields drop, the easier things become, as we don’t have to hide from situations that make us uncomfortable anymore.

    “How does one know? How does any Buddhist know that their particular sect or school isn’t off the rails? ”

    I don’t think anyone can know the complete goings on behind the scenes. There’s bound to be negative goings on, as the organisations contain people, who aren’t enlightened. As long as the teachings are in accordance with the Dharma, why worry? As I said before, some people loved Trungpa, and, for them, his behaviour didn’t matter to them, as their faith in him was so strong.

    Remember, the core tenet of Mahayana Buddhism, is the lack of inherent existence of all things. What we see, and how we react to things, and how we connect to teachers, is totally down to us. If we find that a teacher doens’t do it for us, then change.

    “So, some of choose to just sit, and learn with an open mind, and look at institutionalized Buddhism with a wary and skeptical eye.”

    This is fair enough, but, too much skepticism just ends up getting ridgid and dull. It doesn’t move our minds to transend our ordinary appearances, and our delusions. Sometimes, I’ve found that, I have to just drop my skepticism, and rejoice in the teachers. That’s when I’ve had some lovely experiences, and my problems have just melted away.

    • So, even though Chogyam Trungpa’s behaviour raised a lot of doubts, to some people, who naturally connected with his personality and energy, it didn’t matter. They made progress. I thnik that my point is that, even if one were to meet Buddha Shakyamuni himself, 2500 or so years ago, then, if one didn’t have that connection, and thought of him as just an ordinary bloke, then that person would not receive much benefit.

      Yes, even though Trungpa set himself up as an “enlightened being” and held private audiences with his disciples where he basically told them what to do with their lives (in direct contradiction to his so-called “teachings” where he said it was wrong for any teacher to answer the big questions for any student), slept with his male disciples wives and encouraged his protege to carry on having sex even though he had AIDs…yeah, none of that really mattered, because his students “made progress” , whatever that means, and is pretty debatable, to say the least.

      Trungpa’s style was the ‘meeting of two minds’, where the student completely opens to a teacher. I’ve experienced this, as one of my friends is psychic, and can see in to people’s minds.

      REALLY?! Pyschic? You know, I think James Randi is offering a million dollars to anyone who can prove they have psychic abilities. Maybe your friend would like to cash in. You’ve also mentioned you know someone who is reincarnated. You have interesting friends. And you have reason to believe in reincarnation due to your ability to access subltle aspects of the mind or something like that. Aren’t you special, that you can access this “spooky knowledge”, while so many of us can’t. And isn’t it interesting that this special knowledge is how you justify your belief in reincarnation. And the difference between this line of reasoning and saying “god can do anything…I just know it.” is what, exactly? Seriously, Paul, what universe are you living in? Gullible, much?

      I don’t think anyone can know the complete goings on behind the scenes. There’s bound to be negative goings on, as the organisations contain people, who aren’t enlightened. As long as the teachings are in accordance with the Dharma, why worry? As I said before, some people loved Trungpa, and, for them, his behaviour didn’t matter to them, as their faith in him was so strong.

      Yeah, as long as the teachers get up there and talk the talk, who cares if they are raping 10 year old boys behind the altar. And if people love Trungpa, and are so lacking in critical thought as to be sucked in by his egotism and manipulations and don’t care about what a coke addled alcoholic amoral douchebag he was, as long as they had “faith” in him (ie. were so victimized by their own lives they were desperate for an answer, any answer, especially one handed to them so wouldn’t have to think) then that’s all that matters. Because surely, their “enlightenment” is just around the next corner…

      Remember, the core tenet of Mahayana Buddhism, is the lack of inherent existence of all things. What we see, and how we react to things, and how we connect to teachers, is totally down to us. If we find that a teacher doens’t do it for us, then change.

      Man, are you missing the point..

      This is fair enough, but, too much skepticism just ends up getting ridgid and dull. It doesn’t move our minds to transend our ordinary appearances, and our delusions. Sometimes, I’ve found that, I have to just drop my skepticism, and rejoice in the teachers. That’s when I’ve had some lovely experiences, and my problems have just melted away.

      Too much skepticism? I don’t think there is such a thing. How is thinking for yourself a problem? What is rigid and dull is letting others do your thinking for you. Your last two sentences woulds like what the Christians would say. Faith is blind! Faith is beyond reason! CChristians say their problems “just melt away” when they “accept Jesus”. Yeah, delusion is a strong narcotic…
      Rejoice in the teachers? Personality cult, anyone?

    • So, basically, the idea in Buddhism, is to find a teacher that you connect with, and just work on dropping all the ego shields, that we all carry around all the time. The more the shields drop, the easier things become, as we don’t have to hide from situations that make us uncomfortable anymore.

      Ummm, except I could say the same thing about ANY realtionship.

  42. Paul, Srini,Riglin, Rachel and everybody

    I’ve been reading over the recent posts both on this page and the End of Buddhist Spirituality page. Lots to digest. Thanks, Srini, for the articles. That’s a lot of reading and I’ve only been able to quickly peruse a few of them. I see Rachel is busy with school, and I haven’t had time either to get to the readings I was planning on doing, including Srini’s list. Paul, I’m sorry, but I’m going to postpone a reply to your posts for a while longer. I feel like I’ve plateaued, and while I have a few points to make, I think it would be more prudent to wait til I’ve digested the readings more.

    When is this fall break Srini spoke of? It would be helpful if I had a deadline.

    I will make one point about Trungpa and his followers. The people in Shambala in Halifax do not think they are in a personality cult. Quite the contrary: they are certain theirs is the most uncorrupted lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. So, the majority of them followed their guru and rationalized his behaviour. Once when I was discussing Buddhism with my therapist, who was a Buddhist and follower of Trungpa, I suggested to him that maybe his devotion to Trungpa was as deluded a belief as any Christian notion of eternal life. How does one know? How does any Buddhist know that their particular sect or school isn’t off the rails? Buddha rejected all the schools, didn’t he? I don’t think, maybe, it’s so much about wanting to reinvent the wheel, as realizing that the wheel seems to continually fall into corrupt hands. So, some of choose to just sit, and learn with an open mind, and look at institutionalized Buddhism with a wary and skeptical eye.

  43. I want to first apologise for jumping in on your forum without having even introduced myself. I am an Australian living in Japan and have been practicing Buddhism and studying it’s history for a little over 20 years now. I began my practice of Buddhism in the Shingon school (vajrayana) and then took up Zen (Soto school). I began my practice in Australia under Japanese teachers – and it was with a “Western” point of view that my teachers passed on their knowledge.

    I haven’t had enough time to read all of the above posts thoroughly, so I must apologise if anything I say is already posted above. Also I have only a little time on my hands to bash out this post, so please forgive my brevity.

    The first thing I want to state is that Buddhism in Japan is a sham. Buddhism in Japan is a funeral business run by families who have been handing down the funeral business since the early Edo period (1600-1868). Each Buddhist temple here belongs to the monk who resides in a house attached to the temple. There are no student monks or homeless people living in the temples as in other Asian countries. There are no monks in training and there are no meditation classes. In order to learn Buddhism here in Japan you must be born into a Buddhist temple family.

    People in Japan attend Buddhist temples for only two reasons – to pray to Buddha for something they may want (amulets and magical talismans blessed by the monks are sold for many prayers) and to attend funerals.

    Monks are paid enormous amounts of money to recite the Buddhist funeral rites and to ensure that the souls of the dead pass over into heaven (monks have cars and big houses and huge families). ALL the various sects here believe that when a person dies, their soul goes to heaven or waits to be reborn. Dosen’t sound like what is written in English books on Japanese Buddhism does it? You’re right, what is written in English books is Westernised and modernised Buddhism. That is a secular Buddhism devoid of all the intense ritual and magical stuff that goes on here.

    Buddhism here requires that one believe in souls and ghosts (that pay a visit on a specific time of the year) and that the Buddha watches over all that you do.

    Just quickly, in regards to karma, the Japanese believe in the Hindu version of Karma (many Buddhists the world over do, as Brahmin teachings entered Buddhism during the great Mahayana schism). They believe that your suffering now is caused by something you have done wrong in a previous life and also that your relatives may affect your karma. A point in case, I look after disabled children: it is the belief of most Japanese (yes, Buddhist monks too) that these disabled people are paying for misdeeds in a previous life.

    These beliefs, this form of Buddhism, has been this way since Buddhism was introduced here in the 8th century – so the Japanese don’t understand any other way. Buddhism is a big business that rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The biggest land owners are the monks who own the temples with enough land for the graves.

    • Hearing the situations of Buddhism in Japan makes me sad because Buddhism has so much to offer if only people are guided the correct path. Those who want to learn authentic Buddhism should know English and Chinese , it’s great if supplement by Tibetan too. It depends on what systems you want to follow . Buddha teach each person according to their own mental capacity. For those who gone boring about karma , he would use different teachings like the ultimate states of matter eg abidharma , for those who are weak in analytic minds he would teach about karma , gods , ghost , hell and heavens. I got alot to share but it’s too long to put it here . For those who need any info on Buddhism please don’t hesitate to email me – kengwongx@gmail.com . Thank you .

      Btw , why there are so many bad things happened to Buddhism now , is because the Buddha had gone and now is what is called dharma ending age where Buddhas teachings is weak in quality and people getting enlighten is very very rare .

  44. Srini

    Thank you for your comments and suggested articles. I will get around to reading them (the articles) sometime soon, I hope. I will respond when I have more time than I do now.

    Brent

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