Five Tests of true religion - Feb 08, 2002
Let's be reasonable when it comes the most abstruse science of God (wisdom), the ignorant (by repenting) and the wise (by austerity) can never reap the same rewards.
Past dialogues debunking Religion
Other discussion boards:- Can a fool, fool God? Do all paths lead to God? Debunking evolution
Hi sir, it is my pleasure to begin this conversation with you. I was invited by Mr. Moka Masata, who claims to have derived much benefit from your exchange with him on the issue of God v. atheism. I, however, am a Buddhist of the Zen tradition, but that is not what I want to approach. I would like to discuss with you a simple path: the nature of reality. I look forward to hearing your response after and thank you in advance.
What is the nature of reality? It is obvious to everyone that the nature of the universe appears in layers and not as one single, unifying existence that we talk about in the same way. For example, let's talk about my computer. There is one way of talking about it and then there is another way of talking about it. For one, we can say that it is a piece of hardware made of certain metals and digital substances of integrated circuits, but then there is also another way we can speak of it, that being the fact that my computer is that of a collection of atoms, of elementary particles, held together by the laws of physics. Neither of these vocabularies invalidate the other, they are both compatible and both correct, though they appear seemingly different, and thus, this subscribes, in a holistic sense, to our understanding of the world around us.
So, in a computer, there is both computational logic and appliances which I use daily, such as Google search engine. Now, I'm no computer geek, but I do know how to google stuff, to make it work for me, but I don't now very well how the search engine works itself, and by this, I mean the internal programming. For example, I can take my IPhone out and call "Siri," but how am I sure she isn't a little person in there? Well, obviously, that's not possible, even though I don't know the mechanisms by which it works, I trust that it is compatible with the atoms themselves in the product.
And it is the same with the universe, there are things we just don't know. Even within a thousand years, we won't understand "everything"; knowledge of the universe isn't just about dotting i's and crossing t's. For example, if you talk to an expert in Quantum Mechanics, he'll tell you that there is a dividing line between just how much and little we know of the universe. Now, we do understand a layer of the nature of reality, and scientists know all the particles that are in us (which, by the way, can amazingly fit on the surface of a single shirt) and the stars and in the very room you and I inhabit now, and there is nothing else to discover, except for dark matter, but that won't be relevant to understanding you or me, or how we behave. But this, you see, all lies in Quantum Field Theory, in which stringent constraints are put on all particles, and how they interact. The theory states that if we interact with particle X (this is just an example), we can essentially create it in CERN by smashing them together. This is how they found Higgs boson in 2012, by smashing protons, causing the vibrations in these quantum fields to vibrate across the universe, and that's how they detected it (okay, to be fair, they didn't find Higg boson itself, they found the thing it decayed into, which took about one zeptosecond, that's very small). Regarding dark matter, we will probably never be able to detect it, because a) it decays away as soon as it's made, and b) it interacts with us so weakly that it can't be made, and that makes sense, since dark matter doesn't interact with you although the particles are passing you probably every second of every day. So we understand the layer of CORE Theory, but not everything, like the nature of space-time itself, nor the other layers of chemistry, biology, sociologist, or, shall I say, even politics (to add a joke)! Nor do we understand the layers sideways of themselves and other astrophysical stuff. We don't even know how elementary particles gained together to make living organisms, and this isn't me talking, these are real scientists!
We know, however, that physics cannot change, like bending spoons with our mind, it's just impossible, right? Okay, let's now go onto the biggest revelation science has to say for the past two centuries: scientists today say that since we know all of the particles that you and I are made of, and what happens to them when we die, and being that none of them defy gravity and float away to the heavens exhibiting for all to see the glory of God, they're sure there is nothing after death. Nothing. They're sure we only get, on average, about 3 billion heartbeats a lifetime, that's about 70 years on average. 70 years. Sounds like a long time, right? But 70 years is just 70 years. It's finite. Therefore, every beat counts. Every second is a challenge to live because this is it. This is all we get.
But there is a clairvoyant insight into the universe, and telling its story, and they are worthwhile to be heard, I think. In the Buddhist view, the defining characteristic of what makes humans distinct is that we're able to understand meaningful information and ways to impart it. We, in short, are storytellers, but we begin with certain assumptions which we hold to be self-evident, but are nonetheless entirely unable to prove within the existing context of our worldview. These axioms are the basis by which we develop theories, and we attend them throughout our lives and study them, as physicists for example study physics. But we should try and understand what we're purposing and how we seek to attain answers in any field of study. Scientists claim to be the heirs to empirical investigation, which, of course, claim no separate realm to the divine. They say that life does not denote existence to the supernatural. These men only believe in determinism, realism, and physicalism. If we go back all the way to Plato and Pythagoras, we find that they understood the laws of nature to be extremely mathematical, no more, no less, just perfect mathematics. Pythagoras believed that particles and forces alone weren't sufficient, that they weren't central to reality, which is pure mathematics, and which emerges into the world we know today. Now, here's what's interesting: unlike scientists, mathematicians don't start with axioms and then head to logical deductions, no, they explore reality through numbers and equations, and intersubjectivity validate them via this deeper underlying reality. So you now see that this reality doesn't just boil down to mere particles and forces alone, but pure math, and, as we know, modern physics takes a stand against materialism, and therefore, mathematics is the primary science.
In other words, it's just another story. Now, remarkably enough, we understand that the conscious of nature has a set of fundamental constants that had these minute constants been changed ever so slightly, the universe, as we know it, would have been impossible to exist. You, me, all of us wouldn't be here. This universe was designed with the goal of generating and sustaining life-force observers, you may call that God; be that as it may, then the real underlying reality would not be physics, but biology. Men like Albert Einstein and Max Planck posited that the mind is the matrix of all matter, assuming there is a force behind atoms which cannot be quantified. This "God of Spinoza," said Einstein, can only be revealed by experience not in, but through, the natural world. The universe, thought Sir James Jeans (who was one of the pioneers of cosmology), was more like a "giant thought" then a great machine, being that the mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm. So what exactly underlies what? This is very interesting. Maybe a mind? Perhaps a divine mind? In then, something even deeper. When asked questions about the world outside nature, there is an existing reality independent of what can be said about it. This assumption is unquestioned, even though it is void of meaning, which means that any information "out there", so-to-speak, cannot be attained by the information down here, but has to be revealed by the supernatural. Therefore, information fundamentally underlines perception in describing reality, and hence, substitutes our experience of reality and the universe with a contrived "belief" in an independent existing material world. This is, of course, out of our concept of information, leading us to create the human constructs called particles, forces, space-time, matter, subject, object, mind, etc. So I'd be first to assume that consciousness, like space-time, also has its own intrinsic degrees of freedom which ought to not be neglected less we risk an incomplete understanding of the universe.
So based on this assertion, CORE Theory has left out a vital organ: consciousness. We don't understand it, and it is totally plausible that our perception of it may be real, if not more real, then material objects themselves. Hence, consciousness underlines everything, and this is SCIENCE! This sort of talk does not come from the mystics, or from some Hippie on LSD, but yet it is why so many of today's scientists are reluctant to engage in discussions. For example, Quantum Theory. Many are afraid to talk about it because those who claim to be "experts," so-to-speak, talk of it with a form of dogmatic certainty, each of them convinced that any solution they can think up of is the final brick on the house of truth. I, personally, am more impressed by our ignorance than our knowledge of the subject. Currently, Quantum Mechanics is the deepest understanding we have of our world, but what it says about reality... is utterly uncertain. We are essentially blind to what exists at the very core of all physical reality; all we have are measurements, but they give an incomplete picture of what's really going on.
Now, let's finally turn to Buddhism. There is a very famous parable which Siddhartha Gautama taught, it is very famous and I'm sure you've heard of it. It is about the blind men and the elephant. According to the parable, a king gathered together a group of blind men, and he took them to the elephant; such a creature these men have never touched before, nor heard about, and they respectfully touched the head, ear, tusk, trunk, body, tail, etc. Then each man described to the king personally what he thought he had felt, and the answers varied for each one. One said he thought it was a pot, another a plow, yet another a winnowing basket, a granary, a brush, etc. Each man perceived something differently based on the knowledge (touch), which he used empirically to deceiver what he was feeling. As the story goes, the men began to quarrel with each other, accusing each other of deception and misunderstanding as to what an "elephant" really is! Finally, they came to blows over the matter. So what was the point? The Buddha said that these men, conditioned by ignorance of sight and true knowledge of the matter, saw reality differently, but nonetheless, true... and this is EXACTLY the problem of today's mathematicians, cosmologists, and physicists! They all think they've got the only truth and that there's no room for the supernatural. Now it will be a boon to note that there is a modern trend in Buddhism, though it isn't too modern at all and isn't at the top of the Buddhist spiritual food chain: it is this notion of what is termed as "Secular Buddhism," but really, the first Secular Buddhist was the Buddha himself! What is my empirical evidence for this? The Buddha one time came to a village where people fought over a certain matter of truth, and they were very skeptical, and the Buddha asked them to continue this doubt, for they were right in their skepticism. It would be wrong, he argued, to hold to dogmatic statements simply because they are the status quo, or have been groomed as tradition, or rumored, or conjectured, or because they are written in some ancient scripture somewhere. Unquestioned assumptions and inconclusive reasoning are all enemies of truth. The Buddha taught us that we are not to believe something merely because it is the view of our teacher, and this, I think, is very healthy skepticism; but what did the Buddha say to the people of the village? Test any claim of truth for yourself! The Buddha was the perfect empiricist. You see, there is a blindness, a baggage, we'll call it, which scientists carry with them when studying the universe but not its underlying features, which, I posit, exists. We have to realize the fact that White European civilization claims respect in all fields science, but they’ve been conditioned to overlook the rest of the world for the past 5,000 years, to ponder if they invented anything of value to civilization. People ask all the time, "You know, is their intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?" And the answer's "Ya, China." Let alone places like India, Indigenous populations in Latin America, Australia, Africa, etc." In the 21st century, White Europeans are immune to these sophisticated civilizations, they simply ignore them and if they take a moment to comment, it is only on the periphery level. But they are blinded in another way, they know so much about everything, they have rigorous methods of great precision to study them, but there's something they’ve left out, do you know what it is?
...Mind. Behaviorists study the mind indirectly because they study patterns of behavior, so do brain scientists, cognero scientists, psychologists, etc. Where in the West is there a mainstream academia in which students and teachers alike study rigorously and religiously, the only observable substance we have direct access to? Where is it? I've searched, still search,
I've searched, still search, and yet, I cannot find it. And the answer is simply because they haven't done it, they’ve only studied things relating to mind, and perhaps the only place close to having done it correctly is... Asia, for the past 5,000 years, in a practice known the world over as... Buddhism, for the past 2,500 years. Now I'm not here to suggest that the Eastern method has done better than the Western one in trying to outweigh and understand this problem, because no one understands it, and to say that the West somehow understands mind is nothing more than plain egotism, and the age of colonialism (I’m talking about the economics of influence, not property) was suppose to be over a century ago, last I checked. Nonetheless, Eastern methods have developed and refined highly sophisticated ways of training attention (the modern West sucks at it, look at the inflamed rates of ADHD which they will never exaggerate!), and meta-cognitive ability to observe thoughts and explore multiple dimensions and layers of consciousness, etc. Because the East is usually unheard of in Western society, this whole world of our’s is described as merely another way of talking about the brain, but it isn’t, and I can demonstrate that by a simple experiment and it'll take no more than about ten seconds to prove it.
For ten seconds, I want you to do something very simple. Mentally, I want you to be totally silent. Don't move, don't behave. Just be aware of what's coming to you. Ten seconds.
...Now, with tremendous confidence, I can assure you, if you indeed did this little exercise of mine, that what you've just experienced was not simply a way of talking about the brain... because you weren't talking. This exercise wasn't a way of behaving... because you didn't behave. It underlines those. It is... that which comes before the talking, that which comes before the deliberate conscious behaving, etc. The West has overlooked this. They pretend as if the mind-body problem is already solved, but they’ve really just talked their way out of it for the past two centuries. Now recall that even the measurement problem of Quantum Mechanics has yet to be solved in the last 90 years and still there is no progress... therefore, there has also been no progress in the mind-body problem. The weakness of modern Western science is to always overlook the nature of the observer. It isn't a scientific approach when one leaves out... well, ourselves! We are more ignorant about consciousness and the mind-body problem then we are about distant galaxies which formed ten billion years ago or of the inner-nucleus of an atom, and the answer is always because we’re not looking in the right direction, and this is what Buddhism pleads for us, and all humanity, to take up. It's not about dogma, it's not about belief. I'm not here to tell you about Nirvana, Buddhism, in its essence, is about rigorous methods and refined first-person inquiry into the mind, which complements the glorious and enduring achievement of objective science, the legacy of the West.
Now you know what the Buddha's hypothesis was all about! It's about a mind that is both monistic and cosmic, and that it is an active force in our lives; whether it be the soul or not is a question which may never be answered, but one thing is sure, the mind is immaterial and disembodied, and yet, somehow, is equivalent and correlates to the corresponding brain stages. If this is correct, which I believe it is, then mind cannot be measured objectively since we can't reduce it to mere neurons, chemical reactions, electrical charges, etc., (love is another example, it is a form of expression, an experience, one which cannot be quantified).
Today's scientists do not know if the mind conserves energy, or is predictable, nor how it arose in the evolutionary timescale, or if plants and elementary particles possess it. But whatever it is, it isn't "new," consciousness has been around long before the first scientist. Therefore, isn't it a bit arrogant to claim that the mind ceases to exist after death? Perhaps then the greatest obstacle to modern science isn't ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge?
Ever since the rise of Behaviorism and the snuffing out of Radical Empiricism, no one has seriously addressed the mind-body problem as, let's say, geology, particle physics, astrology, etc., as a means of observing the phenomenon from the inside-out. Partly the reason this is so is because the Western model is on the wrong track, as introspection would virtually play no role in such a study due to a simple truth: to try and understand consciousness would require us to step outside of it, but it is obvious to anyone that we simply can't just walk away from our minds! So we are then left with the Buddhist method, that of meditation. Through meditation, we realize that this mind, full of various faculties such as emotions, desires, memories, etc., evidently doesn't perish after death. How do we know this? Simple. Ask an electrophysiologist how the sinoatrial note knows to create the first electrical impulse in the heart to start life. No one knows, it isn't intrinsic, and though one could argue that we're using the wrong vocabulary in "know," life isn't akin to me setting a glass on a table and then suggesting that the glass just "knew" where to stop. We're talking about life, not immaterial objects.
Mind, without being too mystified, is like a genie blown out of a bottle. And at least on a hypothetical basis, once the supernatural interacts with nature, it is apart of it, therefore, it should be observable within that context. This is the crux which the Western model has failed to notice, but the Buddha's point was revolutionary: there are over 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, even the blackest sports are filled with thousands, if not tens-of-thousands of galaxies, and each one with approximately 100,000 billion stars, and yet, human consciousness is somehow central to all this, but not just our little blue planet, the Buddhist position holds that there are many worlds, many galaxies, all filled with conscious beings in which this world of ours is only a cluster of one in a billion world inhabited systems, and there are many more throughout the universe, and maybe even beyond it.
And what's even more amazing is that somehow, mind correlates to mental impairment, like mental illness, so there is a connection there, we just don't know how. Nonetheless, by and large, we in the East have about a 2,500-year head-start on the study of consciousness, because the West photoshops the same way the back of your retina (where it touches the optic nerve) does when it lose its visual perception and has to fill in that blind spot. What is the West photoshoping? They say that neurons, stimulated via electricity, create emotions... but an honest neuroscientist will say that that's just all just good myth-making. It sounds scientific to say that neurons send messages back and forth - all 900 billion of them - and that they preserve memory and know each other, have consciousness, etc., but it's all make-believe. Do you want to know what's really inside your brain? Four things, are you ready?
Fat, protein, water, and electricity. That's it.
Well, that doesn't sound too magical to me, how about you? And which part of it produced emotions and a spiritual existence? The fat? Water? Really?
So if all of the following is indeed true, let me give you a brief report of what we've found in the East through Buddhist science, by the way, this is just a hypothesis which can be tested: so far, in the West, there is not one theory, be it Property Dualism, Substance Dualism, etc., which can explain to us the mystery of consciousness. Therefore, they believe it doesn't exist, just like how Western philosophers thought appearances didn't exist. But all of their theories have one thing in common: none of them are testable. Not a single one; they're all based primarily on one thing: belief. Faith. Subjectivity. But you tell me what happens when you spend 10 hours a day probing into the nature of your mind from a first-person perspective, and your mind, with all its human thoughts, perception, memories, etc., is calmed to the point of total silence for that whole sojourn? This, of course, is the Eastern method. And though your heart still beats, your body's entire awareness is drawn into your psyche (the same happens when you're dreaming actually), which shuts it down, down to the very explicit cognitive activities, and what has been discovered for all these years is the fact that when meditating, you move yourself beyond that whole dimension, which is the only dimension modern science cares to know about - the consciousness mind and the unconsciousness mind - and penetrate through both of those to an underlying continuum of consciousness which is purely mental but non-human (it's non-human because it has no history, no gender, etc.,) and it's simply a continuum, a flow of consciousness, and it, and not the brain, is the repository of memories. This is not mere conjecture, it has been discovered and rediscovered for thousands of years. You enter a deeper level which isn't human, and if I can indulge myself in a cheesy analogy, the brain is the keyboard, the mind, the hard-drive. Now again, this is testable, and one way to do it is to tap into it and see for yourself if you can retrieve memories from a previous life. Now, of course, you may come up with nothing, let alone sheer fantasy like being Julius Caesar or Cleopatra, but what if you were both skeptical - fine, let's be fair, you're skeptical - but also open-minded, to see if in fact those memories were indeed the past actions of another person, in another life? THIS theory can be tested. My mission: to start a research facility to research this. To do it, we'll need rigorous training for volunteers for up to 5-10 years (without dogma), and have all the scientists working together and discover for ourselves, if indeed, it is true. This is simply a methodology which should be tried. We have to be very pluralistic and skeptical about where we get our information from and who we derive it from because that is the only way we can build any sort of truth, piece by piece, one step at a time.
I thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to your thoughts.
Hi sir, it is my pleasure to begin this conversation with you
Vj ~ It is a pleasure for me also to have you on board.
I, however, am a Buddhist of the Zen tradition, but that is not what I want to approach.
Vj ~ That is what you should approach if you need to know whether your religion is true or false.
I would like to discuss with you a simple path: the nature of reality.
Vj ~ To discuss this is like putting the cart before the horse. We first have to established true source of all knowledge known to man before the "nature of reality".
I thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to your thoughts.
Vj ~ An inquisitive mind, to begin with, would write a sentence or a paragraph and not a whole book.
It is difficult to know what the Buddha really taught, like so many other religions, a lot have been changed and added on after his death.
"He who attains true knowledge of Dharma or righteousness through the Vedas, attains a steady position. He does not waver." Sutta Nipata 292
I understand. Then I will explain to you Zen when I have time later today.
Well, sir, I am truly honored in sensing that you have an interest in Zen practice. So...
WHAT IS ZEN?
Cut through all the traffic, Zen, in essence, is about practice. It's about cultivating the good karma to help yourself and others enter a peaceful state of mind and escape eternal rebirth in this world. The reason we want to escape, as I'm sure you're aware of, is to help end life's suffering. Think about it like this: everything you do causes suffering, even to others. The Buddha only discovered this truth when he awoke from his somber under the bodi tree in an enlightened state. There, he had discovered a means to end this needless suffering through the Four Noble Truths, which, to sum up, are pretty much just ethical guidelines to living a good life. So I ask you to rethink your approach to life, because you don't want to shelve the mental capacity to learn new things and resort to animalistic orientations. It is important to be open-minded.
The thing with Zen is that it teaches openness, awareness, and compassion over identity, myth-making, and legalism. In Zen, one senses a higher sense of Being.
WHAT IS GOD?
We can briefly touch on God. Does He exist? That is not the prefix. Rather, let us ask if He have to exist? We don't deny a force out there in the universe somewhere, but we shouldn't focus our energies on something we can't see. Life wasn't made for us to know Him, otherwise, He'd reveal Himself, and that has never happened, nor would such a busy Being care what we do with ourselves. You see, we help people even with bad karma, regardless if they're sick and dirty, it's out of a moral obligation, but this thesis doesn't have to come from God. We don't need Him to tell us what is morally right and wrong
. All higher powers falls to corruption, so any Being would likely fall for this trap. Now note that a person, without any divine help, is just as capable of doing good as evil. Therefore, a God isn't needed in this universe, and as I understand it, you worship many gods, but they are not the focus of life.
THE SPIRIT OF ZEN
Zen is very intricate, but relatively simple and accessible to all, and it doesn't have to conflict with your current faith if you let it guide you on a philosophical basis. Why is this so? Because Zen, again, is about cultivating mindfulness and meditation. When I watch my breath, I ponder on the interconnectedness of all lifeforms. I do not sit and do mindless ritual. No one is chosen to do a special task, we're all one entity in humanity and we're all in this together, to use a modern Western phrase. In other words, we all go through these lives and learn the same things, make the same mistakes, and grow. This is fundamental to understanding the human experience, it is one without obstructions. In Zen, we don't make schedules, and though I understand that such rigid exercises help provide a cultural context, it actually rips yourself apart, because it is a form of cultural distinction and racial division, which are just another form of attachment.
THE BEST INCARNATION AND HOW TO GET THERE
Life is at its purest form when an insect, for suffering is unknown to such a creature. Haha, this is my personal bias, and many would argue differently, citing that its better to be human because one can perhaps reach the state of ultimate fulfillment. If one can. We all try our best, when given the chance. Perhaps our greatest scientists today are really Buddhists, what a great thought to play with! They certainly follow Buddhist ethics and teachings, this is self-evident to one who looks in the right direction. Notice now that God has given them clarity in this great insight, but it is a choice of their own, as God, if He does exist, doesn't put us where we belong, but the means to which, if we chose, get there. In foresight, knowing the teachings of Zen is the greatest wealth one can ever have. In this sense, they work with the natural order, and chose the path of life. Now you see that Zen isn't a belief about attaining mental happiness, it's about doing what is right. Again, life isn't about narrowing in on God, whether He exists or not is not the point, for He doesn't seem to mind our lack of attention. And while there are those who leave Buddhist teaching behind, be it for political or doctrinal reasons, one never leave its virtues. Today, there are many Tibetans who face death and persecution at the hands of the Communist government in China, and yet, they survive. Thousands have died, and they are still here. I personally believe all of them will reach Nirvana, as the entire human race will, eventually, and there, they will find... peace, and no more suffering, and no more incarnations. A perfect state of eternal bliss. But even an insect can find temporary peace in its lonely existence, for at some time, it too, someday, will be a man, and finally, attain enlightenment.
WHERE IS HEAVEN?
Heaven is not a place to worship any one Being, as if one would deserve the merit. No, in heaven no one plays harps... it is a place - if we can even call it that - of bliss... a soft, timeless state of existence. In Zen, the cosmology of the universe is impermanent and beings transmigrate through any a number of existential "planes" in which this human world is only one "realm" or "path" to Nirvana.
WHAT ABOUT THE EGO?
In Zen, we believe in self-knowledge. But here's the catch: there is no "self." That's ego. There is a body, an agglomeration of traits, but our "Selves" are interconnected, like spokes in a bicycle. This mindset helps us avoid desires - which are the cause of suffering. Most all faiths teaches the concept of "self," and they carry a lot of useless baggage, which lead on to further goals, i.e., suffering. Now one could attempt to say that this endless focus clears the lens of true nature of the "Big Self," but, as it turns out, there is no Universal Identity in which we all repose. In Zen, we have an even better understanding, without agonizing over it: with self-knowledge, we ready ourselves to serve this world while avoiding suffering.
BELIEF AND REVELATION - THEY MAKE YOU A SLAVE
In Zen, we always entertain the thought of "belief." But when talking about Buddhism, in its sparest form in the West, that of Soto Zen, then perhaps its greatest strength is that one doesn't have to believe. Rather, one experiences truths. This is what made Shakyamuni Buddhism such a revolutionary idea, because beliefs, in themselves, are a form of enslavement, even political beliefs. They make us - the self - suffer, and inflames that suffering. So Zen teaches that belief is just a smokescreen which obscures reality, or the true nature of all things. This, in hindsight, points out again that life isn't good when one doesn't know how to deal with it properly. There is disease, death, tragedy, etc. Therefore, life looks good form a distance, and though this isn't to say that one shouldn't make use of his time here, it is more proper to escape harsh realities then face them and let them drown you out in misery and decay, as most people don't know how to deal with them, they fall, and life's sustenance is wasted, to be mild. They fail to enter a peaceful state of mind and then have to be reborn to suffer more. And unlike the many other faiths which try and preach exclusive uniqueness via revelation - less one risk excommunication and a title of delusion - the Buddha's life is documented by outside sources, we can track his movements, his teachings. He was a human who transformed himself through deduction; through inquiry. There is no hocus-pocus in that.
WHY EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT
Both education and caring for the poor are promoted in Zen, and Buddhism in general. It helps us retain good karma, not only for ourselves, but for others. When the conditions of those with bad karma are improved or alleviated entirely, we help them help themselves, so it isn't meaningless to help those in need because it isn't deducting your karma, it's adding it. This is a natural law which cannot be undone, which cannot be breached. Don't think too hard on it, but one is better off poor, where others help him attain good karma, then never-ending wealth, as it blinds one into thinking he is free, when he really has just latched onto another form of attachment on this earth, and thus, the never-ending cycle of rebirth. Still, someone's karma can be compromised, if, let's say, he lost his wealth, even though he at first merited it. This may at first sound like an affront to karma, but it isn't. Karma builds off that.
WHAT ABOUT NEW SOULS?
There is a strong accusation against reincarnation in Buddhism, many in which our consciousness has grown to be predisposed towards. Some attack it as silly, after all, this has been the first time in history that we've reached 7 billion people! Where did they all come from, and where were they all this time? But if one knows just a grain of Zen, he'll know the answer, for it is a simple one and isn't hard if you just take the moment to realize a simple truth. There are many spiritual places a soul can inhabit, never mind other worlds which might exist close by our universe. You must also keep in mind that there are trillions and trillions of animals and insects and plants in this world alone, which could have then made up, and still makes up, the vast majority of populated souls. As for the shift in today's world, this can be easily explained by the fact that time's are perhaps really getting worse... and as we carry on in this way, more and more souls are born into people for the possibility of one word... change. All of this undermines the critics' position. Zen, unlike the Abrahamic faiths or some others, isn't disabled to change, it isn't intoxicated with undeveloped reasoning, which causes pointless altruism, death and destruction. Therefore, no other faith can dare promote a connection to a vibrate, all-present, all-powerful god, especially with tracts on legalism, endless commentary, and mere lies. The relationship between God and man is tangled, and then cut entirely. This is a disaster for the soul, and yet, they still preach their values and the masses still adhere to them as if their very existence depended upon it. And even in the West, many Buddhists are both compassionate and socially active. It isn't a faith which promotes a form of self-selective enclave for wealth or privilege, so how can another faith be so self-fulfilling and self-imposed when it corrupts the initiated? In sort, it is nothing more than being spiritually apartheid!
One could easily say that all religions promote lies, even Buddhism, by saying that we teach that one isn't too worry about suffering, that all is better in heaven. This is not what Buddhism, and especially Zen and Mahayana, teach. We say there is an end to suffering on earth, and we can do something about it, even on a universal scale. But there's one thing I despise, and that's hypocrisy, because no religion is like Zen, yet they claim to be. Unlike the other giant faiths, Zen doesn't teach us to leave those with bad karma to die on the street, or fly planes into buildings to excoriate what we perceive as evil. Karma isn't God, it can't be "unjust." You see? Many just can't seem to grasp this simple concept. In Zen, as in all traditions, but especially in Zen, we help others merit their share of peace of mind. This is what Mahayana teaches, which Zen is an off-shoot. Our good deeds can achieve our own liberation, along with Zen practice. When helping the poor, we give them the option of achieving their own good: who wouldn't want to do this? I can't exhaust myself in over simplification. Many act as if karma has a "master plan," it's not an organism. It's a law, just like growing old. Does growing old have a "master plan"? To let karma do its work, if you want to call it that, would be subjecting them to eternal rebirth. Where's the morality in that? Where's the accomplishment? A Zen monk would be astonished! Doesn't it make you feel good to help others, to feel meaning (and even that is a form of attachment)!
MY LAST ARGUMENT
My last argument: the following is a Buddhist concept - all things, all beings, create themselves moment to moment, and have no inherent qualities or personality. To believe in personality is to be blinded to the overlay of our finite human perceptions, born out of our own misconceptions, along with the chemical and psychological interplay at work. In short, a delusion. This mistakes us in endowing things and people with qualities that transcend them, but on the whole, actually don't exist. The Buddhists of the 10th century who thought up this radical, provoking view, are unmatched in any culture, and they unravel the traditional views of Western thinking and psyche. They demolish the belief in a personal god, a god with personality... your god.
It is time for your soul to come home where it belongs.
There is nothing more to say.
Well, sir, I am truly honored in sensing that you have an interest in Zen practice. So.
Vj ~ I can assure you sir, that I have no such interest! I will insist again Buddhism
is a false dogma and if you're a rational minded individual, you will take some time to investigate faith that says it is so.
Cut through all the traffic, Zen, in essence, is about practice.
Vj ~ The practices are indeed virtuous ones, but virtue practice in ignorance is still ignorance.
"The Buddha only discovered this truth
Vj ~ Please tell me what you know of the Vedas as the Buddha puts it, so that I can understand more of your "steady position'.
"He who attains true knowledge of Dharma or righteousness through the Vedas, attains a steady position. He does not waver." Sutta Nipata 292
It is out of pure ignorance that anyone would suggest that Buddhism, or any faith, possesses false dogma. All philosophical outputs have merit in some form or another. I’m sorry you feel this way.
It is out of pure ignorance that anyone would suggest that Buddhism, or any faith, possesses false dogma.
Vj ~ It is quite simple
"If all the religions of the world were in harmony with each other there would have been one religion, but since they all oppose each other there is one true religion." Swami Dayanand.
All philosophical outputs have merit in some form or another.
Vj ~ Yes and that "form" is why we stand divided.
I’m sorry you feel this way.
Vj ~ And I'm sorry you're a lost soul.
"The sin of worshiping a false God is equal to the commission of a thousand crimes." Swami Dayanand.
I ask you a simple question, what do you know of the Vedas, which the Buddha endorsed?
"He who attains true knowledge of Dharma or righteousness through the Vedas, attains a steady position. He does not waver." Sutta Nipata 292