from BuddhismTheMiddleWay Website
Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, believe not because you have been made to believe from your childhood, but reason truth out, and after you have analyzed it, then if you find it will do good to one and all, believe it, live up to it and help others live up to it.
Although it has been vilified by fanatic members of Western monolithic religions, the ancient religion of Buddhism has been widely respected by spiritualists and non-religionists for centuries. The admiration of Buddhism by open-minded Westerners is not a recent phenomenon, despite its current status in power circles such as the Hollywood elite.
Many seekers of truth have discarded their traditional spiritual practices in favor of what they consider a superior system, i.e., Buddhism, which does indeed offer concepts that are more cosmic and less repressive than the Western religions.
"Buddha" is a Compilation of Characters
There are several types of Buddhism, which is a reflection of the fact that there have been several "Buddhas" and that Buddhism has been migrating from place to place for millennia. The story of the founding of Buddhism is that it was developed by a single, godly man - godman - named first Siddhartha and then Gautama Buddha, who had miraculous exploits, including the requisite "virgin birth" but also mountaintop communion with "angels" and "gods."
The stories of THE Buddha, in fact, are extremely diverse. This diversity is understandable since the basic Buddha character is, in fact, a solar myth to which were added volumes of "sayings" and "doings" of a variety of people, usually men. "Buddha" is merely a title that signifies awakening, illumination or anointing, and there have been dozens of Buddhas, some female, over the millennia that constitute Buddhism.
Indeed, Buddhism existed long prior to the time period assigned to its "great founder," i.e., 500 BCE, as there are legends of "Buddhas" going back many more thousands of years, including the 24 Teerthankaras of Jainism. (See Buddha as Fiction.) The word "Buddha" is related to the Egyptian term for the sky-god father-figure, "Ptah" and "Puttha," as well as to "Pytha," as in Pythagoras ("Buddha" + "guru"). It is also, therefore, related to the word "father."
The Egyptian god Thot or Hermes is considered an early type of Buddha.
The Variants of Buddhism
While Zen Buddhism, or the Buddhism developed in Japan, is relatively simple and devoid of dogma, Tibetan Buddhism is more complex, with umpteen rituals and a hierarchy that startled Christian missionaries with its astonishing "similarity" to Catholicism. This similarity, in fact, is much more than a bizarre coincidence, as the two religions derive from the same source, Buddhism being first by thousands of years.
Tibetan Buddhism has a flavor distinct from other forms of Buddhism, especially Zen, because it is a combination of Buddhism and the animistic "Bon," the previous religion of the Tibetan area, which was once much larger than it is today.
Although Zen has been preferred by Western intellectuals, many Western people are especially fond of Tibetan Buddhism with its color and pageantry, finding it superior to Catholicism. In the most important ways, this perception is correct, because the major tenet of Buddhism - Zen, Tibetan or otherwise - is that there is no "god" as such, separate and aloof from creation, but there is a sense or state of divinity that can be acquired by all.
In other words, to enlightened Buddhas everything is divine. Many practitioners of Buddhism have undergone liberating experiences far more profound than those acquired within other spiritual or religious systems. While this promise of liberating spiritual experience sounds great in theory, there are problems with the actual history of Buddhism, as, like its Western counterparts, such history reveals prejudices, racism and sexism. Like the Western religions, Buddhism is primarily patriarchal, although certain sects of Buddhism have been goddess-oriented and have exhorted that the path to the One was through the Other, i.e., the Woman.
Because of its lack of rules and dogma, Zen is certainly superior to the monolithic religions that have through mind-control marshaled great hordes of people to rampage against their neighbors. But Buddhism did not spread peacefully, as is widely perceived.
The question is, for all its intoxicating magic and mystery, are Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism really a completely innocent place and ideology immune to any criticism?
Tibet is indeed a land of magic and mystery. The nation, which once extended well beyond the boundaries it held when the Chinese invaded it, has been steeped in the occult for millennia. While Tibetans are widely known for doing rituals to bring about healing and peace, some have been known to engage in what could be called "black magic" as well. Stories abound of hair-raising creatures ("tulpas") being created through incantation.
Also, it is claimed there is at least one secret society within Buddhism that has been in existence since the times of Asoka, the Buddhist reformer-king of India during the 2nd century BCE. This secret society is claimed to hold tremendous power, with each member in possession of a magical "key" that when combined with the others can create or destroy on a cosmic scale.
When a key-holder dies, he is replaced by another person, and it is believed that the key-holders are continually reincarnated, such that eventually there will be many of them living at once, thus increasing their power. (For more on the subject of Tibetan Buddhist mysticism, see Alexandra David-Neel's Magic and Mystery in Tibet, My Journey to Lhasa and Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects.)
While the Dalai Lama himself may be a charismatic caring leader, the Tibetan religious system is not devoid of exploitation. When Tibet was autonomous, the firstborn male of every household was required to enter the priesthood, a repressive law that served as one of the justifications by the Chinese for invading Tibet and "freeing" its people from despotic priests. The Chinese, although themselves awful violators of human rights, correctly recognized the falsity of a system whereby lazy monks live off the serfs. Of course, the life of the average poor and/or dull-witted monk is not so easy, as it is generally one of deprivation in many areas.
Again, the hierarchy benefits.
As concerns the argument that it is not Buddhism per se that is at fault but its followers who fail to live up to its lofty precepts, let us take a brief look at the actual character of the mythical Buddha to see if he himself is the epitome of peace and love. In reality, although Buddha is considered a "divine" and "godly" figure, his behavior, as depicted in the orthodox stories, is not entirely exemplary, as is the case with Jesus and other godmen.
First there is the story where Buddha wishes to have the other princes worship him, and, when they do not, he contrives to force them through magical means. (Hardy, Manual of Budhism, 200.) Next, when a sage doubts Buddha, one of Buddha's ministers encourages the doubter to challenge the godman.
Knowing this betrayal mystically, Buddha informs the minister that,
"if he again denied that he was the supreme Budha, he was not to approach him anymore, or his head would fall, like a tal fruit from its stalk, or would cleave into seven pieces."
(Hardy, Manual of Budhism, 332.)
These stories belie the commonly held notion of a peaceful teacher with no ego.
Also, according to the priest Nagasena, Buddha is responsible for causing death:
When Budha punishes any one, or casts him down, or takes his life, it is that he may be benefited thereby; for the same reason a father chastises his child.
(Hardy, Manual of Budhism, 385.)
Like those of Jesus, a number of Buddha's edicts are harsh and sexist, as well as anti-sex. As he himself was celibate, so he expected his followers to be, even if they were married. Because of his decrees (or, rather, those made by priests in his name), it became unlawful to touch a woman. Indeed, one was to avoid women, as if they were defiling. Moreover, as Simpson says:
Four crimes involved permanent exclusion from the priesthood: sexual intercourse, theft, murder and a false profession of the attainment of rahatship [state of liberation], or the highest order of sanctity. (Moor, Hindu Pantheon -ed. Simpson-, 162-163.)
Thus, sex is basically equated with theft, murder and lying, not an uncommon development within religion, whose priests have recognized that their flocks are controllable through manipulation of sex.
In addition, Gautama is also depicted as being humorless, not having smiled in all the years since he became Buddha. When he finally did smile,
"he did not show his teeth, or make a noise like some [but] rays came from his mouth like a golden portico to a dagoba of emeralds, when thrice around his head, and then entered again into his mouth."
If such a person really existed, he would have to be considered not only divine and wondrous but also irascible and aggressive.
The truth of the various controversial matters within Buddhism's history may never be fully known, but what is true is that although Buddhism purports to be the most effective way for humans to free themselves from delusion, Buddhism itself is not free of delusion. While this fact is not an egregious sin when one considers just how delusional this earthly plane can be, it does reveal that Buddhism is not what it is cracked up to be. All in all, however, Buddhism is like democracy: It's the worst form of government, except all the others.
To truly "get" Buddhism, one needs to become a "Buddha," and a Buddha is a free agent not belonging to any particular group, cult or religion, not separate from "God," and not ascribing to ritual and rote, except that which moves her/him in her/his autonomy.
A Buddha is, by its very definition, a liberated being, a person who thinks and does for her/himself yet who is connected to the whole, and thus selfless and concerned with the greater good.
by Acharya S
from BuddhismTheMiddleWay Website
This article does not necessarily represent the beliefs of the Temple or it's founders but is here as a topic of discussion.
Thanks, Leila, for this wonderful post. Some serious reading though, because it leads to many avenues, side streets and dark alleys, all worthy of further exploration: the more you know, the more you don't know. One is either daunted or challenged. Proceed further, at your own risk, or turn back, stay content, and be safe.
Many of the passages and information presented describe the "truths" that I live by and believe in, an offshoot of intense rejection and deliberate contradiction to 'truths" I was previously taught and trustingly accepted. Which, in time and later experiences, became too heavy to carry as crutches and only served as sources of disappointment and chronic guilt.
I am comforted that a number of these passages, formally set forth as teachings and ideologies long before, coincide with my current views and way of life. And there is great satisfaction in reading about them and being rewarded with additional nuggets of information.
Many others are in direct contradiction to my current understanding. It would be an adventure, though a humbling experience, to be proven wrong. And still others, partly acceptable and partly not, I try to combine and synthesize to live out the "contradiction."
Forgive me if I say that, synchronistically speaking, this post was probably addressed to me. As a gift to further whet my curiosity. Or perhaps a friendly but scholarly reminder to be aware of knots and contradiction that I may get myself tangled in.
Either way, I am deeply pleased and appreciative.
I approached Buddhism reading "Life of Siddhartha the Buddha" by Thich Nhat Hanh.
My opinion is that Buddha adopted celibate and imposed it to the monks because there was no other way, at that time, to give a glimpse of no-ego state. I don't think that Buddha was against sex or women. He stated that all regulations he gave where only a temporary mean.
Buddha and his first 500 followers were ksatria, worriors, kings, princes, people that used to have an harem at 13. The same for him, he had already tried all kinds of mundane pleasures and powers. They where fighters, and the first thing that triggers fighting is possess of women. So, I guess, in order to drop the ego, there where 2 ways: the tantric way, sharing sexuality and friendship as one thing, or dropping the sex completely. Tantra followers had already been slaughtered in India and Tantra was not admitted. At his time it was just fight and possession. So he was disgusted and he decided to drop it completely. But he would not have attacked natural sexuality or spiritual sexuality or non-egoic sexuality. Buddha has nothing against sex, this is my opinion.
My opinion is that the teaching of chastity was incidentally useful for him and his first followers.
But he never imposed celibate to anyone. When he was alive, you had to ask to be admitted in his Sangha (community) and he was not giving admission superficially.
The same for non-violence... he was teaching nonviolence to ksatrias not to victims. Not as a dogma.
" Buddha took lives".. I cannot believe this.
Buddha when he was alive forbid to WRITE his teachings.. Only a person who had reached his same state of consciousness was authorized to go and teach to others.. He forbid to write his teachings because he was aware of the possibility of misuse, manipulation , etc.. What happened in Tibet.. : Siddhartha Gautama Buddha RENOUNCED a kingdom.. he was the prince going to inherit it. Buddhists established a theocracy in Tibet.. this is the way things go.
All "isms" mean you know nothing. "ism" is expolitation of something, it is a drift from the center, from the being.
The way of Gautama, in my opinion, is not suitable for the masses. If given to the masses, it is a damage. And it is obsolete.
It is not possible that everyone becomes a beggar; if one begs 2-3 people will have to work more.
Chastity in my opinion can be temporary useful only for people that fully lived not-repressed sexuality (which means.. not mechanical and not "fall in love" mechanism); or for sex-addicts.
And "not to procreate" in my opinion is also not suitable for the masses; extinction of the race is not the goal.
"Not to procreate without awareness" is a good teaching now. (but Vatican has forbidden condoms in Africa until now and in Italy also until 1975).
Well, if it's not suitable for the masses, it's a little too late. A very good portion of the planet has had contact with Buddhism. It can't possibly be obsolete, if so, it would have the same amount of followers as Jainism or Zoroastrianism.
If everyone becomes a beggar, then there's no use for money. Maybe we just go back to simpler ways?
The ultimate cause of global warming is current human population. We could use more monks. Besides, a lot of people become monks temporarily.
Buddhism is all about encouraging mindfulness, awareness & understanding.
If I may .... it seems your prespective is askewed. There is NO "begging". What the Monks are doing is making themselves available for people to make offerings to them - also known as an "act of merit". One could say they are constant reminders that "It is better to give than recieve." It is not uncommon that much of what is donated (which is called tam bun - tahmboon - in Thailand) is redistrbuted to people in dire need.
@Josh: in my opinion "going back to simpler ways of living" can be achieved with less destructive methods, in example communes that tends to energetic, food and sex self-sufficiency. But not as a "political" revolution, as a spontaneous revolution for volunteers, instead. And as a temporary mean of transition, not as an absolute goal. As "vanguards", not as "the goal".
Everybody becoming a celibate monk and begging.. I mean this in my opinion would lead to hunger and destruction and death, not to mass enlightenment. And I think it's not possible.
"mindfulness, awareness & understanding", and meditation, I was not attacking these things, these things are good and needed.
Well, lets see here. A common problem with any belief system is the attack and distortion of truth. Regardless if its buddism, christainty, shaminsm, islam, ect. Mainstream religions all become twisted and turned upside down in a few 100 yrs, after its inception.
The bible says "the whole world is decieved by the devil". Thats THE WHOLE WORLD. Now when a light worker enters on earth, and does thier recorded work, by the time 200 yrs have passed, its been infiltrated, corrupted, and changed by the many satans in the ether realms. Thats why the bible says, the WHOLE WOLRD is decieved.
The Godhead does have an answer for this continued deception tho. Its Romans 2:14-16 which says, "even those who dont know me will make it, if thier consciousness doenst condemn them in the judgement. Because even tho they dont know the law, they live the law. Jesus said the law is sumed up as this, Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Now this verse says even those who dont know God will make it, so its about loving one another, as parents love thier children, and as children love thier parents.
Jesus departing words were, " I am going but I will come back agian; I leave you on this planet with satan, who is in charge of this planet untill I come back- so watch your hearts and characters, untill I get back here". SO this is why all religions are contaminated and turned upside down, even govmnts that start out good end up being evil, check your history out.
Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun". He was telling the truth. Its the same old demonic circle, repeating itself over and over agian, and will continue to repaet itself unntill Jesus returns. Keep this in mind in your searchings..loving you.
Nice piece. It seems to cover many aspects of history. I was unaware of "the requisite virgin birth". I thought Siddhartha had a normal royal life until he left the palace, as in, a King and Queen for parents.
No matter. My impressions of the practice are that most emphasis is placed on behaving well in the present. I think much of the ritualizes aspects have sprung from respective indigenous cultures. There seems to be shift on the other side of any mountain range or after crossing a body of water.
Kind of regretted that Vipasana was not covered.
The Thai have done a wonderful job blending their ancient superstitions with Buddhist teachings. I particularly enjoy the relationships with ghosts and the psychic dynamics. Naturally, there is more that I don't understand than do, but as a somewhat sensitive person, I find the energies here astronomically more soothing than a Judeo-Christian environment.
There are few sounds more uplifting than hearing monks laugh. Well, just sitting in front of a bank of speakers when they chant is intense, too, but in a different way.
Here is a short video of a frequent village event. An excerpt of a two day service commemorating the life of my Mother-in-Law. Tamboon for Mum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgJY96VAdHk