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Jundo
04-11-2021, 11:44 PM
JUNDO NOTE: I split some of this discussion from the "Editing Spiritual Teachers for Grammatical Honesty" thread.


Also, I would not wish to write off his friend Michael Stone as a "false prophet" because of his personal struggles. It doesn't mean he wasn't a good and sincere teacher or that what he was teaching should be discredited. It means he was all too human.

In fact, the best spiritual teachers work from their own struggles in life, and their own battles, which might sometimes get the best of them. Who wants to learn sailing from someone who stays on dry land or only sails in a bathtub? Who want to learn about healing from illness from someone who has never been sick a day in their life?

But the fact is that the most masterful sailor might someday get swept overboard in a storm, the expert tight rope walker might eventually slip and tumble. Mental and physical illness may overwhelm anyone.

Zen practice, for example, is NOT about how never to meet life's storms, our human fears and sadness. It is about not being overwhelmed by, and sailing through, life's storms, fears and sadness EVEN AS, AS WELL, we learn to see past the surface storm to the still still deep sea. Nonetheless, nature is formidable, and sometimes even a master will be overwhelmed.

(Here is a question that is rarely asked in Buddhism, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened to the historical Buddha himself if subjected to sufficient life strains or mental health issues? We are hesitant to admit any weakness of the mind or flesh for the Buddha in Buddhism, but I see a human being even if a very adept and wise one. A human being has limits of what can be endured under extreme conditions, has mental limits, and is subject to the changes of mental and physical health.)

Sorry to run long in my words.

Gassho, J

STLah

Naiko
04-12-2021, 01:34 AM
In fact, the best spiritual teachers work from their own struggles in life, and their own battles, which might sometimes get the best of them. Who wants to learn sailing from someone who stays on dry land or only sails in a bathtub? Who want to learn about healing from illness from someone who has never been sick a day in their life?

But the fact is that the most masterful sailor might someday get swept overboard in a storm, the expert tight rope walker might eventually slip and tumble. Mental and physical illness may overwhelm anyone.

Zen practice, for example, is NOT about how never to meet life's storms, our human fears and sadness. It is about not being overwhelmed by, and sailing through, life's storms, fears and sadness EVEN AS, AS WELL, we learn to see past the surface storm to the still still deep sea. Nonetheless, nature is formidable, and sometimes even a master will be overwhelmed.

(Here is a question that is rarely asked in Buddhism, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened to the historical Buddha himself if subjected to sufficient life strains or mental health issues? We are hesitant to admit any weakness of the mind or flesh for the Buddha in Buddhism, but I see a human being even if a very adept and wise one. A human being has limits of what can be endured under extreme conditions, has mental limits, and is subject to the changes of mental and physical health.)

Sorry to run long in my words.

Gassho, J

STLah

Thank you, Jundo.
gassho2
Naiko
stlah

Jundo
04-12-2021, 03:43 AM
At what point - if you kept adding additional stressors - might he have broken? Seems largely a question of perspective. To someone in the Theravada tradition, he would never break. Other Buddhism schools, the answer differs. Given there is no evidence to answer one way or the other, answering that question is less about studying the Buddha and more about studying your own beliefs.


Oh, I believe that one might make certain reasonable and educated guesses, assuming that he was a human being.

There is also a story of the Buddha, after becoming Buddha, suffering a headache which lasted three days (!) in the face of the slaughter of his Shakya clan.

https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Why-the-Buddha-Suffered/09-A-Headache.htm

Anyway, yes, it is best not to speculate about his point of breaking or not breaking.

A good Koan might be, "What Buddha is unbreakable at the heart of all breaking or not breaking?"

Gassho, J

STLah

JimInBC
04-12-2021, 11:18 PM
Oh, I believe that one might make certain reasonable and educated guesses, assuming that he was a human being.

I think this is kinda my point about one's answer saying more about one's beliefs. Yes, if one assumes "that he is a human being," and assumes human being to be understood as we would in the modern scientific world, then yes, one can make educated guesses. But if one believes - for example - that the Buddha is a human being with spiritual powers, or that the Buddha (and all arahants) are free of all fetters, than one probably has a different educated guess. So answering the question says more about the beliefs one brings to the question than it says about the Buddha himself.



A good Koan might be, "What Buddha is unbreakable at the heart of all breaking or not breaking?"

gassho2

Gassho, Jim
ST/Lah

Jundo
04-13-2021, 01:54 AM
But if one believes - for example - that the Buddha is a human being with spiritual powers, or that the Buddha (and all arahants) are free of all fetters, than one probably has a different educated guess. So answering the question says more about the beliefs one brings to the question than it says about the Buddha himself.

Yes, I do not believe that. Moreover, the claim that someone in this world with human body and brain can nonetheless, through spiritual powers or being free of "fetters," thereby escape fully the extreme limits of what body and brain can tolerate is as absurd as the claim that there was actually a "Superman" with a chest so strong that it would stop bullets, or a conscious human being who would not eventually be broken by the torture chamber. The claim is so absurd that it demands, not just faith, but special evidence that such people exist. Granted, people can place themselves into states where they do look death square in the eye, be it the Japanese Kamikaze, the 9/11 hijackers or the Vietnamese and Tibetan monks who burn themselves. However, that does not mean that the Kamikaze etc. would be fearless and beyond break under all conditions, and I demand something more than "faith" to demonstrate that a conscious individual, even that Vietnamese monk, could be beyond the breaking point no matter the stress placed upon them in all extreme circumstances.

The one exception I might accept is that a Buddha or other mystic might develop the ability to place oneself in such a deep trance state that they are no longer conscious, i.e., the equivalent of being under full anesthesia during surgery whereby one has no sensation of what the body is experiencing. Even so, I have seen no scientific proof that such states can be attained without pharmacological assistance, even among meditators who enter very deep states for a short period.

So, I would say that the burden of proof is on those who would claim that Superman exists or that the CIA could not break a Buddha.

THAT SAID, I know this ... Buddha is beyond all possibility of breaking or suffering in any way. [monk] It sounds like a fully contradictory claim, so let me explain:

The human, historical Buddha in India, as well as you and me, made of flesh and bone, can be broken. However, the aspect of Buddha (which is also you and me and all things) which represents the flowing wholeness of this world, emptiness, the Dharmakaya and such, all as all is, cannot be broken for this flowing whole can never be less than whole by definition. We and all things are the whole flowing, the whole is flowing as us and all things. That said, you, me and all things can sometimes be crushed and broken even as the whole flows on and on.

To the extent that Zen or other spiritual practice allows one to experience one's aspect as this flowing wholeness, one realizes that there is an aspect or alternative True Face of oneself that can never be crushed and broken, can never die (and was never born either). Nevertheless, this body and brain of flesh can sometimes be pushed beyond its limits and broken, is born yet sometimes grows sick and dies. If Dr. No tried to split Buddha with a laser beam like he did James Bond, the body of flesh of the Buddha would be split in two, yet Emptiness, proclaims the Diamond Sutra, is simply unbreakable.

Sorry to run long, but I hope the point is clear.

Gassho, J

STLah

Shokai
04-13-2021, 02:01 AM
Ya but, wouldn't you just love to have that Superman Comic book that sold for $3.2 million yesterday???

gassho, Shokai
stlah

JimInBC
04-13-2021, 03:39 AM
Yes, I do not believe that. Moreover, the claim that someone in this world with human body and brain can nonetheless, through spiritual powers or being free of "fetters," thereby escape fully the extreme limits of what body and brain can tolerate is as absurd as the claim that there was actually a "Superman" with a chest so strong that it would stop bullets, or a conscious human being who would not eventually be broken by the torture chamber. The claim is so absurd that it demands, not just faith, but special evidence that such people exist. Granted, people can place themselves into states where they do look death square in the eye, be it the Japanese Kamikaze, the 9/11 hijackers or the Vietnamese and Tibetan monks who burn themselves. However, that does not mean that the Kamikaze etc. would be fearless and beyond break under all conditions, and I demand something more than "faith" to demonstrate that a conscious individual, even that Vietnamese monk, could be beyond the breaking point no matter the stress placed upon them in all extreme circumstances.

The one exception I might accept is that a Buddha or other mystic might develop the ability to place oneself in such a deep trance state that they are no longer conscious, i.e., the equivalent of being under full anesthesia during surgery whereby one has no sensation of what the body is experiencing. Even so, I have seen no scientific proof that such states can be attained without pharmacological assistance, even among meditators who enter very deep states for a short period.

So, I would say that the burden of proof is on those who would claim that Superman exists or that the CIA could not break a Buddha.

THAT SAID, I know this ... Buddha is beyond all possibility of breaking or suffering in any way. [monk] It sounds like a fully contradictory claim, so let me explain:

The human, historical Buddha in India, as well as you and me, made of flesh and bone, can be broken. However, the aspect of Buddha (which is also you and me and all things) which represents the flowing wholeness of this world, emptiness, the Dharmakaya and such, all as all is, cannot be broken for this flowing whole can never be less than whole by definition. We and all things are the whole flowing, the whole is flowing as us and all things. That said, you, me and all things can sometimes be crushed and broken even as the whole flows on and on.

To the extent that Zen or other spiritual practice allows one to experience one's aspect as this flowing wholeness, one realizes that there is an aspect or alternative True Face of oneself that can never be crushed and broken, can never die (and was never born either). Nevertheless, this body and brain of flesh can sometimes be pushed beyond its limits and broken, is born yet sometimes grows sick and dies. If Dr. No tried to split Buddha with a laser beam like he did James Bond, the body of flesh of the Buddha would be split in two, yet Emptiness, proclaims the Diamond Sutra, is simply unbreakable.

Sorry to run long, but I hope the point is clear.

Gassho, J

STLah

I admit I'm not sure how other belief systems get words/phrases like "absurd" and "burden of proof" applied to them, and then suddenly I'm supposed to believe that we members of a given species of primate evolved to be born with "Buddha Nature" and experience "unbreakable emptiness." Now, I don't mind that you have those beliefs. But it seems to me that you apply different standards to the beliefs of other traditions than you apply to the beliefs of your own tradition.

Anyway, I suspect this conversation has moved beyond usefulness. Much Metta, Jundo.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH



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Nikos
04-13-2021, 06:05 AM
A Human breaks up
A Buddha picks up his pieces
What's Buddha, what's Human, and what's in between them?

Gassho, Nikolas
Sat/Lah

Tomás Sard
04-13-2021, 06:28 AM
Thank you for pointing out that even the best of teachers are human. I feel like many of the problems that we see in Sanghas come from an idealization of the teacher, as if this person was someone that has overcome all and every deficiency or possibility for making mistakes. Teachers should be a vehicle to the Dharma, a spiritual mentor, someone who helps guide us through our struggles. But in no way does this mean the teacher is perfectgassho2

Gassho, Tomás
Sat&LaH

Jundo
04-13-2021, 08:14 AM
I admit I'm not sure how other belief systems get words/phrases like "absurd" and "burden of proof" applied to them, and then suddenly I'm supposed to believe that we members of a given species of primate evolved to be born with "Buddha Nature" and experience "unbreakable emptiness." Now, I don't mind that you have those beliefs. But it seems to me that you apply different standards to the beliefs of other traditions than you apply to the beliefs of your own tradition.



Hi Jim,

Oh, I can explain the difference very simply and clearly, I feel.

Concepts like Dharmakhaya, "wholeness" "emptiness" or "Buddha Nature" and the like in Zen are not concrete things, and traditionally Zen folks will avoid to reify such concepts. Rather, each is more like a personal viewpoint or way of seeing that is not a "thing," yet changes how one experiences oneself and the world. For this reason, realization of such is more like the statement by Jim that "I (Jim) like ice cream." It is just Jim's experience of ice cream to Jim, and there is nothing for Jim to doubt about the fact, it is self-proving because it is impossible to deny that when Jim likes ice cream, Jim likes ice cream. If Jim likes ice cream, I cannot argue to Jim that he really does not (perhaps I can argue that he should not, but I cannot argue that he is not experiencing ice cream as pleasurable when he experiences ice cream as pleasurable).

Usually, we see the world as divided, with a self/not self separation, and we judge the world in various ways, and feel friction. This is our experience. When we drop the division and judgements, the experience or taste of wholeness, a sense of flow and equanimity results. It is now our personal experience that this wholeness and flowing is whole and flowing as us, and so is just a personal experience and realization such as "I like ice cream." Nothing to deny, it just is so when we experience so.

In contrast, I can have a religious belief that superman's chest can stop bullets, but that belief alone (unlike "I like ice cream") does not make it so by that alone.

Of course, there is much in modern science that backs up a vision of "wholeness" too, such as that physicists and biologists can point out that we are not only individuals, but also just aspects of wider systems, ecologies and fields. However, in the end, it comes down to the fact that, when we experience the world as broken, the world is experienced as broken; and when we experience the world as whole, then the world is experienced as whole. This wholeness and lack of brokenness is what is sometimes called Dharmakaya, "Emptiness," "Buddha Nature" (in some definitions which avoid reification) and "Buddha" (Big B).

So, a "proof is in the pudding" ... or ice cream ... assertion.

Gassho, J

STLah

Kevin M
04-13-2021, 02:13 PM
To pick up Jundo's Superman analogy I see it as like the difference between the claim that "Christopher Reeve was super human and could fly and shoot laser beams from his eyes" and "Christopher Reeve had superman-nature, we all have that same capacity for resilience within us" (referring say to the potential for strength in the face of suffering and tragedy). You can doubt both beliefs, but the first feels more "absurd" (more in the objective rather than derogatory sense of that word). The second seems like more of a conversation-starter, in terms of an exploration of personal experience.

Gassho,
Kevin
Sat Today

Jundo
04-15-2021, 01:32 AM
For real post-modern language philosophy WONKS and others who might wonder what I meant by Zen/Chan Buddhists (not all of them) bending over backwards to avoid the "reification" (turning into a solid idea of a concrete "thing") of words such as "Buddha Nature," "Emptiness," "Flowing Wholeness," "Dharmakaya," Buddha (Big B) and the like ...

... well, I have the paper just for you! :p

Reification and Deconstruction of Buddha Nature in Chinese Chan by Youru Wang
https://terebess.hu/zen/Buddha-Nature-in-Chan.pdf

From a review:


... Although expressions such as "Buddha nature" and "original mind" might seem intrinsically more metaphysical than deconstructive, Wang makes evident the contested character of these terms in Buddhism by tracing the struggle between their reification and deconstruction from Indian tathagatagarbha thought to the Platform Sutra in which Huineng challenges Shenxiu's reification of the pure mind through emphasizing the free-flowing character of both thoughts and things. Huineng playfully opens up zixing (self-nature) in order to undermine the possibility of fixing it such that his no-thought resists being reduced to either the presence or absence of thought or mind. Likewise, according to Wang, Hongzhou Chan's relational and pragmatic deployment of apophatic and kataphatic language deconstructs Shenhui's reification so as to responsively follow the movement of things ( renyun ). The self-destructuring of the awakening mind is illustrated in Mazu Daoyi's neither mind nor Buddha ; Huangbo Xiyun's articulation of the fluid play and mutuality of originary and ordinary mind; and Linji Yixuan's ironic self-erasure of the primary terms of his discourse such as the authentic person without rank, mind, and the Buddha.

...

Ain't no thang

https://youtu.be/s_8_BTCPweA

The band is called katZENjammer! :encouragement:

Gassho, J

STLah

PS - Lyrics ... Let us offer Metta to all concerned. Alas, without some Dukkha in life, we wouldn't have 'the Blues' .... [happy]

I'm down by the river (hell yeah)
I'm ready to a'board (all right)
I've made my last deliver
'Cause this shit is getting old

Ain't no thang
Ain't no thang
It's my easiest leave
And I'll leave with your wedding ring

Your ass can stay in prison (hell yeah)
I ain't gonna bail (all right)
I put your house on fire
And your truck is for sale

Ain't no thang, oh yeah
Ain't no thang (ain't no thang)
It's my easiest leave
And I'll leave on your wedding ring
I'm down by the river (hell yeah)
I'm ready to a'board (all right)
I've made my last deliver
'Cause this shit is getting old

Ain't no thang
Ain't no thang
It's my easiest leave
And I'll leave with your wedding ring

(Yeah! Take it away!)

So I'm joinin' Mississippi (hell yeah)
Her will will be the way (all right)
It might get sad and lonely
But that's okay

Ain't no thang, oh yeah
Ain't no thang
It's my easiest leave
And I'll leave on your wedding ring
It's my easiest leave
And I'll leave on your wedding ring

JimInBC
04-15-2021, 06:02 AM
Concepts like Dharmakhaya, "wholeness" "emptiness" or "Buddha Nature" and the like in Zen are not concrete things, and traditionally Zen folks will avoid to reify such concepts. Rather, each is more like a personal viewpoint or way of seeing that is not a "thing," yet changes how one experiences oneself and the world. For this reason, realization of such is more like the statement by Jim that "I (Jim) like ice cream." It is just Jim's experience of ice cream to Jim, and there is nothing for Jim to doubt about the fact, it is self-proving because it is impossible to deny that when Jim likes ice cream, Jim likes ice cream. If Jim likes ice cream, I cannot argue to Jim that he really does not (perhaps I can argue that he should not, but I cannot argue that he is not experiencing ice cream as pleasurable when he experiences ice cream as pleasurable).

Usually, we see the world as divided, with a self/not self separation, and we judge the world in various ways, and feel friction. This is our experience. When we drop the division and judgements, the experience or taste of wholeness, a sense of flow and equanimity results. It is now our personal experience that this wholeness and flowing is whole and flowing as us, and so is just a personal experience and realization such as "I like ice cream." Nothing to deny, it just is so when we experience so.
Hi Jundo,

Thank you for your response. I think I understand your position now. Other religions make truth claims, and if their claims have any supernatural elements those claims can (at worst) be called absurd or superstitious. At best one could say they have the burden of proof.

Soto Zen (or at least the subset of Soto Zen that avoids reification of concepts like "Buddha Nature") avoids the need for proof because it makes no truth claims about the world. It only talks about subjective experience. If you follow these practices you may have this subjective experience and if you use the Soto Zen understanding of that subjective experience you may experience the world as less broken and more whole and flowing. If one has that experience, great. If not they can't say someone else didn't, just like one can't say someone else doesn't like ice cream just because they don't.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

Jundo
04-15-2021, 09:11 AM
Hi Jundo,

Thank you for your response. I think I understand your position now. Other religions make truth claims, and if their claims have any supernatural elements those claims can (at worst) be called absurd or superstitious. At best one could say they have the burden of proof.

Yes, I would say so, if those claims seem to violate what we know about the laws of physics and physical limits of biology, for example, a claim that someone can levitate or read minds, or the like.


Soto Zen (or at least the subset of Soto Zen that avoids reification of concepts like "Buddha Nature") avoids the need for proof because it makes no truth claims about the world. It only talks about subjective experience. If you follow these practices you may have this subjective experience and if you use the Soto Zen understanding of that subjective experience you may experience the world as less broken and more whole and flowing. If one has that experience, great. If not they can't say someone else didn't, just like one can't say someone else doesn't like ice cream just because they don't.


Yes, very well summarized. However, perhaps there is a little more to it as well.

So, for example, if I see a painting as beautiful, and you see it as ugly, that is just a fact and our unchallengable personal experience of how we experience what is ultimately some molecules of paint on canvas in certain shapes. Or, if I find coffee ice cream to be delicious, but you find it horrid, that is just our personal experience of how we encounter what is basically certain molecules on our tongues. The paint on canvas or ice cream is not good or bad to us until we experience it as so for ourself. In like fashion, whether we encounter the world as broken into pieces or as 'whole & flowing' is largely up to us, for the world is just the world. As well, whether we feel that our "self" ends at the skin line, or flows in and out, beyond inside and outside, in union with all the world, is largely a matter of our own making, for the "border" of me/not me is drawn between our own ears (and can be undrawn or redrawn between our own ears too).

That said, in Buddhism, subjective experience is not really just a "subjective" experience. The reason is a little tricky to explain, but one might say that there never was a "subjective/objective" separation from the start, so the change in our personal mind does really change everything ... or, at least, one version of everything. Uchiyama Roshi once said that it is really as if we each live in our own universe and, when we die, our universe fades away with us. What we call "the universe" is really all our universes interacting, so although (I assume) something goes on after I die, yet it is not the same universe as before.

Perhaps, to demonstrate, please think of a dinner party in which we are all guests. There is no dinner party without the guests, and no guests without the dinner party. There would only be a barren room without the guests, and the guests would have no place to be guests absent the party. The food on the table is but bare atoms in X configuration until each guest can taste and experience it and say, "Ah, a delicious chowder" or "Oh, a bitter fruit" etc. In other words, no soup or fruit, delicious or bitter, without our eyes and tongues to define bare "form" so.

In a sense, there is no single "dinner party," but countless individual "dinner parties" going on, as experienced by each individual guest, each experiencing the other guests and the entirety from their own vantage point, in their own place, and each experiencing the food served in their own way. So, every guest has his/her own dinner party, and there is no party without our eyes and tongues to experience it. As well, without the room, the guests and the food, there is nothing for our eyes and tongues to experience, whereby we would experience nothing, have no life ... and so it is a feedback loop. Party needs guests to be party, guests need party to live as a guests. When any guest dies, one might say that that guest's "whole dinner party" ends, even if other guests are always coming and going.

Furthermore, in Buddhism, the guests realize that they are not just visitors to a party room or interlopers at an affair, but in fact, are just the party come to life as its guests. The guests do not merely attend the party, but are the party as much as the table, the chandeliers and the food and wine on the table. (We often feel separate from this world, as if separate individuals born into a world, but we are not separate from the whole world. We are, in fact, the life of the party!). We might say that we are the party enjoying itself, for there is nothing BUT party! The table is the party tabling itself, the wine is the party wining. So, the guests ARE the party and the party is alive through its guests (as much as when, for example, Jim's hand scratches Jim's nose it is Jim scratching Jim). Likewise, since Guest X is the party, and Guest Y is the party, and because party is party, Guest X is Guest Y in other guise. In such case, even though a guest dies, to the extent that the party keeps on going, the music keeps on playing, then there is no death. And even though a new guest appears to come, there is actually nothing born or coming, because it is all just the same old party appearing to come and go.

(But as I mentioned, do not reify even the "party" as a thing ... it is just a happening, countless happenings within happenings ... and no "party" to nail down. Oh, you can take a picture of the table, or some of the guests, but there is no "party" at all ... just the dancing and flowing. "Party" is just a name that we guests impose upon this too, trying to nail it down as a "thing." )

Such realization comes simply when we drop from mind such concepts as "birth vs. death" "me vs. not me" "coming and going" and the like.

So, it is all a matter of how we experience reality between our ears, but it is not merely "subjective." How we define and experience this reality turns out to be "true" beyond challenge because it is simply how we have learned to define and experience this reality from our vantage point, yet how we change (or drop) our thinking changes everything.

I hope I kinda made some sense.

https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/56d376871bbee09a4bcf9ae8/1459558746031-P0LJA3WM37L76P8K1J7K/1458165721984.jpeg?content-type=image%2Fjpeg

Question: Here is one picture of a dinner party with many guests, so is it one or many? Are you seeing the same painting from your vantage point in Canada as I am seeing in Japan? Is it more than paint (or pixels in this case) until our eyes see?

Sorry to run long.

Gassho, J

STLah

Inshin
04-15-2021, 12:00 PM
Cheers to that!
I see myself in the picture, pink dress, thinking "How splendid! Now how do I get out of this party and never come back?"

Gassho
Sat

JimInBC
04-15-2021, 02:55 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk this through with me, Jundo. Gassho2

I understand the position now. I am still left with an emotional response - I was raised Christian, and Christianity has a history of dismissing or belittlingb (or far worse!) the beliefs of other religions. So I have a viscerally negative response to a religious belief of a religion I don't practice being called "absurd" or a "superstition". (I'm fine with those conversations about the religion I'm practicing, because I think it is important that people can challenge their own views.) And I'm fine that I have that reaction. We all bring reactions like that with us.

Your discourse on subjectivity/objectivity and the painting was beautiful. A koan that I hope you include in your next book. Thank you. Gassho2

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH



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Jundo
04-16-2021, 12:17 AM
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk this through with me, Jundo. Gassho2

I understand the position now. I am still left with an emotional response - I was raised Christian, and Christianity has a history of dismissing or belittlingb (or far worse!) the beliefs of other religions. So I have a viscerally negative response to a religious belief of a religion I don't practice being called "absurd" or a "superstition". (I'm fine with those conversations about the religion I'm practicing, because I think it is important that people can challenge their own views.) And I'm fine that I have that reaction. We all bring reactions like that with us.



I understand, and I fully cherish and honor the right of anyone to believe any peaceful and non-violent (important) belief that infringes on nobody else. In an imagined extreme case, if someone wishes to set up an Altar and put Snoopy on it, and believe that beagle shaped UFO aliens built the Pyramids, it is their right, no skin off of anybody's nose. I would never say to them that their belief is absurd. This is especially true if the Snoopy Pyramid people do not aggressively seek to impose their belief on me or others. In such case, more power to them! One man's Snoopy is another man's Sacred Savior.

But in the age of anti-vaxxers and 'Q', "fake news" and pseudo-science, snake oil and cults (e.g., Scientology and the hundreds of like cults here in Japan) ...

https://www.nytimes.com/article/happy-science-japan-coronavirus-cure.html?

... I think it is fine for some of us to say that, personally, we believe and conclude that some beliefs are either absurd based on what we understand now about the laws of physics and limits of biology or, if not, demand some special evidence beyond mere faith and "I heard it from a guy who read it in a book." It is my counter to all the Buddhists who (truly at least twice a month) tell me that I am --not-- a Buddhist because I don't believe in certain things or am agnostic about them, most especially, my open mind skepticism about more literal and detailed claims concerning post-mortem rebirth. When they say that to me I bow, offer thanks, but then I calmly and softly say too that I find that their belief is hard to swallow for me.

I also speak in this way for the folks who are, like me, seeking a refuge from Snoopy and the Pyramids, but are being told in various places that they MUST believe in Snoopy and the Pyramids or they are not practicing right, or worse, will be reborn in Peanuts Hell. I am saying that they are welcome here where, despite their more skeptical attitudes, they can practice Buddhism safely and fruitfully. Furthermore, anyone who wishes to honor Snoopy can find plenty of groups around that do just that, and we wish them well.

I am afraid that I am not the first Buddhist to speak in such tones. From India to Burma, Tibet to Tokyo to Taiwan, Buddhist teachers have very forcefully spoken out through the centuries when they believe that somebody else's version of Buddhism is incorrect. They claim that X or Y belief is heresy. I will do not so. Instead, I will simply note that, for some of us, certain beliefs seem personally absurd or demand further proof. For others, those same beliefs are cherished beliefs, and we celebrate their right to believe so.

Sorry to run long.

Gassho, Jundo
STlah

PS - Even the book which you pointed me too (Bhikkhu Analayo's book, which I am just in the early reading of) seems to have its own blind spots in a very, very subtle way, and may actually be stereotyping others too (I will have more to say about that when done, and perhaps my early impression is mistaken. Stay tuned. I might be completely wrong based on only an early chapter.)