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Thread: Buddhist Fundamentalism

  1. #1

    Buddhist Fundamentalism

    I had liked a page on Facebook entitled "Buddhism" and today I saw this discussion taking place about this particular picture and video.1560755_10152201149679297_1036639927_n.jpg

    what followed was quite shocking to me and I would like to hear some thoughts from all here. I removed the names of the people, and the one writing as Buddhism is the admin of that page.

    Here was the original post made on the picture of the elephant painting the picture of its self d what and what followed....Sorry for the length. But it get interesting.

    BUDDHISM: This is fake!!! An elephant, monkey, crow, octopus,, donkey or porpoise can not paint a likeness of itself. Why is that? They can hold and manipulate the brushes. A human mind is different, this difference is why human realm is the only springboard to enlightenment. Your cat is not a Buddha. May you grasp this distinction and achieve nirvana

    PERSON: Animals could be a Buddha manifesting to help us in some capacity. Yes generally they can't achieve enlightenment in animal form. Also animals painting pictures can be real, but doesn't mean they'll paint their way to Nirvana.

    PERSON:This is not fake, I've seen the video

    BUDDHISM: If you have a link toa video of an animal painting a likeness of another animal, or a house, whatever besides paint blobs then please link it here

    BUDDHISM:the Buddha taught realms, so if you are inventing some other theory then it is not Buddhism. There is an animal realm, it is part of Buddhism. Accuse me of making something up? if you disagree then you are inventing your own religion loosely based on Buddhism and it is you yourself that is creating a false dharma.

    PERSON: Claiming the human mind is different than those of animals and the only one capable of enlightenment is pure arrogance. May you realize this and achieve true enlightenment.

    PERSON: Look it up, you have the internet at your disposal. All questions are correct, as well they are all wrong. It all depends on who is answering the question, or asking.. Animals see the world, so if they had the means to illustrate what they see in the world, why would they not.

    BUDDHISM: I am surprised of the deep level of arrogance of these commenters when confronted with the dharma. maybe it is time for you to grow up and bow to the Buddha's teachings and let go of your goofy beliefs.

    BUDDHISM: Vipaka Sutta "Monks, the taking of life -- when indulged in, developed, and pursued -- is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from the taking of life is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to a short life span.
    "Stealing -- when indulged in, developed, and pursued -- is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from stealing is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to the loss of one's wealth.
    Buddhist Sutra - Vipaka Sutta

    PERSON: Yikes. This page just went down several notches for me. There is absolutely nothing enlightened about assuming you have any ontological authority about another living being and the quality of its consciousness. And it is certainly rude and childish to use judgmental words like "grow up" and "goofy" to describe those whose minds are clearly more open than yours.

    PERSON: I don't think it is the likers of the page that are arrogant.

    PERSON: it's just an elephant painting a picture. it has no meaning beyond that except for what we assign to it. Animals recognize themselves all the time. some birds can recognize themselves and other birds in reflections and pictures. Some monkeys can recognize themselves in reflection. this isn't new. The elephant has the patience and ability, at least these 2, to paint what they've seen. Until we speak elephant, or they draw nirvana, I wouldn't go thinking anything beyond "it's nice picture by an elephant". challenged beliefs do not make a threatened reality.

    BUDDHISM: The page is titled Buddhism and it is our job to tell you what the Buddhist beliefs are. if you want to believe something else and think you know better than the Buddha then that is on you. i am here to tell you what the Buddhist views are, if you think otherwise then that is on you.
    PERSON: I've seen the elephants painting just like on the photo. Ofcourse they're trained to do so. So stating that it's fake goes a bit far.
    In my opinion it shows how intelligent these animals are and therefor have a good chance to generate positive karma .

    PERSON: quite unlike Buddha for such negativity towards life.

    BUDDHISM: as you say you are unliking the page then I am banning you and erasing your comments so just to let you know. I want you to carry through with the banishment. There are too many people in this group maybe you don;t belong here? whatever. The job is to confront your belief system if it is contrary to the teachings. that is the mission here to improve your view out of ignorance. I know there is much ignorance on this topic so we are addressing that. if you want to stand up and take a bullet fopr your beliefs then martyr yourself. the buddha taught realms. The Buddha said in the animal realm you can not achieve enlightenment.

    PERSON: Disappointing reaction to what should have been a more understanding explanation from someone representing and sharing this religion... Lost a lot of followers hopefully they are only leaving your page and not holding your behavior against the teachings of this religion.

    PERSON: Humans are animals...

    BUDDHISM:It is a a different style of teaching that many need to experience here. i am not holding your hand .After death you will be confronted by peaceful and wrathful manifestations both are equally valid. if you crumble like a little precious flower, then i am helping you toughen up

    PERSON:Buddhism is all about choice .Forcing choice and limits on others is nothing to do with it.
    Tolerance and understanding my friend should be your penance and procedure to further understand those trying to also share enlightenment.

    PERSON: "There are many hundreds of paths up the mountain all leading in the same direction, so it doesn't matter which path you take . The only one wasting time is. The one who runs around telling everyone that his or her path is wrong " .

    PERSON: Admin, I think it is you who needs the teaching. You sound like the kind of student who has memorized all the books but hasn't learned anything.

    BUDDHISM: If i take the time to find the sutras that talk of the animal realm, THE IGNORANCE REALM OF ANIMALS will that even make a difference in your false view?

    PERSON: No,my friend. Because using quatrains to justify intolerance and abhor enlightenment is not the way. All must seek it on their own path ,including you without being overlord about it.

    PERSON: Human's are animals Fact

    PERSON:Fundamentalism at it best. Rejecting clear evidence of an animal painting because one rather hold on to a belief. Attaching one self to even a Buddhist Doctrine is not helping yourself or anyone. Buddhism is not about proving that one view is correct or not. Its about seeing into the nature of suffering. Realizing its cause, and freeing oneself and others from it.

    BUDDHISM: I am sorry but what i see here is a bunch of kooky new agers who refuse to understand that the Buddha taught the importance of the human realm. If you want to make that less special because you love all the animals and have personified them well then you need to snap out of it. ,you can throw a hissy fit but the truth is unmoving despite your display. That is the wrathful aspect, it is unmoved, you can not move the truth. Animal realm is one of ignorance of the true nature of reality, your cat is not a Buddha. a cow is not going to achieve enlightenment in that form

    PERSON:Admin, you are both experiencing suffering and causing it.

    PERSON: This is no longer about the original post. It is about your reaction to the posts. It isnt a good example of buddhism.

    PERSON:May I ask what sect you follow? Many western Buddhist teachers are agnostic about mechanical karma, rebirth, Buddhas living in the sky etc and transmit this to their students. It's not new age, but rather just Western Buddhism in general. Moreover, you gotta remember that Zen Buddhism is the most popular form of Buddhism in the west... and in the Zen I follow, if you drop notions of both self and other then you will awake to the fact that the Buddha you so very dearly cling to is not worth more than soiled toilet paper, and toilet paper just as meritorious as all the merits accumulated by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. All things, elephants, rocks, grass, smith machines, pens are complete Buddhas.

    PERSON:I thought I made myself clear You're just clinging to a hope that the thoughts you borrowed are true but you don't seem to have considered any argument we shared here.
    Perhaps Buddha didin't spend enough time with animals so to teach that animals don't suffer because their mind interfiles with their reality animals do exactly what every zen monk would consider a profound mastery
    are they enlightened? I don't know but I'm sure they have a far higher level of consciousness compared to an ordinary man you don't need much experience with animals to see this

    BUDDHISM: I am believing the Buddha;s explanation of reality. In that view an animal can not achieve nirvana in that form,, it would have to die before achieving nirvana. that form of mental solidity can not achieve the mental capacity of freedom, it can not become a Buddha. An animal has no way to THINK itself out of it's delusions....a human can consider options beyond an anima;'s capacity to comprehend.

    BUDDHISM: If Western ZEN is teaching the nonsense you spout then it is a cult and needs to be eradicated as false dharma.

    PERSON:By the way, this picture you posted is real. It was done by Annabelle the Elephant in Anchorage, Alaska in the years prior to her death. The paintings were not faked. Please do more research before taking such a haughty attitude. It's unbecoming and disappointing of a person following the ways of Buddha, as is the ego being displayed in your arguing.

    BUDDHISM: For every 100 readers who runs away from this group because of this post then there is one who gets it-that advances the dharma. the others were not ready to humble themselves to the Buddha's truth over their own personal opinion. They will never progress much, it is worth it to advance the one that can get it and has the possibility of becoming a stream winner

    PERSON:Admin, I think the problem we're having is that you seem very scripturally based. You take everything you read as truth, am I right? Whereas some of us are more spiritually Buddhist type. We get the essential purpose and case less about what people have written in books, instead following our heart. it is YOU who needs the humility. Truly. I bow before animals, I do not bow before those who encourage me to judge them as inferior.

    PERSON: every sentient being has a Buddha nature, so whoever wrote this is not even a good Buddhist student

    BUDDHISM: I am not bowing down before an animal . LOL that is silly. i certainly hope you do not worship animals. you can if you want to, but please don;t call it Buddhism...

    PERSON: say that animal nature is same as human is not correct. Tho say it is different IS NOT correct. Or as it is put in Sandokai: "To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
    Each and all, the subjective and objective spheres are related,
    and at the same time, independent.
    Related, yet working differently, though each keeps its own place.
    Form makes the character and appearance different" After all it is out of the point to wander this path, because point does not exist, while path does, don't you think so?

    BUDDHISM: I see you are a product of Western Zen self-study course. Your views are going into the nihilism with "it is all relative" . no, there is an actual anchor of truth and everything else is delusion to varying degrees. you are committing also the fallacy of seeing all things like rocks and trees as being consciousness. These are not beings, they are scenery

    (I am stopping it goes on.)

    Last edited by Seiryu; 01-19-2014 at 11:34 AM.
    清竜 Seiryu

  2. #2
    I saw this thread as well, was about to make another for treeleaf. Haha.

    I guess we should also remember that this admin, too, is Buddha and deserves to be treated as such. Our views and his/hers are empty after all. This is what I think, at least. When we sit, we realize that we're no different from this admin.

    I also remember how Jundo says that there are sooooo many flavours if Buddhism in the world, some just as 'preachy' or 'dogmatic' as some branch of an Abrahamic religion. This video was posted once about hell in Buddhism made by a Taiwanese abbot. (Warning, it's really graphic!)

    Last edited by Tiwala; 01-19-2014 at 10:12 AM.

  3. #3
    Hi Seiryu, all

    Sadly, a lot of Buddhist groups on places like Facebook are not conducive to good discussion but instead serve as a place for posting quotes and pictures. The fact they tend to be unmoderated or loosely moderated by people who are not teachers can also lead to the loudest voices taking over and shouting matches to ensue.

    It is sad as there as doubtless many people in those groups who are looking for sangha and instead get put off by the exchanges that happen under fairly harmless pictures. I feel very fortunate at having the quality of discussion we do here, both in content and tone, and Taigu, Jundo and senior students being there to bash us with the virtual stick should anyone get out of hand!


  4. #4
    Yeah you see this kinda thing a lot on Facebook. Personally, found that elephant video rather touching. The issue with most Buddhist groups is too much intellectualism and not enough practice. Fallen into that trap a few times myself. When it happens here, I am made aware of it. In unstructured groups it's quite easy to get caught up in mind games. And not the peaceful mind games John Lennon sang about either.

    Gassho, John

  5. #5
    Like many fundamentalists, I think the admin believes he is doing a great service. Sadly, like many fundamentalists, he is twisting words to support his own ideas and agenda. He rebukes every word that contradicts or even questions his "authority". It's unfortunate, because the page could really be a nice forum for discussion and we all have so much to learn from each other. It's unfortunate too that some people may not look any further that what this person is "teaching" and never see things for themselves.

    As for my thoughts on animals....I bow to all beings.

    Entai, the new-age kook.

    泰 Entai (Bill)
    "this is not a dress rehearsal"

  6. #6
    When I was young my discursive mind had a tendency to engage in discussions like this. I loved convincing people the I was right always.

    Of course that lead me to a lot of fighting and argues with people. I don't do that anymore, but I know the way the mind loves to engage.

    This discussion is no different. Who cares if elephants can paint or not? What's the difference if it's a fake video or not? Buddha nature or not Buddha nature? Was the elephant trained or is the Buddha painting through it?

    People's reactions are what jump to the eye. One trying to convince the other that he/she is right.

    At the end of the day, who cares? Why just not be contempt with the fact that there's an elephant that paints stuff and makes people wonder and smile?

    But then again, I might be wrong.

    Thank you for posting this


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  7. #7

    First off, Snopes and the BBC (who I tend to trust on such matters) report that elephants can be taught to replicate line drawings. An animal trick, although a good one.

    Next, Buddhism is a religion. For most Buddhists in Asia and elsewhere, it is not much different from any other religion ... much the same as Christianity or Judaism. If people in Florida can argue about whether a likeness of Jesus can appear on the side of an office building, or whether dinosaurs were created on the 5th day of Creation and then co-existed with man in the Garden of Eden, Buddhist people can argue about whether elephants can be enlightened in the animal realm.

    Now, even if the elephant was trained to paint a picture of an elephant as a circus trick ... HOW WONDERFUL!

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - For those interested in Buddhist hells ...

    In Buddhism, Avīci (Sanskrit and Pali for "without waves" — Japanese and Chinese: 無間地獄, Wjin dy and 阿鼻地獄, Āb dy) or Avichi, is the lowest Level of the Naraka or "hell" realm, into which the dead who have committed grave misdeeds may be reborn. It is said to be a cube 20,000 yojanas (120,000 to 300,000 km) to a side, buried deep underneath the earth.[1] Avīci is often translated into English as the "Non-returning" Hell, due to the idea that those beings which have been sent there languish there eternally. The other Hells function more like Purgatory, where after perhaps a few eons of suffering, the being might be reborn as some sort of lowly life-form in a somewhat less horrible place; but, the beings in Avīci Hell are thought to be hopeless for any respite.
    My comments here ...

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Now, even if the elephant was trained to paint a picture of an elephant as a circus trick ... HOW WONDERFUL!
    Oh yes! =) For me I always find it interesting why we work so hard to see the meaning for the things outside of us and not what is within us. =)


  9. #9


    Thank you.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  10. #10
    This is interesting to me because what you've essentially posted, Seiryu, is a little drama, a stage play, filled with conflicts and problems to be solved. One person is trying to be the protagonist and another equally trying to be the protagonist, both being protagonist and antagonist. And really, if we read closely, maybe there is in this some shadow of our own competing inner voices. Maybe there are moments in our own life where our own thoughts compete and play out a drama much like the one being played out above. The above drama, whose core seems to be about which "buddhism" is "most real/right" is maybe something that we do to with ourselves or with friends/family. Maybe we sometimes think that soto zen is the "real" answer or maybe we sometimes question that, wondering, "oh no, maybe I should've stuck with Theravada." Or maybe we do little dramas in simpler, more basic ways: "he was completely wrong to argue with me in that meeting, my answer to the problem was clearly right." Maybe we do this internally: "did I say something to offend that person, why did I say that, do I need to go apologize?" and then when we apologize, the person says, "Oh, I didn't find anything you said offensive" and so we've been worrying for no reason, creating some problem. Or maybe it's "I don't think I have this zen meditation stuff down. I don't think I get it. This is so confusing, so stupid, I'm tired of this zen stuff. How do other people get it so easily?" Etc, etc.

    I think this is a great lesson. How often we think in this same manner, trying to figure out right and wrong, trying to fit reality into neat little boxes that'll make us feel more comfortable.

    And if we can this about about ourselves, then like Myosha says, we can laugh if it off, take things a little more lightly.


    PS: hope what I wrote isn't too confusing.

  11. #11
    Not much to add other than to say this was exhausting to read. Little acceptance of the world as is by the parties involved. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin

  12. #12
    Well one thing is sure...I wouldn't want to be behind that elephant if he decided to suddenly sit zazen!

    Sorry, couldn't resist

    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  13. #13
    It looks like "Fundamentalist Buddhists" take the sutra as the moon and not the finger pointing to the general direction of the true moon.....I feel like to take the Sutra as the final word of authority is probably not healthy to practice. My opinion.


    Sent from my RM-820_nam_att_100 using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Just a question to our teachers regarding one recent posts made on that site. He implies that the teaching that all beings are already Buddhas to be a western invention and that no Buddhist sect teaches this. But is it true in at least the Soto school?

    Gassho, Ben

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Just a question to our teachers regarding one recent posts made on that site. He implies that the teaching that all beings are already Buddhas to be a western invention and that no Buddhist sect teaches this. But is it true in at least the Soto school? And what sutras does Dogen Zenji use to support this view?

    Gassho, Ben

    Note: sorry for the double post. I can't figure this tapatalk thing out for the life of me.
    Last edited by Tiwala; 01-20-2014 at 10:28 AM.

  16. #16
    "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self" - Dogen Zenji

    And since China is western to Japan. . . .

    Thank you for the lesson.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Just a question to our teachers regarding one recent posts made on that site. He implies that the teaching that all beings are already Buddhas to be a western invention and that no Buddhist sect teaches this. But is it true in at least the Soto school?

    Gassho, Ben
    Hi Ben,

    The Teaching of "Original Enlightenment" is certainly not a western invention. It goes back into the Mahayana for perhaps 2000 years, at least 1000 years or more.

    Now, whether such was included in the so-called "Hinayana" Teachings of South Asia is another question, and has been a matter of some debate. It depends how one looks at the question because, even in the old Sutta, the Buddha may be said to have often been describing "nirvana" in such way. It depends on how one reads the historical Buddha's words and the point of his Teachings.

    There is a group of scholars (actually, really two scholars) who were sometimes called by the misleading name of "critical buddhists", who argued that Zen had deviated from the early Buddhist teachings by this emphasis in "Original Enlightenment". To make a long story short, many others scholars basically shot the more extreme of their assertions full of holes, and the "critical buddhists" are not widely accepted these days among Mahayana historians,

    Here is a quick Wiki summary of Original Enlightenment (Hongaku) ...

    Here is a much longer scholarly article reviewing the most detailed book on the topic if you wish to read in detail.

    A lot of the criticism of "Original Enlightenment" is based on two misunderstandings. First, that one is talking about some kind of original "Atman" that the Buddha rejected when, in fact, Zen Original Enlightenment as a realization of Emptiness is not a realization of Atman; Second, "Original Enlightenment" does not mean we reject that need to Practice and have some Realization in order to realize that we are so (it is not an excuse to sit on the sofa and do nothing).

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-20-2014 at 03:54 PM.

  18. #18

    @ Tiwala: Boy oh boy that was a graphic depiction of the Avici hell indeed! We should never forget that all the horrible things depicted in that clip have already been done to people - by people! So whether we believe in a literal Avici place or not, the essential quality of suffering is absolutely real here and now in a much too literal sense.

    Thanks for sharing it!


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  19. #19
    Jundo nailed it, as suspected. I think that buddha would turn around in his grave if he knew what his non-dogmatic therapeutic pragmatic teaching became in some places. But flaming back isn't the right medicine I guess. There's not one that can argue, or be argued to.

  20. #20
    That escalated quickly. Haha! XD I could just imagine him at his computer finding the elephant pictures and videos nearly exploding with anger.

    But this has reminded me that one doesn't need to push one's ideas as the truth. We can never really know the whole thing. Thanks for sharing this. C:


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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