Posts Tagged ‘buddhism’

Primitivism

Monday, June 4th, 2012

There is an idea out there amongst some practitioners that what we need to do, as human beings, is return to some primitive state and that we’ll be fine. The problem they argue is that civilisation has perverted our innate altruistic tendencies.

Yet, the buddhist perspective is that ignorance is primordial, that we need to uproot it, see things as they truly are, and we will be free of suffering. You only have to look as far as humanity’s nearest living relative, the common chimpanzee, to see that the primitive state isn’t so fine. Prone to occasional cannibalism, infanticide and a willingness to kill to gain new territory reveal a rather unenlightened state of affairs.

Any cat owner has probably witnessed their pet’s delight in torturing a bird or mouse. And we need only look to how the killer whale plays and tortures seals to see that cruelty exists outside of hominids. Yes, there a plenty of cases of animal altruism, but the point is that it’s not the only state of affairs.

Nor have primitive societies lived in primordial bliss. New Zealand’s indigenous population wiped out 43 species before the arrival of white man. That they learned from it and institutionalised environmentalism through a system of tapu is to their credit. But it took another more dominant race to bring the Maori’s cannibalism to an end. Don’t think that I am criticising the Maori here. White man’s consumerism is even more deadly and we still haven’t learned from it. More credit to the Maori.

Buddhism argues that ignorance is primordial and Zen argues that we have to move beyond thinking, not before it into some instinctive state. We have to let go of clinging, just doing that will end consumerism. We have to let go of harming others, and that will create a paradise on earth. We have to let go of the idea that we’re separate beings, and that will end our identification with suffering.

This is an evolution and a massive revolution. It is a reversal of our instinctive, ignorant state of being not a return to it. It’s hard work because it moves us beyond our comfort zone. It’s liberating.

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The Kingdom of Heaven

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I had my parents over for lunch about 10 days ago and during the conversation they debated whether the doctrine of the church in which I was raised was whether all it took for salvation was accepting Christ as the saviour or did one have to proselytise as well. Very different I thought to myself from the buddhist preference of only speaking about the dharma is asked. And there were these and those scriptures of supporting each point of view.

It started to strike me in my late teens that I wasn’t getting the whole story in bible studies and they certainly didn’t like me asking questions. Maybe they had an underlying suspicion that they didn’t have all the answers.

So during my parent’s debate over lunch I asked what it meant where it says in the Bible that

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

At the time when asked I didn’t offer what I thought it meant. but, if the kingdom of heaven is within it makes senses to adopt a practise that understands that, you would think.

By dwelling our mind on evil things, hell arises. By dwelling our mind on good acts, paradise appears. – Hui Neng

If it’s within go within through the practise of meditation.

It sometimes surprises me that Buddhism is seen as a religion. But then there are a lot of trappings that certainly appear to give it that appearance:- doctrine, stupas, statues, relics, ritual. Indeed I possess a number of buddha statues. It is doubtful that they look anything like Siddhartha as the form was inspired by the Greeks. For me they’re simply rather interesting reminders to practise.

And if it is a religion, how is that other religious practitioners like rabbis and christian monastics find their way to the practise? What’s drawing them? There’s a lovely article on this matter called Christian Enlightenment, which is well worth a read.

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