Advayavada Buddhism

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Archive for the month “September, 2015”

What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment

So, what is Enlightenment? Enlightenment is simply coming to an intuitive understanding of our true nature, the delusion of the self, the oneness of all things. When we can dwell in this experience, that is Enlightenment. In the Ch’an tradition we say that everyone is Enlightened already because this is our fundamental nature. We only don’t see it because it’s obscured by layers of delusion.

I think of Enlightenment as a transition from awareness of the self as a limited individual to awareness.

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Why Westerners rebranded secular ethics as “Buddhist” and banned Tantra

Vividness

Many of the Western creators of Consensus Buddhism say in their autobiographies that they went to Asia because they were disgusted with the sex-and-drugs hedonism of hippie culture. Coming from Protestant cultures, they were looking for a system of self-restraint, but they had rejected Christianity.

Traditional Buddhism is renunciate, not Protestant, and renunciation is also unacceptable to Americans. But Buddhist values had already been partially replaced with Protestant ones in the Asian modernist forms the Consensus founders encountered in the 1960s and 70s. They could, and did, continue that process.

The lay precepts against sexual misconduct and intoxication may have come at first as welcome repudiations of hippie self-indulgence. However, as we’ll see on the next page, they had to be loosened, reinterpreted, and effectively negated to function in America.

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How Asian Buddhism imported Western ethics

Vividness

Modern “Buddhist ethics” is indistinguishable from current secular ethics and has nothing to do with traditional Buddhist morality.

So, where did it come from, and why?

The short answer is that Buddhist modernizers simply replaced traditional Buddhist morality with whatever was the most prestigious Western ethical system at the time. They decorated that with vaguely-relevant scriptural quotes, said “compassion” a lot, and declared victory.

This replacement occurred in roughly three phases:

  1. Around 1850-1900, Victorian Christian morality replaced traditional morality in modernist Asian Buddhism. This hybrid was successfully re-exported to the West, but is now unknown in America, because Victorianism is considered old fashioned. It’s still influential in Asia.1
  2. Around 1900-1960, Western political theories were imported into Buddhist countries, and were declared “the Buddhist ethics of social responsibility.” This was the root of “engaged Buddhism,” one of the two main strands of current Western “Buddhist ethics.”
  3. In the 1990s…

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DN: Pope Francis Speech to UN: Greed for Wealth and Power Cause Suffering for Poor, Climate Crisis

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In U.N. Speech, Pope Francis Blasts “Selfish and Boundless Thirst for Power and Material Prosperity”

Popeun

Transcript

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind words. Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honored, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the personnel of the various programs and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the…

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Similar Passages from Seneca and Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism and the Art of Happiness

These passages from Seneca and Marcus Aurelius are worth comparing:

SenecaThe wise man will not be angry with sinners. Why not? Because he knows that no one is born wise, but becomes so: he knows that very few wise men are produced in any age, because he thoroughly understands the circumstances of human life. Now, no sane man is angry with nature: for what should we say if a man chose to be surprised that fruit did not hang on the thickets of a forest, or to wonder at bushes and thorns not being covered with some useful berry? No one is angry when nature excuses a defect. The wise man, therefore, being tranquil, and dealing candidly with mistakes, not an enemy to but an improver of sinners, will go abroad every day in the following frame of mind: — “Many men will meet me who are drunkards, lustful, ungrateful…

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Buddhist morality is Medieval

Vividness

Buddhist morality developed in feudal agricultural cultures. Mostly, it is typical of such societies: similar to what you’d find in Medieval Europe or the pre-modern Islamic world. It is crude, arbitrary, patriarchal, and often cruel.

In Europe, Enlightenment rationalism enabled smart people to say “wait, that’s nasty and stupid.” Christian morality gradually became less barbarous, and evolved into secular ethics. As I’ll explain on the next two pages, traditional Buddhist morality was replaced with Victorian Christian morality in the late 1800s, and with leftish secular morality in the the 1980s. The result is that modern “Buddhist ethics” has no similarity to traditional Buddhist morality, much of which would horrify Western Buddhists.

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Traditional Buddhism has no ethical system

Vividness

On this page and the next, I will argue that traditional Buddhism has no ethical value for liberal, educated Westerners. There is no “ancient wisdom of the Buddha” to draw on when constructing a modern Buddhist ethics. That is why modern “Buddhist ethics” has nothing in common with the tradition.

These two pages may seem like an attack on traditional Buddhism, but my intent is only to dispel a modern illusion. The myth of “Buddhist ethics” has obscured, for Westerners, most of what Buddhism has to offer. It needs to be cleared away to make Buddhism visible again.

These pages might be misunderstood, at this point, as the core of the series on “Buddhist ethics.” They’re not; the uselessness of traditional Buddhist morality is just a background fact. We need it to understand why modern “Buddhist ethics” had to be invented as a replacement.

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“Buddhist ethics” is not Buddhist ethics

Vividness

By “Buddhist ethics” (with scare quotes) I mean what is taught by Consensus Buddhism.

For several years, I have repeatedly asked:

Is there any significant issue on which “Buddhist ethics” disagrees with contemporary Western leftish secular ethics?

So far, no one has said “Yes, if you are an American Buddhist, you should do so-and-so, whereas leftish secular Americans think you should do the opposite.”1

Doesn’t that strike you as remarkable?

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“Buddhist ethics” is a fraud

Vividness

?Buddhist ethics? is neither Buddhist nor ethics.

?Buddhist ethics? is a fraud: a fabrication created to deceive, passed off as something valuable that it is not, for the benefit of its creators and promoters.

?Buddhist ethics? is actually a collection of self-aggrandizing strategies for gaining social status within the left side of the Western cultural divide.

?Buddhist ethics? actively obstructs Buddhists? moral and personal development. It has also deliberately obscured—and sometimes forcefully suppressed—most of Buddhism.

?Buddhist ethics? is gravely ill and will probably die shortly. In fact, I hope to drive a stake through its heart now. Its demise will open the door to new possibilities for Western Buddhism.

Some might find these statements surprising; possibly even ?controversial.? Perhaps not all readers will immediately agree. Over the next several posts, I?ll explain why they are accurate, and why they matter.

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A Buddhist Response: The Climate Emergency

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