Reasons why Buddhism is worth saving from its own gurus

Content:
They don’t appeal to me
Buddhism in ‘late capitalism’
Buddhism: For what it’s worth
1. Don’t throw the baby out with the water.
2. Social implications of Buddhism: beware of the enemies of human progress.
3. The Buddha’s motto: “don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meter”.

I started this blog  as a tool to help me process my understanding of the Buddhist teachings. I’m not looking to become a Buddha or ‘enlightened’, only to learn how to reduce my mental suffering and to not make anyone suffer on account of my unchecked attitudes. Once I get to do that, I will automatically qualify for sainthood, a perk.

For my studies, I mostly use what is called ‘early Buddhists texts’ and the research done by Western scholars and followers of Buddhism of the late 19th and mid-20th century.

They don’t appeal to me

I rarely use the material published by modern Buddhist gurus because it is clearly intended to appeal to the wealthy American elite. On one book I skimmed over, the author addressed his examples on how to apply Buddhist teachings to Wall Street brokers. Well, that the brokers haven’t read much either is shown by the 2008 Wall Street debacle.

There is more criticism of Buddhist groups and ‘sects’ now than when I first came in contact with it  in 1985. Are the criticisms fair, unfair?

Buddhism in ‘late capitalism’

The American ‘sangha’, the many groups claiming to be Buddhist practitioners and owners of Buddhist businesses, is a product of the modern American capitalist mind; it has to be because that’s the economic/ideological system we go to war for, not for socialism, do we? That’s our cultural pod; the truth is that in our society profit is the compass needle that guides the purpose of our existence. Convince me otherwise.

So, yes, there is a lot of financial and ego-boosting profiteering to be gain from this Buddhist philosophy because there is no questioning of our ideological culture, it is taken for granted. How deep do you think these people dig into the concept of greed? Do you see them questioning their profits from the stock market? Granted, there are always exceptions.

Buddhism: For what it’s worth

Despite my comments above, ‘original’ Buddhism is not at fault for the sins of the sinful Buddhist sinners, just as you wouldn’t condemn Jesus teachings for the sins of the Catholic Church.

Buddhism is worth preserving as a treasure of and for humanity because:

1. Don’t throw the baby out with the water.

This is a fact: Buddhism is a science of the mind, and it did not start as a religion. In its totality, it covers: epistemology, phenomenology, moral/ethical psychology and, why not, political psychology. All of this since 400 B.C. Our modern neuropsychology science has nothing on early Buddhist theory of the mind, except the ability to torture animals and humans to arrive at half-ass psychological conclusions. Pardon the expression.

You can test the efficacy of the Buddhist method in reducing the frequency of self-inflicted personal suffering without having to wait for some ‘professional’ psychological research test first.. It’s not a useless ‘theory’; it is life-changing and made to fit you and only you.

No one advertises this, but Buddhism saves lives. I know because it saved mine once. How? Long story, suffice it to say that I had this at hand at the time: my studies of Buddhism had already inflicted a change of attitude in my view of life, and I was able to apply the second Noble Truth (there is the origin of suffering), the “four ways of conceiving” (thoughts, i.e., what was you thinking), focus the mind and be mindful of the errors I was about to commit and who else besides myself was going to get hurt emotionally.

You don’t need the gurus to make Buddhism work for you. Not in these times of internet and instant communication. Gurus were needed in the Buddha’s times. Get on with the new times.

The fact that humanity is so… dumb, for lack of a better word, and has forever chosen the easy path of self-gratification at all cost, is no reason to dismiss the power of the psychology of Buddhism. How much peace and justice has Western science brought to our society?

2. Social implications of Buddhism: beware of the enemies of human progress.

Because it is a moral/ethical psychology/philosophy, it has beneficial consequences to our society at large. It promotes a social state of mind and values that reject violence, cruelty and unrestrained greed. The Cecil the lion incident is one of the ‘perks’ of a state of mind of cruelty, greed and run-amok conceit. Why not promote a philosophy that takes a stand against that kind of socially unproductive mentality? Tell me, why not? I’m waiting.

cecil - Copy

The perks of violence, cruelty and greed:      trophy hunting.

Finally, all economic/political systems are based on cruelty, violence and greed; they just cover them up with ‘freedom fighting’. That’s why Buddhism is a threat to capitalism, to ‘socialists’, to the Catholic Church, to Islam…It does not believe in ‘ideology’ and does not defend any. Remember, the Buddha was against the caste system of his time and against oppression of women and children.

Buddhist teachings are for you to focus on your mind, on the intention of your behaviors. Be careful with those waging an all-out bashing of Buddhism, or those who want to dilute it and make it ineffective.

3. The Buddha’s motto: “don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meter”.

“Whatever doctrine and discipline taught and made known by me will be your teacher when I am gone.”

In other words, it is not him we need to follow but his teachings. This business of making him a god (Mahayanist) is soo transparent.

The Buddha refused to have his teachings turned into a ‘system’ for various reasons: 1) he knew it would all turned into dogma, and 2) he consistently taught that it is personal practice, knowledge acquired by one’s own testing of his teachings that matter. These new gurus, they don’t teach crap unless you pay them a hefty fee. What can they teach me? How to make money in Buddhism?

Conclusion:
Buddhism is good for society, and if you don’t care about society then it is good for you. Yes, there’s a lot of corruption. So, don’t follow the gurus, teach yourself. The internet is filled with material to answer just about any question you may have. It’s a life-long commitment. You may drop off for a while but, I guarantee you, you will come back…because suffering always comes back.

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