An occasion to talk about "Why I ditched Buddhism"

by phil on Wednesday Mar 25, 2009 1:28 AM
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I wonder how often people have those moments when they're just in awe of simple existence. Like, when they say to themselves, "Oh man! I'm a living, breathing, thinking thing! I'm present now! Now NOW! Woah!" I'm sure we all have had those moments.

I wonder if some people have those moments all the time. And I wonder if some people only have those moments once a year. I have a moment like that once a week.

This reminds me of the Cynic, Diogenes:

The Cynics, so named because their life appeared dog-like to the average citizen, lived in the open air, carried everyting they owned, and begged for food. Diogenes' scorn for wealth and his rejection of pretense was legendary. Informed by Alexander the Great that he would grant him any request, Diogenes merely told the most powerful man in the world that he wished him to move a little to the right, for he was blocking the sun! (page 8 of Don't Worry, Be Stoic)
I don't know if that's enlightenment or anything like that. But there's something to be said about being free from the empty charades surrounding us.

I'll use this occasion to also re-link this most awesome article by John Horgan on Slate, Why I ditched Buddhism:

Even if you achieve a blissful acceptance of the illusory nature of your self, this perspective may not transform you into a saintly bodhisattva, brimming with love and compassion for all other creatures. Far from it--and this is where the distance between certain humanistic values and Buddhism becomes most apparent. To someone who sees himself and others as unreal, human suffering and death may appear laughably trivial. This may explain why some Buddhist masters have behaved more like nihilists than saints. Chogyam Trungpa, who helped introduce Tibetan Buddhism to the United States in the 1970s, was a promiscuous drunk and bully, and he died of alcohol-related illness in 1987. Zen lore celebrates the sadistic or masochistic behavior of sages such as Bodhidharma, who is said to have sat in meditation for so long that his legs became gangrenous.



ranby said on February 4, 2011 11:38 AM:

John Horgan "joined a meditation class and talked to intellectuals" and concluded that the Buddhist path is ultimately about being detached from reality and fellow earthlings? If one ever visits Thailand or other predominately Buddhist cultures, one would see that what monks are to the people are quite opposite from arrogant indifference. True, some monks are just screwed, but morally fallible men and social parasites are hardly unique to men sworn to Buddhist vows. Quite embarrassing of him to have written that article; his glaring errors and reductionist bias shone.

Zen students, often after years of cultivating insight and compassion, constantly observing and evaluating their moments and along the way humbled by having their endless delusions shattered, would wax poetic. Not Horgan. One wonders what he got out of that meditation class.

Without dedicated and genuine immersion of one's life in meditation practice--whatever "practice" means--why bother picking up the sutras. Those concepts are meaningless to those who never have a taste of salt.

True, meditation itself is hard to quantify. More often than not what we think is meditation is yet another string of thoughts about what we think we're doing. Understandably, it is hard to "commit" to a certain course when one can't wrap one's head around it, even though that course demands simple things like observing one's state and not running away from human experiences.

To each his own. The skeptics being the most religious.

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