Is it because Buddhism isn’t ‘fair and balanced’?

*I started this post several days ago when life intervened. Sorry if it seems stale. Lily, I know you were following this horribly depressing story. That right there is why we need mental illness awareness programs for public servants (if not everyone at large).

Watching Grandpa Hatey try to explain how Brit Hume isn’t an ignorant loudmouth is pretty hilarious. But he probably is right when he says that ‘there are not a lot of Buddhists watching FOX’. Well, I sure don’t watch it. I do thank the lovely Miss M for the link. If it weren’t for the Port Awesome Bulletin I would be oblivious to current events and the shenanigans of the television people.

Of course, that might not be a bad thing to be.

‘Furious Buddha’ started as a joke a very long time ago. I occasionally would have myself introduced as ‘the Furious Buddha’ before a set and it seemed a natural internet name. Ever since I was a child I have been curious about the varieties of religious experience as much as I have been fascinated by the varieties of scientific, philosophical, and aesthetic experiences; it was natural that I would eventually discover the teachings of the Buddha. While this would prove to be influential in my life it is important to note that my initial understanding was of the most shallow kind. I am not a religious Buddhist but if I had to put labels on my beliefs ‘Zen Christian’ would be descriptive; the better I understand the Buddha the more clearly the truth within the Gospels resonates. To put it another way, Zen is a lens through which I strive to peer; Christ is who I am trying to glimpse.   While there is much to be learned from the study of the Buddha’s teachings and the practice of meditation has many practical benefits, simply co-opting the rituals and symbols of another culture is like hoping that wearing the right shirt will make you intelligent and sexy. No symbol has any inherent meaning or power outside of the minds of the maker and beholder of that symbol. There is no magic to be wrought in gestures or incantations of any kind. This does not mean religion itself is meaningless but the specific trappings of any religion are; it is not the ritual which is important but what the ritual signifies.

My theological and philosophical beliefs are what I practice every waking hour of my life, not something I pay lip service to for a few hours on Sunday mornings; while that may sound arrogant I don’t believe I come off as particularly pretentious or obnoxiously obsessed. Most people who know me would think the last thing on my mind was God, and that’s how I like it. I don’t believe my metaphysics should be taught in public schools or enshrined in rituals; nothing would repulse me more. In fact, I rarely discuss my specific metaphysical imaginings because I would be horrified by the thought of anyone taking them literally. We are conscious here in this real world together; our opportunity to express compassion to each other is here and now, not later in some other world. That humans are so inhumane in their disagreements about the nature of imaginary worlds, metaphysical theories and the nature of God is perhaps the greatest irony of the human condition.

*****************

The weather has been really rough here this week, but that’s going on all over. The UK is having a really tough time of it-I heard someone stole two tons of salt from Glasgow. That’s just weird.

9 Responses to “Is it because Buddhism isn’t ‘fair and balanced’?”

  1. I agree with what you say — religion is a personal matter and should be kept out of television news, as well as politics.

    • Keith, nice blog.
      I just wish that we could have more civil public conversation about religion in this country. We focus exclusively on our differences while ignoring all that we share.

  2. There are studies in neuroscience that have shown that ritual alone IS important. The simple act of performing a ritual, even if we don’t fully understand the reasoning behind it, can be beneficial. So, I’m not sure I totally agree with you when you say “it is not the ritual which is important but what the ritual signifies.” I certainly understand the symbolism of Eucharist, but I find myself more moved by it when I stop thinking about what it ‘means’ and I just give in to the words I’m saying and the action of giving a parishioner a piece of bread and saying- “The body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven” and offering the cup and saying “the blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation.”

    I understand your dismissal of empty “trappings” and of course, unthinking adherence to anything is problematic. But part of my struggle is to avoid intellectualizing everything and sometimes just “going through the motions” is precisely what I need.

    A wise author once wrote. “Just do what you think a nun (or priest or chaplain or believer) should do and by grace and love, you’ll become one.” (James Salzman, “Lying Awake”) Such is the power of ritual.

    • I would go a step further and say that specific rituals can actually have a beneficial effect such as Yoga or Tai Chi; I was oversimplifying to say the least. I am a big fan of the benefits of meditation and prayer, to say nothing of my own fondness for certain rituals and traditions. These are the things that give our culture coherence, if nothing else, and there is more to them than that. Still, I reject the notion that there is a phenomena such as transubstantiation or other medievalist beliefs going on with any series of rituals; I still pray and meditate.

  3. I’d comment on the Brit Hume/ Pat Buchanan quote, but I’m almost at a loss for words. The phrase contemptible arrogance comes to mind…

  4. You couldn’t have put it more beautifully. Christianity and many eastern theologies coexist quite harmoniously. I found too many similarities to note when comparing the Tao Te Ching to the words of Jesus, it’s as if they were both speaking of the indescribable power.

  5. Same, power, same indescribable power. I don’t know why checking Winston’s blog was the first thing on my mind after I made my bed. I’m going to go find some caffeine now.

  6. There are a couple of us who followed that story from here… it is so heartbreaking & tragic. I hope that out of this lawsuit and media attention, some good comes out of it. As you can imagine I have quite a few folks on my caseload that are in custody largely due to a system/treatment failure and uneducated law enforcement.
    Living in AZ in a budget crisis being run by Republicans, the people I serve are going to be among the first to feel the economic crunch and lose needed services and support. Things here are going from bad to worse and we’ll soon have many incidents like the tragic one above on our heads.

    • While it is the meek and the weak who always suffer when politicians play games it is our culture that allows it to happen; it is very easy to ignore people who can’t speak for themselves, after all.

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