Balloonland

stuff gets examined.

What the Buddha Meant

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Though I’m no “professional” student of Buddhism, I’ve read great deal on the subject and feel a kind of one-sided personal relationship with Siddhartha, which I guess is the ideal when talking of spiritual or philosophical icons. I feel a lot of sympathy for the poor guy, given the level of misunderstanding he’s been subjected to.

I’m pretty sure what he meant to tell everyone has been added to and re-interpreted by like pretty much any writings of this sort to suit cultural, national, or personal agendas through time. The essence of what he was trying to say is this:

Point 1. There’s no way we can know what happens after we die. There’s a good chance that nothing happens, which, in a lot of ways, would be nice after all this wanting and suffering. As we cannot know what happens, the question is irrelevant – concern yourself with Point 2.

Personally, I’m inclined to think something does happen after we die. However, it’s beyond an impenetrable barrier, and certainly beyond the comprehension of the marginally autonomous, biological chemical-based robots  that you and I actually are. This whatever that comes after does not necessarily bring the survival of the individual me/you that happens to evolve/identify itself in any particular robot. This identity is, after all, an accidental concoction of your biological robot programming, a wide range of ever-changing circumstantial factors, and a few key personal historical events that may well be altered by the filter of the previously mentioned circumstantial factors. Get over it.

Point 2. Since this life is effectively and as far as we can prove the only life any of us (“us” meaning humans, animals, plants, you name it) is going to get, we owe it to each other to ensure the quality is as high as possible. Owing to the fact the world this life is spent in is inherently uncomfortable and nasty, and the rules imply and often require  we have to be unkind to other life-forms, Making a conscious effort to minimize our impact (“mindfulness”) is a necessary skill we must learn if we want to enable quality in our and other creature’s experience.

Why should we want to minimize our negative impact and improve the quality of other being’s lives? Enlightened self-interest, of course – You protect someone else’s interests, they’re more likely to protect yours. Someone high on state-provided drugs won’t be mugging you or robbing your house to pay for them themselves. Cat’s purrs have been proven to lower blood pressure. Pigs raised in factory farms live under constant stress and provide lower-quality meat than pigs raised in more salubrious circumstances.

Both of these points are well-supported in the Buddha’s original/core  teachings (once you separate them from the kloodge of stuff that’s been added by those who came after him, which I think is fairly easy. This additional material also typically reinforces the central points), as well as other compasses for human behaviour, as I will no doubt touch on, eventually.

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Written by balloonhed

April 8, 2010 at 6:34 am

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