NOTE: This was written before Vrangsinn would have heard of the Buddhist vigilantes (rightfully) fighting against Muslims in Thailand and Myanmar, so they are not unconditional pacifists. He also seemed to have never heard of the idea of “false self” or “false selves” from social conditioning which I suspect is what Buddhism is really trying to shed. Nonetheless he does have a point about the ego.
by Daniel Vrangsinn on Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 9:09am
I have to start this investigation by admitting I am very confused about Buddhism. From talking with different people I have yet to come across two Buddhists that will have the same understanding of Buddhism and at times their opinions have even been contra-dictionary. This indicates that Buddhism is a very flexible religion/philosophy that leaves much up to the individual itself to decide. I found them all to be individualists with a various degree of open mindedness as well. Being open minded seemed to be very important to them but they were not always as open minded as they seemed to believe they were. But I did not find any Buddhist stereotype to put it that way so indeed it is very flexible. They simply disagree on what Buddhism is and so does the general opinion about Buddhism from non Buddhists. They all said different things and left me totally confused…. So I would have to say – So far so good. I met people instead of drones. This is not your typical slave religion at all, and they are indeed very peaceful.
One of the things they disagree about is whether or not Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy or even both – This is a very disputed fact and also very confusing for one like me trying to understand what Buddhism is in order to write this. Some will claim it is a religion while others will claim it is a personal philosophy. Some of them don’t even agree with themselves about this as they will say it is a personal philosophy but they will still refer to it by using the word religion whenever they talk about it. One even claimed that it was hurtful for the religious feelings and very insulting that a image of Buddha was burned in one of my music-videos. The same person had no problems with insulting the other religions, only the Buddha. I was left with a “angry peaceful Islamist” impression from that experience. This was however only 1 person and due to the high degree of individuality in them all I can’t use that against Buddhism. That would simply not be fair. They all agree on that Buddhism is free from Dogma but I don’t believe that is completely true.
As a philosophy Buddhism is fairly interesting and a lot of it’s teaching are very beautiful indeed. They seek understanding and they wish for good things – Let’s have a look at the teachings itself to learn if this religion is any threat to mankind or not.
The Kalachakra Tantra literature, reveals both external and internal levels of battle that could easily be called “holy wars.” leaders may exploit the external dimensions of holy war for political, economic, or personal gain. Nevertheless, the main emphasis is on the internal spiritual battle against one’s own ignorance and destructive ways. it would appear that in Buddhism, the call for a “holy war” is purely an internal spiritual matter. The Kalachakra Tantra, however, reveals an additional external dimension. But to focus on abuses of Kalachakra’s external level of spiritual battle and dismiss the internal level would be unfair to Buddhism as a whole.
Buddhism has the greatest record for peace and morality. Considering its size it has a wonderfully surprising record. War, intolerant killing, torture, ignorance are hardly present in Buddhist societies. Throughout history various forms of Buddhism may have been instruments of war and violence. Buddhist sects have argued and fought over doctrine. They have fought over populations and methods and they have also fought over pride and national independence.
– The long association of Japanese Zen Buddhism with military prowess and aggressive imperialism
– South-East Asian Buddhist kingdoms were as militarily aggressive and self-seeking as any others
– The war of national independence in Sri Lanka in the second century BC conducted under the slogan ‘Not for kingdom, but for Buddhism'”
– In the 1930s Zen Masters occupied themselves with giving military men Zen training. The events of this military epoch in the history of Zen have been chronicled by Ichikawa Hakugen, a Zen priest and professor at Kyoto’s Hanazono University, who in books like The War Responsibility of Buddhists, condemned Zen’s collaboration with Japanese fascism.”
“In Buddhism, the idea of self is merely an illusion. Man wrongly identifies perception, consciousness, mind and body with what he calls self. In reality, there is no abiding entity that could be identified with a self, because the states of perception, consciousness, and mind and body constantly change.
The body is mortal and when it dies, all mental activities cease. That is why there is no soul. The idea of soul is simply an extension of the self; in fact it is an immortal version of the self that supposedly survives physical death.Buddhism denies the existence of such an entity. Instead, what we call self is just a stream of consciousness that draws identity from concepts and memories, all of which are impermanent.
The idea of an abiding self is deceptive, because it is derived from unenlightened reasoning. The word self simply provides a reference frame for the mind-body phenomena of sentient beings. We usually identify it with our body and the stream of consciousness that is sustained by sense perceptions and thoughts. In reality, what we call self is neither abiding nor detached from the rest of the world and other beings. Buddhists call this the “neither self nor non-self”
“The feeling of a separate “I”, which we call ego-consciousness, is directly related to the strength of ignorance, greed, and hatred. The deepest meaning of ignorance is the believing in, identifying with and clinging to the ego, which as we have seen, is nothing but an illusive mental phenomenon. But because of this strong clinging to ego-consciousness, attachment/desire, anger/hatred arise and repeatedly gain strength”
The few historic happenings including war was a very long time ago and we can not know how much the influence ofBuddhism can be blamed for each of these incidents. In these times everything was very violent on this planet… Very primitive days. I have to be fair so I can not say I feel this is a threat against humanity in any way so I do not think I should spend very much energy on destroying this one cause there is no reason to do so as it is not a real threat like the 3 evil Sado Masochist death-cult religions Abraham gave us.
I find most of Buddhism and also it’s teachings to be very beautiful and also very cute since it is so naive it actually have faith that the simple minds of most humans will be able to comprehend the message as intended. From all my personal meditation/inner journeys. When all the illusions of security, purpose, importance, possessions and so on are left behind and when I finally reach my inner self….. Every single time what I found was my own ego because my own ego is me.
I do agree that I am of no importance at all that my existence here is very temporary. But I can’t see why I should kill the ego. I think ego is a very healthy thing as long as you are aware of it. You don’t have to be an asshole because you worship the self. You can still have compassion, empathy and you can even be an idealist like me. I am pretty much all those things they try to kill their own self to become but I reached my level of understanding myself and the world around me from the very opposite approach of these words
Ken Jones* notes the real dangers that Buddhist ego training presents to certain types of people, producing neurotics and psychotics at worst, and mental imbalance at best. He notes the difficulty of adapting traditional Buddhist methods to swathes of society who do not conform to the model of the ego that Buddhist psychology requires of students.
* Ken Jones is a founder member of the Network of Engaged Buddhists and presently President. He has a background in radical politics and Zen Buddhism. One of his most important books, The New Social Face ofBuddhism addresses the question of Buddhist social theory and Ken Jones has been an influential teacher and writer over many years within socially engaged Buddhism publishing many articles in UK and American journals on the subject.
Buddhists of course will disagree on the ego thing and the east and the west have different ways of defining what ego is. The modern western approach to destroy the ego used by some of the Buddhists I talked to was most likely not what the original Buddha meant at all. Some Buddhists I talked to were extremely focused on that thing and they had no understanding that it could be possible to reach any level of awareness without destroying my ego. To some people this is serious shit and they actually believe they have to destroy all they are cause they believe the self is non existent. The non existent self…… According to my personal opinion this is horribly naive.
Buddhist practices are not a universal solution to social ills or spiritual problems, but a certain type of solution for certain types of person. For making universal claims about the enlightenment of all beings, it is still stuck with a mythology about Indian, Chinese and Eastern-style sages, teachers and students; when only a certain portion of humanity that can exist in those roles. Buddhist advise is counter-productive. For something with such great social potential it still manage to fall over its own dogma and mythology when it comes to individual, personal development of people in general but it seems to work in various degrees of success for some people. It is a fine peace movement, mediator, and also a intelligent social commenter. I don’t get the feeling this is that evil kind of institution I think of when I use the word religion. Buddhists are also talking a lot about Karma. Look it up in a book or something because I am hereby done with Buddhism. I don’t want to waste any more time writing about it.
I wish to end this investigation by concluding I DON’T GET IT – NOT AT ALL. I am still as confused about whatBuddhism really is as when I started – Maybe even more… And that is also the reason I hereby dismiss this religion as any threat to mankind. It is harmless to everyone except the Buddhist. I have no problems with people destroying themselves. I will not spend any of my time fighting this because I have real religions to deal with!
I also want to send a small message to my friends the Buddhists:
Remember wherever you go – EGO IS EVERYTHING! – The EGO is the self and it is very important to love the self and be aware of it’s existence always!! Your ego is all you are! Have a lovely day and try not to destroy yourselves now!
I know I am nothing and that nothing I ever do will ever make any difference at all and that is why I am free to live my life like I want to. It is certainly not like the Buddhist. But our wishes for this world are beautiful and they remain the same as mine and I kinda like you for your beautiful nativity 🙂