Friday, December 14, 2012

Sometimes I am not a Buddhist and I still have a Distaste for Religion

What I’m going to say next relates a little to Uchiyama’s (and, therefore, possibly Okumura’s) thinking and, if I hadn’t run short of time yesterday, would have been part of the last post: 

We can think of any role we have in life (job, marriage, parenting, whatever) as a cloud. [In this analogy, different clouds are made up of different elements and, as a result, have different properties in regard to weights, responsibilities, indirect costs, etc. At any given moment in time, different clouds can overlap.] Buddhism and, by extension, Zen is a cloud too. And both are extensions of what the Buddha taught. I think a person is fine walking through the cloud that is Buddhism, Zen or what the Buddha taught as long as he or she doesn’t try to grasp onto the cloud in order to define themselves. When we grasp onto the cloud looking for refuge or to define ourselves, especially in a way that tries to define the borders of the cloud itself, we run into trouble. We lose whatever our original features are. That effect can last only moments or, in some cases, years. In the latter case, one day we wake up and find ourselves materialized into a brick wall that can be very difficult to extract ourselves from.

I have a couple of reasons I’ll continue to say I’m Buddhist and Zen, at least for the time being. The first reason is very practical in that my life situation appears to require it at the moment. The second is that I’d like for Buddhism, Zen and what the Buddha taught to continue to exist as part of the same cloud.

When a person strongly defines themselves as anti-Buddhist, it creates two problems. The first problem is at the level of the individual, namely that the anti-Buddhism cloud can be every bit as much of a trap as the Buddhism cloud is. It can cause a person to lose their original features. The second problem relates to the role of what the Buddha taught in society, humanity, and the universe (whether the universe was/is created by the mind, God, the Big Bang, or as part of a computer simulation -- like in the Matrix). Given the tendency of humans to allow will-power, as opposed to wisdom-power, to run the show, I predict that individuals like you, me, and people like Brad Warner, are more effective within the Buddhism cloud than outside it – at least if we don’t allow it to define us too tightly. Otherwise, at some point in the future, Buddhism may become a cloud so dense, or a bigger more evil monster, that it is capable of destroying what the Buddha taught entirely. And that would be a shame.

The reaction of “Buddhism” against someone who is strongly anti-Buddhist, more often than not, is to cause the cloud that is Buddhism to strengthen it’s borders and definition in opposition. That, in turn, causes Buddhism to become a cloud made of a heavier substance and puts more people within it at risk. While I’m permitted, I’d rather be someone within the cloud of Buddhism working to keep the borders and definitions of that cloud soft and flexible -- which I think is most in accord with not doing wrong and what the Buddha taught. 


As a footnote, if I comment on this post, my comment would be: What a wonderful piece of idealistic thinking! 

That doesn't mean it isn't true. Only that it, like everything else, is a partial truth. At different points in our life, each one of us is forced to take a stance on some issues. 


Jordan said...

A bit careless, Great!

Happi said...

Aww Jordan, Thanks!