Thursday, May 01, 2014

I wish Simon Schama would do a history of Buddhism.

I wish Simon Schama would do a history of Buddhism. I've been watching the fascinating Story of the Jews.

Religion is beset with this problem. While tolerance and the freedom of belief seems fundamental to me, I also felt in the heady days of conversion that my own spirituality was the right one, and wished everyone could see the light I was seeing. We mix personal with the social, and thus try to convert people. Why can't we just enjoy what we have? We need to see the reflection back in others, we are social beasts.

In the pluralism of modern day New York City, there are many different brands you can pledge allegiance and a tithe. You also have the freedom from religion. Most people take that route today, they have experienced the imperialism of their childhood, and declared independence. And yet they feel they are missing something. My atheist friend is always pointing out the study that atheist tend to know the most about religion.

Community is always imperfect, relationships are wounding. We project our original relations onto the templates of the past, with our habitual responses, and get snookered.

The existential crisis freedom from religion creates can be very creative, and you could say the world since the fall of religion has been a explosion of exploration of this. That has also lead to problems with substance abuse, and other addictions, as hedonism replaces spiritual ideas. The secular humanist ideals are attractive, but there is no church to reinforce the culture of it. Again, we are back at humans as social creatures.

Academics get lost in the minutia of being an expert, spiritualist preach cliched bromides, and it's hard to find someone in the middle, learned but of the world.

The difficulty is tolerating ambivalence, not knowing, Keat's negative capacity. We need stability, something to stand on, building blocks, psychologically. We need guiding principles beyond our own reactive pleasure seeking.

The Buddhist word for faith also means confidence. Developing confidence in the chosen path is not a bad thing, it's tested in the fires of your own experience.

I think all traditions are beautiful. When I learn about other traditions, I get that warm fuzzy feeling I get with my tradition, at people striving to be more. Hedonistic pleasure seeking has it's limits, and I think it's OK to seek your own pleasure at times, but there needs to be a balance.

Just likes in Buddhism there needs to be a balance between essentialism and nihilism, a fetter.  

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