Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam 101: Religion on the Rebound, Religion on the Run…

img_1893All three major international religions have carried their original premises to ridiculous extremes, along with their adherents, whether cause or effect, those original premises all quite similar, and compatible, variations on the themes of love, righteousness, and perseverance, each with a different focus, Christianity on the love, Islam on the righteousness, and Buddhism on the perseverance…

And from these humble commendable compatible and civilizing influences, each has gone their own ways, Islam to the extremes of religious fundamentalism, holy wars and unholy alliances; Christianity drenched in sex, drugs, and all that rap; and Buddhist perseverance easily given over to passivity, even in the face of the most egregious assaults on basic human rights, individuals reduced to fit in cages, self-imposed prisons of consciousness…

And whether the belief system caused the culture to diverge or vice versa, the net effect is the same: we are growing father apart from our neighbors at the same time that private space for private refuge is growing ever harder to find…

For many years the response, implied if not intended, was to assimilate, to adopt the culture and language of the majority race. Only when that failed did escape became the answer. More recently the expectation is that everyone has their price, and so anyone can be ‘bought off’, i.e. fat people don’t protest…

But that doesn’t always work, either. Afghanistan doesn’t want to be like the UAE, two very different versions of what Islam is supposed to be. This has worked very well with Christianity, though, which is heavily allied with democracy and capitalism in a version of Christianity that is very free-spirited, non-dogmatic, even non-denominational—but protestant…

And if Catholic populations are typically much more conservative, and superstitious, then Eastern Orthodox populations are positively medieval. But, in general, we westerners are more in love with our smartphones than our tribal roots, and happy to join the predominant most prominent culture, as long as it’s white, and there’s the rub, the rub of racism..

But Buddhism is a mess…

They all are. Buddhism not only has (at last count) three major ‘schools’, but countless nikayas and sub-sects within those ‘schools’, such that the original common beliefs are sometimes lost in translation, and it is nearly impossible to say ‘Buddhism this’ or ‘Buddhism that’ with any certainty, since one or the other may or may not share that particular belief, or at least not to the same degree…

The Tibet-Vajrayana ‘school’, for instance, while technically categorizable under the larger heading ‘Mahayana’, which implies that it got its start from China, which most under that heading did, in fact got its directions directly from India, the original source of Buddhism, but about 1000 years later, and at that time something almost unrecognizable by the Buddha, and very close to what we now call ‘Hinduism’, with its unrelenting karma and multiple levels of heaven and hell now prominent, everything but the caste system…

And the rise of Indian religion and the simultaneous rise of the caste system are probably no accident, as the dark and light races combined toward a vanishing point of plausible non-distinction. So the post-Aryan light-skinned ‘nobles’ did a very non-Buddhist thing: rather than simply adjusting themselves to it…

They created a caste system, with a theory of reincarnation to back it up. Welcome to Hinduism. Then those who thought better assumed that there should be an easier way, to create a new religion—Buddhism, but with rebirth not exactly reincarnation. But I still don’t buy it, with or without a caste system, because the end result is still the same—fertile ground for racism…

Call me a closet Christian, call me an American (gulp), call me a capitalist, call me what you like: I don’t care. As a Buddhist you can’t tell people to, “Let that sh*t go,” i.e. upadana, craving, tanha, lust, or whatever (suddenly I’m thirsty), and then saddle them with an unrelenting karma of retribution like a monkey on the back, and over multiple generations at that, supposedly, an entire continent in morbid fear for their multiple lives…

And then you read the fine print, whether Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana, and they’re almost always nodding and winking and implying: ‘it’s just better this way,’ as if without the sword of Damocles hanging over heads we would surely commit homicide, or suicide, or genocide, or any manner of mean nasty and ugly things, as if we were children in danger of being spoiled for lack of a rod to beat us into submission with…

But Buddha knew the sword of Damocles and knew it well, for he was truly in a position of power and gladly gave it up rather than live in the fear attached to those in that position. So why should his lesson be revisited upon the generally poor, honest, and unsuspecting masses? Should they be subjected to a life of fear rather than allowed to renounce as Buddha did and thereby gain their freedom? For the average person is not in a position of power, and does not need to be reminded of its double-edged sword…

So this is a kind of double jeopardy, in that we are by definition condemned to a life of limits, in which the only successful outcome is guaranteed by moral and wise actions, while at the same time informed that those present actions are predetermined by some past actions which we are powerless to change, or mitigate, or even to know about until it’s maybe too late…

That’s not fair. Without free will, there can be no morality, and only then can there truly be the self-control that defines Buddhism, at least in my reading of the letters—self-control, not control from outside, whether by doctrines or wardens. They all do it, of course: implore you to be moral, then imply that you really have no choice. Decisions decisions and non-decisions….

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