Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Pablo Das asked these set of questions on fb:
How do you relate to Buddhism?
Do you consider the Buddha a person who had an infallible lock on the truth? Are there teachings that don’t resonate?
Do you rely on early texts to source this truth? Your tradition? Your teachers? Have you considered the difference between these three things? Are the three sources coherent in their presentation of the teachings in your experience? Does it matter?
Is it religion? Or… Do you view the dharma as just another set of tools? Equal to other philosophical, healing, spiritual systems?
Are you a Buddhist Atheist? Secular Buddhist? Or just a mindfulness practitioner? How does this inform your relationship to Dharma?
What happens when you encounter teachings that conflict with your own truth or deeply held values? Do you defer to the Buddha’s wisdom (your tradition or teacher?) or trust your own experience? something else?
Have you ever considered these questions at all?
I draw mostly from early Buddhist Pali and modernist Theravada traditions as taught by Buddhadasa (Thai Forest), Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Joanna Macy, Stephen Batchelor, and certain Tibetan teachers such as the 17th Karmapa and Pema Chodron, and engaged Buddhists such as Sangharakshita and Tich Nhat Hanh.
I don’t practice Buddhism as a religion. I don’t think Buddha meant to start a religion, defining ‘religion’ as a set of beliefs and practices based on irrational and delusional suppositions (e.g. ‘god’). Religions are one of the main sources of hatred and confusion. I actually think that Buddha was trying to devise an ethical and spiritual but secular way of life that would be a replacement for religion.
The Buddha was a super-aware human being who liberated himself from the social conditions of his culture and time, especially oppressive religious beliefs and the caste system.
Buddha’s teachings came from traditions that already existed in his culture; his genius was how he interpreted and integrated them in a coherent way that anybody could understand, practice and benefit from.
‘Liberation’ today means undoing the social conditioning that oppresses people today, in their own culture, such as capitalism, racism, misogyny, colonialism, religion, consumerism, destruction of the environment, etc.
I practice meditation as a form of therapeutic healing, as part of my recovery from addiction and mental illness. But Buddhism as a whole is greater than its therapeutic benefit to me. It’s greater benefit is how it breaks down ego-centric barriers and connects me to everybody and everything around me, the whole world, the universe.