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Q:You write passionately in your book about the spirituality of Buddhism. How do you describe yourself in terms of your spirituality?

 

A:…The teachings of the Buddha, taken as a whole, probably represent the richest source of contemplative wisdom that we have, but anyone who values these teachings should get out of the religion business. It’s the wrong message. And, in any case, 99 percent of Buddhists practice Buddhism as a religion, and therefore are part of the same egregious discourse…

 

Q:So you don’t need any recourse to the supernatural in Buddhism?

 

A:The core truths of Buddhism, the truth of selflessness, for instance. It’s simply a fact that it is possible to realize that the ego, as you presently feel it and conceive of it, is an illusion. You can experience the continuum of consciousness without the sense of self. This experience can be had without believing anything on insufficient evidence. You can simply be taught to look closely enough at your experience, to de-construct the sense of self, and then discover what the consequences are of that happening. And the consequences turn out to be very positive. There’s a whole discourse in Buddhism about the relief of psychological suffering, the transcendence of self, and the nature of positive human emotions like compassion and loving kindness. These phenomena have been mapped out with incredible rigor in Buddhism, and one doesn’t need to swallow any mumbo jumbo to find this discourse useful.

 

And yet, much that people believe under the guise of Buddhism is dubious: certainties about re-birth, the idea that one’s teacher in the Tibetan tradition is absolutely the reincarnation of some previous historical personality—all of this stuff is held rather dogmatically by most Buddhists, and I think we should be skeptical of it. If people present evidence of it,—and there’s certainly been some interesting studies on the subject of rebirth—we should look at the evidence. As someone once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

 

http://www.truthdig.com/interview/item/200...rris_interview/

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Q:You write passionately in your book about the spirituality of Buddhism. How do you describe yourself in terms of your spirituality?

 

A:…The teachings of the Buddha, taken as a whole, probably represent the richest source of contemplative wisdom that we have, but anyone who values these teachings should get out of the religion business. It's the wrong message. And, in any case, 99 percent of Buddhists practice Buddhism as a religion, and therefore are part of the same egregious discourse…

 

Q:So you don't need any recourse to the supernatural in Buddhism?

 

A:The core truths of Buddhism, the truth of selflessness, for instance. It's simply a fact that it is possible to realize that the ego, as you presently feel it and conceive of it, is an illusion. You can experience the continuum of consciousness without the sense of self. This experience can be had without believing anything on insufficient evidence. You can simply be taught to look closely enough at your experience, to de-construct the sense of self, and then discover what the consequences are of that happening. And the consequences turn out to be very positive. There's a whole discourse in Buddhism about the relief of psychological suffering, the transcendence of self, and the nature of positive human emotions like compassion and loving kindness. These phenomena have been mapped out with incredible rigor in Buddhism, and one doesn't need to swallow any mumbo jumbo to find this discourse useful.

 

And yet, much that people believe under the guise of Buddhism is dubious: certainties about re-birth, the idea that one's teacher in the Tibetan tradition is absolutely the reincarnation of some previous historical personality—all of this stuff is held rather dogmatically by most Buddhists, and I think we should be skeptical of it. If people present evidence of it,—and there's certainly been some interesting studies on the subject of rebirth—we should look at the evidence. As someone once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

 

http://www.truthdig.com/interview/item/200...rris_interview/

 

Spot on.

 

I especially agree with the following statement, "the wisdom of the Buddha is trapped in the religion of Buddhism." I find this statement is more succinct than my own statement in my signature, I think I'll borrow it!

 

I found the following to be quite a shock: -

 

A recent national study by University of Minnesota researchers found that atheists are America's least trusted minority group—trusted less than Muslims, recent immigrants and homosexuals. Americans are also least willing to approve of their children marrying atheists, according to the study.

 

Most Australians wouldn't know what an Atheist is let alone care! America really does have the religion bug!

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If you like Buddhism but appreciate more skepticism about supernatural claims, then take a look at the religious teachings of Socrates. He taught a doctrine that divine retribution was an act of love rather than hatred, but beyond that, he rejected any dogmatic teachings about life after death, the number and identities of the Gods, and any other unverifiable religious claims. On the whole, it seems like a good religion that opens us up to contemplative wisdom, but without superstition and ludicrous dogma. That said, Hellenic religion as expressed by Homer and Hesiod was pretty miserable and was just as bad as Christianity/Islam. But Socrates and Plato were religious reformers. If you don't want to get too exotic by going East to Taoism and Buddhism, then the religious tradition of Socrates and Plato is a good place to turn.

 

Mark McPherran wrote a book on the "Religion of Socrates," and Gregory Vlastos' "Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher" describes Socrates' teaching about divine retribution.

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he rejected any dogmatic teachings about life after death, the number and identities of the Gods, and any other unverifiable religious claims.

 

As did the Buddha :grin:

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