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Published:December 2nd, 2009 17:55 EST
In Defense of Religion Part II: Buddhism

In Defense of Religion Part II: Buddhism

By Sean Beelzebul

In Defense of Religion Part II: Buddhism


                In the last article we accessed and defended the religion of Islam, and urged readers to not categorize all Muslims with the extremist sects. Extremism is not as much a problem with Buddhism as it is with the Abrahamic religions. However,  there persist several problems with Buddhism which prevent its ability to spread further.

                Despite having the most historically opaque existence, Shakyamuni  Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) left the world with a religion that despite textual translations, changes and renditions throughout the last 2500 years, survives today in a very accurate and well preserved form.  Siddhartha Gautama`s date of birth is still in speculation by scholars (2400-2500BCE), and the first texts which survived this period were all not created (from the oral tradition) until at least four or five hundred years after the Buddha`s death. Yet, despite this all, Buddhists today, are probably the happiest people on the planet, and all across the board agree on the main tenets of their religion (save for the Theravada/Mahayana distinction between the actual Buddha and the Arhant). From Thailand up to Korea, then west towards America "Buddhist ideals are more coherent than the disparity of institutions and sects within Western religions like Christianity. There are a large amount of different traditions within Buddhism, the nine main categories of Chinese Buddhism for example, each with its subdivisions of Categories: Chan, Lotus School, Pure Land, etc. Yet, Buddhism deviates little from the main thread that runs through it "compassion. Why is this so?

 What I think is based on a lot of what the other scholars I`ve spoken to in the field have said. When I took graduate classes with Dr. Justin McDaniel, currently a Buddhist studies expert at the University of Pennsylvania, I was taught the idea that a canon, or rigid set of texts, does not really exist in the same sense in Buddhism. If there were a canon in Buddhism, it would be so tremendously large, as to occupy the space of a medium to large size library, and not one simple book. Thus, the Buddhist canon " is not so truncated as to be limited to one book that is derived from so many thousands of translations, but rather many books, in many tongues, written for many people in mind.

Normative stuff that comes from this conclusion: when we come to the next segment of this series we will discuss the true canon " of Christianity. But first, the weakness of Buddhism must be assessed. This weakness I speak of is not the fault of the faithful Buddhist, nor is it that of the Buddha`s. It is the matter of temporality, and context. The contextual time, place and very existence of the Buddha was very early. Although his philosophy was perfect for his time, it could not possibly prepare itself for the coming generations, the times of war, deception and especially the current times of technological mayhem. Although it can bring the follower great joy, if practiced to its upmost "in today`s day it is exceedingly difficult for the lay follower, the ordinary person, especially the people of America, to practice Buddhism to its full potentiality. For one, this matter of temporal positioning and placement creates the necessity for the Buddhist to be exceedingly smart, to study the history, the language and the culture of Buddhism in order to apply its principles to the society we live in today. Society is far different than that of Shakyamuni Buddha`s. I`m afraid I`ve taken on too big of a problem here, one could write a dissertation on the subject "and they should. Fortunately my book fleshes these details out in a more complete manner. Space permits me to make another big point: it is not impossible to understand great spiritual joy through Buddhism it is just more difficult than it should be given the fact that it is so old. This argument applies to many religions.

In Defense of Religion part I: Islam A defense of Islam at its roots, Mohammad. Also, a criticism of extremism and the roots of this defilement.