Mainstream Religion a Unifying Thread: Part I - Buddhism
All mainstream religions are in some way old. Even the newest religions, such as the Baha`I and the Church of Satan, are tied to older and larger traditions. In today`s day and age, and occasional fanatical cult leader, or science fiction author will create a cult and call it religion. This type of thing is not really religion. Scientology for example, is too spurious of a doctrine to be considered a true religion and if readers demand this I will write a separate article for charlatans and cults. But for now Scientology aside, the vast majority of all religions are old or bear their roots in old traditions. This edition will focus on Buddhism.
I shall give Buddhism this credit, although it has been approximately 2400-2500 since the Buddha`s death, his teachings survive today in a very plentiful form. The Buddhist Canon " would stretch from wall to every wall in a mid-sized house. Where, the Bible is simply the Bible (though there are many different types of Bibles and translations), the Buddhist literature vastly out numbers the Western tradition in terms of authoritative text. With that said, Buddhism still has a huge defect "it is old.
In the Buddha`s day, the suffering of men, women and the civilization of mankind in general was much smaller. Buddha only had access to one hemisphere of the world, and it was so greatly smaller than it is today. India and Asia today, make up most of the world`s population. In the Buddha`s day, even if myths that he traveled to China are true, there were simply far less people. Buddha designed the eightfold path as a means to correct the individual and merge them with the ultimate truths. However, his system is unrealistic for today`s society. Suffering is simply too wide spread. Unless, one goes into a monastery it is nearly impossible for the follower of Buddhism to adequately take upon themselves the many duties and rules of the Vinaya, the canonical scripture regarding monkhood.
The higher level meditational descriptions and detailed associations like the Abhidharma, are hard to decipher without learning Pali, Sanskrit or Chinese (For the various canonical translations of such material). Much of Buddhism is ingrained in Indian culture and much of the Mahayana and Vajrayana sects of Buddhism are ingrained in their respective cultures. It seems that many practitioners and students of Buddhism have to understand these cultures in order to understand much but not all of Buddhism.
In the case of Buddhist metaphysics, much of these have been ruled out by contemporary science and philosophy. In Consciousness at the Crossroads, contemporary neuroscientists, and philosophers of mind were given the opportunity to critique the Dalai Lama`s view of the mind. The results indicated that the Buddhist view that their exists some type of subtle body " separate from contemporary ontology that can be reincarnated is discordant with science. The neuro-philosophers and neuroscientists of the book, tended to side with a monism that ruled out realms external to the physical world.
In defense of Buddhism, I do recognize the gifts it provides the religious world. There have been neuroscientists who, sympathetic with Buddhism, have found that brain scans on the brains of monks displayed a completely different pattern of brain activity. In my personal life, Buddhist meditation makes up the majority of my personal meditation regime. Yet, I stick to my claim "it`s too old. It does not make it easy enough for the people of today to follow.
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