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Buddhism is The Greatest Religion in the World, If It Was A Religion

posted by Jerry Kolber

My post Freedom From Religion: Buddhism Wins Best Religion in the World Award last week set off quite a stir around these here ‘nets. Over at Paramita they offer to send an 11 month old girl to pick up the award.  Shambhala Sun had a few things to say too. Today In Religion weighed in, as did Thailand’s Thaivisa site, which had the best comment thread. And finally Pipal Tree ran the story from Singapore. 

Either way, if it was a reliigon Buddhism would be the best religion in the world perhaps precisely because it lacks some of the key elements that make it a relgion (I’m speaking here of approaching it as a philosophy of life, rather than the codified and cemented bureacuracy that it has become in some quarters).  Like practicing Jesus’s true teaching about living without glopping on all the rules and constrictions that basically say “practice true goodness or else”, Buddhism’s core teachings are just totally freakin’ awesome and are more a study of self than a giving up to a higher power.

Speaking of giving up to a higher power, this past week I’ve developed a healthy new habit that I wanted to share.

sitdownshutup.jpg



My new habit? I’ve been reading as much of Jonathan Mead’s writing over at Illuminated Mind
as possible.  Check out Jonathan’s story at “my story” on his about
page for one of the most intimate descriptions I’ve ever read online
about how he came to a path of compassionate personal transformation. 
As if on cue, Jonathan’s  article from yesterday The Death of Becoming Something is a perfect linke from a Buddhist blog. Admission: I kind of have a crush on Jonathan’s brain and his writing.

Speaking
of brain crushes, another brain crush that I’ve been wanting to share
for a few months is on former monster movie maker, punk rocker, and
ordained Zen Monk Brad Warner. Brad’s book Hardcore Zen
was the first thing I’d ever read that made me think “hey wait a minute
this Buddhist business IS relevant to young freaks like me.”   Brad’s
second book Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye
was just as awesome full of holy-crapifying ideas. I’ve had the
pleasure of hearing Brad speak at the Interdependence Project twice
now; one of those times actually makes it into a chunk of his new book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate.  
I read the book while on a trip with my father in the Grand Canyon,
totally disconnected from electricity, phones, internets, and
television – and all other people save those on the trip with us.

His hilarious story about his relationship with a cat involving fellow IDP blogger Ellen and his shoutout to the Interdependence Project
mid-way through the book (of his gigs in NYC he says “The best was
definitely my talk at the Interdependence Project” and goes on to say a
few very nice things about us and our communal practice) was really odd
to read while isolated in the Grand Canyon with my father Cliff (himself a fantastic nature photographer) yet gave me this nice,
unexpected sense of connection to things back home.

Brad’s
excruciatingly intimiate and honest description of how his Zen practice
actually worked when his job, career, and family were disintegrating
around him is funny, touching, and helpful to the max.  If you want to
hear the real deal of what it means to put practice into action when
faced with big neon displays of impermanence, check out the book. In
fact, I’d suggest reading all three of his books in order because you
will literally see how his practice, and his thinking about and
application of his practice, evolve before your eyes.

I quote at
length here from Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate:

“The universe is yours, and all you want to do with
it is write your name in spray paint on the wall.  You’re like a dog
pissing on a fence. No one who sees the mark you left behind on the
world could give a shit. You’re just exactly like me.

But sit
quietly, and even a piece of gibbon’s dung like you can see it.  
There’s no one in the universe but you.  You spread all the way out
past the farthest galaxies, and that’s just the beginning. Your
thoughts are all stupid. Your perceptions are completely wrong. There’s
nowhere you can be but here. There’s nothing you can know that’s worth
knowing. You have no future or past, yet you’ll always be here. And
because of this you are God’s eyes and ears on this world. You are God
himself.

So pay a little attention, butt-wipe.”

For another refreshingly honest look at meditation practice, check out Julia May Jones article HeyJhana HoJhana here at our blog. Hilarious awesome and full of insight as usual.

Finally a bit of self-promotion which I won’t bother dignifying
with the term “shameless”.  Over at my own site I’ve got a little piece
called Five Reasons to Turn off the Internet that has been brewing around in my brain since my trip to the canyon.

My biggest brain/talent/body crush ever happens to be performing in NYC this weekend and lucky for me he is also my boyfriend. If you want to hear the kind of amazing music you might make if you
lived with someone with a daily meditation practice,  check out Tater’s new project Allies
(how’s that for a clever way to work in more promotion?)  Allies is
dancey, fun, occassionally dark and always luxurious.  He’ll be DJ’ing
Italo and Freestyle and making the debut Allies performance this
Saturday night July 25 at The Hose so if you happen to be in East Village NYC check it out, I’ll be there.



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Comments read comments(9)
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~C4Chaos

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm


nice riff on this post.
then again, in response to the main title, Buddhism is indeed *partly* a religion. anyone who says that Buddhism is *not* a religion probably haven’t been to Asia or haven’t seen this awesome lecture by Dr. Lewis Lancaster ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX2f6QHkU-I
in any case, to all young budding Buddhists out there, once you get tired of Warner’s juvenile expression of Buddhism (which i sometimes think is funny and cool, btw), check out Daniel Ingram, Shinzen Young, B. Alan Wallace, and if you have the guts, Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
my two cents,
~C



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Jerry

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:36 pm


c4- I’m curious what you found juvenile about Zen Wrapped in Karma?



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~C4Chaos

posted July 22, 2009 at 10:28 pm


Jerry,
i wasn’t referring to a particular book that Brad Warner wrote. i haven’t read Warner’s books. i’ve read some sections of it though, as well as some reviews. however, i do read his blog and his articles on Suicide Girls. i also listen to his interviews on Buddhist Geeks.
when i said “juvenile” i’m expressing my opinion in general on how i perceive Warner’s style of presenting the dharma. btw, the “juvenile” here is not relative to average people who are not familiar with the dharma. when i say “juvenile” my point of reference are the teachers (and Buddhist Scholars) i’ve mentioned above. compared to them, Warner has some growing up to do.
that said, i do enjoy reading Warner’s articles. he makes me laugh. i appreciate his perspectives and his expressions of the dharma. however, i do find his tone and his style and language (though funny and cool) to be lacking in substance and depth (as compared to the teachers i’ve mentioned above).
for example: from what i’ve seen so far, Warner only presents the type of Buddhism that he knows (Soto Zen). but Buddhism is a big umbrella. no lineage of Buddhism has a monopoly on the dharma. maybe i’ve just missed it, but i have yet to see Warner display knowledge on the history, complexity, different schools, different approach to practice, different rituals, different take on enlightenment, of the big umbrella we call “Buddhism”.
as a case in point: his unprovoked attack on Genpo Roshi displays his lack of understanding of the theoretical framework of Voice Dialogue method (from which the Big Mind process was derived). his critique was not really an intellectual critique, but more like a rant. it would’ve been better if he engaged Genpo Roshi in a dialogue/debate and expressed his concerns on the Big Mind process and its marketing approach. that would be a more “matured” (right speech or skillful) way of doing it.
having said that, i still appreciate Warner’s expression of Buddhism. like i said, he makes me laugh. but if you’re really looking for “hardcore” dharma, i suggest you also look for hybrid teachers who have a good grasp of the historical, theoretical, practical, scientific, and experiential aspects of the Buddhist path.
but don’t take my word for it. compare Warner’s insights with some of the teachers i’ve mentioned above, and then decide for yourself.
my two cents.
~C



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gary gach

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:12 am


Of possible interest, my inter view, done after reading his first book: http://bit.ly/8Mdvr



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Mu

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm


Jerry,
I too find Warner quite compelling, and I don’t find him “juvenile” or “immature” in the least. I’ve read Buddha is the Center of Gravity (1974), which is not easy to find, and is Sasaki’s only book. Apparently I have the “guts” for it, and I must say I find it no more “mature” than Warner at his best moments. Warner, incidentally, refers to Sasaki on pg. 124 of Sit Down and Shut Up. Sasaki is hardly a “hybrid” teacher, nor is Ingram for that matter. Not to mention, the latter’s grasp of Buddhist history is dubious.



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Julia May

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm


Thanks for the shoutout, Jerry. Great post.



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~C4Chaos

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:38 am


Mu,
i agree. i don’t consider Ingram or Sasaki Roshi to be hybrid teachers. Ingram’s background/context/developmental model is mostly based Theravada. Joshu Sasaki Roshi is as an uber-traditional Rinzai Zen master.
i define “hybrid” teachers as those who have extensive practice in more than one Buddhist lineage (theravada, mahayana, vajrayana, etc…) *and* at the same time someone who is deeply rooted in the sciences. so i was actually referring to B. Alan Wallace and Shinzen Young when i said “hybrids”.
here’s an example of a “hybrid” teacher in action:
http://www.upaya.org/dharma/tag/science-meets-meditation/
~C



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christopher

posted July 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm


My name is Christopher. I come from a Christian family. Way back, after finishing my schooling and when I was doing my Intermediate (junior college), I sensed a kind of emptiness in my heart. (This emptiness, which I later-on understood, was God’s way of drawing me to Himself). In my desperate attempts to solve this problem, I found myself bunking college and attending Christian meetings and visiting Christian bookshop with the hope of finding a solution. During one such visit to a Christian bookshop, I came across a small book-let titled; Tell me plainly, how to be saved. Through this book-let (written according to the Bible), I have understood that every human-being is a sinner and is bound to go to hell after one’s time on this planet-earth is over. But God’s great love for man-kind made Him send His only son, Jesus Christ, into this world. Jesus, who lived a sin-less life, suffered an account of our sins and died on the cross in our place. He rose again from death the third day and is now in the midst of us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Whoever believes in Him will become a child of God and will skip hell to enter heaven, the presence of the Almighty God.

The book-let went-on to say that the way of believing in Jesus Christ is by repenting of our sins and asking Jesus for forgiveness for our sins as only the blood of Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse us from every kind of sin. Then we should invite Jesus into our hearts. When I did all this, the emptiness in my heart left and the love, joy & peace which I never had till then filled my heart. Since then, the Lord has been wonderfully leading me and has never left me alone, as per His promise in the Bible for all those who come to him in faith. He gave a purpose for my living. Whatever I have been going through in life, I can say with all confidence, that there was never a time that I felt or was left helpless; this is so as one of the precious promises in the Bible says: “Even lions go hungry for lack of food, but those who obey the LORD lack nothing good.”

This is how the Lord has sought me, forgave my sins, made me His child, gave me a purpose for living, has been meeting all my needs and put His peace & joy in my heart that no person or experience or circumstance or problem can take it away.

It’s a Biblical fact that every person has a heart with a God-shaped vacuum and nothing can fill that vacuum, except God Himself. This is why we need to invite Jesus to come into our hearts after repenting of our sins.

The one decision I will never regret is, giving my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope and wish that you also will make a decision to make Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior. If so, please say this prayer meaningfully from your heart:

Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Almighty God. Thank you for suffering on the cross for my sake. I now repent of all my sins. Forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me with your precious blood. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus and make me your child. From now on, I will read the Bible regularly and obey what it says. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

If you have made a decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, please let me know the good news. Thanks. May you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.



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shasanajyoti Bhikkhu

posted April 4, 2012 at 12:19 am


My way is great and right than others.



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