On the Buddhist philosophy

I’ve done some research on the Buddhist philosophy, and after a while I realized that I don’t fit in with it.

One of Buddhism’s core tenets is compassion for all beings, which I don’t believe I can practice or is possible. I just don’t believe selfless compassion for all beings (and I assume this means every living thing, or at least all sentient beings) is possible, and I don’t believe in complete, perfect selflessness.

For example, among the Thirty Seven Practices of The Path of the Bodhisattva, the eleventh practice states  “All suffering, without exception, comes from the desire for happiness for oneself, while perfect Buddha-hood is born from the desire to make others happy. This is why completely exchanging one’s happiness for that of others is a practice of the Bodhisattva.”

And as people who’ve already read the blog know, I disagree with the idea of bodhicitta.

Artwork of Avalokiteshvara, the famous bodhisattva of compassion.

I also don’t like the idea of getting rid of desire and the self (or the “illusion of the self”) in order achieve any kind of enlightenment or oneness with a higher reality, and don’t believe in it. It is said that when Buddha died (at the age of 80 years old), he attained complete absorption into the highest state of existence, mind, or consciousness. I don’t quite like the idea of being assimilated into a higher consciousness, and if Buddhism is going to advocate it, and New Age types making it worse as they try to sell it, then I think I’ll pass.

I also disagree with the usage of fierce, powerful, warrior gods or wrathful deities as metaphors for the subjugation of desire and ego, as opposed to advocates of raw power.

Mahakala, a wrathful deity from Tibet

I do love Buddhist artwork and gods (Buddhist gods in Tibet and Japan are some the most awesome gods around), and have a liking for some of Buddhist mythology, and have some respect for the founder of Buddhism, Siddartha Gautama, for striving to find his own path, especially after having been sequestered and raised into a false reality by his father, but I find myself rather at odds with the actual philosophy, especially in its Mahayana form.

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11 responses to “On the Buddhist philosophy

  1. Buddhism is cool, but I agree about the compassion thing. We humans in general could be *more* compassionate, just not to the degree Buddhism advocates. There are very few who can do it, and they’re admirable people. What about the rest of us, though?

    What bothers me more is Buddhism’s conception of the self. It just does *not* ring true to me. Or maybe I’m just been Kemetic too long. XD

    • I just don’t believe in compassion for compassion’s sake. I don’t believe in the dissolution of the self in favor of a state of non-self and no desire, which is actually quite dull.

      What is that conception of the self in your opinion?

      You mention you’ve been Kemetic, I wonder what that is. I know it’s a reconstruction of Egyptian pagan belief, but is it more precisely, and what’s the philosophy?

      • It’s been awhile since I’ve been immersed in Buddhist thought, but I was always under the impression that compassion is for the release of suffering–for all beings. So it does have a purpose, it’s just not very realistic for 99.9% of the world population.

        Buddhism’s conception of self is that it essentially doesn’t exist, that we’re all just collections of ever-shifting sensations. The only thing that’s somewhat eternal is karma, which is what continues to cycle of existence of all beings. Of course, this is Theravadin thought. I was never interested in the Greater Vehicle.

        Kemeticism is, as you say, a reconstruction of ancient Egyptian beliefs. As with most ancient religions, most strains of Kemeticism are deeply polytheistic, or at least monistic.

        Kemetics live under a moral “law” called maat. This is our main philosophy. Maat is difficult to translate, which is unfortunate, but basically it encompasses the idea of being generous with friends, respecting the gods, not being hot-tempered or an eavesdropper, respecting your elders and “betters”, not stealing, etc. Many Kemetics sum up maat like this: “don’t be a dick.” It’s a pretty accurate summary. XD

      • Interesting. What separates Kemeticism from other pagan constructionist movements besides pantheon? I ask because I get the inkling that Maat under your description might be similar to other reconstructionist philosophies?

      • Maat encompasses the idea of reciprocity and respect for the gods (along with other things), so it will have a lot of similarities with other ancient philosophies. Maat also defines moral behavior and every ancient society defined that sort of behavior in their own way. So, yeah, there’s going to be similarities.

        I’m not well-versed in enough different Recon religions to feel comfortable comparing them (I was one of those lucky people who hit upon the “right” religion almost immediately, so there wasn’t a lot of wandering for me).

        I can say that one major difference between Kemetic and other philosophies is multiple interpretations and how they’re handled in the framework of the religion.

        As opposed to say, the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians weren’t interested in debating several ideas to find the “best” one. The ancient Egyptians wanted to layer their interpretations of the world, which is why you have so many different versions of creation, along with so many different deities whose domains seem to overlap.

        So, if you were to ask, “did Ra create the world? Did Atum? How about Amun? Or Djehuty? Or Ptah?”, you’d get this answer: “yes.” Because they all created the world. Of course, if you get into New Kingdom material, that’s because they’re all considered one deity manifesting in multiple ways, but earlier material doesn’t try to resolve the tension of multiple creators.

  2. I just want to point out that there are no ‘gods’ in the Buddhism philosophy. I think the gods you are referring to are the Hindu gods. Hinduism is VERY similar to Buddhism, however Buddhists do not worship a higher being.

    • To be fair, the deities are less like gods and, yes, Buddhism does not believe in a higher power like God. Hindu gods do appear in Buddhism, particularly Japanese Buddhism, but I am mainly referring to the wrathful deities in Tibet and other “deities” associated with Buddhist pantheons in Japan, Tibet, and China.

  3. Hi, me Macineely. Got a new account, might post later.
    Any way, the desire to end desire (irony spares nothing, not even religion.) does not mean we Buddhist want to be dull, unfeeling, etc. Ever been sexually frustrated? Or have you ever ate something delicious but it didn’t satisfy you, and now you want more? Not a very pleasant situation. The problem with desire is that it never ends and is insatiable.
    Say I was eating a chocolate cake. It was very good, very tasty. But it can’t satisfy my desire for more. Ending desire, I can enjoy the cake, and not want more. “Yum, this cake is very good. Very tasty.” I can be content with the cake, enjoy it for what it is. This is extended to other things, such as cars, money, and sex.
    Although you didn’t bring it up, I’ll address it any way, the desire to cessate the Wheel of Rebirth. While some people ask, “Why would you want to stop rebirth? It sounds cool.” Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to be in a jail cell instead of being free and outside. When you’re free, you can go anywhere you want, anytime you want. But when you’re in a jail cell, you’re limited to that small, little shabby cell.
    Buddha wasn’t absorbed into some universal conscious. What happened to him depends from school to school. Some believe he attained a Dharmakaya body, a body made of pure enlightenment and existed in his own Pure Land, or Buddhaverse.
    Onto the Dharmapala (wrathful figures.) anyone who knows anything about Buddhism would tell you they represent defeating ego and desire. Nobody ever claimed they represent raw power. Although several times they’re taken to defeat some evil being. When two bandits were camping in a cave holding out, they found an ascetic meditating (similar to astral projection.) They killed him and a bull. When the man’s consciousness returned to his body, he entered it before realizing he had no head, grabbing the bull’s head (mistaking it for his own) he became angry with the bandits and killed them before rampaging around killing. Manjushri Bodhisattva incarnated as Yamantaka and subjugated him, so in a way, it dies represent power just not in the way you think.

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