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Inspired by Bertrand Russell‘s famous essay, Why I am Not a Christian, I have in mind a discussion of what I find helpful and not helpful in Buddhism. I am a big fan of the practices that lead to enlightenment, primarily meditation, but not of certain key traditional doctrines and dogmas which purport to explain those practices.

Here is a very approximate outline of where I am planning to take this, as concerns specifically dependent origination:

  • Suffering flagged as a result of (preoccupation with?) Being: good.
  • Circular or interdependent (hinting at emergent?) causation: good.
  • Unwholesome and evil phenomena arising from ignorance: good.
  • Analyzing human experience: good.
  • Inspiring generations to practice fruitfully: good.
  • Reincarnation: bad.
  • Deterministic and/or reductionistic causality: bad.
  • Unexamined ontic presuppositions: bad.
  • Outdated model of human psychology: bad.
  • Confusing and seemingly arbitrary chain of dependencies: bad.

Other points to review include the fact that I have formally taken Refuge and certainly behave a lot like one might expect Buddhists to behave, with lots of meditation, hanging out with other Buddhists, talking about dharma, etc.; Buddhism’s perpetual attempt to transcend itself and the traditional admonition to “leave the raft behind” once “the river has been crossed”; and finally a discussion of the nature of religion itself from the perspective of E&C as an institution of self-definition, which has historically operated below the level of conscious awareness regardless of the specific content of the religion in question, leading to deliciously paradoxical awakenings at the cutting edge of dharma today.

[This post is a stub, a sketch of an idea to be developed later. If you find it interesting or intriguing please Like it, leave a comment, or send me a note and I will be happy to flesh it out more fully.]