The Dalai Lama has said:
This was the question that occurred to me recently, when I resumed writing them after an interval of several years. On reflection I concluded that one engaged in this minor form of literary activity principally for four reasons.
In the first place, through a review one can draw attention to a book that might otherwise be undeservedly neglected. Then one can point out particular beauties in a work, especially if it is a work of imagination, in this way not only delighting in those beauties oneself but perhaps being the cause of others delighting in them too.
Again, reviewing a book enables one to correct factual inaccuracies, expose muddled thinking, and challenge onesided views. Finally, by obliging one to engage closely with the product of another mind, writing a review helps one to clarify and refine, even to modify, one's own ideas.
Most of these reasons entered into my decision to review Buddhism Without Beliefs, of whose appearance on the scene I was made aware through excerpts published in the Spring issue of Tricycle, the American Buddhist review. As I later discovered, these excerpts were taken from three sections of the book, sections headed, respectively, Agnosticism, Imagination, and Culture, the lengthiest being taken from the first section.
With certain elements in Batchelor's thinking I found myself very much in agreement, for instance his insistence on the importance of the agnostic imperative in Buddhism and his contention that dharma practice was more akin to artistic creation than technical problem solving.
I therefore procured a copy of the book from which the Tricycle excerpts had been taken.
Unfortunately, Buddhism Without Beliefs proved to be something of a disappointment. To begin with, it was a slim volume of pages including ten pages of Sources and Notes, whereas I had expected a more substantial work.
That it was only a slim volume was no accident, as I afterwards realised. But to give reasons for my disappointment is in effect to start reviewing the book, and since it is best to proceed systematically, I shall look at i those points in it that are acceptable and ii those that are unacceptable, iii examine Batchelor's idea of a belief-free, agnostic Buddhism in detail, iv offer a few general observations, and v ask myself what I have learned from the exercise.
The work consists of fifteen short essays divided into three groups. The first group, collectively entitled Ground, contains essays on, respectively, Awakening, Agnosticism, Anguish, Death, Rebirth, Resolve, Integrity, and Friendship; in the second, entitled Path, essays on Awareness, Becoming, Emptiness, and Compassion, while the third, entitled Fruition, contains essays on Freedom, Imagination and Culture.
In looking both at the points that can be accepted and those that are unacceptable, rejoicing in the former and deploring the latter, I shall deal with them in the order in which they occur in the book. Obviously I shall not be able to deal with all such points, or even to deal with each essay individually.
I shall try, however, to cover all the points that to me seem important. This is where many expositions of Buddhism begin; but Batchelor, in addition to summarising the discourse, draws attention to the fact that each of the four ennobling truths as he calls them of Anguish, its origins, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation, which together form the core of the discourse, requires being acted upon in its own particular way.
Anguish has to be understood, its origins have to be let go of, its cessation has to be realised, and the path leading to its cessation has to be cultivated.
Thus 'Buddhism' the inverted commas being Batchelor's suggests a course of action; the four truths are challenges to act. Though more Buddhists may be aware of the distinction between the first discourse's four ways of action than our author thinks, his emphasis on the importance of action certainly deserves to be taken seriously by all Buddhists.
As Professor Richard F. Gombrich has recently pointed out, albeit from within a different perspective, karma or 'Action', in the word's primary sense of morally relevant action, lies at the heart of the Buddha's world view ; such action being, as he goes on to point out, not only physical and vocal but also mental.
Though Batchelor nowhere mentions Going for Refuge, Going for Refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha is likewise an action - the central, definitive act of the Buddhist life, by virtue of which one is a follower of the Buddha.
It is in fact as a direct consequence of our Going for Refuge, after 'hearing' the Buddha-word, that we seek to understand, to let go of, to realise, and to cultivate. Thus karma in the sense of morally relevant action, and the act of Going for Refuge, can in truth no more be separated from the first discourse's four actions than these can be separated from one another.
Together they form 'an interwoven complex of truths' p.
As I have noted, Batchelor speaks of the four ennobling truths rather than of the four noble truths the usual translation of arya-satya. This enables him to speak of the Buddha's experience of these truths as ennobling, so that awakening granted to his life a natural dignity, integrity, and authority, and this in its turn enables him to distinguish between authority which is natural and non-coercive and that which consists in imposing our will on others 'either through manipulation and intimidation or by appealing to the opinions of those more powerful than ourselves' p.
The distinction is an important one, and in view of the widespread modern habit of lumping true authority together with false and rejecting both he could well have said more about it. Though unfortunately he does not do this, at least he recognises that there are degrees of awakening, thereby implicitly also recognising that there are degrees of ennoblement and, therefore, degrees of true authority.
In other words, there is a spiritual hierarchy - a hierarchy of degrees of awakening or ennoblement or true authority - and this hierarchy is a true hierarchy, as opposed to the false or at least conventional hierarchy based on earthly power and worldly position. Batchelor appears not to see this, though it follows from the distinction he himself draws between the two kinds of authority, for on the page immediately preceding the one where he speaks of degrees of awakening he uses the word hierarchy in a pejorative sense that suggests he lumps true hierarchy together with false hierarchy in the same simplistic manner that people lump together true and false authority pp.
Awakening is an individual matter, and Buddhism declined as fewer and fewer Buddhists succeeded in achieving this state.
Batchelor in effect attributes the decline to increased monasticisation and he may well be right, at least to an extent. He is certainly right when he points out that the traditional explanation for the decay of the religion relies on the Indian idea of the 'degeneration of time,' as he calls it, a notion that regards the course of history as a process of inexorable decline.
Batchelor does not enlarge on the topic, but in its Buddhistic form as the doctrine of the three periods of the Dharma - the period of the True Dharma, the period of the Image or Counterfeit Dharma, and the period of the Destruction of the Dharma, in which we are now living - the idea of the 'degeneration of time' influenced the course of the Far Eastern Buddhism profoundly.
Yet though the consciousness of living in the Dark Age of Buddhism precipitated doctrinal and spiritual developments of enormous importance, in my view there can be little doubt that the notion of an inevitable decline of Buddhism is inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of the Buddha's teaching.
Social and political conditions admittedly may be less or more supportive of the practice of the Dharma at one period, or in one place, than another, but intrinsically it is no more difficult to practise it now than it was in the past.
The idea of the 'degeneration of time', and therewith the doctrine of the three periods of the Dharma, is one that can have no place in Western Buddhism. Likewise there can be no place in Western Buddhism for the inverted form of the idea, according to one popular version of which, humanity having entered the Age of Aquarius, spiritual progress will henceforth be collective and automatic.Buddhism Essay Culture: Buddhism and Religion - Words Siddhartha Gautama when he attained enlightenment, founded Buddhism in Northern India in the sixth century BCE.
Buddhism is made up three main forms.
They are Theravada Buddhism found mainly in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos, Mahayana Buddhism, which is . 1. Introduction. Since Korean Buddhism has come to the attention of Western scholarship rather late compared with Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, it still lies, with its deep store of untouched resources, almost fully open for exploration.
Religion, if Buddhism is one of them, is one of the things that must abide in this world. Buddhism must be constant, a stronghold for people who are looking for peace and meaning in their lives. Buddhism advocates non-violence and respect for all living creatures.
Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment - Kindle edition by Robert Wright.
Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. An Analysis of Buddhism. An Analysis of Buddhism Buddhism is one of the more mainstream religions in the world and it is continually expanding throughout the world.
Buddhism Gautama Buddha, previously known as Prince Siddhartha (before his enlightenment) founded the religion of Buddhism. Gautama Buddha was born to Queen Maha-Maya at Kapilavastu, Nepal, Indian. Buddha taught and organized the Sangha, monastic orders, until his death at .