Some Buddhism criticism(from a former Buddhist), My practice and withdrawl story + criticism.
Some Buddhism criticism(from a former Buddhist), My practice and withdrawl story + criticism.
Nov 14, 2007, 01:01 PM
Group: Basic Member
Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Member No.: 14344
Hi guys! I quit Christianity in hopes that i would rid myself of mind disease forever to only eventually be lured into Buddhism(another mind disease). I guess i could not live without meaning and a new set of beliefs which is i think quite natural to humans(human, all too human!). What attracted me at first was their anti-god and anti-Christianity attitude that prevailed throughout the followers that seemed to nurture my own hate towards those concepts.
Back then i was still a little brainwashed into thinking that there must be a true religion of some kind of divine origin, an ultimate truth. Basically i was still naively led by my desire of order. I feared chaos that would result in a world where everything is permitable and there is nothing that punishes that bad deeds or rewards the good. My mother being very "spiritual" conditioned me to desire to stay within the label "spiritual". I figured maybe Christianity was wrong but some other religions were not. I sleeked meaning and order so hard that eventually i was lured into the beautiful myth of Buddha who was enlightened and shared that objective truth of reality with us. I was promised happiness, rewards in new life and this one. I was promised answers that i could find myself.
I learned the four noble truths, i learned of many traditions and being quite philosophically inclined i found myself spending quite a lot of time trying to understand all the teachings. I learned to meditate. Back then i had many questions but i had faith that the Suttas and the Meditation will give me answers. A year passed and then another. There were only more questions and more contradictions but i still had faith. The hierarchy was supposed to have all the answers and it took me a long time to realize they didn't.
While studying Buddhism and practicing i found myself become more passive, less human, sometimes depressed and even contemplated on suicide(purely logically and mostly driven by the first noble truth - life is suffering). I was conditioned more and more to have aversion towards life and that only practice will save me - not even death can liberate. Right now i see many traditions of Buddhism as a direct road to suicide if only one element is removed - rebirth. The fear of rebirth is the only thing that keeps many Buddhist from suicide. I even know a few friends whose relatives suicided dew to Buddhism. The interesting fact is that whilst i was semi-depressed and passive i knew that i was supposed to be "happy" as seen on pictures of Buddhists masters. They always market Buddhism as the road to happiness. So i lived the illusion of happiness. I denied any feeling of unhappiness and pretended i was. Sometimes when i got way too depressed i just thought that it was due to my lack of practice and that only Buddhism would make me happy.
Any criticism of Buddhism i just rejected with some arbitrary and obscure quote that deep inside i knew was not really understood by anyone. They all claimed truth was "beyond words" and i believed them. Every time the quote did not make sense i thought that the truth was beyond so i just blindly accepted them. After a while i intellectually understood all the concepts like no-self and co-dependent origination and the four noble truth and the rest of it. But what hit me much later is that those concepts were not that "deep" or helpful. They were just some concepts by some philosophers that may or may not be helpful but i took them as some kind of divine truth. I reached some progress in meditation but i soon admitted that in fact i hated that state- it was a state of a veritable where life looses all color.
I pretended as if Buddhism was some kind of secret to life and happiness, some kind of sacred knowledge that only a few had karma to understand. I even got some Buddhist friends that i went to Buddhist class with and i found them acting happy even tho they weren't but i denied what i was seeing.
My cure was started with a book - an autobiography of one of masters where he explains that he is just a regular human and other make him to be all that. I started doubting the whole hierarchy. Another trigger to make me question was my best friend who couldn't take it anymore seeing what Buddhism was doing to me and just openly criticized me intensely. At first i got angry but now i thank him from all heart.
Soon another college semester started and luckily i was taking Psychology, Philosophy and Anthropology. I was faced with concepts like relativism, neurology, materialism, epistemology and i was learning to be more skeptical and "outside of box" type thinking.
My interest in Psychology and Philosophy grew and i found myself to be quite intelligent and talented in it. I still have hard to believing that back then i was a Buddhist - how the hell did i fall into that trap? I consider myself intelligent but i guess it has little to do with that. It is just a play on our desires of order and meaning. We fear chaos, uncertainty and permanent death.
The next and final step was Nietzsche, Sarte and other Existential philosophers that knew perfectly well how i felt and showed me another way to cure it - through freedom, choice and responsibility. Through individuality and facing of truth, through accepting rather then running away. Through giving life my own meaning and my own goals. Through new ideals.
Well that basically more or less brings us to where i am right now. And it is time for some criticism. I don't want to go into details but i will just list some things i find terribly wrong.
Belief in magical karma.
Aversion towards life.
Belief in Enlightenment.
Mindfulness as promised to cure all problems while generally only creating more strain on the mind.
Meditation being promised a cure for many psychological problems which it never solves or does only temporary.
Belief that life IS suffering.
Belief that desire is bad causing people to get depressed(no desire = depression easily)
Non-dual teachings that make people passive, indifferent and easily fallen under suppression of government(although always denied and instead marketed as being a source of compassion, truth and wisdom).
Master-student relationship where student follows everything blindly.
Belief that all bad things are caused by Karma and that one should not be cured but left to suffer to "purify" oneself.
Impossible ideals that only cause inner tension as they go against our nature and cause us to suppress the shadow to amazing extent.
False hope given to people.
Constant chase of happiness resulting in paradox because when you chase happiness it causes sadness. Happiness only happens as byproduct but never as the goal.
Thinking of this reality as almost hell(what Nietzsche would criticize as other worldly religion)
Everything Buddhism promised had only resulted in the opposite effect.
If anyone had similar experiences - please share. Any comments are welcome except if you are gonna tell me that "i just got Buddhism wrong and misunderstood". I was one of these people telling others this kind of comments and believe me no- i got it right. I studied Buddhism long and hard and gave it plenty of chance. I was always leading philosopher in all my Buddhist classes.
Today i am very glad to be free of it. I am much more happier, realistic and enthusiastic about life. I am a Psychology/Philosophy major and perhaps psychology had became my religion but hey at least it is practical.
Thank you for reading, please comment.
Dec 05, 2007, 09:37 AM
Group: Basic Member
Joined: Sep 26, 2003
From: nowhere and everywhere
Member No.: 601
The "can't express" in words is another way of saying "i don't know" and getting away with it.
The statement in itself is relating to the idea that the absolute and enlightenment cannot be contained in an expression of words, but it is not impossible to relate the experience of it or point in a direction.
If one does not have an experience then the direction will not fill one with any experience nor draw the experience out of the absolute to be handed over to the one asking to be shown.
Generally speaking the ego will stand fast with the excuse that it does not have to give up any judgment against something until it is proven wrong.
This does not mean something does not exist, it only means someone has drawn a line in the sand and refuses to cross it without a reason.
If you use the parent child relationship to relate the idea of adulthood, the parent will be able to express their experience of being an adult with all the positive and negative aspects but if the child then grows up expecting their adulthood to be what they imagined from their parents description then will it really manifest that way?
Most adults are filled with the disappointment of not having experienced the magical ideas that are fed to them as children and then facing a reality where they are also taught that life is a certain way, people will accept you if you are a certain way, etc. etc.
The first stage of enlightenment is realizing your life is not laid out for you by your parents, your friends and the media.
Then if you progress far enough beyond that you might discover that no one has God and enlightenment in a box and that no one can tell you what it is for you and how you will experience it.
They just don't know and frankly i think no1 knows because it doesn't exist. From a viewpoint of epistemology the beyond words arguments is far from sufficient for me to believe it.
If you don't believe it then any argument is speculation based on your own disbelief and your current experience of reality.
I'll bet there is something in all religions that intrigues you, but there is a stubborn personal grudge against the essence of all of it for not making itself clear to your liking.
Nov 19, 2011, 10:52 PM
Group: Basic Member
Joined: Nov 19, 2011
Member No.: 33764
Anti-reason movement. => Mahayana idea, not what the Buddha actually taught. All we need is the 4 noble truths and the eightfold path.
Belief in magical karma. => Not a core Buddhism. People in India in the Buddha's time believed it as much as we believe gravity today, so naturally the Buddha also believed it. In any case, it has nothing to do what you can benefit from his teaching.
Aversion towards life. => Not sure where you got this. If anything, Buddhism is to help people live life in the fullest sense.
Rebirth. => same as karma, irrelevant. The Buddha's teaching is perfectly applicable even if there's no rebirth.
Belief in Enlightenment. => Another Mahayana idea. There's nothing to realize. The Buddha already figured it out and told us about it in no uncertain terms. The goal of Buddhism is not Enlightenment. It is Nirvana, "Blowing out of the 3 poisons." and you do it by taking the eightfold path.
Mindfulness as promised to cure all problems while generally only creating more strain on the mind. => Modern psychologists confirm mindfulness does alleviate mental stress. If it strains your mind, you're not doing it right. In any case, it's not to "cure all problems" but to train your mind which requires effort.
Meditation being promised a cure for many psychological problems which it never solves or does only temporary. => ditto
Belief that life IS suffering. => Only the samsaric life is suffering. The Buddha clearly shows you the solution to the problem.
Belief that desire is bad causing people to get depressed(no desire = depression easily) => This is not really a unique Buddhist idea anymore. All kinds of people throughout the history from Greek philosophers to eastern thinkers and modern day psychology confirm desire, greed, obsession, and craving aren't desirable. It's like a common sense. Why would anyone want to have a burning desire for anything? By the way, "no desire" is a symptom of depression, not the cause and we aren't talking about the same desire here anyway. It's more like motivation while the desire Buddhism talks about is craving and clinging.
Non-dual teachings that make people passive, indifferent and easily fallen under suppression of government(although always denied and instead marketed as being a source of compassion, truth and wisdom). => True, Buddhism is not a solution for world peace. But it's not a reason to abandon it. It still helps people immensely individually. You don't abolish psychology because it doesn't promote democracy, do you?
Master-student relationship where student follows everything blindly. => Problem of all modern religion which is ripe for abuse. Actually, it's always been a problem for all organized religions. If you can't find a qualified teacher, do it alone. It's still better than not doing it at all.
Belief that all bad things are caused by Karma and that one should not be cured but left to suffer to "purify" oneself. => see "karma" above
Selfish escapism. => Good to have lofty goals for the sake of other human beings, but please, save yourself first and you do not need to renounce the world to practice Buddhism and benefit from it.
Impossible ideals that only cause inner tension as they go against our nature and cause us to suppress the shadow to amazing extent. => Again, Mahayana idea.
False hope given to people. => You will probably level this kind of criticism to all religion and philosophies, not just Buddhism, so, I'll just skip it.
Self righteousnesses. => ditto
Masked utilitarianism. => Another attack on Mahayana aspect. In any case, I'm not interested in ethics, it's not that hard for me. I believe if people can draw some psychological help from Buddhism, it's already a great success. We don't even have to talk about Nirvana. It's like worrying about how to finish a marathon when you can barely walk.
Constant chase of happiness resulting in paradox because when you chase happiness it causes sadness. => The eightfold path is very specific on what you need to do and "chase happiness" isn't one of them. Happiness comes naturally when you follow the path. If there's anything Buddhism doesn't want you to do, it's "chasing" anything.
Happiness only happens as byproduct but never as the goal. => You are almost guaranteed to get happy "while" following the path and if and when you attain Nirvana. In any case, happiness, by nature, isn't something that can be grasped directly, it's like trying to grab a handful of air. You can't do that. It can only happen as a by-product. If you say, what about Nirvana then? I don't know what it will be like. But then, I don't really care. It probably won't happen to me anyway. Why bother with something with zero practicality? If you can become a far happier, stable, peaceful, strong, confident with character and live a life with some sense of meaning, purpose, and worth, shouldn't that be enough already? We can worry about all the ideals, truth and other novel concepts afterward, not now.
Thinking of this reality as almost hell(what Nietzsche would criticize as other worldly religion) => craving, anger, ignorance, old age, sickness, and death, that's the reality. He called it unsatisfactory, not hell. But no matter how you call it, I have to agree it is undesirable. I don't believe in just having a positive attitude and ignoring the reality makes you happy.
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