One shouldn’t mistake a lack of blogging for a lack of productivity. This little Buddhist blogger has had one helluva productive month. Many things are happening. Some, I can’t reveal just yet. But here’s some stuff that I can.
When we say that we should spread the dharma in the West (or anywhere), exactly which dharma are we talking about? The dharma that says full awakening isn’t even possible in this lifetime but takes aeons of rebirths? The dharma that says awakening is a possibility, right here, right now, in this very body? The dharma that says not only is the Buddha’s teaching going to vanish from this world, but that it already has and the only hope any of us has for awakening is reliance on the Lotus Sutra?
Here’s an observable phenomenon in human society. Essentialist descriptions of “the other” allow us to denigrate them and boost ourselves up. Essentialist conceptions of human populations make it easy for us to claim that we have the market cornered on how to live and how the world should be. Essentialist conceptions of the world lead to fundamentalist beliefs about us versus them. Fundamentalism invariably leads to fascism. And fascism leads to the suppression of ideas, violence, and death. Regardless of the essentialism or fundamentalism being argued for. Even if Sam Harris is right that there is no god and people like me with our naive superstitions are pre-literate buffoons that won’t change the fact that his fundamentalism can only lead to one place. Fascism. Maybe it’ll be a better fascism than the one we got, but it’ll still be fascism.
Therefore, one of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty-first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concernsâ€”about ethics, experience, and the inevitability of human sufferingâ€”in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord national/ethnic identity. While there is no guarantee that rational people will always agree, the irrational are certain to be divided by their politics.