Re: virus: Prisoners my Derrida!

Sat, 20 Mar 1999 10:01:01 -0800

Robin Faichney wrote:

> It might help to mention: many people these days
> consider "desire" to be a misleading translation,
> giving an unrealistically negative impression of
> Buddhist practice. "Attachment", as the cause of
> suffering, is usually considered both more
> accurate and less prejudicial.

Good point.

> Of course, true
> belief in *anything* (even matter) is a form of
> attachment. Which is why Buddhists tend to be
> relatively open-minded. All Buddhist "canons"
> are actually means-to-an-end, none of them
> ends-in-themselves. Buddhism is not about
> knowing/believing what's supposedly true, but
> about developing a healthy, happy mindset.

Well, before you go painting all Buddhists as open-minded, keep in mind that "Buddhism" covers a large region of belief space. Pure Land Buddism offers a Savior who promises life in a paradisical Pure Land to anyone who puts their trust in the Amida Buddha. The Pure Land theologins know that the Pure Land is a place free of distractions where beings will more easily be able to attain enlightenment, overcome attachment to their own existence, and so pass into final Nirvana, but the appeal of the layity is that it promises you a place in Heaven after your death and has very much the same appeal as the promised afterlife of Christianity.

Buddhist monks in Japan do a big business in numerological and astrological readings, and I had a friend who had to change his wedding plans because his future mother-in-law had consulted a priest/numerologist who advised against traveling on the day when my friend and his wife-to-be were scheduled to fly to Australia for their wedding. The monk offered a few very narrow windows of auspicious travel times. This was a major pain in the ass for my friend, but the future mother-in-law was adamant about not letting her daughter travel on inauspicious days.

Asians have the same susceptabilities and psychological needs as anyone else, and Buddhism has evolved to capitalize on them. As with most any religion, what appeals to the layity is not what is important to the theologins, scholars, and intellectual admirers.