Lucid Viewing

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How Buddhism is understood by its adherence, depends entirely upon the conditioning of the mind of the individuals concerned. For some, the Buddha is a god, and his teachings a theological attempt to give comfort to a suffering mass of humanity that cannot hope to apply or benefit from them. In this model, ordained Buddhist monks and nuns serve a role very similar to those found in the Christian religion, and physically and psychologically link Buddhist worshippers to the Buddha they worship. This model, although not unknown in the world of Buddhism, is a distortion and misrepresentation of the Buddha’s teaching. Another equally mistaken approach to Buddhism is a strictly materialist approach very common in the West. This views the Buddha’s teachings as a dry list of logical alternatives with regards to thinking and behaviour. Buddhism is viewed as a scientific textbook that is believed to work in an abstract fashion, not quite in sync with everyday life. Many who follow Buddhism in this manner, are rejecting the theism of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and perceive Buddhism as an ‘atheistic’ philosophy. They follow Buddhism as a type of ‘Protestantism’, which views this distinctly Asian philosophy in a purely Eurocentric manner. This distortion of Buddhism reduces this Indian doctrine into a branch of Christianity without a central ‘god’ figure. Buddhism (in the West), is also interpreted as a counter-cultural figure associated with ‘dropping-out’ of mainstream society, and associated with drug experimentation, free love, and a type of philosophical anarchy. The problem with this approach is that there is no developmental ‘punch’ associated with what the Buddha has to say, no matter how sympathetic he may have been with these practitioners. They interpret any attempt to discipline and order the mind and body as the use of unwarranted ‘force’, and no real development unfolds. The fetish of Buddhism involves middle class people who possess ample material resources, associate the calm mind they experience whilst staying in their country mansion, as somehow correlating with true and genuine spiritual development and self-cultivation. Buddhism for these privileged people is something of a lifestyle choice that includes the purchase of meditation cushions for the lounge, and giant Buddha-statues for the conservatory. These people can afford to surround themselves with Buddhist paraphernalia, but again, no true development occurs and the Buddha’s philosophy is basically ignored as unrealistic for the modern world, but nice to know. Genuine Buddhism (namarupa) is the acknowledgement that mind and matter – although referring to distinct and different concepts – in fact share a commonality of origin that cannot be limited or reduced to a vague ‘oneness’, whilst simultaneously not being trapped in ‘duality’. Existence cannot be defined as ‘matter’, or ‘mind’ – this is the Buddha’s message. However, as the Buddha also rejected theism as a valid path to enlightenment, but also appeared to have acknowledged the existence of polytheistic gods, his philosophy cannot be defined as ‘atheism’, but rather as ‘non-theistic’ in nature. The Buddha’s philosophy avoids all the traps that the perception of humanity can attempt to reduce it to. Understanding this is lucid viewing.

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