I do meditation and I often say that my beliefs are close to Buddhism. But the more I know about Buddhism, the less I resonate with it.
The thing that I find most idiotic is also somewhat present in Christianity. It is a particular concept of selflessness. Serve others and find enlightenment / deliverance.
So, basically, it says that you should not focus on your own karma, but extend kindness and compassion to others instead.
But the hypocrisy becomes very clear when you realize that you are only doing this in order to become enlightened yourself. You basically want something for yourself – enlightenment – and thus you search for a way to bribe the universe into providing it for you. If you extend compassion and kindness to someone in this fashion, it is done out of a selfish purpose and I would not be surprised if – on a metaphysical level – you are giving up responsibility for your own karma that way. You do something good and expect karma to be taken away in turn. I would not be surprised if this act actually transfers some of your own negative energy or karma to the person you are pretending to be helping, making the whole thing more of a black magic act than anything of real value.
How are you supposed to be truly compassionate and kind to someone else if you do not first learn to be fully compassionate and kind with yourself? How can you accept something in someone else that you can not accept in yourself? Perhaps through projection. You project your own karma onto someone else and thus feel like you are above it, past it.
It is the same with Christianity. Christians say that god wants them to love everybody. Then they will go to heaven. But it is not really unconditional love when you are only doing it simply to obey God. If I had to guess, I would say God does not want you to use him and his rules as a justification to love others. If anything, God would be delighted to see that you love others without even thinking of him. And there is no better way to do that than to first unconditionally loving yourself.
And then there is another thing that I think is moronic. Apparently, Buddhists believe that even animals collect karma, but unlike us, are not able to work it off in any meaningful way. Thus, they argue, being human is one of the best things you can be to become enlightened. Being human is a rebirth on a so-called higher level of existence. Hence it is our responsibility to extend kindness and compassion to animals, to work off their karma on their behalf. Now that’s just arrogant and presumptuous.
According to typical beliefs, karma in humans comes into existence through resistance against the now. When you – or rather, your ego – judges the current moment, it becomes attached to it and everything that is not accepted and instead resisted against, builds up as karma, essentially pain. Such, pain comes into existence through resistance of the mind.
How the fuck is an animal supposed to build up karma if it has no mind? If karma is built up through resistance of the mind, how can a mindless organism resist the moment? And if it can not resist the moment, how is it supposed to build up karma? No logic there at all. Basically, Buddhist are just humanizing animals in their minds on no logical basis other than them trying to justify their pride of being human.
Eckhart Tolle makes a good observation in his book The Power of Now. He sees an animal that gets into a violent conflict. After the conflict has ended, he observes that the animal makes a few convulsive movements and then carries on without thinking back of it. And how could it think back of it – without a mind?
The animal has shaken off the pain and thus released it.
And if you think that this is bullocks, read this Wikipedia article about Somatic Experiencing, a form of therapy aimed at resolving the symptoms of PTSD. Here is an excerpt:
SE is based on the understanding that symptoms of trauma are the result of a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) whose inherent capacity to self-regulate is undermined by trauma. SE bases its approach on mammals’ ability to automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system. In the wild, animals spontaneously “discharge” this excess energy once safe. Involuntary movements such as shaking, trembling and deep spontaneous breaths reset the ANS and restore equilibrium. SE restores this capacity to self-regulate by facilitating the release of energy and natural survival reactions stored during a traumatic event. According to founder Peter Levine, “Trauma lives in the body, not the event.”
I saw a similar thing yesterday when two dogs passed the street. They noticed each other, went into a fit of aggression, barking at each other. After they had passed, they both shook a little and then went on as if nothing had happened. They did not keep being angry or anything like that. Any karma that was there was immediately released.
In a sense, even suppressing our own anger or aggression in a situation could very validly be seen as built up of karma. Which some people then release through sports or lifting. Yoga basically does the very same thing. The yogic postures are a way of releasing pent up energy as well. Although an enlightened person would not need Yoga, because the postures would be spontaneous and the body would simply know how to move to release the existing energy. But being disconnected from our bodies a lot – from having to appear normal etc – I guess it is a good thing nonetheless.
Forcing ourselves to be kind when we really want to defend ourselves does the opposite of what we want it to.
Here is a video I already posted once, about tribesmembers who lose a valued friend. They lie on the ground, shaking, and a Western mind like ours would say like maniacs. We are so estranged from ourselves that this looks like madness to us. Or demonic possession. We are used to keeping all the pain in out of shame of expressing and thus releasing it. We see the expression and the release of pain as pathological. We think that the expression of pain is the cause of its existence, not merely a symptom. We think that when we stop expressing pain, the pain goes away. But the simple truth is that we hate the expressions of pain because they remind us of our own unreleased pain that we are ashamed of.
Too many rules
In my opinion, meditation and mindfulness is simply about that: Being mindful. Observing your thoughts, emotions and all that you perceive, consciously so. There is no hidden secret to it. There are no rules, paths or doctrines you have to follow. You really just need to be yourself – or rather, be conscious of being yourself.
When my meditation teacher – a pretty much self-taught guy who rejects religion and is easily the most confident person I know – gave me instructions, he simply said: Set aside some time and observe your thoughts.
There is no need to be in a lotus position, to close your eyes, or anything. You just observe what happens, what your self does.
I would add to his instruction only: Observe your emotions, too.
I could add do not get attached to either your thoughts or feelings, but he did not do that. And I don’t either. Why? Because this will invariably happen and it is moronic for you to feel ashamed when that happens. Resisting your resistance is pointless. Just observe.
Buddhism is just another religion with people who follow it out of selfish reasons anyway – enlightenment. If you were not selfishly motivated to become enlightened, gain nirvana, or go to heaven, there would never, ever be a point to follow a guru, follow a religion, follow a leader or generally worship anything outside yourself.
In that, I like the saying that the best way to become enlightened is to not even be attached to the idea of enlightenment. As a commenter remarked some time ago, the key really seems to be to simply do nothing and try nothing. Simply exist. And when you learn to allow that, your body and mind and spirit will heal itself all on its own.
I read an article about Buddhism where some girl said about some mass shooter that she wishes him to suffer this whole life and then find peace. Why? What’s the point? That’s not enlightened – does not need to be of course. But do you see the hypocrisy? They want to end suffering, but they think that in order not to suffer, you have to suffer first, out of justice. To justify having peace in the end. Derp. Of course, that does not mean that Buddha thought the same, but you know, no true Scotsman. Despite everything, humans seem to always be quite proud of their stupid suffering, aren’t they.
Even Buddhism, which aims towards the end of suffering, somehow seems to try to find meaning in suffering, through the concept of karma. The universe punishing us for being bad. And yet, it also acknowledges that bad really does not exist and there is no real duality. Everything is light. There is no moral obligation to suffer when you have done or received pain. It is just our egos holding on to the pain. Meditation should, in my opinion, be about stopping to hold on. Not about needing to give yourself permission to be free of pain, by doing good, which ironically, is acknowledged to not even exist on an absolute scale.
Humans having karma is simply a consequence of our biology, of the way we are built. It just is. There is no sacred meaning to it. We have a mind, ergo we have an ego, ergo we build up pain, which you can call karma. Animals do not have a mind, at least not in the same way, ergo karma or morality is not a valid concept for them. And the same may be true for humans who have a different mental set up, for example psychopaths. Buddhists will say that goodness is in all of us, that even psychopaths deserve kindness and love. They think they say it because they want to be kind to them, but it is a projection. Goodness is a concept of the ego. A human who feels no shame or guilt does not operate within the system of karma, heaven or hell, simple as that. It may be scary to admit at first, but that does not make it less of a logical conclusion. Not admitting it is like being a gazelle who thinks that the lion, deep down, is also a gazelle. Bullshit.
So no, I do not identify with Buddhism. It may be the closest to my beliefs, if you want to call it that, but I disagree with a lot of it still. Which is cool, of course. And it does not even matter whether I identify with it or whether anyone else does. It does not mean that Buddhism is bad. Bad is a human concept anyway. Everyone is where they need to be, always.