Just an observation here. I listened to a Barbara Brown Taylor interview this morning. She’s a theology teacher of kind, very progressive. She has some good quotes. But she made this comment that she saw some concierge one time, and the guy was just full of joy and helpful and remembered names of his guests, and she asked him where he gets it. He said, “Jesus”. The guy “witnessed” to her for a bit, she didn’t pass any of that along (they never do), but she said, boy, she’d really like to have what he has.

I believed that for a long time. That since there are people out there, doing well, and saying it’s Jesus, then there must be something to it. It’s hard to understand how a teacher of religion could still think the answer is in the belief in one deity. She also mentioned the Buddhist 4 noble truths in passing. Again, saying they are cool, without saying what they are. I can never remember all 4 so I looked it up.

  1. The Truth of Suffering (Kutai)
  2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Jutai)
  3. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Mettai)
  4. The Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering (Dotai)

Now, really, I just see one truth there, the first one. And this states a problem then tells you they have the cure. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s some good Buddhist philosophy and practice out there. But their basic truths aren’t it. So, what’s the cure? The 8 –fold path.

  1. Right Views - to keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition and delusion and to see aright the true nature of life.
  2. Right Thoughts - to turn away from the evils of this world and to direct our minds towards righteousness.
  3. Right Speech - to refrain from pointless and harmful talk to speak kindly and courteously to all.
  4. Right Conduct - to see that our deeds are peaceful, benevolent, compassionate and pure; to live the Teaching of the Buddha daily.
  5. Right Livelihood - to earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences.
  6. Right Effort - to direct our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance and selfish desires.
  7. Right Mindfulness - to cherish good and pure thoughts for all that we say and do arise from our thoughts.
  8. Right Meditation - to concentrate our will on the Buddha, His Life and His Teaching.

Much better than the 10 commandments, but it’s just some advice on being a decent person. And the last one is the equivalent of the monotheisms, “read the scripture, pray, and if you don’t get your prayers answered, you did it wrong”.

So, the observation. We have a couple members who talk as if they have internalized this eastern way of thinking, one who says we should accept there is no self, the other who says there is just their self. I shouldn’t pick on those two, because millions of people have misinterpreted Buddhism and done the same things. What they don’t do is “right speech”. They’ll gladly tell you how your lifestyle is all wrong. They probably won’t have “right livelihood”, more likely they practice Buddhist meditation like Christians practice Christianity, a few hours a week. If they would just do #6, I’d be happy.

6. Right Effort – to direct our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance and selfish desires.
Problem is that in trumpkin's America "ignorance and selfish desires" have become supreme virtues.

Dealing with suffering (with that onerous 8 fold pathy thing) seems like advice to keep your head down in a brutal dictatorship. We are now in a dictatorship. It remains to be seen how brutal things will get and how much more suffering is in store. So good to know. If all else fails, follow the 8-fold path, until this too shall pass, and you have successfully passed on more genes, or done other things for the future. The meek shall inherit the Earth, they say, or what’s left of it.

Even autocracies need a good part of the population who will just be good, kind, uncomplaining, subservient, who will avoid all thoughts of conflict.