So I have been reading the book 'Handbook For Mankind' and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu seems like my kind of guy. He seems comes across as a no-nonsense kind of teacher and I personally can really relate to what he talks about.
This is about a section where he talks about 'Neo-Buddhism' and what it actually means to be a Buddhist in his opinion. I am curious to hear of your opinion of some of these extracts.
'Buddhism means the teaching of the Enlightened One. A Buddha is an enlightened individual, one who knows the truth about all things, one who knows just "what is what," and so is capable of behaving appropriately with respect to all things. Buddhism is a religion based on intelligence, science, and knowledge, whose purpose is the destruction of suffering and the source of suffering. All paying of homage to sacred objects by means of performing rites, rituals, making offerings, or praying is not Buddhism. The Buddha rejected the celestial beings, then considered by certain groups to be the creators of things, and the deities supposed to dwell, one in each star in the sky. Thus we find that the Buddha made such statements as these:
"Knowledge, skill, and ability are conducive to success and benefit and are auspicious omens, good in their own right, regardless of the movements of the heavenly bodies. With benefits gained from these qualities, one will completely outstrip those foolish people who just sit making their astrological calculations." If the water in the rivers such as the Ganges could really wash away sins and suffering, then the turtles, crabs, fish and shellfish living in those sacred rivers ought by now to be freed from their sins and suffering too" And: If a man could eliminate suffering by making offerings, paying homage, and praying, there would be no one subject to suffering left in the world, because anyone at all can pay homage and pray. But since people are still subject to suffering while in the very act of making obeisances, paying homage, and performing rites, this is clearly not the way to gain liberation"
Rites and ceremonies of this kind have become so numerous that they now completely obscure the real Buddhism and its original purpose. Take for example the procedure of becoming ordained a monk. There has come into existence the ceremony of making gifts to the newly ordained bhikku. Guests are invited to bring food and to watch proceedings, and as a result, there is much drunkenness and noise. ceremonies are performed both at the temple and in the home. The new bhikku leaves the Order only a few days after having been ordained, and may become an even stronger temple hater than he was before. It must be borne in the mind that there was none of this at the time of the Buddha. It is a later development.
All this presenting of gifts to newly ordained bhikkhus, this performing of ceremonies, including all sorts of celebration, these we are foolish enough to call Buddhism! Furthermore we choose to make much of them, thinking nothing of spending all our own money, or other people's on account of them. This 'Neo-Buddhism' is so widespread as to be almost universal. The Dhamma, the genuine teaching that once was paramount, has become so overlaid by ceremony that the whole objective of Buddhism has been obscured, falsified and changed. Ordination, for instance, has become a face saving gambit for young men whom people have been pointing at for never having been ordained, or a prerequisite to finding a wife(as having been a monk is considered a sign of maturity), or is done with some other kind of ulterior motive. In some places an ordination is regarded as an opportunity for collecting money, for which job there are always people on hand to help. It is some way of getting rich. Even this they call Buddhism and anyone who goes and criticizes this is considered to be ignorant of Buddhism or opposed to it.
He does talk about what Buddhism essentially is in its purest form, but I am not in the mood for typing out more and more. He goes on to talk about how this type of Buddhism is a cancer, a tumour which has developed in Biddhism and thrived in many forms. Offshoots and sects that are even involved in sensuality. To conclude
Those of us interested in furthering Buddhism, whether as a foothold for all people, or for our own private well being, must know how to get hold of the true essence of Buddhism and not just grab at some worthless outgrowth|
I understand that with time things change as that is inevitable, things get added and things get removed, but the teachings of the Buddha lead directly to the fruit of the path and that is something that should be kept pure IMO.