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5 misconceptions about Buddhism.

DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
This is a blog post I made about what I believe are the 5 biggest misconceptions about Buddhism.

http://dharmachris.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/5-misconceptions-about-buddhism/

What do you think? Do you think I may have forgotten something?
TheEccentricriverflowwoods93

Comments

  • TheEccentricTheEccentric Hampshire, UK Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Thanks for stating that not all Gelugpa agree with DL.
  • jlljll Veteran
    i will argue that only fringe buddhists dont believe in
    reincarnation.
    i have not met a buddhist monk who does not
    believe in reincarnation.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    I have not met a Buddhist monk who does not credit rebirth.
    Reincarnation is another story.
    riverflow
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    I think this sort of information is only important to someone who is primarily concerned with what/how OTHER people think, yet Buddhism should really help you to focus on what/how YOU think. The path to liberation is not won in the court of public opinion. But i guess if you are trying to decide what/how something really is, its good to first address what it isnt. Its not an easy alternative to having faith in a revealed religion. Its probably tougher, actually.
    EnigmaMaryAnnedhammachickericcris10sen
  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran

    I think this sort of information is only important to someone who is primarily concerned with what/how OTHER people think, yet Buddhism should really help you to focus on what/how YOU think. The path to liberation is not won in the court of public opinion. But i guess if you are trying to decide what/how something really is, its good to first address what it isnt. Its not an easy alternative to having faith in a revealed religion. Its probably tougher, actually.

    I did this more in an informational kind of way. For people who may not know what Buddhism actually is or to those who may have heard less than truthful information. I know what I believe and this is primarily for others. It was reading this kind of information on NewBuddhist which helped clear me of all misconceptions I had on Buddhism.
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    jll said:

    i will argue that only fringe buddhists dont believe in
    reincarnation.
    i have not met a buddhist monk who does not
    believe in reincarnation.

    I have.. :) (a few in fact)
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    @DaftChris, I think it's great. First, you don't say things like, "All Buddhists believe...", thus leaving plenty of room for the varying views that Buddhists actually have. I guess you would say you create the "big tent". Second, you take on a few of the most commonly held misconceptions, staying out of major controversies. Third, you write really well.

    Well done!
    person
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    I dont think there is anything wrong with it, and i see how my tone postured as if i did. let me try to reconcile: I agree that many people have a muddled view of Buddhism, and I just might be one of those people. My only suggestion would be this: Now make a blog post to assert what Buddhism IS, at least to you. This way, you and anyone who reads it can see that its probably not much different than whatever spiritual practice they may be involved in. If people are shopping for a religion/philosophy based on fear or apprehension, they probably arent going to get much out of any religion they chose. If they are looking for one that cultivates compassion and wisdom, then they might gravitate to Buddhism if it is what they need. Put the best foot forward, and the other one will follow. :)
    DaftChris
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    While my experience likely differs from others, as if often the case, not a single of the Tibetan teachers I have met or been on retreats with has stated anything other than Buddha was a human man who became enlightened. He is not seen as divine in any way. Just someone to be highly respected as a great teacher.
    DaftChris
  • newtechnewtech Veteran
    DaftChris said:

    This is a blog post I made about what I believe are the 5 biggest misconceptions about Buddhism.

    http://dharmachris.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/5-misconceptions-about-buddhism/

    What do you think? Do you think I may have forgotten something?

    Hihi:

    Its very good!.
    I just argue with 2 points,

    "buddhism encourages vegetarianism" and "buddhists say it is the consciouness what moves from one body to another."
  • Another one to add: karma is some sort of "cosmic retribution system."
    DaftChris
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    riverflow said:

    Another one to add: karma is some sort of "cosmic retribution system."

    It seems to me that DaftChris has tackled 5 things that virtually no Buddhist would dispute. Your suggestion is one that millions of Buddhists in Southeast Asia would dispute.

  • riverflowriverflow Veteran
    edited May 2013
    @DaftChris - For myself, it is your point #2 ("Life is nothing but pain") that kept me away from even bothering to explore Buddhism when I was younger. I'm glad I finally learned better.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one that is turned off based on this mis-conception. Not only is this due to a too narrow translation of the word "dukkha" but also was misunderstood in the west early on (cf. Schopenhauer).

    It reduces Buddhism to mere escapism.
    Lazy_eye
  • vinlyn said:

    riverflow said:

    Another one to add: karma is some sort of "cosmic retribution system."

    It seems to me that DaftChris has tackled 5 things that virtually no Buddhist would dispute. Your suggestion is one that millions of Buddhists in Southeast Asia would dispute.

    When the earthquake/tsunami hit Japan a couple years ago, the only people I saw talking about karma getting Japan back for Pearl Harbor were non-Buddhists (as if, by such logic, two atomic bombs weren't enough!). But even the Buddha made distinctions between natural disasters and actual fruits of karma. This is the sort of thing I'm referring to.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    riverflow said:

    vinlyn said:

    riverflow said:

    Another one to add: karma is some sort of "cosmic retribution system."

    It seems to me that DaftChris has tackled 5 things that virtually no Buddhist would dispute. Your suggestion is one that millions of Buddhists in Southeast Asia would dispute.

    When the earthquake/tsunami hit Japan a couple years ago, the only people I saw talking about karma getting Japan back for Pearl Harbor were non-Buddhists (as if, by such logic, two atomic bombs weren't enough!). But even the Buddha made distinctions between natural disasters and actual fruits of karma. This is the sort of thing I'm referring to.
    In Thailand it's a common view that an individual who is suffering in this life (e.g., amputations, birth defects, heart conditions) are punishments.

  • vinlyn said:



    In Thailand it's a common view that an individual who is suffering in this life (e.g., amputations, birth defects, heart conditions) are punishments.

    That may be the case, but it is nevertheless contrary to Shakyamuni's teaching on karma, and it is misleading to those who know little to nothing about Buddhism:

    "The Buddhist teachings on kamma, teach mankind to know that all success is from action according to the law of cause and effort. On the other hand, people sometimes misunderstand the kammic belief system because it works in a complicated way, the Buddha said that kamma was very complicated for ordinary people. This is especially true when people confuse the Buddhist notion of kamma with three beliefs which are regarded as wrong views; Pubbekatavada, a determinist theory that whatever is experienced is due to past actions; past-action determinism, Issaranimmanahetuvada, a determinist theory that whatever is experienced is the creation of a Supreme Being; theistic determinism, and Ahetuvada, an indeterminist theory that whatever is experienced is uncaused and unconditioned; accidentalism. These beliefs are called traditional doctrines of inaction."

    http://www.buddhapadipa.org/buddhism/buddhism-for-beginners/teaching-of-kamma
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    @Riverflow: I'm not arguing which version of karma is right. You'll note I took no position on that. I'm just saying that DaftChris' blog dealt with five issues that are misunderstood about Buddhism, particularly by people outside the religion, but are generally agreed upon by Buddhists.

    That serves a purpose.

    Of course, he could have blogged (and perhaps will in the future) about his personal views of various Buddhist teachings. That's a different proposition.
  • vinlyn said:

    @Riverflow: I'm not arguing which version of karma is right. You'll note I took no position on that. I'm just saying that DaftChris' blog dealt with five issues that are misunderstood about Buddhism, particularly by people outside the religion, but are generally agreed upon by Buddhists.

    That serves a purpose.

    Of course, he could have blogged (and perhaps will in the future) about his personal views of various Buddhist teachings. That's a different proposition.

    No, I have no argument either--but karma is certainly one of those things that non-Buddhists could get confused about, and so its worth adding to a list of misunderstandings. There are plenty of Buddhists who conflate rebirth with reincarnation too.

    What's that Jewish saying...? Ask two rabbis a question and you'll get three opinions! ha
    MaryAnne
  • Here's Barbara O'Brien's list-- though I think saying "aren't true" is a bit too strong:

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/tp/buddhismunfaq.htm
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Some Buddhists believe that it is Big Mind that reincarnates or you could just say fundamental awareness without personality and only having mandala connections similar to karma. Also the mahayana has the trikaya teaching so Shakyamuni was only one of many Buddhas which are all at union. Shakyamuni is nirmanakaya manifestation of dharmakaya; the dharmakaya manifests as a man out of compassion for sentient beings.
  • DaftChris said:

    This is a blog post I made about what I believe are the 5 biggest misconceptions about Buddhism.

    http://dharmachris.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/5-misconceptions-about-buddhism/

    What do you think? Do you think I may have forgotten something?

    I think you've done a good job, those are the things most non-Buddhists have misconceptions about.
  • Jeffrey said:

    Some Buddhists believe that it is Big Mind that reincarnates or you could just say fundamental awareness without personality and only having mandala connections similar to karma. Also the mahayana has the trikaya teaching so Shakyamuni was only one of many Buddhas which are all at union. Shakyamuni is nirmanakaya manifestation of dharmakaya; the dharmakaya manifests as a man out of compassion for sentient beings.

    Would that be the same as very subtle mind? That's what I was led to believe takes rebirth over and over again but that, like you said, we lose our personality and (usually) all our memories of previous lives. I've only recently come across the term Big Mind and I need to look it up.

    I like what you said about Buddha Shakyamuni being one of many Buddhas. I was starting to get confused because I hear people talk of Shakyamuni being the first and I had learned that there were many before him, and there will also be the future Buddha, Maitreya. Maybe this belief differs between mahayana and theravada and that's what had me confused.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    jll said:

    i will argue that only fringe buddhists dont believe in
    reincarnation.
    i have not met a buddhist monk who does not
    believe in reincarnation.

    Some Theravada monks/scholars don't believe in "that" kind of rebirth.

    It's complicated.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    Great post Chris! I was nodding along with a lot of it. The only thing I might tweak slightly is the "HHDL is not the pope of Buddhism" but actually... he is EXACTLY like the pope of Buddhism. The pope is the leader of Catholicism, which is only one (albeit large) sect of Christianity in the same way that HHDL is the leader of only one sect of Buddhism. While not all Christians follow the pope's words, most probably respect him like most Buddhists respect HHDL even if they don't follow his teachings. (I know a lot of Christians that are downright anti-Catholic as well though.) However, while this might true, I do realize that when people say that HHDL is the pope of Buddhism, they typically mean something more like he is the universal leader of Buddhism, which is obviously not true.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    "Buddhism is nihilistic" is a common one with the whole "detachment" thing. Ideas about "detachment" are very often misconceived it seems.
    riverflow
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @rivercane, it depends what they mean by subtle mind. I am not feeling expert at this question, ha! My lama says it's not like an inchworm going life to life leading to enlightenment. The awareness that reawakens is like the true meaning of our life aside from all our empty material comforts and striving. In this moment is eternity so it might not even come chronologically later. She, my teacher, says that a 'quality??' of this subtle essence is all the personal 'mandala' connections we have to loved ones and even enemies. These connections can fade away and manifest, but they are always there.
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    What's that Jewish saying...? Ask two rabbis a question and you'll get three opinions! ha
    Ask ANY Jew ;)
    riverflow
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited May 2013
    genkaku said:

    I have not met a Buddhist monk who does not credit rebirth.
    Reincarnation is another story.

    One of the most famous Thai monks of the last century, Ajahn Buddhadasa, said in all his lectures and books for over fifty years that the idea of post-mortem rebirth was a basic misunderstanding of the Buddha's teaching.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited May 2013
    DaftChris said:

    This is a blog post I made about what I believe are the 5 biggest misconceptions about Buddhism.

    http://dharmachris.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/5-misconceptions-about-buddhism/

    What do you think? Do you think I may have forgotten something?

    I think you have most of it covered...although the lens that Buddhism is viewed through is always tinted by the cultural bias of the observer..including the folk Buddhism of Asia.
    I would add the fact that there is an assumption among western Buddhists that their fellow Buddhists will always be leftist in their politics and alternative in their social stance..and it ain't necessarily so.
    Also on a minor point HHDL is not the head of anything per se. Until he retired his was a largely political position.
    He is not even head of the Gelugpa which he is a member of.
    That is Gaden Tripa.
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    I neither believe nor disbelieve in reincarnation or rebirth although it seems to me that any continuance would be dictated by cause and effect via karma.

    Personally, I think rebirth makes more sense because when taken in context with the rest of the dharma, ultimately, we would all be aspects of everybody else.

    I think the blog is pretty good.
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Oh boy. I imagine that you do not do a lot of arguing with non-Buddhists @daftChris. I could add twenty more items without pausing for breath.

    That Buddhist teachings are based on conjecture
    That Buddhism is not scientific
    That Buddhism is irrational
    That Buddhism has no logical foundation
    That Buddhism is theism
    That Buddhism is out of date
    That Buddhism is the rejection of Hinduism
    That Buddhism is nihilism
    That Buddhism makes no predictions for science

    Oh. I did need to pause for breath after all.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Florian said:

    Oh boy. I imagine that you do not do a lot of arguing with non-Buddhists @daftChris. I could add twenty more items without pausing for breath.

    That Buddhist teachings are based on conjecture
    That Buddhism is not scientific
    That Buddhism is irrational
    That Buddhism has no logical foundation
    That Buddhism is theism
    That Buddhism is out of date
    That Buddhism is the rejection of Hinduism
    That Buddhism is nihilism
    That Buddhism makes no predictions for science

    Oh. I did need to pause for breath after all.

    Does any of this surprise you ?
    After having not gone online for a number of weeks I went to a Buddhist site that I know of and found a debate raging about the possibility of a human being reincarnating as a swarm of mosquitos. Which to anyone dropping in would strongly reinforce your first four items and your sixth.
    Frankly with debates like that we don't need critics...
    :p
    vinlyn
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    True enough.
  • woods93woods93 Explorer
    very good post, simple points but very important ones. I think you did well in short explanations.
  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran
    Rebirth and reincarnation are different concepts.
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