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Are Buddhists human?

DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe DiemRecidivist Samsarist Veteran

This is not the place where I will talk about the good things that as any average human being I do, precisely because this is the discussion where I write about the negative things I DO seem to do, and which people are more ready to notice than the former.

The fact that one defines oneself as Buddhist seems to put the notion into people's heads that we are expected to fit a certain mould of perfection.
A mould that people from other religious beliefs don't feel compelled to fit themselves, but where they will gladly groove Buddhists in by force.

Buddhists are not supposed to rant, throw tantrums, have bad hair days, be grumpy, dislike certain people.
Give in to some fit, and you slide off the pedestal in a wink.
Never mind that people are blinded to flaws of their own, it's you not fitting the expectations they have formed about you that count.

Same fellow-Buddhists and people who take up Eastern spiritual paths can also be harsh among themselves and point their fingers at the weaker from the herd.
I have seen much perfection imposture and spiritual by-passing in denial down the years.

I agree that our practice is intended to help us become the best version of ourselves that we can be.
But can we still relax and be human?

wojciechHozanShoshinNick2601

Comments

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited November 28

    I'm Buddh - ist , far from Buddh - a .

    Italics not working.

    Mod edit: They only work if there is a space bewteen then and the next character. Bummer, isn't it?

    DhammaDragonwojciechHozanShoshin
  • I understand where you’re coming from, @DhammaDragon. I guess it’s somewhat inevitable, though not only with Buddhists. People assume Muslims won’t drink and will keep to the five prayers and so on, but many are quite lax. It can be similar to any statement of morality, like “I’m a vegetarian,” or “I don’t drive a car because of the emissions.” People can be quick to try and catch you out, or point out why you’re a hypocrite. I think it often comes from personal insecurities.

    Generally, I don’t really tell people about my practice unless they’re people I’m close to and trust.

    DhammaDragonwojciechHozan
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @federica said:
    This "I'm only human " phrase, spoken of everywhere I can think, creates some kind of justification for behaviour we can improve on. It's a cop-out.
    It diminishes Right Effort and clouds Right View.

    I think we should not use the phrase "I'm only human" as an excuse to let ourselves off the hook for poor behaviour.
    But Right Effort and the discipline entailed in keeping to the precepts are intentions that we may apply only on ourselves, not impose on others.
    We are entitled to expect a lot from ourselves, but we should not impose expectations on other people to be as we think they should be.
    For all the do-gooding, I have yet to meet someone who has all aspects covered, down pat.

    Hozan
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Is there something that came to mind that brought up the discussion @DhammaDragon ? Just curious if it was a random thought or something occurred.

    General comment, not assuming anyone in the audience does this but it is what came to mind.

    Even though people obviously have their stereotypes about various groups of people, including Buddhists, I think when we belong to those groups sometimes we are fast to jump on people for their ignorance. But really, how much can we expect someone to know about a group they are entirely unfamiliar with except for perhaps in a Nat Geo documentary or a movie? I think sometimes we mistake curiosity for ignorance and it's important to differentiate.

    I grew up in a very small (3000 people) town in a very not-diverse area. We didn't have a non-white student in my school until I was in 8th grade. I left home for college, and then got a job where things were much more diverse than I had ever known. I am so thankful to the people I know who tolerated my endless (and no doubt ignorant) questions about their traditions and cultures. I was absolutely the person who asked my new Muslim co-worker if he was allowed to come to the bar with us. I asked endless questions about his Ramadan practice. I asked my black friend how black men from Mississippi learned how to ice fish in North Dakota.

    They could have viewed me as stupid and ignorant, but I was simply curious and their willingness to tolerate my extensive lack of world experience by answering my questions and teaching me about the world they live in greatly expanded my knowledge and compassion and understanding. With the internet, I think we often assume that if someone has a question, they will look it up and therefore there is no excuse anymore for ignorance. But sometimes you don't even know what the questions are and that personal connection is so much more helpful.

    So when I am faced with ignorant assumptions and questions from people who don't understand Buddhism (and whether I am still as human as them as a Buddhist) I try to remember that. I try to consider it an opportunity that if they are willing to ask, there is an open door to help them expand their world.

    adamcrossleyDhammaDragonHozan
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Is there something that came to mind that brought up the discussion @DhammaDragon ? Just curious if it was a random thought or something occurred.

    I guess it's the cumulative process of getting in touch now and then with people outside Buddhism and inside Buddhism who seem to be disappointed at me not fulfilling their expectations, @karasti.
    And their do-gooding preconceptions...

    Snakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited November 28

    Expectations sure are the "devil's work"! I find the same thing sometimes, it's interesting how people have such expectations of something they don't know anything about. Sometimes I wonder how much of that is projection for their failure to live up to their own expectations of themselves, with or without regard to their religious/philosophical beliefs. I've had my mom come back with things like "Aren't you supposed to be a Buddhist?" when she's upset but doesn't know what she's talking about :lol: I try to just let it go through instead of getting hung up on it, doesn't always work but I try. Edit to add that my response is usually along the lines of "Yeah but I'm still human." heh. ;)

    DhammaDragonHozanSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 28

    I find looking in the mirror tells me all I need to know about my own preconceptions, perceptions and anything else that bothers me.
    The moment I begin to think I have it all worked out, is the moment I know I need to do more.
    In other words, I start from the most familiar point: Home.

    karastiSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Animals learn from the results of their decisions.
    For example: If a dog tries to steal food from a butcher's shop, it will be chased away. It therefore learns that it needs to adopt stealth and cunning, in order to succeed.

    There are countless other examples of animals adapting their behaviour, and learning from experience in order to modify their actions, thereby gaining a result that is either an advantage to themselves, or of mutual advantage, with another creature involved.

    This doesn't necessarily involve ego, particularly if the relationship with another creature, is symbiotic in nature.
    But it is a question of self-preservation.

    We behave in exactly the same way.

    But what separates us from Animals - and should permit the privilege of calling ourselves 'Humans' - is the ability to 'Create'. To manufacture and produce objects, artefacts and specialised tools. We create art, literature, architecture and the vehicles for travel.

    This extends to the cultivation and perpetuation of Mind-wrought processes, of loving-kindness or benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity.

    It is in the Mind, that one distinguishes a human from an animal.
    And it is in the Mind, that one connects being human, to being Buddhist.

    It all begins in the Mind, with what we tell ourselves, and with what we convince ourselves of.

    personSnakeskin
  • @DhammaDragon said:
    But Right Effort and the discipline entailed in keeping to the precepts are intentions that we may apply only on ourselves, not impose on others.
    We are entitled to expect a lot from ourselves, but we should not impose expectations on other people to be as we think they should be.

    Exactly so.
    I often think of myself/ego as 'other', so I too don't impose expectations on myself ...

    I feel the capacity to be better, to resonate with the ideals increases with practice, discipline and effort. Perfection, Bodhisattva activity I leave for legends and people of repute ...

    Being humane, courteous, friendly, kind etc I find a minor aspiration, that most people try to adopt as common sense behavour. Not some wonderful Buddhist achievement ...

    DhammaDragonHozanSnakeskin
  • @Snakeskin said:
    Just being human. Getting better at it.

    <3 Metta Smile <3 Or as we semi humans say, Bravo. :)

    HozanSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Some outstanding posts here. lessons in many of them.

    image

    Snakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Om Vajrasattva Hum United States Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    This is not the place where I will talk about the good things that as any average human being I do, precisely because this is the discussion where I write about the negative things I DO seem to do, and which people are more ready to notice than the former.

    The fact that one defines oneself as Buddhist seems to put the notion into people's heads that we are expected to fit a certain mould of perfection.
    A mould that people from other religious beliefs don't feel compelled to fit themselves, but where they will gladly groove Buddhists in by force.

    Buddhists are not supposed to rant, throw tantrums, have bad hair days, be grumpy, dislike certain people.
    Give in to some fit, and you slide off the pedestal in a wink.
    Never mind that people are blinded to flaws of their own, it's you not fitting the expectations they have formed about you that count.

    Same fellow-Buddhists and people who take up Eastern spiritual paths can also be harsh among themselves and point their fingers at the weaker from the herd.
    I have seen much perfection imposture and spiritual by-passing in denial down the years.

    I agree that our practice is intended to help us become the best version of ourselves that we can be.
    But can we still relax and be human?

    The Buddha taught perfection of the mind and in that training its wise (not All required) for ones self growth to do and not do things we are habitually accustomed to. For example, no one told me I need to take a vow of povery. Im not a nun. Though, I admire The Buddha's reasons for teaching not only to rid ourselves from mental attachments (anger, grudes, etc) but these can be triggered by our external attachments, negative people, cluttered environment, over spending. So, although I love action movies, I stopped waching them and gave them away cold turkey. My attachment to fun was not as important to me than a healthy mind. Then when I get to that point of nonattachment, I wont be jolted by killing in an action movie.

    The Dharma doesnt say you cant experience emotions such as ranting. Maybe there are healthier and still the same satisfactory ways to blow off stem coming from a mind view rather than subject to the body first.

    Snakeskin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran
    edited November 28

    Thank you for all the insightful posts <3

    My points are:
    Ethically-wise, I may set out with the intention to abide by skillful responses and shun, whenever possible, unskilful reactions.
    But there will still be days when my best intentions will blow up in my face, and in those days, I would like to still be able to accept myself as a human being who is doing their best without giving in to feelings of despondency, self-beratement and guilt.
    Nor having someone -Buddhist or non-Buddhist- lecturing/Bible-bashing me that Buddhists don't behave that way.

    Then:
    I may choose to pledge to a certain ethos of conduct in my daily life.
    But whatever I choose to do about my life, I have no right to point the finger to others and tell them how they should be conducting theirs, nor expect them to fulfill my expectations.

    (There may still be the issue of whether I am being objective enough for my ethos to be in keeping with actual teachings of the Buddha and not in too personal, flawed interpretations that I then pass off as Buddhism, but this is discussion for another day)

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    Are Buddhists human?

    Simple answer? No. Every Buddhist I've scanned with my tricorder has turned out to be an aardvark wearing an elaborate disguise.

    Snakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    It's strenuous maintaining the camouflage you know... wearing this disguise is extremely aardvark...

    RefugeelobsterSnakeskin
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