Friday, December 21, 2007

Why I am not a Buddhist

*Note: This article is currently under review and revision... These are my personal reasons as to not becoming a Buddhist. A few of the statements will be pretentious (or ostentatious) in nature, and upon revision may be re-worded for a more even-handed review. Revision may take place once comments are added to this article.

Why I am not a Buddhist

Before I begin this explanation of why I could not fit the protocol, let me first state that my reasoning for non-compliancy has to do with a few factors. These components corroborate my opposition to fully conform to asceticism, to which Gautama expressed a happy medium between the extremes.

Buddhism does not necessarily describe or attribute this non-conforming attitude as a result of a sinful nature. Perhaps this non-compliancy is because of a so-called previous lifestyle or it could be due to outside and internal influences. I am not saying I lead a life that does not have partial asceticism, but that meeting certain requirements to obtain intellectualism are not necessarily proven scientifically. For me it could seem rather pragmatic in nature, that asceticism is the only way to find truth, intellectualism, or prescribe any medical diagnosis and remedial prescription as originally intended.

I admit that following the Buddhist precepts 5, 8, or 10 are noble character building principles, but I am not readily convinced on the probability of the outcome in the next life. Buddha’s teachings or lifestyle was never considered infallible, in fact, he did not ask for his followers to have faith but to put his teachings to the test the veraciousness of his claims. That seems fair enough at face value, but will the results guarantee salvation such as statements that Christ made in the NT?

While I agree that some of the implications of Christianity also retort to self-denial; however, I could at best only apply myself to the five-precept path as the eight or ten precept paths (these are the only ones that one can obtain the true enlightenment and escapement of suffering) would prescribe me to leave my friends, family, wife and children behind to become a monk or beggar to escape the effects of karma and end the vicious cycle of suffering. It also should be noted that the five precept path is also outlined in the OT as I will show below.

Wikipedia describes the five precepts as:

1. To refrain from taking life. (non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (not committing theft)
3. To refrain from sensual misconduct (abstinence from immoral sexual behavior)
4. To refrain from lying. (speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness (refrain from using drugs or alcohol)

Which are simliar to the OT (Exodus chapter 20 in order of relavence to this article):
1. You shall not murder
2. You shall not steal
3. You shall not commit adultery also shall not covet
4. You shall not bear false witness
5. Drunkeness in OT (cf Prov 20:1, Prov 21:17, 1 Sam 1:14, Isa 5:11, 22; 28:1, 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Jer 23:9; 51:7; Joel 3:3. Psalm 60:3) There are also other verses in the NT that speak against drunkeness and mindfulness which come from such intoxicants.

Some of these five precepts in Buddhism, such as sensual misconduct are not clearly defined as they are in the OT and NT within the five precepts (but are in the eight and ten precepts which describe celebicy), so the interpretation could be relevant or vary in meaning. However I do believe that adultery which also the Bible covers fonrication are covered under sensual misconduct as the Buddhist would possibly agree with.

The eight-precepts encourage eating from sunrise to noon in which my low blood sugar will not allow such things, and refraining from a luxourious bed. So I would have to suffer the effects of improper glucose levels, sleepless nights, and possiblity of improper posture just to deter the sufferings of bad karma? For me I am not sure if that is an even trade-off, verses the remote possiblity my efforts would actually achieve anything truly noble but only in the eyes of a Buddhist or masochist. I have no problem refraining from jewlery (however my wife highly suggests me wearing a wedding ring) and dancing (which I have no ability to dance) and shows (to which I like going to shows to relieve boredom).

Irrelavancy in Emotiveness
While Christianity involves emotions, some Buddhists strive to no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions. As daunting a task as this would be and how much I try not to be suspectible from such negative or damping emotions, never the less achieving this status can be possible but not probable. To espouse this condition is possible one would have achieve chasity, calmness, serene which would entail removing one from the general public in essence to escape these barriers. As tempting as that sounds on some days, it doesn’t seem healthy for personal happiness for myself or my family in regards to my present worldview. What is the purpose of humanity and community if they only are contributing factors that are only there for opposition or resistance to achieve a state of Nirvana or enlightenment.

What is considered enlightenment
My questioning is... what exactly is this enlightenment that needs to be acheieved, in other words what needs to be known. I have asked this question from several practicing Buddhist but I couldn’t find one that had any definitive statements that would be considerd as a working standard. I am not suggesting I have exhausted all means to find this answer, but have not find anything definitive to this paradox. It seems like a great deal of work for something without standard earmarks. This could be because the teachings are based strictly upon philosophy.

I am sure that some Buddhist claims can be verified through basic testing, but nothing that I would consider as qualifing such as rigorous gage R&R testing. This philosophy is only a means in working to obtain a state or perception of moral goodness, but at the same time this focus is only individualistic not necessarily to help others in need or having compassion with someone less fortunate. If we are all in it for ourselves, what is the true purpose of so many?

Obvious Questions or propositions
Why is there something rather than nothing
Why do we exist
How did human life begin
How did the population grow
Why do we die
How do we define absolute morals
Why do we speak so many different languages
What knowledge or works are needed to obtain enlightenment or to stop the cycle
No claims of someone being a Christian in the previous life (reincarnation)
When did suffering begin and why
Is denial of self (ascetism) really the answer to suffering
How can one recall a past life only in portions if they are the same soul/entity
How can one learn from past mistakes if they cannot recall all previous mistakes/sufferings
What was created first, the soul or the physical (how did reincarnation begin)
How do you explain population exceeding death rates (shortage of reincarnates)
What is the sense of being punished for actions we do not remember
Where do the new souls come from
Are some souls created, while the old ones reincarnate
Is the soul incognizant apart from the human mind
Why did this philosophy take so long in coming to pass if this concept has been around since the beginning of time

I have a host of other questions that the Buddhist worldview cannot answer with any degree of certainty. The first seven questions are typical to establishing grounds that define any worldview. Buddhism was never put in place to answer such philosophical questions but more of an answer as to why suffering exists and a reactionary response against orthodox Hinduism.
Philosophical versus Theology

It should be noted that Wikipedia claims: The Four Noble Truths were originally spoken by the Buddha not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the manner of a medical diagnosis and remedial prescription in a style that was common at that time.

To be revised, concluded, and continued later...