[Summary: Article on the entrenchment of the “we are right” view, and the mystic or meditational side to religion]
Anyone can get to heaven
Goes the Buddhist saying
Just be good
Dogmatic religions always feel themselves right and others wrong – it is just the way that views and opinions work. The Buddha warned against it too, but views and opinions, or rather the attachment to them, will infiltrate into every group of people, and take hold. Amusingly, in the Milinda Panha, a key Buddhist text where the historical Hellenic King Menander converses with an arahant several hundred years after the Buddha, we are told that there will never be two Buddha’s arising in the world at the same time because:
The world will crack apart under the weight of their goodness
Their disciples will argue with each other over who is right
You can observe even in the same religion, sometimes even in the same school of the same religion, there are arguments over the ‘correct’ understanding. And of course the implication is, if you don’t understand (or believe) correctly, you won’t be saved or reach enlightenment.
Buddhism seems to be free from the tar of this brush. It seems to be open and accepting of other religions, and respectful towards them.
All religions teach people they should be good
is a common understanding. The opening quote of this blog expands on this indicating the Buddhist dictum that a higher rebirth depends on your actions, and not on your beliefs.
Buddhism is a non-competitive religion, that does not fear other belief systems. But in fact, if you scratch beneath the surface you find the same old entrenched views and opinions. According to Buddhism, other religions might teach you to be a good person, but they can’t get you to enlightenment. The same old feeling that ‘we’ are right, we have the proper understanding. One particular school of Buddhist meditation (which we won’t name), looks upon other schools with disdain, sniffing
Their system of meditation might work eventually, but it is very slow. Ours is fast.
It’s almost impossible to keep yourself beyond the allure of views and opinions.
But there is another way to look at religion, instead of the ‘schools’ split. Rather than Christian/Buddhist/Islam, rather than Hinayana/Mahayana or Catholic/Protestant we can look at religion as a common belief system / mystic division.
All religions have their mystic side – the area of the teaching that the serious seeker uncovers. The area where one is able and willing to go beyond beliefs and beyond the thinking mind towards the
Peace that lies beyond the understanding
Sufi mystics, Hindu gurus, Buddhist monks, hermits, and others have all taken the giant step out side of the thinking mind, towards a deeper reality that starts to uncover as the self disappears. “Silence” said C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia tales, “is the purest form of prayer”
Where does that leave the common people?
On Saturday 22nd March 2008 we will look at the fascinating documentary ‘Marjoe’ – the fly-on-the-wall film documenting the money-making fake evangelical Marjoe Gortner. While he might not believe in himself, and he does not believe in God, Marjoe never loses respect for the common people – people who would attend his meetings in throngs, entering trances, speaking in tongues and sometimes being healed through faith. Strong belief, strong faith, and a reverential heart are qualities that all the great mystic traditions have praised. They are qualities worth developing. The Common Religion / Mystic Religion split is not one of better/worse, but a case of angle of approach, so that those whose devotion might be somewhat jaded, will have their own way of advance nonetheless.