Some of you may know the web radio show Buddhist Geeks. Various Buddhist teachers are interviewed about once a week on cutting edge aspects of Buddhism, fitting it into modern times, etc., with the “geek” emphasis on what works. The show’s host, Vincent Horn, interviewed me a year or two ago at my wife’s urging, even though I’m neither a spiritual leader nor even, by my standards, a “good” student of Buddhism, much less a “Buddhist.” The interview revolved around the fact that I thought a Buddhist leader they had interviewed, a modern one who pretty much thought reincarnation was old-fashioned nonsense, was way off base as he was paying no attention to the actual evidence for reincarnation. Silly me and my scientist emphasis that data is more important than belief and theory…..
Anyway yesterday’s interview on how, from my perspective as a psychologist, implicit as well as explicit beliefs can greatly change the results of techniques such as “meditation” went well. Vince is a good interviewer, and we share this geeky emphasis on what works, as opposed to what you should or shouldn’t believe. If anyone is interested, I’ll let people know when the interview will actually be aired, and I think it will be in their podcast archives afterwards.
Exchanging thanks with Vince by email afterwards, I found a lot of recent frustration coming out that may be of general interest, so here’s a lightly edited version of what I wrote Vince…..
It was a good conversation! So nice to talk with someone who is intelligent and open…. Helpful to me too in relieving some of the frustration I’m feeling with some of the “spiritual leaders” in a web group I belong too. Most are pretty open, but some of them seem to be operating from some very fixed and Absolute Commandments.
(1) THOU SHALT BELIEVE with all thy heart and mind that you were created in God’s image (or have Buddha nature, etc.), and so partake of the Highest Nature yourself
(2) That includes the gift of INTELLIGENCE, which you shall use,
(3) EXCEPT IN AREAS OF DOCTRINE, where you shall absolutely never question doctrines A, B and C. If you do not understand said Doctrines A, B and C, this shall be taken as a sign of Sin or Endarkenment on your part, as The Doctrines are Revealed Truth……
I see too much of this in Buddhism as I’ve contacted it too, for in spite of the Sutta to the Kalamas, about examining things for yourself, which I quote all the time, the applied rule seems to be that yes, you can think about and contemplate various Buddhist ideas….and when your thought agrees with what the Buddha is recorded to have said, you have finally gotten it and can stop thinking/contemplating…..
My repeated, common-sense idea that religious and spiritual ideas are the equivalent of scientific theories, intelligent formulations of ideas to deal with actual experiences, and so subject to change and refinement, even replacement, as new data/experiences come in — well I must be one of those heretics…..
Let me know when the show will be aired and I’ll let my reader list know. Don’t know if I’ll bother to let my “spiritual leader” group know….