Atheism’s growing pains

I always say there are basically two kinds of people in this world, people who think like Christians and people who think like Buddhists, and I believe this has caused more trouble in the area of religion than just about anything else.

Nick - would you be willing to expound upon this thought?

I feel that most religious people can be divided into groups. The first group is people who need to follow a Christ or Christ-like figure. The second group of people (including many Buddhists that I know) do not feel a need to do this and they are offended by what they perceive as the first group's being over-zealous, rude, and pushy. I see a great deal of religious friction arising as a result of the first group telling the second group they should follow their Christ-like figure, the second group refusing, and bad feelings develop. I have seen this happen with several different types of religious groups. I see this as one of the biggest problems in ecumenical attempts today between different types of religious groups.
Nick, very well put. The difference is between a supernatural Chr!st-like figure one can believe in and a natural thing to be experienced.
The distinction can be applied, but I'm not sure how accurate it is?

Traditional Japanese Buddhism offers the distinction of 'Other Power' (tariki) and 'Self Power' (jiriki), but whilst Nick suggests that Buddhism is a jiriki path, the Buddha is the figurehead for Buddhism, which is dependent upon his name and reputation for its authority.

Amida Buddhism is utterly tariki.

It seems to me that all spiritual disciplines should combine both; all traditions have their invocations and their initiations and their blessings which are 'tariki' elements, even if the doctrine would appear to be 'jiriki'?

God bless

In the "hard core" Pali-Chan lineage, where it is the Buddha's writings and teachings that are central, the jiriki really dominates. There is a very good text, Tanabe's (?) "Philosophy as Metanoetics" that makes a very good argument for tariki (one of the few that I almost agree with en toto). This is the very dividing line between Lesser and Greater Vehicle (all Theravada, and some groups of Mahayana are jiriki-focused. Only Pure Land is thoroughly tariki-focused.

Anyway, that is what I was taught. If one is really focused in reading Hui-neng's "Platform Sutra" (he was Sixth Ch'an Patriarch and 28th and last Buddhist Patriarch according to some Ch'an practitioners) there is precious little tariki.

Of course, this differs from culture to culture and sect to sect. Both are probably needed, but the difference within the Sangha really matter. Kind of like the difference between the internal focus of Zinzendorf or Fox and the external focus of Wesley and Woolman.

A continuum is probably more appropriate overall, but the distinction is still very necessary (for at least Buddhists).

For most westerners the jiriki dominates in their conception of Buddhism (especially post Nietzsche and James and Kazantzakis).
The Buddha said, let go the raft. I have yet to meet an exoteric Christian who understands this. Every such case of this sort of understanding evidences a Christian who is actually already in touch with the ESOTERIC, or Occult, side of Life ... the hidden Nature which informed, guided, we might even say WAS (and IS) the Buddha, the Christ, the other Great Ones, and at Heart - in Potential - ALL PEOPLE.


And since none of us here is yet across the chasm, recognize that in your own boat, you will need both oars in order to keep progressing, as well as a RUDDER.

If you allow Christ, or Buddha, or another (beginning with your *own* SOUL) to serve as the rudder, don't forget to ROW. But don't cause one, ha!

Most Christians, unfortunately, cannot conceive of a life, or set of conditions, where they remain actively, Consciously and CONSCIENTIOUSLY AWAKE.

And this is the meaning of Buddhism, of the ROOT of the word: `BUDH'

Just so, the average Christian does not know what `Christ' means, and assumes it's the man's last name. S/He has no concept of the path of initiation, which is universal, applies to all Life, every atom, every lifeform, every planet, every individual, every Buddha, every Christ, every God, every God-in-the-making ... and to the SUPREME, whether you term this Adi-Buddha or the Father, Godhead or the ABSOLUTE.

The conceptual mind, even the aspirational portions of our human and earth-defined experience, are transcended in the Buddhic awareness ... and Nirvana has no place for arguments over whose religion has more adherents, remains unchanged over the centuries, or has remained untainted by human violence, torture, bloodshed and criminal acts. Rather, Transcendence implies both Bliss and Peacefulness, Inclusiveness and the resolution of duality, including all Opposites ... while maintaining distinctions which even our veteran theologian has not yet grasped (as being preserved by Monadic existence).

If the Buddha and the Christ are capable of walking up to each other and shaking hands, theology suddenly takes a definite back seat to what is taking place. And while I perceive distinctions, and although my eyes, senses, mind and even my emotions may continue to send me certain signals, I am ALREADY capable - ignorant and UNenlightened as I am - of grasping the Essence of what is taking place. It is the MOTTO of the State in which I live:


And I know what it means to SEEM, as also, however humbly or in incomplete fashion, to BE.

Thus I know the foolishness, the shortsightedness and the mistaken hastiness of the person who allows the lower mind to draw certain conclusions for him, or her. I know what it means to allow the senses, and the Slayer of the Real, to deceive us. And I know what it means, for the Christ and the Buddha to manifest simultaneously ... to appear, to SHAKE HANDS, to SMILE :)

... and to turn, together, and face the rest of us, and ask:


My Brother, simple and compassionate, loving and crotchety as he can sometimes be, understands this Koan just as he did 2100 years ago. Thus did the Lord ask him, "Whom do men say that I am?"

And when asked if he recognized his Lord, he answered Truthfully in the affirmative, for though he was uncomplicated ~ and largely because of such ~ he was not spiritually blind, or blinded.

Complicated as I am, I remain aware of my own Brother's awareness. I share it, as it at heart, central to my OWN Being ... and to yours.

Thus do I know my own Lord, for He is yours, though a Zoroastrian need never have heard of Jesus, or Buddha, or be any less aware of the same Lord for the fact.

I have patience, and occasionally lose it, or perhaps quite often have tended to become frustrated, because I know what is possible, what already exists, and how close are the two.

Yet no more can I force the present to suddenly express the Possible Perfection of the future can I insist that you understand the present Bodhisattva actually holding the Trikaya of the Buddha Himself, Shakyamuni. No less does Maitreya have this relationship, this connection, and hold the Promise [Covenant, you Christians call it] of a time when East and West will meet in religious and spiritual Unification as never before.

I assure you, if you advocate for anything less, you oppose the Christ and the Buddha alike. If you cannot sense the Beast, and know it for what it is, and realize that it is a challenge we ALL must face - and increasingly TOGETHER - then again, I wonder what it will take. Shall we wipe each other off the face of the earth? This, too, is a possibility.

To disturb the Beast, and to provoke such reaction, is perhaps not Wise. Yet either I am dealing with another of my Brothers, here, as certainly as I know us ALL to be the same, "in Spirit" (again, as Christians refer to the bond of Soul kinship and Platonic Communion - watered down by the worldly philosopher or theologian with worldly bent) ... or else I am mistaken in the conjecture of my HUMAN prinicples (mind, emotions, brain).

Either way, I aspire toward the same Brotherhood-in-Action as the Great Ones embody, and I shall settle for no less in my own life, my own heart and mind, and my own actions. I simply choose to acknowledge the Soul Itself as the only `priest' I need, the only - and truest - Mediator between man and God, and thus, as the Christ Himself affirmed, as the Way, the Truth and the Life within us all.

But some call it Buddha Nature, and these are usually better suited for the challenges of the present time, and the difficulty of the tasks ahead. This is not because the Christ's Teaching is less Noble, less Pure or less Worthy of application and expression. One day, our veteran resistor - and others - will share my understanding, regardless of how they choose to express it. And better, more clearly, more Inclusively, I hope. After all, Truth is Truth.

But Christ's Gift is the very LOVE of God, expressing the 2nd Aspect on our Planet in a way as never before. Buddha's Gift was similar, yet was to anchor the LIGHT, or 3rd Aspect (of the Trinity folks, the Trimurti, via the Sambhog of his own Trikaya, now utilized by the Christ as the Buddha is very nearly transcendent of Planetary Evolution altogether, as concerns our planet).

Christ as Bodhisattva, as Maitreya, the Lord of LOVE (as also of LIGHT, you realize) ... brings a third, though certainly not final GIFT to Humanity. The Aquarian Revelation, engendered and slowly awakening through GROUP-ness, including Group Mind, Group Conciousness, Group Cooperation and Group Initiation ... is that of the PURPOSE, the 1st Aspect or WILL of God.

When the lower mind can be stilled (Peace!) ... and when the many dualities can be overcome as they otherwise plague us, pull us down, and war against the Coming-Together of this BODY of many members, it will be recognized both individually and in GROUP format that the "Peace which PASSETH Understanding" is Nirvana, the Atmic Consciousness, wherein and whereby the WILL of GOD is Known. The Understanding referred to will be realized as transcendent of Mind altogether, even beyond the `Holy Spirit' of Christian theology, which is `Higher or Divine Mind.'

True Understanding is the Buddhic awareness, which is also the Love-Agape of Christian Doctrine ... and to suggest that the Bliss-awareness, the Ananda of the Vedic Teaching, the Sambhogakayic Consciousness of `Buddha Nature' is not intimately related, if not intrinsically a part of this Love-Wisdom, the 2nd Ray Ashram, the 2nd Ray expressing par excellence via the Christ and His Church (the Masters) ... is simply to MISS THE PROVERBIAL BOAT.

My friends, if you do this, the OJs will feel sorry, sorry for you ... and maybe I will too. But one thing I will not do is pretend that it's all a pipe dream, a pie-in-the-sky set of Ideals (for Plato taught me better than that, as have other Teachers, in every incarnation that I remember, and likely quite a few others). I know, within my limited scope, what is achievable, both on my own, or by myself, as also in cooperation, alignment and in GROUP FORMAT with others who are likewise devoted to the well-being of this planet, and to all people.

You may scoff at what you do not understand, you may strike back and lash out, for you know the Truth of my words, you know their meaning, and you are perhaps quite envious that such is so clear in the mind, as also in the heart of one so IMperfect ... from time to time. But I recommend squelching that. I don't think you're doing yourselves any good when you bite with such venom. Rather, you poison your own heart, your own mind, your own tongue, not to mention the air waves, the evolving Group Consciousness of this, or any other public forum.

The day is coming (as has long been here for some, or for awhile for countless others) when every person shall know with increasing accuracy and intimacy the thoughts and intentions of others, the heart and mind of both neighbor and stranger alike. It will not even take long conversations and getting-to-know-you, because in a flash, the inner consciousness reveals itself. How else could the Great Ones, the Teachers in every country, every Tradition, at every time during human history, have discerned and picked out their disciples?

I cannot instruct you in the techniques of acting with, in and FOR the Light, using LOVE and Inclusiveness as your allies, rather than the tendency to DIVIDE and `conquer' ... which *defeats* your true Intent as surely as spitting in a fan returns an unpleasant result.

But I CAN point you toward the first five of the Twin verses of the Dhammapada and ask that you contemplate these, that you try and compare them with the Golden Rule, and that you learn to see BEYOND your tiny, human frame, the frail mind of so much book learning and mental masturbation, or the wounded emotions which the Spiritual Healer must learn to transmute into a personal FIELD of Healing Energy, expressed Biblically as the `Shadow' [the persona] which even St. Peter somehow used to do the Lord's work 2100 years ago.

Consult the Training that your Tradition provides, and be EARNEST about it. Take it Siriusly, if you prefer this ... and especially if you recognize it as YOUR SOUL'S CALLING to the Spiritual Heights.

One thing further I can assure you: If you assail the practices, and the Teachings of another ... whether another Faith, another Religion, another Spiritual Path, or another PHILOSOPHY ~ as the Teaching of Living Ethics, or Buddhism, or any of the Theosophical lineages, or Masonic organizations, etc. ... IF you choose to do this, know well:

As ye have judged, and just as harshly or Compassionately, so shall YE BE judged ...
... for What goes around, comes around.

Such is true of me, equally as it is true of You.

And this is written in your Laws, though ye practice it not in your hearts, yet CALL YOURSELVES Christians, after Christ, or even Buddhists, after Buddha.

Who is worthy to say he is a lover of ALL Teachings and ALL Religions if he cannot even keep these most simple of Commandments?

Is not the LAW a thing which applies to all, as surely as the falling apple will strike any on the head who wanders under the producing apple tree?

What ignorance, what foolishness and what blindness, then, in the case of the individual who thinks himself immune, or has created a complicated system of excuses and exhonerations. His shall be the discovery of Universality, and the finding of the Boundlessness of God's Good Laws, and their Sure upholding.

For we do not squeak by just because our planet is a fledgling future S*n here in Bright, but otherwise-apparently-dark Cosmos ... or because our kinship to the Lord has somehow eclipsed all relevance of the Teaching to our own individual expression, now manifest only in the need to constantly police the thoughts and actions of others, or correct their mistaken spin on things.

Last time I checked, every atom was still spinning, as even every pile of dung was fairly foul smelling, relatively speaking ... as every rose not sequestered in the freezer of a grocery store will surely smell as sweet ~ as a rose ought!

But a rose would not be a rose without a pile of dung, a pile of crap cannot exist if not composed of many atoms, and for all you know, the atoms in your desk or the computer itself are perhaps destined to one day find expression in the much, much more evolved form ...

... of a Rose.

Once you see that all is connected, and once you EXPERIENCE this Glory, in all of its Bliss (and yes, I said that the way I intended to ), THEN you may understand why fools like me keep trying to get through ...

.. and THEN you may understand that yes, Christ Jesus speaks to some of us whom you yourself, personally, for whatever reason, just haven't managed to figure out yet. For no, certainly you did not give me your official `Sanction.'

But yes, He can get through ... nonetheless.

Try it sometime. It's on the other side of that `Peace' ... even as it's not required to be 'rapt in Bliss for the exchange to take place, and often it's no less meaningful for want of that Bliss.

To become a Bodhisattva is to keep gently tucking a Flower down every gun-barrel, and to continue to recite the Prayer of Jesus, regardless as to what the materialist, or the atheist, or the skeptic or the oppressor may tell you.

I recommend, if you are on the Buddhist Path and want to be, STICK TO IT.

If you are a Christian, whether Protestant or Orthodox, Catholic or Mormon, Unitarian or Baptist ... STICK TO IT ... unless you experience a different calling.

And when, through ignorance, spite, envy or blindness, another assails your FAITH and insists that "you just don't see it" or that you would do far better if you were to walk HIS WAY (or hers), let them know, quite plainly, "No thank you, I'm quite happy walking MY OWN."

I would even add, "By the way, if your `way' is so wonderful, why don't YOU try walking it for a change."

We used to say that, you know. And the people never did have a clue what we were talking about.

Some things never change. Or so slowly they're ... damn-near imperceptible! ;)
Radar and IG,

I want to tell the story of my experiences in Buddhist churches (temples) in California that belong to a Buddhist tradition called Nishi Honganji ("Pureland Buddhism"). Their tradition is 100% of a devotion to a Christ-like deity they call Amida Buddha. I was amazed at how their entire 'church' services are based on a devotion to this deity. I was struck (shocked, really) by how we could basically take a statue of Amida Buddha, replace it with a statue of Jesus, and the way their church service would be conducted would not change at all. In Christianity, Jesus is the answer to all the members' prayers. In Nishi Honganji, Amida Buddha is the answer to all their prayers.

I would like to report that there are many other Buddhist traditions that do not focus on Christ-like worship in this way.
The Tibetan Buddhist Marco Pallis — a name not unknown to followers of the Perennial Tradition — offers an illuminative essay:
Is There Room for "Grace" in Buddhism?

Evidently the nature of the Christie revelation was such as to require a strong affirmation of the element of grace from the very outset, which was not the case with Buddhism. Such differences in the line of approach to the saving Truth are in the nature of things and should cause no surprise given the diversifying of mankind in the course of its karmic development. The important thing, to recognise in this case is the fact that the word "grace" corresponds to a whole dimension of spiritual experience; it is unthinkable that this should be absent from one of the great religions of the world. In fact, anyone who has lived in a traditionally Buddhist country knows that this dimension finds its expression there too, vehicled by the appropriate forms. For us it is of interest to observe these forms and clarify for ourselves the teaching they carry explicitly or else latently; the present essay should be regarded as contributing to this clarification.
And I believe (the web is a little fuzzy on this) that there are more tariki-Amidan Buddhists then jiriki-Theravadan Buddhists. The problem of speaking about this from the outside is that the tariki-jiriki distinction is a function of Japanese culture.

Here in the West to try to understand it, we probably need to find a parallel set of ideas (Woolman-Fox or Carmelite-Eckhardt ? I certainly do not know).

I do know that reading the writings of any tradition (not merely focusing on your own) is very important for communication to occur. Thomas, you and I have been over this ground before. I believe there is a "meta-theology" or "meta-spiritualism" which is expressed in every tradition. Yes, one can only participate within the tradition... but aside from the theological-spiritual side of this work, there is the work of reaching across to others of other cultures, religions, traditions.

It is kind of like there are charitable groups within all cultures. And while they differ in their "hard core" beliefs (Qur'an versus Larger Sutta of Infinite Light or some other central teaching) the application of those beliefs to the world can be coordinated and communicated. The "hard core" drives a similar set of "auxiliary hypotheses", and those hypotheses are what I mean by this "meta-"level.

The same thing is true in science (in fact the above terminology was first developed by philosophers of science). Einstein, Penrose, Hawking, Hiller, Wheeler, Zurek, Everett, Stapp, Finkelstein all have very different sets of "hard core" beliefs (from Platonism to Materialism). Yet these differing beliefs did not keep science from developing the "auxiliary hypothesis" of the Standard Model of Particle Physics or that of Physical Cosmology.

It is merely my humble opinion that a "hard core" based on otherness (us-versus-them or truth-versus-falsehood), while it can contribute (in both science and spiritualism), inevitably leads to the trivialization or (worse yet) demonization of those "auxiliary hypotheses" of the other side. I believe this explains the strange fascination with "creation from nothing" in cosmology; the persecution of Amadis, Bahais, Friends, Indian Buddhists in theologies; and current looming fiscal cliff.
Hey, Andrew, what is your new avatar going to look like?
I chose the poet Vyasa because he is the `Father of the Ageless Wisdom' ... giving us the Vedas, prior to coming as Zoroaster, as Orpheus, as Thoth-Hermes and as Shakyamuni Buddha. Our Fifth Root Race would have none of its present form of Theos Sophia were it not for this tutelary!
Like religion, Atheism is being politically hijacked or compromised by The Cult of State.
The woman in the article wears a tee-shirt preaching 'tolerance' and 'coexist' and holds up a sign preaching 'destruction' of other ideologies.
I would prefer to claim to have 8 gods rather than be thought of as one of...them.
Adam Lee,
We’re atheists not because we want to gather and engage in collective back-slapping, not because we want to chortle at the foolishness of benighted believers, but because we care about creating a world that’s more just, more peaceful, more enlightened, and we see organized religion as standing in the way of this goal. (bolding mine)
I want no part of the atheist movement described above.

For one thing, I'm an atheist not because of my desire for social justice but because I don't see the evidence for God. To my way of thinking, the universe is indifferent to us and I can't imagine any creative force behind it being any different in that respect.

Although I too want to see a more just, more peaceful, more enlightened world, I don't see all of organized religion as standing in the way of this goal. Many religious groups support social justice, too. Think of the role of churches and synagogues in the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s.

Furthermore I have friends whose belief in God not only provides them with great meaning and comfort but is the basis for their progressive political beliefs. I like my friends the way they are. I don't want them to change because we have some differences of opinion.

Progressive religious groups are the natural allies of progressive atheists. Why not work with them rather than alienate them.
I am with you in this.
I am an atheist because I know there is no God.
Anything else is heresy.

It is not religion itself which is wrong; but rather it's values and beliefs, which if different and more inline with natural science, would be an asset.
Most religious folks are in line with science....the vocal literalists simply make the news and instigate lawsuits..

You object to religions values? Or the hypocrisy of those that spout them?
There is a question, Adept, that interests me as well in wanting to understand your words.

"It is not religion that is wrong, but it's values and beliefs". How does one separate one from the other? What else is religion but a set of values and beliefs?
There are many scientists who see that religion and science are compatible. Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, Martin Nowak, just to name a few ...