I received this comment from a reader and I want to place this as a new blog post because it reflects an argument that I’ve seen many times before from various religious devotees. In my earlier post a reader claimed that I was picking on Buddha for and his followers for no good reason.
Reply from esantipapa
““Enlightenment” is a fraud. It is a deception that assumes to know and understand more than it can. Enlightenment doesn’t fail because you’ve applied it incorrectly, or because you are not worthy of it. People throughout the ages have sought it and it and only a few have dared to claim that they have attained it. It would be one thing if Enlightenment actually changed the world for the better for all of us. We can easily see that is not the case.”
Enlightenment is a personal journey. No two people have the same path to it. And as far as it not changing the world, that’s beyond ridiculous. Those who strive for deeper compassion and kindness (to their fellow humans), as a path to Enlightenment, do great things because of their compassion and kindness. Sneering at individuals who aim for deeper understanding of their fellow human, deeper compassion for all peoples, and greater personal-outward kindness is not praiseworthy or intellectual by any measure. It makes me sad to know you do not see how you are right on the core issue, but wrong on the examples, as you demonstrate here:
“The solutions are all here on Earth, not locked away in some inaccessible region of consciousness but within understanding who we are and choosing how we are going to relate with ourselves and each other.”
That IS essentially the concept expressed by the whole of the Dharma (and it is put so eloquently by you). Why are you arguing against Buddha when you express ideas that are virtually identical to the Dharma? You may want to read more about the current Dalai Lama’s life story, he’s had a much better set of translators than those of antiquity, and uses almost the same language you use here. That our compassion is derived from our sameness, and how we see each other. That we have all the tools we need here in this life to further understand one another if we choose to use them.
You say enlightenment is a “personal journey.” I have to challenge that assertion. Have you gained enlightenment? Do you know someone who has? How would one even verify that someone, or anybody, including Buddha achieved it? All we have are stories of individuals gaining it, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and there’s no proof that anything like “enlightenment” or “karma” or “the wheel of reincarnation” exists the way the Buddhists say it does.
If people as a whole strove to gain a “deeper understanding of their fellow human, deeper compassion for all peoples, and greater personal-outward kindness” through the application of Buddhist principles and that resulted in a far more sane and rational world, then that would be an entirely different thing. But the Buddha attached a spurious metaphysical component that ended up creating a void where self and the material world is negated. I understand that in principle the Buddhist is to follow the Middle Path, but metaphysical fence-sitting has not brought about a better world for everyone.
Buddha’s starting point within attaining enlightenment has been so ineffective in dealing with the world because the criterion, the foundation, is suspect. Instead of establishing a world based on egalitarian terms, the focus was placed on eliminating anguish and suffering, which are not causes, but the effects or symptoms of the poisonous relationships between people. Did Buddha, as a member of the royalty, denounce or taught that such a social order was beneficial or detrimental to proper relationships within the world? I doubt that he did. Instead, the Buddha focused on meditation and mental stratagems in removing self from the world, which he considered an illusion, anyway. Look at India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Thailand; all the countries that have followed Buddhism to one extent or another. The people who live there have caught hell for a long time. Karma must be something that is defective, because it allegedly is supposed to equalize the human experience towards good and proper ethical relationships. Yet unspeakable poverty, injustice and exploitation exists in conditions that are worse than ever. How would the Buddha explain that?
I do not “sneer” at people who are interested in making this world a better place for everyone – such a goal is what I’ve always been about. People like myself have been diverted and mislead by religious, spiritual and metaphysical principles that have proven to be ineffective, dubious and actually harmful to our cause. Following religious principles and chasing after gurus and special Ascended Masters has made us into dumbasses that has allowed the elites to be able to run slipshod over us for so long. You don’t see them worrying about samsara or dharma, do you? Their lineage continues and continues as if karma only rewarded their efforts to dominate, exploit and destroy.
It takes action to change the world, not sitting on your ass under a bodhi tree until you are an ass-ending master so you can teach others how to ass-end.into their minds. I mean, it just hasn’t worked. Achieving inner peace at the cost of separating one’s self from the world is only separation. This practice has obviously been a defective, impractical and self-interested approach to the problems it alleges to “solve.” And don’t bring the Dalai Lama into this. He is completely irrelevant in the affairs of the world while he sits in a saffron robe placing guru-seekers’ heads in the clouds all day. I mean, don’t equate what I am saying as a personal attack on your belief system. Take it for what it is, facing the truth, as I have faced – that all religious systems lead to one point: deception. We don’t need God, Buddha or the Dalai Lama to tell us the proper way to relate to people. We don’t need meditative states or following gurus or attaining an enlightened state to realize that suffering in this world can be stopped. We only need to release our desire to chase after things we can’t verify and embrace the common sense of universal equality. If the Buddha had spoken about that, I’d be all over it As it is, we have to let it go, because what Buddha represents has not been worthy of following, as the world has entertained the Buddhist perspective for centuries and it has failed completely.