So keeping the two wholly separate and orthogonal senses of “enlightenment” in mind from the previous post: the New Enlightenment public advance of knowledge of the reality we find ourselves in through the use of reason versus the “old” idea of personal mysticism as a path to knowledge and wisdom about some “ultimate” reality, let’s examine some of the tenets of Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism specifically, including the school the Dalai Lama belongs to as well as his personal variations of accepted Buddhist beliefs.
From his official website a few tidbits.
His education included logic and epistemology along with art, music, poetry, Buddhist philosophy and teachings of course and… astrology. No physics, chemistry or biology… astrology. How enlightened. You can google it and read for yourself how integral astrology is to Buddhist thought.
Also from his website you can read his own words on reincarnation: Its quite lengthy and full of claims that should give anyone pause.
Excerpts of the Lama’s own words on consciousness and the eternal existence of the mind: “As far as I know, no modern psychologist, physicist, or neuroscientist has been able to observe or predict the production of mind either from matter or without cause.”
True, but we can alter consciousness, manipulate it, and destroy it through one medium only: the brain. And despite millennia of hopeful supposition by lots of cultures, consciousness never seems to appear without the good company of a living brain.
We know a lot more about consciousness than the Lama might admit to and I’ve blogged on it before: On Consciousness 1 and “to HELL with the facts…”.
Evidently to him since we can’t yet reproduce mind from scratch, therefore 3,000 year-old unproven and outlandish Buddhist claims about spiritual consciousness must be true.
Remember he presents himself as a man friendly to and accepting of science. Here’s a quote from the Lama provided to me by one of my colleagues who took exception to my questioning of his real position on science:
“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” – Dalai Lama XIV
There’s not a shred of evidence that consciousness survives the death of the brain nor an ounce of evidence for any of the myriad and imaginative descriptions of an afterlife offered from hundreds of cultures throughout history. That is the data from modern science. What makes him so sure that the Tibetan Buddhist version of the afterlife is the correct one? Could it be that’s what he was brought up in? Sure sounds like the same kind of absolute certainty that the Xians and Muslim profess and who are so equally confident that their beliefs are the correct ones.
Maybe the Greeks were right, you must cross the river Styx and Hades awaits you, maybe the Muslims are right and part of Allah’s eternal punishment includes regrowing your own skin over and over for infinity so you can suffer anew his eternal fire that awaits you, maybe the Liberal Xians are right and nobody really goes to hell, maybe the Mormons are right and its Joe Smith sitting aside Jesus who you will meet in heaven instead of the Buddha and the host of enlightened beings…
As I have said before the DL#14 can be very accepting of the lack of evidence for the efficacy of prayer and the strong evidence that one doesn’t need a religion, any religion, to be a good person (very progressive in these respects) but he draws the line evidently at astrology and reincarnation… and some other choice ideas. Read on.
Also from his treatise on reincarnation:
“The recognition of the next Dalai Lama can be assisted by oracles, visions in sacred lakes, and the dough ball method… a practice of divination whereby one twirls dough balls in a bowl and the one that falls out that has the name of the next Lama or an answer to an important decision on it… gives you the unquestionable correct answer from the beyond.”
No shit. I did not make this up.
Read it for yourself, Google it. Then try to reconcile this practice with his quote above about giving up beliefs should “scientific analysis disprove…”
You can even watch divination with dough balls yourself, check it out:
On homosexuality and women:
Buddhism considers same sex love as “sexual misconduct” but the Lama is more open on that subject saying one should “follow ones own teachings.” Fair enough, enlightened about that, good for him.
It reminds me of the current Pope though, who also says or hints at progressive views on homosexuality and atheism and then the bishops and cardinals all scurry around immediately to re-assure us that Catholic dogma has not changed one iota and atheists and homosexuals still deserve death just as St. Paul says in Romans 1.
Buddhist thought on sexuality ranges quite widely, but anything other than vaginal sex is considered “sexual misconduct” including masturbation (hardly enlightened, eh?) and like most religions sex is proscribed in arbitrary ways, generally frowned upon and the “most holy” of the practitioners, the monks, male and female alike are to be celibate. Depending on which sect you read about, you will get varying interpretations of the Buddha’s words and intentions. Scriptural interpretation is a bitch in any religion isn’t it?
As far as women, the Dalai has been very supportive of women overall and has even suggested he should reincarnate himself as one. You can see his comments at the Buddhism Guide website: Women in Tibetan Buddhism.
But the monks in his own sect aren’t buying it. Like the priests doing damage control whenever the Pope shoots his mouth off the Lama’s fellow monks have this to say about women(also excerpted from the Buddhism Guide above):
• “Women are a lower class than men”
• “Teaching them to become Geshe (teachers) goes against Buddha and Buddhism”
• “Women cannot become a Buddha”
• “They can never teach men”
• “No man would ever listen to them”
• “They are not as intelligent as men”
• “There has never been a women ruler of Tibet because men are better”
These are just a few of the good monks comments. Some were so bad against women the author of the Buddhism Guide just couldn’t bear to repeat them.
Tibetan Buddhism on women: lower class, can’t become a Buddha, as the Buddha himself intimated, less intelligent…
Buddhism is as patriarchal and misogynistic as the Abrahamic religions… hardly enlightened, however the author of the Buddhism Guide above is hopeful that the 14th Dalai Lama will have the courage to come back as a woman… and make it all better. Wow.
What a way to advance feminism.
So, in conclusion, whether he is such a nice kind guy or not, he holds ridiculously primitive and absurd beliefs about the soul, reincarnation (he can not only decide where to come back, but what gender), a whole host of supernatural entities we didn’t even get to in this post, and practices astrology and divination… with dough balls.
The crux of the reincarnation religion’s thinking whether Buddhism, Hinduism, or other variants and the myriads of differing sects they each contain is that 3,000 year old suppositions still take precedence over modern knowledge.
Not terribly enlightened.
He may be a kind man, but he is as deluded as they come.
Promoting absurdities and legitimizing reverence for old ideas merely because they are ancient is not a force for good in this world.
End Religion Now.