One Among Many

The self in social context

Letter From Delhi

The search for compassionate rejection

cancle of enlightenment
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You don't have to be the Dalai Lama to tell people that life is about change. ~ John Cleese

My critical observations regarding His Holiness, the D. Lama, have brought forth commentaries from the unamused. Their shared tenor is that I fail to appreciate the depth of Buddhist teaching and the sublimity of Mr. Lama’s wisdom. The first charge hits the mark because I am not a student of theology – nor have I claimed to be. But then again, I did not object to religious matters per se, only to dogma contradicting science, as in the case of reincarnation. Of course, everyone is free to believe in reincarnation (or that cats have precisely 9 lives), but it’s ignorant to portray reincarnation as fact. The second charge also hits the mark if one is willing to equate the trivial with the wise. I, for one, am not. Consider Mr. Lama’s posting on his Facebook page on October 1, 2013:

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"We need to be clear which emotions are harmful and which are helpful; then cultivate those that are conducive to peace of mind. Often, due to a lack of knowledge, we accept anger and hatred as natural parts of our minds. This is an example of ignorance being the source of our problems. To reduce our destructive emotions we strengthen the positive ones; such emotional hygiene can contribute to a healthier society."

Tautological trivialities. True perhaps, but Bubba gave the same advice ante Lama. My question has always been (for about a year or so, since I tuned in to Mr. L.) how it is that the holy man has been such a success in the status game of the West. To my mind, the charge that one ought not question His HDL unless one has impeccable credentials in Tibetan Buddhism has a reverse formulation: Why should anyone without these credentials accept what he says? Being invited to accept his message, while being discouraged from questioning it, seems like a call to sheepishness.

Now consider the following paragraph, taken from a paper I received today from New Delhi. The cover letter came with a request to promote the manuscript, which I am herewith doing, if only partially.

As life is beyond matter, Psychology is beyond both matter and life. As life behaves closely with matter, Psychology behaves closely with life. If life is fed by matter, Psychology is fed by life. Moreover, by the learning and accumulation of Psychology, one gets the abundance of life. But division, split, friction, conflict and motion are the common factors for matter, life and Psychology. If division, split, friction, conflict and motion are in relation with matter, another type of division, split, friction, conflict and motion are in relation with life and still another type of division, split, friction, conflict and motion—all these five actions internally happening in a man within half a second as the uniqueness of Psychology. If because of fervent heat and Higher Nuclear Energy, matter came into existence, and if through the nuclear stages life came into existence, through the pre-nuclear stage Psychology came into function. As through the firstly happened bursting out of the Voice Power if the nuclear stage came into being as the realm of life, through the firstly happened division, split, friction, conflict and motion the pre-nuclear stage came into being as the realm of Psychology [Finally through fervent heat and Higher Nuclear Energy, the Universal ocean of unquenchable fire burst out and gushed out as the realm for the setting of the Physical universe of matter].

This is not triviality; it’s gibberish. But then again, this could just be my opinion, born from decades of confinement in the straightjacket of Western metaphysics. I am curious to learn how the apologists of the Dalai L. might regard this paragraph. To my Western mind, they have a choice between [A] compassionately accepting it, and [B] examining its flaws. If A, then it seems that any position should be compassionately accepted, and that would include mine. If B, then it seems les apologistes do have critical standards, which might then be also applied to what the DL writes. Either way, I see the potential for illumination – or enlightenment, if you will.

 

Joachim Krueger, Ph.D., is a social psychologist at Brown University who believes that rational thinking and socially responsible behavior are attainable goals.

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