Does Anarchism Have To Mean Anti-Religion?

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Boris Badenov
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May 25 2010 19:02
Matt_efc wrote:
Although there was no doubt a class system which Taoism came into conflict with (theres various taoist rebellions etc) it never was able (maybe because of its historical limitation) to get to the idea of self management.

Naturally, because the historical conditions were different. In a society where the idea of equality has not taken root, as it has in bourgeois society thanks to the rise of the market system, albeit only abstractly and hypocritically, the notion of communism is impossible.
The daoists may have been ahead of their time in terms of emphasizing self-knowledge, active inquiry into the nature of reality and the shunning of meaningless dogma and ritual, but they were certainly not "egalitarians." And neither are the Buddhists for that matter (although today various ham-fisted attempts to wed Buddhism to "radical" politics do exist, but are irrelevant)

Farran
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May 25 2010 19:03

Shitdamn your blunt. Straight to the point though, which is always good.

gypsy
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May 25 2010 19:06
Elly wrote:
Buddhism: the religion which is okay for leftists to worship.

Exported under the guise of new-age spirtitualism and meditation, its one of the most disgusting religions.

Why one of the most disgusting? Out of interest.

Farran
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May 25 2010 19:07

Agreed. Im curious about that too.

Matt_efc
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May 25 2010 19:08

Which is basically what I concluded, in the final paragraph I think. Its an interesting thought excercise, but nothing beyond. There is no Anarcho-communism neatly hiding in history...thats kind of the point of developing a praxis.

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Elly
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May 25 2010 19:32

Well I think a religion which argues that suffering is unavoidable (and of course, violence is wrong, so no hope in changing anything, since anger is also wrong, and since one must avoid sensual pleasures) but the result of selfishness, hence workers must only stop being selfish, respect and obey authority, and achieve enlightenment... is fundamentally reactionary. Along with its views on homosexuality and women, and various lefties adoration of the Dalai Lama, I find it pretty fucking ridiculous that Western Leftists, not born into it, would think that it is something that they can pick up and mold with their political views. To be honest, I think its just like picking up some spiritualist trash from some foreign country and appropriating it because it sounds different, not because of some critical understanding of what it promotes, and because becoming a Catholic just wouldn't be chic, but hey, when its from whateverthefuckistan it becomes so much more cooler.

Boris Badenov
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May 25 2010 19:54
Elly wrote:
Well I think a religion which argues that suffering is unavoidable

I am not particularly keen on defending Buddhism, but I think this is misleading. The concept of suffering in Buddhism basically amounts to the inadequateness and unsatisfactoriness that we all feel for a number of reasons (shitty job, failed relationships, dysfunctional families). It basically amounts to this: "..we men, with the high claims of our civilization and under the pressure of our repressions, find reality generally quite unsatisfactory" (Freud). Obviously this is not a very politically (nevermind class-) conscious concept, but I don't see anything reactionary about it. If anything it's acknowledging that things aren't just fine if you behave and do what's expected, and are a good worker.

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(and of course, violence is wrong, so no hope in changing anything)

Pacifism is in no way unique to Buddhism (and as with all religions it is more in word than in deed), so why does this make it uniquely "disgusting"?

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since anger is also wrong, and since one must avoid sensual pleasures

Again, I don't think this is wholly accurate. Anger and sensuality are seen as taboo in most buddhist traditions, but they are not "thou shall nots." Tantric buddhism is for example a strand that wholly embraces sensuality and sexuality as a means to "enlightenment." Anger is not in itself seen as a sin, but what I think a "philosophical Buddhist" (because the religious practice is often not the same as the philosophy as I'm sure you will agree) would argue is that one must understand the causation patterns that bring about anger. In other words anger for a morally just purpose is a good thing; spazzing out and doing whatever the fuck is not. Obviously this stance can be used to defend reactionary practices like obedience to priests and so forth, but then again rich Christians are not particularly prone to giving everything away either for some reason.

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but the result of selfishness, hence workers must only stop being selfish, respect and obey authority, and achieve enlightenment

Ceasing from being selfish is not what the point is. Instead of being an absolute egotist (something like Objectivism let's say) or a completely "selfless" saint (which is only an ideal, kind of like imitatio Christi for Christians), you are supposed to come to a new understanding of self by reflecting on the interconnectedness and the mutual dependence (the two most fundamental concepts in Buddhist theory) of human beings. Obviously there is no class analysis here, and in a capitalist society the mutualism that Buddhism advocates can easily be used to support reactionary politics, but then what religion claims to be built on class analysis (except for the religion of academic Marxism perhaps).
In short, I don't think Buddhism is better or worse than other organized religions.

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Along with its views on homosexuality and women, and various lefties adoration of the Dalai Lama, I find it pretty fucking ridiculous that Western Leftists, not born into it, would think that it is something that they can pick up and mold with their political views. To be honest, I think its just like picking up some spiritualist trash from some foreign country and appropriating it because it sounds different, not because of some critical understanding of what it promotes, and because becoming a Catholic just wouldn't be chic, but hey, when its from whateverthefuckistan it becomes so much more cooler.

This part I agree with, but it's not unique to Buddhism, and orientalism is not limited to the left.

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Elly
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May 25 2010 20:32
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I am not particularly keen in defending Buddhism, but I think this is misleading. The concept of suffering in Buddhism basically amounts to the inadequateness and unsatisfactoriness that we all feel for a number of reasons (shitty job, failed relationships, dysfunctional families). It basically amounts to this: "..we men, with the high claims of our civilization and under the pressure of our repressions, find reality generally quite unsatisfactory" (Freud). Obviously this is not a very politically (nevermind class-) conscious concept, but I don't see anything reactionary about it. If anything it's acknowledging that things aren't just fine if you behave and do what's expected, and are a good worker.

If Wiki is a reliable source:

According to the Pali Tipitaka[30] and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:

1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
2. Suffering is caused by craving. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.

So, it does present suffering as an illusion.

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Anger and sensuality are seen as taboo in most buddhist traditions, but they are not "thou shall nots."

To quote Thich Nhat Hanh:

Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

Sexual expression should not take place without love and a long term commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Obviously like all religions there's a dichotomy between what they preach and what they actually do.

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In short, I don't think Buddhism is better or worse than other organized religions.

Probably, but its more disgusting than other religions because its an organized religion, a state-religion and one that some leftists have a fetish for.

Farran
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May 25 2010 20:28

I hardly see the buddist religion to be on the same scale as the catholic religion who actualy weild some political power.

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Elly
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May 25 2010 20:34

Of course Buddhism holds some political sway particularly in Burma and Thailand.

Boris Badenov
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May 25 2010 20:36

I don't disagree with what the wikipedia article has to say but the Sanskrit dukkha simply doesn't mean the same thing that suffering means in English. It is not the suffering of getting your ass kicked. It is the yearning for something, which if followed by failure to acquire that something, leads to feelings of alienation, rejection and so forth. The elimination of craving means understanding this inevitable causation process, and training yourself to avoid become completely hopeless and disillusioned.
Precisely because material causation and a material understanding of the world play such an important part in Buddhism, especially early Mahayana, you will not see self-induced deprivation or mortification of the flesh advocated in any sutra associated with that school (for what is essentially a strict materialist worldview from a Buddhist perspective see the writings of Nagarjuna, who I would argue is an important thinker that should not be ignored just because Buddhism as organized religion is reactionary and because in the West it means hippie bullshit).

That Thich Nhat Hanh guy is predictably puritanical, moralistic and simple-minded, but I wouldn't call it disgusting. After all it is saying that you should respect the wishes of your partner and not to expect a perfect relationship and be accepting of that.

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because its an organized religion, a state-religion

Nothing outstanding there.

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and one that some leftists have a fetish for.

IMO only insofar as you feel some sort of connection to them and feel this represents a "betrayal" on their part. I for one am not very concerned with what leftists think or do, no more so than I am with the current political program of the national Social Democratic party.

Farran
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May 25 2010 20:52

So in a world full of religion would Individualist Anarchism not prove more successful?

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Elly
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May 25 2010 20:57

I don't think I equated suffering with merely physical harm. Its a failure to meet a craving, hence it is the craving which must be removed for suffering to be removed. But this is, IMO, wholly reactionary; there is no universal alienation or dissatisfaction that human beings feel separate from the society in which they are formed. The point isn't to change how we react to failing to meet our 'cravings' but to change the conditions which inhibit our success. In short, the Buddhist answer is to just change your frame-of-mind so that you won't become 'completely hopeless and disillusioned', whereas I think that is just closing your eyes to reality and that the revolutionary thing would be to change the things which would cause hopelessness and disillusion to begin with.

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Nothing outstanding there.

Well...yes it is. You can count the number of organized religions on one hand. You yourself said that "If the Church (any Church) would have no power whatsoever as a social institution, if it would be more like a knitting club than a bastion of reaction, I would not be against it." Obviously a religion being a state-religion is something quite different to one that isn't. That doesn't make Buddhism different from other state-organized religions, but it does make it different from other religions.

Boris Badenov
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May 25 2010 21:16
Elly wrote:
That doesn't make Buddhism different from other state-organized religions

That's what I meant by "nothing outstanding"

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But this is, IMO, wholly reactionary; there is no universal alienation or dissatisfaction that human beings feel. The point isn't to change how we react to failing to meet our 'cravings' but to change the conditions which inhibit our success. In short, the Buddhist answer is to just change your frame-of-mind so that you won't become 'completely hopeless and disillusioned', whereas I think that is just closing your eyes to reality and that the revolutionary thing would be to change the things which would cause hopelessness and disillusion to begin with.

Yes fair enough, but I don't think that the concept of suffering is in this context as reactionary as you make it out to be. First of all, yes there is a universal dissatisfaction with life; this is not to say that things would be just as bad if I didn't have to sell my labour for a living, but even under the shiniest communist sun, I would still experience lack, unhappiness and so forth. Reality will always fall short of what we desire from it. This is not to say that we should not right a wrong, or fight to eliminate a state of rampant abuse and inequality, and I don't think the Buddhist texts are saying that either.
From what I've read on the history of early Buddhist thought (I am by far not as well informed as to what Buddhism actually looks like on the ground today), changing your perspective without understanding what the root of the problem is is pretty much useless. You can say "from now on I will not desire sex and fancy foods anymore" but this will simply engender more 'suffering' as craving sets in. The key is to understand the effect that certain actions and emotions have on you and cut at the root; in the most down-to-earth sense, meditation is nothing but introspective analysis.
Now obviously I don't think sexual abstinence is a moral ideal, but I can see why it would be so in a traditional patriarchal culture like the one that Buddhism first appeared in. However you don't need to limit yourself to that example. We can take a different one; let's say you have a real shitty job that is making you unhappy. The Buddhist solution is not to hope that your soul will have it better in the next life (because there is no soul - anatman), or to pray to God (because gods are largely treated as superstition and myths), it is to grasp the problem at the root. A radical investigation into why work makes us miserable will, if taken all the way, lead to a view whereby it is not individual decision or character that is responsible for one's misery but the structural organization of work itself. Obviously not many Buddhists will come to this conclusion for a variety of social factors (one of them being priests/monks telling them to obey authority), but it easier to arrive at this way than if you have a theist worldview whereby your unhappiness is automatically "God's will" and so forth. So I would say that the so-called "four noble truths" of Buddhism are in fact very conducive (although obviously not essential) to your conclusion that we need to "change the conditions which inhibit our success."

Just in case you're suspecting me of leftist fetishism of Buddhism, I am not mentioning all this because I think Buddhism is something that would be useful to a revolutionary perspective. It is not. But I don't think you should throw out the baby with the bathwater either. Buddhist philosophy is not simply an apology for the status quo, no more than Christian philosophy is. There is plenty to be found in there that is both original, thought-provoking, and useful.

AuthoritarianAn...
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May 25 2010 21:29

I believe it's because religious institutions seek to impose a "world order", they have their own view on what the world should be like and will attempt to manipulate and control it towards that end.

I have nothing against people practicing whatever religious beliefs they hold, but i am against religious institutions and organised religion. I don't see a viable argument against letting people think what they want (as long as nobody is coming to harm or being exploitated in any way shape or form), if you go down that road you might aswell wish for a 1984 style existence.

Boris Badenov
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May 25 2010 21:38

btw, this thread

is GOLD, JERRY. GOLD. I miss Bob.

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Nyarlathotep
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May 25 2010 23:54
Elly wrote:
Well I think a religion which argues that suffering is unavoidable

Wrong, the whole point of Buddhist spiritual development is transcendence from suffering.

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violence is wrong

Wrong, plenty of Buddhists use violence to achieve political goals. Ask a Tamil.

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so no hope in changing anything, since anger is also wrong

Wrong, you don't have to be overcome with emotion to make a political change, in fact it's an impediment.

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Along with its views on homosexuality and women

Irrelevant. Marx was also a homophobe but that doesn't make his criticism of capitalist economics any less valid.

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and various lefties adoration of the Dalai Lama

Irrelevant, those "lefties" are nothing but social-patriot stooges who are in no way a part of the radical left.

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I find it pretty fucking ridiculous that Western Leftists, not born into it, would think that it is something that they can pick up and mold with their political views.

Irrelevant unless you are a cultural-nationalist fascist who thinks that people should only embrace intellectual traditions they were "born into"

Elly wrote:
If Wiki is a reliable source

It's not. Do some real research.

Elly wrote:
Another good reason to ignore dialectics.

Another good reason why you are an admin - no flaming and not a Marxist

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May 26 2010 00:02
Quote:
or to pray to God (because gods are largely treated as superstition and myths)

Not to disagree with your overall argument but I thought devas (a.k.a. gods) in Buddhist ideology were perceived as real, conscious beings. Hence why they are listed as one of the states of samsara alongside humans, asuras, (demigods or titans) beasts, pretas, (ghosts) and narakas. (hell-beings)

Thus the reason Buddhists choose not to worship devas is because as spiritual humanists they perceive humanity as a higher state of consciousness.

Keep in mind this is hardly my area of expertise

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May 26 2010 00:09
BigLittleJ wrote:
obviously there aren't souls made of atoms

Can modern microcosmology really be employed to definitively establish such a statement?

Matt_efc wrote:
When [Taoism] was conceived of there was no “working class” and, while there might have been a state, it certainly didn’t interfere as much in the daily lives of the people as it began to with the development of industrial capitalism.

Agreed, however, in my book, that makes Taoist philosophy more pertinent now than it was back then....

bootsy
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May 26 2010 00:11

Nyarlathotep said:

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Wrong, plenty of Buddhists use violence to achieve political goals. Ask a Tamil.

Tamils are predominantly Hindu, from wikipedia:

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Today, most Hindus are Tamil and they constitute a majority in Northern Sri Lanka.

That said the Sinhalese are Buddhist and have been perfectly willing to exercise ruthless violence against Tamils, so your point still stands.

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May 26 2010 00:34
bootsy wrote:
That said the Sinhalese are Buddhist and have been perfectly willing to exercise ruthless violence against Tamils

Err...that was my point, hence why you should ask a Tamil about Buddhist violence, since they've experienced it first-hand.

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lamb
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May 26 2010 00:45

I almost find it hard to believe one can become interested in Marx and critiquing capitalism without having questioned their spirituality or whatever. In other words, the radical community probably doesn't have to worry about organized religion proponents, but rather people who have contrived some nice story for themselves for why certain things happen or what might happen after they die. But, even still, I'm doubtful someone could have a material view of social relations but still find themselves content with making up stories/borrowing from various ideas about what might happen, etc. How seriously could it be taken when you've acknowledged that religion is appropriated throughout history, etc.?

bootsy
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May 26 2010 01:41
Nyarlathotep wrote:
bootsy wrote:
That said the Sinhalese are Buddhist and have been perfectly willing to exercise ruthless violence against Tamils

Err...that was my point, hence why you should ask a Tamil about Buddhist violence, since they've experienced it first-hand.

Oh right, I thought you meant Tamils were Buddhist and are willing to exercise violence during the civil war. Nevermind.

Mike Harman
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May 26 2010 07:58

Japanese ninjas (Iga clan etc.) were also buddhist, as would plenty of protagonists during the warring states period have been.

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cantdocartwheels
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May 26 2010 08:56
Farran wrote:
Being an anarchist myself I have begun to notice than many anarchist groups take an anti-religious stance. Surely Anarchism would suggest that someone is free to do what they will? I am personaly an Atheist but know many religious people who think along the same anarchist lines as I?

Answers would be much appreciated!

No I don;t think anarchism should take an anti-religious stance. For example i'm in solfed, and we have no problem with religious individuals being in our organisation, however, we don't allow members of religious hierarchies, ie bishops, priests, imams etc
Personally I think this is part of a sensible middle ground, obviously if someone joins a local anarchist group/branch whose christian/muslim etc then thats no problem, if they're a fundie and beleive racist or ultra homophobic shite and go around preaching at people, the you'd probably want to kick them out, just as you would anyone else who just came in with some weird hobby horse to push.
For an example of where anarchism and religion co-existed, i would say its worth looking at the early IWW.

slothjabber
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May 26 2010 20:11

Or Tolstoy.

OK he was an individualist not a class-struggle anarchist, but even so.

There have been all sorts of religious who have influenced Anarchism, the most famous probably being the Anabaptists and the Levellers.

But I think that the AF, for instance, is right that class-struggle anarchism is meaningless if 'magic man can fix it'. But then, I'm a materialist.

Ariege
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May 26 2010 20:45

eek

http://www.angelfire.com/music/djintellect/anarchism.html

Examples of religious anarchists aside:

I pretty much agree with the sentiment expressed above that we don't need to concern ourselves with people's spiritual feelings as long as they are moving our way socially. The fact that neighbours, friends, comrades or whatever have different gods or no god at all should be the last thing that gets in the way of working together towards and in a free society....... the problem is that the intolerance of very many religionists puts a pragmatic atheist such as myself in a rather uncomfortable position...... this becomes even trickier if your idea is that one day, in the not too distant future, one uniform replacement for global capitalism will carry all before it.

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888
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May 27 2010 01:17
Elly wrote:
Buddhism: the religion which is okay for leftists to worship.

Exported under the guise of new-age spirtitualism and meditation, its one of the most disgusting religions.

Its traditional Eastern interpretation is just as bad really. Meditation on its own however is perfectly fine. See this random forum quote for some Buddhist thinking on wealth:

some Thai guy reacting to someone's anger about their own poverty wrote:
Health wealth and happiness, are all to do with Karma, destiny and all that kind of thing... If YOU have a problem with other people being more fortunate than yourself in any of these realms, you should look inward for the the cause of your resentment. Remember YOU could be one of those rich people you detest so much in the not too distant future, just by changing your perspectives and perceptions. Now would't that be nice? Don't bother arguing with me either, but spend your energy on finding yourself. I feel very sorry for you...

Having said that there are some interesting concepts in Buddhism, just as there are in Christianity.

Some people seem to think that the Protestant work aided capitalism's development, but I think that Hinduism and Buddhism are potentially far more favourable to accumulating wealth than any form of Christianity (besides it was the means of production not any ideological factors that led to the birth of capitalism).

Boris Badenov
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May 27 2010 01:34
888 wrote:
Some people seem to think that the Protestant work aided capitalism's development, but I think that Hinduism and Buddhism are potentially far more favourable to accumulating wealth than any form of Christianity

Go on.

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May 27 2010 02:31

Well my evidence is very anecdotal and I'm hardly a religious expert. But the whole karma idea can be used to justify some people being much richer than others - they are merely being rewarded for past deeds, just as poor people/lower castes are being punished (in fact I had an argument with a student Hare Krishna many years ago about this). See the quote in my last post. Second, I remember flicking through a friend's book about Osho or some other Indian guru/cult leader. There was a story about the guru giving away one of his fleet of Rolls Royces on a whim to a stranger. The justification/defence of this act included a diatribe against Christianity for being "anti-wealth" or some such, and that's why a 'Westerner' would find this act shocking, and it went on about how the mystical East isn't against material wealth unlike the bad Christians.

I've never read The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism but I heard someone give an outline of its argument on some documentary, and I thought to myself "if capitalism had emerged in Asia instead they would have explained it using Hinduism/Buddhism's ideas as compared to anti-wealth Christianity/Islam"