[Buddha-l] Re: buddhist music

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue May 3 10:33:41 MDT 2005

On Tue, 2005-05-03 at 06:22 -0700, Michael Wilson wrote:

> Rich, I thought "guru" also had a meaning like "heavy"
> implying weight to thought.

Thoughts don't have any weight, do they? As I recall, Dharmakirti
weighed a body just before and just after it died, and he discovered no
difference in weight, thereby proving that the mind is weightless and
therefore not a physical phenomenon.

> I like the Koyaanisqatsi music by Glass very much. 

George Carlin once observed "The only good to come out of religion is
the music." As I look around at all the havoc being wrought by religion
these days, I think he may be right.

> How about I say I also know native americans who like
> the buddhist "mindfulness meditation" very much. 

Last semester I had a Navajo woman in my Buddhist philosophy class. It
was an interesting experience. She found herself reacting very
negatively to Buddhism, because she said the emphasis on renunciation of
family and friends was the exact antithesis of the Navajo emphasis on
walking in harmony. She also found the Buddhist tendency to analysis
very off-putting. I told her she might find some forms of East Asian
Buddhism more to her liking than abhidharma and the Buddhist logicians
that were the main focus of that particular course. Another part of her
aversion to Buddhism was its atheism, which she said went directly
against both her Navajo beliefs and her Christian upbringing. 

What is traditional Navajo and what is Christian? These things have
become hoplessly mixed together. I read in a recent edition of the
Navajo Times that the Navajo Council just passed a new regulation
condemning all same-sex unions, saying that homosexuality is a violation
of the ways of the creator and therefore a violation of the Navajo way.
Some critics of the new regulation are saying that the Navajo Council
has no idea what the Navajo way is any more, because they have fallen
under the spell of fundamentalist Christians. The Navajo Times reports
that the Navajo people are dividing into bitterly opposed factions over
this issue of homosexuality. Harmony has been disturbed. It will take a
lot of ceremonies to re-establish it. This makes me profoundly sad. I
can't help thinking almost all of the native peoples in the Americas
were much better off before the Christian missionaries got to them. I'd
like to think they might have been better off if Buddhists had got to
them, but maybe not. Maybe none of us are better off when we try to take
on the ways of other people. 

A famous Apache elder from New Mexico, whose name I now forget, has said
he finds it both strange and distressing that so many white people are
turning to sweat lodges and trying to learn native drumming and
chanting. He says "White people will never heal themselves with out
medicine. They must return to their own roots and discover the medicine
their elders used." Carl Jung said the same thing. It makes me wonder
why all these white people are trying to be Buddhist instead of pagans.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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