[Buddha-l] Claude Anshin Thomas/ approaches to "nonduality"

curt curt at cola.iges.org
Tue May 10 16:11:07 MDT 2005

Richard P. Hayes wrote:

> Halbfass? He was a German who took root in Pennsylvania, which I guess 
> makes him Pennsylvania Deutsch. He was a wonderful man with a 
> brilliant mind. He was a fastidious scholar but also quite a good 
> thinker, quite capable of original thought.

Amen to that, Brother Hayes. Reading Halbfass is definitely taking my
mind places it hasn't gone before.

> Isn't that what religion is all about, the almost total absence of any 
> kind of critical thinking? And isn't Buddhism a religion? Should we be 
> surprised to find that Buddhists are about as uncritical as members of 
> other religious communities?

To me this is more than a rhetorical question - it is a truly open question.
Is there something inherent in "Religion" that requires the abandonment
of critical thinking? Sometimes I think so - but other times I am sure that
that is wrong. Proclus I think is the one thinker/writer who makes this
ambiguity come out in its full glory. There is no doubting that he was
a master of critical thinking (he has had a major influence on modern
mathematics and science as well as philosophy). But he was also a full-
blown mystic who painted (with words) one of the most complex systems
of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo that the world has ever seen. Plotinus, too -
although I think his metaphysics weren't quite as wild and wooly as 
One thing I know for sure: Christianity has done a job on all of our heads.
While other religions certainly have been guilty of encouraging gullibility,
they have not (with one or two exceptions) gone down the road of torturing
people simply for asking certain questions. The kind of outrageous out-and-
out thought-control that is deeply imbedded in the history of Christianity
is virtually unknown in most other religions.

> Doesn't buddha-l have a policy that anyone who writes the name Dick 
> Cheney without saying something derogatory is immediately put on 
> probation?

I assure you that I intended only disrespect.

> Is Buddhism an major influence anywhere? Has it ever been? Or has the 
> name of Buddhism, like the names of most other religions, been 
> hijacked by power-hungry charlatans eager to line their own pockets 
> while enslaving the poor? Come to think of it, why isn't Dick Cheney a 
> Buddhist? Don't you think he would fit right in?

I am not quite as cynical as that. I rarely encounter anyone who is more 
than I am. I don't even like Mother Theresa (whom I consider to have been
essentially a right-wing political activist and a propagandist for the 
worst policies and positions of the Catholic Church), for example. But I 
think that mainstream Buddhism in Asia has been nothing more than a tool
in the hands of the ruling elites (although it certainly has been that). 
And I do think
that some of the vague and naive ideas that western vegetarian pacifist 
have about "the power of Buddhism to heal the horrors of war" (for 
instance) are not
without some possible justification. Its just that I would like to see a 
more nuanced
approach that doesn't feed into the "Shangrila" type romanticizations of 
Those romantic/orientalist fantasies are a sure sign that people are not 
looking for
meaningful responses to real problems - but are rather looking for 
something soothing
to believe in that makes them feel better.

- Curt

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