Fear, Escapism and the Nature of the Times

Yes, I tend to agree with that.

I brought up the issue of scary world events not to provoke a discussion of engaged Buddhist activism, but just because I was wondering whether the veer away from the core spiritual ideals and practices of the Buddha’s path into more esoteric subjects and debates about cosmology and textual literalism might not reflect a kind of spiritual despair. If people start to feel that the liberation in this very life that the Buddha helped so many achieve has become a remote and nearly impossible personal goal, perhaps they are drawn into these other matters?

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Hey @DKervick,

I totally get you. Perhaps that’s why I’ve posted less on here over the last few months. I’ve been grieving. Feeling a bit helpless.

On the other hand, I truly believe we need to ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. Don’t wait around for someone else to post about what you think is important. Start a meaningful, positive post yourself. Make peace, be kind, be gentle in your posts. Raise the bar.

I had this sort of ‘revelation’ last year when certain events occurred that rocked my faith. I’m always waiting for someone else to show up and lead the way, when in fact it’s me.

It’s like in Harry Potter when he realizes it was actually his future self who saved him from the dementors, not the miraculous vision of his dead father he had believed it was (lol, apologies if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Sometimes it takes a crisis at the 11th hour to realize we are the ones who could save ourselves all along.

Just to switch into mod mode for a second: please remember that we recently introduced a new guideline that the Watercooler is a chilled out place for friendly discussion, related to Buddhism. Not the place to discuss politics or point fingers, so thanks for keeping to that :pray:


I also think its interesting how many alt-right Buddhists one can find online nowadays! But yes, I agree - these are troubling times, and we should perhaps be focusing more on those aspects of the Dhamma that can bring us together, and which will facilitate a healthy response to the world’s troubles.

I think a lot of the discussions about cosmology have been reactions to the secular Buddhist project of distilling Buddhism down to only those tenets and interpretations that agree with preconceived notions/ a materialist worldview. I’m not trying to blame anyone, or start back up the debates - we all have have different views and all of our views change over time - I’m just making an observation about why I think these kinds of discussions have proliferated as of late.

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Thanks Cara,

I’ve been so conflicted about posting. In some sense I feel like I’ve been backed into a corner with nothing permissible left to say. I think others have also been reduced to silence by similar constraints. When I say what I think, I worry it tends to offend people or hurt their feelings. It’s also hard for me to navigate all of the different cultural traditions, educational levels and presuppositions. I know I can sound really arrogant sometimes.

But on the other hand, I devoted my life to seeking an education guided by reason and a respect for evidence and the truth, and so I sometimes get so exasperated. In my country, I see so much backwardness and irrationality, in some cases promoted by religious denominations, but not just the religious. It has led us to a very bad place. I hate to think of Buddhism becoming “part of the problem” by clinging to backward and reactionary textual conservatism and pseudo-science - especially when those aspects of the tradition seem so much less important to me then the central path toward liberation. What next? Are we to assume that because the Buddha didn’t talk about the climate changing, that can’t happen? Or that because he described far-off futures with elephants in them, elephants can’t go extinct? Once people start believing they are in possession of some mysterious “higher science” based on ancient texts and lore, hope for sensible approaches to worldly problems and suffering becomes more difficult.


Just be honest to yourself and do not mince words. A knife can only be sharpened thru hard contact with rough surface. The odds of survival in combat is directly proportional to the ability to handle the nastiest insults from your drill sergeant. Mara can kill you because he minces words all the time.

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Hi @DKervick

I’m assuming you’re referring to this sort of topic: Past Buddhas, where in time and space do we place them?

I think one of the ways that we become part of the problem is when we demonstrate our irritation at others for talking about things that they see truth in, have belief in or enjoy discussing. Sometimes being part of the solution might mean having this sort of self-talk:

“Hmmm…isn’t it nice that there’s a safe place in this crazy dangerous world where people can discuss things like this. It’s not for me and I don’t really get it or think it’s clever, but these folks aren’t harming anyone. May they be well and happy. May I not want to take their simple escapism away from them. May I remember that they might be contributing in many diverse ways, that I have no idea about, towards making this terrible world a happy one, and this type of innocent diversion is their down time.”

Difficult for whom?

Why would it be difficult for you? Let people be. Why become another person telling others how they should perceive or interpret.

Argue but why do so angrily? State your case without trying to put others’ views down, if you must; but if you see that a group or a topic is based on a particular assumption that you don’t gel with…start another one that is more in line with your views and also in line with this forum’s guidelines and the EBTs (because that’s what we’re mostly about)

…but don’t put people down or their beliefs down because you’re frustrated with how you perceive them or how you perceive their beliefs or what you think their reasons are for believing whatever it is they believe.

I’m sure everyone on this planet has at some point felt some anxiety about what is commonly reported in the media these days. It’s an unpleasant feeling and it’s an awful state of affairs. But getting frustrated by what people discuss on this forum is, forgive me, actually mimicking some of the bad behaviours of those attention seeking tyrants who are also seeking to control how their people think.

We can’t take out our anger about the state of the world on each other. And getting angry about each other’s beliefs and putting them down, makes us no better than those who are using ideology/religion to cause strife on a larger scale.

May you be happy and find some peace in your heart. I’m sorry if I’ve been too blunt. I really do wish you well.


Kay, I think the worry I have about that kind of attitude is that we live in a world in which the well-being of others often depends on what beliefs we ourselves have, and also what procedures we rely on to form those beliefs. Fundamentalist belief-forming attitudes relying on the supposed inerrancy and supernormality of ancient texts and teachers are not just a personal choice. They will guide one’s actions in the world, and the the way people receive and process scientific information.

I think it is especially incumbent on those who are in a position to exercise intellectual leadership over large belief communities to educate responsibly, and to avoid promoting and empowering ignorance and backwardness.

It is concerning the search for solutions to the problems of the world hasn’t happened in this little forum so far. Shutting the computer and going out of one’s headspace more, might actually help the world more than getting heated. There are current affairs forums more suited for this endeavour than DD. In case Buddhist practice is important, consider the suffering that arises from attachment to ‘the way I want things to be’. I might add that having to associate with ‘those I find unpleasant’ is one of those types of sufferings the Buddha said we will all encounter. In any case I’m sure discussions of the metaphysical type cannot last much longer as most of it has been covered! We are more likely to have other EBT related topics to come (apart from yet another jhana thread, please).

with metta


I quite agree.

It’s particularly harmful when we take up arms against each other because of our views; even verbally.

Yes, up to a point. For example, if we believe that it is important to speak from loving kindness, we will do so and will therefore definitely be promoting…

…through creating a sense of safety and relief for them to make their own personal decisions about their faith.

The beauty of the Buddha’s teaching is that it is not a central tennant of the faith that we force others to believe what we believe. In that, it is subtly but markedly different.

I’m certainly not a believer in the promotion of anxiety, because people have different views about truth and what is reasonable. Let people say what they want. You say what you want; as long as, on this forum, you do so with general courtesy. Promote your views. But don’t seek to censor others for their views because of some perception about the value of your own.

Wishing you well, with peace :upside_down_face: :heartpulse:


Let’s take a concrete example Kay. Suppose some group of religious believers has the view, based on text and tradition, that praying to a certain diety over a vessel of water has the effect of purifying that water of all harmful and disease-causing defilements. So, following a monsoon storm, their practice in collecting water for drinking and bathing is to collect up the muddy water from puddles in large vessels, and then to pray over that water - rather than, for example, boiling it.

This practice is likely to kill people. And so a tolerant attitude of “to each, his own” in matters of belief and belief-formation might in this case be utterly irresponsible, and an enabler of unintentional homicide.

To love is to let go. Freedom is the biggest kindness we can give each other. Freedom from control. Freedom to be safe within ourselves and even when we die.

Death comes to us all. It is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being. Today if I had to choose what would hurt me the most out of death, and betrayal by a dear friend, I would say the betrayal would hurt the most.

To love is not to control or stifle each other’s right to be wrong.

To love is to love everything about this life and that means bringing love into the fact that we must die. What can there be to fear if we have cultivated love?

If there’s another life, we’re probably setting ourselves up well. If there isn’t, we bring that love into the process of dying and just enjoy/experience the ride to the final end.

But perhaps we view love differently? View does condition everything and two people can be using the same words, the same language, and still be talking about different things…and sometimes they don’t even realise this!

But it’s okay to have different views. To make mistakes and learn. I’ll make mine and you make yours and I suggest we let everyone else be in charge of theirs. Another beautiful thing about Buddhism is that we take personal responsibility for our growth and peace. :slight_smile:

Wishing you well, and space and freedom and many good vibes to explore within, in safety. :heartpulse:


I would hope that somebody is able to present them with an alternative view and argues persuasively in support of this alternative. But I would also hope that nobody forces them to take it up and that they will have the right to choose for themselves.

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If our being wrong only impacted our own lives, then everyone would have a right to be wrong, I suppose. But our views impact the way we treat others, too. And I don’t think we have any kind of right to treat them however we are simply inclined to treat them, acting on whatever views we have, no matter how irresponsibly formed they are.

Since we share this world with others, and the well-being of others depends on how we think and act, it seems to me we have a responsibility to make our view of the world as accurate as it can be made, at least if we choose to live in society, share our attitudes with others, and act in ways that impact others. An exception can be made, I suppose, for those who live their lives in hermetic seclusion to such an extent that their attitudes don’t impact others.

Simply standing by as parents kills their children out of ignorance, no matter how well-intentioned their actions might be, is not loving them it seems to me.

Yes, well that’s why I have come to think it is important to challenge, and argue persuasively against, anti-scientific or pseudo-scientific fundamentalism, and not simply sit back in silence as people spread such ways of thinking.

Yes, I quite agree.

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Please do go for it. And with as much love as you can bring to it. :upside_down_face::heartpulse::pray:t6:

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Seems a little paranoid. :slight_smile:

I just mean that people who other people look up to with respect have a special obligation to be responsible intellectual guides.

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:scream: :scream: THE INQUISITION !!!
:rowing_man: :rowing_man: :rowing_man:

Ok friend. I have no idea what you are saying, but enjoy saying it. :slight_smile: