Saturday, February 5, 2011
A LETTER TO A ZEN BUDDHIST
Thanks for your patient response. You opened yourself up more than I had expected you to do, and I really appreciate and respect that. However, I want to take a critical look at what you’ve written. I fear that it might be painful, so please accept my apologies beforehand.
We both embrace the idea of a “willingness to take the world as it is.” As such, we believe that the world embodies truths that we can learn through science and in other ways! This is why I have a problem with you statement:
• “Reality is illusion and here science will back up buddhist claims, if everything on earth is in constant change then reality is an illusion.”
Instead, the very fact that everything isn’t in constant change allows for science. If everything was always changing, there would be no science and science would be able to say NOTHING about the world. Even to say that “everything on earth is in constant change” is self-contradictory. Your statement is in constant change and therefore invalid. Further, if “reality is an illusion,” then everything you’re saying is illusory, and I am left to wonder why you are even making statements.
Consequently, you say about life, “we don't attach to it.” We Christians also believe that there is a higher reality and so we approach life somewhat tentatively, but we do attach to it. We are taught to value people, relationships, family, commitments, love and even work. We are required to stand up for the victims and to visit those in need. Yes, I realize that Buddhism is also a very ethical system, but the teachings that the world is illusory and that we shouldn’t attach to it undermines these ethical commitments and responsibilities.
You choose “metaphysical uncertainty.” I’ve tried to argue that life requires us to search and to arrive at some degree of certainty. We need certainty to navigate life, make decisions, stand against injustice and victimization, to open our mouths, to love others and to know the right way to do it. We also need certainty in order to find cognitive rest, peace and assurance. In this regard, I fear that the Buddhist practice of mindfulness represents a purposeful and misguided dissociation from reality, a denial of life and the things that are important about it, and an unwillingness to deal meaningfully with our problems, sins and faults.
I pray that you might reconsider some of your conclusions and set your heart on pursuing truth.