Buddhists make lousy postmoderns

pluralism.jpgBuddhism has an eightfold path which should be followed when trying to avoid and reduce suffering.

  • Right View
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Diligence
  • Right Concentration
  • Right Livelihood

Sounds kinda dogmatic and preachy to me.  There are a whole lot of truth claims there. 

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It just shows that Christians aren’t the only ones making truth claims, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with making truth claims.  There is something self-refuting about making truth claims about why it is bad to make truth claims. 

8 thoughts on “Buddhists make lousy postmoderns”

  1. I would have to disagree with your analysis of Buddhism here. What do you mean by “truth”? Do you recognize the cultural values which may be inherent in what we label as “truth”? Do you recognize the differences in epistemology between Christianity and Buddhism — with separate methodologies as to what constitutes truth and what does not?

    As much as we protest to the contrary, we view our “truth” through a lens colored by our experiences and culture. This is not synonymous with your definition of post-modernism (that truth does not exist), but rather that truth eludes our limited human consciousness.

    Ultimately, I don’t think it is very useful to draw parallels between one faith tradition and another by assuming that the terms used are understood the same in both communities.


  2. “Sounds kinda dogmatic and preachy to me.”

    If that’s what you are used to hearing, then that’s what you’re gonna hear.

    You seem to, in that statement, conflate guiding principles with a claim to “Truth”. They are not The Eight Commandments.

    Neil said: I’m pretty sure that Buddhists think those claims conform to reality and should be followed.


  3. Truth is that which corresponds to reality.

    Just to be clear, I wasn’t dissing Buddhism (even though I don’t believe it corresponds to reality). I was tweaking the foolishness of postmodern thinking.

    If truth eludes our limited human consciousness, then I don’t suppose I should take any postmodern comments here seriously.


  4. Neil,

    You’re confusing Buddhism with post-modernism, and fail to recognize the cultural baggage in terms like “Truth”. “Truth” is cultural defined, and does not necessarily mean that “which corresponds with reality”. Your perspective is heavily influenced by the Reformation, Enlightenment, and Scientific Method. For someone who is always accusing others of making “strawmen”, this post is a clear example of one.

    Neil said: Once more: I’m not confusing Buddhism with postmodernism. My whole point was that they are different. Buddhists make lousy postmoderns because they make claims about how things really are.

    Again, truth is that which corresponds to reality. Using your definition, I should ignore everything you say because you aren’t even making a claim that it is true.

    So do you think what you typed is true? Do you think it reflects the way things really are? If yes, then you’ve refuted yourself and proved my point (thanks!). If not, then please stop typing things that you don’t believe are reflections of reality.


  5. I would have to agree with Mike. You’re setting up some strange strawmen here. the strawman that you “are pretty sure” about what the eightfold path means. I haven’t yet run into any christians who do understand them, let alone most lay practitioners of Buddhism.

    Buddhists “make claims about how things really are.” ? I really don’t know how to answer to that. Seems any philosophical or religious system does just that, make claims. some have evidence based on experience.

    Post-moderns , as you seem to differentiate, don’t make such claims? As I said in the post you haven’t posted, I do not understand your point.

    Neil said: Hi Doug – For some reasons your comments are going to my sp*m filter. Your email and IP address aren’t blacklisted so I don’t know why that is happening. I check the filter every couple days and will retrieve them if there aren’t too many to sift through.

    Re. your comments, I’m not sure what else to say. If I haven’t made my points clear thus far there is little hope of doing so now. Feel free to join in another thread.


  6. Hi Ditchu,

    I realize the title confused things a bit, but if you read carefully you’ll see that this post was actually dissing postmoderns, not Buddhists.

    And I don’t disrespect the other religions. I respect them by thoroughly examining their truth claims and pointing out where I find them to be in error. I do the same for Christian claims, examining them in light of scripture.

    What I find is that the “tolerant” ones really believe their position is true, but they fight for it in a wimpy way. They avoid confrontation by saying everything can be true, but they don’t really believe that.

    I admire people who stand up and defend their beliefs, even if I don’t agree with them. An example is the Muslim guy quoted in the middle of this post – Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/the-most-dangerous-idea-in-religion/

    “I wouldn’t believe in a religion if I didn’t believe it to be better than other religions. The notion of superiority and exclusivity is inherent to religious beliefs. It can be dangerous and not be dangerous.

    I do not admire those who lack the courage to defend what they believe.

    P.S. Do you think my religion (orthodox, Biblical Christianity, and specifically not Mormonism) is true? If not, should I be offended? Are you dissing me by saying so? I’m not offended, by the way. The whole point of my recent Mormon post was that the offense to me is pretending we’re the same while Mormons clearly believe we’re different. I’m not offended if they say we’re different. I’m offended if they say we’re the same while trying to convert me to what they know to be different.


  7. Neil,

    I think the post-moderns who are responding to this have overlooked one thing: That a person is to follow the RIGHT mindfulness, the RIGHT living, the RIGHT thinking, speech, action, etc. (RIGHT, meaning “proper,” not “right/left” politically). Question–who decides what’s “right?” And isn’t it arrogant to think we can know what is “right”?

    And as for their arguments about what truth is (“What is truth?” Hmmmm. I think I’ve heard that somewhere before)–there is nothing in that 8-fold path about “truth.” I guess they just make up their own–like your garden variety Postmodern/Emergent/Purpose-Driven.


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