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2/13/09

Does Buddha Apply to The Fast-Changing Modern World?

Does Buddha Apply to The Fast-Changing Modern World?

I liked what Pankaj Mishra said, but I cannot fully concur with his analysis. I find it rather simplistic, as it uses a few simple precepts to explain a world that our understanding yields as far more complicated than in Buddha's time. I have no doubt that we are troubled by everything Buddha talked about, and I find in myself--as well as in the world--the burning source of his Fire Sermon, but research in cognitive psychology and brain science provide knowledge of consciousness, seeing, and perceptions unknown to Buddha, who had only his own mind to subjectively examine. (He had a question, If all is perception where is the perceiver? Modern research has a different take on it, which reveals the question as not altogether mysterious.)

Still, here is the poser:

If the Christian religion is increasingly seen as irrelevant by some Americans and Europeans, what about Buddhism? Turning away from Christian doctrine and dogma, many have embraced Buddha's teachings. But how about the relevance of Buddhism? Pankaj Mishra explored the question. He sought the answer traveling through India and Europe, Afghanistan and America. The answer he found has to do with the political economy on which globalization is based. Buddha urged us to extinguish desire and material appetite. But what about poverty in the world? What about the massive economic upheaval spreading across the globe? What is the relevance of Buddha's teachings to all that? More at Speaking of Faith.

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