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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 71 “Ha, ha, ha,” His Holiness got it. “I think they are quite free, quite happy. So that’s one cat- egory. Another factor, another category maybe, genuine Buddhism concept is self-reliance, and self-transformation. Why do I put ‘genuine’? On a popular level many people worship something like prayer flags or...these people are usually satisfied with these things but that’s not genuine Buddhism concept. ‘Genuine’ means he looks in- ward to self-transformation. Not only true prayer or recitation but meditation, analyze, thinking. I believe genuine Buddhist technique is just in- creased awareness: what’s the reality on the basis of the law of causality? “Another category: Then some describe Bud- dhism as a kind of humanism, just emphasis on the human good quality. “Next: some people not much concerned about next life or nirvana. They want some kind of transformation on an emotional level. Result: more happier, more calm. “Then another category, thinking, reality. Buddhism’s explanation about mind is quite so- phisticated. Now some scientists are carrying some experiments.” “Yes,” I butt in, dying to impress him with my contacts and knowledge. “You might be talking about some of my friends, Richie Davidson, Dan Goleman, all good old friends of mine.” Luckily he did not call me on my egotism, nice guy that he is. “Yes,” he went on, “they found some effect, new findings, new fact. So, including some sci- entists, it appeals to intellectuals and philoso- phers who are showing deeper and more and more interest in Buddhist explanation. “Another category: Buddhism has different gods and goddesses, of wealth and long life and curing illness. Something like that. Protection cords. Pray to gods to cure illness and or for more successful business. [Here he let out a chuckle.] That’s superficial. Not the main thing.” Now I offered my own theory: “In my inter- views around the world, I’ve noticed people and even countries historically find Buddhism when they are fed up with money, success, political power. Even religion: they question the faith- based religions. Buddhism does not ask you to take a ‘leap of faith,’ as we say. It’s all empirical, as you said. Do you think there is validity to this idea? That people shift to Buddhism when they are full and not satisfied? And then, therefore, the West is at that same point—full, but empty.” “Yes,” he said. “This is a new category. First- ly, the material. There are limits. At the begin- ning we felt, ‘Ah, once we have prosperity, then all problems can be solved.’ We put every hope on money or power. Then when you have these things, through your own experience you notice their limitations, you could be billionaire then still something missing.” “We call this diminishing returns,” I suggested. “So, through deeper awareness, through one’s own experience, they turn to inner value. Inner value is not necessarily Buddhism’s alone but other traditions’ too. Then I have Christian friends who adopt Buddhist techniques for meditation or to reduce anger and increase patience. Perfectly fine, without losing one’s own main faith, to in- crease some of the basic human values. This should be alright for an open-minded Christian. “This leads to another category: kind of people curiosity. Once people get to deeper levels, they ask: ‘What’s reality? What is I? What’s God? What’s the beginning? What is the ultimate reality of nature?’” “You describe me,” I said. “So finally, I usually describe Buddhism as a combination of science, philosophy, and religion. Combined. As a science, we look for external signs of mind or emotions. From Buddhist view- point, I think this is a science. What is reality? It’s a subtle energy. We call it wind. Wind means movement, energy. In scripture it mentions wind, means energy. The description of reality is a science. On that basis, the reality itself should change. By nature there are contradictions. So first things always changing, then second contra- dictory movement. Therefore transformation is possible. That is basis of buddhadharma. We take the values of good and bad out of the opposites. Now I can take action. Karma. But we cannot make distinction on the action itself—the demar- cation of right action or wrong action or positive “Once people get to deeper levels,” the Dalai Lama said, “they ask, ‘What is the ultimate reality of nature?’ So I usually describe Buddhism as a combination of science, philosophy, and religion.”