I never thought that I’d live to see anything more curious than atheists ignoring scientific evidence because it didn’t support their belief system. Ding Dong I was wrong.
Something that I’m finding more and more often on atheist blogs is the “confession” of atheists who are self-identifying as Buddhists. Now I understand that Buddhists are technically atheists. However, to encounter atheists who pride themselves on being rational, logical and immune to superstition, and who also proclaim their Buddhism, well, that is just so amazing to me! Now of course these atheists rarely say which of the several dozen Buddhas they follow. For example, is it
Buddha Dipankara, or
Buddha Dhammadassi, or
Buddha Kondanna, or
Buddha Siddhattha, or
Buddha Mangalaa, or
Buddha Tissaa, or
Buddha Sumanaa, or
Buddha Phussa, or
Buddha Revataa, or
Buddha Vipassi, or
Buddha Spbhitaa, or
Buddha Sikhi, or
Buddha Anomadassi, or
Buddha Vessabhu, or
Buddha Padumaa, or
Buddha Kakusandha, or
Buddha Naradaa, or
Buddha Konagamana, or
Buddha Padumuttaraa, or
Buddha Kassapa, or
Buddha Gautama, or
Buddha Sumedha, or
Buddha Sujata, or
Buddha Piyadassi, or
Buddha Atthadassi or any of the others too numerous to mention here?
As well, atheists don’t say (don’t know?) which type of Buddhism they follow, but that doesn’t stop them from saying, “I’m a Buddhist.” And while their ignoring science is hard enough to comprehend, I just wished someone would explain how they rationalise the following with their rational, logical, superstition avoiding atheist beliefs. In the teaching about Buddhism we find these “facts.”
Immediately after his birth, Buddha stood up, took seven steps north, and fearlessly uttered:
Supreme am I in the world
Greatest am I in the world.
Noblest am I in the world.
This is my last birth,
Never shall I be reborn"
As proof of his enlightenment, The Buddha, using only his mind, created a golden bridge in the air, and walked up and down the bridge for an entire week.
. On the first day [of an important festival] Buddha held his toothpick, put it on the ground and it turned to the wish fulfilling tree. It was decorated with jewels, like a Christmas tree.
. On the second day Buddha manifested two wish fulfilling jewels.
. On the third day the king offered to wash Buddha's feet. When Buddha washed his feet, he threw the water and it became a pool with the eight special qualities of water.
. On the fourth day it rained and the rain filled the eight canals.
. On the fifth day Buddha emitted golden light from his mouth and people could see beings of the six realms being liberated.
. On the sixth day Buddha transformed some energy and everyone became clairvoyant and knew each others minds.
. On the seventh day Buddha manifested as the wheel turning king and many people converted to Buddhism.
When the time came for the contest, the Buddha cast a mango seed on the ground; instantly the seed took root, and a great mango tree arose to shade the hall.
After The Buddha returned to his father's kingdom, some people were still unsure about whether Gautama Buddha was really enlightened or not. Some perceived him as the same Gautama that had abandoned his family to become an ascetic. Apparently he was much improved. In order to clear the obscurations to their pure perception, Buddha produced flames from the upper part of his body and streams of water from the lower part of his body, and did so similarly between the left and right sides of his body. Six coloured rays sprang from every pore of his body, reaching up to the highest realms and down the lowest realms. He performed this miracle on numerous occasions to ripen the minds of those in attendance.
Even for those of us who are jaded and cynical and believe that we’ve seen it all, that kind of a stunt is proof of something pretty, um, special.
For what it’s worth, in 2006, millions of people flocked to Sri Lanka as rumours spread that several statues were giving off colourful “Buddha rays.” I wonder if any of the atheist bloggers were among the faithful? I’ll have to ask next time I encounter one.
On one occasion, Buddha flew into a Brahma's world, and skilfully explained to the Brahma that all things are transient and temporary and devoid of independent existence. After hearing The Buddha's words, the Brahma felt intense faith and decided to follow The Buddha's Dharma. The Brahma then requested a competition of powers between the two of them. The Brahma hid himself in many places but The Buddha easily pointed out where he was located. Then The Buddha hid himself in voidness and meditation but the Brahma could not spot him. The Brahma's faith in The Buddha was increased. No doubt!
A cousin of The Buddha, the son of the Buddha's maternal Uncle, was named Devadatta. Devadatta was tormented from early in his life by jealousy against his superior cousin. After trying quite a number of dastardly schemes to no avail, one day Devadatta set loose a fierce elephant, known as Dhanapala, to destroy The Buddha. This elephant, who had been intoxicated into a crazed state by his keepers, ran through the town towards The Buddha. A frightened woman accidentally dropped her baby at the Buddha's feet. Just as the elephant, who was headed for The Buddha, was about to trample the child, The Buddha calmly reached up and touched the elephant on the forehead. The elephant became calm and quiet, then knelt down before The Buddha. Some accounts indicate that The Buddha then gave a personal Dharma sermon to this elephant.
One day Gautama Buddha asked his disciple Ananda to go get him some drinking water from a well. Ananda however repeatedly told The Buddha that the well was filled with grass and chaff, and thus not drinkable. However The Buddha continuously asked Ananda, so Ananda went to the well. As Ananda walked to the well, Buddha with his power alone expelled all the grass and chaff from the well, so the water was radiant and clean.
At one time Gautama Buddha walked on water by levitating over a stream in order to convert a Brahman to Buddhism.
Standing in the air at the height of a palm tree, flames englufed the lower part of his body, and five hundred jets of water streamed from the upper part. Then flames leapt from the upper part of his body, and five hundred jets of water streamed from the lower part. Then by his magic power, the Blessed one transformed himself into a bull with a quivering hump. Appearing in the east, the bull vanished and reappeared in the west. Vanishing in the west, it reappeared in the north. Vanishing in the north, it reappeared in the south. ... Several thousand kotis* of beings (a kotis is roughly 10 million beings), seeing this great miracle, became glad, joyful, and pleased." To each his own I guess.
One of the cool things about Buddhism is that anyone, even atheists can “do it.” One of the great places to get to is the Attainment of the fourth Dhyana and Buddhahood which leads to the Six Psychic Powers (Abhijna), namely,
1) Divyacaksus - divine eye, instantaneous view of anything in the Form Realm.
2) Divyasrotra - divine ear, ability to hear any sound anywhere.
3) Paracitta-jnana - ability to know the thoughts of all other minds.
4) Purvanivasanusmrti-jnana - knowledge of all former existences of self and others. (I’m unclear how this fits with the atheist belief of one life, one death and then nothing).
5) Raddi-saksatkriya - magic power to be anywhere or do anything at will, such as walking on water, levitation.
6) Asravaksaya-jnana - supernatural consciousness of eliminating all vicious/minds, also known as the extinction of asrava (i.e. outflow).
The first five are mundane, while the sixth is realized only by the Arhats, who attain the fourth stage of Dhyana. The attainment of the Sixth Psychic Power distinguishes the liberated sages (eg. Christopher Hitchens) from the mere wizard (eg. Richard Dawkins). I'm sorry. I couldn't help it.
As I said at the beginning, this is absolutely amazing. Not what the Buddha did (I can do that stuff on a sleepy Saturday afternoon) but what atheists believe. Rational, logical, reasonable atheist Buddhists. Astonishing.
I want to be clear that I’m not saying anything against Buddhists. You folks can believe whatever you want. What I don’t get, AT ALL, is how atheists, who pride themselves in avoiding all things superstitious could ever allow themselves to slide into this lifestyle. I guess desperate times require desperate measures.
And so, just as most atheists don’t have clue to the contradictions that they are committing themselves to and living with when they say, “I’m an atheist,” neither do they have a clue what they’re claiming when they say, “I’m a Buddhist.”
So what do you think? Is it amusing or just pitiful?