Thursday, 31 December 2009

Jihadism will Dominate - The Supremacist Threat to Buddhism

Islam will dominate!

“Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith,
but to become dominant."
- Council on American Islamic Relations

From Islam's War Against Buddhism:

"I feel, through my direct experiences of it, that Islam has not changed its ways in the least. In fact it has become more aggressive now than at any time since its period of greatest expansion in the 900s to the 1200s.

“Modern” Islam seeks to return humanity to those very same times – a revival of the dark ages of Islamic slaughter, mayhem, and pillage – all in the name of Allah.

We Buddhists must realize that we, and our cherished practices, would be swept away entirely and crushed utterly, should Islam ever gain ascendancy in this world in which we live. Islam is the only belief that propagates itself thus – by the sword

And it is very patient."

Global Jihad
Although the principal targets of the current wave of terrorism are primarily Jews and Christians, Buddhists are also victims of jihad, and historically have suffered far worse casualities than any other faith. 

Whereas Jews and Christians may be allowed to live under Islam as 'dhimmis' paying protection money ('jizya'), no such option is available to Buddhists and other 'idolatoers' such as Yazidis.  Islam is theologically committed to the the extermination of Buddhist men and the rape of Buddhist women and children.

  History of jihad against Buddhists

Destruction of Nalanda
"After the second battle of Tarain in 1192 when the forces of Islam were victorius there was nothing to keep them from invading the so-called Middle Land where Nalanda was located. In 1193 Mohammad Bakhtyar and his armies swept across the Gangetic Plain destroying all Buddhistic temples and institution he found and killing all Buddhist monks who fell into his hands. Nalanda was almost completely plundered, but a few monks who had managed to survive the onslaught returned and attempted to revive the institution. A second attack by the Moslems followed and this time Nalanda was destroyed for good. The abandoned ruins of the once great monastery slowly crumbled into dust, only to be restored, at least in part, in the twentieth century."

More on the destruction of Nalanda  HERE

Islam will dominate the world
The Buddha Meets Holger Danske
" Almost all the harm inflicted upon Buddhism throughout history has been caused by Islam, says Ole Nydahl. He finds it embarrassing that Buddhists never defended themselves. Muslim extremists now threaten Buddhists with renewed violence.

"...According to a report dated April 4th. 2007 from the internet portal Asia News the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba, located in the Pakistan-dominated part of Kashmir, issued threats against expatriate leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama. Lashkar-e-Toiba is among the most powerful Islamic groups in Southeast Asia. It has been connected with several deadly onslaughts throughout India and is allegedly connected to Al-Qaeda.

The threats against the Dalai Lama were surprising because the prominent Buddhist leader on several occasions praised Islam as being a peaceful religion.

The Dharamsala Police in Northern India, where the Dalai Lama lives, take the threats seriously and have enhanced their security precautions.

Those threats are in accordance with the anti-Buddhist campaign mentioned by Osama bin Laden in his speech on the Arabic TV network Al-Jazeera on April 23, 2006. Besides the usual threats against “crusaders”, countries supporting Denmark in its conflict over the Mohammed cartoons, the United Nations, etc., his message contained a specific reference to Buddhists. It was delivered when he spoke about the UN Security Council which Osama bin Laden accused of excluding Islamic nations all the while granting the rights of veto to “Crusaders of the world and Buddhist pagans.”

Islam will dominate America

Extermination of 10 million Buddhists along the Silk Road
"The first Western Buddhists were the Greeks descended from Alexander the Great’s army in what is now Afghanistan. Jihad destroyed all Buddhism along the silk route. About 10 million Buddhists died. The conquest of Buddhism is the practical result of pacifism.

Zoroasterianism was eliminated from Persia.

The Jews became permanent dhimmis throughout Islam.

In Africa over 120 million Christians and animists have died over the last 1400 years of jihad.

Approximately 270 million nonbelievers died over the last 1400 years in the jihad of political Islam. These are the Tears of Jihad, a subject which is not taught in any school."

Islam will dominate by Shariah

History of the Jihad against Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines
"The clash of the gentle ancestors of the Malays and Indonesians with the violent Muslims is a clash of contrasts.

This is so as there is no greater contrast than that between Buddhism and Islam. While Buddhism is intrinsically and universally non-violent, Islam is a violent, cruel and murderous paranoia as we witnessed in 9/11, 7/7, 3/11 and numerous other events in recent history. The 14 century long history of Islam has been equally violent and bloodied and cruel.

When attacked and massacred by the Muslims, the Buddhists initially did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story."

Islam will dominate the Jews

Beheaded for Being Buddhist
"BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - A militant Iraqi group said it had killed 12 Nepali hostages and showed pictures of one being beheaded and others being gunned down in the worst violence against captives since a wave of kidnappings erupted in April.

The announcement of the killings, made in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site Tuesday, came as France intensified its efforts to save two French reporters held hostage in Iraq by a separate militant Islamic group.

The Nepalis were kidnapped earlier this month when they entered Iraq to work as cooks and cleaners for a Jordanian firm. The killing of men from a tiny country that had nothing to do with the invasion or occupation of Iraq will send shockwaves through foreign companies doing business here.

"We have carried out the sentence of God against 12 Nepalis who came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians ... believing in Buddha as their God," said the statement by the military committee of the Army of Ansar al-Sunna.

The group posted a series of photographs showing the killing as well as a video.

The recording showed two masked men, one in camouflage, holding down a hostage. One of the men then used a knife to behead the hostage and then hold his head aloft.

The video then showed a group of hostages lying face down and being shot by a man using an automatic rifle. It then showed bodies splattered with blood and bullet wounds. "

Islam will dominate Thailand
Nirvana versus Jihad
"If there is one conflict that truly shows up Muslims for the intolerant, violent and oppressive fanatics they really are it is the Islamic jihad being waged in Southern Thailand against the Buddhists.

Yes, you read that correctly, Buddhists. Those people who believe strictly in non-violence and peace, who believe no living creature should be harmed and who have pretty much caused no harm to any other people are now being treated to the delights of "The Religion of Peace." Over 3,300 Buddhists have been slaughtered to date by fanatical Islamic jihadists who fight in Allah's cause.

And yet once again, the media give little coverage to this conflict, focusing attention instead on the sham "Palestinian" cause conveniently ignoring the fact that Muslims are oppressing and slaughtering thousands upon thousands of non-believers around the world all to the cry of "Allahu Akhbar!" as they devoutly follow the perfect example of their faith, the insane paedophile, murderer and enslaver Mohammed."

Islam will dominate New York

Fatwa on Dalai Lama
"Lumbini (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s three million Buddhists are alarmed over death threats made against the Dalai Lama, allegedly by Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. In Lumbini, Buddha’s birth place in southern Nepal, monks and lay people are praying for him.

A local monk, Bhante Jaydeo, told AsiaNews that the Dalai Lama “is an apostle of non violence and peace. In spite of being a victim of Chinese Communist violence he has never preached for a violent uprising in Tibet and has always called for reconciliation” with Beijing. “Here in town monks and the faithful have prepared special prayers for his safety.”

When an Indian paper reported the threat on April 1, police in Dharamsala (India) where the Dalai Lama lives in exile stepped up security arrangements.

Lashkar-e-Toiba is based in Pakistani-held Kashmir and is among the most powerful Islamic terrorist groups in South Asia. It is thought to be tied to al-Qaeda and it has been held responsible for many attacks in India.

For experts, the threat made against the Buddhist leader is probably connected to a recent statement attributed to Osama bin Laden against all religions other than Islam, including “pagan Buddhism.”

The Dalai Lama’s secretary Tanzin Tekla has refused any comment."

Islam will dominate Russia

Jihad against Buddhism in 20th century Tibet
As if the Marxists' attempts to obliterate Buddhism weren't bad enough, the Tibetans had also previously suffered an Islamic Jihad:

 "The Muslim Warlord Ma Qi waged war in the name of the Republic of China against the Labrang monastery and Ngoloks. After ethnic rioting between Muslims and Tibetans emerged in 1918, Ma Qi defeated the Tibetans. He heavily taxed the town for 8 years. In 1925, a Tibetan rebellion broke out, with thousands of Tibetans driving out the Muslims. Ma Qi responded with 3,000 Chinese Muslim troops, who retook Labrang and machine gunned thousands of Tibetan monks as they tried to flee.[16][17] Ma Qi besieged Labrang numerous times, the Tibetans and Mongols fought against his Muslim forces for control of Labrang, until Ma Qi gave it up in 1927.[18] Ma Qi defeated the Tibetan forces with his Muslim troops.[19] His forces were praised by foreigners who traveled through Qinghai for their fighting abilities.[20] However, that was not the last Labrang saw of General Ma. Ma Qi launched a genocidal war against the Tibetan Ngoloks, in 1928, inflicting a defeat upon them and seizing the Labrang Buddhist monastery.[21] The Muslim forces looted and ravaged the monastery again.[18] 

In the 1930s, the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang seized the northeast corner of Amdo which had been ruled by the Hui Muslims, in the name of Chiang Kai-shek's weak central government and incorporated it into the Chinese province of Qinghai.[22] Amdo was officially incorporated into the Chinese provincial system, with the major portion of it becoming part of Qinghai province in 1928.[23] Most of the communities of the borderland regions of Kham and Amdo remained under their own local lay and monastic leaders into the 1950s. Tibetan region of Lho-Jang and Gyarong in Kham, and Ngapa (Chinese Aba) and Golok people in Amdo, were still independent of Chinese hegemony, despite the creation on paper of Qinghai Province in 1927.[24]

In May 1949, Ma Bufang was appointed Military Governor of Northwest China, making him the highest-ranked administrator of the Amdo region."

Freedom can go to hell

Bangladesh and Pakistan - the destruction of Buddhism and Hinduism
"To make matters worse both Bangladesh and Pakistan would witness the gradual Islamization of their societies, notably Pakistan, and massive corruption and persecution of women would continue. The Islamization of both nations was especially traumatic for Hindus in Pakistan and Buddhists in Bangladesh; and not surprisingly Islamic persecution of minorities in both nations re-awakened anti-Islamic feelings in India.

Buddhists are subject to continual attacks in Muslim Bangladesh

For unlike the destruction of Buddhism in Afghanistan, which happened centuries earlier because of Islamic conquests, persecution and controlling all leverages of power; the Islamization of Bangladesh and Pakistan took place in the twentieth century and continues today. Yet why were Buddhism and Hinduism being allowed to be destroyed in both nations? After all, Buddhists in Bangladesh were a small minority and they could never threaten Islam; the same applies to Hindus in Pakistan. "

Islam will dominate education

Anti-Buddhist Propaganda
"When we consider Buddhism's appearance, its scriptures, general beliefs, style of worship in the light of the Qur'an, we begin to see that its basic philosophy is founded on very deviant doctrines. Indeed, its worship contains strange practices leading its devotees to worship idols of stone and clay. As a belief, Buddhism is contrary to logic and intelligence. Countries where it has been adopted have mixed it with their own idolatrous ideas, traditions and local customs, joining it with myths and deviant ideas until it has evolved into a totally godless philosophy."

Islam will dominate Buddhism

Destruction of Buddhist Monuments
"Of course in the mists of time, when no one was looking, Muslims destroyed monuments, churches, temples, cemeteries, statuary and artifacts of every kind. But that was then, you think to yourself.

And this is now. And now, in the full light of history, knowing that they are being watched, surely they will not do such things. Surely, in this new 21st century, Muslims everywhere will watch their steps, and not desecrate, vandalize, destroy as before.

But then you look only at what has happened since the new century began, since 2000. And here is a tentative list off the top of my head:

Bamiyan Buddhas, 1,500 years old, in Afghanistan, destroyed by Taliban with explosives, and technical help from Saudi and Pakistani engineers..."

Islam will dominate the police

Jihad in China
"After the defeat of the Chinese in the Battle of the Talas river, the Arabs rounded up tens of thousands of Chinese prisoners and their non-Qarluq Turkish allies and took them to Samarqand from where Abu Muslim sent them to Baghdad and Damascus to be sold as slaves, each worth a dirham. One Chinese survivor mentions being kept as cattle in the Arab prison camps. Abu Muslim and Ziyad made huge financial gains out of this slave trade and used it to pay their armies. More importantly the Arabs forced the Turkish and Chinese prisoners to teach them the art of making siege trains and catapult machines, which later the Islamized Turks were to use successfully in their attacks on the Byzantine cities.

Islam will dominate Spain
Muslim hate squads killing Buddhists in Southern Thailand
The few reports of the Thai jihad that reach the western press are almost invariably purely textual descriptions of the violence; only rarely are photos to be found in media reports, and almost none of those photos show what’s really going on: beheadings, corpse desecrations, torture, bombings, and more...

Muslims behead 9 year old Buddhist boy (warning - graphic images)

Yazidi chidren burned alive

Burma (Myanmar) Rapes, Murders and Jihadist Propaganda

The latest wave of jihad against Buddhists is being launched in an effort to destabilize newly liberalizing Burma (Myanmar).  Jihadists are raping and murdering Buddhists, then inverting reality to play the victim card by claiming that Buddhists are massacring hundreds or thousands of Muslims. They are posting fake photos online to incite Muslims worldwide into anti-Buddhist rage.

Cultural Terrorism against all non Muslims

Dhimmi and Harbi
"Islam divides people into two antagonistic groups - Muslims (collectively known as the Ummah) versus Kaffirs (aka Kufr, Kuffars, Infidels or non-believers).

Kaffirs are subdivided further - Jews and Christians who accept the supremacy of Islam are known as Dhimmis, and are allowed to live as second-class citizens, provided they pay the extortionate Jizya (infidel tax) to their Muslim masters. The state of being a submissive Dhimmi is known as Dhimmitude.

Buddhists, Pagans and members of all other 'non-Abrahamic' religions, together with secularists, and those Jews and Christians who do not accept Muslim domination, are regarded as Harbis - targets of war. (However ultimately ALL Jews, even those who live submissively under Islamic domination, will be exterminated. )

Islam is at permanent war with Harbis, even if the Harbis don't actually do anything to annoy Muslims. The Harbis' mere existence is itself an act of war. A Harbi has no rights, not even the right to live.

Islam will dominate India
Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam
Areas under Muslim control are known as Dar al-Islam. Areas under Harbi control are known as Dar al-Harb - the domain of war. The Koran commands Muslims to wage perpetual war (Jihad) against Dar al-Harb until the entire world is Dar al-Islam. These attacks are ordained by Allah and are non-negotiable in the long term, though the practice of taqiyya (holy deception) allows temporary deceptive peace agreements (’Hudna’) to be made if the forces of Islam are too weak to attack the Harbis successfully."

(In fact Buddhists are desrcibed as 'Mushrik' - idolaters - a Muslim term of abuse which places them even lower than 'najis kafirs'.)

Buddhists as Harbis
Buddhists have always been favorite targets because:

(1) The Koran (Surah 9, ayah 5) commands that polytheists and idolaters should be murdered wherever they are found. Buddhist statues and icons provided the perfect excuse for a bloodbath. Modern Muslims continue to believe that since Buddhists are not monotheists they must be forced to convert to Islam or be killed.

(2) Being pacifists, Buddhists were unable to defend themselves.

Given this long history of uncompromising hostility towards Buddhism, which has 'sanctified' the slaughter of Buddhist sangha and destroyed Buddhist civilizations throughout Asia, it is advisable for Buddhists, Pagans and other Harbis to be vigilant about The Islamification of Europe and America.

Islam will dominate England - Muslims desecrate war memorial
'Islam will dominate the world'
on Burton-upon-Trent war memorial

Coercion, intimidation, thuggery
and outright terrorism are 
intrinsic and essential features 
of Islam. 

Islam is so intellectually moribund

and ethically repulsive 
that it cannot compete for followers
in a free marketplace of ideas, 
but must eliminate its competitors 
by whatever means may be necessary.

The Religion of Peace


Monday, 28 December 2009

Secondary Metabolites and Secondary Metabolism


'Secondary Metabolites and Secondary Metabolism' may not seem a very exciting title. But secondary metabolites certainly can be exciting, as Aunt Epp's vaginal pheromones demonstrated.

Secondary metabolites have been responsible for wars and the growth and destruction of empires. The search for supplies of secondary metabolites led to the discovery of America.

Secondary metabolites have also saved millions of lives and inspired cultural and artistic movements. They are essential ingredients of religious rituals, and causes of major social problems. They are intimately involved with traditional healing folklore including what was once classed as witchcraft.

Amanita muscaria - as used in shamanistic rituals

Primary and Secondary Metabolites
So what are secondary metabolites, and how do they differ from the mundane primary metabolites? Well, according to Wiki:

'Secondary metabolites are organic compounds that are not directly involved in the normal growth, development, or reproduction of organisms. Unlike primary metabolites, absence of secondary metabolites does not result in immediate death, but rather in long-term impairment of the organism's survivability, fecundity, or aesthetics, or perhaps in no significant change at all. Secondary metabolites are often restricted to a narrow set of species within a phylogenetic group.'


'A primary metabolite a metabolite is directly involved in normal growth, development, and reproduction.'

Opium poppy

In other words, primary metabolites are the boring but essential bog-standard amino acids, fats, sugars etc found in most living things, whereas secondary metabolites are unusual compounds restricted to just a few species.

In the case of pheromones, they are usually unique to a single species, because if you're a lonely lady silk moth trying to attract the insect world's equivalent of Mr Right, you don't want a gang of horny dung beetles turning up in response to your amorous secretions.

The Penicillium fungus and penicillin molecule

As well as pheromones, natural products include:
  • Plant based drugs, both beneficial and narcotic. Eg opiates, digitalis, quinine.
  • Fungal, plant and amphibian entheogens such as psilocybin, bufotenine and ergot.
  • Antibiotics such as penicillin and streptomycin.
  • Flower scents and other essential oils.
  • Plant and animal pigments such as indigo and Tyrian Purple
  • The active ingredients of herbs and spices
  • Alkaloid poisons and insecticides.
  • Venoms
Flower petal fragrances

As the University of Basel's website explains:

'Over 200'000 secondary metabolites have been identified to date. This number, however, represents only a fraction of the biosynthetic capabilities of living organisms. The enormous structural diversity of natural products is the result of co-evolutive selection processes. One can reasonably assume that most of the secondary metabolites synthesized by an organism have some purpose for the producer. Natural products have evolved to interact with proteins of target organisms, typically lower organisms such as bacteria, fungi, insects etc. Given the highly conserved nature of numerous proteins and protein domains, structurally homologous proteins exist in humans even though their function may sometimes have changed. It is not accidental that natural products interact with human proteins and, therefore, represent a unique pool of molecules with drug-like properties.'

Foxglove, source of the medicinal drug digitalis

So we can generally assume that secondary metabolites (sometimes known by the rather vague term 'natural products') are usually involved in interaction with other individuals. In the case of pheromones this may be to interact with a member of the same species, but mostly these metabolites interact with members of other species:
  • Penicillin kills off bacteria which are competing with the Penicillium fungus for food.
  • Pleasant tasting flavor compounds in fruit attract seed dispersers.
  • Bitter and poisonous alkaloids in leaves deter grazers.
  • Flower colors and scents attract pollinators

Actinomyces cultures - prolific producers of antibiotics

Some secondary metabolites don't affect other species but protect against severe physical and chemical conditions. Some plant pigments protect against UV. The siderochromes scavenge iron and allow its uptake from otherwise insoluble sources.

Nutmeg - source of essential oil flavorings

Cultural effects
The search for easier routes to the spice producing countries was the main motivation for the voyages of discovery. Pepper, cloves and nutmeg were especially prized.

Pepper - active ingredient piperine

Columbus' voyage was primarily intended to discover a fast route to the Spice Islands - not to explore new lands.

The arts
Mood altering substance have been used by poets and artists throughout the ages.

The hallucinogenic absinthe (wormwood) was popular among the Parisian avant garde at the end of the 19th century, and fungal metabolites such as psilocybin and LSD were responsible for the psychedelic movement of the 1960's

1960's Psychedelia

Ergot - raw material for LSD

Evolution of secondary metabolites.
So how did this huge range of compounds evolve? The usual theory is that they were originally 'shunt-metabolites' - waste products produced in response to metabolic imbalances. If a plant accumulates excessive primary metabolites, for example certain amino acids, then it has no way of excreting the surfeit, which can become toxic. Since plants and fungi can't pee or poo their waste products out, the best solution is to transform these small molecules to less toxic forms by reacting them together to give larger molecules and then storing them in the leaves or roots. Some secondary metabolites may have stayed at this stage.

The metabolic pathways and enzymes needn't in the first instance be all that specific: as long as they get rid of waste product it doesn't matter what they produce. That's why organisms often produce a range of similar secondary metabolites rather than a single compound.

However, some of these stored metabolites might have ecological effects, for example making the plant less attractive to grazers, or in the case of volatile compounds by making a particular species more easily recognisable by its pollinators or seed distributors. Once these ecological interactions begin, there is selective pressure for the secondary metabolites to evolve and change to become more efficient.

- Sean Robsville


Buddhism, Shamanism and the use of entheogens

Wiccan Love Potions, Women's Pheromones and Ethnopharmacology

Cauldron, Chalice and Grail Symbolism 



Wiccan Love Potions, Women's Pheromones and Ethnopharmacology

Have you ever wondered what ingredients went into those pagan love potions?

Well, it seems that the ‘wise women’ of old had a knowledge of pheromones long preceding modern biochemistry.

Aunt Epp’s Guide for Life is taken from the notebooks of a Victorian lady who recorded, among other things, various folk remedies. This is what she had to say about Aphrodisiacs:

“These are many and well known, but above all else men are unconsciously attracted by the vaginal scents, which are naturally mingled with lingering urinal aromas, not at all unpleasant if recent, assuming older odours washed off by process of personal hygiene.

It is to defeat the purpose to add your own urine to the food, only to mask it with strong flavours. You will use only a very small amount, so small as not to affect the taste but to attract unconsciously by scent. This should be added superficially, sparingly, and last.

You may also dab a handkerchief appropriately and equally delicately and keep it about you. Males are aware of this but
not aware, and have been known to go mad with longing. Never tell this secret, however, as the knowledge itself empowers you and imparts a natural authority which a man cannot resist.”

Although it may seem surprising to think of demure Victorian young ladies sprinkling gentlemen’s food with their very own intimate nectars, the origins of such practices go back into the mists of folklore, and long pre-date the reign of Victoria (who presumably didn't personally supervise the ingredients of Albert's supper - at least not that personally) .

Note how Aunt Epp states that the men are 'unconsciously attracted' and 'aware of this but not aware'. This is typical of the effect of pheromones.

In earlier times this would have been regarded as enchantment. No doubt in the Middle Ages anyone practising such womanly arts with secretive secretions would have risked been accused of witchcraft.

In fact, many wise women (the original Wiccans) possessed a knowledge of the medicinal effects of natural products, such as pheromones, long in advance of modern pharmacology.

Such medicinal folklore is known as ethnopharmacology, and as well as love potions also includes plant and fungal secondary metabolites for ritual use.


Buddhism, Shamanism and the use of entheogens

Cauldron, Chalice and Grail Symbolism

Alchemical Symbolism, Imagery and Visualizations

C J Jung, Buddhism, Tantra and Alchemy

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Buddhism versus Materialism

Mechanical Mind

Materialism is the belief that all phenomena in the universe, in particular the human mind, are explainable in terms of matter. In other words, such concepts and experiences as beauty, love, spirituality, pleasure and pain are reducible to nothing but physical and chemical interactions. According to the materialist view, the mind does not actually exist, but is an emergent property or epiphenomenon of matter.

Although there are not many people who enthusiastically promote the materialist worldview, it has become the default belief of many scientifically educated people that all phenomena are reducible to the activities of matter.

The Malaise of Materialism
Materialism leads to a rejection of spirituality, both in terms of declining religious belief, and also in the arts where the cult of ugliness, with its obsessions with the sordid and brutalistic, functions to reduce humans to biological automata.

Of course all religions reject materialism as an article of faith, but none apart from Buddhism attempts to offer any rational philosophical refutation of the materialist worldview.

Christian arguments against materialism

The Christian Churches seem to be completely unable to rise to the challenge of materialism. Christians either return to fundamentalism and assert the literal truth of the Bible with virulent anti-intellectualism, or reject spirituality and 'demythologise' - turning themselves into purveyors of the social gospel.

Reconciling science and religion in Kansas

Of course there's nothing wrong with the social gospel, but the churches are trying to occupy a niche already filled by left-of-centre political parties. The end result is dumbed-down, happy-clappiness . The spiritual dimension of life has been forgotten, pews are empty and congregations have gone elsewhere.

[The Religion of Peace™ is also incapable of refuting materialism, but this is hardly surprising since it rejected philosophy and reason long ago, and concentrated on spreading and maintaining itself by violence, intimidation and deception, rather than by any appeals to rationality or ethics]

Regensburg Rage trumps Rationalism

Buddhism offers the only coherent critique of materialism
Whitehead said "Christianity ... has always been a religion seeking a metaphysic, in contrast to Buddhism which is a metaphysic generating a religion." In other words, Christianity does not have the metaphysical foundation needed to withstand materialism.

So nowadays it's left to Buddhism to defend the spiritual aspect of humanity from mechanistic materialism, and show that not everything about the human mind can be explained in mechanistic terms.

The Buddhist argument against all forms of materialism can be summarized thus:

(i)   Computers can simulate all physical processes.
(ii)  There are some mental processes that computers cannot simulate.
(iii) Therefore, some aspects of the mind are non-physical.

For a full discussion of this argument, see Refuting the computational theory of mind - and why it matters to Buddhists.

- Sean Robsville 


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Reification in Buddhism - Ultimate and Conventional Truths

To reify is usually defined as mistakenly regarding an abstraction as a thing. It is derived from the Latin word res meaning 'thing'.

Reification in Western philosophy means treating an abstract belief or hypothetical construct as if it were a concrete, physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea.

In Buddhist philosophy the concept of reification goes further. Reification means treating any functioning phenomenon as if it were a real, permanent 'thing', rather than an impermanent process.

Now of course we reify all the time. We regard a car as a 'thing', though if we think carefully we realise that it is actually a process. A car is the ultimate example of the impermanence of functioning phenomena. Parts are always needing replacement. The body gradually oxidises to rust and the engine relentlessly becomes ever more worn. In the long term, a car can be regarded as a process that has money as its input and scrap metal as its output.

Functioning phenomena
If we check carefully we realise that ALL functioning phenomena are impermanent, and therefore are processes lacking any inherent identity, rather than fixed 'things' which have some defining essence.

In fact, they could not be functioning phenomena unless they were capable of interchanging their parts or properties with other entities. A car can only function by taking fuel and oxygen in, and putting carbon dioxide and steam out, while absorbing, transmitting and delivering the energy so produced to the wheels. While it is functioning, all the mechanical parts are in a state of impermanence, continually changing their relative positions.

Ultimate truth
The ultimate truth of all functioning phenomena is that if viewed over a long enough timescale, they are seen to have the ultimate nature of processes. They are impermanent and lack any defining essence that has the power to 'keep them as they are'.

Conventional truth.
Although it may be true that all functioning things are processes, it doesn't help us to find our way around the everyday world. Conventionally, we regard any object that exists relatively unchanged for a long enough duration to be useful, as a 'thing' rather than a process.

This is similar to the situation where knowing that matter is 99.9% empty space is of no use whatsoever when we're building a brick wall.

So reification of functioning phenomena is a conventional truth - a working approximation that allows us to function in, and find our way around the world.

In Buddhist ontology process is primary, substance is secondary.

"Change and decay in all around I see"
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away

But the entire world that we function in and find our way around is itself a process, and will eventually cease to exist. The world and all that's in it lack any enduring identity that has the power to prevent impermanence from sweeping them all away. That is their ultimate truth.

Even the fundamental particles of matter can never be known as 'things in themselves', they can only be known by their interactions. And those interactions, by their very nature, cause a change of state of what is interacting. So it's impermanence all the way up, and impermanence all the way down.

Existence as a conventional truth
Even the concept of 'existence' is itself a conventional truth. To say that any functioning phenomenon 'exists' is a commonsense approximation to saying that it endures for a relatively long time. 'Existence' is really nothing other than a less blatant form of impermanence.

The validity of the two truths
So both conventional truth and ultimate truth are valid for their respective purposes, in the same way that classical and quantum physics are both valid.

If we want to design and build a bridge, we think in terms of classical physics. If we want to explore the ultimate nature of matter, we think in terms of quantum physics.

Likewise, if we want to build a Dharma center, then we use conventional truths to assemble all the conventionally existing things that are needed - stones, bricks, beams, windows, doors, cables, pipes etc.

If we then want to sit inside the finished Dharma-center and contemplate ultimate truth, we may reflect on how the ultimate truth of the Dharma-center is that it exists dependently upon the causes and conditions that built it, the parts from which it was built, and our mental labelling of it as 'Dharma-center'.

The more you look for it, the less you find it.
If we think that the Dharma-center actually exists from its own side, then we may try to pinpoint the exact stage of its construction at which 'heap of bricks' suddenly ceased to exist and the 'essence of Dharma-center' jumped into the structure to make it the thing that it is.

And of course we'll never find that sudden transformation, because 'essence of Dharma-center' only exists in our own mind, not within the structure of the Dharma-center.

- Sean Robsville


Rational Buddhism

Buddhism and Process Philosophy

Essentialism, Ideal Forms, Plato, Buddhism and Generic Images

Existence, Impermanence and Emptiness in Buddhism

Inherent Existence in Buddhist Philosophy

Sunyata - the emptiness of all things