Monday, 27 February 2012

Symbiotic Mind and Body

Example of symbiosis - Cladonia - a lichen symbiont between fungus and alga

From Rational Buddhism

If Buddhist philosophy wishes to be worthy of rational consideration, it needs to be compatible with evolution.

In particular, it needs to explain 'The Hard Problem' of how non-physical minds have become associated with physical bodies over the course of evolution.

It seems likely that animals above a certain level of development require more than automatic reflexes in order to survive. Advanced organisms need motivation and intention in order to function in complex environments. Motivation and intention are chiefly driven by dukkha - the need to avoid suffering or unsatisfactoriness, and the restless but futile search for lasting happiness.  Dukkha and suffering, unpleasant though they may be for the individual, have survival and evolutionary advantages for the species.  

Mental states such as suffering, unsatisfactoriness and pleasure are qualia. These subjective experiences, which carry strong immediate meanings, do not exist in automata - mechanistic systems such as relay networks or computers.

It is for this reason that complex animals have evolved neural structures which attract and capture minds. Fundamentally, it is the suffering and grasping of their minds - the need to avoid pain and seek pleasure - that provides the driving force for survival and reproduction of complex animals. The physical body enters into a symbiotic relationship with a non-physical mind.

In Buddhist philosophy, the mind of a sentient being is not a product of biological processes, but something primordial which has existed since beginningless time, and which will be drawn into another body once the present one has died...

Full article here 

- Sean Robsville



Thursday, 16 February 2012

Buddhist statues in local bar are disrespectful


Letter to the editor, Stirling Observer.

Feb 15 2012 by Jean Pedder, Stirling Observer Wednesday

"Dear Editor – I have lived in Stirling for nearly seven years and love everything about the area – the friendly people, food, wonderful landscape, etc – but as a Buddhist, originally from Sri Lanka, I am upset and angry that statues which are very similar to the ones in temples across Sri Lanka are being used in bars and clubs, mostly in Glasgow but one has now opened up in Stirling.

I wonder how people would react if someone tried to open a Jesus Bar, Virgin Mary Club, Hindu or Islam Bar. I am sure there would be a public outcry. The bar in question has statues behind the bar, next to bottles of spirits, etc, and also one next to a gaming machine.

Religious statues, images and any other material relating to various religions are sacred to each faith. The use of Buddha statues for unholy purposes, mainly by non-Buddhist business people, might mislead many people (especially people from other religions) to think that Buddhism is associated with alcoholic beverages, gambling and disco music.

Why has Stirling Council’s licensing board allowed this to go ahead? Schools in Stirling promote respect for other faiths to children and young people. Surely the local business community should lead by example.

It is wrong for religious symbols to be used for commercial purposes. I am sure other Buddhists locally and in other parts of Scotland, also people from other religious backgrounds, find this practice in very bad taste."

These are what are known as 'Dharma-burgers' 



Sunday, 12 February 2012

Maldives Muslims Smash Buddhist Statues

They're at it again

Islamized Buddhist Statue at Bamiyan

Buddhist heritage eradicated

From AFP
Trouble in paradise: Maldives and Islamic extremism

MALE — At the Maldives' National Museum, smashed Buddhist statues are testament to the rise of Islamic extremism and Taliban-style intolerance in a country famous as a laid-back holiday destination.
On Tuesday, as protesters backed by mutinous police toppled president Mohamed Nasheed, a handful of men stormed the Chinese-built museum and destroyed its display of priceless artefacts from the nation's pre-Islamic era.

"They have effectively erased all evidence of our Buddhist past," a senior museum official told AFP at the now shuttered building in the capital Male, asking not to be named out of fear for his own safety.
"We lost all our 12th century statues. They were made of coral stone and limestone. They are very brittle and there is no way we can restore them," he explained.

"I wept when I heard that the entire display had gone. We are good Muslims and we treated these statues only as part of our heritage. It is not against Islam to display these exhibits," he said.

Five people have since been arrested after they returned the following day to smash the CCTV cameras, he said. The authorities have banned photography of the damage, conscious that vandalism of this kind which echoes the 2001 destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban is damaging for the nation's image. The gates of the two-storeyed grey building, which opened in 2010, are padlocked and an unarmed guard keeps watch.

The Maldives, a collection of more than 1,100 coral-fringed islands surrounded by turquoise seas, is known as a "paradise" holiday destination that draws hundreds of thousands of travellers and honeymooners each year. Visitors' contact with the local population is deliberately kept at bay, however, with most foreigners simply transferring from the main international airport directly to their five-star resorts on outlying islands.
Few have any idea they are visiting a country of 330,000 Muslims with no religious freedom, where women can be flogged for extramarital sex and consuming alcohol is illegal for locals. Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.

The religious origins of the Maldivian people are not clearly established, but it is believed that a Buddhist king converted to Islam in the 12th century. Thereafter, the country practised a mostly liberal form of the religion, but more fundamentalist interpretations have spread with the arrival of money and ultra-conservative Salafist preachers from the Middle East. In 2007, following a bombing that wounded a dozen foreign tourists, the former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom banned head-to-toe coverings for women as a sign of his intent to battle conservative Islamic thinking.

At the museum, another official said that fundamentalists had threatened to attack the museum on previous occasions unless it withdrew the Buddhist display.

The country's ultra-conservative Islamic group, the Adhaalath Party, condemned the attack, but said they remained opposed to Nasheed's decision to accept three monuments from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"Our constitution does not allow idols and that is why we objected to the monuments," General Secretary Mohamed Muizzu said, referring to the gifts to mark a South Asian summit held in November in the Maldives.

The monuments, which included one of pillar featuring Buddhist motifs, and which had been on display in the southernmost island of Addu, have all since been vandalised...   More 

Islamic Symbols - Swords and Koran

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 critics and competitors by whatever means may be necessary.

Even 1000 year old Buddha statues are a threat to Islam.

With the massive growth of extremist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, we can only expect Jihadists attacks on Buddhism and Buddhists to increase, as this recent article from Point de Bascule makes clear

The Muslim Brotherhood and Buddhism

Écrit par Point de Bascule on 08 Septembre 2011. Posted in Articles par Point de Bascule
buddhism mb 2On September 7, 2011, the Dalai Lama, Tariq Ramadan and other personalities took part to the Second Global Conference on World's Religions after 9/11. It was organized in Montreal with the active cooperation of McGill University and the Université de Montréal.
During the conference a project of Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World's Religions was discussed. The article 12.4 of the Declaration claims that “Everyone has the right not to have one’s religion denigrated in the media or the academia.”
This push for censorship is part of a wider campaign led by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation representing 56 Muslim-majority countries to silence those who criticize Islam.
While this is happening, several Muslim scholars including many endorsed by Tariq Ramadan and the Muslim Brotherhood describe non-Muslim doctrines in a very denigrating way. We do not suggest that these authors should be censored or banned. We bring up this contradiction to highlight the fact that radical Islamists want it both ways.
Syed Maududi and other renowned Muslim scholars have written that kafirs (derogatory word for non-Muslims) will go to hell. They have claimed that Christianity is a distorted religion. In an Islamic Studies course set up by two Muslim Brotherhood operatives for the Edmonton Public School Board, Yusuf Ali’s Qur’an is being used as a reference book. In this book, Jews are described as “apes and swine” (p. 1742). More examples of anti-Jewish stances found in the book are listed in a FrontPage article that was published after the Los Angeles school board decided to pull all its copies of Yusuf Ali’s Qur’an from the shelves of its libraries.
The depiction of Buddhism in Muslim Brotherhood-endorsed books destined to Muslim audiences is no more positive than that of Christianity and Judaism. In fact, it is worse. Harun Yahya’s book Islam and Buddhism is a good example to illustrate where the Muslim Brotherhood and Tariq Ramadan’s “understanding of Islam” leads.
Harun Yahya is a prolific author promoted by various organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Yahya is a Turkish national born in 1956 whose real name is Adnan Oktar.
Harun Yahya is a frequent contributor to OnIslam, a Muslim Brotherhood news portal closely associated with Youssef Qaradawi. In September 2010, Yahya was identified as a regular OnIslam staff. (GMBDR about OnIslam)
The semi-private library operated by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at Concordia University in Montreal has 44 books (28 different titles) written by Harun Yahya. The MSA is one of the oldest Muslim Brotherhood organizations in North America. The MSA’s library at Concordia contains books that are endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood. It has no formal link with the University’s own libraries (catalogue, etc.) but it is operated in Concordia University premises and funded by the Council of Student Life.
Another MSA chapter at Memorial University (St John’s, Newfoundland) promotes Harun Yahya’s books and movies at their regular booth on campus premises. (Video)
Muzammil Siddiqi, an important leader of the Muslim Brotherhood operating in the United States has specifically praised one of Harun Yahya’s books. (Letter)
Harun Yahya’s books are sold at conventions organized by Muslim Brotherhood organizations. (p. 8 – ISNA Booth 1002)
Point 4.18 of a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood internal memorandum stresses the importance of “role distribution” among the organization’s activists in order to achieve success. While Tariq Ramadan is trying to take advantage of the Dalai Lama’s reputation to legitimize censoring the critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, Harun Yahya is busy telling Brotherhood’s supporters what they should really think about Buddhism.
In 2004, Harun Yahya and his colleague Tariq Ramadan were the main speakers at a conference that Ramadan describes as the “largest Islamic event in Australia” on his website.
Harun Yahya claims that Buddhists are guilty of “association” and that their accomplishments are “destined for destruction”
buddhism 3In his book Islam and Buddhism, Harun Yahya concludes that Buddhists’ accomplishments are purposeless and that they are “destined for destruction” because their understanding of God and religion is incompatible with Islam. Harun Yahya accuses Buddhists of “associating” false gods with the real one:
To deny the supremacy of God and worship the idols of an ordinary person, as the Buddhists do, is described in the Qur'an as to "associate something with God." In hundreds of places in the Qur'an, God reminds us that this "association" is a very serious sin. For example: “(Qur'an, 4:48) God does not forgive anything being associated with Him, but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who associates something with God has committed a terrible crime.
(...) To bow before these invented gods is a terrible crime against God. As stated in the Qur'an (4: 48), God may forgive those who commit every other sin and error, but never one who associates His creatures with Him. (Islam and Buddhism – Chapter 1)
Historically, this so-called crime of “association” has been the pretext invoked by Muslim scholars to justify the destruction and the eradication of the Buddhist civilization from India, Afghanistan and many other parts of Asia.
Ibn Khaldun (1332 - 1406) is one of many scholars endorsed by Tariq Ramadan. In his classic Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun explains why resorting to coercion and violence against Buddhists and non-Muslims in general is justified:
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force ...continued

See   No future for Buddhism in an Islamized World

Monday, 6 February 2012

Alan Turing: A Gay Buddhist

Alan Turing - Buddhist philosopher destroyed for being gay.

Alan Turing is best known for his work in cracking the Nazi codes, which gave the allies a consistent intelligence advantage over the enemy, shortening the war by years and saving millions of lives.  He died at the early age of 41, chemically castrated, mentally destroyed, and hounded to suicide by a viciously homophobic religious establishment.

Richard Dawkins blamed the repressive, religion-influenced laws which drove him to despair for his death, adding that   "Turing arguably made a greater contribution to defeating the Nazis than Eisenhower or Churchill. Thanks to Turing and his 'Ultra' colleagues at Bletchley Park, Allied generals in the field were consistently, over long periods of the war, privy to detailed German plans before the German generals had time to implement them.

"After the war, when Turing's role was no longer top-secret, he should have been knighted and fêted as a saviour of his nation. Instead, this gentle, stammering, eccentric genius was destroyed, for a 'crime', committed in private, which harmed nobody,"

Without Turing, the war would still be raging beyond 1945

Turing, like all homosexuals in pre-1960's Britain, was rejected and hated by the Church of England establishment, and maybe this was why his religious affinities were more with Buddhism than with Christianity.

Although Turing's work as a code-breaker is what is most familiar to the general public, he also made a major contribution to philosophy by defining the boundary between the physical and non-physical aspects of the mind.   Turing’s investigation of artificial intelligence may have been motivated by his young gay lover's untimely death,  as he analysed the relationship between the material and the spiritual.

Christian orthodoxy in Turing's day

Turing's view of spirituality was not the Christian scheme of heaven and hell, for as an accursed sodomite, he knew he would be condemned to burn for all eternity in a lake of fire.    His belief was the Buddhist teaching on rebirth, which he set out in a letter to the mother of Christopher Morcom, his dead boyfriend: "'when the body dies the 'mechanism' of the body, holding the spirit is gone and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later, perhaps immediately... "     Full article here

See also  Buddhist Philosophy

Related Posts 

Evolution, Emptiness and Delusions of the Darwinian Mind

Queer Dharma and Gay Buddhists: Buddhism for the LGBT  community

Algorithms, Data Structures and Mental Designation 

The Explanatory Gap and the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Richard Dawkins and Buddhism



Friday, 3 February 2012

Quantum Weirdness.

Over at Rational Buddhism I've been considering the phenomenon of 'Quantum Weirdness', where everyday objective reality breaks down when we examine the tiniest building blocks of matter, with the observer becoming an inextricable part of the system.

Does Quantum Weirdness create the mind out of matter, or does the mind create Quantum Weirdness as part of the process of resolving potential existence into actual reality?

Where does the weirdness come from?  Does it go away at larger scales, or does it just become less obvious?    Why isn't there an infinite regress of ever smaller particles and subparticles?

Full article here