Skip to main content

Posts

Rescue Me From Hell

As a child, I became well-versed in the concept of hell.  It was an important part of my training in the Christian, evangelical church.  After all, how could I be a good emissary for the lord if I didn't know what was at stake.   Yes, church picnics and bible camps were fun, but they were also superfluous.  The purpose of Christianity wasn't to help me sell cookies at the church bake sale.  Rather, it was to protect me from an eternity of hellfire and torment   The rules were simple. I had to accept Jesus as my lord and savior, attend church regularly, and pay my tithes.  To do anything less would result in punishment as shown in John 3:16 and John 3:36: (16) For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (36) The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him. Just as as a loving parent will punish thei
Recent posts

Riots, Homesteads, and Buddhist Pure Lands

I live in the downtown area of a major city, and it's a hotspot for rallies and protests of all kinds. Black Lives Matter, Trump, supporters, The Green Party; you name the group and they've protested in my city.  And as a Buddhist minister, part of my work is visiting areas of unrest and being an example of peace.  Sadly, when there are so many groups with different agendas, there is no end to the unrest. I give talks, I teach meditation, and sometimes I sit in silence as the world moves quickly around me.    Simply put, I strive to let people know that Buddha is on the street.  In doing so, it's my hope that they'll know to look for Buddha in their heart. Sometimes, I leave demonstrations and I feel like my work was a success- I had a conversation or provided help to a protester and it felt like I was living the Dharma.  Other times, I leave wondering if my presence made a difference.  Did I provide a living example of Dharma, or did I just walk around in my robes for

Buddhism and Anti-Natalism

David Benatar is the head of philosophy at Cape Town University and the author of Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.   In his book, David argues that bringing new life into the world is an immoral act.  In order to make this argument he uses an axiological asymmetrical argument, which states: If a being exists, suffering is bad and pleasure is good.  However, if a being does not exist, missing out on pleasure isn't bad, however missing out on suffering is good.  In other words, life is suffering. Suffering is bad.  Therefore, it's better to not be born, so that we never experience suffering.  It's important to note, that Benatar does not include any caveats to this argument.   In fact, in this interview with Sam Harris, he suggests that there is no way to make a life good enough that it is better than not existing. Naturally, this view point has received pushback in the philosophy community.  For my part, I'd like to tackle Benatar's unde

Stacking Rocks in the Wilderness

I was involved with the Boy Scouts of America as a child.  Every month, my scout troop and I would pack up the trailer and drive to some far-off location where we'd build fires, pitch tents, and hike through the wilderness.  Eventually, I became an Eagle Scout; the highest rank that a boy scout can earn. One lesson that was drilled into us at the start of every camping trip was the philosophy of " leave no trace " camping.  The idea was simple, the natural word was sacred and worthy of our respect.  We were guests in the forest, and it was our job to leave things better than how we found them.   So, campfires were built using dead wood that we found lying in the forest as opposed to chopping down trees.  We hiked on established trails to protect newly grown vegetation, and garbage we produced during the trip was bagged and carried out in the trunk of our cars. Obviously, it was impossible to have zero-impact on the natural world, but our hope was to enjoy it in such a way