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Japan: Early Buddhism

"Japan: Early Buddhism" Continued...

Issue: "Troops hunt for weapons," June 14, 2003

This emphasis on the internal can appeal to those tired of liberal and Marxist clichŽs about the goodness of man and our corruption by the external environment. Many people have enough self-consciousness to realize that we are not good by nature; a Tibetan Buddhist text such as Good Life, Good Death by Rimpoche Gehlek, a "reincarnated lama," resonates with that understanding. Gehlek states, "The true enemy is inside. The maker of trouble, the source of all our suffering, the destroyer of our virtue is inside. It is Ego.... So your boss is not responsible for your hurt pride, your parents did not create your rage. We blame conditions while the problem and the cause of our problem is inside."

The inward-turning of Buddhism is revealed in the question-and-answer sessions on some websites, including this one provided by Ajahn Chah, a monk in Ubon Rajathani in northeastern Thailand: "Q: Is it advisable to read a lot or study the scriptures as a part of practice? A: You don't need to bother with books. Watch your own mind. Examine to see how feelings come and go, how thoughts come and go. Don't be attached to anything. Q: A lot of times it seems that many monks here are not practicing. They look sloppy or unmindful. This disturbs me. A: You will not discover wisdom watching others."

The Eightfold Path can readily appeal to those who see that changing external environments doesn't work, and then decide to concentrate on the internal. That dichotomy, though, is false, since there is a third option: an external but eternal force changing the internal. Christianity contrasts the eternal to both the internal and the external, and that emphasis apparently had an impact on Buddhism soon after Christ's resurrection.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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