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The Myth of Atheism: Buddhism

January 5, 2013

In contrast to Islamic Faith, the religion Atheists are reluctant to criticize, and Catholicism, the religion Atheists took pleasure to mock, Buddhism has attracted many young generations that claim to be atheists in the First World (except the Japanese, who are traditionally Buddhists).

However, I notice that American Buddhism is definitely different from Buddhism in Asia. I was born and raised in Asian nation when Buddhism is a part of daily life (the mixed spirituality of shamanism and Buddhism), and my experience of Buddhism is 100% different from my White friends that endorse Buddhism. My white friends (I pick on them because American Buddhists are mostly white) an exotic and authentic “product” when they arrive to the West. When a White man or woman talk about Buddhism, they may mention a few words about Dalai Lama, about the joy and happiness, about the incense, about some rituals, even about their spiritual journeys to Asia. Buddhism has become a fashion.

Except for a few professors, the First World populations can hardy recognized a simple fact that Buddhism is as diverse as Christianity, and its practices are differences region by region. There have been different practices of Buddhism-from idol worshiping, ritualistic dogmatism, to philosophical debates and abstain. I am not going to explain things in detail, but I will sum up why, in my opinion, there are several factors that make Buddhism the new popular religion.

1. Historical cause
No European regime has ever been conquered or colonized by Buddhism, but it does not mean Buddhism empire spare Asian nations with peace and harmony. Anyone that scratched the surface of Asian history knows that Buddhist aristocrats and clerics have committed no less crimes than Islamic and Christian ones, and their struggles with aristocrats are no less brutal than Christians. Even today, the Buddhism didn’t decrease the brutality of Singalese military against Tamil insurgents in Sri Lanka. I am not here to say that Buddhism is good or evil, but I think Atheists fail to notice the historical diversity and conflicts, and make judgments based on their personal biases rather than “facts” they kept mentioning.

When no Buddhism has ever ruled over White men and women, it doesn’t mean Buddhism applies the same standard to other Asian nations.

2. Romanticization of the modern thinkers
The Romanticization of Buddhism is related to the German philosophy in the 19th century. As far as I know, German philosophers have largely endorsed Buddhism. Those thinkers like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, who have neither been to Asian nations nor spoken Asian languages, Romanticized Buddhism as spirituality, and ignored the diversity of Buddhism. In the 20th century, the romanticized Buddhism has been a fashion in German Ideology, and more and more modern Western thinkers (including Albert Einstein) treated Buddhism the alternative “faith” to endorse, even though they IMAGINE a harmonious, compassionate Buddhism exists. Everyone will have some irrational thought, but I found those Atheists that applied their double standards very ironic.

3. Cold War
When the Cold War has heated up in Asia from 1945-1989, both American’s allies and Asian refugees under Communists immigrated to the United States along with their faiths. I guess this phenomenon accelerated the acceptance of Buddhism in the West. When Asian Buddhists themselves know about the expectation of the Anglo-Saxons, they definitely will write the texts that will appeal to White audiences.
(By the way, HH of Dalai Lama is NOT the political leader of Tibet exile government; to say HH of Dalai Lama is the Tibetan leader is as absurd to say HH of Benedict XVI is the leader of the EU.)

When you ask an endorser of Buddhism in America or Canada about the Holy Texts of Buddhism, they could not tell too much about it. We can tell that most of American “Budddhists” didn’t know enough, or didn’t want to know more about this faith. However, why does Buddhism win the heart of white-collar First World populations? In my opinion, the Western “Buddhism” is nothing but the an exotic experiences. When I observed their interpretation of Buddhism-the mythical spirituality, the incense, the appeal of harmony-is what First-World youth expected from Christianity, the faith that embodied a conservative value they no longer recognized, rather than Buddhism itself.

Good and evil exists in every society, and it is foolish for a “thinker” to have wishful thinking about religious, ethnic, or political identities. My lesson on Western Buddhism helps me to learn about the prejudgment of the those “freethinkers”. Why don’t American Atheists today simply doesn’t want to tell their fact that they are “anti-Christians” rather than a “freethinker”, when they show no interest in the in-depth history and culture?

  1. Interesting article! 🙂

    Unfortunately, most people (all over the world) end up turning the quest for true spirituality into a secondhand set of fun traditions, symbols, practices and methods.

    Atheists, to me, have their set of beliefs (which are supposedly non-beliefs)… and so-called religious people have their set of beliefs (including fun symbols, traditions and practices). Atheists and these so-called religious people are all essentially the same… they all have their images, their beliefs, their patterns of how things should be… (in which they are stuck).

    To be beyond all that remains only for a very few (so far).

    • Thank you for comments. I wrote about those articles because I think there are more people that pretend to be skeptical, or do not have the opportunities to explore those subjects in-depth.

  2. Yes, you are right; they pretend, without having investigated. There are lots of ignorant people like that, unfortunately… both atheists and those full of rigid beliefs!

  3. I always like the irony… that “the sacred” is very much alive… but that atheists are essentially dead from the neck up! 😉

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