Buddhist bollocks

I’m an atheist. I believe that when we die it’s lights out, game over.

I also believe that an incredible amount of death and human suffering could have been averted if everyone would just accept that there is nothing better coming – no nirvana, no heaven, no paradise populated by beautiful virgins. Not to mention the guilt that could have been avoided! Guilt, the cornerstone of all religion.

However, at times I’ve thought that if I HAD to follow a religion, IF there was a gun to my head, it might be Buddhism. After all, isn’t it just about being a better person and finding joy in everyday activities, as well as peace, love and tolerance towards all things?

Bollocks it is. Now that I’ve been in Buddhist countries for a few months and I’ve read Buddhism 101, I’m quite the expert. Here are the particulars of my beef with Buddhism.

Noise

Isn’t Buddhism all about mindfulness and quiet reflective introspection? Not that I can see. When we were in Battambang our stay coincided with a 2 week festival to honour the ancestors. We were quite near a temple, which at 3am every morning broadcast, from large speakers, a cacophony of chanting, toneless singing and what I can only describe as droning. 3 IN THE AM. It wasn’t brief either, it went on until at least 9am. This is not the type of noise that can be blocked with earplugs. It goes straight through them.

Here in Myanmar, loud chanting of the huge Abhidhamma text called Patthána is blared for hours and days from loudspeakers. In Sri Lanka it’s “protective” chanting recordings blasted all night until dawn. I’m not alone in my distaste of this practice, for example this article notes that the deliberate sound pollution caused by Buddhists appears to be in direct contradiction to the Buddha’s own examples and advice.

Intolerance

Myanmar is primarily a Buddhist country and its people are often openly hostile towards Muslims. This includes, but is not limited to, the persecution of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state, who are viewed as “not belonging” despite residing there for hundreds of years. There is also a public campaign for Buddhists to buy up all of the slaughter licenses in the country so that Muslims cannot obtain them to produce halal meat.

Extremism

Religious extremism isn’t confined to Islam and Christianity. Buddhism has its own fair share of nut jobs including the so-called “extreme monks” of the 969 movement in Myanmar. These tossers, apparently ignoring the fact that the principle of non-violence is central to Buddhism, have attacked mosques and burned the homes of Muslims.

Hypocrisy

At every Buddhist temple we visit, we are required to remove our footwear and cover our lewd shoulders and thighs so as not to offend the Buddha. But it appears to be quite acceptable for hawkers to sell their wares inside temple grounds and often inside temples themselves. Buddha’s teachings encourage followers to renounce worldly desires and resist forming attachments to “things”, so what’s that all about?

There are also signs in many places stating that the Buddha is NOT to be used for decoration because it is sacrilegious. That doesn’t seem to stop anyone selling Buddha statues, bookends, doorstops, masks, candle holders and whatever else.

Sexism

This deserves its own post. Coming soon.

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