The Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist

By Dzogchen Ponlop RinpocheTibetan Buddhist teacher If we want to be free of the pain we inflict on ourselves and … Continued

By Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Tibetan Buddhist teacher

If we want to be free of the pain we inflict on ourselves and each other — in other words, if we want to be happy — then we have to learn to think for ourselves. We need to be responsible for ourselves and examine anything that claims to be the truth. That’s what the Buddha did long ago to free himself from his own discontent and persistent doubts about what he heard, day-after-day, from his parents, teachers and the palace priests.

Although he was a prince born into a wealthy and powerful family, the young Siddhartha often just wanted to get away from it all. He wanted the space to think independently about who he was and what the spiritual path was about. Such freethinking was important to the Buddha’s search for inner truth and his ultimate realization of enlightenment. These days more and more people in the West are following the teachings and example of the Buddha. But what are these teachings about? What is Buddhism? It looks like a religion, but is it?

There are many definitions of religion. Some are so broad they’d include your neighborhood garden club. Others are narrower: your garden club would need a deity, enthusiasm for that deity, and a set of beliefs and practices. We all have some sense of what religion means to us, but when we start talking about it — trouble!

If you search “world religions,” you’ll find “Buddhism” on every list. Does that make Buddhism a religion? Does it mean that because I’m a Buddhist, I’m “religious”? I can argue that Buddhism is a science of mind — a way of exploring how we think, feel and act that leads us to profound truths about who we are. I can also say that Buddhism is a philosophy of life — a way to live that maximizes our chances for happiness.

What Buddhism is, at this point, is certainly out of the Buddha’s hands. His teachings passed into the hands of his followers thousands of years ago. They passed from wandering beggars to monastic institutions, from the illiterate to the learned, from the esoteric East to the outspoken West. In its travels, Buddhism has been many things to many people. But what did the Buddha intend when he taught?

At the start of his own spiritual quest, Prince Siddhartha left his royal home, along with its many luxuries and privileges. He was determined to find answers to life’s most perplexing questions. Are we born into the world just to suffer, grow old, and die? What’s going on — what’s the meaning of it all? After years of experimenting with different forms of religious practice, he abandoned his austerities and all his concepts about his spiritual journey — all the beliefs and doctrines that had led him to where he was. At the end of that journey, with only an open and curious mind, he discovered what he was looking for — the great mind of enlightenment. He woke up from all confusion. He saw beyond all belief systems to the profound reality of the mind itself — a state of clear awareness and supreme happiness. Along with that knowledge came an understanding of how to lead a meaningful and compassionate life. For the next 45 years, he taught how to work with the mind: how to look at it, how to free it from misunderstandings, and how to realize the greatness of its potential.

Those teachings today still describe a deeply personal inner journey that’s spiritual, yes, but not religious. The Buddha wasn’t a god — he wasn’t even a Buddhist. You’re not required to have more faith in the Buddha than you do in yourself. His power lies in his teachings, which show us how to work with our minds to realize our full capacity for wakefulness and happiness. These teachings can help us satisfy our search for the truth — our need to know who and what we really are.

Where do we find this truth? Although we can rely to some degree on the wisdom we find in books and on the advice of respected spiritual authorities, that’s only the beginning. The journey to genuine truth begins when you discover a true question — one that comes from the heart — from your own life and experience. That question will lead to an answer that will lead to another question, and so on. That’s how it goes on the spiritual path.

We start by bringing an open, inquisitive, and skeptical mind to whatever we hear, read, or see that presents itself as the truth. We examine it with reason and we put it to the test in meditation and in our lives. As we gain insight into the workings of the mind, we learn how to recognize and deal with our day-to-day experiences of thoughts and emotions. We uncover inaccurate and unhelpful habits of thinking and begin to correct them. Eventually we’re able to overcome the confusion that makes it so hard to see the mind’s naturally brilliant awareness. In this sense, the Buddha’s teachings are a method of investigation, or a science of mind.

Religion, on the other hand, often provides us with answers to life’s big questions from the start. We don’t have to think about it too much. We learn what to think and believe and our job is to live up to that, not to question it. If we relate to the Buddha’s teachings as final answers that don’t need to be examined, then we’re practicing Buddhism as a religion.

In any case, we still have to live our lives and face up to how we’re going to do it. We can’t escape having a “philosophy of life,” because we’re challenged every day to choose one action over another — kindness or indifference, generosity or selfishness, patience or blame. When our decisions and actions reflect the knowledge we’ve gained by working with our minds, that’s adopting Buddhism as a way of life.

As the teachings of the Buddha reach us and pass into our Western hands, what determines what they will be for us? It’s all in how we use them. As long as they help to clear up our confusion and inspire confidence that we can fulfill our potential, then they’re doing the job that the Buddha intended.

We can use all the help we can get, because strange as it seems, we hang onto to our confusion. We cling to it because we think it shields us from something. But like wearing sunglasses day and night, we are only avoiding looking at who we truly are. We prefer to wear our “shades,” simply because we’re not used to the bright light of our minds. The teachings of the Buddha — no matter how we label them — show us how to open our eyes to that brilliance.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the author of several books including “Rebel Buddha (Shambhala Publications), scheduled to publish in November.

  • clarkstrand

    Thanks, Rinpoche, for a straightforward treatment of the religion vs. spirituality issue as it relates to Buddhism. Rebel Buddha sounds interesting. I’ll look for it when it comes out.

  • Greg53

    It is true that Buddhism is not a religion in some senses. But it should be noted that Rinpoche himself has written a book called “Mind Beyond Death” in which he describes the Buddhist view of what happens to people after they die–they go to heaven, hell, or are born in other realms or as animals. There are few people who would not call that religion.

  • Tyler_Dewar

    As a grateful student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche who has for years had the good fortune of receiving Rinpoche’s culture-appropriate and culture-transcending guidance in the path of (non-Buddhist?) Buddhist wisdom, I am delighted to see that Rinpoche’s insightful, kind, and humorous words are gaining the much broader audience that they deserve. I too look forward to Rebel Buddha.

  • tanyamcginnity

    Simple yet profound. I really appreciate the emphasis on finding one’s own path and living well rather than following blindly the words of another. This is so empowering and I’m happy to have taken off my sunglasses, no matter how blinding the brilliance can be.

  • mgf1071

    As Rinpoche has pointed out, what Buddhism is, at this point, is certainly out of the Buddha’s hands. There are believes and practices which have been added through out the years by cultural components (i.e. the differences between Tibetan or Chinesse Buddhism or even among different Buddhist schools). What shouldn’t be missed here, is Rimpoche’s the definition of what Buddhism is, in it’s pure essence… a “science of the mind”. Looking forward to Rebel Buddha Rinpoche!

  • carloslokko

    I think what Ponlop is saying is that the way the wisdom of the Buddha has made it to us, is a bit overly decorated with cultural and religious outfits that can be confusing when trying to relate directly to the teachings which are much more profound than the outift they wear – be religion, tibetan, eastern, weird, ancient, old skool, freaky or whatever

  • BelindaG1

    A pithy and smart exploration of how Buddhism provides the ground for genuine exploration, whatever you want to call it. Thanks Rinpoche!

  • gregguy31

    Layers upon layers we put on as we start with something or just like when we start a project and it’s a grey matter, perhaps as to believe in it. But gradually we have to realize that we need to strip them until we are completely comfortable, to some and extent, it might have to be completely naked to experience true nakedness – an unclouded mind that is more focused. We then see the openness and simplicity of being that present itself in expansiveness, we become not just free from mere belief but we live with courage and confidence of a awakening con”science”.

  • dianeLee1

    I really believe that if we can have any hope for a more harmonious world we have to start within our own mind. I look forward to this new book from Rinpoche as he refreshingly challenges us to deconstruct our self-imposed obstacles by examining our thought process with the skillful methods of Buddha’s teachings.

  • DavidLangley

    refreshing

  • clshel

    As Rinpoche points out, whether “Buddhism” is a religion, or not, depends on how a person relates to it. The meaning of something involves both the person and the the ‘thing’ we’re looking at. A very helpful perspective that we can apply to other areas of our life – relationships, money and politics! As for the descriptions of “heavens, hells and rebirths” etc in Mind Beyond Death, it’s interesting to read what DPR actually says. Great descriptions – many possible meanings.

  • sventastic

    What a refreshing breath of air!

  • colleggneen

    This article offers cause for pause where the truth and intention of religion is concerned, not as a means of comparison, but as an investigation of direct human experience. The straight shot: “You’re not required to have more faith in the Buddha than you do in yourself.” I wish to hear/read more illuminating words from Rinpoche!

  • cecibooks

    I appreciate that Ponlop Rinpoche gives primary importance to our truth-seeking questions (fertile ground for epiphany) instead of on beliefs and religious labels that can distract us from experiencing the innate clarity of the mind. I’ve read Mind Beyond Death too, and while that book presents a wide range of traditional bardo teachings, Rinpoche’s presentation of them doesn’t try to get me to agree with a set of Buddhist beliefs. What it does do is inspire me to practice working with my mind in a variety of ways.

  • Bill_Schwartz

    As a Karma Kagyu I feel great pride in seeing one of our brightest hopes shine: Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.Surprised? Well Rinpoche has been surprising Tibetan Buddhists for years with his insightful take on what we need to know.Not for the scholar, the expert, the internet pundit but what any person interested in what we are about needs instead.Thank you so much Rinpoche, I look forward to reading your forthcoming book, Rebel Buddha, and chatting with you on Twitter (yes Rinpoche tweets).Karmapa Chenno!

  • paulhannon

    Thank you Ponlop Rinpoche for your very refreshing, revitalizing take on religion and it’s hold on our individual egos. I find Ponlop Rinpoche’s view helps cut through the bs of identifying oneself with the label of the religion, ie being a good Buddhist or being a good Catholic or whatever. What do we have when we drop those labels? We have the wealth of our experience and how that aligns with the treasure of wisdom teachings all faiths hold.

  • charlesspearin

    My father discovered Buddhism in the 1970’s and consequently I was raised Buddhist. Now, my wife and I have two children of our own and are raising them Buddhist as well. Although it is our “religion” we relate to it much more in the way Rinpoche describes, as a “science of mind”, with a genuine sense of inquisitiveness rather then heavy-handed dogma. I find it heartwarming to see Western Buddhism take root in this way.

  • sventastic

    What a refreshing breath of air!

  • pbrey

    I would be interested in what Punlop Rinpoche has to say about the institutions that have developed to support the dissemination of buddhism. How can they remain “non buddhist” and free from religion? It seems to be the problem that always surfaces whether it is the catholics, the muslims or the system that supported buddhism in Tibet.

  • rosshunter

    GREG53 APRIL 6, 2010 5:02 PM -I like your point yet I believe most practicing Buddhists who read that book would think it very far removed from religion. It deals with the instructions for practice through the death experience, and through the life experience, equally. It all comes back to the practice path, self-governed, spirituality rather than religion.Rinpoche’s distinction between the two is very useful, I’m very grateful that he wrote this.

  • adelaiglesias

    Clearing up our confusion, identifying and transcending inaccurate and unhelpful habits of thinking, learning to relate with ourselves and others from a gentle perspective – I am so grateful to the Buddha and to the teachers that have uninterruptedly conveyed his teachings through the centuries to offer us the tools with which we can take responsibility for our own actions and actually transform our self-centered approach to life into a much more open and compassionate one.

  • sventastic

    What a refreshing breath of air!

  • acadiechick

    Ponlop Rinpoche is a rare gem amongst today’s spiritual teachers that can cut through cultural and dogmatic baggage in order to present the Buddha’s teaching in a straightforward and fresh manner. If this article is a teaser for the upcoming Rebel Buddha, then I look forward to its publication with eager anticipation!

  • lynnemarvet

    I enjoyed reading how practical this approach is to examining your life and mind. Owning the power to shape our lives to become more present, open, curious and kind is a great way to live. Following the path of the Buddha is a moment by moment experience. I liked what he said about how we hang onto our confusion because we are not accustomed to the bright light of our mind. Imagine a world where we truly can see things as they are and respond with compassion and whatever is most beneficial to all. Thank you for reminding us that we can do this now.

  • Greg53

    The article starts promisingly enough, with an acknowledgement that “religion” is a flexible term. But then Rinpoche proceeds to offer an offhand definition that is highly suspect–religion, apparently, is for people who want “final answers” that they don’t want to “examine.”There are many Christians, Jews, and Muslims who would readily argue that by this definition, their traditions are not “religions” either.

  • jack67

    Thank you, Rinpoche, for this clear and concise presentation. My first Buddhist teacher, Shunryo Suzuki, always told us to

  • jack67

    Thank you Rinpoche for this clear and concise presentation. My first Buddhist teacher, Shunryo Suzuki always told us to “find out what is the most important thing,” and “whatever you say, that is (Buddhism), and whatever you say, that is not (Buddhism).” (That one stops your mind!)

  • wkstoneiii

    I accept the core of the message of Buddha as abandoning seeking outside yourself for the truth and seeking within yourself. No one can teach, or lead, or train you to realize the truth, they can only point out the way. And the truth does not reside inside or outside, it simply is. We develop all manner of behaviors learned over our lifetime to try and satisfy a fundamental desire to know the truth. They are distractions from the truth. I believe it is a distraction to even discuss Buddha as a ‘thing’ of any sort. Of course Buddha was not a Buddhist. Any attachment of ‘ism’, belief, faith, ritual, discipline, or whatever is a distraction.

  • jimkukula

    Buddhist discussions of the experience of death are certainly difficult to accept – their accuracy is hard to check! But if such notions are taken as the mark of religion, then quickly enough one can see all experience as religious. Never mind any supposed continuity of personhood after death – consider just the supposed continuity of personhood from one day to the next! Be as skeptical about that, as an exercise!

  • EdgewoodVA

    Beautifully put. As a student of an eclectic spiritual path–one in which I recognize the one-ness of all creation–I am always glad to hear from those who can present these ideas with wisdom and confidence without dismissing religion altogether. While many people follow an inherent calling to seek truth and understanding of life’s greatest mysteries, they can use religion (however it may be defined) as a tool to carry them forward, or as a weapon to shackle themselves and others to an often narrow, unexamined doctrine. I think that many fear taking responsibility for their own spiritual journey, or fear their perceived inability to make that journey at all. However, we can be solitary seekers and fellow travelers at the same time–it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. If only we could encourage more people to take that first step without proselytizing…Thank you, Rinpoche, for your work towards that end.

  • samujohn

    I certainly endorse the necessity of serious inquiry and freeing one’s self from prejudice and superstition etc., I am, however, skeptical of the “the bright light of our minds” and “brilliance” claims. It is easy to allow such attractive notions to mislead one into pretending that resolutions to pain and injustice can be found. On the other hand, the Buddhist teachings which allow, and even celebrate, joy, are a welcome antidote to much of Western religious teachings.

  • timechange28

    The definition of the word “religion” comes from the Latin root relegio meaning “to connect”. The difference between knowledge and belief is perception. Must we always make things so complicated?

  • deadkoz

    Each man must find his own way to God.

  • ak1967

    Fascinating piece. Hope Christian and Muslims leaders will read this and stop brain-washing and converting people. Let people think for themselves and ask questions openly. God created this universe for us to enjoy, experience, questions and respect all equally.

  • jeyges

    Rinpoche means well, but meanwhile, he accepts the entire narrative on faith. He presupposes the accuracy of the reporting. Also, although he tends to be less conformist than are most lamas, particularly those of the previous generation, Rinpoche comes from a tradition in which unquestioning obedience to and trust in one’s teacher are considered mandatory. If the lama tells you something, you simply believe it without question.One of the comments above included this: “I’ve read Mind Beyond Death too, and while that book presents a wide range of traditional bardo teachings, Rinpoche’s presentation of them doesn’t try to get me to agree with a set of Buddhist beliefs.” The point is – Buddhism has a systematized body of meditative practices, the results of which may be experienced subjectively and evaluated, but in terms of its metaphysical system, it’s a religion like all of the others. Rinpoche may say you don’t need to adopt the belief system in order to realize immediate benefit, but I’d be very surprised if he believes you can attain enlightenment without taking on the whole package.

  • ladyliberty1

    Fascinating piece. Hope Christian and Muslims leaders will read this and stop brain-washing and converting people. Let people think for themselves and ask questions openly. God created this universe for us to enjoy, experience, questions and respect all equally.Posted by: ak1967 | Let’s ask some of those questions. 1) Why do living things die?2) What happens after death?3) Why do people commit atrocious crimes – murder, sexually molesting children?4) Is this life all there is?5) Why be selfless, compassionate, kind?6) WHO determines moral law? For example, in Yemen a 13 year old child bride just died from rupture of her sexual organs. In Yemen, it is lawful to marry a 13 year old child. In America it is not. WHO determines moral law and civil law? What is the standard? Is there a standard? Or, does everyone do what is “right” in his own eyes?7) WHY be good? If it’s legal, why not do it? In America killing a baby in the womb up until the time he/she passes the vaginal cavity is legal. More than 50 million babies have been murdered in their mother’s wombs since the LAW determine it was lawful to kill innocent beings in the womb. What is the code of ethics for a Buddhist? Does he/she live by the law of the land? Or, is there a higher law, a universal law that he/she adheres to? Who determines WHAT that law is? Does he/she adhere to the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, thousands of years ago? 8) Does man really get better and better as he ages? Rarely does one see a person become less selfish, more compassionate, more humble over time.9) What is the end result of Buddhism? IOW, who benefits from all the introspection? Who benefits from the self-absorption? 10) Is a Buddhist concerned primarily with his/her own development as a living being in relation to the world around him/her? Does he have an eternal perspective? Or, is the here and now, all there is?These are just a few questions, that the above poster may like to answer for the readers.

  • jb9636

    perhaps other good questions:1. what are the consequences of my actions?2. what are the results of all consequences of every action?3. what causes one to do the right thing in any situation?4. why are there unloved children?5. why are some people sacrificed for political decisions?5. what if life IS all there is?6. what if your neighbor IS yourself?7. how do any of us practice the answers to these questions?

  • Judy-in-TX

    As a Catholic, I have always had a great respect for Buddhism and Buddhist teaching.

  • ladyliberty1

    perhaps other good questions:Sounds like Buddhism is all questions and no concrete answers. Maybe that is what is meant by self-actualization. It’s all about self and self reflection and being – a separation of one’s self into parts, the physical and the the etereal, a disintegration, if you will. Probably works well in a monastery, but not in the real world with very real problems and a very real presence of evil to deal with.

  • PauvrePapillon

    Buddhism is a science.Global warming is a religion.

  • ladyliberty1

    As I reflect on the questions one may ask about Buddhism, I’m struck by the self absorption of the pursuit in Buddhism. As a matter of fact, it appears to be entirely a pursuit in the interest of SELF – self enlightenment. While this may be good in producing a peaceable society, if everyone keeps to one’s self, and pursues one’s own truth, it doesn’t produce a vibrant, other-centered society, establishing of institutions for the good of mankind, such as hospitals, and law enforcement through systems committed to dealing with a standard law, court systems, judicial systems, for those who violate a legal code. As a matter of fact, if Buddhism reigned, it doesn’t appear there would be a system of law because there is no standard, only individual truth, and no universal code of ethics, morals, and a basis for civil law. There will always be evil/criminal acts to deal with in society; therefore, there must be a code of law to determine who can be prosecuted, both for the sake of justice, and as a deterrent to further lawlessness. In the West, it is good that we have a Judeo/Christian basis for law – the Ten Commandments. Otherwise, Buddhists would not have the leisure to practice their pursuit of self-actualization. They would be more concerned with self-preservation. A chaotic and increasingly lawless society, would threaten both their safety and peace of mind, that they require for their pursuit. That must be the reason so many have to live in seclusion to pursue their “enlightened” self.

  • br55

    LadyLiberty–your comments demonstrate a lack of understanding of the teachings. Once someone is liberated, their only goal is to help others. Besides, if you study buddhism, you’ll see how compassion for others is a central teaching, and you’ll learn that their is no “self” or “other”. You may want to read up on what a Bodhisattva is. Jesus was one.

  • jamshark70

    Jeyges: “Also, although he tends to be less conformist than are most lamas, particularly those of the previous generation, Rinpoche comes from a tradition in which unquestioning obedience to and trust in one’s teacher are considered mandatory. If the lama tells you something, you simply believe it without question.”Keep in mind, though, the purpose of the unquestioning obedience. The teacher is supposed to put you in situations where you’ll have to confront old habits of mind that prevent you from seeing the truth. Otherwise you just keep seeing the tint of the lenses, but not the real color. What happens if the teacher tells you to do something and your response is, “Well, I’m not going to do *that*”? Then the teaching is useless.This is different from Western religions, where obedience is largely for the sake of obedience. In Buddhist teacher-student relations, obedience is for the sake of (eventual) liberation. (In “the big three” monotheistic religions, obedience to God can also lead to liberation, but fewer run-of-the-mill preachers understand it or teach it than I would like.)

  • dwalke11

    Poor Lady Liberty. She must suffer terribly pondering questions about how people formed community before Christianity and Judaism.

  • SofaKingCool2009

    can I still have sex?

  • exastrologer

    Someone said that Buddhism is about compassion, but compassion based on what? Everything taught in Buddhism is based on a Buddhist view of what is right or wrong, truth or non-truth, real or not real. In the end, Buddhism is not just about open-ended inquiry, as the Rinpoche implies above, but rather is a system in and of itself that provides specific principles and a worldview based on what Buddha and a succession of Buddhist teachers taught. Buddhism presents itself as a system of open philosophical inquiry, but it is no such thing. It is all done within the framework of a Buddhist worldview.I studied Buddhism and practiced some of its principles for many years; interesting that there is no mention here that Buddhism believes that it is the only way to liberation from suffering.

  • Gopher1

    Very interesting piece. I have an answer to the people writing in that buddhism is inherently self-absorbed and does nothing for society. Isn’t that a little false. When a christian or a hindu or a jew does something to help his/her fellow man -isn’t there an implicit understanding that an act that is favored by his/her god is being done and they shall reap the rewards in the hereafter. So isn’t that the same self-absorbtion that some accuse the buddhists of harboring. It just so happens that the buddhist is a little more upfront about it all without wrapping it in the mysticity.

  • ladyliberty1

    Gopher1 wrote: Very interesting piece. I have an answer to the people writing in that buddhism is inherently self-absorbed and does nothing for society. Isn’t that a little false.Buddhism has been around longer than Christianity; yet, the influence of Christianity is seen everywhere, from the great works of art of Europe, to the establishing of America with 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence being seminary graduates, where Christianity influenced the birth of a nation where people would be free to worship. In the land of liberty where Christianity shaped the culture, hospitals and universities were established as an outgrowth of Christian principles to serve one another. Harvard and Princeton were founded to train young men in the ministry. Charitable organizations proliferated in America in keeping with our Christian principles of “give and serve.” A Christian nurse who tended to the war wounded founded the “American Red Cross.” “The Salvation Army” to care for the homeless is a Christian organization. Another Christian organizaiton started by a minister in 1902, and which now has a global reach to the poor is “Goodwill.” “World Vision” is a Christian organization that is a global ministry to care for the world’s poor. “Samaritan’s Purse” is a Christian ministry to serve those who have been devastated by a natural disaster, and to help restore and provide for the well-being of those in need. Of course, there are thousands of smaller organizations that we never hear about, but are in every city all over America.Perhaps there are Buddhists hospitals of mercy, and organizations to take in the homeless, and organizations to help those who have suffered war wounds or natural crisis that have left people devastated, but I’m not aware of any. I just checked Buddhists charities, and there are 246 combined, with 58 of those registered in the past 5 years, for a total of 27 million pounds. I’m not aware of the advances that Buddhism has had on the world.

  • chimp1

    What an insightful lesson–I look forward to reading Rebel Buddha. Reminds me…many years ago, as an undergraduate at UC San Diego, I attended a talk on campus by Shimar Rinpoche, a gentle soul who was getting hammered with slightly nasty questions by the audience. I raised my hand and asked if one could attain enlightenment through the eating of red-rasberry cheesecake. Shimar Rinpoche smiled broadly and said, through a translator, “You understand!” I’ve been eating such cheesecake, unlaced with dogma, ever since.

  • Zino

    Lady Liberty needs to chill. There’s no competition between Buddhism and Judeo/Christian, Muslim or other religions. As Rinpoche says, it’s not a religion anyway. Buddhism is a practice of increased purification and awareness that doesn’t discriminate between one or another religion. One has one’s own experience of the truth just like any Christian must have a personal experience of God. Siddhartha Gautama never cared from which religion a person came. In fact, you can do the meditation and be a Baptist or whatever you want to be. Nobody cares if you’re going to church on Sunday or whatever observance you want to make. There’s no conversion or worship, no gods or goddesses.But at some point, you’ll realize the very firm morality and ethics of Buddhism go much further than do the 10 Commandments, including things like right speech and right livelihood. It’s very subtle.There is forgiveness in Buddhist practice, contrary to Fox News, but you aren’t going to “sin all week then get a pass from the Lord on Sunday.” The major sin is not working diligently to overcome the ignorance that might block your own realization, or prevent others from having that chance. One realizes the quality of Buddha inside oneself, and not in a selfish or limited way.One hopes that Christians get the chance to experience God or Jesus within themselves. Ironically, I’ll respectfully suggest that meditation will make you a better Christian.

  • S8thRd

    The piece would be much better if the writer had actually made an effort to understand religions other than Buddhism, before issuing judgments and taking a hostile stance toward them. No decent religion, practiced correctly, treats “teachings as final answers that don’t need to be examined.” Also, his claim that Buddhism is a “science of mind” or “philosophy” but “not a religion” is ridiculous. The writer needs to get off his high horse.

  • Mnnngj

    Posted by: ladyliberty1The SELF you are obsessed with is in its realization, the not-self or no-self.That is the higher state that all beings are actually in.

  • barferio

    Read this ladylibertyAtheists make up 8% or so of the population in our country, yet represent 0.209% of the prison population.Apparently your ten commandments are not having the desired affect in the christian population; all of your cults, sects and other groupings are represented about equal to their numbers in the population at large. This is true as well for the other non-christian religions.Also it is apparent that we atheists, without fear of divine punishment nor desiring your eternal reward are behaving ourselves without your 10 commandments.Yours is an empty argument, an attempt to validate christian control of society which does not hold out when examined in reality.

  • daniel12

    Several major errors by Rinpoche here. First of all, his depiction of Buddhism as a science of mind–in fact virtually all his treatment–is a reading into Buddhism of actually Western science and philosophy and is not Buddhism at all.Notice he does not mention freeing oneself of reincarnation and attaining enlightenment. But such is actual Buddhist belief. And his error is most telling when he speaks of the “brilliancy of natural mind”. Natural mind? A natural mind which nevertheless cannot be gotten to except by strenuous spiritual and philosophical activity? Some “natural” mind if we have to dispell confusion for years and years to get to it. It obviously is not the natural condition of man.Basic logic here refutes Rinpoche–thus of course throwing him as an authority into question. And it gets worse. The notion of “natural mind” which nevertheless needs Buddhism and authorities such as Rinpoche to be arrived at is called into question by Darwin and evolution. If man was naturally anything he was a primate not far from a chimpanzee. There was and is no natural mind. We have evolved toward mind. And are still evolving…Need I say more? Just look for yourself. Rinpoche speaks of a natural mind then tells us that this mind however, prefers confusion for some strange reason rather than its own natural brilliancy…Some natural mind if it has to struggle lifelong against confusion. Rinpoche’s entire philosophical conceptual scheme is in error. A naturally brilliant mind…sounds like a wish more than anything else. But this is promised by Buddhism and we should not call that religion, as if Buddhism is far from the mere wishes and hopes of other religions…Right.Buddhism insofar as reincarnation is concerned, enlightenment, a “naturally brilliant mind” which nevertheless needs a lifetime to be arrived at, cannot be called a science of mind at all, because it comes into conflict with basic science….

  • NYCman

    The Rinpoche is on the path of growth like all of us. Nice article, full of wise insights.A wise Greek once said “only those who live the life can know the doctrine”.Which can be understood as: living the teachings of your religion or philosophy, whatever it is, evolves an understanding necessary to a deeper practice of same.The Buddha said in effect that anything we can know is false, the Truth we can only be. So did Christ.There is no conflict at the level of Being.

  • trippin

    “No decent religion, practiced correctly, treats ‘teachings as final answers that don’t need to be examined.’ “To the contrary, I haven’t seen one that doesn’t.Religious dogma is the very antithesis of introspection. It is designed to resist evolving. The very questioning of it is said to risk hellfire and brimstone. Religion is a collection of fairy tales that prides itself on its anti-intellectual nature. Let’s not forget: people throughout history and to this very day kill each other over trying to prove their fairy tale is the correct one. This hardly fosters an environment where religion can be examined objectively. I imagine that many reading this hate me for even pointing this out.No, to the contrary, from all I’ve seen, religion does nothing save freeing its adherents from the heavy burden of critical thinking. They just write it all off to an invisible sky patriarch and are done with it.

  • Gopher1

    LadyLiberty1:Buddhism has been around longer than Christianity; yet, the influence of Christianity is seen everywhere, from the great works of art of Europe, to the establishing of America with 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence being seminary graduates, where Christianity influenced the birth of a nation where people would be free to worship.I am a little surprised what the birth of America has to do with the role of Buddhism. I’m not trying to be simply argumentative but the assumption that America is the crown jewel of humanity strikes me as hubris. I am sure quite a few of our ancestors have made such statements about their respective kingdoms in their time. Let’s give history it’s due. Buddhism has a history of charity from Ashoka in India to the rulers of China and Japan. However LadyLiberty just proved my point that traditional religion encourages humans to stay in line (be kind, good and charitable) with the carrot of rewards in the hereafter. This “self absorption” with personal salvation is no different from the self absorption that LadyLaiberty castigates Buddhism for – true altruism is a chimera and perhaps we should admit to that fact.

  • trippin

    “Buddhism has been around longer than Christianity; yet, the influence of Christianity is seen everywhere…”Well, everywhere you look perhaps.One needs to have a little more intellectual curiosity than Sarah Palin to see the influence of Buddhism on vast parts of the planet they obviously know nothing about. What a painful, wincing exposure of ignorance. This is what happens when one deludes herself into believing an invisible omnipotent patriarch who lives in the sky cares about them personally, and will doom anyone who disagrees with her dogma to an eternity of unspeakable torture at the hands of an otherwise merciful and loving daddy who makes a list and checks it twice to find out who’s naughty and nice. This is the core of what’s wrong with America today: pure, unadulterated ignorance of anything non-Euro-centric rooted in a grotesque sense of self-superiority. This explains why we willingly let our government substitute one Muslim for another when we slaughtered innumerable Iraqis in the wake of 9/11, why we gladly buy products made by child and prison labor in sweat shops, and why so many would just nuke ‘em all and let their sky daddy sort ‘em out.

  • ladyliberty1

    LadyLiberty1,So, please inform the uninformed all the advances that Buddhism has had on the world. Since I have been chastised, rebuked, thrashed for my lack of knowledge, it would be kind of those who know more than I do, and who obviously are better educated to list 10 notable contributions to the world by the practice of Buddhism. Okay, if 10 is unreasonable, how about 5. No? How about 1, just ONE, notable contribution to society, to the world as a result of the teachings of Buddha?

  • alientech

    What a perfect religion for Western Liberals! You are the self absorbed center of everything, all the life’s questions and answers are shades of gray, nothing is absolute and there really no God to judge your actions.

  • Nymous

    There are different schools of Buddhism that vary greatly in what one would call the trappings of religion. Buddhism is no different in that way.There were no Christians before Christ either, & the same thing was just said to some extent about Buddhism too.For me it’s more accurate to say that Buddhism is a religion unlike other deistic religions. It’s different, but the anti-egoistic nature of it does not loan itself to the trappings & righteous certainty that other religions fall back to when challenged.

  • boblesch

    thank you Rinpoche !!the comments written here so clearly illustrate the different thinkings and understandings of those influenced by spirituality and those steeped in organized religion.

  • ladyliberty1

    In Thailand or Sri Lanka they have functioning societies without 10 Commandment laws. They have their own laws which are quite compatable to life and society.Thailand and Sri Lanka provide little children for money and for the sexual pleasures of godless men, many from America, who travel there to do what they cannot get away with, as easily, in a society where the laws are based on the Ten Commandments, and where the crime would demand punishment in prison. Having said that, I am well aware of America’s sins. America is not a Christian nation, because that would require that individuals within America be followers of Jesus Christ in their daily walk – and, they are not. America is a religious nation which means that people worship, but, not necessarily the God of the Bible. The gods of money, power, greed and lust reign supreme, and most/many people would sell their souls for any of these, and, in fact, have. The Biblical Jesus, Whose teachings shaped the hearts and minds of those who framed our founding documents, and Whose influence shaped our culture for years after America’s founding, has long since disappeared/been rejected by those in our institutions of power and higher learning. America has become purveyors of perversion/corruption from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. Yet, across this land, there remains a remnant of true Believers in an Eternal God, and Redemption in Jesus Christ. But, for the most part, the One True God Who gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, and Who appeared in the flesh as God incarnate, born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit, two thousand years ago, is no longer followed. Does anyone know that when our country was founded, Congress had Bibles printed and given to every member, and Thomas Jefferson had the words of Jesus incorporated into a book and given for all to follow? Because America has turned her back on God, our Creator, and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, she is even now being judged as a nation. We are in economic shambles. Our allies are angry with us. Our enemies are emboldened, and there is fragmentation within/one group against another. God has been wronged, sinned against, rejected, blasphemed, and mocked, openly in the media, and in our universities, and in our halls of power. The Israelites were given the blessings and curses of God before she entered the Promised Land. God’s blessings came when Israel was obedient. All the curses befell Israel when she disobeyed. Even so, the curses of God are now falling on America. The “shining city set on a hill” as the settlers of America called her, has become “a light gone out groping and unable to lead.”

  • AIPACiswar

    Americans are incredibly egotistical without being the least bit aware of it. They choose to say they know god, when all they know is cheap dogma and common religious talking points. Evangelical Christians are the worst offenders, to the point that they have poisoned the well of truth that we all must share.They do this by corrupting the concept of faith. For evangelicals faith = truth. This, of course is an oxymoron. You CANNOT have honest faith in the truth, you can only have honest faith in that which you acknowledge you do not know.So, evangelicals are wedded to lying as a fundamental tenet of their thought processes. They live inside an illusion by choice. This is exactly what Buddhism addresses. If you want to call a circle of lies religion, then so be it.

  • Jihm

    Excellent article!

  • trippin

    “How about 1, just ONE, notable contribution to society, to the world as a result of the teachings of Buddha?”Well, for starters, the mere discussion of Buddhism here certainly exposes the self-absorbed, self-righteous, over-inflated ego of some extremists who purport that their faith alone converses with sky-chief on a first-name basis. That’s a wonderful contribution right there.Some are so hopelessly lost that they believe that their myopic Christo-supremacist definition of what’s good for the world is the correct one. I bet they’d feel differently if it were their Christian children working in that sweat shop so some Buddhist can get rich. In that hypothetical construct we see their innate differences: it is so clear that one could never function as the other it’s actually humorous to contemplate switching their roles. There are no boot-heels on bare feet. Now the challenge is yours, Madam: name just one Christian contribution greater than peace and relief from suffering. No, Madam, your legacy is death and misery, and you explain it all away as the will of your god.

  • jjcrocket1

    Jesus wasn’t a Christian either, and all of our founders were subjects of King George!

  • ladyliberty1

    trippin wrote: Well, for starters, the mere discussion of Buddhism here certainly exposes the self-absorbed, self-righteous, over-inflated ego of some extremists who purport that their faith alone converses with sky-chief on a first-name basis. That’s a wonderful contribution right there.Wow, anyone who has lived even a short time on earth could have told you that man is self-absorbed, self-righteous, and proud without ever needing Buddha to reveal it to them.From your post, I would say that you also have contempt for people who have a certain belief system, namely those who believe in the God of the Bible. The Bible calls the self-absorbed, self-righteous, proud, person a sinner. We all fit that category. “All of us like sheep have gone astray.” Not able to redeem himself, change his own heart of hatred, gain acceptance by good works, unable to overcome his own pride, man desperately needs help. The Bible says that we need a Redeemer, a Saviour, to deliver us from our sinful state.Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins. He is God’s gift to the world. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16

  • jleatherhead

    “Thailand and Sri Lanka provide little children for money and for the sexual pleasures of godless men, many from America, who travel there to do what they cannot get away with, as easily, in a society where the laws are based on the Ten Commandments, and where the crime would demand punishment in prison.”Wrong. This sort of behavior, often mistaken in the West for ‘tolerance’ on the part of the societies in which it occurs, has as its cause poverty. Desperately poor people often make desperately poor decisions involving themselves and their children. And poor societies usually breed a culture of corruption– corrupt cops, corrupt lawmakers, etc– and this corruption encourages turning a blind eye to the horrors of exploitation.The important questions to ask here are: How did the West become so rich and the East so poor? Was there exploitation involved in this disparity?; and, What is the dominant religion of the West? Did this religion somehow justify the exploitation of the East by the West?

  • ladyliberty1

    LADYLIBERTY1 you really don’t know much about Thomas Jefferson do you? You continue to use his name to support your case, but if you really knew this man, what he said and did in his life regarding christianity, you’d think twice.You still do not comprehend the English language. Taking quotes out of context without a pretext doesn’t support your argument.And, when posters question my knowledge of history and where I learned it, while using “our common American history” to define themselves, it leads me to question whether they are American at all. Perhaps, barferio has lived here a short while and has been indoctrinated by those who have revised history for their own political agenda.

  • barferio

    I don’t question your knowledge so much as I question your perception.I also notice that you have nothing to say about these quotes from Thomas Jefferson. They are all quotes, quotes from letters he wrote, and the letters are mentioned.You can try to un-context them all you like. Thomas Jefferson was not a christian, and had a very low opinion of christianity in general. It doesn’t matter how hard you want to believe otherwise.

  • ladyliberty1

    “Thailand and Sri Lanka provide little children for money and for the sexual pleasures of godless men, many from America, who travel there to do what they cannot get away with, as easily, in a society where the laws are based on the Ten Commandments, and where the crime would demand punishment in prison.”Oh, please. Americans were desperately poor during the Great Depression and yet they did not sell their children into sexual slavery. Christianity influenced the values of the culture. As a matter of fact, crime did not increase during the Great Depression. When one has a conviction of “right principles” those convictions sustain one through poverty and adverse circumstances. In other words, a true Christian will not sell his or her body for money, no matter how poor he or she is. The person trusts God for provision. Read about Mueller who had an orphanage in England and who daily trusted God to provide for those under his care. He didn’t sell them for sex when the going got rough. A worldview that says “God is my Maker, He will provide, I must trust Him” leads to different behavior from one whose worldview says, “I am on my own, I must do whatever it takes to survive, including selling myself or my children for sex” which produces a different kind of society.The greatest poverty is poverty of mind and spirit, and the above poster attests to poverty of mind. Does he/she not realize that the EAST existed centuries, and millenia, before America ever existed. During the last 200 years, the EAST has not been exploited by the West. They are no poorer than they have ever been, if anything their standard of living has been raised. The disparity of material wealth is a result of poverty of mind and spirit that exists in the East in contrast to the mind and spirit of the West. The above poster needs to get the cobwebs out of the mind, and go for sound reason. Sound reason comes from the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “Seek wisdom and understanding from the Lord.”

  • rohitcuny

    During the last 200 years, the EAST has not been exploited by the West. They are no poorer than they have ever been, if anything their standard of living has been raised. The disparity of material wealth is a result of poverty of mind and spirit that exists in the East in contrast to the mind and spirit of the West. The above poster needs to get the cobwebs out of the mind, and go for sound reason. Sound reason comes from the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “Seek wisdom and understanding from the Lord.”And sound reason does not come from your Lord. I know what I am talking about as I teach logic. Do you know that subject? :)

  • rohitcuny

    LadyLiberty1 says: ” Americans were desperately poor during the Great Depression and yet they did not sell their children into sexual slavery. Christianity influenced the values of the culture.”Stop being so chauvinistic.

  • Vajrakilaya

    “A natural mind which nevertheless cannot be gotten to except by strenuous spiritual and philosophical activity? Some “natural” mind if we have to dispell confusion for years and years to get to it.” – Daniel12″Now is the time to find this treasure which lies within your heart. Your chance is now and it will always be now. It is never lost in the past or to be gained in the future. It is always to be found now.” – Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Heart Advice on the Dawning of AwarenessWorking with our minds is a knack, and you’re not going to get it from reading text anymore than you’d learn to throw a ball or do ballet. Ask a Dzogchen lama about this in person and hopefully he’ll demonstrate how to do it so you can imitate what he’s doing. You’ll want to imitate and practice with him even as he’s answering your question, rather than getting lost in a lot of conceptual thought.Personally, I’d recommend Anam Thubten Rinpoche, who is going to be in DC 5/21-22.

  • patmatthews

    Christian fundamentalism is just as negative an influence in society as any other form of fundamentalism.Buddhism teaches to think for oneself, as Shakyammuni or Sidhartha said at the end of his life, “Depend on the Dharma[teachings], and not upon people.”Learn to think and comprehend difficult issues and relationships on your own. Do not rely on rules established hundreds of years ago. LadyLiberty is one of those in her appearance of her posts.If you want to understand life, you must first understand death.Both life and death are functions of Life itself.Patrick

  • DaveHarris

    The central teaching of the Buddha was to live without fear. It’s in the hand signals in all of his statues, one hand holding back fear, the other accepting the threat with courage. In these days, when Americans are terrified of virtually everything, we would do well to follow his advice. What do you fear, why do you fear, what do you have to lose? Unlike Jesus, who met a bad end, the Buddha was actually a teacher. You should listen.

  • muawiyah

    PATMATTHEWS ~ Uh, Grasshopper ~ you forget ~ once we get through all the various scriptures attributed to the Buddha, or his disciples, and scan through the philosophic parts and around the residual superstitious claptrap, and get to the heart of it all ~ to the fundamental part ~ we find:(1) Other faiths are seeking their own path. They are free to do that.(2) The correct path to find the Buddha is to abandon the scriptures and seek your way.(3) Each of us has his own correct path. Your way is not my way, and my way is not your way.(4) All other Buddhist beliefs are just shimmering images presented by the monks to hide the reality.(5) May I encourage you to use kendo or other designated discipline for the purpose of contemplation so that you lose your negative thoughts about how other people seek their own true path.

  • muawiyah

    BARFERIO ~ Thomas Jefferson even rewrote the Bible ~ mostly by removing parts he thought extraneous to the thought, or repetitive.By the standards of his time he was Christian. By the standards of today we’d probably think of him more like a Second Day Adventist or Jehovah’s Witness.Jefferson even advocated sending US Government funds to Catholic churches to teach children in the wilderness areas of the country.Hmmm.

  • ladyliberty1

    LadyLiberty1 says: ” Americans were desperately poor during the Great Depression and yet they did not sell their children into sexual slavery. Christianity influenced the values of the culture.”Like a vine rooted in the land, slavery already existed in America before she declared her independence from England and fought the Revolutionary War. The founding fathers saw slavery as something that would have to be dealt with once freedom for America was established. But, first things first, the independence from England had to be won. Within 73 years, the Civil War was fought, and 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, and as many as 50,000 Southern civilians lost their lives, and the slaves were set free. Slavery was only a side issue. The real issue of the Civil War was the Morrill Tariff imposed by the North, and devastating to the commerce of the South, but I digress. At the end of the war, slaves were set free. Finally, the evil of slavery that the founding fathers knew would have to addressed was settled. The slave trade originated in the Arab and African world. Africans sold their own people to Arabs who traded in slavery for centuries, and still do. Slavery still exists in Africa and the Middle East. The above poster knows very little about American history. Perhaps he/she is more familiar with the history of slavery in the Arab/African world. It still exists TODAY. It was a Christian worldview that abolished slavery in England and in America, and had a huge impact on the Arab/African slave trade to other parts of the world.

  • Bios

    Someone below says:”Thailand and Sri Lanka provide little children for money and for the sexual pleasures of godless men…”. Needless to add the adjective “godless” before men in that sentence.

  • Bios

    Edbyron,About the fundamental problem of Buddhism and its lack of hierarchy. Only an organization can keep the sutras? What do you mean by organization? You are saying that they have not been kept until now?

  • maupin1

    Q. “How about 1, just ONE, notable contribution to society, to the world as a result of the teachings of Buddha?”A. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus have, throughout history, killed innocent civilianse simply for not sharing their definition of God.

  • EdithPiaf

    In my experience, communication using our senses is totally inadequate. So, the bickering on this board is of no use. Everybody has his unique experience. He/she has to decide for himself what is good. And it changes as your experiences in life change. Five blind men describing an elephant in five different ways was based on their personal experience. People are the same across every culture and every part of the world. No point fighting here on the board about superiority of one religion over other. In purest sense the only reality is the self (or the God), and everything else which you can describe is based on your experience by the worldly senses, and is just one of infinitely many interpretations possible if you had different senses/experiences. For example, superiority is a concept, religion is a concept. If you want real answer, go beyond the experience of the senses. That is what Buddha did. Following a dogma is the easy and cheap way out. With cheap comes the danger of connings. All the organised religions are no different from a gang.Another thing is that one who talks does not know, and one who knows does not talk. Because The “knowledge or God or Reality” is non-describable and beyond logic and words.

  • barferio

    The old testament has plenty of rules about how to be a slave, how to treat your slaves, what needs to be done if a master maims or kills his slaves … how to enslave the children of slaves.Christians in the confederacy argued from their bible that slavery was the natural state of black africans at the same time christians in the north argued against it.Christianity has bloody hands when it comes to slavery. Picking just the “good points” that you like and ignoring the blood is again, poor perception of reality.

  • barferio

    MUAWIYAH, by the standards of his day Thomas Jefferson was considered an atheist, he considered himself a deist. Dig into the history just a bit more, read the things his political opponents said about him.And read ALL of the things about him, don’t stop when you run into things that disagree with your perverted, revisionist christian-infected little brain.

  • daniel12

    Below from EdithPiaf, a poster here taking the name of a singer, mind you:”Another thing is that one who talks does not know, and one who knows does not talk.”Right, the human race should never have opened its collective mouth in the first place. We should have remained as dumb as apes in full possession of the truth. In fact every form of life on earth is evidently smarter than we are because no form of life but man talks. Yes, the path to future human happiness is if everyone right now just stops talking, renounces language…peace will reign in the world, we all will be so enlightened…The wise words of EdithPiaf the poster taking the name of a woman who, however, could not keep from making a career of singing…seems she made a name for herself by opening her mouth…Oh, I see: We all should close our mouths now so EdithPiaf, the actual singer, not the poster, goes down in history as one of the last singers–we must find the truth with our mouths shut. Sounds like perfect advice from a singer fearful of rivals or a fan of a singer seeking to make that singer without rival….

  • daniel12

    Buddhism a “science of mind”? Science is a Greek concept. We all know of Newton, Darwin and so on. What science has this “science of mind” given us? Strange how we are to take Buddhism as “science of mind” when science minus Buddhism has resulted in actual science while the “science of mind” of Buddhism has not resulted in a single notable scientific discovery. Some “science of mind” which leads to no scientific discovery…But Rinpoche is the enlightened one and I am just an ordinary man….

  • persiflage

    D12, you finally get one right:’But Rinpoche is the enlightened one and I am just an ordinary man….’It appears you have failed to understand the message as delivered by a realized practitioner of the meditative arts….the quality of mind under examination is the unconditioned basis for consciousness or conscious awareness. How do you know or understand what is under discussion, unless you’ve directly experienced this essential and primordial state of mind??Herein lies the problem with cluttering your consciousness with a vast unorganized library of data…..you can’t see the void in which all that information abides and takes it’s meaning! You really are not properly equipped to offer a well-considered opinion on this particular topic……

  • MarilynManson

    The Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist? Thats funny, Jesus wasn’t a Catholic!

  • exastrologer

    “Buddhism teaches to think for oneself, as Shakyammuni or Sidhartha said at the end of his life, “Depend on the Dharma[teachings], and not upon people.”But this is not thinking for one’s self if someone says you must depend on the Dharma. That in itself is a presupposition from a person. This is the point I was making earlier; you must accept the Buddhist worldview that people do not know what is real and that suffering is caused by desire in order to find what Buddhists call enlightenment. The 4 Noble Truths must be assumed as truth though they are based on the supposed sayings of a figure whose teachings were not written down until 500 years after his death.

  • jeyges

    @ladyliberty1: We are in “economic shambles” as a result of the behavior of the criminals and lunatics you people have spent the past thirty years voting into office.A lot of ridiculous statements have been made in this thread by those on either side of the fence – but your remarks take pride of place. Your breathtaking ignorance demonstrates the reason we are a laughing stock among the developed nations. You’re right in that America is in terrible trouble, but it is your kind who are to blame. You just keep telling yourself it’s the godless and the liberals who have put us where we are; it will comfort you to have someone else to blame as civilization collapses.