Monday 10 October 2022

Fo = Buddha - WmJas Tychonievich on Buddhists as the true materialists

A true materialist is one who takes the features of material objects -- impermanence, determinism, ontological complexity, lack of inherent meaning -- and attributes them to everything. Chinese Buddhism as I know it (mostly through the late Chan Master Sheng-yen and his disciples) does that. 

There is a strong focus on the "causes and conditions" underlying everything, including human actions. Everything, including the human soul, is impermanent and lacking in reality because it is made up of parts whose current relationship or configuration will not last forever -- very close to "atoms and the void." 

Nothing, including human love, is ultimately real or has any significance; and the only real goal is the negative and highly materialistic one of the cessation of all suffering.

From WmJas Tychonievich -- to discover the reasoning behind this, you will need to Read The Whole Thing.


This could explain (as WmJas points out) why Buddhism is the favourite religion of atheists; and why Buddhist philosophy, practices and disciplines have been so amenable to adaptation (and adoption) by the modern Ahrimanic bureaucracies. 

My interpretation is that the attempt to keep spirit qualitatively distinct from the material nowadays (if not in the past) 'backfires' (when it is not covertly intended) into consigning the spirit to a realm of therapeutic materialism. 

The proper solution is to regard the material as a subtype of of the spiritual - but not qualitatively distinct from the spiritual. As an analogous explanation: the spirit came first and is everything, and the material is a kind of 'concentration' or 'condensation' of the spirit. 

Thus, everything material is truly spiritual, and ultimately and potentially has properties of the spiritual; differing only quantitatively.

Which is how resurrection (i.e. eternal life with a body) can be a higher spiritual state than immaterial spirit.    


ben said...

It seems to me that the real distinction is between thinking of things as alive vs dead. Not 'spiritual' vs 'material'. Maybe the distinction could be put as animistic vs ahrimanic. With ahrimanic being simply wrong.

Both spirits and material beings are 'spiritual', if that word means alive as opposed to dead. In fact there would be more life in material existence than in spirithood. Or at least more potential for it. And God, as well as resurrected men, would be at least as materialized (as concentrated) as men on Earth.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ben - Indeed; although I concluded that 'animism' is itself often distorted by excessive abstraction; as with Rudolf Steiner, and with ST Coleridge before him. This is why I was impelled to talk specifically of Beings, rather than just 'aliveness'.

Rohan P said...

Steiner mentions how children see everything as alive whereas Buddhist materialism is the other extreme. Perhaps like Steiner suggested we need to find a middle ground because materialist thinking helps in the study of science but does not help with the study of the spiritual realm.

Bruce Charlton said...

@RP - I regard Steiner's 'middle ground' arguments as an inadequate basis for motivation - and as evidence of a fault in his assumptions.

When he argues (sometimes, in some places - not necessarily always) that we need a middle ground between Luciferic spiritual-inflation and Ahrimanic materialism - and that this middle ground is provided by the (cosmic) Christ (in practice, via Michael); I regard this as an error in consequence of his faulty understanding of the role of Christ; and also because Steiner did not understand evil in a qualitative sense.

Steiner usually regarded evil as an excess of something which is good in moderation - but I think this was a serious, and dangerous, misunderstanding.

I have tried to develop (and argue) that evil is opposition to God's 'agenda' - which can also be understood as opposition to divine creation.

Rohan said...

Yes I've gone through your insightful blog posts over the last 12 months and noted your differences from Steiner. I initially arrived via a link fro my a Steiner forum.

I see in Buddhist materialism a very mild impulse to take part in creative acts.

With those who take Steiner to heart, one only furthers their intellectual understanding of the reality around and how to respond effectively. But once again the impulse to co-create is light

I believe that it is only through our relationship with Christ that one feels a strong impulse to do good in this world and to leave a legacy to the glory of God.