Andrew Furst (Hi Andrew) shares a very interesting “piece of his mind” on Buddhist notions. I’d say everyone with any interest in Buddhist principles and in the life of The Buddha himself need to read. He calls them “blacklist of Buddhist concepts”.

I find it very interesting how he beings, at the beginning of the list, “reincarnation”. Indeed, if you read between the lines, nothing in the four noble truths (where suffering, its diagnosis, and its remedy are the gateway to the eightfold way) talks about “reincarnation”, so where does that doctrine come from? Reincarnation is also of course embedded in an idea of interconnectedness of the universe in space and time, so the idea is not the death and reappearance of the individual self, but a more subtle, deeper conceptualisation of the formations that have no beginnings and no end. Like the ever present role of karma and the notion of cause and effect. In the West, we had endless debates about the nature of what constitutes causality and the counterfactuals, the East has a simpler way out: the interconnectedness and the chain of consequences.

The notions around reincarnation, magical ideation about Buddha’s birth, speculation about Karma, and dogma — these call back to what the Buddha reputed to have warned us all. Our mental formations stand in the way of our way ability to “see things as they are”.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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