History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Harris’ goofy misuse of the ‘killing the buddha’ theme

May 26th, 2011 · No Comments


We cited this essay yesterday, with some critique. I am surprised that Harris would publish this. It is bad stuff.
The theme of ‘killing the buddha’ should be avoided at this point. As here, the usage is deteriorating into something totally wrong, and almost ominous.
I was not present at the creation of this term, but its meaning is easy to infer. I could be wrong, but I doubt I am too far off:
The idea of ‘killing the buddha’ referred to the way consciousness in relation to traditional texts or teaching, especially books, or repetitively conditioned beliefs about Buddhism, loses the real dimension of understanding.
This mechanization of thought is a characteristic theme of Zen Buddhism, which tries many techniques to make a student snap out of his mesmerized ‘buddhism’.
The phrase is taken over ad infinitum now, and rarely refers to this original context of meaning.

Now with Harris, who is not a buddhist, the term seems to refer to destroying buddhism as such, not the intent of the original saying, whose intent was surely to fulfill the teachings.

Harris is too focussed on science, neuroscience, and the brain. FORGET THE BRAIN, for a moment. Use the ‘software’, a set of mental objects, rather than obsessing over the ‘hardware’.
By the same token this analogy reminds we might learn something from neuroscience, but at this point, as with Harris, it is being used to undermine something like buddhism in toto.

Everything possible from the software can be do without reference to the brain: indeed the final stage of that is ‘enlightenment’ beyond the hardware (body and brain).

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