Andrew Furst

The Will of God? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: How can I know the will of God? Response: While I have no knowledge of God, one might expect that asking to know such a thing would only be an obstruction to discovering it. Expressing a desire for something makes the object of desire smaller. Take my wish to have an apple pie. What if I didn’t have the capacity to appreciate the flakiness of its crust? Imagine I was only able to detect the sweetness of the apples, sugar, and cinnamon? My limitations diminish the pie. I would only be experiencing the…read more

There’s Nothing You Can Do to Change the World, So Don’t Ever Stop Trying

Posted by in Buddha, Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

At a retreat I was helping to lead some time ago, I made a comment during the Dharma talk that rustled a few feathers. It went something like this, “There’s nothing you can do to change the world.” At the end of the retreat one of the participants followed up for clarification. He asked with a friendly but incredulous look on his face, “Did you really mean that?”I admit, it sounds harsh. But, let me explain. It’s Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law I’ve just finished reading a…read more

What Does Pure Land Buddhism Teach? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: What does Pure Land Buddhism teach? Response: The Pure Land Sutra is the enlightenment story of the Bodhisattva Dharmakāra. The story is set in the impossibly distant past. Upon fulfillment of 48 vows Dharmakāra became the Buddha Amitabha. Two of those vows are the central focus of the Pure Land school. 18. If I would become a Buddha, then any sentient being in any one of the ten directions who would earnestly believe and willingly wish to be born in my Pure Land, even if for only the duration of…read more

Why Was I Born? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: According to Buddhism, I am not an eternal being or spirit. But, due to my past life karma I am born again. I was wondering what was the cause of my first life. Rebirth takes place due to karma. So if I had no karma before my first life, why was I born? Response: This isn’t an answer, but an opinion and a framework to consider. First, self is impermanent, just like all other observable phenomenon. As you said it arises from causes and conditions. So when you talk…read more

An Angry God – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Is Allah an angry God compared to the all-loving, all-good Christian God? Response: Do you mean the all loving, all good Christian God who massacred the first born sons of Egypt. The God who wiped out the entire populations of Sodom and Gomorrah and promised to destroy the enemies of Israel? The same God who tormented Job and sent his only son to the cross? If there is a God and that God is the creator and architect of this world, as well as the author of holy scripture,…read more

Why Do We Choose To Suffer? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Why do we choose to suffer? Response: We don’t. It sounds fairly ridiculous that someone would choose suffering. We suffer because of our choices. The choices that lead to suffering are made on faulty expectations. It’s indirect. We choose things to make us happy. We choose to go on a diet to lose weight. We choose marriage to make love last. We choose a religion to reconnect with the divine. Our suffering comes because we discover that achieving happiness, healthiness, and good relationships isn’t as simple as choosing and…read more

Which God is the Right One? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Since there are so many religions, which god is most likely to be the right god? Response: The one that behaves and exists in the same way that the God we observe does. So far no religion has come close to describing that God. Maybe you should look to a religion that doesn’t describe God? If you enjoyed this post,  please like and share. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Modern Koans is an ongoing series that recognizes that good questions are often more important than their answers….read more