Andrew Furst

Islamophobia, but no Christianphobia? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Why is there Islamophobia, but not Christianity-phobia, Hinduism-phobia or Buddhism-phobia? Response: A phobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Perhaps Islamophobia is a poor term. Because, there are certainly good rational reasons to fear a religion when it’s adherents call for death as punishment for apostasy. It is very rational to fear such a consequence. If there was a suffix that signified rational fear of something, I would replace phobia with it. For now, let’s just use the word fear. So Islamophobia…read more

Are You True to Yourself? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Are You True to Yourself or Are You Living According to Other People’s Expectations? Response: What is this “yourself” that you should be true to? Isn’t it an amalgamation of your upbringing, influences of friends (and enemies), etc all merged into a slippery and ever changing self image? Don’t you wear clothing because of what society deems as acceptable? You eat food as its been prepared for you? Don’t you respond to your environment in ways that millennia of evolutionary adaptation has prepared you to? Do you not speak…read more

Can White People Be Victims of Racism? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

I recently had a wonderfully civilized chat on social media about the question “Can white people be victims of racism?”  That fact that it was civilized is worthy of celebration. There were no temper tantrums and generally there was a free exchange of ideas and thoughts. Not everyone agreed, but no one got unhinged. The question came up because a friend was having a conversation with her daughter about it.  Her daughter took the position that white people could not be the victims of racism, because they are in a…read more

Does God Discriminate? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Why do people discriminate, when God does not? Response: Does God discriminate? I can’t say one way or the other. In my conception of God, there would be no differentiation capable. But that’s what I think, not what God does. Scripture certainly divides people. In the Bible, the people of Israel are the chosen people, the rest are Gentiles. Buddhist divide people up into the unenlightened and enlightened. Muslims divide between the faithful and the apostates. There are as many divisions as there are religions. In my opinion discrimination is…read more

Is Identity an Obstacle to Enlightenment?

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Identity: Is it better to have some or none at all? Is it always the obstacle to enlightenment or is it only a problem when there is craving and clinging to one? Response: The identity arithmetic you describe is besides the point. Our identities are important and limiting all at the same time. My identity as a father is important. As a father, I make decisions for the benefit of my family, not just for myself. It’s one of the best identities I have. I also play the part of…read more

Does Buddhist Philosophy Work? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: What is your experience in applying Buddhist philosophy in real life? Response: My experience is that Buddhist philosophy has proven its worth. For me, suffering would have taken its course and led me to an untimely death had I not had the good fortune to learn of and take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. I first entered the stream by way of physical suffering. I had fractured some vertebrae and had taken on the practice of hatha yoga as a way towards healing. The Buddhist approach spoke…read more

Pure Land Buddhist – What Do They Believe?

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: What are the main beliefs of Pure Land Buddhism? Response: The shortest answer could be this: faith, vows, and practice Faith – Faith in the Buddha’s way. Not blind faith, but a faith in the sense that we develop confidence with each passing day that the sun will set in the western sky. Faith in the truths of suffering, the causes of suffering, and a path away from it. Faith in our Buddha Nature. Vows – The aspiration for rebirth in the Pure Land, for the blossoming of our…read more

Does God Think? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Does God think? Does he need to? Response: If God experienced thoughts the way we do; as passing in and out of our awareness as an amalgamation of sensory perception and mental formations, that would it mean that God would require corporeal form.God would needs senses, and some mechanism to process the input. If he had corporeal form, would he be subject to change (all matter changes) and therefore imperfection? Oops. This little exercise illustrates how anthropomorphizing God leads to absurdity. I firmly believe that the Bible, or any other…read more

Can We Prove Buddhism is Right? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Comment: Did you hear about the studies that show <insert your favorite religious practice> can actually improve <insert something related to human well being>? Response: I’m always cautious when it comes to citing scientific studies to support a Buddhist world view or to practice.  There are a few reasons: I have an ongoing non-scientific study that shows that many studies attempting to prove religious practices work are followed on by even more studies debunking those claims.* Religious practices are practices of the mind and their effects are on the mind. Because of…read more

Eradicating Delusion, Greed, and Anger – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: What are the “Three Obstacles” in Buddhism, and how can they be eradicated? Response: So you want to eradicate delusion, greed, and anger. Seriously? Jeez. I guess you’re one of those go big or go home folks. Damn. Lets just say this; that, is a tall – no, gigantic – order. Do you mean to say that you’re really thinking you could transform the human race, subject to it’s endlessly varying circumstances and a genetic disposition towards greed, delusion, and anger? Wow! No really.  Just wow! That’s ambition. That…read more

Share