Andrew Furst

How Should a Buddhist Deal with Discarding Erroneous Beliefs? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: How Should a Buddhist Deal with Discarding Erroneous Beliefs? Response: Humans have developed a couple of pretty neat tools for detecting erroneous beliefs.  Logic and standards for evidence are two great examples.  But your question gets to the heart of the matter – once you discover you’ve been acting based on erroneous beliefs, what do you do? I suspect, as always, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on the role the belief has in your world view. Let me give an example of how I’ve recently responded to…read more

If We Are Reborn, How Does Population Grow? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: If, when we die, we are reborn and go into another body, how is it possible that the population is growing? Population numbers shouldn’t change. Response: I believe that this and similar questions are better than any answers that could possibly be given. It points to the suffering that comes with fixed views on something as fuzzy as rebirth. For me this question has bounded my expectations around karma and its effect on the future. I cannot fathom what it would be like to be reborn. I have no recollection…read more

Does Matter Exist? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Does matter exist? The only thing I can be sure of is that I am ‘having’ the experience of being aware. The objects that the mind perceives as ‘being over there’ are illusory in nature.  Have we ever found this  substance we call matter? Response: I guess the first thing we should do is check in on what you mean when you say something exists. If you assume that it means a permanent unchanging essence that can be measured, you will never find such a thing. Everything that exists in this world…read more

Being Religious – Beautiful? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: What is the most beautiful part of being religious? Response: Religion means to reconnect with the divine. I would say that beauty is secondary, and possibly an obstacle, to it’s purpose. If you wish to acknowledge the divine, then you must acknowledge everything. Beauty, ugliness, good, evil, light, dark, and so on are all part of creation. The divine is and must be vast, intimidating, and wondrous. So,words fall short. But, if I must answer the question, I would say the most wonderful thing religion has to offer is…read more

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

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