Andrew Furst

Where’s Does Hatred Come From? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Is hatred purely emotional/psychological, or is it also ‘spiritual’? Response: If hatred came from Lithuania, would it make a difference? How is spiritual different from the emotional or the psychological? You put the word spiritual in quotes. I think this accentuates the ambiguity of the term and muddles the question. Hatred is something that comes and goes, in and out of our consciousness. It can arise from many different causes and conditions. It would be ludicrous to try and inventory all the possible sources of hatred as if we…read more

Religious Tolerance? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Is the idea of difference with mutual respect better than the idea of religious tolerance? Response: I think both ideas, in different contexts, offer something beneficial. Religious tolerance is a bare minimum societal norm that could inform public policy. It is feasible to legislate using this as a standard. For example, companies can be required to avoid hiring practices that discriminate against minority religions. The idea of mutual respect in the face of differences feels morally superior. But as a platform for enforcing a social contract it is a…read more

Will Buddhism Become Outdated? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Will Buddhism become outdated? Response: Of course, many will point out, the truth of impermanence tells us Buddhism will not last. But I think the question is asking for a different response that looks to the truth of suffering. What is Buddhism? It’s an identity. What is a Buddhist? Someone who clings to that identity. When an identity is clung to, there is suffering. In this regard Buddhism (the institution) and adherence to it is in direct conflict with the notion of being awake (Bodhi). It is the raft….read more

Can I Learn Buddhist Super Powers? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Is there someplace in the world where they teach Buddhist super powers? Response: What exactly do you mean by super powers? What super powers are you interested in? Would you take anything anyone had to offer? To what end would you want to use this super power? The King Midas story offers a good view onto the drawbacks of super powers. Everything he touched turned to gold. He found that he couldn’t eat or drink as all his food and wine turned to gold when he touched it! Besides,…read more

Did Religion Create Evil? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Did religion cause evil? Did evil cause religion, or is evil just evil period? Response: Mind created evil. There is no other source. Only within mind and in language is there evidence of something being bad or good. Further, these concepts are known differently from mind to mind and can change from situation to situation. Religion and other social contracts are an invention of mind to contend with morality. A moral system is a great tool for finding common moral ground and establishing a system to monitor and regulate…read more

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

Share