Andrew Furst

Memories of Past Lives? – Dialectic Two-Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Where are the memories of past lives stored between death and rebirth? Response: I’ll start with an easier question. Where are memories stored in this life? The best answer humans have now is the brain. This belief is backed up by well documented, peer reviewed, and reproducible experiments. Where are they stored after death? I don’t know, and I don’t think the question is a productive one. I venture to say that no one has conducted well documented, peer reviewed, and reproducible experiments that would indicate that: Memories are…read more

On Being Right – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Buddha, Dialectic Two-Step

A stranger who is an evangelical Christian has been sending a series of emails to me. According to his address, his name is Jeff. Jeff has offered some lengthy expositions touting evidence that Christianity is “right”. The latest edition offers an earnest four part treatment on the trustworthiness of the New Testament, the historicity of Jesus, and the virtue of miracle-claims and predictive prophecies. He or someone that he has quoted put a lot of effort into this essay.  I usually ignore emails like this.  In fact my response to the…read more


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

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

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

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

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

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