Andrew Furst

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

What is the Reason for Human Suffering? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: What is the reason for human suffering? Response: To me, your question seems to make some very large assumptions. These include: That there need to be reasons for things. Further if there are reasons, that there is a “reasoner”. One step further, your question assumes that the “reasoner” created suffering with a reason in mind. If you would like to know the “reason” for human suffering, you would have to appeal to this reasoner. Find them, and you will know. If you do not find them, then perhaps you…read more

Buddhism and the Law of Attraction – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: How do I apply the Law of Attraction while practicing Buddhism when they are both the opposite of each other? Buddhism is about seeing the impermanence and suffering of everything. The Law of Attraction suggests we focus on the good. Response: I wouldn’t call the “Law of Attraction” the opposite of Buddhism. They don’t really overlap cleanly. Buddhism is about decreasing suffering by addressing the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. The Law of Attraction is about your dreams coming true. These are two very different pursuits. If the…read more

How Has Awakening Changed Your Meditation Practice? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: How Has Awakening Changed Your Meditation Practice? Response: If you are reading this, you are awake. If you are meditating, you are awake. I mean this in a common sense way and in the language of the Buddha. Meditation is practice being awake. It is an exploration of the depth and subtlety of the awareness that is available to all of us. There is a persistent misunderstanding of enlightenment as a transition from one persistent state of unenlightenment to a new state of enlightenment. This is why there are…read more

On Enlightenment and Dog Shit – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: Why would an enlightened being avoid stepping on dog shit? Once awakened, wouldn’t a person remain frozen in the spot until they piss themselves to death? On achieving enlightenment, shouldn’t every bodily impulse to do anything be replaced with mindful observation without physical reaction? Response: Because stepping in dog shit causes you to smell the nasty smell of dog shit for the rest of the day. Everyone is awake. Life is action. Any formulation of enlightenment that fails to account for the way things are – eating, sleeping, shitting,…read more

From the Perspective of Buddhism, is the Mind the Creator of Sickness and Health? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: From the Perspective of Buddhism, is the Mind the Creator of Sickness and Health? Response: From where does the mind arise if not the body? Sickness and health can be abetted by the mind, but to say the mind creates a virus, or cancer, or a mental illness just doesn’t make sense. The mind is the creator of “me”, but there is always more to “me” than any construction the mind could muster. To ascribe creation of everything to the mind is just another path to suffering. Health means wholeness….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

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

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