Andrew Furst

What’s the Big Deal With the Buddha? – Modern Koans

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Question: How do we know that the Buddha was the enlightened one? Did someone give him a certificate? What’s the big deal with the Buddha? Response: Enlightenment, such a nasty word, misunderstood, and maligned. If there was an aversion to have, this word might be the perfect candidate. I’ll latch onto something I was reading recently (Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa). He said it nicely. I’ll have to paraphrase. Enlightenment is not something we get or achieve, it’s something we uncover or discover. So really, we come with the certificate and…read more

Learning Buddhism Systematically? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: I have great interests in Buddhism, and I read a few books by my own which are too hard to understand. Do you have any tips on learning Buddhism systematically? Response: I applaud your efforts and encourage you find a meditation group or a Buddhist temple. Working with others with similar goals is wonderful. I will caution you on your approach. If there is a goal in Buddhism, it would be to reduce the suffering that greed, delusion, and hatred bring to bear on our lives. Rather than adopting…read more

What if God exists outside of scientific detection? – Modern Koans

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Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s) Question: What if God exists outside of scientific detection? It’s not a matter of “what if”. That is a fact. the “radar” of scientific detection is our senses and any extensions that we create for them (for example a microscope or a telescope). As science and philosophy have methodically debunked the various anthropomorphic characterizations of God, the only remaining possible “definitions” of God are those that assert that “God” is not observable. This is the space in which the mystery lies. If you enjoyed this post,…read more

Will Buddhism Become Outdated? – Modern Koans

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Question: Will Buddhism become outdated?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

Did Religion Create Evil? – Modern Koans

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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

Are You True to Yourself? – Modern Koans

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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

Does God Discriminate? – Modern Koans

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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

Does Buddhist Philosophy Work? – Modern Koans

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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

Eradicating Delusion, Greed, and Anger – Modern Koans

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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

Is Religion Necessary for Modern Society? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: Is religion necessary for modern society? Response: The persistence of an idea or an ideology can be found in the advantage it offers its followers. So when we talk about necessity, I think we should be focused at a higher level than religion. I would suggest what is necessary, is that we have a world view. Some of us hold a world view that is religious. Others – e.g. atheists – have a worldview that is not. There are more religious people than there are non-religious people. So, I…read more

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