Author Topic: Misconceptions on Buddhism  (Read 2454 times)

thornbush

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Misconceptions on Buddhism
« on: December 03, 2009, 07:27:18 pm »
Like any other system of faith/belief, Buddhism has its own experience of misconceptions either by its own adherents or from external sources.
This thread is about sharing what you have come across, heard and so forth on such.

A reflection:
"Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two?
He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata.
And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathagata as not said or spoken by the Tathagata.
These are two who slander the Tathagata."

Abhasita Sutta

thornbush

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 07:28:38 pm »

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 08:15:09 pm »
Reading a book by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, or Thich Nhat Hanh does not one a Buddhist make. I believed that as a teenager and young adult, that I was a practicing Buddhist because I was reading some good books and practicing good deeds.

David

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 01:05:25 am »
The misconception that bothers me the most is the idea that Buddhadamma has no doctrine, that anything goes, and the teachings mean what the individual practitioner wants them to mean.  Secondly, all Buddhist are supposed to be perpertually calm pacifists.  It is also disturbing also to see how many "Buddhists" have no real basic understanding of concepts like anicca, anatta, dukkha, kamma, and rebirth, but believe teachers are not necessary, and are actually somewhat "anti-teacher".  It's almost like "Teachers?  We don't need no stinkin' teachers!  Shakyamuni didn't have any stinkin' teachers."

Offline humanitas

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2009, 10:57:47 am »
Reading a book by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, or Thich Nhat Hanh does not one a Buddhist make. I believed that as a teenager and young adult, that I was a practicing Buddhist because I was reading some good books and practicing good deeds.
:bow:

So true.  Someone asked me if I was Christian, I said no.  They asked me if I had a religion, I said I'm a Buddhist.  They said, "OMG, like, me too.  I read all the books!!"  I was like... oh. I didn't really have a witty comeback or anything to say.  I just stood there O.o

More common American misconceptions I've personally encountered.

-Buddhists, they believe you never really die because your soul reincarnates?!?
or
-Buddhists believe in reincarnation.

-Buddhism and Hinduism are basically the same religion.
-Karma, that's the threefold law, if you do something bad it comes back to you threefold.
-Oh, Buddhism's my favorite pagan religion!
-Buddhists invite suffering, they welcome it and look forward to it!
or
-To be Buddhist is to take on suffering.

-To be Buddhist you must endure the pain of grueling sitting sessions in meditation. It trains the mind.
-All Buddhists are vegetarians.
-All Buddhists wear robes or own robes.
-Buddha is a god.
OR
-Buddhism is like Christianity, Christ saves Christians, Buddha saves Buddhists.
OR
-Buddha is the ultimate ruler of the universe/cosmos.
OR
-Buddhists worship the Buddha.

-American Buddhists are a new-age bunch full of fuzzy-wuzzy animal/peace loving crystal-toting tarot mystic save-the-planet type greenies. (sadly, I've known these who claim to be Buddhist-but never took refuge or practice the actual dharma *sigh* spreading this sad misconception.)
-Buddhists use meditation for relaxation.  That's why they're so calm and nice.
-Buddhists can't get angry or swear, they must always have peace.
-Buddhists are anti-homosexuality.
-The leader of all Buddhists is the Dalai Lama.


I'm sure I've left out a bunch, that's all I could recall off the top of my head.
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overmyhead

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2009, 01:58:42 am »
Not all about Buddhism per se, but:

(1) The phrase "that's Karma!" is almost always used in an inapplicable situation.
(2)  Meditation is extremely poorly understood.  Most people seem to think it is just sitting, doing nothing.  Other people think that their mundane activities count as meditation.
(3)  The idea that nirvanna is a mythological ideal.
(4)  That Buddhism is pessimistic.  That is, people think we avoid pleasure because we think it is evil or bad, or that we see this life as not worth living.
(5)  That we have hopelessly lost touch with reality.   ;D
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 02:12:36 am by overmyhead »

thornbush

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 02:27:30 am »
1. Someone once told me: 'Buddhism is all just about sitting and meditation'.
2. The infamous butchered on/offline versions of the Kalama & Dona Suttas and its distorted/contorted interpretations. 
3. Intra and inter-sectarian polemics and assumptions.
4. That all Buddhist Monastics and Laity are incapable of error and misconduct. (imagine standing on plastic lotuses and neon halos all day)
5. That the Buddha was from China or Thailand or Sri Lanka or....
6. That the Buddha Dharma is only for a certain race/class and capable of Enlightenment and the very notion of a 'Buddhist'.
7. The Buddha loves incense, the more the better! (Apparently, a choking smoky temple is a sign of sanctity)
8. That cultivation and Enlightenment are reserved for the Monastics. The laity are better just being side attendants to them.
9. That one cannot go on with a funeral service, do own chanting and attain Nirvana without the consent/presence of the Monastics.
10. One's rebirth/Nirvana is 'guaranteed' according to how much one expands the temple's coffers. Paypal? MasterCard? Visa? Amex?

Will be back for more....  ;D     

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2009, 08:02:56 am »
I run a "mindfulness based stress reduction" group. I often hear from the "politically correct" crowd: "I don't think it is appropriate for me as a caucasian person from North America to glorify the rituals of other cultures and take them out of context." Yeah, great, do you want to learn effective stress management or not?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 01:54:29 pm by Monkey Mind »

David

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2009, 01:10:30 pm »
2. The infamous butchered on/offline versions of the Kalama & Dona Suttas and its distorted/contorted interpretations.    

That one tends to be especially irksome because of it's frequent use by popular paperback book buddhist who use it to dismiss any dhamma teaching they find inconvenient.

Offline Dae Bi

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2009, 03:35:00 pm »
The no.1 misconception in my opinon.   The Buddha is a God,  and Chinese and  Tibetan Buddhism have many Gods.
I am he as you are he and we are all together.
                                                                           The Beatles

First there is a mountain then there is no mountain,
then there is.
                       Donovan

thornbush

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2009, 05:56:41 am »
Ok...here's another stock....  ;D
 
Buddhists are hippies
Buddha smoked weed
Buddhists are naturally Hindus
Buddha was that fat laughing guy...
'As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the 'soul' to Nirvana springs...'
Enlightenment is measured by how many online Buddhist Forums one belongs to...
Theravada is Hinayana
Mahayana is reformed Brahmanism
Vajrayana is Lamaism
All Buddhists are vegetarians...

Will be bach for more...  8)

Hungry Ghost

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2009, 10:28:00 am »
Ok   Misconceptions.       My pet peeves are....

When someone reduces all of Buddhism to their particular school or basis of authenticity, them insists that this is the only true measure of things.  

Or...When people dismiss the importance of practice with Sangha and Teacher, go it alone based on reading, think they are enlightened, and start pushing their mushy home-spun   Buddhish-vedantic-I-have-special-insight trip on everyone like a missionary.  

ok that last one is kind of judgemental and prickly :-[.   But certainly doctrinaire bullies.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2009, 10:30:53 am by Hungry Ghost »

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2009, 12:34:06 pm »
Buddhists are hippies


Even more irksome is the reverse logic "All Hippies are Buddhist".

Hungry, I have been on both sides of "pushing their mushy home-spun Buddhish-vedantic-I-have-special-insight trip on everyone like a missionary". I agree it is annoying to be on the receiving end of that. When I am on the projecting end: I answer a post from my perspective, because I believed that was what was being asked, and then figured out that the person was really needing input from someone more experienced than myself. In other words, I misunderstood the intention of the one who started the thread to be a free-for-all of different people's experiences, when actually I would have been better off shutting up and listening to more experienced practitioners. But then, who would actually be qualified enough to speak to ANY of these discussions?  ;D

Offline humanitas

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 03:31:18 pm »
Or...When people dismiss the importance of practice with Sangha and Teacher, go it alone based on reading, think they are enlightened, and start pushing their mushy home-spun   Buddhish-vedantic-I-have-special-insight trip on everyone like a missionary.  
...But certainly doctrinaire bullies.

Oddly... I can't help but feel that that is referring directly to me.    :'(
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Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Misconceptions on Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2009, 04:12:52 pm »

Oddly... I can't help but feel that that is referring directly to me.    :'(

And I'd wondered if it was about me. I think that is the beauty of this reflection... By nature of being in an on-line Sangha environment, many of us are struggling with the value of "do-it-yourself" Buddhism using resources available at accesstoinsight.org (as an example of the many on-line resources) versus attending a physical Sangha.

 


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