Modern Buddhism an abomination?

See http://www.attan.com/

Some nice quotes (and this is not even the sharpest):

"To quote the late metaphysician, Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy: “Buddhism is most famous today for everything it originally never taught.” As such attan.com does not advocate nor endorse Theravada & Hinayana, nor any form of Mahayana, Vajrayana, and certainly not Zen. None of these sectarian creations are original to earliest Buddhism."

Further:

"Attan.com is devoted to original Buddhism, Traditionalist metaphysics, and the gnosis advocated thereof, as such it is an anti-Guru, anti-Zen-Master, anti-Lama, anti-Rimpoche, and anti-bhikkhu site adverse to any and all forms of superficial spiritual-materialism, petty ritualisms, and the New-Age movement in general.

Attan.com is equally adversarial to those who find counterfeit peace and grace in spiritual trinkets, empirical pietism such as extreme bodily austerities such as chanting, bowing, self-mortification, or those who find love towards cultish Guru-personalities, other such pseudo-religious rubbish and meaningless corporeal endeavors which are irrelevant to the gnosis which culminates in the noetic liberation of spirit.

Attan.com's content is hostile to illogical systems such as: secular humanism, creationism, atheism, agnosticism, and the mass of pseudo-religionists such as those who claim to be ‘Buddhists’, and spiritual…yet deny the very spirit (atman, citta, nous) which is the only refuge and light proclaimed in and of Buddhism and metaphysics at large. "



I love it!
One of the few exceptions, perhaps, to the justified criticisms of attan.com, is the work of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. There will always be exceptions, of course.



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Comment by Martin Euser on March 31, 2010 at 6:21pm
The status of theology and philosophy is not very high in our contemporary society which is extremely materialistic in nature. So, theosophy does not make a big imprint on the psyche of today's citizens, and this will only change when two things coalesce:

1. Academics start to think in a much more integrative way than they are able to do now.
The same goes for the lay public, but the opinion of that public seems to have little influence on the academic mindset.

2. Theosophers learn to develop and apply their philosophy to more tangible areas of human life, e.g. psychology, biology, and other areas of interest. I have seen little that points in this direction. It requires a reformulation of the system (of theosophical ideas) into more modern terms, inventing new concepts perhaps, and doing a lot of integrative work to connect ideas and principles and facts together. This is tremendously difficult and time-consuming. It would amount to a well developed meta-philosophy of science.

My guess is that it will take probably at least hundreds of years to accomplish anything like this, given the current disposition of humanity. But one can give it a try, of course.
Comment by Mikhayl Von Riebon on March 29, 2010 at 5:26pm
Certainly the triune of theosophy "sounds" good, but does it actually make a difference? theosophy "should" have the grounds to make some truly insightful changes in the world around it, and most certainly it did once upone a time, but does it today?
Comment by michaelcarlo on March 29, 2010 at 11:46am
I enjoy the diversity of all great spiritual, religious practice in all countries with their differing cultural proclivities from all time periods. I find it instructive, comparing the evolution of the ancient wisdom in its myriad forms of the past to our present “no initiation required” evolution of today. Today’s ritualized, pacifistic, authoritarian driven Buddhism along with the other politicized religions that have degenerated and crystallized into the cultural relic’s they are today, I believe their time has come, notwithstanding the “flash in the pan” revival created by the internet, popular cultural appeal accelerated in the west by a rebellious rejection of Christianity for lack of understanding its underlying sublime revelation. I prefer our western interpretation of Theosophy. It has successfully forged the triune (Religion, Science and Philosophy) into the triangular shaped “tip of the spear” that I believe is our best hope yet of piercing the veil of ignorance draped over the (what, where, and why) conundrum that still persists today. The battle line it seems, is drawn on the mental plane in Pisces and a victory here (transformation of consciousness) will go a long way in our next big test, Aquarius. As for the evolution of souls, I like to think of them as the “stepping stones” they represent to the individualized creatures that use them as vehicles to engender a greater overview of “That” which is, while their residual, magnetically encoded aftereffect skandhas, remain behind as the pandorian box of untold possibilities awaiting the next organizing Logos to refine and take the greater and smaller Creation to the next level.
Comment by Martin Euser on March 29, 2010 at 7:19am
The Greek term I refered to is Aionios, from Aion, a period of time.
See Christian Universalism page about this word.
Another way to express the issue about the permanency of (human) soul, is to say that the human soul, manas in theosophy, is relatively immortal, not absolutely immortal.
It will be transformed, in the long run, into something more lofty. In its allotted period of existence it can be considered permanent.

This is all a matter of phrasing, and I think that too many people, including many theosophers, take the sacred scriptures and theosophical literature too literally. It may also be that language is too limited a vehicle to express esoteric ideas. Even though, it might be profitable to correlate terms from diverse sources (religious, scientific, philosophical) a bit more than has been done up to this day.
After all, we are talking about the same phenomena (and noumena), but in different terms.
Comment by Martin Euser on March 26, 2010 at 7:08am
Mik,

One of the things regarding the existence (being) of souls pertains to the Greek word that is translated as "eternal". According to Madame Blavatsky, the ancient Greeks meant a period or cycle of manifestation by this word [evolution we would say now], not an infinite duration like the later Christian writers and philosophers made it to designate. This makes sense to me, although I don't think our scholars of Platonism have researched that sufficiently. It is pivotal to understanding, though.
If the Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophers would adhere to the notion of soul as unchangeable, they would contradict themselves, because soul can purify itself, so it at least can change state.

Leaving that subject behind, I am doing a little study of Proclus (all his major works), which really impresses me as to the amount of elaboration that has gone into his work. His comments on the Timaeus (on Nature and the World-Soul) were influential in the Middle-Ages. His commentary on the Parmenides contains some nice dialectics respecting the One. His Elements of Theology is a fine example of an ontological scheme. He reintroduced geometry into physics, coupling geometry to qualities. See also his comment on Euclides. The list goes on and on.
A true genius, very rare in this sublunary world. He also introduced the henads as intermediary between The One and Being. Slick move. Can't go into all that.
He calls The One utterly simple, while Being consists of Wholes, Wholes of parts, etc. Then we get Parts of wholes and parts. The latter pertains to Nature I believe. The whole point (to me) is, that which is compound cannot be permanent. It must evolve. Panta Rhei as Heraclitus said.

You see, process-philosophy must be an inherent part of any respectable philosophy of being.
Developing a clear terminology is a part of this. Vitvan understood this point. He grounded his approach in general semantics, including a referent in all his definitions.
As to the concept of "soul" - he designated it to be "a configuration of units of energy". So, to him, a soul has form and it is substantial. It is like a field of energy to him. A good beginning, I'd say. The nature of this energy is another matter of discussion. Since there are many types or classes of souls, the type (quality) of energy differs accordingly (or rather the reverse: the class is determined by the quality of its energy).
Comment by Mikhayl Von Riebon on March 24, 2010 at 6:53pm
Thanks martin,

to be honest i had not thought about the idea of there being the existence of souls that change just as everything else. i think i will think on this point.

you also mention:

The Absolute (a horrible term, BTW) has no being. It is beyond being. It might be called is-ness. It might have powers (how else would being be possible?), but that leads us into very difficult metaphysics, which I do not aspire at this moment.

i couldnt agree more. 'Absolute' is a horrendous term and really any process involving constructing meanings and definitions on the subject falls short by its very nature. still, i cant help but start there myself. i figure 'why start climbing a mountain anywhere else but at the top?' :D
Comment by Martin Euser on March 24, 2010 at 8:23am
Mikhayl: I certainly love the Dark Zen FAQ on meditation:
http://www.darkzen.com/Articles/meditationQA.htm

Having said that, I would like to add that the motive to reach nirvana for oneself is inherently selfish, although understandable, because one wants to "get out of this messed up world" as soon as possible.
The esoteric teaching (especially from De Purucker) on nirvana is fascinating, since he says that the Pratyeka Buddhas (those that seek enlightenment for themselves only) get stuck in their development. Nirvana is not about absolute extinction. It is a relative "extinction" as far as our world is concerned. The other kind of Buddhas, who follow the path of compassion, hence do not strive to get out of this world (as their leit-motif) progress seemingly slower, but in reality have a far loftier destiny. There is a lot more to this, but this must suffice.

As to attan.com: the webmaster is a fan of Advaita-Vedanta, Neo-Platonism, Boehme, and the like, just as I am. All these point to the same core of knowledge and experience. I have put a lot of material about these on my websites, as one can learn so much of this.
These notions can all be found in core theosophical teachings too.
One note about permanency: although theosophy teaches the existence of souls, in fact a whole hierarchy of these, in the human constitution (as Neo-Platonism does too), it does not follow that souls remain unchanged throughout the ages. The principle of relativity and relatedness, and evolution, clearly leads one to conclude that souls can be transformed. This has been a source of a major confusion in Buddhism, which simply has been on account of not understanding progressive evolution, as taught by theosophy. The same goes for notions of "absolute". Since everything that has being (like soul) changes, there will be a continuous change.
The Absolute (a horrible term, BTW) has no being. It is beyond being. It might be called is-ness. It might have powers (how else would being be possible?), but that leads us into very difficult metaphysics, which I do not aspire at this moment.
Comment by Mikhayl Von Riebon on March 23, 2010 at 7:40pm
hmmm very interesting. apparently not a lot of forums have any nice things to say but i would suggest one educating themselves and making up their own mind. it seems attan.com has been slotted into the 'dark zen' category and for those who dont know what dark zen is:

http://www.darkzen.com/

i think i will have to do some research into attan. on the flip side though what are your thoughts on 'dark zen.' immediately the website gives me the impression of www.jedichurch.org and scenes of 'zen' and 'dark zen' monks in robes with lightsabers came to mind. haha.

im afraid what we are seeing with 'dark zen' is a response to the seemingly materialistic perversion that has degenerated zen in the west in general. it looks like we may witness a fascinating power play not unlike the late 1800s - early 1900s new age groups.

gotta admit though, the title 'dark zen' is pretty catchy.
Comment by Mikhayl Von Riebon on March 23, 2010 at 5:29pm
Oooh martin! thanks for sharing, will be sure to check it out!

getting goosebumps already...

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