Warning! Rectal-cranial-inversion syndrome alert!
(The following post appears to have been removed from this blog, but this is a real post!)
I agree regarding the revision of the role of women who are, ironically, the vast majority of western Buddhists. I think we also need to look at how putting people on such a false pedestals creates an unnatural instinctive mating responses in women – something that leaves them confused and vulnerable. It is time to call out the naked emperor!
In regards to elevation, given the scant records we have of the Buddha, it would be better to regard him as an idealised person who is more likely to have been constructed after he died by people who had no personal relationship with him at all. Clearly, someone existed who was widely respected, but the Buddha we read about today is not the same person. We believe that he probably died from eating rancid pork, and, prima facia, that would contradict the idea of his being an omniscient being; but, of course, there is no way any human can understand the actions of an omniscient being without a claim to the same. I would say that any Buddhist group that sees their teacher in the order of a living Buddha misunderstands how he has been constructed over time.
Superpowers have never been verified and levitating is something we can encounter on the sidewalk. That said, I once had a strange mediation experience which I could say was a form of omniscience. For several hours I had a sense of being connected and aware of what seemed like everything in the universe, but if you were to ask me if it was going to rain tomorrow – I wouldn’t have been able to tell you! It is very easily to project our own desires onto the idealised semi-mythical character – the Buddha – and it is possible that we might simply just misinterpret the language as suggesting objective knowledge when that may not be the case. Arguably, early Buddhists thought far less objectively than we do today, in a modernist era. So, to say that the Buddha couldn’t be corrupted by power is really to get caught into making assumptions about something that can’t be verified. In believing the historically constructed notion that there is only one Buddha every billion or so years was probably a useful social mechanism for managing power so that: “there is no scenario in which granting absolute power to a specific person.” I agree that it is not a good idea for any group or institution to do this in any other sense.
Small point, it is a misunderstanding of liberalism, to say that there is no place for the possibility of somebody having completely pure conduct like a Buddha. Liberalism is careful not to define the individual, its ideal is about freedom: the freedom to do what we want as long as it does not harm others. In terms of the practical end-point for our Buddhist communities, I agree this is an important consideration – the liberal injunction against harming others was obviously something that a beginner in mindfulness could do better than the reports of this intoxicated regent – whose behaviour as described is not just ordinary – is it tawdry.
Link to the blog here