Seem Familiar?

On the lighter side of things, I found this hilarious clip from the UK comedy show, The IT Crowd earlier today:

In this clip, the CEO (shachō 社長 in Japanese) is talking about a new religion he found. He follows a guru who says that he has all the answers about the Universe, but in the video, his answers seem very stupid. He explains that space is “mind-dust” and stars are “people’s wishes”. Of course, this is nonsense, but the CEO believes it and encourages people to become members of his cult religion.

Sound familiar? :)

There’s many such cults religions, and many such gurus who say nice words, but if you think about them, they make no sense.

A while back, I was watching this video of a certain Jamaican guru. He was talking to a crowd of followers (mostly young, wealthy-looking Europeans), about how they really were. But if you listened carefully, his words were vague and confusing. I honestly think the guru was just making this up because people believed him. And they really did believe him! They watched him with great devotion, and when they asked questions, they were shy and timid. He would tell them they were wrong, and here’s there real answer (which was vague and confusing).

But some cults religions, like Aum Shinrikyo in Japan, or the People’s Temple in the US are extremely dangerous. They start small, with a guru who is charming and has lots of “brilliant ideas” and teachings. If they gather enough people though, they can become a real problem.

Even in Buddhism, there’s quite a few cults. People who are charismatic teach something that sounds like Buddhism, and they seem to be enlightened, but Buddhism was never intended to depend on a single teacher. That’s why the Buddha never appointed a successor. The community, the sangha was supposed to work this out themselves. So any Buddhist group that is focused on a single teacher should be treated as suspect.

In the Buddha’s last days, he said to his cousin Ananda:

there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata [the Buddha] holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus [the monks], or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus?

In other words, the Buddha wasn’t hiding any teachings. No hidden teachings, no hidden rituals or any secrets.1 There was nothing special that made him the leader. He was a teacher, and the others followed him, but he had no interest in being the leader.

Anyhow, something funny and thoughtful to share. :)

1 Esoteric Buddhism (密教) was invented long after the Buddha. I used to be really fascinated with it, though these days I tend to be more skeptical. I think rituals are helpful sometimes (if it has a specific purpose), but sometimes they are a distraction. Sometimes you have to let go.

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About Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Seem Familiar?

  1. viewpacific says:

    Thanks for the cautionary note. You might want to edit your post to put your suggestion before the video. I watched it first and got my credit card out so I could join. When no phone number or pay link showed up, I read further.
    Just a thought…

  2. Doug says:

    Ha ha ha. In that case, perhaps you’d like to contribute to my blog fund which just happens to be based out of Nigeria. ;-)

    Good feedback, by the way, thank you.

  3. viewpacific says:

    Your timing is perfect!
    Only yesterday one of your agents from Nigeria contacted me. You can expect to receive a substantial contribution any time now …

  4. viewpacific says:

    Thanks for the great laughs, by the way.

  5. Doug says:

    Excellent. That will help us build out spaceship to Saturn shaped like me, just like the Zandorians instructed me too.

    Happy to make people laugh. :-)

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