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But if we start looking a bit closer, at the ramifications of Buddhist belief in practice, there is a lurking darkness there, quietly stated and eloquently crafted, but every bit as profound as the Hellfires of Christianity or the rhetoric of jihad.
Distraught, she went to the monks who explained to her that she was having such trouble now because, in a past life, she was a murderous dictator who burned books, and so now, in this life, she is doomed to forever be learning challenged.
Not, "Oh, let's look at changing your study habits", but rather, "Oh, well, that's because you have the soul of a book-burning murderer." To our ears, this sounds so over the top that it is almost amusing, but to a kid who earnestly believes that these monks have hidden knowledge of the karmic cycle, it is devastating.
She was convinced that her soul was polluted and irretrievably flawed, and that nothing she could do would allow her to ever learn like the people around her.
And this is the dark side of karma – instead of misfortunes in life being bad things that happen you.
And that yawning stretch of impermanence outside, so the argument goes, is mirrored by the fundamental non-existence of the self inside.
Meditation, properly done, allows you to strip away, one by one, all of your merely personal traits and achieve insight into the basic nothingness, the attributeless primal nature, of your existence.Buddhism's inheritance from Hinduism is the notion of existence as a painful continuous failure to negate itself.The wheel of reincarnation rumbles ruthlessly over us all, forcing us to live again and again in this horrid world until we get it right and learn to not exist.Buddhism is often seen as the acceptable face of religion, lacking a celestial dictator and full of Eastern wisdom.But Dale De Bakcsy, who worked for nine years in a Buddhist school, says it's time to think again On paper, Buddhism looks pretty good.It is in our biology, in the fabric of us, to connect to other human beings, and anything which tries to insert shame and doubt into that instinct is bound to always twist us every so slightly.If the thought, "I am happy right now", can never occur without an accompanying, "And I am just delaying my ultimate fulfillment in being so", then what, essentially, has life become?That's just what you criticise Christianity for, isn't it?" This would be a pretty damn good argument if I were convinced that the conclusions of Buddhist belief were as ironclad as their usually serene-unto-finality presentation makes them seem.Children have a hard enough time keeping up their self-esteem as it is without every botched homework being a sign of lurking inner evil.As crippling as the weight of one's past lives can be, however, it is nothing compared to the horrors of the here and now.