[ Sep 5, 2017 — A couple of people have reached out to correct me about this post. Their main point seems to be that Buddhism has moved on from only focusing internally, and that caring about the world is a big part of the point now. I think I was wrong to use the word Buddhism in the first place, since what I’m really attacking here is the concept of abandoning ties, connections, and desires. And that seems to be a small piece of what overall Buddhism is, although I’m not even sure about that. In short, I am very much against that idea, but if it’s not a big part of modern Buddhism then I’m going to change the title of the post. Thanks for educating me. ]
I’ll start by saying that I am not an expert in Buddhism, or even well-informed on it. So maybe I’m simply not smart enough to understand it, or am missing something major.
Those caveats aside, I see a major contradiction with the philosophy.
It seems to me that its primary advice to people is to focus inward, that attachments to things are the cause of suffering, and that the best path to happiness is to sever ties to things you cherish and become one with the universe.
If the universe were empty, and I were the only one in it, sure—that sounds grand. But in a world full of suffering, it sounds awfully dickish to sit with folded legs and seek mental harmony while the world cries out around you.
Congratulations on your ability to tune out the sounds of weeping from the less evolved.
The way I see it, if Buddhism offers some extreme bliss to those who are able to sit quietly and meditate, then that should be considered a dessert. A reward. A victory celebration for a job well done.
What job you say?
Saving the world. That’s what.
If the world is still burning around you, and you are sitting in some cave, or some nice apartment in San Francisco or New York or London, and you’re contemplating the oneness of the universe—then maybe you’re just an asshole.
You can’t be one with the universe if you’re not participating in it. The universe is people. The universe is their happiness and their suffering. And if you’re choosing to disengage from that then you’re rejecting the very unity that you claim to be seeking.
So, use it to recharge. Use it to settle your thoughts. Use it to become a better person. But don’t disengage. Don’t separate. And don’t claim that such distancing from people is the path to happiness.
Because even if it were, it wouldn’t be right while people need you.