Just wondering what you guys think about Buddhism. I was reading about the basic structure of it today. The business about 6 cycles, Nirvana and levels of heaven seem easy enough to dismiss, but the day to day process of achieving happiness by working on one's self is kind of intriguing. It has no dieties. It seems to be debatable whether it is even a 'religion'. I like the fact that they believe that nothing is eternal and everything is in constant flux. It could possibly be a way to oppose Christian dogma without declaring atheism "I don't want to hear this, I'm Buddhist".  Anyway, I'm not jumping in it or trying to convince anyone, just looking for opinions. Thanks

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Consider the harms that some people do, i.e., the leaders of Myanmar, Thailand, and WW2 Japan, to say nothing of other leaders throughout history.

Which accounts for their harm more, their early upbringing or their early religious belief?

I ask that because I have so often, for decades, heard of Americans looking for religious leaders who comfort them. They find these leaders, accept their religious teachings, but are seldom challenged by these teachings. They then raise their children in these teachings.

Perhaps both upbringing and religion account for the harm they do. Do they account about equally?

In the ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) program, it's taught that children adopt behaviors that help them survive, but in these survivors' adult lives these behaviors usually malfunction.

Tom, exactly. Ego Defense Mechanisms are learned strategies for survival that may or may not work as adults. That is what therapy is all about, correcting the ego defense mechanisms learned in childhood that keep them caught in maladaptive behaviors. 

Rational Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy


Joan, I hope you're not saying that Ego Defense Mechanisms -- capitalizing the words implies official acceptance by an organization -- are the only survival strategies adopted by children in abusive homes.

Such strategies can greatly affect the choices people make and be seen as normal behavior.

I wasn't clear enough. ego defense mechanisms are present in human beings for a reason. Children learn them through natural defense strategies that are part of our makeup. It is the same type of thing a fawn does when it crouches in the grass to avoid being seen. It is natural, normal, and life preserving.  It is the thing mammals do to survive the risks of a presence predatory animals.  

They are necessary for survival, however, they can be maladaptive when they are the basis of unrealistic fears in adults. For example, a person terrified of birds, any birds, to the point of not wanting to be in a garden if there are birds around, is maladaptive. I could give many other examples, but I think I made my point.


"Such strategies can greatly affect the choices people make and be seen as normal behavior."

and healthy behavior. 

Buddhism is as diverse as other religions.  There is not "one" Buddhism.

Last fall I went to a number of Buddhist shrines and temples in China.  I did not expect to feel much, other my usual sense of awe when I am in an ancient place and pondering about what hands touched and built that place, hundreds or thousands of years ago.  But I did feel very moved.  A big part of that was, I felt connected to the aspirations and desire for peace of people that developed in complete isolation and absence of abrahamic religions.

There are Buddhists who worship gods, and there are Buddhists who don't.  There are Buddhists who believe in reincarnation, and there are Buddhists who believe we are annihilated at death.  What moved me the most was the philosophy, an understanding that all is temporary, that all suffer, and suffering is partly due to attachment to temporary things, leading to loss and anticipation of loss.  If I could become less attached, I might suffer less.  I think that would be good.

Daniel, when you stand in an ancient temple or cathedral, see the beautiful design, the clever engineering, the precious stones and metals and paintings, do you have a sense of awe? I have felt the same way, especially in Thailand and Indonesia. I have a full-of-wonder kind of feeling. Who were the people who built such structures? What were their lives like? Did they build because of devotion?  

I am curious about the people who built such monuments. Did they build it out of devotion to an idea, an image, a symbol of commitment to a concept? Did resources pulled out of the community to support the costs of building such a structure come from abundance? Did the builders live in healthy environments, did they have enough food for all members of the community? 

I was in a huge cathedral someplace in Europe. I asked my guide if there were remnants or evidence of the condition of the builders who constructed this marvel of engineering and beauty. He took me to a library where we examined old records and drawings of the people and families of workers on the construction. We found reports of starvation, disease, and filth. Looking at the archeology reports, the skeletons revealed signs of heavy lifting, broken collar bones, stress fractures, skeletal signs of muscle and tendon damage. It clearly was not a community of people able and willing to make such a sacrifice. Their lives may have been enriched by building such an edifice, but I wonder if the people would have been better off with food in their bellies, a clean home in which they lived, and proper sanitation? 

I visited a mission in Mexico where Indians built a magnificent cathedral with valuable stones, metals and glass. A little investigation revealed that the Indians who did the construction were used as slaves, their skeletons had symptoms of very heavy work, their lives were not improved with the architectural monument demanded of the priests who came along with the Spanish soldiers to plunder their wealth and human power. 

When I observe these great structures I wonder if modern people understand the sacrifice others made to create such things. I also wonder if modern people would be able and willing to repeat the work necessary to make it happen. 

Joan, I have been listening to lectures on "The Other Side of History", a series about ordinary  people in ancient times.  That title might be wrong, but it's the general idea.  It's much more moving and informative than learning about monarchs, despots, and armies.


Human history is filled with the sacrifices of ordinary people.  The remains of their civilizations, temples, walls, aqueducts, and even the small works of art left by people who lived in the stabilized societies following conquest, leave me with a sense of wonder.


We are certainly fortunate to live in modern times, in a society that benefits from the efforts of those before us, and standing not only on the shoulders of giants, but also on the shoulders of slaves.

Daniel, those lectures sound just like what interests me. I can get the album on iTunes, and I have the name of the author so that I can read whatever he has printed until I can get the album. I've got a little problem of gathering together my property taxes, but that will just take a little time; then I can enjoy "The Other Side of History". 

Thanks, dear friend. You always have the means to respond to my impatience with people who don't recognize history and its impact on the present. 

Here it is  - "The Other Side of History:  Daily Life in the Ancient World"  with lecturer Robert Garland; the series is from "The Great Courses". 


I got it through Audible.com.  The cost of the entire lecture series was $14.95 which is amazing considering on the great courses it is $249.95.  Ouch.  I don't know what it is on I-tunes. 

I don't see "The Other Side of History" in Audible.com. But I took a very quick look. I am on my way to finish up cleaning out the south box in the garden. Hope your day is full of friendly people and satisfying things.

A stock photo of working in the garden 

Joan, in reading this thread, I looked up "The Other Side of History" by Garland in Audible.com.  I, too, download audio books from them.

Here's the link

"understanding that all is temporary, that all suffer, and suffering is partly due to attachment to temporary things, leading to loss and anticipation of loss.  If I could become less attached, I might suffer less.  I think that would be good."

~ Sentient Biped

Daniel, I missed this yesterday when I read it. I focused on your first paragraph.

Yes, to suffer may come from attachment to temporary things! To suffer may come from loss or anticipation of loss! 

To become less attached may reduce suffering. 

The feeling of suffering then becomes a signal from one's body or thinking that something needs attention, perhaps do something more, or less, or differently. To change and to end whatever is the basic cause of the suffering. 

In the case of child abuse, the child is helpless to do anything. As an adult survivor of child abuse, there are options one can take to stop cycles of violence in the family. 

In the case of spousal abuse, the adult has an option. It doesn't matter which option one chooses, there will always be a price to pay, a consequence. It then becomes a decision of the 3P. 

What are the probabilities, possibilities and preferabilities? Do a cost/benefit analysis and make a decision; then live with the consequences of that choice. 



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