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Saturday, August 21, 2010

More on RAW and Buddhism

I liked Bobby Campbell's comment in the recent "Insufficiently Elitist" post: "Kinda funny how RAW worked it out that since he recommended not accepting all his B.S., that disagreeing w/ him on one hand amounts to agreeing w/ him on the other."

Wilson's frequent pronouncements that everyone has a responsibility to question their own B.S. along with everyone else's, and his suggestions that agnosticism should be applied to every belief system, may have been inspired, in part, by his study of Buddhism, which has many teachings about taking responsibility for yourself or thinking for yourself.

For example, there is a story in one of the sutras about the parable of the raft. A monk has to cross a river, so he builds a raft and uses it to cross. When he is finished, he beaches it and goes on his way. He doesn't carry it the raft on his back when he reaches dry land. Similarly, the doctrine of the Buddha is a useful vehicle, but not something to carry on one's back, the Buddha explained.

Another example is a verse from the 12th chapter of the Dhammapada, No. 160, essentially a collection of Buddhist aphorisms. The verse is translated in different ways, so here are some of the translations, with the name of the translator in parenthesis: "One is one own's refuge, who else could be the refuge?" (Walpola Rahula); "Only a man can be the master of himself: Who else from outside could be his master?" (Juan Mascaro); "Self is the lord of self, who else could be the master?" (Max Mueller).


Bobby Campbell said...

I love the metaphor of the raft! I first learned it from the college professor who turned me on to RAW. I would love to see this pragmatic interpretation of Buddhism become more well known.

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