Unity of Vajrayana, Zen and Pyrrhonism
By Shunya Maitri Anil Santhapuri
It is rather interesting to understand and relate to the common ground on which the two different flavors of Buddhism exist. Vajrayana, which is classified as the fifth period of Indian Buddhism came into existence in 6th or 7th century. Vajrayana is juxtaposed with Zen Buddhism as taught by Hui neng (638 – 713 AD), the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism. These two are compared with the seemingly unrelated Pyrrhonian philosophy by Sextus Empiricus from Greece.
In the following passages, I will attempt at finding the common ground between Vajrayana, Zen and Pyrrhonism. I have referred to the following material for this study and inference:
- Towards a Philosophy of Tranquility, Pyrrhonian Skepticism and Zen Buddhism in Dialogue by Carlo Jamelle Harris
- Ocean of Dharma – 365 Teachings on Living Life with Courage and Compassion by Chögyam Trungpa
All the above mentioned schools of thought focus on the attainment of “tranquility” which can be defined as the “mental quietude” in Skeptics, “absence of vexations” in Zen school and “Samatha – development of peace” in Shambhala tradition.
The achievement of the goal for all these schools of thought is that of mental quietude and is defined in negative of “freedom from disturbances” for Skeptics, “freedom from thought” for Zennists and “freedom from unnecessary complications” which comes from the non-action for Shambhala tradition.
For the skeptics, it is to “oppose phenomena and noumena to one another in any way whatever, with the result that, owing to the equipollence among the things and statements that opposed, we are brought first to suspension of judgment and then to unperturbedness (ataraxia)”. For the Zennists, “they reach a state of equilibrium upon realizing not only the interdependence of opposites, but also through the active process of pitting judgments and concepts against one another”. For the Shambhala, it is about “training the mind to develop Samatha – development of peace, which arrives at eliminating the unnecessary complications and creating simplicity”.
Doubt is a centerpiece of these three schools of thought. For the Zennists, it is about “destroying doubt” and the students are repeatedly encouraged to ask questions so that the doubts may be relieved. As Hui neng says, “One is bothered by doubt simply because one intensely seeks and wants a firm truth to hold on to”. Also, the Zen master Hakuin said “At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening”. Is that so? – is a constant state of existence that Zennists follow. And, this resolution of doubt for Zennists happens but by a personal experience, which cannot be handed down as knowledge. Thus, it is a new type of awareness for them.
For the Skeptics too, although the focus is on maintaining the doubt in mind so as to create a sense of suspending the judgment – which is called as state of aphasia in which they neither affirms nor denies any non-evident belief. Thus, they are also seeing the world in a new perspective – developing a new type of awareness to self and the world around them.
For the Shambhala, the metaphor of a warrior is used to demonstrate the goal of their path. Thus, for them, bravery is a key and a fundamental approach to life. Bravery for them is being without deception, and here the deception is a personal one – that of self-doubt. Ceasing to doubt themselves and their intrinsic qualities – the best warriors invoke magic (drala) through and atmosphere of bravery. And this magic, which is fundamental and phenomenal, heightens their existence and brings out genuine and brilliant qualities of their being and environment into the fore – which in itself is a whole new awareness.
Sense impressions are the raw data which includes sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste (including thought too). The Skeptics, do not assign any value to phantasiai yet they assent to it because they are forced upon by it. These impressions lead to the appearances, yet they by themselves are neither right nor wrong, yet we can only be wrong about how we label them.
For the Zennists, the sense impressions are the “dusts” as they have the tendency to ensnare the individual through either attachment or rejection. The way to realize self-nature is to invoke prajna-samadhi in which we are neither separated nor stained by these dusts, yet allow them to come and go freely – which is similar to what a Skeptic does when she chooses to follow appearances undogmatically.
In the Shambhala, the senses and their impressions, although real, are considered for their fog-like quality which alludes to their illusory quality. And, the metaphor of sword of Mañjushri, who personifies the transcendental wisdom, is used here. This experience of transcendental knowledge cannot be achieved by any external means, yet by only cultivating within ourselves, by working through the natural situation of daily existence.
For the Zennists, the ultimate reality can be experienced and it is used by the term of “Suchness”. This term can also be referred to someone having a fully engaged experience of one’s reality. The path of the Zen to achieve this reality is focusing and overcoming grasping and rejecting, which has always interfered with our ability to perceive the present reality in the clearest and the most unbiased way.
For the skeptics, they do not subscribe to the existence of the ultimate reality as the knowledge of such a reality, in this moment, is non-evident. For them, the journey is that of overcoming dogma and suspending judgment of all non-evident things – which might place in a position of unperturbance to experience whatever reality which has to reveal to them. This is where Skeptics might have an open mind about the ultimate reality, and might search for it and experience it too. Yet, they will not term their experience as being the “ultimate”.
In the Shambhala, this ultimate reality is referred through the analogies of Heaven and the rising of the Great Eastern Sun. When all the complications and undone, then life can be perceived through its basic sanity and ordinary sacredness which creates a space – psychological space in our minds – such a space is called as Heaven. This primordial mind, free of constrictions – accommodates everything with a quality of wakefulness, delight and brilliance – like that of the rising of the great eastern sun.
Views are of important concern to all the three schools of thought. For Skeptics, dogma is problematic when it is coupled with rashness – all those dogmatic beliefs concerning that which lies beyond appearances.
Zen starts by clearly classifying views into that of the correct views and the erroneous ones. The former ones are those which lead to break vexations and latter are those which create vexations. Yet, in the heightened states of awareness – there is no reliance on right views either. There is no permanence to their nature – they are strictly utilitarian. This is where Buddha uses the analogy of the raft used to cross the river. Its utility is done once we have crossed the river, so also with the right views when their necessity is done with.
In the Shambhala, they mention about the views which lead us to a journey and search outside in the external world and out there are space and time. These are considered as false views. The true nature of Buddha-hood is evident – here and now – which is called as the Buddha-seed or the Tathagatagarbha. Due to our focus on outwards, we tend not to see the true nature. The true nature is not to be gained but being conscious about – because in the gaps of the thoughts, our search and our travails, the light shines through on this true-nature. Thus, the false views cover our true nature like how clouds hover around a mountain –and all we have to do is wait for the clouds to clear and get a glimpse of the mountain, as is.
For traditional Buddhists, all appearances are empty and have no self-nature – yet for Hui neng, he sees them as essential and natural and his focus on non-attachments to the same. For Zennists, it is about looks at marks in a personal nature and apply it to their immediate context of practice – not allowing them to cease the natural flow of the thoughts and mind.
For Skeptics, it is not practical to assert on the nature of appearances and they suspend the judgment as each mark might have a deeper meaning than the appearance itself. Thus, they focus more on appearances in terms of conventional manner in alignment with their local traditions and norms, and suspending all non-evident aspects of the same.
For the Shambhala, their major concern is with the duality of things and thus they choose to work with whatever is presented to them in terms of appearances – without questions their true nature. As, for them, reality is always a personal experience and relative experience is the same as ultimate experience.
Thus, we see all three schools of thoughts – whatever be their opinion on appearances choose to work with them at a very personal level, in alignment with their norms and environment.
All three schools of thought agree and converge on the thought that the major focus of their efforts on ending peace-robbing vexations. The Skeptics focus on vexations by getting rid of all the dogma that might lead them to such a state of mind and suspend judgment to reach peace of mind. The Zennists, understanding the duality and dichotomy – whenever a dualistic thought is experienced acknowledge vexations in their relations to enlightenment. For Hui neng, “Vexations are Enlightenment”. For Shambhala, realizing the true nature of Buddha-seed ceases all vexations which arise due to false attachments to something out there – this fragmentation of reality leads to vexations.
For the Skeptics, the major focus on attachments is that on dogma and rashfulness and adhering to the dogma – and the work of skeptics is to suspend judgment of non-evident beliefs so that the true nature of these attachments is revealed.
For the Zennists, appearances are not a problem yet the ideas that we place on the objects lead to rejection or attraction of the same, thus leading to false notions. For instance, a stone can be seen as a stone or as a building material positively or as a barrier on the road, that can hurt someone. Attaining the flow of thoughts, with non-dwelling is the key way for the Zen to overcome their attachments.
For the Shambhala, attachments arise due to neurotic mind which fixates and holds onto things. It can be broken down into three categories: passion, which is gooey; aggression, too sharp and too threatening and rejecting; and ignorance, which is a state of stupor that cannot discriminate from right or wrong. A creative mind would overcome these attachments and help us see reality as it is using Vipashana Bhavana.
Being in the moment, living in the newness is a critical aspect for all the three schools of thought.
For the Skeptics, tranquility is only guaranteed for the present moment. It is only as good as one’s present thought. All the thoughts on the Skeptics are not to be held as absolute but rather that of the present moment with no affirmation or negation on any of the non-evident matters of future. Thus, the ataraxia attained is only for this moment.
For the Zennists, practicing non-dwelling is practicing stillness in the mind using and the active mind, here and now. Hui neng mentions, “Prior thoughts, present thoughts, future thoughts flow continuously without cessation. If a thought is cut-off, the Dharma body is separated from the physical body. If you dwell in one thought, you will dwell in them all.” Thus, enlightenment for Hui neng is also a momentary thing, this moment when thoughts are in flow and non-dwelling you are enlightened, the other moment when you are dwelling in thoughts – you are non-enlightened. It has its basis in nowness.
For the Shambhala, to be a genuine warrior of peace we have to be living on a razor’s edge. Full of stupor of ignorance and past and future and we fall down. Full of wakefulness and present in the moment then we balance and get the glimpse of the true sanity, brilliance and Tathagatagarbha.
All the three schools of thoughts agree to be involved in the participation in the phenomenal world with Skeptics, choosing to suspend all judgment and live in accordance with the local customs and norms of the land. The Zennists, in their practice and approach embed themselves in the phenomenal world and this is reflected in the quote of “when I walk, I walk. When I sleep, I sleep”. The Shambhala follower lives in the world by practicing basic wakefulness, participating fully with looking for opportunities to practice compassion towards others.
Good and Evil & the Metaphysical
The Skeptics see dogma and rashness as evil and suspending the judgment as the good to be done in the given situations. The Zennists follow and adhere their monastic vows and carry views of good and evil based on their practice and personal experience. The Shambhala also take vows of Sila and specific vows for the path of the Shambhala tradition. All the three, although aligned to a specific principle, are also rooted deeply in personal experience.
In a metaphysical sense, both Zennists and Skeptics are looking for creating therapeutic calmness from vexations by their own methods and the Shambhala promises to uncover the natural state of wakefulness and ease and beauty – once we get rid of complications and external focus.
Be it the sudden enlightenment and Satori of Zen, or the ataraxia and peace of mind of Skeptics or the Heaven and rising of the Great Eastern Sun of the Shambhala’s – there is a great culmination in the three methods to ease and bring peace to the state of human condition, which was prevalent before, now and in the future too. There are many paths to the top of the mountain and each one of them take us on a exciting and fulfilling journey of not just reaching to the top, yet enjoying each moment of the journey in complete and pregnant NOWNESS.
Comparison between Mahamudra instructions and Perennial Buddhism of Maitriyana Spirituality
By Shunya Maitri Anil Santhapuri
In this note, I will be attempting at comparing between the Mahamudra instructions as practiced by Tibetans and the Perennial Buddhism of Maitriyana Spirituality as presented by Master Maitreya Buddha.
For the purpose of this study, I have referred to the following two resources:
- Perennial Buddhism: Maitriyana Spirituality by Master Maitreya Buddha
- Mahamudra and related instructions: Core teachings of the Kagyu Schools from the library of the Tibetan Classics
Mahamudra tradition is a transformation of Pali Buddhism blending with the elements of tantra and esoteric. It is an amalgamation of Mahayana ideal, Buddhist philosophical scholasticism and tantra. Thus, it presents a heterogeneous unique set of instructions for the path of nirvana. On the other hand, Maitriyana Buddhism is a timeless spiritual movement that aspires to reconcile the essential aspects of existential meditation that goes beyond the limits of the religious or academic discourse, by vanishing all dualism and egoism which is emergent in practices of most spiritual paths, prevalent now.
The core philosophy of Mahamudra includes two paths of stages and generation and stages of completion. The former involves various aspects of mantra repetition, chanting, offerings and visualization where essentially we see oneself as a deity to clear oneself from the besmirched human form. The second stage of completion has two parts: path of methods and path of liberation – the path of methods follows 6 Dharmas as taught by Naropa which has influences of Saivism and Taoism (the 6 Dharmas are those of Candali, Illusory body, Dream Yoga, Luminosity, Transference and Bardo). The path of liberation is practice of Mahamudra which aspires at a “simple direct approach to see the nature of mind”. And, this is taught by the lineage of gurus starting from Saraha to that of Tilopa and Naropa. The seeing of the nature of mind is achieved through practices and methods which are embedded in Guru Yoga and the generation of Samatha and Vipasyana methods. In the path of methods, there is the use of tantric methods and traditions too.
Maitriyana, which is the Perennial Buddhism, aims at realizing the Supreme Purpose (Dharma) by transcending all dualistic thinking and by overcoming both the metaphysical religious discourse and the materialistic academic discourse. It proposes a synthesis of contemplative practice and a metaphilosophical vision where the ethical precepts are based on the compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) of the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva). It is expressed through the unification between the Meditation-Wisdom-Ethics (Dhyana-Prajna-Sila) practice, which is proper of the Analytical-Existential-Libertarian Discourse (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha) – which are respectively embodied by the essence of Gautama-Nagarjuna-Jesus. This transmission of wisdom occurs between guru and apprentice by pointing directly towards the mind-heart (jikishi-ninshin) of the apprentice who is realized by means of the contemplative practice and ethical conduct.
Essence – True nature of the mind
Mahamudra, which is deeply rooted in the Mahayana approach, identifies Dharmakaya as the unborn mind, and also the diversity of appearances as birth less and empty. This Dharmakaya, which is the nature of our mind, is non-dual, non-arising and non-perishing and it creates both Samsara and Nirvana. Once the true nature of Dharmakaya mind is realized by us, then all the dualities are perished and only the luminosity prevails. It is said that:
“The unchanging Dharmakaya, which is present in the same way,
Is nothing other than your own mind.
The entire variety of samsara and nirvana arise in the mind.
The sufferings of the world and its beings arise from the confusion
Caused by the erroneous delusion of not understanding your own mind”
To realize and unveil the true nature of mind, Mahamudra instructions provide many paths – which are gradual, intermediate and sudden. All of them are presented in essence according to the existing level of ability of the practitioner. All these paths, which are essentially one in their core, have the steps of generating the balance of Samatha and Vipasyana, both aiming for Bodhicitta, based on the first understanding nature of things, by working towards increasing the six perfections and finally realizing the objectlessness of all.
In Maitriyana Buddhism, a peak knowledge (Satori) is developed by coming with the direct experience of the Buddhic nature of all living beings. Such a nature is non-dual, non-conceptual and luminous by nature. This nature can only be realized by a subject who has emptied himself from the entire imaginary Ego, in order to reconcile himself with real body (Dharmakaya). This leads to the cognition of the vast expanse of the ultimate reality, by understanding the whole immense phenomenal field originated and terminated from Emptiness (Shunyata). There is no need to clear the dust of the mirror, as we have the illusion that the mirror exists. No mirror, No dust.
In its essence, both Mahamudra and Maitriyana converge on identifying the real body – Dharmakaya – which is non-dual, non-conceptual and luminous. And both follow the path of precepts-contemplation-wisdom with the support of a Guru in their approach to realizing this truth.
In the numerous paths provided in Mahamudra (based on the aspiration and ability of the apprentice), there are common aspects of first reinforcing the Mahayana aspect of benefitting all beings, enhancing the 6 perfections and then resting in the birth less and objectless true nature of mind.
In order to realize the 3 kayas of our nature, which are nirmanakaya (emanation body), sambogakaya (enjoyment body) and dharmakaya (dharma body), the apprentice goes through the following four stages of the mind with the practice of Samatha and Vipasyana: one-pointedness, non-elaboration, one taste and non-meditation. The first stage is that of clinging and focus on something, then the second stage is to move to objectlessness, then in the third stage all the appearances are those of mind and finally, in the fourth stage, by realizing the uninterrupted non-dual, non-conceptual mind.
Although the stages are shown in gradual or sudden paths to the apprentices, it is reinforced that these are just means to an end. And, once Dharmakaya is realized by the apprentices, then they realize that all the three kayas are the same and they have always existed in the mind. All that it needed to be done was to remove the obscurations and once they are gone, the true luminosity shines bright. This innate union of Mahamudra is achieved by the balanced practice of Samatha and Vipasyana.
In Maitriyana, the Cure (Nirvana), which is a higher and amplified state of consciousness (H-ASC), is achieved by the practice of the direct contemplation of the original nature of mind where the peak knowledge (satori) is promoted which is full of intrinsic spiritual nature. The existential meditation is used to transcend the dualities of the way and the purpose. Maitriyana develops a powerful mindfulness (Samatha) through the sitting contemplation (zazen) and the fluidity of the paradoxical dialectic (koan). Once the peak knowledge of Satori is achieved through Samatha, then the compassionate wisdom is generated to transform it into a plateau experience which prevails in the entire daily existence. Thus, both ego and dualism are transcended.
As in this process, there exists both the strong spiritual faith in the tradition of Buddhas, a great doubt to dualism and a great determination in order to reconcile the tension between faith and doubt. Here is where the paradoxical dialectic of Koans plays a crucial role in transcending this duality. All these practices are in the transmission of experience from a spiritual master to the apprentice.
Maitriyana reconciles the gradual paths with the sudden ones by reinforcing that the peak knowledge of the apprentice is imbued with the teaching of compassionate wisdom which occurs suddenly, but within the framework of a gradual analytical-existential training.
Thus in both Mahamudra and Maitriyana, we observe the application of the analytical-existential-libertarian aspects and the paths might differ in their nuances yet once the realization of true mind is achieved all dualities are transcended. There are indeed thousand ways to the top of the mountain.
Role of a Guru
Mahamudra’s path is created by a lineage of the Guru and the path is traversed by following Guru Yoga, where in the Guru and his teachings are seen as Buddha himself. And, all the progress is made only by the transmission and blessing of the master. Including the process of empowerments are initiated by the Guru when the apprentice is ready on the path. Maitriyana, as a spiritual, path is also broadly progressed by the transmission of wisdom, blessings and teachings from the spiritual master to the apprentice.
Well-being of sentient beings
Mahamudra, essentially following Mahayana, is firmly rooted in the promises of leading all the sentient beings to enlightenment and the personal liberation is seen as a step towards leading all the countless beings to their enlightenment. All the merit generated in this path is dedicated back to this cause.
Also in Maitriyana, the duality of self-liberation and liberation of the others is transcended by bringing in the libertarian aspects that allow the apprentices to blend their peak knowledge experience back into the daily life and its activities, thus contributing to the cause of welfare and evolution of humanity.
Thus, in conclusion, I wanted to bring in the synergy of both the Mahamudra and Maitriyana approaches by writing some excerpts from the “Prayer of Definitive Meaning, Mahamudra” by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje.
May the rivers of accumulations of virtue, unpolluted by the triple aspects,
That come from the snowy mountains of the pure thoughts and actions
Of myself and all endless beings
Enter the ocean of the four kayas.
May I obtain supreme freedoms and opportunities, have faith, diligence and wisdom,
Rely on an excellent spiritual friend; obtain the quintessence of the teachings;
Practice them correctly and without any obstacle,
And thus practice the sublime Dharma throughout all my lifetimes.
Hearing the scriptures and logic brings freedom from the clouds of ignorance.
Contemplating the instructions defeats the darkness of doubt.
The light of meditation illuminates the true nature, just as it is.
May the radiance of the three wisdoms increases.
All phenomena are manifestations of the mind.
The mind is without mind, devoid of an essence of mind.
Empty and unceasing, appearing as anything whatsoever.
May it be perfectly examined and be completely understood.
Looking at objects there are no objects; they are seen to be mind.
Looking at mind, there is no mind; it is devoid of essence.
Looking at both spontaneously extinguishes dualism.
May be realize luminosity, which is nature of the mind.
Continuous great bliss, free from attachment;
Unveiled luminosity, free from fixation of attributes;
Naturally present nonthought, transcending the intellect;
May there be a continuity of these effortless experiences.
That nature of beings is always Buddhahood,
But not realizing that, they wander in endless samsara,
May I have overwhelming compassion
For being in limitless, endless suffering.
The Heresy of Ken Wilber
By Zen Master Taisen Saito
During the dark days of George Bush, the U.S. government wrote a controversial paper on the national security strategy of the United States, stating that the primary aim of this country is to extend the benefits of capitalism to the world: “If you can make something that others value, you should be able to sell it to them. If others make something that you value, you should be able to buy it. This is real freedom, the freedom for a person—or a nation—to make a living.”
In a world where the ideas are a scarce “commodity” I think that Maitriyana Buddhism is a victim of copying by the American cultural establishment. Although there are good people living there, the governmental Power has thrown two atomic bombs on my country without a blink.
The United States of America not only believed to be the best country in the world, but that when it is surpassed in a category it simply decides to resort to copying and plagiarism, in order not to see damaged its narcissistic image. In this way, it is evident that the “New Age” movement feels touched to see how a humble Latin American one is guiding the Spirituality toward its evolution. Something similar happens to Pope Francis I with the Americans and Europeans Cardinals from right-wing, who have defended capitalism saying: What can it be that this little Argentine pretends?”
After the creation of MBU in 2005, Master Maitreya began to teach a revolutionary new vision of Buddhism, which was announced in 2012 under the name of Maitriyana (The Integral or Reconciling Buddhism) at the same time the World Association of Buddhism (WBA) was created. When this was announced, the MBU and WBA contacted Mr. Ken Wilber to communicate this important announcement. But one year later, Wilber copied this idea, announcing it as his own creation. The most bizarre thing about this is that this thinker of the “New Era” is neither a Buddhist nor a spiritual master. In fact, in recent years his behavior was grotesque and insulting against critics such as Jeff Meyerhoff (Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything), as demonstrated by Frank Visser (Max Korman, Ideology and Inflation: The shadow of the Integral Movement. Interview with Frank Visser). What happens is that many people had believed to find a prophet or mystic in Wilber’s person, when rather he is simply a transpersonal philosopher.
All his thought is insignificant from the perspective of Zen Buddhism, something that is evident because in almost the entire work of Wilber it is talked about the reality of the soul, giving importance to ideas such as the “Atman”, which are heretical for Buddhists. This reminds me that the Great Zen Master Dogen himself, nearly a millennium ago, refuted the eternalist thinking of the monk Senika as heretical, which is notably similar to that of Wilber’s. I think the entire new age work of Wilber is nothing but a new return of the “heresy of Senika (sennigedo)”. This is why I decided to write this article: in honor of the True Zen of Dogen.
The epistemologist Paul Feyerabend theorized that the West tends to incorporate oriental disciplines but in a degraded way, as it has happened with Yoga and Martial Arts, which were reduced to a mere sport. The same thing has happened with the “Mindfulness” movement, which is a degraded version of Buddhist Psychology. In this sense, I think Wilber wants to do a superficial and commercial version of Maitriyana Buddhism, not merely to sell books and activities but also to try to buy some spiritual prestige since, during the last years, he has been questioned for behaving as the leader of a sect. But what he really is proposing is a poor quality copy of Maitriyana, being only the seventh part of all that the spiritual movement created by Master Maitreya encompasses. One of the proofs of this is that Wilber himself recognizes that “Integral Buddhism” goes beyond his own movement of “integral thinking”, reason why he is now proposing something called “Super-Integral”. This is very funny because a few years ago Wilber himself strongly criticized the physicist David Bohm to theorize that behind the “Implicate Order” there would be something greater called “Super-Implicate Order.” It seems he has fallen into his own philosophical trap, as evidenced Geoffrey D. Falk in “Norman Einstein: The Dis-integration Of Ken Wilber”.
In completely opposite line to Maitriyana, Wilber does not want to transform the “integral thinking” into Buddhist, but rather in reverse. He believes that the “Future of Buddhism” is his own movement of “integral thinking”.
Is it so difficult for Mr. Wilber to recognize that the approach of Maitriyana is something going beyond his own theories? What is happening is that it is easier to steal ideas. There is much Ego in the field of New Age, whose liberal political vision will never outperform the spiritual revolution led by genuine Buddhist masters.
There is an old Tibetan proverb that says “the Dharma does not belong to anyone, it belongs only to those who are truly interested in it,” by devoting their lives to this Purpose. Therefore, I think if there is an Integral Buddhism, undoubtedly it does not belong to Ken Wilber.
In conclusion, I would like to say that in Japan, in the past, it already has been attempted the Project for “Union of Buddhism”, but this initiative was unsuccessful. Buddhism is also a field full of Ego. This is my only doubt or skepticism toward the Maitriyana, which is a Spirituality that goes beyond Buddhism, like Zen.
By Zen Master Dr Taisen Saito
Doctor of Western Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Introduction to Zen Stoicism
By Yan Maitri-Shi
Zen Stoicism is an articulation between the Ancient Greek philosophy and the teachings of the Awakened Being (Buddha). It is an evolution of consciousness, being a mystical participation and dialectic integration with the Universe. It is an art to transcend without act (wu wei).
The Purpose (Dharma) of Buddhist Stoicism is the concern for the great problems of existence, namely, the illusion of ego, the power of dualism and the dominion from consumerism.
Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Plato, Pyrrho, Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius deepened far beyond the philosophical knowledge, getting the apprehension of the field of mysticism.
The Zen Stoicism works and worries about the poetical language, the ethical ideal, the peak knowledge (Satori) and the illusoriness of Ego; by assuming the Detachment, the Truth, the Vacuum of significance and the non-language as a mission. The Zen Stoicism goes beyond the thesis and antithesis through the paradox which is the vacuum not considered as something negative, but rather as a pure liberty of possibilities.
Through the existential meditation a self-valuing and a dignification of the life itself is achieved. The Purpose (Dharma) of an apprentice of Zen Stoicism is living according to nature (vivere secundum natura); that is to say, according to their Buddhic nature, making that the waking existence is a virtue and goodness of the human condition. This is what distinguishes the human race from the rest of the other animal species. Only an ethical practice, provided by the space of existential meditation demonstrates a divine coherence and meaning.
When not owning an academic finality, the Zen Stoic thought provides equality between what is enunciated and what is done, simply using Mindfulness to the relationship established with the Real from an intuitive rationality. Hence the spiritual master only cares about his upright way of acting, even though this is to draw water from the well.
The compassionate-wisdom (karuna-prajna) is the essential content that overcomes egocentrism, dualism and consumerism. Through the contemplative practice the errors of vanity, materialism and hedonism can be warned. That is why the recipe of Zen Stoicism is the detachment, humility and unity as an event of the Becoming of True Self.
The act of the spiritual master neither experience contradiction nor dualism, unlike the ordinary neurosis suffering from ordinary subjects, who wish for happiness and good but repeatedly and compulsively they fall into evil and suffering. Despite this fact, the human being has a certain degree of Spirituality in the depths of his Being. Therefore, every individual should tend towards virtue, spiritually progressing and evolving; even if such individual may succeed in a material plane.
The apprentice is taught not to know anything academically, since he already knows everything beforehand through his spiritual nature, which is an intuitive reason stripped from any intellectual content of ego.
Equanimity (ataraxia) is an attitude of Detachment and Serenity, experiencing an existential well-being that emerges as a form of compassionate-wisdom (karuna-prajna). In terms of the political and social, this does not imply an apolitical stance, but rather it is posed a peaceful contempt and a civil disobedience against the tyranny of power, thus being an attitude of equanimity and renunciation. Therefore, equanimity (ataraxia) does not imply absolute stillness, but a mystical participation in the reality.
Existing according to the nature of the Self is to surrender oneself completely, admiring and cultivating equanimity through action and contemplation, since there is no existential meditation without action. The existential meditation is the training towards the development of a kind of thinking that transcends both intellect and the ordinary language, making the individual gradually overcome the angst generated by the Emptiness of Existence, at the same time that the mind begins to be integrated with the Universe, just as a plant does in relation to the Earth (Gaia).
Concordantly with Seneca, the Maitriyana proposes an active existential meditation, that is to say, productive at the same time it is of a sublimatory nature, which leads the individual to understand the Real intuitively and clearly. The peak knowledge (Satori) is the natural thing, so it is not necessary to make a great effort to represent it or justify it.
Free and Enlightened Being combats the state of distraction in which the ordinary individual lives. When an apprentice falls in distraction, he or she is shirking the responsibility of Mindfulness and the care for One-Self. The virtue is the central personality declared by intuitive reason. For Zen Stoicism, both rationality and irrationality are both transcended through the True Being (Hgemonikon).
The spiritual master practices a Detachment which is not sloppiness or apathy about what happens externally, the same time he/she is not overwhelmed by events, since the ethics of Detachment does not equate to the absence or abandonment of Will.
In the Maitriyana it is taught that renunciation or Detachment is the abandonment of Ego, that is to say that the genuine challenge not involve to give up the external, but to reach the Cure (Nirvana) from egoic disease.
The metaphilosophy in Zen Stoicism is the study of virtue as Sublimation (Nirodh) of the passion converted into compassionate-wisdom (karuna-prajna).
The koan or paradox is an essential object in existential meditation and it has the advantage of transmitting the direct teaching of the spiritual master: the ethics of Silence. In each paradox (koan) that the Free and Enlightened Being proposes to the apprentice, the extract of the whole Maitriyana is contained. The practice of contemplation is a metathinking which forces the subject to get away from the ordinary perception surrounding him; by uprooting him from his individualistic, dualist and classifier mind towards the revelation of the Real Sense of Existence.
The search and effort for the peak knowledge (Satori) is the most important issue in the Zen Stoicism, since the mere cultivation and practice of ethics are not sufficient to achieve a direct and accurate understanding of reality.
The essence of Maitriyana is to teach that the individual abandons his old way of perceiving reality, in pursuit of a perception supported by the emptying of all stereotype. This causes the individual reaches the peak knowledge (Satori) through the existential meditation, which transcends all intellectual language in order that the subject perceives both his existence and that of the Cosmos by means of intuitive reason.
The mind nature is the state of waking consciousness, so that if a full understanding and reconciliation with the Self is not achieved, the contemplation, the study of Sutras or follow precepts will be wasted. In Zen Stoicism the Self works both as intelligence and divinity, being this mind and mystical reason the guardian and guide of the individual. In Maitriyana, the mind functions as a living system, that is in constant formation. This allows change, transformation and evolution from both inside and outside world.
The Zen Stoicism is not metaphysics, since its main instrument, which is contemplation transcends the ordinary reason, thus differentiating from religion, which can be understood by means of reason.
The Spirituality of Maitriyana uses numerous techniques or tools sublimation (Nirodh), in order to help people who are alienated and oppressed by the culture they may achieve the Cure (Nirvana) to this illness in the here and now. Some of these tools are the various forms of art, which are ways that reflect the spiritual nature as clearly as possible. One of these art forms is the Zen Stoicism, which is a philosophical art which teaches that it is not necessary to leave the daily life in order to achieve the Awakening (Bodhi).
In Zen Stoicism, the meditation is developed as a profound silence that establishes a contact with the Nothingness, which is the basis of the True Being.
The Maitriyana transcends the dualism of the ordinary language through the ethics of silence and the poetical language, being a Perennial Spirituality which does not deal merely with the framework of gradual or sudden training, but rather that its passion is the inexhaustible search for Truth, uprightness and virtue, connecting the apprentice with his spiritual nature and integrating him/her into the Cosmos, thus producing the Cure (Nirvana) from the alienation of himself that the individual suffers.
The peak knowledge (Satori) of the Real goes beyond the intellectual distinction between subjective and objective, between the inner and outer world, so that the Zen Stoicism declares that the mere intellectual reason is unable to answer satisfactorily about the Sense of existence, so it has to be overcome through the intuitive reason in order to reach the Truth, Serenity, Equanimity (ataraxia) and Awakening (Bodhi).
Practicing the Zen Stoicism is based on three pillars: the state of awakened consciousness (Buddha), the teachings of the Purpose (Dharma) of existence and the mutual support and recognition of the Commune of apprentices and masters (Sangha).
In contrast to the religious thought which sees human nature as evil, the Existential Spirituality considers the nature of human beings is pure goodness, which is corrupted by the notion of an Ego imposed by the culture and by dualistic language.
So that, through the practice of existential contemplation and the ethics of silence, the subject can reencounter with the Self and thus understand the Meaning and Purpose (Dharma) of his existence.
Human is born with a propensity to good, so there is no need for a cultivation of kindness. Simply the individual must be delivered himself to the practice of existential meditation and the learning of the teachings and, in this way, he will be able to experience his true nature, which is pure liberty, and identify moments when this individual is immersed and lost in the illusions of attachment, aversion and unconsciousness, which are sources of suffering contaminating the innate purity of Being.
The Existential Spirituality Discourse is based on the pure rational faith, by making a critique of the ecclesiastical reason. The pure reason, according to Zen Stoicism is a confidence both in the True Being and in the Cosmic Order. The end for the intuitive reason is welfare, on the other hand for religion, the aim is the moral.
The peak knowledge (Satori) cannot be taught, since the body of the Real is imperceptible and elusive at the thought and study; it may only be pointed out the way towards the peak knowledge (Satori), which is an experience and not a concept or idea.
Since the Spirituality of Maitriyana aims to liberate the individual from the oppression and alienation, this emancipation and recognition of the True Being and of the good nature inherent in every living being connects the individual with the inter-existence and binds him to the Totality of Cosmos, by generating the experience that the subject feels the necessity that the neighbour and every living being surrounding him also reaches such Awakening and Liberation (Bodhi). This idea is completely opposite to the oppression caused by the religious and moral, since they impose illusory values. The essential problem of religion is precisely that it not point to the Awakening (bodhi) of beings, by imposing a mode of conduct coming from an idea of what goodness is, but lacking the guidance and spiritual practice, which lead the individual to be fully aware when choosing the act and virtue to love the neighbour.
When establishing a non-binary functioning of the mind, the Maitriyana Spirituality, through the practice of the contemplative art and the mystical silence transcends the dualistic language, being a Middle Path based on the Nothing-in-Being which overcomes the dualism, selfishness and consumerism in the apprentice.
Thus the distinction between meaning and Emptiness is banished quietly resolving any dualistic vestige, which generates the culmination of language, thus giving rise to a metaphilosophy of silence. This transcendence of the opposites reconciles the external and internal world of the subject, by overcoming the inability of the ordinary word when it comes to approaching the ineffable Meaning of Being.
The metathought that arises from the existential meditation is the synthesis between Being and Nothingness. This synthesis is the mystical silence, neither being affirmation nor negation, but emptiness and fullness simultaneously. The contemplation, as perception of the Real such as it is, constitutes the practice and theoretical basis of Zen Stoicism. In contemplative practice, elements are poetically and aesthetically related as in the erotic embrace between two bodies, as well as in the artistic representation of the symbol of Yin and Yang where the fragments of the Cosmic Totality are harmonized. In this way the mind is the best symbol of the Universe, because it transcends and comprehensively encompasses both the body and non-body.
The Spirituality of Maitriyana reflects in the here and now the 2600 years of effort and dedication of the Purpose of Siddhartha Gautama to Awaken all beings.
Through the Sublimation (Nirodh) of impermanence, insubstantiality and dissatisfaction, through art and poetic language, the Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) guide both the individuals and peoples and societies towards Liberation and Awakening, by reconciling them with Truth of Being in pursuit of the peak understanding (Satori) of the Purpose (Dharma) of the Cosmos. This opening to the Universal Truth is the Supreme Goal of Zen Stoicism, which is a Pathway or tool from the Maitriyana Spirituality -composed of nine internal pathways- being a guardian and safekeeping of the Wisdom an of the Awakening of Cosmos.
About the Nature of the Being, the Nothingness and the illusion (Maya)
By Alex Tovar Gonzalez
One of the main aspects I want to highlight is the statement Nirvana is Samsara, sentence in which can be framed what I have understood from my study. The state of liberation cannot be through a retreat from the “real” world or an isolated fact, but by working through the existential meditation in order to be able of being in the world without thereby being dragged by the trends, popular ideologies and capitalist precepts. To have the ability of transforming us internally, in order to keep us away from the illusion of ego.
According to the Western thinking, we tend to believe that we are what we do, what we have, what our mind can create in a distorting thought of reality, where, from the egocentrism, we often believe that we are simply that. This is equivalent to live deceived, as a philosophical phrase says: “living without philosophizing is to have your eyes closed, without trying to open them ever.” I dare to make the comparison and say: living without meditating is staying on the deceit of illusion, even by knowing that we are deceived.
Western thought leads us to have a certain awareness of the ego, through which we have a self-concept and live in a fictional subject-object duality. Perhaps in principle, from the didactics, this self-concept cannot be negative, by serving to determine that which “I am” or “is mine” from that which it is not. However, I believe it is necessary to evolve into our concepts about the world, or rather, to go beyond the concepts and the limitation of language, performing analytical exercises, reflection and meditation, in order to expand our consciousness, by leaving behind what Heidegger mentioned: the prejudices and conditionings of Western thought, which are mass culture, the bombardment we received regarding to the consumerism, to the immediacy, to capitalism, to the establishment.
The capitalist system in which we live can lead anyone who does not performs an existential meditation to believe that everything is a commodity, a good to own, a battle of egos and of material possessions. Meditation allows us to nurture of truly essential thoughts. This is where the Maitriyana has one of its main uses to enable the individual to awaken from himself, to live here and now, to question what is established and to be able to create a new politics based on the theory of liberty and welfare posed by Buddhism, by being able to be detached from the religious, economic and social dogmas. Noteworthy is the tolerance and understanding that the Buddhist teachings develop, generating a higher and amplified state of consciousness, avoiding the open confrontation, creating spaces for existential analysis and that the apprentice is who gradually discovers his Self, that is, promoting a teaching which is away from the dogma that allows experiencing, interpreting and questioning, getting away from fanaticism and allowing to let be.
Another point to note is that of staying away from rationalization, at least as far as spirituality is concerned. Set aside the illusion and falsehood of concepts and the discourse and to allow knowing, not as a logical understanding but as an experience, as a personal experience that enables being that which it has been known. This allows adopting a critical and relevant stance facing the concerns from everyday life.
Another common aspect to note is the empty nature of the mind. One is not anything but a nothing where everything is and can be. This is about to acquire an awareness not of something, but rather a pure consciousness in which the subject as such disappears and it allows departing from the meanings, which are not fixed, allowing to understand the totality of reality, beyond the concepts.
For the Buddhist Existentialism the universe is a Great Emptiness, where the being is Nothingness, but this is a distant concept from the nihilism popularized by Nietzsche, it is rather the faculty to have contact with the real; that attitude which allows achieving the Enlightment along with a state of compassion and wisdom, commitment and responsibility.
When one is released from what is stipulated by capitalism it is possible to achieve true happiness, that is to say, a self-realisation, a state of personal fulfilment that gives meaning and purpose to our existence. The best way to achieve this is through meditation, an analytical approach and a moment when it is let being, a moment departed from concepts, ideals or illusions, a moment away from the fiction of the real.
The Maitriyana postulates a libertarian ethics that invites to live here and now. It is a space for the awakening and liberation of the self, going beyond good and evil, whose concepts are found on the understanding; putting aside the need for security; taking a dynamic attitude regarding the oblivion of the ego, from the fiction of the language, allowing dispelling the sense of identity that involves the ego. By being able to cope with an empty and incomplete reality it is possible to open a space for the awakening (Bodhi) and liberation, moving away from the illusion (Maya) of ego, the alienation, the capitalism and the established order.
Maitriyana, Purna Buddhism and Countercultural Revolution of Maitriyana
By Anil Santhapuri
In the following essay, I have referred to the below mentioned articles and writing by Master Maitreya Buddha:
- Counterculture Revolution of Maitriyana: Marxism of Future
- Dharmic Economy: The Welfare in the World of Future
- Dharmic Law
- Purna Buddhism: Historical Foundations of Maitriyana Spirituality as a Integrative and Reconciliatory Way
- The Future of Buddhism in the Here and Now
An Emerging Spiritual Crisis
It is clearly evident that the society and humanity at large is being engulfed into an emerging spiritual crisis. This crisis is led by the existence of characteristics of selfishness, dualism and commercialism. The primary cause of which has been the dominance of Capitalistic Culture across the world, that revolves around the aspects of monetary values (for the few), supply and demand.
Although the dominant capitalistic culture promises progress, development and happiness to all, clearly it is hiding its vices of benefit for few, equating wealth and materialism as the source of meaningful and happy living, and also making us believe that we live in a world of infinite resources. As the dust of these falsities clear our eyes, we are open to the ever escalating problems that the world is facing – war, injustice, ignorance and pollution.
This can clearly we classified as an emerging spiritual crisis as the current state of the world can be attributed to the lack of grounding of spiritual (or rather existential) realities which would have coursed a different path for the entire humanity.
All forms of exploitation be it economical, resources information, knowledge, health and gross mistreatment of earth and ecology should be dealt with swift action before the path ends up being complete downhill. We need an engaged way in which the future of Earth (Gaiayana) and future of all of humanity is a primary focus.
We need an integrated Cure (Nirvana) to all the world problems.
This Cure (Nirvana) focuses towards creating a better world, here and now. The focus would be a balanced approached with equal importance given to the economic, political and cultural side of things. The idea is to create a world in which humans live in a sustainable lifestyle – which paves way for their wellbeing – mental, health, economical, political and spiritual.
This Cure (Nirvana) cannot grow in the shadows of the existing world systems. It needs to stand on its profound and clear pillars of truth. Thus making it a new way of life – “A Counterculture Revolution”
Purna Buddhism – Integrative and Reconciliatory Way
In order to be able to present a new way of living, we can look no further than the teachings of Siddhartha Buddha whose teaching existed from over 2600 years now – popularly known as Buddhism.
It is important to first understand the Purna Buddhism or Maitriyana and how it consolidates and integrates with existing denominations of Buddhism internally before we venture into how this provide a holistic Cure to the problems of the world.
There are over 6 models in which Purna Buddhism can be expressed and understood.
In the Way of the Samasambuddha – it is seen as the worthy direct essence of Samasambuddha itself. In the Mahayana Canon, the precursor second scheme of the Maitriyana was the Ekayana (One Vehicle). In the study of Lotus Sutra, it unifies and transcends these vehicles being a spiritual doctrine based on the experience of the Awakening (Bodhi). In the five yanas of the Great Renunciation from China, Maitriyana would be a sixth vehicle. In the Chan lineage of Master Guifeng Zongmi it is presented as a Superior vehicle. In the Nyingma School of Vajrayana it can be seen as the essence of Mahamudra – everything that is pure, thus unifying all the nine vehicles.
All these models when evaluated in detail demonstrate that the division amongst Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana is academic, incorrect, commercial and superficial – as the difference is around the intellectual construct and not that of true practices. Thus, Maitriyana or Purna Buddhism can be seen as the only integrative and reconciliatory approach which unifies Buddhism embracing all and providing a path which is especially relevant to the holistic movements and revolutions of the current times.
The scheme of Purna Buddhism demonstrated that the Maitriyana is composed of nine internal Pathways:
- Buddhist Psychoanalysis
- Buddhist Humanism
- Buddhist Transpersonalism
- Buddhist Existentialism
- Buddhist Stoicism
- Buddhist Relativism
- Buddhist Socialism
- Buddhist Anarchism
- Buddhist Ecumenism
This scheme is a reformulation of the Buddha-Dharma-Sangha as a complex practical and theoretical corpus of Metapsychology, Metaphilosohy and Metapolitics.
Different spiritual lineages have been internationally established under the inspiring banner of Engaged Buddhism which can evolve with the guidance of Maitriyana, which is a contemporary way of presenting the Analytical-Existential-Libertarian Discourse (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha) which is a genuine action plan in order that the humanity of the future can survive and spiritually evolve.
Countercultural Revolution: Marxism of Future
Buddhist Socialism can be seen as a social praxis that is deeply rooted in the Awakening (Bodhi) of consciousness, acting both in the individual lives and also in the social fabric to bring about a new way of integrative and reconciliatory living that overcomes the evils of selfishness, dualism and commercialism. As it is impossible to understand the economic field outside the complex political, social and cultural systems that supports it.
The Buddhist Socialism then assumes a paradoxical dialectical logic as a pathway of complexification and interrelatedness of phenomena, considering the integration as the only way to do true science. It focuses on multidimensional co-evolution of the human being and the Gaia (Earth). This is possible when the libertarian commune (Sangha) acts as lighthouses of the future by being embodiments of higher education that can understand and transform entire Universe.
Maitriyana sets itself an attitude to set itself as the complexificator and reconciler of reality, by helping the individual to understand the peak knowledge (Satori) that can save the world. The revolutionary contemplation (kakumei-zen) opens the possibility of learning to understand, by starting a libertarian attitude in the apprentice that is consistent with the original vision of Gautama and Marx.
As Karl Marx argued that he himself was not a Marxist. It is also about positioning ourselves in detachment towards all ideology. Only then, Buddhist Socialism can deliver on its promise of emancipating transformation of both the social and the cognitive of self.
Dharmic Economy & Dharmic Justice: Welfare of the World of Future
Based on the same principles mentioned above, we can have various applications in the forms of Dharmic Economy and Dharmic Justice which work towards welfare of the world.
Dharmic economy transcends the opposite poles of a production without employees and tireless work and focusing on creating Happiness as the final outcome. And presents focus on Right Livelihood, where the end objective is useful means and having an engaged vocation which involves:
- Liberation of Selfishness
- Use and develop cognitive faculties of persons beyond dualism
- Produce goods and services (and not consumerism)
Thus, the end of Cure (Nirvana) involves obtaining an essential Liberty that allows a maximum of spiritual wellbeing with a minimum of consumption. This pro-ecological and pro-creative stance is one of the pillars of sustainable development of the humanity – which overcomes the dualism of materialistic negligence and the agrarian immobility finding the correct means of subsistence as recommended by Siddhartha Gautama 2600 years ago.
In an integrative approach to life, we need to look at a revolution that goes beyond the economy and politics and also penetrates into culture. Thus, the focus on issues such as Law initiating a revolutionary vision of Justice.
Law is defined as an Intelligent Order of social relations which should never respond to the interests of dominant classes, but rather it should protect through the powers of kindness and compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) of those who suffer.
The definitive future law will be its own extinction of Nirvana, disappearing altogether with the state so that a higher phase of society emerges with a pacifist politics, economies of social justice, progressive culture and engaged ecology.
The Supreme Path
The reconciliatory spirituality which emerges as a new way of Buddhism incorporates all the great wisdom traditions of the world, by transmitting the teachings of the spiritual masters within a supreme vehicle. Therefore, Maitriyana is the Perennial Buddhism, whose fundamental process is the result of an emerging global reforming within the psychology, philosophy, politics and religion by positioning a transcultural movement capable of leading the future generations towards a new civilization and a new humanity.
As Siddhartha Gautama said “In the world of ten directions there are not two vehicles, much less three”.
Maitriyana: Theology of the Spiritual Liberation
By Master Yan Maitri-Shi
The Way of the reconciliatory Ecumenism of the countercultural movement of Maitriyana carries the torch of the world revolutionary Spirituality, by compiling, synthesizing and transmitting the teachings of all those who dedicated their lives and works in pursuit of a social and spiritual transformation, devoting itself both to the care-of-oneself and to the work for the Salvation of every living being.
Within this vast movement there can be appreciated precursors of this ancient wisdom, which paradoxically and systematically emerges in times ruled by global crises. Thus, movements such as Theology of Liberation and many others prepared the ground in order that the spiritual sprouts of revolution planted by the mystical countercurrent Maitriyana or Way of Reconciliation can grow strong and healthy.
In the framework of a world co-opted and deceived by the ruses of the capitalist Discourse and the prevailing Power of Catholicism, the Theology of the Spiritual Liberation works and strives so that all the peoples of the planet can reach the Awakening (Bodhi), by teaching them that both the religious Discourse and the materialistic Discourse of Capitalism only lead to selfishness, dualism and consumerism, being generators of wars, social injustice, very low levels of education and limitless pollution, as well as of oppression and deception towards the peoples in order to preserve the position of Power which these discourses occupy.
It is in this way that peoples are kept under subjugation and the lie that progress is achieved through the compulsory acquisition of goods and technology, losing the direction and meaning of existence and the True Purpose (Dharma) in life.
The religious powers, for their part, play an important role in this apparatus that is generator of illusion and oppression over the people, by being allied with the capitalist Power and by transmitting a false view of Spirituality contaminated with metaphysical biases, rituals and protocols that nothing have to do with the teachings of all the great spiritual masters of history such as Gautama and Jesus were. Thus, religiosity has greatly moved away from the originating spiritual values, which were love, humility, dedication and the service to the fellow being, struggle against class exploitation but, above all, the fact of promoting implementation of these values in the daily life of each individual. In this way, such values have been taken banally and superficially and they are only used on speech but not in acts, and delivering and service to others, to name one example, have been distorted into the mere charitable handout of money, eager to enrich even more to a powerful institution on the one hand; and on the other, generating the illusion among the donors that such a gesture is already sufficient to help those who are in conditions of indigence or extreme poverty, oppression, social exclusion and exploitation, thus highlighting the perverse and manipulative background underlying any organization as is the case of the institution of Catholic Church and many evangelical sects, which are functional to the system of Power, rather than advocate for the equality, welfare and spiritual Awakening (Bodhi) of their faithful ones.
That is how the so-called rebel groups historically arose in Latin America, which aspired to give testimony in acts of the authentic Christianity, dedicating their lives for the welfare of poor and oppressed people.
In accordance with Monsignor Helder Cámara, the Buddhist Ecumenism recognizes that religion remains the opium of the people by being an alienated and alienating force of the peoples. Also, the Spirituality of Maitriyana makes a strong criticism of religious blind faith for being a promoter of trickery and superstitions, instead of working together with the peoples in order to eradicate the signs of evil and sin such as the salary injustice, deprivations of daily bread, exploitation of the poor and nation, and the oppression of Liberty.
Thus, it has been forgotten very conveniently teaching and providing the example of the prophetic gesture of the Saviour (Christ) of fidelity to the Truth. In this way, the great spiritual and Saviour masters, like Gautama and Jesus, guide the peoples through the political implication, by teaching them that it is possible to change the world around them and which causes them huge dissatisfaction through the transformation and the labour of learning and contemplation both about oneself and surroundings. This new approach to the existence is a promoter of compassion and mutual cooperation between individuals and communities, being the first stepping-stone towards a future Dharmic Civilization, which will preserve and will protect the Earth (Gaia), besides being guardian and transmitter of the highest Spiritual Values.
Concordantly with the Belgian theologian José Comblin, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) recognizes that the Church offers a feudal vision, thus ensuring its inefficiency, besides promoting a disability for socialization. This kind of solidarity with the ruling class behaves in the same way that the owning class and even preserves and adopts the viewpoints of such class in relation to the perception of social problems. Thus, the needs of entire social classes are ignored, which always tend to be those who are most needy, ignorant or marginalized.
It is precisely for this reason that the Buddhist Socialism promotes equality and social justice between classes but without falling into the extremes of the impediment of private property by means of statization neither of encouraging the free market of unbridled capitalism.
The model of Maitriyana with regard to reaching a Pure Earth or Kingdom of Righteousness on Earth is sustained in the Middle Way of the Ethics of Detachment, which promotes and teaches a new way of existing and co-exist through a Righteous and Appropriate lifestyle based on the Noble Eightfold Path taught by Siddhartha Gautama. Also this ideal model encourages and transmits the genuine teachings of Gautama and Jesus of Nazareth which come from the compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) and Spiritual Love.
By being stripped of dogmas and rituals, as well as from any metaphysical belief, the Zen Mystical Christianity is devoted to the transmission of the authentic spiritual teachings bequeathed by Gautama and Jesus, by giving the example in acts, through a life of Detachment and an existence resignified and dignified through the practice of meditation in the own subjectivity, in the reality that surrounds the individual and in the field of the social and the political. Thus, the contemplative mystic one shows the Path towards the Cure (Nirvana) of all the evils of the world, by approaching them from the spheres of the Analytical, Existential and Libertarian.
Both Gautama and Jesus were visionary in their time, showing that the first step to change the reality is starting for changing oneself, revolutionizing and transforming every ideology or subjective belief, any vision or misperception of the world and any kind of culture or popular repression exerted through the Power.
The Buddhist Ecumenism is the Way that advocates for preserving and transmitting as faithfully as possible the Spirituality taught by the Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) of history, all of them belonging to all the spiritualities of the world. Thus, the Maitriyana born as a Saviour and Liberating spiritual movement of all those peoples repressed and silenced by the capitalist Power, by causing them to be aware of their self-determination and inherent Liberty, and guide them through the Path of peace, social justice, education and ecology, by extending and continuing with the Purpose (Dharma) of all those Great Masters of the past.
Definitively, all genuine Spiritual Guide has the Desire of saving and liberating all the living beings. It is for this reason that the Awakened One (Buddha) works tirelessly to achieve the Universal Cure (Nirvana), with the weight on his back of feeling that until the last of the living beings has not being liberated, he himself will not be able to be completely free. Such responsibility accompanies the spiritual master until the last day of his life.
Thus, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) experiences the biggest frustrations along his entire existence, by feeling the abysmal Emptiness of knowing that his unceasing struggle only sows the seeds of a utopian and distant Dharmic Civilization, being fully aware that all the work and effort of a lifetime are nothing more than a brick in the foundations of the planetary Awakening. Nevertheless, and despite experiencing such dissatisfaction and nostalgia, the spiritual master and Guide of the World canalizes all that sorrow in pursuit of that Purpose (Dharma) which is more important than his very life. Both Gautama and Jesus went through this kind of experience, the latter case being a living example of sacrifice and renunciation to which every spiritual master must be prepared to cope with. It is thanks to the courage of those beings that humanity can Save itself and Liberate itself both from the self-generated suffering as well as from the oppression exercised by the Discourse of the imperialist capitalist Power.
Maitriyana Facing Criticism
Regarding the true motivations of Maitriyana
The true motivations behind Maitriyana Spirituality are wide and very profound, but they can be perfectly summarized in the vow of the Enlightened Being (Bodhisattva): having the desire to Save and Liberate all beings. This allows creating an indestructible force field of wisdom and compassion for all humanity.
Regarding the relationship of Maitriyana with its students
This movement does not seek that students develop themselves cognitively and intelligently, but rather spiritually, leaving the repetition of the past. For this reason, a true spiritual master never dominates his or her apprentices, but he or she encourages them to revolutionize their mind through compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna). Yet, it is obviously that if the student has resistances and attachment to the known, he or she will never be able to learn new peak knowledges (Satoris). Furthermore, it may happen that there are students who feel aversion to receive spiritual guidance, thus ignoring that the teaching and error correction that a master makes, never involves manipulation or subjugation towards the student. This can only be perceived by a person inexperienced in learning relationships.
Regarding the Maitriyana policy facing offences
Within the movement, debate, disagreements, questions and, of course, reviews and criticism are allowed. But what is prohibited are physical or verbal attacks, lack of respect, discrimination and any act of vandalism. That is why the Maitriyana would expel only to those students or members whose behaviours are violent, discriminatory or that violate ethical rules and Statutes of our organizations.
Regarding Maitriyana and its psychoanalytical counselling
The Maitriyana is the creator of Buddhist Psychoanalysis. However, treatment and supervision is only given to those who request it, since this practice is very complex for the ordinary mind of common people, who often repress unconscious phenomena.
Regarding the critique of Psychoanalysis as intellectual manifestation
Psychoanalysis is a discipline respected by the Maitriyana. Actually, it is not a manifestation of intellectualism because it is not a philosophy, instead it is a practice that goes even beyond the therapeutic, because it analyzes phenomena that are transintelectual and generally repressed by the Ego and the intellect, which are the enemy of the Cure from suffering (Nirvana) and the Awakening (Bodhi) of true Empty Being. Either way, the Maitriyana transmits the Buddhist Psychoanalysis of Siddhartha Gautama, and not the current of Sigmund Freud. In any case, the Maitriyana gives more value to the work of Lacan and Fromm as authors who are closest to the Buddhist Spirituality.
Regarding psychology and alleged motivations behind the Maitriyana
Notoriously striking is the fact that the Metapsychology used Spirituality Maitriyana is erroneously interpreted and related to Freudian psychology, since the Buddhist Psychology, while it acknowledges Freud as a re-founder and re-discoverer of Psychoanalysis, it gives special recognition to Gautama as the father of the first psychoanalytical movement. This clearly implies that Maitriyana does not subordinate Buddhism to the modern psychoanalytic and psychiatric theories, but rather it always teaches that each discipline, movement, thinking, or even every act should be converted to Buddhist spirituality and not the reverse. This is evidenced in the writings published by our organizations, where the nine pathways of Maitriyana are explained.
Regarding the Maitriyana and Heterodoxy
The Maitriyana stands beyond the false dualism between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, by being revolutionary and simultaneously respecting the essence of the traditions of the past.
Regarding the Maitriyana and cult mentality
Maitriyana is not a religion but a Spirituality that conceives cults and sects as oppressive, these being poisons against Spiritual Liberty of mind. Consequently, it does not promote worship or veneration towards anything or anyone. Therefore, the Maitriyana has a School wherein knowledge and wisdom are transmitted, by correcting errors through the method of dialectics, but never appealing to manipulation or subjugation of the student. So that the only strategies and tactics used are the Ethics of Detachment and the Compassionate Wisdom (Karuna-Prajna).
Regarding the Maitriyana and the Dharma Transmission in Zen
There have been many Zen teachers who received Dharma transmission and nevertheless they do not showed enlightened behaviours, evidencing that this type of transmission may be a certificate, but it is a partially valid way to verify the Awakening in the other. Furthermore, there have been many Buddhist masters who did not receive any Dharma transmission and nonetheless they were Enlightened Beings. That is why the Maitriyana, aware of the limitations of lineages of the past, creates a new tradition, which continues with Ekayana Buddhism and Saijojo Zen.
Regarding the Maitriyana and Reconciliation
The Maitriyana takes as its central pillar to the method of Reconciliation (Maitri) of opposite poles from both Siddhartha Gautama and Laozi, by purging the mind carrier of greed, hatred and delusion, which implies being emptied of all selfishness, dualism and consumerism in order to Liberate the Empty Being.
Regarding the Maitriyana and Catholicism
The Maitriyana openly acknowledges Jesus as an Awakened One (Buda) for his great teachings of Compassionate Wisdom (Karuna-Prajna). This implies a Buddhization of Christianity and not vice versa, denying that Jesus is a god to prove he was an enlightened spiritual master. Therefore, the Maitriyana maintains dialogue with all religions, although it never loses its critical look towards the orthodox Catholicism and fundamentalist evangelism. The same happens in the case of Judaism and Islam, to which Kabbalah and Sufism are recognized as valid practices.
Regarding Maitriyana and its relation with East and West
In a world entirely converted to capitalism, the Maitriyana is a vanguard that does not fall into the crass error of Euro centrism nor does into an Asia centrism. This implies a transcultural position along with an anti-nationalist and anti-imperialist Global Project.
Regarding the Maitriyana and its pro democratic attitude
The Maitriyana is against all authoritarianism and despotism, both political and religious. For that reason it does not support the dictatorial communism, by reinterpreting Marxism under a libertarian and democratic look. This does not imply an idealism, but rather an anarchist attitude quite similar to that used by Siddhartha Gautama. Therefore, the Maitriyana sends letters of guidance and spiritual support to governments, presenting Peace Projects throughout the world with the aim of providing solutions to wars and social conflicts.
Regarding Maitriyana and the New Buddhist Canon
This Purpose (Dharma) is very special and continues the tradition of Yogacara Buddhism created by Asanga, simultaneously respecting other models of integration of all the Buddhist schools.
Regarding the spiritual name of the founder of Maitriyana
The spiritual leader of Maitriyana believes that Maitreya Buddha was surely Nagarjuna. So that the name of Maitreya has been taken only with purely spiritual purposes, just like other Buddhists also use terms such as Maitreya or Metteyya.
Buddhist Criticism to Pope Francis I
By Zen Master Dr Taisen Saito
In the tradition of Zen Buddhism when practicing zazen, that is sitting meditation, the master usually gives a blow on the back of the trainee when he is falling asleep or absent-minded. When I heard that the Pope Francis fell asleep during a mass I felt the deep need to give a blow to wake him up from his sleep.
Although I believe it is surprising that there is a Pope who honors Francis of Assisi and simultaneously stays close to the people with gestures of solidarity, as Zen master I avoid falling into dualisms, so I allow myself to congratulate things well done and simultaneously criticize the bad ones, showing spiritual corrections he should do.
During my meditative and mystical research on Pope Francis, one of the first things I found was that he made a call to “examination of conscience” of the Vatican curia. Pope Francis made a critical message which listed the diseases that the Roman Catholic Church suffers and that “it must be learned to cure it”. Pope Francis listed the diseases of the Catholic Church as “mental and spiritual tightening”, “accumulation of material goods to fill spiritual void”, “spiritual Alzheimer”, “worldly benefit and exhibitionism”, “vainglory and rivalry”, “tattle”, “discord and closed circles”, “feeling immortal and irreplaceable”, “messiah complex”, “with no criticism nor update or improvement”, “sick body”, “excessive operability”, “excessive planning”, “existential schizophrenia”, “hypocritical double life”, “indifference towards the others”, “severity and sterile pessimism”. When I saw that for the first time I felt that we were in the presence of a spiritual master who could come to change the history of Christianity through the revolutionary Spirituality of Jesus. Below, I will develop if these “diseases” diagnosed by the Pope Francis may or may not be applied to him.
Presence of Populism
When Pope Francis asks to pray for him I believe he does not become aware that such a gesture is selfish. Certainly, it is a symbolism that implies he “needs to be supported by the people” in his mission in the world. But in reality, it is a lack of humility. Pope Francis should be the last in the prayers of the people. He should say “pray for our neighbor” and “pray for those who suffer, for the poor and oppressed people”. Therefore, saying “pray for me” is something selfish from the Buddhist point of view. I remember there was a Zen master who told his students he would go first to hell before them, because otherwise “who is going to assist them when they arrive.” This vow of self-sacrifice is to put the others above oneself. It is a Buddhist vow, but also Christian, as Master Jesus demonstrated it.
When Pope Francis defined himself as “revolutionary” he gave a great hope to both Christians and non-Christians, mostly because the world needs people with courage to make changes. At first I have had hope and I have believed in his words. But facts have shown me something different. So I wonder: What is his revolution? Trying to give the sacrament to the divorced? If that is to be revolutionary I understand now why Catholics divinized an “enlightened Jew.” In Buddhism there were thousands of enlightened beings, and they have taught some reforms very simple to implement. Following his spirit, it is easy to try to regulate the optional celibacy and ordination of women priests. For theologians such as Hans Küng these reforms are urgent. This would help to confront the evil of pedophilia, but it also would bring Catholicism closer to evangelical Protestantism and to the growing global atheism, being capable of seeking a process of mutual co-evolution. Now, if the revolution of Pope Francis is to make gestures of appreciation to governments with authoritarian populism, this is contradictory to the message of Master Jesus, who peacefully fought against tyranny. The “populist ideology” of Pope Francis appropriates the revolutionary rhetoric of “liberation theology” but eliminating its Marxist elements. Clearly, Pope Francis simply seeks the church to be more popular, but this is demagogic populism without a real revolution. This means that true Christianity is a mystical practice of revolutionary life and not a sympathetic political discourse with authoritarian governments while the popular clamor is used to make no significant change. Although Pope Francis has called himself as revolutionary, he has not done true changes, as theologian Frei Betto has predicted; “maintaining the ban on abortion, the end of the celibacy of priests, the use of condoms in the people, of the application of stem cells, the right of women to the priesthood, gay marriage and the decisions of the Vatican Council II”. In these issues, important theologians like Hans Küng have also agreed, by denouncing the Catholic Church for suffering the evils of “censorship, absolutism and authoritarian structures”, lacking of democracy in the decisions of the Church and prohibiting to abolish absolutism of papal figure, which usually goes against the true ecumenism by questioning and offending Protestants, Muslims and Jews. This call to liberty, equality and fraternity in the Church is the democracy that the priest Benjamin Forcano claims, by denouncing that the Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI imposed sanctions on revolutionary priests while they protected pedophile or corrupt priests. In conclusion, it is maintained the same perverse system but with a makeup of smiles, pictures next to people and leftist speeches.
When Pope Francis washes the feet of a prisoner or embraces him it’s a nice gesture. But to do that without profoundly denounce the prison system as oppressive or asking for its abolition is demagogy, that is, an empty symbol. A world religious leader like him should not preach assistentialism but liberationism, by promoting radical transformation of society through education and knowledge. Pope Francis should try to liberate the world instead of giving a pat on its shoulder.
When Pope Francis donated money to earthquake victims in Nepal, and when has denounced money as the “devil’s dung”, that is very good. But if Master Jesus would teach in the contemporary world he’d not use the poor people with populist and assistance-based demagogies, like saying “work, housing and land for everybody”. In fact, he would focus his message on innovative education, peace ethics, devotion for the Earth and support to the righteous justice. Many of these measures have been adopted by the best democratic countries in the world. So, giving work and housing to a person but without giving him or her advanced education and justice, is populist demagogy, like that of Deng Xiaoping, “to get rich is glorious”. That materialistic person will be able to materially improve but not psychologically, philosophically and politically. Pope Francis, if he were wise and compassionate as Buddha and Christ, he would then say: “Human Rights for Everyone”. That same thing would say Master Jesus. That is Liberty and true Power. Besides, how to say that money is manure of the devil when Pope Francis himself spends millions of dollars on his trips and tours?
When Pope Francis criticizes nepotism, favoritism and corruption of the Roman Catholic curia, such as several Protestant theologians and libertarians did it before, this is a step forward, a spiritual progress if you will. But if he does not criticize nepotism and corruption of the Latin American governments who wrongly call themselves “left-wing” then Pope Francis incurs political favoritism, by centralizing personal tastes.
When Pope Francis talks about justice as a requirement of fraternity, and when he talks about limitation of power as a basic idea of Law, this is quite good. But, Does the President Kirchner from Argentina not threaten the independence of the judicial Power in a constant way? How can Pope Francis turn a deaf ear to this situation and not criticize that oppressive government? Here, he incurs populist demagoguery: nice words without real facts. Pope Francis should remember his own teachings: “The external gestures of religiousness do not accredit those people who make their lifestyle from evil and arrogance (…) the one who loves Jesus cannot commit evil deeds.” In contrast to the complicit silence, the Buddhist Master Maitreya, as President of the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights, formally denounced the Judicial Power of Argentina before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
When Pope Francis denounces drug trafficking, corruption and mafia connections of governments, this is something really good. But does the Argentine government of Kirchner – which he so much has protected – is not widely accused of incurring such crimes? Remaining silent against injustice is complicity. If – as Benedict XVI taught – humanity “suffers from the infinite patience of God”, then I think that Argentina suffers a lot because of the infinite omission of Pope Francis, who is complicit in one of the worst governments in the history of that country, always receiving with a smile to a president accused of corruption, drug trafficking and crimes against humanity, among many other things. Pope Francis criticizes corruption as one of the most serious sins, and this is very good, and so is condemning the personalistic management of the State, the increasing poverty, the systemic use of deception and the increase in drug trafficking . But when he meets with the President Kirchner of Argentina on multiple occasions, taking pictures with a shirt of a corrupt group called “La Càmpora,” or when he sends messages to said president saying he “loves her” I think it shows a huge spiritual falsehood, not only because this president always hated him and now she approaches only for a photo, but also because this president commits all crimes which Pope Francis says to be against. It seems that they use the same populist rhetoric.
When Pope Francis promotes reconciliation between Cuba and the United States this is something good and necessary. It is time that the peoples of the world make peace. But this should not happen at the cost of being soft with tyrants through demagogic political speeches that only nourish populism and despotism but do not bring freedom to the people. How can it be that Pope Francis is going in photos smiling and shaking hands with dictators to those who visit without making any criticism? Does not he care the millions of exiles from Cuba, or the thousands of deaths produced by such violent pseudo-revolution? Did he not refuse to see political dissidents in Cuba, who are imprisoned for thinking differently? Despite the fact that Pope Francis is an Argentine who lived a military dictatorship in the 1970s, he has not been more sensitive than many given the need to end the dictatorship of Cuba and its lack of religious freedom that prevents priests to evangelize outside the walls of church. Does the Pope Francis have done something in favor of political prisoners in Venezuela? Is this the “revolution of tenderness” which he promotes when visiting Raul Castro (accused by the Medellin Cartel of receiving the cocaine trafficked toward the US)? All this compels me to say that the Pope Francis behaves as one more of the politicians of the false Latin American left, whose revolutionary speeches are nothing but costumes for a totally authoritarian “crony capitalism”. In reality, Pope Francis is not “pure Marxism”, that is to say, it is not what right-wing politicians think about him. That does not imply he is leftist, because it is rather “pure ideological falsehood” … the same as president Kirchner from South America has. In fact, both are followers of a former Argentine politician called Perón, who was a fascist general who protected Nazis while using the poor people as a political tool. All this compels me to denounce that this Pope Francis does not embody a revolutionary or transformative Catholicism. If he speaks of religiosity, then he is a great Pope; but if he speaks about spirituality, that is a practice and not a belief, then this Pope is false. In Buddhism we expected a lot more from him.
When Pope Francis criticizes capitalism as an unfair system, this is completely right because this system – in its modality of savage capitalism – is the main evil on Earth, since it is based on interests and not on friendship. However, while performing his critique of capitalism as a “discard culture” and a “system that does not stand any more”, while he assists Raul Castro, who is trying to develop an “authoritarian capitalism” in Cuba, which basically means continuing dictatorial and anti-democratic regime but with a capitalist economy, as it is China’s regime. Obviously, this system is different from so-called “human rights capitalism” of the USA and Europe, but the great American corporations like the idea of investing in Cuba in order to continue to grow in new markets. In short, with his alleged pursuit of reconciliation, at the level of facts the Pope Francis is helping the growth of the capitalist system to which he denounces at the level of words. I hope there is no money involved influencing his speech, as with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who visited tyrants in exchange for huge donations. In addition, the US was the leader of the world not by its capitalistic economic system but for its democratic political system, which Marx himself considered it as an opportunity for true socialism which is intrinsically democratic. Therefore, going to Cuba to close eyes to the oppression of dictatorship is contrary to the message that the Pope Francis himself says provide to the excluded and marginalized. True democracy is beyond capitalism and communism, it is a human right, so not saying anything to a people that does not have democracy is a tremendous lack of compassion. But of course, then he fixes everything taking a photograph with a little girl or a sick. Pope Francis shows courage in countries where everyone has freedom of expression, but is silent and ignores the Truth in countries where there are authoritarian regimes. In short, is not the Vatican an authoritarian, populist and undemocratic regime? How human values can be taught by someone who does not practice them? We are in the presence of a great politician, conservative but media-related and intelligent. In effect, to appropriately understand the Pope Francis, one should remember that in the last years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI they had a bad political image, so this Populist Pope has returned to provide this missing Power to the office. The liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez has said that “what matters is not theology but spirituality”. But to understand the Pope Francis, making a word game with Clinton’s words, the key is not Spirituality but “it’s politics, stupid”.
When Pope Francis accepts the role of being a “Pope of the people”, who brings a “church for the poor”, this is something very good, quite similar to Socially Engaged Spirituality of Buddhism. But Pope Francis have not even answered letters requesting help from opponents persecuted and tortured in Venezuela, such as Leopoldo Lopez. Pope Francis never asked for freeing of political prisoners or compliance with human rights in Venezuela. He even received the President of Venezuela without making any public criticism, despite the fact that that president has come to promise a slaughter if his revolution failed. Moreover, as cherry on the cake, the Vatican has internally criticized Venezuelan bishops who openly denounce the oppression of Venezuelan government.
When Pope Francis criticized the centralized power of the UN Security Council, this is a good thing, because the world lacks a global democratic system, leaving its fate in the hands of few governments which are very little exemplary. But Pope Francis immediately commended the work of UN, when this organization hardly serves to combat poverty, war, human rights violation and pollution.
When Pope Francis asks before UN that governments seek the common good, it’s very good. But then he recognizes the “State of Palestine” as existing, which is a provocative action that will never bring peace. If a Palestinian State is created, the only thing it would be generated is the future war between two countries. Actually, what it is needed to do is to provide full civil rights to Palestinians, respect them as first class citizens within Israel and not lock them out. They should participate in the government, thus creating a new Israeli-Palestinian state. This project was presented by Buddhist Master Maitreya, president of the World Association of Buddhism, in 2014. I think that is the only real solution to the conflict between the two peoples. Certainly, invitations to pray to both presidents are not the answer.
When Pope Francis visited Bolivia and met with President Evo Morales to congratulate him, this is a good thing, because this president is Aboriginal and communist and he has helped poor communities. But there is one thing that Pope Francis choses to ignore: Bolivia is the second largest producer of cocaine, which is produced with government protection. Even the president Morales himself decided to expel DEA agents from his country. How Pope Francis says nothing to this? How can he be silent when President Morales profane the cross, which is the most important symbol of Christianity? Obviously, Pope Francis argued that it was “protest art”, the same art he says appreciate now, but a few years ago he criticized as “blasphemy, mockery and insults” in reference to the works of Leon Ferrari.
Lack of Humility and Solidarity
When Pope Francis criticizes individualistic, consumerist and capitalist lifestyle, this is an advance for Spirituality. But if it is just a political speech it’s then an illusion, regression, Nothing. The Vatican is individualistic, consumerist and capitalist in its political and economic system.
When Pope Francis apologizes for the sins and crimes of the Catholic Church against the aborigines of America, this is good. But then going to canonize Junipero Serra – who is rejected by indigenous groups – is a controversial and probably wrong decision, because the evangelizing practices of the conquest of America were genocidal. Is that Holiness? This is a false apology, as Jace Weawer pointed out. Junipero Serra believed that Aborigines were less human being than Europeans. Such an embarrassment.
When Pope Francis has spoken about respecting the sacredness of life, this is very good. But the Argentine government, on April 2015, regulated the exercise of abortion as a human right, which has been ignored by Pope Francis, contradicting decades of struggle of Catholicism against this practice in violation of the Convention on the Rights of Child and other international Human Rights covenants. The Bishop Thomas Robin from Rhode Island said that “while trying to meet the needs of the time, as Francis suggests, the church is at risk of losing its courageous, countercultural, prophetic voice; one that world needs to hear.”
When Pope Francis criticizes a society that abandons their elders, this is great. But it should be noted that he has received hundreds of requests for response and help on the part of laity and relatives of Argentine soldiers in prison. Why does Pope Francis not ask for clemency for these old men? It is for sure because it is not a popular topic in that country.
When Pope Francis writes an encyclical on the environment in 2015, with very much similar transnational and universal ideas to those that Buddhist Master Maitreya wrote in 2013, the Pope criticizes pollution, which is very good. But among other things he makes the mistake of making a hypocritical condemnation against the conditioned heating, when he himself lives in a residence with air conditioning. What is this disproportionate level of hypocrisy? In the case of Buddhist masters, many of us live with US$ 1 a day. The life of humility we proclaim is that which we live. Besides, the Pope Francis defends the environment but only as a means of combating social and economic exclusion, and not by way of mystically protect the Earth as a living being in the path of spiritual evolution. This differentiates him from great Christian mystics like Teilhard de Chardin, but even it differentiates him from St. Francis of Assisi by not promoting interexistence of all beings. This implies that Pope Francis considers nature as an environment that should not be “exploited” by the few, but it should be a good “distributed equally” among all peoples. That is to say, mysticism to the garbage bin, by considering nature as a thing. That is materialistic populism of the XXI century.
When Pope Francis requests a total ban on nuclear weapons, this is good. But he is not only forgetting that nuclear weapons could help to a possible meteor, but he also incurs commending the nuclear agreement with Iran, a country which is responsible for terrorist attacks in Argentina and that has claimed that Israel must “disappear of the map” in addition to denying the Jewish Holocaust. How does Pope Francis not say anything about this? Shameful. This is the revolution of impunity.
When Pope Francis says his message is one of “hope and reconciliation, peace and justice,” this is very good. But Pope Francis has publicly showed himself with no solidarity attitudes, as for example when it happened one of the major attacks in France (Charlie Hebdo), saying that if a friend of his says a bad word about his mother “it is normal to be punched in the face”. This implies an absolute betrayal of the teachings of Master Jesus, but it is also a demagogic approach to the mindset of fundamentalist terrorists (remember that in those days there were reports of possible fundamentalist attacks against Pope Francis). Fraternity and love are not mere words that are included in speeches, such as politicians do, but rather are practices. Now, when there is an attack on Christians Pope Francis does not say that it is “normal”. As Hannah Arendt said, “When individual rights are violated in the name of compassion, liberty and justice disappear”.
When Pope Francis considers religious freedom as “a fundamental human right”, saying that every human being “should be free to express their religious beliefs without intimidation, external coercion, discrimination, hatred and violence,” this is very good and correct. But referring the attacks in France, Pope Francis said “one can’t offend the faith of others (…) there is a limit to freedom of expression (…) the faith of the others can’t be provoked or mocked”. This is really madness. I remember when Zen masters saw that students incurred non-spiritual practices (such as worshiping Buddha), they entered the temples and destroyed Buddha statues, teaching that there are no limits to freedom of expression and that one can mock the faith in order to awaken the people. How can Pope Francis share a vision that is similar to that of Chinese government? It should be remembered that China, regarding the aforementioned terrorist attacks, said “(…) Sarcasm, insults and freedom of speech without limits and principles are not acceptable”. All of this is a shame. Pure Realpolitik. Didn’t the Pope Francis teach to “break the chains of injustice and oppression”? Didn’t Master Jesus teach to turn the other cheek? How can be possible that French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, showed greater compassion that Pope Francis? She said that “in the France of Voltaire and of irreverence, one has the right to make fun of religions”. I remember the great Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki once said that Voltaire was certainly an Enlightened one. I think the Pope Francis has much to learn from Spirituality. But, of course, when Christians are persecuted then he denounces “the complicit silence before the jihadist rage”. Frankly, a hypocrite.
When Pope Francis proclaimed the three ideals of Francis of Assisi, which are poverty, humility and simplicity, this is a good thing, because these values unite East and West, Christianity and Zen. But this should not only be in terms of words but also in terms of deeds. Pope Francis is not poor, he lives in Vatican or in a luxurious inn, he travels around the world by plane and manages a very rich country that receives billions of dollars in donations. That is not poverty. Instead, the great majority of Buddhist masters practically live with a few dollars a day, like any poor, like Master Jesus and Francis of Assisi. All this forces me to say I would only believe Pope Francis is poor, humble and simple if all billionaire resources of the Catholic Church would be donated and given to the poor around the world (Christians and non-Christians). Only then it would be Truth what the Pope Francis proclaims. That same thing Master Jesus taught when a wealthy man asked for his spiritual guidance. Therefore, creating a non-corrupt and organized church does not mean creating a solidary and socially engaged church. Christianity of the future must be frank, loyal, brave, defending life unswervingly, liberty, equality and fraternity, by fighting for the Truth and justice, denouncing dictators and corrupt in the world through the practice of naming and shaming. Mass media’s Pope Francis is far from Pope Francis of the real world. No priest may preach virtues of asceticism and humility when he earns a very good salary, nor can the Vatican with its millions of dollars. Instead, the World Association of Buddhism, with no more than 500 US dollars a month is making a planetary spiritual revolution a thousand times more powerful and genuine than that of the Pope Francis, despite not having fame, and not needing for luxurious travels by plane but just a mere meditation space in the field. But of course, from what I’ve read, for most journalism in Argentina Buddhism is nothing but a practice of “witchcraft” or “new age”.
When Pope Francis makes a “call to globalize solidarity” that is very good. It is certainly not new. It is a teaching of Engaged Spirituality of Buddhist masters such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Christian mystics such as Thomas Merton. It’s very good, because solidarity can save the world. But solidarity is going against the dominant, bureaucratic, repressive, discriminatory and inquisitor Power which is also present in the Catholic Church. It is not something discriminatory what Pope Francis did by not accepting the ambassador of France for being homosexual? If that is to live mystically, then Spirituality is a lie. Actually, being on the “poor side” is not taking pictures smiling with people and saying pretty speeches, nor is it merely accompanying the starving. In contrast to the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Matthew reveals that the poor are not materially poor but “poor in spirit”, that is, they are the marginalized, the oppressed, the desperate, and the sufferers and anguished. Homosexuals, as a group discriminated by society, fall into this category of poor. But instead of recognizing them, Pope Francis has said in 2006: “gay marriage is the destructive pretension of God’s plan”. This is not only non revolutionary, but this is the reason why Pope Francis is not going to change the Vatican doctrinal basis because he lacks true compassion. Everything that Pope Francis says then, as “who am I to judge them” is nothing more than something demagogic for mass media. To end with this subject, I just refer to the pretty speeches of Pope Francis, remembering his populist words in order to be cross-checked with acts of discrimination: “God does not forgive hypocrisy (…) the false sanctity of the crafty whose heart belongs to devil, father of lies (…) the false saints even before Heaven try to appear rather than being (…) They say the right things but do the opposite (…) This is the path of hypocrisy (…) they pretend becoming but their heart is a lie (…) dirt from heart is removed by doing the path of goodness and pursuing justice (…) practice charity is the best way to evangelize (…) one should have the wisdom to accuse oneself “. His own teachings morally condemn him.
When Pope Francis asked for forgiveness to the victims of cases of pedophilia by Catholic priests before the cameras, it is a good thing. But it has also come to light non-public words of Pope Francis when defending a bishop accused of covering up for pedophile at the same time he attacks the victims: “The church lost freedom, by being carried away by politicians, judging a bishop without any evidence (…) people suffers for fools, because do not open their hearts to God and they are carried away by nonsense said by all these people (…) think with your head and not get carried away by lefties.” All this demonstrates that Pope Francis is false. In addition, this shows that the philosopher Vattimo is wrong, because in an event organized by the Argentine Ministry of Culture, in the forum for emancipation and equality, he claimed that it should be created “a New Communist International” but led by Pope Francis. In fact, Pope Francis is not loved or venerated as a person because no one knew him before he became Pope Francis, but he is respected and wanted for his position of Power. Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the victims offended by Pope Francis, in the face of all this, said: “I had a lot of hope, but this diatribe shows that under the mask of this kind and progressive Pope there is something else.”
When Pope Francis first met at the Vatican with victims of sexual abuse by pedophile priests, he did a very good thing “by humbly asking for forgiveness” and undertaking to not tolerate these practices by criticizing these acts that in the past “were camouflaged with an inexplicable complicity” so that “the Catholic Church must cry and repair”. It is also very good to denounce the pedophile church as a “sacrilegious cult” which “has not responded adequately to denounces of abuse lodged by relatives and for those who were victims of abuse,” despite the fact that “sexual abuse sins against minors on the part of the clergy have a virulent effect on faith and hope in God (…) by profaning the very image of God “. It’s great that Pope Francis has been publicly committed to fight against pedophilia, but it is not enough for the victims who consider these are mere words, demanding “structural decisions in order to end abuses.” Even the two previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have widely protected the pedophile priests. But the problem with what was said by Pope Francis is that it continues to arouse bitter criticisms on the victims of sexual abuse by priests, as happened during his visit to the United States, where the Pope Francis commended the “courage” of those bishops who ” faced difficult moments in the recent history (…) without fear of self-criticism, and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”. This has been considered as “grotesque” by the victims ‘associations, since it shows concern about the “bad times the bishops may have passed” rather than worry about the victims, such as Terence McKiernan said in saying that Pope Francis should “become much more transparent and active” in face of these cases of sexual abuse. Robert Hoatson also denounced these words of Pope Francis, affirming that the bishops “are not brave because they have covered-up and allowed cases of sexual abuse, trying the victims very bad”. John Salveson also complained that bishops have not been generous and courageous with the victims, unlike what Pope Francis said, because “they tried the victims of sexual abuse as adversaries and enemies for decades”. Even the UN in its Committee on the Rights of the Child, has denounced the Vatican for “lack of control” systematically violating the convention protecting the rights of children worldwide. Said UN report states that the Vatican “chose to preserve the reputation of the Church when protecting the perpetrators of the crimes over the interests of the children”. After all, the great philosopher Zizek is right when he says that “the Pope is the leader of a pedophile organization”.
When Pope Francis transmits a progressive social message, calling for “mercy, forgiveness and solidarity” that is a good thing. But he has never said a word of the death of an Argentine prosecutor Nisman, who had denounced President Kirchner for covering up terrorism. Moreover, a day before a march calling for justice for the death of the prosecutor, which brought together 400 thousand people protesting peacefully in the streets, Pope Francis met with members of an Argentine association which rejected the manifestation to tell them it had his support. During those same days of so much sadness, consternation and impunity in Argentina, Pope Francis also made a controversial joke, saying “Argentines commit suicide by jumping from their own egos.” This was outrageous, not only because it is a discriminatory comment towards the people of Argentina, but also because the judiciary in that country refuses to recognize the murder of prosecutor Nisman as a homicide and regards it as a suicide. Therefore, it is an indirect reference to the prosecutor Nisman himself. Pope Francis has words and time to talk about his favorite soccer team, but not to talk about the assassination of the Argentine prosecutor.
When Pope Francis said “a world that marginalizes women is a sterile world,” this is very good. But Pope Francis maintains a climate of widespread discrimination by not allowing the ordination of women priests.
When Pope Francis said “humility is a style to leave space for God, divest oneself, emptying oneself, rejecting vanity, pride and success.” This is very good. But while Francis walked along Central Park in New York, the American police gunned down a black young man in a wheelchair. Pope Francis not only said nothing about it, but he did not do anything about the hundreds of homicides that the US police commit against the African American population year after year. That same lack of solidarity is that which he showed while he was sleeping a nap during a Mass, when more than 700 people died in Mecca simultaneously. Did his “revolution of solidarity” donated or visited the wounded? Pure empty speech. When he came back from the US the only thing he did was warmly receiving an Argentine model associated to VIP prostitution, to whom also asked her to “pray for him”.
Lack of Interreligious Dialogue
When Pope Francis defines resurrection as the radical novelty for the history of humanity because it is the “party of Awakening,” I think it’s something good because even many theologians have defined resurrection in terms of Spiritual Enlightenment. But this goes against what happens in facts, as when Pope Francis refused to meet the Dalai Lama for “obvious reasons”. This was something that not only disappointed the Dalai Lama but also to the Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. I wonder which are these obvious reasons for which the Pope Francis rejected the Dalai Lama’s request of meeting? If the reason is avoiding a conflict with China, the Dalai Lama has abandoned his political office many years ago so he is a simple Buddhist master like any other. In addition, the other popes have received him without any problem. Through this, the Pope Francis betrays the millions of persecuted Christians in China, because he should denounce everything that happens in that country. Thus, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has been felt disappointed for the silence of Pope Francis concerning the ‘disappeared’ bishops in China. Maybe this will be the same silence by which the Pope Francis was indicted in Argentina for his complicity regarding ‘disappeared’ priests. But of course, to receive hundreds of corrupt Argentine politicians he has time and interest, like receiving President Kirchner who was probably responsible for the magnicide of prosecutor Nisman. Lowering the Vatican ostentation of luxury is a good thing, but complicity with corrupt and authoritarian politicians from Argentina and China is genocidal. If this is not Realpolitik I don’t know what it is.
When Pope Francis in the US mentioned Thomas Merton as a symbol of interfaith dialogue and promoter of peace, this is very good. But Pope Francis forgets that Merton said that he was a Christian thanks to Zen, which he studied for a long time. Pope Francis also forgets that Merton received the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist masters like Thich Nhat Hanh without any problems. So, does interreligious dialogue policy of Catholicism now depend on China’s dictatorship? What kind of madness is this? 2000 years of Buddhist-Christian dialogue thrown into garbage bin.
When Pope Francis asked for the “full unity of all (…) because we are all one” it is very good. It is also very good when Pope Francis says that “it is necessary that the faithful of different religions unite their voices to clamor for peace, tolerance, respect for the dignity and rights of the others”. This call for interreligious union to fight evil is formidable, by echoing the spiritual movement called Maitriyana which was created by the Buddhist Master Maitreya, since the Pope Francis correctly recognizes that interfaith union is the formula for success of “love and peace”. But this very nice speech is not consistent with facts. Pope Francis not only despised Interreligious Dialogue meetings with the Dalai Lama, but he has also completely ignored offerings of dialogue coming from the World Association of Buddhism led by Buddhist Master Maitreya, an organization which is the most important and revolutionary of the world. A year before Pope Francis become Pope, the Buddhist Master Maitreya becomes President of the World Association of Buddhism. This went unnoticed by almost the entire world. Paradoxically, both Pope Francis and Buddhist Master Maitreya are Argentines descendants of Italian immigrants. It should be remembered that the Buddhist Master Maitreya, along with masters such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh is one of those who has most fought within Buddhism for granting Jesus of Nazareth such a high spiritual status like that of Gautama Buddha.
When Pope Francis has said “it’s better a church which makes the road rather than a sick and closed church,” this is very good. It is also very good when Pope Francis says that the Holy Spirit always creates a movement of “harmonious unity of all” and “new spaces of wisdom.” But, again, his words are not consistent with the facts of indifference to the offerings of interreligious dialogue by the World Association of Buddhism. Although many believe that Pope Francis is characterized by an inclusive openness, this is not Truth, since he has shown to be as “narrow-minded” as those he himself criticizes. The Pope Francis himself has said that “rejecting those who are not part of our group is a dangerous temptation” which constitutes “a perversion of the faith”. Hopefully he implements his own words. The Christianity of the Future must be a humanitarian church of interreligious dialogue and interspiritual fraternity, which means solidarity action detached from dogma, being a transcultural commune that “does not exclude new religious forces but it allows them to flourish,” as stated by the great theologian Hans Küng. But, in order to be able to reach this, Pope Francis should be emptied of all “dogmatic immobility and moral censorship”, in order to convey the Good News which means a purely spiritual theology based on the teachings of Master Jesus, but that also learns from dialogue with other traditions.
This entire “double political and religious standard” certainly merits the Pope Francis to receive the discredited Nobel Peace Prize, as happened with President Obama. Father Pedro Opeka deserves it a thousand times more than religious populists and politicians, but unfortunately the world does not reward those who Truly give their lives.
Zen Master Taisen Saito
PhD in Western Philosophy and Doctor of Mystical Theology