Monday, November 6, 2017

Buddhism is more ‘Western’ than you think

By Robert Wright
“Golden Buddha, 2005” by Nam June Paik. Credit Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Not long ago I was accused of something I hadn’t realized was a bad thing: clarity. There’s a broader and deeper sense in which Buddhist thought is more “Western” than stereotype suggests. What, after all, is more Western than science’s emphasis on causality, on figuring out what causes what, and hoping to thus explain why all things do the things they do? Well, in a sense, the Buddhist idea of “not-self” grows out of the belief undergirding this mission — that the world is pervasively governed by causal laws. The reason there is no “abiding core” within us is that the ever-changing forces that impinge on us — the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes — are constantly setting off chain reactions inside of us. [More]