by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
"The Buddha's answer is trenchant. Only an atheist religion can be a religion. All the rest is idolatry, the worship of a God who is the work of our hands or our mind...This, in my view, is at once the point of contact and the difference between Buddhism and the attitude of our times. Religious atheism, a religion without God...was what the Buddha preached. And the denial of God as the basis of life (that is, of the human religious attitude), epitomizes and synthesizes the phenomenon of contemporary atheism." — Raimundo Panikkar (The Silence of God)
This, in a nutshell, is Panikkar's message. Buddhism, he tells us, is a mysticism without belief, and as such, both speaks to modern humanity in its own language (atheism) and provides it with a spiritual dimension (religion) that it otherwise does not have. I would certainly agree with his general thesis, but question whether Buddhism is, in fact, without belief. It seems to me to be rife with belief and unquestioned metaphysical presuppositions, even in its most rarefied forms, and always opaque in its convoluted psycho-philosophical pronouncements. It is no 'simple way'.
Philosophical Taoism, on the other hand, especially taken as only a springboard for one's own philosophical and mystical journey, fills this need more truly. This is only my opinion but, unlike Panikkar, I do not envision a universal remedy for humanity's ills, but merely my own. Were I a Buddha, I guess I'd be no bodhisattva, who defers Nirvana until the world is saved through his compassion and virtue (this is not belief?), but rather, would jump right in — goodbye, and good luck!
This apparently extreme individualism, I might add, is predicated on the belief that all is well and nothing needs to be saved, in any case.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.