Your Ad Here

Sunday, August 5, 2007

If Buddhism predicts Maithreya Buddha, why can’t we read horoscopes ?

Are we simple survival machines?

If Buddhism predicts Maithreya Buddha, why can’t we read horoscopes ?

Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in horoscopes? Do you believe in a foreordained future? A destiny perhaps? Human history is filled with an attempt to see where you will put your foot next, and if that weren’t enough where the children of your children will put their feet. What makes us such slaves to our unwritten future?
Every major religion is based on the idea of foretelling our future. Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given a destiny, and each character thereafter was given hope through God’s word of what they ought to do, their fate marked in the will of God. Even Buddhism, which is as close to a philosophical religion as it gets, speaks of the Buddha who was, Sakyamuni, and the Buddha yet to be, the Maitreya.
Essentially our mortal mind cannot comprehend that we are here simply at the whim of biology. How can it be that life was breathed into us and we awoke to the sunrise by accident? We can think, we can philosophize, we are intelligent and we can master the very fabric of our existence. It would be impossible, cries humanity, for our lives to exist with no greater noble purpose. If such purpose could not be found, the simple truth is too horrible to contemplate: we are slaves only to the biology that drives us, simple survival machines (as Richard Dawkins puts it in The Selfish Gene) created only to pass on our genes to the next generation. It would mean that everything we do in our everyday existence does not actually mean anything to the Universe and the hand that guides it. In fact, we would be a momentary blip, a spark that lasts for an instance in time so small against the life of the universe that quantifying it, would itself be impossible.

Destiny must exist

This explanation is so scary to us that we immediately try to give meaning through religion. If you believe in the possibility of a higher power, then destiny must exist. If destiny exists then it must be possible to gamble on figuring out the path of the maker’s mind. The old cultures imagined a woman spinning thread and creating the fabric of the universe.
Each thread was a life, and each thread fit into this immense cloth in a pattern.
It would be a fabric of such beauty that at the end, the entire story of the universe would be told and as such every thread had a purpose.
Each culture in the world has figured out ways to try and tell the future. The Greeks stared at the constellations, mapped their movements, attached stories and Gods to them and we have the resultant horoscopes that grace our daily papers. I’m a Scorpio by the way, in case you wanted to know. The Chinese looked at time, subdivided it and personified it in animals.My friends and I used Bibliomancy to drive us around Alberta. People stare at the random but similar lines on each of our palms and decide that these were marks left by the Gods to show us our individual life pattern. In Sri Lanka, the custom of a fortune teller reading the palm and stars of a new born is still practised. Amongst the upper classes this fortune is etched onto palm leaf paper and bound into a book. Supposedly my brothers and I have these. I have no idea what mine says and chances are, I never will.
So do I believe that fate exists? I think that belief of destiny and fate is a very personal thing. We spend a lot of time thinking about the future.

We are not random

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we are not random, but that we are here for some greater purpose than to eat, sleep, poop and breed? However, I find that worrying about the future, trying to read it and so on, makes us slaves to our own futures, so much so that we sometimes forget to take note of the present and the beauty of life that is happening around us.
Despite all this I don’t believe completely in randomness either. If you put molecules of hydrogen and oxygen together in the correct environment, they will combine and form water. I believe that there is a certain affinity accorded to all things, animate and inanimate. We are beings of chemical and physical forces and as such we interact with each other similar to how giant objects in space have gravitational pull. If you put certain people together in certain environments, I do believe that it is possible to predict the outcome.
The same can be true for thoughts and ideas and the electrical impulses that are jumping between synapses deep in the recesses of our grey matter. No, I do not believe that I am the Once and Future King but I do believe that given a certain environment, genes, people, objects and so on, we are groomed to be and do certain things... a lot of which can be predicted. There is no spinner for this thread, instead the fabric of life is a story told within ourselves and recounted at the end of our life.
Better make it a good interesting present lest you bore the listeners of the future What’s my fortune cookie for today from

Courtesy D.

...flatulent rumbles...


- by Michelle de Kretser

This is a beautiful book. Her prose is extraordinary. And an added treat for me was that it was set in Sri Lanka. To see the words Anai, putha and gonibilla in a work of literary fiction was a singular treat for me. The book was less of a mystery than I had expected. It was more of a rambling memoir of a quirky family. But the storytelling and characters were enough to carry me forwards.
I just read a slew of reviews about this book, and now I feel like my single paragraph on the subject is pathetic. I’ll at least include a quote I liked: “An ash-smeared sadhu. The fragrance of cumin. I pulled them from my hat in earnest good faith when I first ventured into fiction. And my stories proved very popular with readers in the West. They wrote to tell me so. ‘Your work is so exotic. So marvellously authentic.’ When the flatulent rumbles of self-satisfaction subsided, I saw that what I had taken for the markers of truth functioned as the signs of exoticism. The colonizer returns as a tourist, you see. And he is mad for difference. That is the luxury commodity we now supply, as we once kept him in cinnamon and sapphires. The prose may be as insipid as rice cooked without salt. No matter: call up a monsoon or the rustle of a sari, and watch him salivate.”


No comments:

About Buddhism