Monthly Archives: July 2017

Jihadist Terror

Recently I have been embroiled privately and publicly in condemning Islamic terrorism. Because I pulled no punches, I have alienated and lost some old friends. The following is from the Dharma Wheel website forums which I wrote in response to the thread.

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Postby steveb1 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:26 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:

“He’s saying that we’re at war against international jihad, which is the drive to take over the world for Islam that has been part of Islam from the beginning. Millions of Asian Buddhists have died at the hands of Islamic conquest. Is there any Asian Muslim country that wasn’t converted by the sword?

“What Sam Harris is saying is that the Muslim world needs an enlightenment and a reformation, the same way that the West had an enlightenment and a reformation. Christianity had a very violent, brutal history too, but the West is different today because of the reformation and the enlightenment.”

Exact and to the point.

[Requisite PSA: Not all Muslims are terrorists! Only a small minority. Most are peaceful!]

Jihad is a toxic, ugly truth at the heart of Islam. Sadly, only Muslims can rid the religion and the world of Islamic terrorism via “reform”. The odds are stacked against it, because Jihad is embedded in the Quran and the life of Muhammad. Allah is the first deity to teach the principles of Jihad to a human being – that is a rock-solid, ground truth. It is not an argument to say that most Muslims are not Jihadists or supporters thereof. As everyone can agree: “THEY are not the problem”. The terrorists ARE.

The “peaceful Muslims” gambit is being used by the Left and by the cucked Right as a dodge, a red herring, a ploy with the intent to try to distract the public’s gaze from the true horrors of Islamic terrorism, a crime that has no foreseeable end. To reform Islam is, according to everything stated and implied in the Quran, to reform Perfection. Can’t be done, and all attempts to do so will end in fire and sword.

Harris is a mixed bag. On religion, I think he’s mostly misled, but on political Islam he’s mostly correct. And it is beneficial to recall that condemnation of Jihad is not condemnation of religious Islam.

Religious Islam began fairly peacefully in Mecca until the Prophet became increasingly megalomaniac and political, and the Meccans kicked him out. He then went to Medina where he became a politician, a judge and a warlord. When he had assembled a strong following there, he returned to Mecca to exact a frightful vengeance upon those who had so sensibly rejected him earlier (his revenge fell especially on Jews who had rejected him).
Thus Islam, as we have it, contains both the Meccan/pacifistic religious “Surrender” as well as the Medinan/terrorist “Surrender”. Unfortunately, both are woven of the same cloth and so cannot be separated and still be called “Islam”.

Westerners whose first reaction to a Jihad attack is to rush to protect “innocent Muslims” from Western attack are simply wrong-headed. The first response needs to be quarantining, jailing, and punishing the perpetrators and their networks – plus strong, legal expressions of outrage and public protest, including demonstrations and marches. The second response should be taking care of all the victims, their friends-and-families, as well as any physically uninjured witnesses who are suffering from emotional trauma. The third response is to keep peaceful Muslims on the back burner of “Concern!” – because, after all, that’s where they belong, since …THEY are not the Problem.

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“God” as Real, but not as a Creator

It seems to me that one major problem with the modern God-conversation is that God is constantly being defined as some kind of responsible world-agent – a creator. Of course, a creator – especially one who is held to be all-knowing and all-good – is ultimately responsible for “His” creation. No excuses can be offered for the putative creator’s misbehavior. And I’m not even (yet) talking about the depredations of the Biblical deity. No, the creator – as we now have “Him” – is sufficiently evil, indifferent, inept, mute and incompetent to be existentially and morally condemned under the Epicurean mandate.

However, I personally believe that “God” is real, but is not a creator, intervener, or judge.
For me – a panentheist (not pantheist) – God is much less a creator and much more the being Who and Which is spoken about in Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and by the mystics of all traditions. A silent Presence, the Tao, the Absolute, the Dharmakaya, Bodhi, the Unconditioned/the Unborn, Salvation, Light, Wisdom, etc. … a being and/or a category, that is, whose only “doing-ness” or activity is limited, and natural, to its transformative effects in sentient beings, but which is non-functional and irrelevant vis-a-vis the creation and maintenance of physical worlds, universes, things and processes.

Thus, as pertains to the world/cosmos/”life”, God is not all-mighty; in fact, God is not “mighty” at all,  the word “might” being a crude projection of gross material, physical “power” onto a spirit being.

This type of God is immune from both the Epicurean critique and the normative Western theistic view, because both base themselves on the idea of an all-powerful creator deity. They assume that, for God to be real – “for God to BE God” – God must be a creator – or “He” isn’t God , and “He” does not, or cannot, exist. But that is as silly and inept as saying that either the moon is made of green cheese, or it does not, or cannot, exist.

The conception of a non-creating God immediately releases one’s God-definition from the burden of creating a theodicy. A theodicy is an argument that claims to explain evil – and more importantly, the persistence of evil – in a cosmos that was supposedly created and is currently being maintained by an all-good, all-powerful creator deity. If we remove from our theological perspective the conception of an all-good/all-powerful creator deity, we also remove the conception of divine intervention, as well as the embarrassing necessity of needing to account for “God’s” obviously neglectful behavior.

The non-creating, non-almighty God thus cannot be blamed for the world’s evils, nor can this God be praised for the world’s goodness. There is no one – “no One” – to praise or to blame. The universe goes its own “samsaric” way without deity-influence, interference, or manipulation, while God simply, deeply, remains as the silent Presence within the depths not of matter, but rather in the perceiving souls of the sentient beings who seek divine union.

In one narrow sense, Jodo Shinshu’s Amida Buddha can be seen as a kind of functional equivalent to the non-creating but spiritually-transformative God. Buddhas are not gods or creator deities, and neither is Amida Buddha. However, if by “God” is meant an all-compassionate, all-wise, luminous, transcendent Being who saves and enlightens not by physical intervention but by sheer grace – in the form of Shinjin in Jodo Shinshu – then, surely, Amida “fits the bill”. Not a creator, not a physical intervener, not a judge, not a divine warrior or apocalyptic vengeful destroyer, not a dying-and-rising savior, Amida can be seen as the compassionate, transforming, transcendent spiritual Ultimate – a “God” for all sentient beings, who at the same time is source and spark of their future Buddhahood in Amida’s Pure Land, where those beings recognize and realize their own “godness” as Buddhas in their own right.