Siddartha Guatama In Modern Day North America

1447 words - 6 pages

For over 2000 years Buddhism has existed as an organized religion. Byreligion we mean that it has a concept of the profane, the sacred, and approaches tothe sacred. It has been established in India, China, Japan and other eastern culturesfor almost 2000 years and has gained a strong foothold in North America andEurope in the past few centuries. However, one might ask; what fate wouldBuddhism face had Siddartha Guatama been born in modern times; or morespecifically in modern day North America? Would his new found enlightenmentbe accepted now as it was thousands of years ago? Would it be shunned by societyas another "cult" movement? What conflicts or similarities would it find withmodern science; physics in particular? The answers to these questions are the aimof this paper, as well as a deeper understanding of modern Buddhism.Although I will stick with traditional ideas raised by Buddhism, one detail inthe story of Siddartha Guatama must be addressed in order for it to be relevant tothe main question being asked: What obstacles would Siddartha Guatama face hadhe been born in modern day North America. Primarily, it must be recognized thatrather than being born into the Hindu religion (which in itself is mystical),Siddartha would have most likely been born into a Christian family. This in itselfpresents the first obstacle, that being that Christianity is a strictly monotheistic andnon-mystical faith. Hence from the outset, although in the traditional storySiddartha faced a conflict with his father (Ludwig 137), in the North Americanscenario the conflict would have been heightened by the fact that his search forenlightenment was not even closely similar to the Christian faith.As with science, changes in religious thought are often met with strongopposition. It is interesting to note though, that many parallels can be foundbetween modern physics and Eastern Mysticism. As Fritjof Capra writes:The changes, brought about by modern physics . . . all seem tolead towards a view of the world which is very similar to theviews held in Eastern Mysticism. The concepts of modernphysics often show surprising parallels to the ideas expressed inthe religious philosophies of the Far East. (17-18)Thus by examining some of the obstacles imposed by typical western thought onmodern physicists attempting to develop new theories, we can apply the sameconclusions to the situation that would be faced by Siddartha Guatama in modernday North America. Traditionally, western thought can be summed up by Frenchphilosopher RenJ Descartes' famous saying, "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think thereforI exist". That is, typically, western man has always equated identity with his mind,instead of his whole organism (Capra 23). This same line of thought can be foundin traditional Newtonian Mechanics in which the observer of an event is nevertaken into account when describing the event. Rather, all things are said to occur atan "absolute time" in space, never taking into account the observer's...

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