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The Buddha

There is no such thing as authoritarian Buddhism.

The Buddha was very clear that people should only follow the Noble Eightfold Path he described if they wanted to and found it beneficial.

Authoritarianism is the province of monotheistic religions, in which a supposedly omnipotent deity that created the universe will visit horrible punishment on anyone who violates the rules.

The Buddha chose not to address the question of whether such a deity exists, but it would have been cruel for him not to have told people about a mean, punitive deity had he discovered one when he awakened. This deity does not exist.

Unlike the very concrete, practical moral advice of the Buddha, who told us we will be happier if we behave ourselves than if we do not, the consequences of bad behavior in monotheism always only come after one dies. This clearly is not an effective system. People who espouse one monotheistic religion, anyway, have colonized the entire globe, wantonly killing people as they went and forcing their religion onto the few who survived.

Whether this is just a human tendency, or the monotheists have managed to buffalo enough people to go along, we will likely never know, but the effectiveness of the monotheistic threat puts voluntarist Buddhism at a distinct disadvantage.

Whatever the cause, it is now clearly a deeply entrenched, bad cultural habit for lots of people to accept, more or less willingly, the authoritarian leadership of the people who claim to speak for the supposedly omnipotent deity.

It is perhaps testament to the relative effectiveness of the Buddha’s precepts, for those who choose to follow them, anyway, that none of them has yet violated the prohibition on lying by trying to gain a larger following with the absurd claim that the Buddha will punish them after they die.

Let’s all stick to honesty and meditation.

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Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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