Buddhism Makes no Sense

William B. Turner
3 min readNov 27, 2021

The core claim of Buddhism is that your most basic perception of reality can change drastically, not solving all of your problems, but allowing you to see them not as problems, in an instant.

Sounds crazy.

This is not the gross illogic of Christianity.

This is the most logical claim ever. It is fully consistent with Einstein’s claim that matter is just energy slowed way down, that the two are interchangeable in some sense.

Humans often like to flatter ourselves that we are very logical creatures, some of us do, anyway.

As one Buddhist teacher put it, we are not rational beings, we are rationalizing beings. We usually do what we want, then think up some juicy, post hoc rationalization for why that was the right thing to do.

After he awakened, the Buddha became entirely logical.

We don’t usually see it that way because he also became the embodiment of lovingkindness and compassion, which we do not think of as logical choices.

But he also said the constitutive feature of human existence is ignorance. That we don’t see lovingkindness and compassion as logical is a function of our ignorance.

An implication of not self is that we are not the discrete, self contained entities we typically perceive ourselves to be. We are all more than intertwined, we are inseparable.

A common metaphor is that we are all waves, briefly differentiated on the surface of the water, which is ultimately all we are.

The notorious garbage patch is a huge quasi island of refuse in the Pacific Ocean, but nothing prevents any of that garbage from floating all around the world.

Nobody is likely to notice any given piece of plastic and recognize it as part of the Pacific garbage patch, but we do have stories of bottles floating across the Atlantic Ocean, and across a good bit of the Pacific Ocean.

Water is just a particular combination of chemical elements. Humans are just particular combinations of chemical elements.

Lovingkindness and compassion are logical because, when we harm other beings, we also harm ourselves. Stabbing yourself is illogical. Not stabbing yourself is logical.

The idea that we can suddenly come to see the world as the Buddha saw it after his awakening may seem wildly implausible, but the Buddha was a human, a regular schlub, just like you and me. He just had the inspiration to sit down and meditate until he found the answer. He spent the rest of his life telling anyone who would listen that they could discover what he had discovered and how.

Those of us who have heard his message and find it convincing keep up a consistent meditation practice, the key component in awakening as the Buddha did, as a result.

So keep meditating.

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