An introduction to independent Buddhism
These short studies are for those who are deeply provoked and troubled by the big questions in life – what is the meaning of life ? – what happens to me after death ? – is there a God ? – how should I best live my life ? – why so much suffering in the world ? – what’s the point of any of it ? and so on – and who genuinely want to find an answer to them, but who have been consistently disappointed with all the available avenues and methods they have encountered so far.
Amazingly, there is a way out of this mess, and it is a clear and unequivocal solution, though it has nothing to do with joining a religion, indoctrinating yourself, or hours of cross-legged meditation. But, as you might expect, this solution is somewhat demanding – at least in the early stages – and will require significant time and effort to work towards its realisation. In a nutshell, the whole process basically involves finding a way for you to allow your own lucid capacity of mind – your analytical, discriminating and comprehending ability – to fulfil itself on its own terms. Everything – life, the universe, God and everything – begins with this very selfsame capacity of mind, and ends with it as well, though of course this may look very unlikely to begin with, and perhaps a little disheartening as well, especially if you are of a mystical and devotional disposition. This means that much systematic and painstaking work is required to clear away the religious and emotional clutter distorting your capacity to think clearly, and which in turn is also preventing the light of your own inner lucidity from shining of its own accord, and revealing to you what you need to know. But this process of clearing away does not involve any kind of indoctrination, or force of will; it takes place of its own accord as a result of your own insights.
The ideas you will find expressed here have little or nothing to do with Buddhist religion and Buddhist doctrine; for that you need to go to one of the many sites such as BuddhaNet where you will find doctrine and received ideas to your heart’s content. The ideas you will find at this site are concerned only with the Buddhist quest for first-hand, independent, impartial, unmediated, direct metaphysical knowledge, and how best to acquire such knowledge.
The claim that you can work your way out of the existential mess of the human condition without religion, devotion or meditation will obviously provoke considerable scepticism, and call for some considerable justification. And it should be said at the outset that there is no chance whatsoever that this kind of metaphysical proposal can be argued systematically from first principles, in such a way that a resolute sceptic can be wrong footed at every turn, and made to concede every point, so ending up a convert. We have to start from a position where the individual is at least prepared to investigate the situation, even if they are thoroughly sceptical of the long term prospects. They are prepared to investigate further because there is enough clear, unbiased and responsive argumentation on hand to keep the spark alive, and to keep them looking. The ideas presented here should, in ordinary terms, ‘ring a bell’, in the sense that they ring true, and make basic sense, even if only distantly, and are therefore worth further exploration.
To explore these teachings you do not have to join any group, or adopt any beliefs, or change your lifestyle. You don’t need to learn any languages, take any vows, attend any meetings, or make any profession of faith. You don’t have to do cross-legged meditation, pray, read scriptures, recite mantras, chant, confess sins, or engage in any conceivable kind of religious practice. Nor should you feel, in not taking part in these time wasting and delusory activities, that you are somehow missing out on anything of value. Real value only comes when you learn to allow your inner light – your lucid capacity of mind – to think its way through the mystery of the human condition. Then you can see for yourself what the problem is, and how it might resolve itself.
Where to start ? Begin with the short essays in the section called Basics. All you need is a pen and some paper, and some spare time in which to think clearly and purposefully every now and then. The rest will take care of itself.
[Many of the short essays you will find at this site have unfortunately been written in something of an intellectual vacuum, as there is no forum where these ideas can be subject to the right kind of peer review, and where they could be improved upon by judging the way people respond to them. However, something is better than nothing, and in time, when it becomes clear that improvements can be made, sections of many of these essays will be rewritten. If visitors to this site are aware of similar writings elsewhere which articulate the same ideas but perhaps with greater clarity and lucidity, we would be extremely interested to be directed to them. Please contact us here.]