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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/7/10

The Most Important Development of the 20th Century: "The Coming of Buddhism to the West"

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Shortly before his death, the great British historian Arnold Toynbee was asked what he considered the most important development of the 20th century. After two world wars, the invention of television and the first moon landing, few could have predicted his answer. It was, he said, "the coming of Buddhism to the West".... Source:TimesLive

As I have written, I consider Buddhism the most promising way for human kind to stay connected to spirituality while encountering and even embracing the scientific and technological developments that will transform humanity.

See also:

A Cosmic Religion of the Future

Gorbachev and the Buddha--A Middle Way for Humanity

Humanity will soon be faced with development of artificial intelligence and the emergence of man and machine.

Nick Bostrom, a philosopher, leading thinker on transhumanism, and director of Oxford's Future of Humanity predicts that transhumanism will allow for a new entity that will be radically smarter and more powerful than humans.

Bostrom says, "We want to preserve the best of what it is to be human and maybe even amplify that."

This radical transformation of humanity will fundamentally alter how we view spirituality. The fundamentalists of every religion will not be able to fit their fixed views based on centuries old paradigms into that brave new world. As we are seeing today, to continue to hold on to these fundamental religious views and beliefs of ancient peoples and tribes often requires a great deal of disconnect between science and technology and those often irrational and superstitious views.

The danger is, obviously, that the radical destruction of old belief systems can lead humanity into a hellish world of materialism and brutish abuse and neglect of humanity. Unfortunately, humanity has moved in that direction with the promotion of globalization and disaster capitalism.

Organized religions have proven to be powerless over the dangerous forces of economic globalization that subjugate humanity to the materialist viewpoint that profit, quantity, and consumption are the only meaning to life.

Buddhism can offer another Spiritual way without the dogmatic, reality denying fundamentalism that Organized Religion promotes.

Buddhism in its purest sense sees life as change, and sees materialist fixation and selfishness as a source of suffering. The Buddha taught that by engaging in mindfulness and meditation, a person can find the truth of existence that heals.

Underlying the Buddha's approach is a pragmatic, empirical, and courageous approach to life and our very nature. The Buddha taught that we must mindfully consider our relationships and our thoughts, words, and deeds if we are to find a way to pull that 'arrow' of suffering from our lives.

The most disturbing aspect of the Buddha's teachings for many has to do with the doctrine of 'No Self.' It is unique to the world's great religions in that the Buddha's view was that there was no fundamental and eternal entity, or soul, that existed. Rather the Buddha taught that humans were a system that were constantly changing and interacting with its environment. According to the Buddha, the only way we can define and understand something, including ourselves, was in relation to something else. Thus, there was no separate 'I' that could exist apart from everything else. There was also no separate 'I' that remained unchanging since matter and energy is in constant flux.

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