virus: Buddhism

Eric Boyd (
Sun, 19 Oct 1997 21:06:37 -0400

Hi all;

"D.H.Rosdeitcher" <> wrote:

> Eric--I liked your memetic analysis of Buddhism. One thing you might add to
> your essay is a demonstration of how Buddhism is a selfish meme--a meme
> that benefits itself at the expense of its hosts, if you think that's the
> case. For instance, is Buddhism detrimental to Buddhists? Also, I see the
> concept of State support as memetic as the others, since it's based on
> pro-government memes. --David R.

I actually don't see Buddhism as that selfish a meme. It's called "The
Middle Way" because Buddhism involves a sort of compromise between the
asceticism of the previous braminical religion and the normal lay
population. The Buddha said "how are we to achieve insight by starving
our bodies?" (paraphrase) In fact, as the story goes, the Buddha only
achieved enlightenment *after* he gave up asceticism[1]. Perhaps part
of the success of Buddhism was do to this "relaxing" of the stringent
requirements for "religious" experience.

As for state support, you are right. I did off hand mention in my essay
that point, but it does need to be extended.

Brett Lane Robertson <> wrote:

> ...this is illustrated by meme #5 in the meme-chain
> ( if you would like a graphic
> illustration.* Further it shows that "<OBJECT permanence>",(<Buddhism>), is
> an excellent example of a fit meme complex with the specific traits of
> "safety" (faith), and "tribe" (evangelism)..."magic" (tradition), "rules"
> (authority), "government and religion" (two aspects of "community"), and
> "keeping and promoting" (two aspects of variation) which aids the
> individual's replication into the tribe so that the complex reproduces
> itself....

OK. I think I'm finally beginning to see parts of the way you think.
That picture has more information in it than I could understand in an
entire year. Just #5 alone is so complicated...

I see everything there, but am unsure exactly what "object permanence"
signifies. Is it our *attempt* to find certainty in the world? Then
all the constructs around it (gov. rel. etc.) are just manifestations of
our *desire* to "leave something behind to conquer time" (paraphrase
Goethe (1749-1832)) Have I got it?

I'm not going to use it in my essay, but I think you've provided me with
an example of your thought processes, a key as it were. Am I right in
thinking most everything you say relates to one of those pictures

Robin Faichney <> wrote:

> Batchelor's take on that is to say that Buddhism
> became a religion when it went wrong, becoming
> (for some) a set of beliefs instead of a method,
> and that "core" Buddhism is definately not a
> religion, but I think that's largely a matter of
> semantics.

Yea, I agree with the gist of this. Buddhism turned away from "human
science" and towards religion not to long after the Buddha died. It
quickly became popular to own some of the Buddha bones ("artifacts"),
and in ~300 years, an actual school ("Mahayana") broke away from what I
considered Buddhism to be. They thought that worshiping the Buddha (and
dead Bodhisattva's) could somehow cause them to be reborn in heaven,
rather than here on earth again. I suppose this is possible, but I
thought that the entire idea of Buddhism was to avoid being born again
at all!!!

And since a literal interpretation of where the Buddha "is" now
concludes that he is *totally* and *completely* nonexistent, this was
clearly heresy.

So Buddhism became a religion. It's my opinion that this evolution was
due to memetic factors -- worship is so much more "public" a thing than
a simple lack of desire... once the idea was conceived of, it out
propagated "real" Buddhism in just a few hundred years.

The only reason Theravada Buddhism survived at all is because of the
effect of <Authority>... what the Buddha said still matters!


[1] I think that "giving up" was in fact the key. It was only because
the Buddha *gave up* (released his desire) for "enlightenment" that he
became enlightened, IMHO. I'm supported very well by U.G.Krishnamurti:

The search ends with the realization that there is no such thing as
enlightenment. By searching, you want to be free from the self, but
whatever you are doing to free yourself from the self is the self. How
can I make you understand this simple thing? There is no 'how'. If I
tell you that, it will only add more momentum to that.... --U.G.