virus: Buddhism

Eric Boyd (
Tue, 21 Oct 1997 06:09:05 -0400


quotations from:
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 19:30:10 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: RE: virus: Buddhism

> > Now, memetics is more
> > complicated than simple biological evolution because in addition to
> > survival of the fittest, there is also artificial selection by
> >
> It may be more complicated, but not for that reason.
> The natural/artificial distinction means nothing here.
> After all, isn't *all* of culture artificial in one sense?
> But this simplifies things for you -- I think, not
> having read further yet...

I think dealing with this objection is beyond the scope of my little
paper. After all, this is just asking: "Do memes controls us, or do we
control memes, or some combination of the two, or something else again?"
As far as I know, nobody has proposed an answer that we are all willing
to life with, so... I'm working from my axiom that both are possible.

> > Memetics also rests on a proper understanding of the Intentional
> > Stance[2]
> >
> Arrrgh!! No way. Dawkins says neither memes nor
> genes are really selfish. You can keep that can of
>worms safely closed, taking the stance that intention
> is used metaphorically in these contexts. But again,
> that should simplify things for you.

Good word, that: "metaphorically", thanks.

> > With <Buddhism>, faith is ensured by the taking of the "Three
> >
> I think the more common expression is "Taking Refuge",
> with "in the 3 Jewels" being added in the long form.

Thanks... change made

> > ... for normally slitting of a religion undermines...
> Ha! Freudian slit, oops, slip?


> > As the "Greater Vehicle", monks believed (rightly) that
> > it appealed to more people and so would 'save' more of them.
> >
> That's a new one on me. I always heard the difference
> was not that it appealed to more people, but that the
> intention on the part of the practitioner was to share it
> more.

Yes... of course. The idea is that the Bodhisattva monk will put his
compassion for others ahead of his own journey to Nirvana, in the same
way the original Buddha did... this is an important change in my text.

> > Of course, much of the success of Buddhism can be explained without
> > memetics at all.
> >
> I think you either use memetics or you don't. If you do,
> every cultural phenomenon can be explained in terms of
> it.

Same debate over again... where is the line? Is there a line? (I see
Brett is trying to maintain that memetics should *replace* genetics!)

> > It is interesting to note as well, because of the basic structure of

> > the
> > Sangha, Buddhism is in need of state support:
> >
> Too generalized -- what state support does it get in the West?
> This is Therevada, in the East, isn't it?

Hmmm. Good point. I haven't said much in my essay about the *current*
state of Buddhism -- but certainly I need a section on it to explain
"the continuing of itís teachings" more fully. Perhaps I'd add a couple
of paragraphs on modern Buddhism.

> > It's reliance on the state, then, was not only useful for it's
> >
> Delete those "'"s!

Umm, sure. I really do need a refresher course in apostrophes! They are
1) when: it's = it is
2) to indicate ownership: its' chair
3) any other time?

What I have is wrong, yes; but what is right?

> > but also necessary from a discipline standpoint. One is forced to
> > wonder if the necessity of reliance actually helped Buddhism - since

> > then it ensured state support.
> >
> It could just have done without it, and withered,
> couldn't it? Need doesn't always get.

That statement was in there precisely because I couldn't decide this
issue... did the necessity of state support *make* the monks get it,
thus *of*necessity* getting state support for Buddhism? (no one denies
that state support is useful for replication)

The question: is the danger of *not* getting that state support out
weighed by the *benefits* of making the monks seek it?

I'm really not sure... opinions please!

quotations now from:
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 19:51:06 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: RE: virus: Buddhism

> > 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.
> >
> That's not Mahayana Buddhism. Sounds like Pure Land,
> which is one of many, many varieties of MB, some of
> which are much *less* superstitious than many
> Therevadins -- e.g., Zen is usually classed as MB. Then
> there's Tibetan, which encompasses all levels from the
> most culture-bound to the "purest", and is classed by
> some as MB, and others as a third variety, Vajrayana.
> The commonest characterization of MB among
> MBuddhists, however, is that it is morally superior to
> Therevada, being less selfish, more other-oriented.
> I really don't think many MB's "worship" anything.

OK. It shows that I didn't read the "Buddhism in Tibet" book that I got
out. I thought that the worship part (calling on the Buddha, etc., gets
one reborn in Heaven) was common to all MB. No problem... this is good
to know!

> > The only reason Theravada Buddhism survived at all is because of the

> > effect of <Authority>... what the Buddha said still matters!
> >
> This, again, seems somewhat slanderous. How can
> you say that was "the only reason"? Has it nothing
> else going for it?

Perhaps not the only reason. Word change: *major* reason.

... oh yeah... thanks for mailing that paper to me, too!