Re: Zen and the Singularity

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Mon Jul 01 2002 - 22:54:20 MDT

On Tuesday, July 2, 2002, at 12:22 AM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Gordon Worley wrote:
> >
> > Buddhism has it's problems as a religion and, like all religions,
> > tends to get in the way of getting the real benefits of the
> > teachings. I think if people just listened to the teachings of Jesus
> > they'd be a lot better off, but it's not so simple because of
> > religion, which sets about to create all sorts of things around what
> > he said and ends up twisting it around so much that you give up and
> > just decide to act like a human (and, as the /Hitchhiker's Guide/
> > points out, all Jesus ever did was try to get people to be nice to
> > each other and they killed him for it).

> If you're thinking "Jesus was just a good man", without realizing how
> religiously brainwashed this sounds to someone who was raised without
> any mention of Jesus at all, it sounds to me like you still
> half-believe. I suggest you check out some reputable material on the
> actual authors and derivation of the New Testament.

Hmm, seems what I wrote does sound rather strange and religious. That
wasn't my intention, but, since having become completely areligious, I
tend to not notice when I say or write things that sound religious in

My point of this was that Jesus, from what we know of him, was teaching
people to be nice to each other and get outside of anthropomorphic
thinking. I have no idea just how far his teachings went, since I have
not studied them in depth. Anyway, then a religion grows up around him
and the result is that no one who is trying to learn from him through
Christianity is learning very much of what we think he was really

The same thing, in my opinion, has happened with Buddhism. Siddhartha
comes along with his Dharma that will help lead people to enlightenment,
and 500 years after his death a religion has sprung up and very few
persons are becoming enlightened.

In general this seems to be the trend with most religions focused on
attaining some form of enlightenment (even if that's getting into
heaven, which is basically the same thing as achieving nirvana). Of
course, religions of aboriginal people, paganism, and related religions
don't qualify for this, since they tend to grow out of human desires
rather than a great, moral way of being.

> If you're going to quote someone, don't quote a religious figure, even
> with a disclaimer. Find a modern secular humanist who has said roughly
> the same thing; s/he will undoubtedly have said it far more clearly and
> with fewer millennia-old prejudices mixed in.

While this may be a good rule of thumb when communicating to a poorly
educated audience, I hope that members of SL4 are beyond the pettiness
of discarding ideas based on the perceived credentials of the person who
spoke them. If not, I might as well just post to Extropians or, heaven
forbid, Usenet.

At any rate, I don't really have any plans to make direct quotes of
Jesus or Siddhartha, since I doubt their exact words have survived the
centuries. Paraphrasing the content of their ideas, though, may prove
worthwhile. Besides, any modern secular humanist who said roughly the
same thing is likely to have his own set of reasons to be incredible
(and there are likely to be hordes of people ready to tell me that I
didn't understand what he *really* meant).

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:40 MDT