mjj (flemmings) wrote,

In which I gad about

So, well, went to a Buddhist lecture finally, go me. Speaker for the Kadampa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Sounded promising- 'Buddha taught that happiness and suffering are feelings- parts of our mind- and so their main causes are not to be found outside the mind. If we want to be truly happy and free from suffering, we must learn how to control our mind.'

I'm rubbish at detecting accents, but my guess is Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong is northern Irish. Friendly funny woman. And quite sensible through three-quarters of the talk. But when we got to 'what's the cause of suffering and happiness?' the answer came out as 'karma.' Stuff you did a couple of lifetimes back now biting you on the ass. So begin to practise virtue and you'll be happy. 'I guarantee it.' Yes: a couple of lifetimes from now. This does little good just at the moment. I don't think people will be coming up and asking me why I'm so glowingly content ('are you on meds?' as the speaker put it) if I just stop drinking and avoid irresponsible sex. Because I do and they don't.

The karma thing is fine as far as it goes. Seems possible that the world might work that way, and as a disincentive to vice-- mh well, works as well as promising hellfire does in Christianity. But I think I'll stick with the Second Noble truth, simplified into 'suffering comes from wanting things your own way.'

As for Kadampa Buddhism itself, mh well also. If wikipedia has it right, western Kadampa's argument with the Dalai Lama boils down to whether their guardian divinity is a demon or a Buddha; and the odds seem rather heavy on the Dalai Lama having the right of it. Yes, Tibetan Buddhism does get weird.

Today I finally got myself to the museum for the Forbidden City exhibit. Pretty interesting, but I should have brought a list of the Qing emperors with me, because I kept getting the 4th, 5th and 6th ones mixed up. The exhibit has a way of putting these Emperors' quotes on the walls accompanied not by their name but their portrait. -_- The history line with portraits and names was back at the entrance-- and yes, I did keep making my way through the winding and confusing layout to go check which was the Yongzheng Emperor and which the Qianlong. Luckily it wasn't crowded: this would have been impossible at the terracotta warriors. Also the aerial view of the city itself, available on any number of i-pad-type installations with pop-up labels, was all very well: but nowhere was there a map with all the buildings labelled, even though the exhibit kept mentioning individual structures by name. (Nor did I realize these things on the wall were tablets until I saw the usual tech-savvy eight-year-old swiping one to enlarge the picture.)
Tags: china, religion, rl_14

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