A Buddhist Podcast – The Reluctant Buddhist – Chapter 1 Part 2 and Much More

October 19th, 2008

Well we have a bit of an extravaganza for you this week! Kicking off the show is William Woollard who completes the second half of Chapter 1 from The Reluctant Buddhist. Karen reads a truly inspiring contribution from Cindy Woodland from Canada! We have more shoutouts that cross the globe and we attempt to answer a question about how we as parents interest our children in Buddhist Practice.

Tonight we play three tracks from the Podsafe Music Network, Anduze with Just Feel Good, Lee Coulter with I Would Love and Black Lab with Broken Heart!.

Keep a look out for a special show coming out next week. William Woollard has put together some great study material surrounding the Level 2 Study Exam that is taking place in Europe in November.

Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to the show, for writing to let us know how you feel about about it, for your encouragement on Facebook and for the great comments on the website. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you! Have a wonderful week.


  1. A great show as usual, there is just one small point I’d like to make about NOMA – non-overlapping Magisteria. I don’t like it! It might be a convenient way to avoid conflict by saying: this is one domain or another and never the twain should meet, but that is denying the fact that they are intimately linked – perhaps like the yin and yang symbol or the Taoists. I would also like to point out that the Dalai Lama himself suggests that some of the tenets of Buddhism need to adapt in view of modern scientific findings and he says himself how much of modern science is reflected in Buddhism or vice versa.

    Personally I see many of the ideas essentially being reformulated in a language that we can use to verify resultant consequences. The Buddha himself in his Kalama Sutta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta) tell us to enquire freely and this dogma free path is what makes Buddhism.

    Instead of trying to separate Buddhism and science using NOMA and thus making Buddhism just another faith, we should salute the Dalai Lama’s approach of bringing the two together since both try to explain essentially the same – at least in the areas of science where I feel I know a little about: high energy physics & consciousness studies

    Thank you again for the great show!

    Comment by Timothy Hilgenberg — October 19, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

  2. hallo… great show as per usual.
    timothy, the previous commenter made mention of the dalai lama and his view that some tenets of buddhism need (or maybe “should”) to be adapted to science…
    just a few thoughts on that. A tenet is an integral part of an idea, infact without it, an idea cannot exist, since tenets are the poles on which the tent of the idea rests. In changing a tenet, you are creating a new idea that can only be regarded as a derivative of the former idea, but cannot be called the same idea. So I think if buddhist tenets were to be changed then it would not be buddhism.
    I beleive it is Daisaku Ikeda that says (and i am paraphrasing), that if we fail to mention cause and effect we are not talking about buddhism. In this instance, cause and effect, is a tenet of buddhism, and removing it from the conversation takes us to a realm outside of buddhism (in a sense, since in actuality everything is buddhism).
    More important than my above point is the following… I am interested in knowing what speicific buddhist tenets are incompatible with science. I am yet to find an idea in science (and i have to admit, i am the farthest thing from a scientist) that is at odds with buddhism.
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to say this, and thank you timothy for your comment.

    p.s: maybe jason can answer me this question… You mentioned this on a podcast and I think it might answer any questions that might arise in the event that fundamental differences between buddhism and science exist…
    Nichiren writes…
    “Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would only abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, and look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land, though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu—whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false…”

    I beleive in saying this Nichiren was in fact providing a rational basis for his beleifs. I recently heard a scientist say that no one can categorically claim dinosaurs do not exist, simply because no one has combed the entire world to verify that assertion. The only way to empirically ascertain whether dinosaurs exist or not… is to find one! In science, the lack of an answer does not mean the answer itself does not exist, but rather it reiterates the obvious; that until an answer is found, the question remains valid.

    So my question jason is this: might the above quote suffice as an argument to support adhering to views that have been scientifically proven (of course this would be based on a general consensus that the science in question contradicts buddhism, a notion i currently find unlikely).

    Thanks again… excuse the super long post.

    Comment by william — October 22, 2008 @ 1:22 am

  3. William, my dear friend! I think your question is does Nichiren’s quote,

    (“Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would only abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, and look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land, though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu—whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false…”)

    support the argument to hold on to your views that have been scientifically proven?
    My answer? I don’t think the quote does support the argument, because I believe that depends on what constitutes “a person of wisdom”. A person of wisdom, I believe, is someone who can martial wisdom in support of the creation of value. Mr Makiguchi offered up the three components of Beauty, Goodness and Gain as the three measures of value creation.

    This was in marked difference to the Kantian view of value which was characterised by Beauty, Goodness and Truth. Mr Makiguchi felt that Kants concept of truth did not take into account the problem of subjectivity!

    Not sure where I am going with this, but . . .I think that we should hold on to our views for as long as it is the most value-creating thing to do, rather than for as long as a fluctuating knowledge base grows and alters.

    Not sure if I have added to the complexity or reduced it! Laughing.

    Comment by Jason — October 22, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  4. i think the problem or rather challenge is understanding things fundamentally as opposed to a superficial or cursory knowledge…

    i need to study tons more about buddhism and really strive to understand the INTENT or buddhism rather than the TENETS…

    I do love the explanation though… value trumps truth, bcus everything is subjective. I have heard that scientific experiemnts have varying outcomes depending on the presence of a person during the course of these experiments… thanks for the insight. Jason. Cheers

    Comment by william — October 26, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  5. Hi Karen and Jason,

    I’ve listened a few times to what you said about our roles as parents and I’d like to comment on one of the points you made that I think is so important…that if we really are doing our best in terms of heartfelt daimoku, doing activitites, supporting others and study, then we have to trust the actions that ensue from our daimoku, even though they may seem too strict at the time.

    As a mother this was hard to learn in the past, especially since the societal image of a mother is one of endless smiles, calm and perfection. Fortunately, because of guidance from leaders and a strong practice, I clued in a few years back that the most important thing in any situation is to do what is best for your child’s human revolution, which often is not simple appeasement. I had an experience this weekend with my younger son that’s a really good example of this.

    Two nights ago was Hallowe’en night…one of the two most important annual events in a child’s life in North America. Normally, the younger kids go out with their parents around 6-7 PM, for an hour or so. Thus, there is a narrow window of opportunity to trick-or-treat and get as much candy as possible. My son’s Dad was waiting to take him out around 6 pm since I wouldn’t be home from work until after 7 pm. However, he couldn’t find his costume, and I couldn’t be reached by cell phone since I’d inadvertently turned it off… and of course, my son refused to go out without his costume. By the time I got home and found the costume it was too late. So…my son had a meltdown … and I was to blame. I felt bad and tried to come up with another strategy to appease him.

    We live in the country and thus, opportunities to trick-or-treat are few. So, we went to the nearest city a half hour away to see if the kids were still out…they were..but my son wouldn’t go since he just continued to cry that he didn’t get to go to the nearest town where his friends had been.

    I tried to console him and he hit me. That hit was a wake-up. I immediately reacted strictly and realized that for the last two weeks, each time he played with his costume I had warned him to make sure that he put it away so that he could find it on Hallowe’en night. I also remembered what Buddhist leaders have said regarding the role of parents…that children have their own karma to go through and that we can’t protect/prevent them from the painful experinces necessary for their human revolution. So, I was strict with my son and explained to him the importance of taking responsibility for his actions.

    The next morning while I was chanting he came in to see me and I asked him if he knew why last night didn’t work out for him and without hesitation he said “I didn’t take responsibility..I should have put my costume away so I could find it”. To makes sure that he really understood or if he was just saying it to appease me, we talked more and there honestly seemed to be no trace of disappointment in him. The issue seemed quite resolved. I chanted more about it and I had such a feeling of assurance, as a mother, that if my child can learn this type of crucial lesson at such an early age, his life is going to be that less fettered by the setbacks and pain that accompany lack of personal accountability. Additionally, I see how this contributes to the flow of kosen rufu in that the world will benefit by having one more individual who takes responsibilities for his actions.

    The more experiences of turning poison into medicine that I gain like this, the more my confidence grows that this practice is absolutely incredible with what you can accomplish with it.

    Cindy Woodland

    Comment by Cindy Woodland — November 2, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

  6. William, Jason,

    Sorry I’ve been away without internet for a week 🙂 So I’ve only just seen the posts… I don’t think I’ve seen things in Buddhism that are contrary to science so there is not issue 🙂

    About the influence of people on experiments this is a well known fact and the reason for “double blind” experiments in many areas much of which I know nothing about. For me Buddhism is not about faith, it is about the nature of reality… which is what fundamental physics is about and much of the new consciousness research.

    All the best,


    Comment by Timothy Hilgenberg — November 2, 2008 @ 6:16 pm

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