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The Samsaric (Worldly) Gods


"The first commitment - Do not go for refuge to Samsaric Gods" 

I never really understood what "Do not go for refuge to Samsaric (worldly) Gods"   meant until Professor Richard Dawkins lifted the lid on the whole can of worms, viruses, memes and other psycho-parasites in his Channel 4 series.

The Root of all Evil and the Virus of Faith show the Abrahamic 'Gods' and their followers to be angry, jealous and divisive. As Dawkins said   "The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it. Petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic-cleanser urging his people on to acts of genocide."

Moses ordered his followers to kill all the men and older women of conquered tribes... "But all the women-children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep them alive for yourselves."

As Dawkins points out, Jesus could not have derived his ethics from these scriptures (so where did he get them from?).

The characteristics of Samsaric Gods
The three roots of samsara are the Three Poisons.  In Buddhist philosophy they are Attachment, Aversion and Ignorance. In Buddhist Psychology they appear in their most extreme forms as Greed/Lust, Hatred/Anger and Delusion/Denial of the truth.

All destructive human actions are derived from these three poisonous states of mind and their various combinations, such as Jealousy and Tribalism.

So a Samsaric God could be defined as one who shows one or more of the following features, or encourages them in his devotees:

Attachment to being flattered/worshipped.

Hatred of those who don't flatter him, or even worse, cartoonists who take the p***!!!  

Jealousy of other Gods (Jealousy = Attachment + Hatred). Professor Dawkins quoted a passage from the Bible that commanded that if a friend or member of your family should try to persuade you to worship another god - "You must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death because he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God."

Anger when his wishes are unexpectedly thwarted (though if he were really omniscient and omnipotent he would know in advance that his wishes would be thwarted and could stop it happening because  ... oh anyway..) 

Tribalism to encourge attachment to the Chosen Ones ('The Saved' or 'The Umma') and hatred of 'the other'   Religious tribalism is rapidly assuming the form of  Global Divisiveness - dividing the world into Us and Them, God's Warriors and God's Enemies (Dar al Harb and Dar al Kufr)....  But if God is almighty, why are his enemies still allowed to exist. Why does he need warriors to kill them? Can't he do it himself? 

Lust  (eg for 72 virgins).  
But consider how attachment may change into aversion
Each girl will need to be pleasured at least once a day, and anything less than 15 minutes is going to be a dissappointment and reflect badly on your manhood. You'll also need a few minutes for changeover and foreplay before you get stuck in to the next one.  So its humping three virgins an hour, every hour, no rest and not much variety, except when Miss 69 comes around warm, wet and exuding odor di femina at 10:40 every night, but by that time you're shaheed-out and its only just over an hour till midnight, when Miss One will be round again and gasping for it in the normal position.

Heaven, Hell or an eternity of aversion therapy? After two weeks even the most pious shahid would wish he'd been gay. Or maybe he'd just settle for a bowl of grapes.

Anthropomorphism and Zoomorphism
Seriously though, in attributing the three poisons to God, not only are theologians indulging in anthropomorphism (ascribing human characteristics to God), but also in zoomorphism (ascribing animal characteristics to God). Dogs can show jealousy, bulls can show anger, even ants can show tribalism. All animals show attachment to something - mates, food, territory and status (pecking order). 

The three poisons are products of biological evolution. Their purpose is to ensure the best chance of survival of the individual's genes in the natural world 'red in tooth and claw'. 

The three poisons persist in humans because our bodies are products of evolution, and our minds have spent long aeons attached to the bodies of animals. But why these biologically-based delusions should form a part of the psychological make up of the Abrahamic Gods (who presumably have never been biological beings), cannot be explained.  

Christian versus Buddhist worldviews


If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?

Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation