buddhism

World-Oriented Mysticism

Question: 
How can mystical experiences direct us to the world and its needs?
Publication Month: 
June 2013
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

The question is well formulated. Mystical experiences do not always have this effect. Some seek in mysticism an escape from the complexities, difficulties, and pressures of life in the world. And there are experiences that do constitute such an escape. In sweeping generalizations we could say that whereas the prophetic tradition directs its adherents to the problems of the external world, mystical traditions either offer inner serenity within the world or participation in something quite other than the world. The question I am asked here is one I often ask of others.

Process Theology & Buddhism

Question: 
I have recently discovered Process Theology and I find it very challenging, as it seems to solve some of the contradictions inherent in Buddhism. As far as I can understand, unlike in Buddhism, we do not owe our existence to past human existences and our mental life is not reactivated in new forms according to karma in future human or non-human existences. But is there any continuity of conscious existence after death since there is no permanent self to sustain it? What does Process Theology teach in this respect?
Publication Month: 
February 2011
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

All of our religious traditions witness to the inclusion of elements from cultures whose ideas are not in full agreement with the central insights of the tradition. This is true of most forms of Buddhism. This tradition arose in India where certain ideas were deeply entrenched. These included the notion of an enduring self, a self that could even survive death and reappear in new forms. They also included the idea that what happens in one’s life now is the consequence of what one has done in the past, whether in this life or a previous one.

Whitehead and Buddhism

Question: 
It is well known that process thought affirms along with Buddhism the absence of an intrinsic existence—that is no underlying substance behind any activity. But how then does it maintain this position and at the time affirm the Jamesian account of intrinsic value? Please clarify.
Publication Month: 
September 2006
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

This is an excellent question, because it brings out the difference between some forms of Buddhism and the implications of Whitehead’s similar vision. Both standard Buddhist thinkers and Whitehead reject any notion of substance as something that underlies the succession of events. Events do not happen to things. Human experiences are not attributes or possessions of underlying subjects.

Animal Rights (1)

Question: 
"It seems to me that Process Ethics would affirm the Buddhist Precept about 'Not Harming' unless absolutely necessary. On the subject of 'Harming Animals', does this mean God wants all Compound Individuals (and other entities capable of 'high-grade' prehensions) to become vegetarians?"
Publication Month: 
October 2000
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

This question is for October and November 2000.

Dr. Cobb's Response

Buddhism teaches compassion toward all sentient beings. This constant refrain about sentient beings rather than just human beings certainly has practical and religious consequences. This is largely in continuity with Hindu teaching and has its greatest impact in South Asian cultures related to the Indian one. It has had less effect in China, Korea, and Japan, where Buddhism often seems hardly less anthropocentric than Christianity.

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