Buddhism after Christian Liberalism

Any noble religious community can operate with a Buddhist spiritual rationale.
I was attached to the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order which is a loose grouping of people who come together for activities run by the Western Buddhist Order, which in turn is an ordained Order but not monastic. It draws on the findings and teachings of Sangharakshita who was ordained in both Hinayana and Nahayana traditions and angles Buddhism to a Western purpose. Whilst keeping a spiritual hierarchy, ethical businesses replace the isolation of the monastery, and the ideas it pursues are centrally focussed on repairing the ways of Westerners. Thus is promotes the idea of friendship above sexual desire, as it sees sexual desire as a Western problem. It promotes same sex relationships - friendships - because such is less desirous and possibly more productive than the relationship mess that most of the West now swims in. Again it is a matte of balance and a matter of emphasis, although this has organisatlonal consequences for the WBO.
There has been no WBO/ FWBO in Hull. The dominant force of Buddhism is Tibetan which stresses a universe of Karma and reincarnation, a tightly structured cosmic causal relationship of moral effects that continue through lives. I think it is rigid, dogmatic and puts the cart before the horse.
Rather it is best to view detachment in a selfless way, on its own terms. Detachment requires awareness in all things we do: "Why am I doing this particular action?" is a constant question. One is looking for a cool innocence. It does not need the innocence of a baby who can make no moral decisions, but the innocence of someone who can make active moral decisions. In other words, it needs active compassion. But if you are detached from impermanent things, if you pursue a loving kindness for its own sake, a motiveless compassion pursued to maybe an achievable limit will lead to a kind of bliss. If you achieve bliss you achieve it with attachment to nothing at all. The world of relationships is but a passing fancy. In other words, bliss is found at a point of nothingness, and the self goes self-less.
This is nirvana. It is nothing that is very much something and neither of these. It cannot be an object in itself, nirvana, otherwise it ceases to be pure detachment and nothingness. But it is hardly nothingness as it is a bliss. In other words, if you do Buddhism to achieve nirvana you will be regarding nirvana as yet another desire and it won´t be nirvana.
Buddhism is a kind of spiritual alternative after the intellectual death of Ghristianity. It does away with the supernatural and its objectivity offshoot based on the existence of God. It focusses directly on a problem that is psychological and individual, whilst recognisirig the place of community. If handled as an aid and not a thing in itself, Buddhism´s rich traditions can be drawn upon for self improvement.
I offer the twist that any nobly ordered religious community can support ones own spiritual self practising. I also suggest that any calm worship can be as meditation practice, though obviously a community focussed on the spiritual essentials will do the job the best.
I identify somewhat with the history of liberalising, which implies now, today, that Christianity has come to the end of liberalising in the reductionist sense. I also relate to Sea of Faith which also uses the insights of Buddhism in its non-realism. Buddhism lock, stock and barrel from other cultures can be a dogmatic distraction, and should be instead critically applied for its central purpose and insights.


Revised talk given to Unitarians by Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful