Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Judge not!

There is very little direct wisdom in the bible. The wisdom comes from traditions of how to interpret it and also from the insights of individuals. This is also where the stupidity comes from. So how can you tell the wise from the stupid. The Buddha said all teachings should be tested by our experience. Likewise, Jesus said that a tree shall be known by the fruit that it bares. The bible and other religious texts produce meaningful insights only when intelligent individuals test the interpretations and find what works and what doesn't. An obvious example of a problem is when a tradition/text contradicts itself. For example, if Jesus says "judge not" and then a tradition of interpretation uses a text to pass judgement on different individuals, something is wrong. For example, the letters of Paul are often used to condemn homosexuality. This seems like a contradiction, so was Paul wrong? Possibly, but scholars argue it was more likely that one or more other people wrote those letters. But even if Paul did write the letters it wouldn't matter because it doesn't make sense. Judge not means judge not. Passing judgement on others, and even on yourself, is a sin. Buddhists should also not judge. Since everything is a product of cause and effect and dependent co-arising, there can be no judging, it just don't make sense in that framework. People think they need judgement for motivation and control, but the better way is through compassion.

Here is a very good book discussing the fact that Paul's letters were very likely not all written by Paul

The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon

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