The Feeling Buddha
A Ridiculous Misinterpretation of Buddhism
This book contain so many mistakes and boneheaded conclusions that it never should have been published. David Brazier has attempted to take the Buddha's message and make it fit into a limited psychological framework. Among the obvious mistakes in the mishmash of misinformation are the following:
|4 Noble Truths||The Buddha Says||David Brazier Says|
|1st Noble Truth||Dukkha Happens||Life involves Adversity|
|2nd Noble Truth||Dukkha Originates from Craving||Dukkha Causes Craving (sic!)|
|3rd Noble Truth||Cease craving and Dukkha will cease||Contain your passions and Dukkha won't be so bad|
|4th Noble Truth||The Path leading to the cessation of Dukkha||The result of containing your passions (sic!)|
Notice that Brazier's interpretation of the 3rd Noble Truth contradicts his interpretation of the 2nd. He also mistranslates Nihodha as containment in order to justify? ignore? not doing what the Buddha recommends.
And why on earth would the Buddha spend so much time explaining in detail the Eightfold Path if is was only the result and not the means? This interpretation is so ridiculous that even the structure makes total nonsense.
Brazier claims to have read the Buddha's discourses, but he sure wasn't paying attention. If he were to insert his misunderstanding of the 2nd Noble Truth into the teaching on Dependent Origination, he would find silly things like
- Actions cause Ignorance
- Sense Impressions cause Sense Contacts
- Death (in this life) causes Birth (in this life)
If he were to substitute "containment" for "cessation" where it occurs in the suttas, he would find phrases like "the remainderless fading away, the containment".
Furthermore, the mistakes in this book are not just limited to a misinterpretation of the Four Noble Truths:
But this book is not totally useless. Remember those pictures when you were a kid - "Can you find 10 things wrong with this picture?" There would be a drawing with a man whose hat is on upside-down, a car going by with no one in the front seat, a dog with two tails, etc. Well, another good subtitle for The Feeling Buddha would "Can you find 108 Things Wrong with this Book?"
Brazier, whose background is Zen, uses the Mahayana legend of the Buddha's life as a basis for some of his psychological interpretations. One of the elements of this legend is Sujata rescuing Siddartha from a ditch where he had passed out from not eating. This incident doesn't happen in the Theravadan legend, and according to the suttas, Siddartha only met Sujata after he had regained his strength - there is no mention of him falling in a ditch let alone being rescued by anyone. Yet Brazier makes a big deal of an event that never happened.
Brazier also make a big deal of the fact that the Buddha was seriously influenced by the death of his mother when he was 7 days only. Indeed Siddartha might have been so influenced, but there is certainly no hard evidence of this - it is just Western psychological speculation and in no way takes into account the culture in which Siddartha grew up.
At the end of the "First Sermon" on the Four Noble Truths, one of the 5 ascetics to whom the Buddha taught this discourse achieved the stage of stream entry. But Brazier has Konda˝˝a becoming fully enlightened and totally happy. There is nothing in the First Discourse to suggest this. In fact Konda˝˝a didn't become fully enlightened until the so called "Second Sermon" on not-self some week or more later.
Brazier also manages to screw up other suttas besides the "First Sermon". He says that the conclusion of the "Fire Sermon" (which he misidentifies as the 2nd Discourse - it's actually the 3rd) is that you can keep you passions. The whole point of this discourse is to stop burning with with greed, hate and delusion.
Even Brazier's retelling of the Angulimala Sutta contains elements that are just not found in the original. This book is so full of errors in the Pali suttas presented, that I would not trust a single source in the whole book to be accurate.
Worst of all, Brazier's interpretation of enlightenment is that it is nothing more than leading a psychologically healthy life. What a waste! The Buddha showed a path for transcending the delusions of this life and evolving to a higher consciousness. Brazier complete misses this aspect of the Buddha's teaching, never even hinting at anything remotely like this.
This book shows that cross tradition commentaries are very often quite suspect. Open it only if you have enough knowledge of the Four Noble Truths to give a 30 minute talk on them without notes! Don't buy this book - it only encourages 'em.
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