Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christopher Hitchens on "There Is No 'Eastern' Solution"

I am reading God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens. The purpose of his book is not to eradicate religion, but to bolster the atheist position in public discourse. Religious conversation, writes Hitchens, is “the beginning—but not the end—of all arguments about philosophy, science, history, and human nature. It is also the beginning—but by no means the end—of all disputes about the good life and the just city."

In chapter fourteen, "There Is No 'Eastern' Solution," Hitchens turns his sights on to eastern religions and finds that they are no better than the western ones. I am not interested in defending eastern religions, so I am not going to respond.

Hitchens modus operandi is the same with eastern religions as it is with the western ones--pick out a few anecdotes and use them to discredit an entire religious system. The victim here is Buddhism by means of a guru named Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh. Hitchens' main complaint is the eastern notion that religion is a means of escape by checking one's mind at the door. Fair enough.

I loved this:
"Make me one with everything." So goes the Buddhist's humble request to the hot-dog vendor. But when the Buddhist hands over a twenty-dollar bill to the vendor, in return for his slathered bun, he waits a long time for his change. Finally asking for it, he is informed that 'change comes only from within.'

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