Dechen Norbu wrote:Yes, it's always a shame when Buddhists don't uphold the values that Buddhism stands for. But being a Buddhist is not the same as being a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.
What would you expect? By any chance are you perfect just because you claim to be a Buddhist? Well, neither are others who also claim to be Buddhists. So this is the usual behavior based on prejudice, economic and political interests and so on and so forth, unfortunately so common in humans. This has nothing to do with them being Buddhists, since there's nothing in Buddhist doctrine that supports this kind of behavior.
Everyone has a bad side--my quick bad temper has embarrassed many times, but only once (fortunately) did I hit someone (unfortunately). Dechen pointed out that Buddhists sometimes shame themselves by doing bad things; almost anyone may. After WWII Harvard University sponsored the Milgram experiment which demonstrated how easy it is for a person who appears to be an authority figure to convince almost anyone to believe and/or do unusual, bad or horrible things (see link below). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
This experiment explains why a charismatic person can start and grow a cult. For example Jim Jones who built Jonestown in Guiana which resulted in the massacre of many people, and David Koresh who built the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas that also resulted in many people dieing. Recently Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress called the Mormon religion (Church of Latter Day Saints, LDS) a cult and not Christian, apparently because Mitt Romney, a Mormon, hopes to get the Republican presidential nomination. When Joseph Smith started the LDS it was cult like, but many people now accept it as a manor religion.
What motivates people like Jim Jones, David Koresh and Joseph Smith to start a new religious order is really unknown. In many cases they claim they talk with God. They may be hallucinating, power hungry and lying, or actually talking with God, I don't know, but my suspicion is hallucinating or lying. In any case, the Milgram experiment and the plethora of people who start cults and religions make me skeptical about all religious ideas.
Therefore, I try to live my life the Right Way, that is to view things as they really are, instead of viewing them as they appear or as I would like them to be. In addition, I try to question whether my view is actually right thinking, because it is easy for one's mind to trick you into making a mistake. These things have led me to believe in the scientific method; nonetheless, scientists who follow the scientific process do make mistakes, which is why scientists require two unassociated people to do the same experiment--to verify a mistake has not been made. Moreover, HHDL said, "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation."
Thus, when people accept beliefs that have been taught by authority figures for thousands of years instead of science, I am concerned. After all, the Buddha wrote nothing. We must rely on the teachings of men and women, that may be accurately teaching what the Buddha said, or may not. Any of these teachers may have misunderstood the Buddha, or they may have been motivated as Jim Jones, David Koresh, and others.
Following Right Way is not easy and doing accurate the scientific work is not easy--because people are error prone. Making mistakes is easy.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."