Continuing from previously,
“Now, what do you think, Kalamas? When delusion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?”
“For harm, lord.”
“And this deluded person, overcome by delusion, his mind possessed by delusion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person’s wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering.”
Delusion means having a false belief or judgment about reality.
The problem with the above statement is that we are all deluded and non of us is the wiser. So how do we determine if someone is deluded? In this situation, we need to rely on our dharma knowledge and also some basic Buddhist understanding.
One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is Shunyata. (Emptiness). The first stage is the emptiness of self. Therefore, a person who is VERY deluded by a sense of “I” / “Self” has a HUGE EGO, In a nutshell, a person with a Narcissistic personality. Tada! Modern language helps us understand better, right? And that is precisely the main characteristic or personality of a cult leader. These personalities desire to be worshipped by people, obeyed by people, served by people, etc.
I still remembered one great lesson in life when I visited a Tibetan Buddhist Centre. There was an old Asian man wearing a T-shirt with the print “I love Kathmandu”. He was just sweeping the floor and minding his own business. I was a beginner and more of a curious visitor and did not pay any attention to that ordinary-looking old sweeper. Later on, I learned that he was a respected lama (Rinpoche). Sometimes the most wonderful thing in life is “hidden” in the most ordinary thing that is right in front of us.
Now let us explore “easier” examples. Another tenet of Buddhism is Karma. Even Shakyamuni Buddha talks about Karma. Therefore, another delusion that is advocated by cultists is that “Emptiness” invalidate Karma. Many leaders of Buddhist Cults use this to justify their wrong actions. In that manner, they preach that their actions are “empty” by nature and therefore, they are not really engaging in evil deeds or immoral practices.”Form is emptiness” became an excuse for them to live an extravagant lifestyle. For most of us, we know that is bullshit, but sometimes people can be blinded by philosophies. Therefore, wild thoughts and philosophies are forms of delusion too. A person may sound deep and wise when they speak quotes that seem to be beyond our comprehension. But seriously, so do patients in mental institutions.
Next, let’s drop this by another notch. Not living in the present is also a form of delusion. For example, when we keep thinking about the past or fantasizing about the future. Many great masters do not talk about their past until their disciples probe and interview them for their biographies. This contrast starkly with someone who wishes to glorify his past to impress you. Neither are they overly concerned about the future. They do not have that grand plan to expand their congregation aggressively or set Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for you.
Finally, let’s drop this all the way. Delusion also refers to losing touch with basic reality. For example, someone who lives with the delusion that someone is out to harm them or the world or Buddhism. We may think that this is common sense and easy to spot, but time after time, mobs of violent people are created by preachers with such delusion. For example, preaching that another religion or organization is out to harm Buddhists or Buddhism. Or preaching that the LGBTQ is creating bad karma to speed up the end of the world! Do you see the picture of a religious fanatic leading a mob of zealots burning property or engaging in violence?
Therefore, we need to be careful about embracing messages and information from others. We need to determine if that person is delusional. Are his/her teachings sound? Is it beneficial or harmful? Does it create more desire and aversion in us and the world?
May all be well and happy.
I really loved the personal story about the Rinpoche. I had a somewhat similar experience. I didn’t think she was “just” a simple person. I’m a socialist so to me anyone who works is valid. She was also a janitor.
And I kept bumping into her at my college. So one day she says,
“We keep bumping into each other. There must be a reason why. My name is Mery and I’m a Santera,”
I was just starting out on my journey to Santeria. I didn’t know many people. And she turned out to be initiated in the faith since she was a child. She didn’t have some fancy high rank. But her powers are strong.
She’s possessed of an inner sight and wisdom that has saved me on more than one occasion. She helped me when I got messed up in my life. And she has been a wise and loving teacher. We don’t always see eye to eye but my life would be incomplete without her. She’s like another mother.
After meeting her, I pay special attention to anyone that I keep bumping into. Now I know, there’s probably a reason for it. And on more than one occasion I have been proven right.
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Thank you for sharing such a lovely experience
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Thank you for helping me relieve it!