Nasty Buddhists

As you can tell by my recent posts, I have been exploring Buddhist sites.  During my visits to these sites I have run into several very nasty Buddhists.   All you need to do is question their particular dharma and their hard-earned equanimity evaporates.  The irony is that these Buddhists present themselves as accomplished practitioners.  Likewise, when I was spending more time on Christian sites I found several really angry, nasty Christians.  Question their holy doctrines and they strike out without a thought of turning the other cheek.

Sure, I get that you can’t judge a belief system by a few of its believers, but the irony still amazes me.  After all, their sites are supposedly all about preaching the virtues of their religion but virtue is not something they demonstrate well.

Similarly, while atheists are suppose to be the nastiest and meanest of people, I have found several that are utterly delightful.  Just goes to show, you can’t just a person by their stereotypes.

Questions for Readers:

  1. What traits do you find “nasty” in religious bloggers?
  2. Should we expect more out of people who advertise the virtues of their faith?
  3. Should we bother to try and learn from nasty folks?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

39 responses to “Nasty Buddhists

  1. Hi Sabio, I’m wondering if you can give some indication or examples of what you mean by nasty Buddhists? I would imagine the type of nastiness you might encounter from Buddhists would generally be different to the type you might get from say Christians — but I could be wrong.

  2. @ Michael : Many Buddhists, like Christians, feel their form of Buddhism is the “true” Buddhism. When confronted on this, they can anger. Many Buddhists want to think that there are universals in Buddhism that all Buddhism share and thus their is a universal Sangha. Challenge this and their bliss bursts.

    Question reincarnation and anger can flare. Doubt the jargon of their sect and one can be called names. Compare aspects of their faith to other religions and real ire is stirred.

    Does that give you an idea?
    What is your experience?
    Thanks for asking. (BTW, I up-dated the post a bit.)

  3. Ian

    Yes, I agree, but I’ve not found any group particularly better than others. This week I got called a pedophile-enabler in a profanity filled rant by an atheist on an atheist blog for suggesting that there are no moral absolutes.

  4. Similarly, while atheists are suppose to be the nastiest and meanest of people, I have found several that are utterly delightful.

    Very funny Sabio!

    1.What traits do you find “nasty” in religious bloggers?
    Being judgemental, self-righteousness.
    2. Should we expect more out of people who advertise the virtues of their faith?
    Yes, if their claim to the veracity of their faith is their virtue.
    3. Should we bother to try and learn from nasty folks?
    We probably should, but I find that I can’t.

  5. I have run across this myself, on Buddhist blogs and on my own, which is not Buddhist, but Buddhist has some themes.

    I understand devoting oneself to a system of thought that seems and feels true… but when the result is: separation, emotional distress, argument with other human beings who don’t agree, an entire world of right and wrong, good and bad…. that’s when, for me, it’s time to question the usefulness of the whole thing!

  6. @ Ian & atimetorend : actually you two are some of the nicest atheists I have met. There may be hope for you atheists.

  7. @ alywaibel : indeed !

  8. I think there might be a disconnect, that just because someone is Buddhist doesn’t mean they are something other than human beings. Humans have emotions, some of them are nasty. Hell, I’ve been nasty to bigots, cult leaders and sexual predators on my blog, doesn’t mean I don’t take my path seriously. There maybe a further misconception that Buddhism is all hugs and kisses, rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, ya have to stand up for yourself and others, and sometimes that means getting a bit pissy. Maybe not the best way, but certainly isn’t “un-Buddhist” You’ll find assholes in any category of people, and I’ve been as asshole a time or two, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    What I am curious about is the perceived “irony of virtue.” Do you have a preconceived idea or expectation of how a Buddhist should act or be? What advertised virtues do you attribute Buddhists on-line to act with accordingly?

  9. I’ve found that, generally speaking, I get from people what I give them. If they’re nasty at me, it generally means I’ve been nasty with them.

    You have now encountered a pattern of people being nasty at you. Has it occurred to you that you may have done something to provoke that nastiness?

    Don’t you think it’s a curious coincidence that the ‘nice’ people you’ve met happen to be the ones sharing your ideology?

    Are you really as good as getting along with people who don’t as you like to think you are?

  10. @ Kyle :
    I agree. Firmness is definitely essential at times. It is not that sort of nastiness I am talking about. You are also right that “misconceptions of hugs and kisses” can feed images — again, not what I have, nor what I am talking about.
    For an idea of what I am talking about, consider the 8-fold Path: right action, right speech … That is what I am talking about. The list of ethics on speech, for instance, is long and specific.
    But again, I am really just talking about nastiness which is uncalled for. We all do it.

    @ Petteri
    (1) Indeed, our own behavior can come back at us.
    (2) The “nice” people of my own “ideology” (the atheists) was a joke. I find nice folks among Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Atheists and many more.
    (3) You gave a very good defense of nastiness.

  11. geoih

    I think there is a tendancy for people to be inconsiderate or dismissive of other’s opinions and positions whenever they feel their own opinion/position is the moral or ethical one, and they’ve collectivised this position across a group to make it political. You can see this in many secular issues (e.g., nationalism, environmentalism, progressivism, conservativism, etc.).

    It’s like a reversed golden rule. Since I would be a buddist, I will have everybody else be a buddist (buddism simply being the example here).

  12. @ geoih :
    I think you are spot on. Feeling that one’s opinion is right brings a natural defensiveness, but add to that the feeling that it is “MORALLY” correct brings a whole new level of dismissivenes.

    Religion, having a huge moral component, does this and has tool to reinforce this devotion and conservative perseverance. You are right, politics does this too.

    However, when people have opinions about how to build the best computer program or car (all of which are easily testable and non-moral), they are more willing to entertain other ideas.

  13. @Sabio – I just posted the rest of that SGI guys emails, if you want to see more ugly anger by a Buddhist.

  14. @ Kyle
    Thanks, I linked your e-mail. BTW, I have had 10 years of very personal experiences with SGI in the past. Here is one of my posts about showing one glimpse. I should write more so I can get all the hate mail you get — I am so jealous. Atheists get it by attacking fundamental Christians but I tend to leave them alone because I can not see that I could possible affect them — I feel no Yuan.

    Meanwhile, for readers: “SGI” = Soka Gakkai International”, an evangelical and political sect of yet a different flavor of Buddhism.

  15. “What traits do you find “nasty” in religious bloggers?”

    A general unwillingness to address, embrace or at least recognize any process of change. Personal or macro/historical. And other things too.

    “Should we expect more out of people who advertise the virtues of their faith?”

    Yes, if…
    No, but…

    Prescriptionist “should” language is difficult to process properly without descriptive information relevant to the situation and the severity of inflammation…

    “Should we bother to try and learn from nasty folks?”

    A local Kadampa monk in a workshop said he tries to look forward to those moments when someone is nasty. He tried to describe it in a bit of role-playing, narrating his thought-process: “Oh goody! This person will really test me and my happiness, and really wake me up. I should be very happy for this opportunity!”

    (Maybe you had to be there, but the delivery combination of monk’s robes, French-Canadian accent, and head-bobbing cemented the curious lesson in my memory…)

  16. As far as I understand it, the fundamental teaching of Buddhism is freedom from dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction comes from attachment – attachment to Buddhist ideas included…

  17. LOL You know I realized I never answered your questions. Sorry if I came off s defensive before, but there ya go.

    1. What traits do you find “nasty” in religious bloggers?

    Superiority complex with a decidedly, almost text book definition of a borderline personality disorder. hehe Funny video about it

    2. Should we expect more out of people who advertise the virtues of their faith?

    More kindness and understanding? Or more of the virtues that they talk so highly of? Personally, I try to avoid expectations from others, however, no I don’t think so.

    3. Should we bother to try and learn from nasty folks?

    Yes. Sometimes our best teachers are our worst critics or difficult personalities. But sometimes banging head against a wall, not much you can learn. We get stuck in the intellectual impasse of disagreements and definitions.

  18. My theory is that the Western converts to Buddhism are usually more likely to be nasty than are the people who grew up Buddhist in Asia. For people who grew up in Buddhist traditions, it’s just part of their life and their culture. While for Westerners, it’s often a matter of an identity that they’re trying to project by their affiliation with the belief system. “Wearing clothes” and all that.

    As a signalling mechanism, affiliating with Buddhism signals certain things about you, and the things it signals are often appealing to people who are tired of being accused of tendentiousness and “holier-than-thou” behavior.

    Of course the generalization doesn’t hold true for everyone, or even for most people, but I’ve definitely noticed it about some Buddhist converts.

    To #3, I say “yes”. Nasty folks don’t bother me that much; sometimes they make you think. I prefer “nasty” to “stupid” or “dishonest”.

  19. All cool responses ! Thanx

  20. @ JS Allen :
    I like that analysis about Westerners using the Buddhism as identity (‘clothing’) and tend to agree it holds true in many cases.

  21. i think we all can be nasty in some form or another. some are just more apt to it than others.

  22. “Sure, I get that you can’t judge a belief system by a few of its believers, but the irony still amazes me.”

    Google Sturgeon’s Law. The principle applies.

  23. @ Zero :
    Yes, we can all be nasty but when it is covered in sanctity, it is rightfully more distasteful.

    @ Jimbo :
    Wiki tells me Sturgeon had two commonly quoted “laws”. You’d have to spell out your meaning.

  24. 90% of everything is crap.

    This specifically includes (in my meaning, not necessarily anything specifically Sturgeon said) the followers (and the clergy!) of any given religion.

  25. @ Jimbo
    Ah, our experience differ, I guess. Most (90%) of my Christian friends and acquaintences I would not describe as crap (indeed a small percent I may, but that percent is probably no different than the atheist crowd who I might not think well of).
    Many of the clergy I know are fine folks. I may disagree with them, but most are great folks who I’d love for neighbors. And though I may agree with many atheists, I disagree with many on a lot of issues and by no means would want all of them as neighbors.
    But maybe I am misunderstanding you.
    I don’t find morality tracking religious conviction very well — good folks are good folks.

  26. Presumably, you aren’t befriending – or even associating very closely with – the hateful and intolerant variety of Christian (or atheist, or agnostic, or Buddhist, or what have you).

    Also, “crap” (or even Sturgeon’s original “crud”) is a pretty loaded way to state the concept. For my own purposes, I’d substitute the phrase “deeply flawed”.

    Very few Christians genuinely do turn the other cheek, judge not lest they be judged, etc. Very few Buddhists genuinely do see rather than looking, eschew pleasure in favor of joy, etc. It doesn’t make either Christians or Buddhists bad per se, it just reflects the fact that 90% of everything – and here I will rephrase once more – doesn’t live up to the promises in the marketing brochure.

    This probably sounds a hell of a lot more negative than I actually feel. (But hey, the way that can be described in words is not the true way, you know?)

  27. @ Jimbo
    I get what you mean now. There is a large part of what you said in this rephrasing that I agree with.

  28. Do not argue about this issue. The nasty come along with their most followers. Let’s learn from their TRUE wisdom (buddhism, christianism, catholicism, islam, atheism, etc) in our heart. Not from books, blogs or websites!

    As buddha says, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if i have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” (Kalama Sutta)

  29. Raimundo D'suza

    I am one of the nastiest Buddhists and never claim to be a good Buddhist because I know Buddha’s teachings are excellent. I remember Hitler who was a vegetarian. Atheists individually seem nicest persons in the world but their attitude towards others are like barking dogs! Discourse is good but debate is not always good. If you stop blaming others, many of us will come to discuss. Buddhists like discussion but not intellectual masturbation!

  30. Hmmm, Raimundo, you just called me a barking dog, intellectual masturbator, and a blamer.

    You’ll find that actually interacting with a post, you may invite dialogue.

  31. Raimundo D'suza

    Great! What do you want to discuss? How and from where to start? Again, I should like to remind you, please no negative words for others. Just discuss about Dharma or Law of Nature so that we can share knowledge. Since Dharma contains so many good things I accept it. Being a honest and secular truth seeker, I am free from all the bondage. I think Buddha has taught same thing. In the place where we differ we will still respect each others. Because, non of us is perfect yet.

  32. @ Raimundo,

    If you want to discuss, then you may visit any of my posts and discuss.


    (1) This is my site. You can’t warn me. This is my home. Follow the rules or at best I will ignore you. But I may need to warn, delete or spam people to who don’t follow my policies — see my Policy tab.

    (2) Discuss and interact with the posts. You have not even done that here yet. You are just ranting. Going to a post just to rant without intelligently interacting will only be tolerated for a short time.

    (3) I will criticize the Dharma, Christianity, Atheism, believers, Skeptics, myself or anything or anyone I wish — you will see that I try not to attack specific people. But I will continue to negatively criticize ideas, teachings, philosophies and more. If you don’t like it, don’t read my blog. We will get nowhere on my blog if you don’t offer substantial criticisms. Make your own blog if you just want to write warm-fuzzy thoughts about Buddhism or any ideology.

    (4) Your comments have made several attacks on me personally. If you continue this, I will spam you.

    You have been warned. Discuss, but only if you can behave in my house — otherwise, leave and set up your own blog.

  33. TWF

    D’suza is amusing…

    In answer to a couple of your questions Sabio:

    2) Yes and no. I don’t think you could expect perfect adherence, but I think you can get a sense of the type of belief they actually have by the magnitude of their reaction to challenges. Hyper-strong reactions may indicate a belief that is more of an identity than a faith, where challenges are deeply personal attacks. Moderately-strong reactions, or more mild, which give way to metered responses is what I think would could reasonably expect from those who expound on peaceful virtues of their religion and truly take their faith to heart.

    3) Yes and no, again. Yes, in that their hypersensitivity can be useful for you in learning how to communicate in ways which do not trigger defensiveness. Other than that, I don’t see how direct interaction with them is helpful. Reading their words or listening to them may possibly provide insight, but dialog is a no no.

    At least that’s how I see it. 🙂

  34. Raimundo D'suza

    • Yes, I know this is your home and mouth, but if you insult others you will be certainly slapped in your own home. Who is worst, you or me? You have insulted entire Buddhists in public domain for some bloggers personal misbehave! In fact, I do not think it was really misbehave. [censored for vulgarity] None, at least no Buddhist attacks others unnecessarily. If I am right, once you were a Buddhist and studied Buddhism for a while, in between you were infected by atheist rabies, and went to bite each and every Buddhist bloggers. When they slapped you, you called them Nasty Buddhists, which was not simply personal attack but an insulting of entire Buddhists, because the title “Nasty Buddhists” does not convey just “Nasty Buddhist Bloggers”!
    • Buddhism was originated in India not in Rome or Greece. India is a fertile place of all sort of philosophies, religions, ideas …where they criticized each others, and still respect each other and co-exist. Academically, even today, we confront criticisms of Buddhism from insiders and outsiders. We take criticism as a tool of self-correction. By the way, none is by birth a Buddhist (if someone claims so s/he is ignorant); many of us have tried to understand other schools of thought before accepting Dharma. Our faith is not just a faith but has developed from the understanding of own life, and we also do believe that perspective varies. We understand that we are different from others in many angles of epistemology and ontology. However, in your case, we take your criticism as wild, not to criticize but to throw into dustbin.
    • [censored for vulgarity] I do not like to set up so called OWN blog to accumulate cheap popularity!
    • This is what, I am talking, if you do not understand and like Dharma, just give up, go along with your own path but do not misrepresent Dharma at least if you are true scholar. Let people decide to choose own path. Even if any (so-called) Buddhist does like this it should be taken as an offence.
    • So far it is question of spamming my post, it is nothing new idea. It is human behavior, idiots and injustice peoples like clapping for them but hooting for others!

  35. Raimundo D'suza

    To WTF,
    I did not understand your Upanishadic writing. But I should say Dialogue is possible only with scholars where they want to understand others perspectives. This blogger claims that he has studied Buddhism almost for one decade! What did he study at that period? Buddha clearly says if his teachings are not suitable for you, just reject them but do not try to distort. If he felt that Buddhism was not good for him, then why to make fun with those bloggers? It’s obvious that his intension was just to mock upon Buddhism and Buddhists.
    Yes, identity is very sensitive today, and because of disturbance in identity peace has collapsed.

  36. @ Raimundo

    (1) I don’t think I have insulted “entire Buddhists in public domain”. I try to be very careful to always use qualifying words like “some”, “a few” and never “all”. Please understand that if I accuse some, I am not accusing all. If you think there is a sentence where I insult “all Buddhists”, then be specific

    (2) I do not think I misrepresent any Dharma. There are many different forms of Buddhism, as you say. If I criticize any of them, it does not mean I misrepresent them. If you think I misrepresent them, be specific.

    Again, I remind you — watch the language and expressions. And be specific if you want productive dialogue.

  37. Raimundo D'suza

    • Come on, you are not so innocent that you pretend to be. Reread the title and wide your eyes to see the cartoon. Think for a minute. The cartoon is more offensive than your title. Perhaps, you have your own meaning, but it also conveys the meaning that Maitrya Buddha is in reality not a laughing and compassionate Buddha but angry and terrorist Buddha.
    • Well, what is the hidden aim of your “Rape and Reincarnation”? Go to the related page to see my comment.

  38. The cartoon is meant to be provocative. It is not a generalization. People who are up-tight about their favorite images need to lighten up.

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