I think Kai was referring to how Buddhism was set up, not what its become now.
I think Kai is fully capable of speaking for himself.
How do you think Buddhism was set up?
Did you not note where I said Classical Buddhism? I meant the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama taken in their original contexts, not the esoterica of modern followings, not the reincarnation of Lamas or tantra or even Zen Koans.
Someone smart points to the moon and people look at his finger, and then their own fingers, and then they start killing or discriminating against anyone whos fingers look different. Its the general progression of any philosophical path in history.
Because all I see in buddhism is a bunch of people claiming their sect is the true contextualization of Gotama's teachings.
What makes your claim more valid?
Thats the rub isn't it? I can't really back it up. In fact, it would have been smart of me to never have replied in this thread. However, I also have no plans to go out and start a monestary set up under the true realizations in the original context as I have been personally inspired to see it. Yes, there are filters to the information I can obtain about Gautama's teachings. The Pali cannon, what is considered the oldest lineage of the Dhamma, was remember verbally for centuries before it was written down. By that point, only one monk remembered the whole of the teachings, and he was very arrogant about it. You might say that this is not a good source for a philosophical path, but its the closest thing we have to the original. And even then, you have to study carefully, in context, because who knows who changed what to suit their wants at some time in the past. It it seems off, it might be. Thats why Gautama said you have to test his teachings, find them to be true from experience or discard them. That /really/ doesn't sound like something someone trying to start a religion to get followers would say, "question your faith, and if it seems wrong, don't follow it".
But I guess it must seem impossible to a misanthrope such as your self that someone would ever genuinely want to help people relieve their suffering, find a way to do it, and then share it with people without selfishly expecting a return in goods, services, or simply control/power, right?
I genuinely want to help people, actually, but this doesn't mean what I do will be beneficial. Even Scientologists truly believe they are helping people.
I just don't subscribe to the belief that Gotama's way is the only way to relieve suffering, or the best way for most people. There's certainly something to it, but things such as vegetarianism, devaluing ego, and this fixation on maintaining a neutral affect just don't sit well with me to put it lightly.
I've tested various techniques and philosophies of buddhism and kept what resonates. The rest seems dogmatic, based on tradition and asks for too much faith in a fallible and dead primate. Sure, Gotama was clever and said to test his teachings and reject what doesn't line up with your experience, but that gets such little emphasis and development that it's not considered a core buddhist idea as far as I know.
Thanks for taking the time to share this, though. I'll look into the Pali canon. Are there any authors, historians or scholars that you recommend?
On veganism, I don't believe that Siddhartha said that you /must/ follow it. From what I remember, he said that over time you will find yourself disliking eating meat because you see the suffering it causes, and thus will stop doing so. He never mandated vegetarianism as far as whats in the pali cannon, not even for monks I believe. I don't believe I've ever heard anything about ego devaluing, or maintaining a neutral effect. The teacher I like most is Thich Nhat Hanh, because he tends to cut through the bullshit that has been tacked on. I don't really trust the Dalai Lama because of his ties to the esoterica of tibetan buddhism, which seems to be alot of useless ritual, and that isn't to say that all ritual is useless either. I don't like pure land because it strikes me of being a buddhist version of christianity. I don't like Zen because enlightenment isn't just something that hits you, you have to work at it, and it requires alot of deep looking. I don't like any type of buddhism that demands fealty to its teachings, or puts too much hold in studying esoterica or chanting with gongs or whatev. I don't hold any stock in traditions that don't hold to the base of the noble truths, the eightfold path, and the four establishments of mindfulness. In any type of buddhist community I might pursue being a part of, I would make sure that mindfulness, above all, is the focus. This also tends to be the focus of Nhat Hanh and his teachings have been very useful to me, so I follow them because experience in things working have lead me to believe he's got a pretty good idea of what need doing. He also advocates social action, which is pretty important as well. I have also read a book by Noah Levine, Against the Stream, its a very nice modern approach for younger people. Levine was a punk rocker that came into buddhism after losing his life to violence and drugs and was institutionalized, and then he started meditating and it gave him his life back. Either of those two authors are good because they reject the sectarianism that goes on in buddhism. I believe Nhat Hanh has actually done quite a bit of Christian-Buddhist dialogue, and was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Price by MLK Jr.
So, I suggest Nhat Hanh's Heart of the Buddha's Teachings, and actually, I suggest Anger: Wisdom for cooling the flames, because its a book that really helped me understand how to care for my anger, and the methods are useful for any powerful emotion really. I've read other stuff but I don't find any other teacher nearly as candid, straightforward, or helpful.