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Gay Marriage: Buddha with TMichael

Gay Marriage,  http://conversationswithjesusandbuddha.com/gay-marriage/ ‎
Gay marriage

Conversation with Master Buddha and TMichael: Gay Marriage

TM: I’ve been reading news accounts of the battle between those who favor gay marriage being sanctioned under law and those who oppose it.  Some oppose it on religious grounds and some on biological grounds in that it doesn’t facilitate pro-creation naturally.  What is your view on the religious grounds for or against gay marriage?

Master Buddha:  If a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, there is a probability pregnancy will result, and a second probability that child birth will follow.  This is commonly known and understood in modern society.  That wasn’t always the case—many centuries ago it was a mystery how offspring were conceived by the vast majority of human population.  There arose from the mystery many superstitions around conception and child birth.  Conception and child birth require the engagement of male and female contributing each their part.  This is a biologic fact.  It doesn’t require a social bond to be successful.  As a matter of modern fact, it doesn’t require that they ever physically engage in person (artificial insemination).

TM:  Ok, I’m with you so far.  Creating babies follows sex between a man and a woman, or by artificial means.  A long time ago, and I hope a very long time ago, people didn’t quite make the connection and so developed superstitious beliefs around baby-making.

Master Buddha:  So, by biologic fact a gay male marriage cannot produce offspring between the two partners, but can enlist a female outside the marriage to perform that role.  The same of course then for two female partners.  This means that gay couples are capable of producing offspring by proxy of a third partner if they so desire.  This is the same for heterosexual couples who are unable to conceive a child.  It merely accommodates the biologic fact.

TM:  If it’s a biologic fact, then how does it become a religious issue or even a social concern?

Master Buddha: I’m pulling this apart for you, because it can get very tangled.  At some point in human history there was a shift in social belief that the chief role of marriage between a man and woman was to create offspring.  To ensure that their offspring would not just be running around in reckless abandon they also created social convention around the single-family household and the early beginnings of property rights.  The child belonged to the parents and the household and was subject to their supervision and responsibility, and they together as a household subject to the larger society and community.

TM:  You’re saying it was a social evolution, not a religious one.  Is that correct?

Master Buddha:  It is difficult to separate religion from social, because religion is a social enterprise.  This is why this subject is so impossible for some people to intellectually grasp.  I will continue now to explain.

Religion is a social enterprise, which means that humans have created religions and formed into social sects in order to propagate their religious beliefs and social tenets.

TM:  Hold on a second, almost all religious people will say that religions were created by God, or Gods through prophets or enlightened intermediaries (present company included), and that they are followers of that particular religious teaching.  God laid the foundation and they followed his word to build on it.

Master Buddha:  Please refer to other conversations we’ve had on the subject of truth and how it is convoluted with faith and a state of not knowing everything.  Humans will posit truth on a great many things, but that doesn’t make it true.  It is merely their belief in what is true.  Let’s assume for a moment that religions were founded on direct expression of truth from God or Gods.  Humans, as you suggest, interpret that and build on it to make it a social belief system.  The filter applied is still of human origin, and therefore subject to the ignorance of humanity.

TM:  I don’t mean to stray from our topic, but this seems important to clear up, because so much of what follows is dependent upon this point.  You’re saying that religions are social institutions and are birthed and propagated as social tenets, not the word of God.

Master Buddha:  I don’t wish to belabor the point of origin of religious beliefs, and so for our discussion I said we could assume that religions spring from the word of God or Gods.  Humans the take that word and add to it their interpretations and filter it into social conventions by which they live.  That means that religions become social entities imbued with human constructs of socialized behavior.  May we continue?

TM:  Yes, but maybe we have to come back to this at some point.

Master Buddha:  The great problem for humanity in building laws that govern society is that they cannot separate social convention from religious teachings.  Gay marriage as it relates to law must pass through the filters of social convention, which is conditioned by religious beliefs.  So you can easily see the conundrum.  And this provokes a challenge to the truths held by those who believe that the word of God prohibits such human relations.

For them the syllogism flows like this:
God has said that the purpose of a man|woman relationship is to create babies and form single-family households and rear their offspring.
Gay couples cannot create babies directly.
Therefore, gay marriage is not sanctioned by God, and must be excluded from human options.

For religious believers, denying this logic is tantamount to denying the word of God.  It will then undermine a society based upon the word of God and eventually lead to the ruin of society.  How it reconciles with many other words of God in which it produces conflict and contradiction is inconvenient, but doesn’t cause their belief to waver.  They must default to the only intellectual escape possible, which is that God is mysterious and knows more than humankind, and so it isn’t the place of humanity to question this contradiction.  It is for humanity to follow the things that are clear as well as the things that aren’t without fail.  God will sort it out later.

TM:  Yes, I believe you’ve stated that correctly according to what they believe.  But is that correct?

Master Buddha:  The question is presented incorrectly.  Let me re-frame it.  What is the role of religion for humanity and what is the role of social convention in creating laws that govern human behavior?

TM:  So, you won’t just come right out with an answer to settle the question will you?

Master Buddha:  I’m taking an approach that will help you understand the issue and formulate an answer.  As we have stated previously in these conversations, the role of religion is to represent spiritual theories for individuals to ponder in an effort to expand their imaginations and range of possibilities for living a better life.  Religions form from spiritual ideas and concepts, that in the pure state apply to an individual.  Religions become social institutions because they are comprised of like-minded individuals.  The purpose of which is to share and discuss the spiritual idea and concepts.

Humans have taken religions in this social form and expanded them into governance entities.  Therein lies the problem.  It sets up massive conflicts between different religions and between members of society who subscribe to those different religious beliefs.  The only way for a system of religious-dominant laws to work without constant and violent conflict is too segregate inhabitants by religion and assign each to their own geographic place.  Since that isn’t practical today, you must have a different way.  Democratic societies have created a separation of religion and government.  Ideally, this should work in a pluralistic religious society.  But, it doesn’t work as perfectly as intended, because those who are aligned with religious beliefs that have been interpreted to guide their daily lives in an integrated society, immediately come in conflict with behaviors they find inconsistent with their beliefs.  The resulting dissonance cries for resolution.  They seek to alter laws to remove the dissonance.

TM:  I can see why you’re not so popular with Christians and Muslims.  From what I observe both religious groups would love for everyone to line up with them to rule the world according to their beliefs.  In that scenario they could outlaw all the behaviors inconsistent with their beliefs and presumably find the harmony in governance.

Master Buddha: Well, secretly all religious groups wish for that scenario, but some are more vocal than others.

TM:  Years ago when I visited Nepal and spent some time in Kathmandu, I noticed the incredible non-hostile melding of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.  But back to our topic.  How do we bring this conversation to a conclusion?

Master Buddha:  Gay marriage could only be subject to religious scrutiny within a purely religious context.  Religious context is confined to individuals and their peers for introspection.  Social institutions that are erected for governance must take into consideration that there are many types of life styles and it is the responsibility of government to create laws that promote harmony among the differences while removing violence.  The fact that gays must seek legal sanction within your laws informs us that the separation between government and religion is not yet a reality.

TM:  Will it ever be?

Master Buddha:  It’s possible of course, but only when people representing religions surrender to living peacefully with others with different beliefs and abstain from their agendas of hegemony in thought and behavior.

TM © 2015

Money: Buddha with TMichael

Money, http://conversationswithjesusandbuddha.com/money/ ‎

Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Money

TM: I’ve received quite a few inquiries about money and requests to talk about it.  There has been a great body of writing on this from a spiritual perspective.  What do you say to someone who asks, “What is the proper relationship to money, how much to have, how to use it, how to get it, etc.?”

Master Buddha:  First of all, there isn’t just one way to view this because each person has his or her particular orientation to money given his or her life path.  Anything I say must be understood as general statements and then I can offer examples of individual circumstances to show how some principles may apply.

As viewed from the spiritual perspective, meaning from a non-material realm, money is as worthless as a bicycle would be for travel across an ocean.  It is purely a human creation.  So your question presumes a spiritual oversight that doesn’t exist except in the form of advice and counsel that may be offered from time to time.  That is the spirit in which I present these ideas today.

Let me attempt to simplify the concept of money in relation to a person.  Humans have decided that money shall represent a value of some thing.   Those things may include the physically inanimate object (house, car, etc.), a personal action (one’s labor), a promise for future delivery of value (speculation), restitution for past value (grievances resolved), a gift of love or social obligation, so on and so forth.  The second premise is that the value of money shall equal approximately the value of that thing in the exchange.  Sometimes the values are not equal, and if they are too unequal, then one or the other person feels either elated or cheated.

The third premise created by humans is a system of ethics regarding transactions between one another using money or the thing valued as the currency.  This is a point of departure between the diverse cultures of the world.  The one dominant force has been the Western philosophy governing the use of money.  The ethics of the Western system have varied over the past two hundred years, but for the most part they have represented an idealism that while noble in its aim has not achieved its goal.

TM: So is it possible to answer my questions?

Master Buddha: I’m getting there, but needed to frame my response for clarity.  The proper relationship to money must take on a general perspective representing larger society (we’ll call general ethics) and the particular relationship of an individual to money.  From the general ethics, the idea of freedom to choose one’s occupation and one’s level of income and expense, is I think the best arrangement.  As we have discussed in these conversations there is a point that one must consider that individual freedom intersects with group harmony.  This means that it is necessary for individuals to contribute to the whole in a way that brings harmony to the whole and doesn’t disturb the peace of the many.  This is the greatest insurance for all.  The current system in Western society doesn’t achieve this goal, but with modification it could.

TM: I’m not clear on what you mean.  Are you saying that there needs to be a balance in interest between the range of individual freedom and the needs of the whole population?

Master Buddha: Yes.  For example, in Western society a person is permitted to amass unlimited wealth.  On the other end of the scale a person is permitted to starve to death or die due to exposure to the elements because he cannot afford shelter.  What is preventing Western society from implementing safeguards at the bottom end of the scale?

TM: We don’t allocate budget for it because we’ve determined other things are more important.

Master Buddha: And the contradiction is that your idealism states that you cherish life above all.  Your military runs to all ends of the earth to rescue those in peril.  Your governments send aid to foreign countries in an attempt to prevent starvation and lethal diseases from spreading.  Yet in your own domestic domain you have families living in such poverty that their lives are at risk daily.

TM: It isn’t a perfect system for sure and most Westerners will agree that we can do more to clean up our domestic programs.

Master Buddha: What do you think is stopping you from doing this?

TM: We have an overly complicated and increasingly corrupt political system that can’t philosophically agree on just how much we are our brother’s keeper.

Master Buddha: It is first and foremost the obligation of your governments, using the general treasury, to prevent starvation and health-related problems derived from poverty.  This cannot be left to the generosity and goodwill of individuals.  It must begin with your domestic sphere first.  It is there that you work out the ethics of being your brother’s keeper as you phrased it.  Once you have mastered that step then sharing that wisdom with other cultures is a natural extension.

TM: We have the resources to do what you suggest, but not the collective resolve to do it.

Master Buddha: This is true, but you asked for a perspective on the proper relationship to money.  You will have to work out the politics in order to deliver a just relationship.

TM: Okay then, maybe you can state what a person should be required to do in order to receive assistance that raises his status above poverty.  That’s where we fail; we can’t agree on that.  Some people say we should be self-reliant and others want to give to others with little or no requirements for self-responsibility.  So, what is the answer?

Master Buddha: Ah you see, now you are into the business of designing a society that grapples with such ethical obligations yet stumbles at the final step failing to complete the mission.  If the US government felt the collective will of its citizens favored a system whereby no citizen would be permitted to fall into poverty, could they achieve that?

TM: Yes.

Master Buddha: Then it must be that the collective will of its citizens do not favor such a system.

TM: How many citizens create a collective will?

Master Buddha: Enough that under your political system you could legislate and implement the system.

TM: Then you must be correct.  Sadly it must be true.  But you still haven’t answered my question of self-responsibility.

Master Buddha: Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  Your society has through its own design created an array of citizens from the genius to the infantile.  Your society is responsible on a par level with the individuals that make up society.  It will take many generations of enlightened governance to correct the mistakes and injustices created by past policies and practices.  It will likewise take time for individuals to climb out of their ignorance or unfortunate circumstances due to conditions beyond their control.

Wandering your streets are the insane and the helpless.  They cannot take responsibility for themselves in any way.

You have many people who are indolent and averse to responsibility through personal predilection and familial training.  They will have to be educated on a new understanding of their responsibility.

You have a growing number who have turned to crime and are either incarcerated or among the general population.  They will have to be educated, and until they are they will remain incarcerated because you have no other way to assimilate them.

There are those who through no fault of their own have fallen upon hard times due to major shifts in the economy.  They will need to be retrained in new occupations and helped along the way.

When there are enough enlightened citizens there will be a more enlightened government and they will realize the long-term commitment required to correct your system.  It is a race against the clock.

If you do nothing to correct this situation, because as a society you think it isn’t your responsibility, then you will suffer the consequences of doing nothing.  The consequences will include a greater divide between the economic classes, thus more poverty; less efficacy in minimum education achievement among the lower classes; increased criminal activity; reduction of individual freedoms due to crime prevention measures; compartmentalization of community along class lines further reducing the efficacy of government and the erosion of community infrastructure.  You can probably project from there what will transpire next.

If however, you find the collective will to make a long-term commitment to correction, then you will begin to see minor changes for the good.  It will take patience beyond one, two or three generations.  That is perhaps the greatest challenge for a society that has come to expect immediate gratifications of its goals (even though this hasn’t really been the case).

TM: What can you say to the questions regarding individuals and their relationship to money?  What are some guidelines to follow is really what I’m asking.

Master Buddha: As individuals you must graduate through levels of ethical refinement regarding the role of money in your life.  What is good for one person may not be good or right for another.  For that reason do not be hasty in judging others for their view in earning or handling their money.

As Master Jesus and I have maintained throughout these conversations, release judgment from your view.  Find your relationship to money based upon your path and your understanding and allow others to do the same without inveighing their choices.  When you have come to peace with your relationship to money then you may offer a helping hand to others who may wish to hear from you.

© Zoe 2015