I think that people are simply used to that. And if a person comes from one type of background where things are structured that way, then they often want to see that structure replicated some how. That is demanded by people in order to validate its legitimacy. I don't think this has ever changed.catmoon wrote:
I agree that dogma shouldn't be mandatory, but I dont think one need look far to find organizations that are trying very hard indeed to make one dogma or another mandatory. It wasn't that long ago that we had a thread right here that was trying to establish a sort of Buddhist creed.
As Buddhist traditions have evolved around the world over the centuries, they have taken on many of the characteristics of the local cultures where they have flourished. I don't mean the style of decoration or language specifically, but that the teachings are preserved in ways of understanding that people are used to, and that they use in order to understand to their satisfaction.
So, you know, you take very profound teachings to Tibet, for example, talking about the nature of the mind and so forth, and it's like, "Can you phrase that concept as some sort of ferocious-looking monster?" Or, you look at the development of Buddhism in China, which is so fundamentally rooted in a Confucian context that really permeates everything, and you see Dharma teachings take on some of that, with the different levels of heaven and earth and hell all being very well defined.
And so now, in the western scientific world it is the same thing. We demand that Dharma and the institution of Buddhism be logical, rational, and as scientifically valid as possible. At the same time, Buddhism replicates the western European tradition and the American tradition as well. Sometimes it has to. Dharma centers often have their meditation times on Sundays, Sunday mornings, because of the Christian tradition, that is the time almost everybody has off. We also use the Buddhist centers as gathering places, as places to hold memorials, have food pantry drop-offs, even 12-step programs and so on, because we demand that Buddhism as an institution meet some criteria, of being connected to social concerns or whatever. people even see buddhism as a kind of psychological self-help program. If that is what people want from it, then that is the form it often takes. That is how dogma occurs.
So, it is only natural that people are going to come up and say "Isn't Buddhism just like God" and stuff like that all the time, because that is simply their reference point. They have an abstract concept of the oneness of everything, and they stick the tag "god" onto it, because they grew up with that tag stuck on it, and Buddhist talks about no self-no other and things like that, and they see it as being the same thing, even though the concept of an Abrahamic creator-God is not workable in BuddhaDharma. It doesn't fit the equation.
And so Dogma creeps in over time. But it doesn't diminish the teachings, because the teachings are not about dogma. They are about introspection into wisdom and the generation of mindfulness and compassion, and the practice of the teachings is the same as it always was. And the practice is not based on blind faith, but on one's own honest experience.