Okay, “Enlightenment or bust” might be a bit dramatic, but…

"Dang Zang" is an empty name. The blog has to do with the dharma; material related to Buddhist teachings (Tibetan style in particular, Kagyu in even more particular), meditation, gurus and lamas be they genuine or flaky, books and events. I do have a more personal blog, Pica Pica, and a site for my work.

Oh yes, it's by Alex Wilding


  • A Brexit puzzle 03/07/2017
    No, not the one about “why did we ever…?” This: Let’s think of an election, perhaps a general election. A vital part of our democratic process, of course. Usually it’s a two-horse race with a few also-rans, so let’s just concentrate on the two main parties, and call them left and right. One side wins, […]
  • Kathmandu trip 30/06/2017
    For the last few weeks I’ve been writing up “what I did on my holidays” in Kathmandu this April. It’s on this site, but not on this blog. You’ll find it at http://alex-wilding.com/the-kathmandu-report/  
  • Untitled 27/02/2017
    https://www.theguardian.com/…/grandmother-deported-from-uk-… How is this fair? How is this not vindictive? How is this not a failure to use discretion? How is this not a failure of compassion? How is this not a failure of common sense? How is this not narrow-minded? How is this not mean-spirited? How is this not pig-headed? Sorry, pigs, it’s just […]
  • Donny, Theresa and the Brexit effect 29/01/2017
    In her attempt to pretend that there is enough other “free trade” out there in the world to compensate for the financial hit to the UK (lower wages and higher prices, to you and me) that Wrexit will cause, we have seen Theresa May cosying up to a variety of questionable characters, most notably the […]
Monday December 21st, 2009. Posted by Alex W:

“Faith Traditions”- what?

Last night a rather worthy – and not entirely unpleasant – TV program dealt with the run-up to Christmas from the point of view of three different “faith traditions”. My question, therefore, is: “what’s one of them?” The fact that the three concerned were Christianity, Judaism, and a very open-minded, friendly version of Islam did not bring me much clarity. I had an uneasy feeling that the term is being used to sweep diverging beliefs into a dark corner where we need not talk about them, as if they were a  mad cousin who has been shipped off to the mental home.

I do, certainly, realise that “faith” should be about something much more than mere “belief”; reducing somebody’s faith to a mere belief, or set of beliefs, might be useful in primary school, but it does not encourage insight into any mature kind of spirituality.

I find, however, it hard to accept that these “faiths” do not also imply certain specific, possibly conflicting, beliefs. What seems to happen in my own mind, and I suspect that this is what the use of the phrase “faith tradition” tends to do, is to reduce “faith” again, but in a different way. Rather than reducing it to a mere set of beliefs, “faith tradition” tends to reduce it to a set of traditional observances. My picture of the follower of a “faith tradition” (and I know I use brackets too often, but I can’t help also but wonder how many people think of themselves in those terms) is of someone who perhaps has some beliefs at the back of their mind, but these beliefs are held for reasons that have as much, or more, to do with tradition as with intellectual rigour. Once the reduction has been done – I would like to say “emasculation”, but I’m not sure if that word still has the right connotations – we can go on to say:

“Look, this lot light candles around Christmas time, that lot light candles to celebrate Hanukkah, and the other lot light candles at the time of Ramadan: ergo it’s all jolly nice and jolly similar and we can all be jolly friendly.”

Well, of course, being jolly friendly to one another would be a wonderful thing, and there ought to be more of it, and I applaud the points the programme was overtly making. Thoroughly. But I can’t help but feel that talk of “faith traditions” is selling real spirituality down the river.

OBC (Obligatory Buddhist Content): many Buddhists light candles at the time of the full moon in May.