Darwin Today

Posted by Bertrand Russell site

Image: Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors. Darwin considered it “absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist” and, though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he wrote “I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind”. The “Lady Hope Story”, published in 1915, claimed that Darwin had reverted to Christianity on his sickbed. The claims were repudiated by Darwin’s children and have been dismissed as false by historians.—But what is there to revert to, if nothing was left in the first place?

“On most topics the atmosphere of my childhood was liberal; for instance, Darwinism was accepted as a matter of course. I had at one time, when I was thirteen, a very orthodox Swiss tutor, who, in consequence of something I had said, stated with great earnestness: “If you are a Darwinian, I pity you, for one cannot be Darwinian and Christian at the same time.” I did not believe in the incompatibility, but I was already clear that if I had to choose, I would choose Darwin.” — Bertrand Russell, My Religious Reminiscences (1938), p. 4

Is there a child in most countries who has not heard of Darwin? Of what he represents? I had thought when I was younger and still a fledgling of naivete, that the Scopes (monkey) trial had settled the issue. The Bible, as a literal instruction book of humanity and history was proven incorrect. But in the battle of science vs Christianity, the veracity of science lost. Even then. Even then, at the end of the trial when science “won” the battle, science lost in the schools. It still could not be taught. Imagine that.

And we wonder how we got to today. It became then and still is today in many places, a matter of faith. Imagine that. Do you believe in God and Christianity (the Bible), or do you believe in Science? Good God almighty!

I am reminded of a conversation an interviewer had with the Dali Lama. Within it was noted that the tenets of Buddhism adhered to the principles of science. Buddhism had, in fact, arrived at some conclusions prior to the postulates of science. The Dali Lama agreed. He was then asked what would happen should there be a difference, an actual disagreement between science and Buddhism. Where the proofs were indisputable for science. The Dali Lama smiled and said, “Well then, we would have to correct the Dharma, wouldn’t we.” Change the Dharma. Imagine that.

And so we sigh, and picture the mice again chiming in at the bottom of the page, “The wayyyyyyyyy things are,” in their squeaky, high-pitched little voices.


So many thoughts, so little time. So for just now, and a catch-up later, here’s a thought to tide us over once more.

“There is a misconception that Buddhism is a religion, and that you worship Buddha. Buddhism is a practice, like yoga. You can be a Christian and practice Buddhism. I met a Catholic priest who lives in a Buddhist monastery in France. He told me that Buddhism makes him a better Christian. I love that.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Robert Thurman

Here we have Robert Thurman—as posted in Tricycle magazine and shown on Facebook with today’s news feed. Thurman is pretty much a mainstay in contemporary Buddhism in the U.S. What many people don’t know however, is that Uma Thurman is his daughter. Yes, the movie star. Once knowing that, I’ve been unable to see or read anything about Uma without thinking of her dad. Pretty sneaky way of keeping Buddhism in your mind, I’d say. (By-the-way, Uma is the name of a goddess.)

“I am insisting that Buddhism be taken seriously as a knowledge system. The arrogance of Western materialist scientists, that they understand the world and know how to fix it, is ridiculous because they are destroying it, not fixing it.” —Robert A.F. Thurman

Robert Thurman in Ubud, Bali. Photo by Christopher Michel

I met Thurman in Shaker Heights before I went to Colorado, some time back. The above photo does him no justice—he is a handsome and charismatic man. I doubt seriously that he has lost all of his characteristics with time. He has an edge. A twinkle in his eye. And a deep husky voice that speaks with great enthusiasm on the topic at hand—usually Buddhism.

He was the first American to ordain as a Tibetan Buddhist monk before returning to lay life to become Columbia University’s Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, the co-founder and president of the nonprofit Tibet House US, the president of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, and a prolific author and translator. Did I also mention that he has great stamina? You can feel the energy emanating from him.

And he is quite a character. His original house (if it is still standing) is a hodgepodge of thoughts as they ran through his mind, and some that fell though the cracks. Robert’s design and build has leaked from time to time, had parts of rooms fly off in a storm, and a whole section of roof implode. It doesn’t seem to bother him much, he just carries on.

Thurman House in Woodstock, NY—Irish Times

The NY Times published an article in 2017 titled 50 Years of Marriage and Mindfulness With Nena and Robert Thurman. Nena is of course Robert’s wife. Much more can be said of the Thurmans and many articles have tried to capture it all. It will take many more.

Tao & Zen

taoZenTao & Zen

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”   ~Pema Chödrön

Buddhism has made such a smash into the daily lives of Americans. What was once a trickle of small proportions—Beats, aesthetes, and the curious, has become common place. Of course there are always those who feel threatened or diminished by what others do. Or feel that there is a pagan ritual involved with having a statue of the Buddha in a home.
Religion or philosophy, belief or practice, Buddhism is what you make it.
And no, the Buddha was not a god, nor did he claim to be one. And no, a statue of the Buddha in my home does not mean that I worship at the altar or an icon. And yes, one can be a Christian and still practice Buddhism.
Namaste, Pax, and Peace

5 Practices for Nurturing Happiness

tnh-lionsroarBy Thich Nhat Hanh, http://www.lionsroar.com        February 23rd, 2017

Most everyone has heard of TNH. He continues to be an inspiration and guide for Practice. This is an interesting article on Lion’s Roar. Posted on Facebook. And all of us, admitted or not, seek happiness for ourselves. Maybe even those we love.