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Author Topic: Did Jesus actually exist?  (Read 7513 times)

Morag

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #60 on: October 06, 2014, 08:06:01 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;161321
You know what? Fuck it. I give up. I'm tired of being at the bottom of this dog pile.

I find it ironic that a forum with so many members devoted to social justice would get its panties in a bunch when a Buddhist practitioner comes on and tries to define what her religion means.

 
...are you kidding me right now?

a) I never tried to define what your religion means. Maybe you should reread the many times I repeated my point.

Quote from: Morag;161149
"Buddhism is a religion" is hand-wavy, and inaccurate. There are many types of Buddhism; some fall more squarely in the "religion" category, some don't -- and of course, individual adherents are going to have different opinions about it as a whole, and not just regarding their own personal practices.

My mother, who's been Buddhist for several decades now, does not consider it a religion. She is also of one of the branches that leans more towards "areligious". I was raised with those areligious Buddhist practices. While I sort of consider the Buddhist elements of my current practice to be part of my religion, it does not have the same feeling as the rest of my faith does, and if asked, I would say that Buddhism is not a religion.

It's actually more accurate to say "Buddhism isn't a religion" because there are so many flavours of it. It's not a monolith. Stating that it IS a religion as if every single branch or adherent falls squarely into "religion/religious" territory is inaccurate, dismissive, and erasive.

 
Quote from: Morag;161171
Ok, so, to repeat myself:

Buddhism is an umbrella term for many different denominations that share some core characteristics and a name. Not all of these denominations fall squarely into the "this is a religion" category, and not all practitioners consider Buddhism (as a whole) a religion. Therefore, to say "Buddhism is a religion" erases those practitioners.

To say "Buddhism is not a religion" does not actually preclude the possibility of various denominations or practitioners being religious -- it just includes the areligious ones. You can say "Buddhism is not a religion, but my religion is Buddhism." That would be wholly accurate. Or you could say, "To many, Buddhism is considered a religion." Or "Many people practice Buddhism as a religion."

There are a lot of options, here, that don't erase the existence of certain Buddhists.

 
Quote from: Morag;161317
It's when people call non-religious Buddhists "jackwads" that I have a problem, for the record.

Also you seem to be continually misunderstanding what I mean when I say "Buddhism is not a religion" is more accurate than "Buddhism is a religion." Put the emphasis on the "a". Buddhism is not a religion -- it's an umbrella term for many traditions that share a name, core characteristics, and many similar beliefs. Many of these traditions fall squarely into "religion" and some do not. It is not A religion, singular, by default; it is many religions, and some non-religions, all with a common source and many shared characteristics.

As well, saying it's not a religion was NEVER said with ANY scorn or derision. So it'd be nice if you stopped asserting that it was, and assigning motives where there were none. Saying something is not a religion is not a way for me to denigrate it in any way, nor denigrate those practices of it which are religious.


b) "panties in a bunch"? Really? So...it's okay for you to use sexist language when shaming us for not being proper social justice warriors according to your (unknown) standards? How, exactly, does that work?
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Redfaery

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #61 on: October 06, 2014, 08:08:23 am »
Quote from: Morag;161324
Actually, yes. Much like Buddhism, Christianity is an umbrella term that refers to many religions with a common source and many similar core characteristics. Most of them share a similar name, too.

For example, the religion of the Unity Church I attended for several years is so different from the Christianity my mom was raised with they are basically completely different religions. And they are both completely different from the Christianity my fiancé's grandfather was a minister in.

That said, I'm not sure if there are non-religious traditions in Christianity as there are in Buddhism, so I'm not sure if "It's not a religion" is more accurate than "It is a religion." In both cases, more words are probably better, and there's nuance. It's not a black and white thing.

Here's the thing though: the assertion that "Christianity is a religion" is invariably NOT challenged in the same way that the same simple assertion "Buddhism is a religion" so often IS.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

stephyjh

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #62 on: October 06, 2014, 08:15:45 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;161332
Here's the thing though: the assertion that "Christianity is a religion" is invariably NOT challenged in the same way that the same simple assertion "Buddhism is a religion" so often IS.

 
I'm sorry you've gotten piled on over this. I mean, we've had so many conversations and confrontations on the board over the past few months about how multiple people weren't going to jump on one person over a point they disagree with that I've been really disappointed and dismayed to see the direction this thread has gone. Do I think your original statement could have been made in a better way? Probably. But I am appalled at the way you've been tag-teamed here, and very disappointed in the people doing it.
A heretic blast has been blown in the west,
That what is no sense must be nonsense.

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savveir

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #63 on: October 06, 2014, 08:17:49 am »
Quote from: stephyjh;161338
I'm sorry you've gotten piled on over this. I mean, we've had so many conversations and confrontations on the board over the past few months about how multiple people weren't going to jump on one person over a point they disagree with that I've been really disappointed and dismayed to see the direction this thread has gone. Do I think your original statement could have been made in a better way? Probably. But I am appalled at the way you've been tag-teamed here, and very disappointed in the people doing it.

 
I'm not seeing the dog pilling? I was asking for clarification in good faith before, I think that most other people were talking in good faith also. I'm very confused.
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stephyjh

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #64 on: October 06, 2014, 08:21:45 am »
Quote from: savvy;161341
I'm not seeing the dog pilling? I was asking for clarification in good faith before, I think that most other people were talking in good faith also. I'm very confused.

 
I can see where you were coming at it in good faith. But those who  were telling Anne that she's not acting in accordance with her religion by being frustrated or by holding an opinion they don't like or expressing it in ways they don't appreciate (and there were at least three people doing so)...I have a hard time assuming good faith there. Looked an awful lot like dogpiling to me. Especially when she tried to apologize for getting emotional about it and people kept on doing the Cauldron Smash on her.
A heretic blast has been blown in the west,
That what is no sense must be nonsense.

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savveir

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #65 on: October 06, 2014, 08:29:55 am »
Quote from: stephyjh;161343
I can see where you were coming at it in good faith. But those who  were telling Anne that she's not acting in accordance with her religion by being frustrated or by holding an opinion they don't like or expressing it in ways they don't appreciate (and there were at least three people doing so)...I have a hard time assuming good faith there. Looked an awful lot like dogpiling to me. Especially when she tried to apologize for getting emotional about it and people kept on doing the Cauldron Smash on her.

 
huh, I saw one post about saying that it's not acting in accordance with religion, aside from that I'm really not seeing it. However, I could well be missing it, so it should probably be reported if you feel, or more importantly if RedFaery feels they're being dog piled.
Part of my confusion is that RedFaery, rather aggressively I might add, said they were being dog piled in response to my post. Given they then apologised I am not sure if they feel this way still? It's late, I'm easily confused.

RedFaery, if you're feeling dog piled, I'm pretty sure you can tell a mod, they're here to help :)

Overall, much of this seems to be about terminology, bad word choices, and things getting heated on both sides at times.
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Redfaery

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #66 on: October 06, 2014, 08:53:41 am »
Quote from: savvy;161351
huh, I saw one post about saying that it's not acting in accordance with religion, aside from that I'm really not seeing it. However, I could well be missing it, so it should probably be reported if you feel, or more importantly if RedFaery feels they're being dog piled.
Part of my confusion is that RedFaery, rather aggressively I might add, said they were being dog piled in response to my post. Given they then apologised I am not sure if they feel this way still? It's late, I'm easily confused.

RedFaery, if you're feeling dog piled, I'm pretty sure you can tell a mod, they're here to help :)

Overall, much of this seems to be about terminology, bad word choices, and things getting heated on both sides at times.
I feel *very* dogpiled, and I think the reasons why should be clear. I have been trying to defend a simple assertion about MY OWN RELIGION against 4 other individuals. I have apologized for my tone and repeatedly clarified my statements. Yet I am still being told that I'm the one who's acting problematically.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

HeartShadow

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #67 on: October 06, 2014, 09:16:34 am »
[mod=Cool Down, Please]Everyone,

The thread's getting a little heated.  If you find  yourself getting too frustrated, please consider taking a break from the  conversation to cool down--or even dropping the subject entirely, if  necessary.  If one particular poster is getting on your nerves, you may  also want to consider putting them on Ignore (provided they aren't  staff).  We don't object to heated discussion here, of course, but at a  certain point it becomes unproductive.  Please remember that we're here  to discuss issues, not personalities.  If you can't do that--take a  break.

Thanks.[/mod]

Viv

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #68 on: October 06, 2014, 06:26:47 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

Getting back to the OP. I believe he existed as a person. I remember my dad telling me that the roman senator Tacitus wrote about him. Here's Wikipedia info, I'm sure there is more reliable info out there but I'm lacking spoons to do any further searching right now: Tacitus on Christ

If someone else has already mentioned Tacitus, I am sorry for the repeat. I tried to read the whole thread thoroughly but may have missed something in my haste.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 06:30:28 pm by Viv »
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Sol Invictus

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #69 on: October 07, 2014, 05:13:37 pm »
Quote from: PrincessKLS;160698
Okay I do consider myself at least part Christian and I respect Jesus Christ but I've came across some sources on the net that have argued that he didn't actually exist and there's little historical evidence of it. I've also heard arguments out there that supposedly there's more sources other than the New Testament that prove he was a historical figure. One source I looked up even said, he was basically an inspiration based off of earlier gods such as Mithras.

So what is the truth?

 
I am not a Christian in any way but I have learned a lot about antiquity, history of Ancient Greece, Rome, Israel, etc. I have read all the 4 Gospels and many books of the bible. I have also read a lot of Suetonius's "The Twelve Caesars" and a little of Tacitus.

Anyways, I believe there is good reason to believe he did in fact exist. There is an argument that during the time of his preaching, the Romans made no mention of him or his crucifixion. But this is not so strong an argument. This argument says that the Romans were very keen on keeping written records of everything, especially disruption in foreign provinces.

But Judea was the most rebellious of all the Roman provinces. Rebellions and riots were so common, that many Jews were crucified or executed for treason against Rome. The radicals known as the Zealots were a faction of the Jews which were attempting to overthrow Roman rule of Israel. They committed many murders, assassinations and other treasonous acts. Thus the amount of Jews that were executed in this time period was phenomenal. The Romans could not keep records of every single Jewish Prophet they had to execute for treason.

The Bible states that Jesus began his ministry in the fifteenth year or reign of Tiberius Caesar, approximately 29 AD. At this time Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. He was also the one that held the trial of Jesus before the Pharisees and condemned to death. But he did not want to kill Jesus because he feared that if doing so, his followers would start another rebellion and Tiberius would have his head.

Fast forward after Jesus was crucified, and there comes evidence of him a little later by the very existence of his followers. Nero Caesar, Romes fifth emperor, was known to be the first persecutor of Christians. At this time Christianity was still recognized as a Jewish sect, and viewed in the same perspective on Jews by the Romans, which was very, well, bad. Romans hated Jews and Christians because they refused to worship or honor Roman Gods, refused to allow statues of ROmans in their temples, and they considered themselves to be the chosen people of the world. They were all seen as rebels and vermin, unworthy of the gift of Roman Civilization. Nero was an especially cruel Emperor and was said to use Christians as torches for his gardens at night, the Christians bound to large wooden bonfires and burned alive for is pleasure.

Under Nero, the Great Fire of Rome happened in 64 AD. Different theories of how started are held, Suetonius saying Nero started the fire himself for his own amusement. Others say he tried the best he could to save people, but nonetheless most of the City was destroyed. After the Fire, Nero blamed the starting of it on the Christians which really began the prosecutions. They were used as scapegoats because of their rebellious tendencies. During this prosecution after the fire, this is supposed to be the time when Saint Peter and Saint Paul were executed for treason, Peter being crucified upside down and Paul beheaded (Saint Paul was spared from crucifixion because he was a Roman Citizen)

There is no dispute about the existence of Saint Peter or Paul. And Peter was the most devoted follower of Jesus. He was the first Pope as well. SO his confirmed existence, including being during the said time of Christs preaching, serves as large evidence for the existence of Christ. There is no reason why a man like Saint Peter sacrificing himself in such a way for a person he could not have actually known.

So in summary, though there is no Roman account of Jesus in any records, it is still plausible he actually did exist, probably known by the name Joshua ben Joseph, Romanized Jesus son of Joseph. THe accounts of persecutions closely after the time of his death suggest that perhaps there are lost written documents of his death or at least indicate that at the time of his death he was seen as another Jewish Prophet but soon became the inspiration for a long legacy of persecution by a small group of Jewish dissodants who so devoutly were docile, they must have known him and heard his words and seen him during his death.

But I digresss

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #70 on: October 07, 2014, 07:59:42 pm »
Quote from: Jack;161199
But Wikipedia alone offers the following quotes that I think may be relevant here:

"From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides. Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer ties with scientists, mainly in the fields of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and physics. In these fields there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together." - Dalai Lama

"If you are interested in 'meeting the Buddha' and following his example, then you should realize that the path the Buddha taught is primarily a study of your own mind and a system for training your mind. This path is spiritual, not religious. Its goal is self-knowledge, not salvation; freedom, not heaven. And it is deeply personal." - Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

"For Buddhism is less a theology or religion than a promise that certain meditative practices and mind trainings can effectively show us how to awaken our Buddha-nature and liberate us from suffering and confusion." - Lama Surya Das

Given these and the many statements like them, I think it's fair to say that the discussion about whether or not Buddhism is inherently and inerrantly a religion is a complicated one, and given Western hangups about the definition of religion, a certain amount of variation in the practices of individual Buddhists is inevitable.

 
Surely we've got to recognize, though, that the Dalai Lama (and, to some degree, some of the lamas similarly engaged on the international scene) is not just a theologian but a diplomat--an extremely savvy political operative who has spent the last few decades not only working for the freedom of enlightenment but for the worldly freedom of his people.  These are statements with political context.

One of his primary tools in that effort has been mobilizing the concern and outrage of Westerners, particularly liberal white Baby Boomers proximate to the New Age movement, for the Tibetan people, using a vast and carefully-crafted worldwide PR campaign to package Tibetan people and Tibetan religion for the sympathies of the Westerners who send them aid.  This isn't a criticism, just an observation--he's seen what happened to the people in similar struggles who weren't able to pull off what he's pulled off, like the people resisting Chinese rule in Xinjiang.  The Xinjiang independence movement is led by Muslims, from an ethnic group most Americans haven't heard of, and their leaders tend to get assassinated before they're known enough outside of their homeland for any foreigners to know and care that they're missing.  One of the only reasons the Dalai Lama is still alive is that he's cultivated an environment such that were Chinese operatives to kill him, there would be an international wave of outrage that would harm the Chinese government more than help it.  He has made himself and his people appealing and symbolic to outsiders so that outsiders will stand up for them, in a way few diplomats have been canny enough to accomplish.  He's done that by being extremely visible, by touring and touring and touring, by writing books in English, by entertaining American celebrities, by posing for photographs, and by encouraging Westerners to feel attached to, and identified with, Tibetan-ness and Buddhism.

It also means packaging his cause in a very particular way so as to attract and maintain support, and that means not alienating those liberal white Boomer Westerners.  When sharp criticism came in about his position on homosexuality, he found ways to downplay and re-order that theology, because it was less of a priority than the cause of Tibetan freedom.  Likewise, "spiritual but not religious" isn't really a distinction that makes sense outside of English (or even, to a great degree, in English!), and may not really make sense in a traditional Buddhist context, but it's a phrasing that makes New Agers very happy, and helps people from Christian (and Jewish) backgrounds feel like they're not betraying their other religious affiliations by participating in Buddhist practices.  (If it's not a religion, you're not compromising your other religion by studying it or doing it.  Likewise, if you're distancing yourself from "organized religion," "science of mind" can sound very appealing.)  It's a very smart political move, in context, that doesn't really cost him anything on his home turf.  There's a context here that matters.



I know, speaking more generally, this conversation has skated all over the place and been pretty heated, but Redfaery is also identifying a very real and frustrating phenomenon--one that, as a non-Buddhist, I am outside, but as an Asian-American, I also feel very keenly.  There IS a phenomenon of colonial takeover of Buddhism, of de-Asianizing Buddhism, of stripping out the "religious" parts of Buddhism--including community involvement and work in worldly affairs and not just internal, individual practice--as unimportant or inauthentic.  There's an enormous market right now in commodifying and taking ownership of Buddhism.  And while I'm certain there are lovely, sincere, splendid people who're ALSO saying the "Buddhism isn't a religion" thing--it's evident that Morag knows and cares about good people who're doing things that way, and I've known some myself--for many of us, we mostly hear that phrase from people who are are patronizing and belittling, who are really invested in a version of Buddhism with no community involvement, no investment in its Asian roots, no accountability to other Buddhists, and no interest in anything but an individualized, isolated process of self-actualization that they can bolt onto whatever other worldview and system they have, something that can be purchased, that can be owned.  It's unfortunate that appropriators have dominated that conversation and that that harms the credibility of other nonreligious Buddhists, and additionally, it's fair to be frustrated with those appropriators.

I read an article last week about a group of people of color who built a POC-only Buddhist community in New York because the overwhelming whiteness of other organizations kept leading them into painful situations with the ignorance and racism of their fellows.  Buddhism!  From India!  So dominated by white people that they had to build themselves a refuge from that!  I have witnessed white Westerners who fancy themselves students of Buddhism and "the wisdom of the East" condescendingly lecturing cradle Buddhists for praying to protector Gods, because clearly they were mistaken--Buddhism isn't a religion, after all, and has no Gods! it's a philosophy!--telling them they were doing Buddhism wrong, were backwards and foolish and superstitious.  "Spiritual but not religious" or "nonreligious" is often used as a judgmental framework--"I'm not wrapped up in all of that ritual and dead tradition and superficial trappings--I'm more enlightened and advanced than that."  That discourse gets weaponized, to suggest that (particularly Asian) religious practitioners don't properly understand a tradition they themselves invented and should be deferring to Western experts.

It circles back to the Dalai Lama's political theological work--he is a very canny campaigner making smart strategic moves, and also, the fact that he has to adapt his teaching to appeal to those New Age types is telling.  It's a colonial dynamic.  So…yeah.  This is complicated.  We have to both recognize that there are a multiplicity of valid ways to engage with Buddhist teaching and practice--some religious or theistic, some areligious, some "science of mind" focused, etc.--and also that some of those interpretations are given more credence in our current climate, especially in the USA, or are--much to the detriment of sincere practitioners--very popular with people doing harm.  I get that it's not fair to hit those sincere practitioners with scattershot while we're aiming at people behaving badly, and I'm glad we've all taken some breaths and started engaging with each other more compassionately.  I see where Morag's coming from, and where Redfaery's coming from, and it's a conversation with a lot of angles to it.  I hope we can--maybe in some other thread--have a conversation about these sorts of dynamics where we can get at these thorny, painful questions while continuing to respect each other's truths and experiences.
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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #71 on: October 07, 2014, 11:57:48 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;161564
I hope we can--maybe in some other thread--have a conversation about these sorts of dynamics where we can get at these thorny, painful questions while continuing to respect each other's truths and experiences.

 
Those are very important points and I should have made a more nuanced response. Thank you for bringing that up.
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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #72 on: October 08, 2014, 07:57:10 am »
Quote from: Valentine;161564
I know, speaking more generally, this conversation has skated all over the place and been pretty heated, but Redfaery is also identifying a very real and frustrating phenomenon--one that, as a non-Buddhist, I am outside, but as an Asian-American, I also feel very keenly.  There IS a phenomenon of colonial takeover of Buddhism, of de-Asianizing Buddhism, of stripping out the "religious" parts of Buddhism--including community involvement and work in worldly affairs and not just internal, individual practice--as unimportant or inauthentic.  There's an enormous market right now in commodifying and taking ownership of Buddhism.  And while I'm certain there are lovely, sincere, splendid people who're ALSO saying the "Buddhism isn't a religion" thing--it's evident that Morag knows and cares about good people who're doing things that way, and I've known some myself--for many of us, we mostly hear that phrase from people who are are patronizing and belittling, who are really invested in a version of Buddhism with no community involvement, no investment in its Asian roots, no accountability to other Buddhists, and no interest in anything but an individualized, isolated process of self-actualization that they can bolt onto whatever other worldview and system they have, something that can be purchased, that can be owned.  It's unfortunate that appropriators have dominated that conversation and that that harms the credibility of other nonreligious Buddhists, and additionally, it's fair to be frustrated with those appropriators.

 
OM SAM VALENTINE NAMAH!!! I bow to you, Valentine! I am sad that I can only give you rep once for this post, because you have distilled precisely what I was trying to say. Buddhism in the West is often packaged in a very secular, shiny package in order to appeal to white, liberal intellectual elites. There is nothing wrong with that. It's the Tendai doctrine of "expedient means" at its finest. It's when white, intellectual, Western elites turn around and say that the Buddhism they are taught is the "true" Buddhism that we run into a problem. And I have encountered that.

Furthermore, as a white, intellectual, liberal elite myself, I feel I have a hard time getting taken seriously by native Buddhist practitioners - with good reason. They are rightly concerned about what ends up being cultural appropriation. As you mentioned, a lot of this gets packaged as "the wisdom of the East!!1!"

I admit my original post was not Right Speech, and was offensively worded. But it came from my own frustrations at having to defend very basic portions of my religion. I never meant to insinuate that Morag's mother was not a true Buddhist...and certainly not that she was a "jackwad." In turn, I felt increasingly frustrated when others dismissed my concerns as something that they weren't doing, because it seemed to me that I was being silenced. Whether or not anyone in this thread was personally disparaging the devotional practices of religious Buddhists is largely irrelevant to me, because people are doing it all the time.

It's like the fact that I jokingly identify myself as a "soft butch" lesbian. I'm okay with the terms "butch" and "femme" as applied to describe me and other lesbians who are okay with them. (When I'm being serious, I describe my presentation as "ambiguous") But I also feel that the "butch" and "femme" labels create a lot of problems, and I don't go around telling other lesbians "oh, you're so femme" or "you're so much more butch than I am." Because I know those terms have been used to marginalize and hurt, no matter how widely accepted they may be.

All Vehicles are the One Vehicle. Expedient Means. We'll all get there somehow. Booyah. Om Sam Sarasvatyai Namah. ;)
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #73 on: October 08, 2014, 03:40:40 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;161593

All Vehicles are the One Vehicle. Expedient Means. We'll all get there somehow.

 
Can I ask what this means?
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Redfaery

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Re: Did Jesus actually exist?
« Reply #74 on: October 08, 2014, 03:43:07 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;161635
Can I ask what this means?
It's the basic tenets of Tendai?
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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