FTFY Buddhist ethics

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Monkey explains why he lives in an underworld, in Journey to the West

Traditional Buddhist morality is obviously wrong. But the Buddha was enlightened, and Buddhism is the correct religion; so it seems that, due to some minor mistake, the tradition does not represent the true Buddhist ethics.

Since we know what is ethically correct—and Buddha would surely agree!—we can fix it for him. That is the principle of FTFY Buddhist ethics.

[Note to future historians: “FTFY” is 2015 internet slang for “fixed that for you.”]

Current “Buddhist ethics” is identical to current Western leftish secular ethics. How can Buddhist leaders pretend that it has anything to do with Buddhism? How can traditional Buddhist moral teachings be explained away? FTFY is the main rhetorical strategy.

FTFY ethics explains what the Buddha would have said about something he didn’t discuss. For example, we can easily see that he would have approved of homosexuality. Also, he certainly would have supported intellectual property ownership.

Also, the Buddha got many things wrong, for various excusable reasons. However, we know what he should have said. For example, he surely knew slavery was wrong. However, he had to work within the constraints of the existing regime, so he had to endorse it anyway due to politics. How fortunate that we can fix that for him!

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Why Westerners rebranded secular ethics as “Buddhist” and banned Tantra

Many of the Western creators of Consensus Buddhism say in their autobiographies that they went to Asia because they were disgusted with the sex-and-drugs hedonism of hippie culture. Coming from Protestant cultures, they were looking for a system of self-restraint, but they had rejected Christianity.

Traditional Buddhism is renunciate, not Protestant, and renunciation is also unacceptable to Americans. But Buddhist values had already been partially replaced with Protestant ones in the Asian modernist forms the Consensus founders encountered in the 1960s and 70s. They could, and did, continue that process.

The lay precepts against sexual misconduct and intoxication may have come at first as welcome repudiations of hippie self-indulgence. However, as we’ll see on the next page, they had to be loosened, reinterpreted, and effectively negated to function in America.

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