Frankly speaking, some of the dumbest Buddhists I have seen recently all post on Buddhist discussion forums. Not all, mind you, are dumb but the huge majority are. I thought Dharma centers had the market on dumb Buddhists, but discussion forums take the prize. These people would never make it in an upper graduate course which takes up Buddhism. They don’t appear to have read much, if any, of the Pali Nikayas which have been translated into English for some time.
The most surprising thing is that most of these Buddhists do not have any understanding of what transcendence or transcendent means in Buddhism. One such Buddhist informed me, recently, that Buddha-nature is an illusion. In addition, he also has no idea that the first noble or ariyan truth, which is suffering, happens to be the Five Aggregates (S. v. 425). What is strange about this is that he believes the Buddha’s idea of suffering is meant to rescue the Five Aggregates from suffering! Obviously, this same person would be shocked to learn that the second noble truth, that is, the origin of suffering, has to do with not clinging to the Five Aggregates!
"The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origination of suffering" (M. i. 191).
It still remains true today as it did in the past that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing because, in fact, such knowledge is not real knowledge at all but, instead, wrong opinion. These Buddhists find it easier to go with their opinions which then become proclamations—and you dare not show them that they are wrong. You dare not pull a passage out of the Samyutta-Nikaya, for example, which absolutely refutes their proclamations.
This doesn’t only happen in Buddhism, but it happens in politics, economics, general education, and science. People today don’t seem to have any time to really check to see if their opinions are a least educated opinions. Nope, it’s off with another proclamation which ends up being a wrong opinion! What adds fuel to this kind of fire is these same people can’t stand a discussion about their opinions. They have no stomach for it. They are almost narcissistic in this respect.
In my long tenure with Buddhism, I was often overjoyed to find that one of my uneducated opinions about what the Buddha taught happened to be dead wrong. This allowed me to put the pieces of the puzzle together, correctly. Unfortunately, during that period of my life I was a parrot of my teacher who taught Zen by proclamation. It was the standard malarky such as the Buddha denied the self (anâtman), all things are empty (empty of what?), and doing zazen is being a Buddha.
One of the reasons I do a lot of citing from the Pali Nikayas, I want the reader to know what the Buddha said so the reader will also learn, at the same time, what the Buddha did not say. For example, the Buddha did not say there was no self. According to scripture, he said that the Five Aggregates are not the self (or my self)—not that there is categorically no self which is what dumb Buddhists believe. Another example, when Buddhists, triumphantly, preach the nonself or no-self (anattâ) doctrine, then why did the Buddha say the following: “Radha, you should abandon desire for whatever is nonself (anattâ)” (S. iv. 49). The Buddha never endorsed such a teaching as no-self, in other words.