Regarding Dipak Basu’s April 19 letter, “Buddhist explanation for flaws“: The idea that telling parents that their child is not looking down on them from heaven is “cruel” is Basu’s opinion, and he is entitled to it. However, others would argue that sometimes one has to be a little cruel to be kind and that bereaved parents might ultimately be able to come to terms with their grief better if they accepted the fact of their child’s death rather than deceiving themselves into believing she’s still alive in an imaginary paradise.
When Basu says that “atheism can only deny,” he repeats the usual prejudicial attitude common among religious people. Far from considering this world to be meaningless, most atheist and humanist philosophy regards this life here and now as the only reality. In contrast to religion, which holds this world to be a test for the next, humanism believes that this world is what counts and that we do not buy ourselves a ticket to a promised land by ascetic denial and submission.
Among the world’s religions, Hinduism is the most extreme form of this idealism, even going so far as to say that this world is mere illusion. Buddhism is — at its best — a little different. The Buddha even said there is no mind apart from the body, which is a position practically identical to that of dialectical materialism and modern science. In fact, Buddhists have a wide range of opinions on the existence of an afterlife and other issues, and Basu might do well to study the subject a little before expounding upon it.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.