Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:50 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of gods and higher realms?

That has already been done above.

No it hasn't. Show me a quotation from a philosophy text of a definition of atheism which affirms the existence of gods and higher realms.
Yes it has, and I would refer you to Arvind Sharma's THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION: A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE, pub Oxford, 1995, pages 25, 34, and 74.

tiltbillings wrote:If one limits the definition of atheism to simply, and not unreasonably, to a rejection of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, no problem.

As already shown, this is an overly restrictive definition of the term.
Not at all.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:55 pm

tiltbillings wrote:No it hasn't. Show me a quotation from a philosophy text of a definition of atheism which affirms the existence of gods and higher realms.
Yes it has, and I would refer you to Arvind Sharma's THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION: A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE, pub Oxford, 1995, pages 25, 34, and 74.

You'll have to provide a quotation. I don't have the text.

tiltbillings wrote:If one limits the definition of atheism to simply, and not unreasonably, to a rejection of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, no problem.

As already shown, this is an overly restrictive definition of the term.
Not at all.

It most certainly is.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Kenshou » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:56 pm

Goofaholix wrote:And he demoted them from higher powers worthy of worship to beings like you and me trapped in samsaric realms.
Yes, I don't really understand what appears to be an intentional conflation of the common Western idea of "God" and the Buddhist understanding of "deva", which there is good reason to distinguish.

The thread would be less argument-prone and to the point if it said something like "denial of devas and deva-realms is a false dhamma", or something.

Continuing to insist upon framing it in this way ignores a number of real-world subtleties and isn't productive.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:00 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.


... and he demoted them from higher powers worthy of worship to beings like you and me trapped in samsaric realms. He also affirmed the existence of cows and water buffaloes and never suggested we worship these either.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:04 pm

Kenshou wrote:The thread would be less argument-prone and to the point if it said something like "denial of devas and deva-realms is a false dhamma", or something.

I was hoping for it to be more along the lines of a discussion of the proposition:
    "Annihilationism is unskillful false Dhamma."

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:04 pm

Kenshou wrote:The thread would be less argument-prone and to the point if it said something like "denial of devas and deva-realms is a false dhamma", or something.

Continuing to insist upon framing it in this way ignores a number of real-world subtleties and isn't productive.


Actually I think he is more interested in discussing annhiliationism, which is very different from nihilism, and lumping Buddhism in with theism by contrast doesn't help either.

We shouldn't have to buy into someone's extreme view in order to discuss a topic.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:05 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Kenshou wrote:The thread would be less argument-prone and to the point if it said something like "denial of devas and deva-realms is a false dhamma", or something.

I was hoping for it to be more along the lines of a discussion of the proposition:
    "Annihilationism is unskillful false Dhamma."


Agreed, nobody would have objected to that.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:12 pm

Goofaholix wrote:lumping Buddhism in with theism by contrast doesn't help either.

Nonsense. Nowhere have I lumped Buddhism in with theism.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:13 pm

Kenshou wrote:Continuing to insist upon framing it in this way ignores a number of real-world subtleties and isn't productive.

Actually, it highlights a couple of points pertaining to the contemporary culture of real-world Western pop Buddhism, especially the type of pop Buddhism with leanings towards an inaccurate reading of the Pāli suttas, such as what is being peddled by Stephen Batchelor. As already mentioned:

(i) The term "Buddhist Atheism" is a contradiction in terms. The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world.

(ii) Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.


Of course, the response on this forum was predictable.
Last edited by Nyana on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:13 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:lumping Buddhism in with theism by contrast doesn't help either.

Nonsense. Nowhere have I lumped Buddhism in with theism.


Ñāṇa wrote:Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms.


:shrug:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:19 pm

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:lumping Buddhism in with theism by contrast doesn't help either.

Nonsense. Nowhere have I lumped Buddhism in with theism.


Ñāṇa wrote:Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms.


:shrug:

What does :shrug: mean? Are you tacitly implying that he didn't?
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:27 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Of course, the response on this forum was predictable.


In Buddhism part of wisdom is seeing the predictability of causes and conditions and changing them in order to get a better outcome rather than insist that everyone should think the same way you do.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Kenshou » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:27 pm

Actually, it highlights a couple of points pertaining to the contemporary culture of real-world Western pop Buddhism...
While I don't think that the gist if what you're saying is really incorrect, the way you are choosing to phrase it continues to be a little awkward in light of the actual details of these concepts, and I don't really think that the opposition is as much to what you are saying as to the specifics of how you are choosing to say it.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:30 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Nonsense. Nowhere have I lumped Buddhism in with theism.


Ñāṇa wrote:Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms.


What would it be to lump Buddhism and theism together? It would be to say that both affirm the existence of at least one deity, variously defined. If the Buddha affirms the existence of gods, then Buddhism is, among other things, a theist doctrine, but you deny this. The shrugging-shoulders is because this obvious contradiction is confusing, and your meaning less than clear.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:52 pm

Goofaholix wrote:In Buddhism part of wisdom is seeing the predictability of causes and conditions and changing them in order to get a better outcome rather than insist that everyone should think the same way you do.

Agreement and consensus isn't required or even desired.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:00 pm

daverupa wrote:What would it be to lump Buddhism and theism together? It would be to say that both affirm the existence of at least one deity, variously defined. If the Buddha affirms the existence of gods, then Buddhism is, among other things, a theist doctrine, but you deny this. The shrugging-shoulders is because this obvious contradiction is confusing, and your meaning less than clear.

Theism (including polytheism) generally includes the worship and propitiation of one or more gods. This is not a part of the Pāli dhamma or Theravāda Buddhism.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:41 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.


Hi Nana,

I am sympathetic to the idea that atheism has unhelpful associations that tend towards nihilism lending to the shutting down of communication and that Buddhism is not helped by being associated with it.

However...

I think we should not overlook the value of the phenomenological context.

as Thanissaro states in his paper "The Truth of Rebirth"

By placing rebirth in the context of dependent co-arising, he was presenting it in a phenomenological context — i.e., one that focused on phenomena as they can be directly experienced and that refused to take a stand on whether there is a reality of "things" underlying them.


I take that to mean that the "many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth" are best taken within that phenomenological context.

Metta

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"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:01 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Theism (including polytheism) generally includes the worship and propitiation of one or more gods. This is not a part of the Pāli dhamma or Theravāda Buddhism.


Correct, and what would you call something that has no part of this other than a-theism?
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:34 am

Goofaholix wrote:Correct, and what would you call something that has no part of this other than a-theism?

This has already been explained to you multiple times.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:14 am

Ñāṇa wrote:This has already been explained to you multiple times.


I think not.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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