Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Alex123 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:54 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi Nana,

Quote: "This quote is not advocating natthika-diṭṭhi."

It is not "advocating" anything, it is describing a stage in the
development of right view.

My interpretation is that at this stage a monk understands that the four
great elements cease completely and permanently.

How do you understand this passage?

Regards, Vincent.



And when one is reborn in kamaloka one appropriates a new set of 4 great elements. So it does NOT deny rebirth.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:48 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Yes, well, I can assure you that this subject forces me to step outside of my comfort zone. It's an aspect of dhamma that I have always been quite happy to avoid discussing. But the dhammavinaya is much more than a few modern materialist and secular trends.


Absolutely. And thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:13 am

mikenz66 wrote:
nowheat wrote:I would think that if someone has a sincere interest in what the Buddha taught, they would be willing to keep an open mind about the accuracy of the interpretation we have been handed, ...

Very true. As I said in another thread, it's claims that someone has either proved or rejected particular interpretations that I think is completely bogus.


You haven't seen all the evidence yet, Mike. I have long had great respect for your understanding of the dhamma, and the evenness of your responses to people. I hope the above statement isn't an indication that you've closed your mind.

This evangelistic certainty is the problem I see with many modern interpreters, who inflate their otherwise interesting opinions into a crusade to show that some particular way of looking at the Canon clears away the "unnecessary" parts and gives us the "true way". That the Commentators and other have got it completely wrong for 2500 years, but now we have rediscovered the truth.


I would be interested in any citation you can give for anyone saying that the Commentators and others have got it "completely wrong".

I have repeatedly said that my revised understanding of the dhamma and the traditional understanding has a huge overlap. I throw out a wild estimate of 75% and it's only that low because I see how passionate believers that the Buddha taught rebirth are about that point; how big a deal it is to them. My own view is more like 95% overlap in understanding; it's only rebirth and the emphasis it gives to practice that is different. All the rest that would be significant to a newcomer to Buddhism is in line. (Nerds like us in this forum can always find minor points to debate; I'm not giving any weight to those differences at all in the percentage as being too hard to estimate.)

Many modern scholars, teachers, and practitioners are quite capable of discussing problems of interpretation and practice without rejecting other views as nonsense. In fact, almost anyone I meet off-line does that.


I apologize if I have ever appeared to dismiss others' views as "nonsense" -- I don't see nonsense, I see carefully constructed, but mistaken, sense. I can easily conceive how we got to a mistaken understanding of the Buddha's teaching on rebirth; I don't find anyone's acceptance of the traditional views to be any reflection on the individuals I've met who accept those views at all.

I have another observation. A huge straw man that some hoist when these issues arise is "appeal to authority". Now, unless you think that the only thing Dhamma is good for is bit less stress in your life. I.e. if you take seriously the Buddha's claim that the end of dukkha is possible, then, unless you are an ariyan, you are appealing to authority. So accusations of "appeal to authority" are, I'm afraid, beside the point. Why read any suttas at all if you reject "appeal to authority"?


Getting into who is an ariyan and who is not, stream-entry, arahantship, any of that is a fool's game in our age. I am not even going to go there.

I practice. I am not a newcomer. I am not fully enlightened. I am somewhere between the two. Nothing else I could say online could make any difference to my qualifications in anyone here's eyes (see my comments on recognizing wisdom through long acquaintance below).

I reject an appeal to second-hand authority. The Buddha is my authority. My understanding is that he wanted us to take refuge in him, in his dhamma, and in his sangha, and that he gave good instructions about how to tell false dhamma from true, and how to tell wise teachers from the less-than-fully-wise. The latter takes long acquaintance to be sure -- and I can't claim that acquaintance with any authority. But when I compare the dhamma I am offered here online to the dhamma in the texts, there is a disconnect. I therefore rely on the dhamma in the texts, as measured against my own progress on the path. When in doubt, I defer to the Buddha. He has not let me down yet. I am not always pleased with his approach, but I am always pleased with the outcome of understanding the teaching he gets across.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:46 am

Greetings,

nowheat wrote:I reject an appeal to second-hand authority. The Buddha is my authority. My understanding is that he wanted us to take refuge in him, in his dhamma, and in his sangha, and that he gave good instructions about how to tell false dhamma from true, and how to tell wise teachers from the less-than-fully-wise. The latter takes long acquaintance to be sure -- and I can't claim that acquaintance with any authority. But when I compare the dhamma I am offered here online to the dhamma in the texts, there is a disconnect. I therefore rely on the dhamma in the texts, as measured against my own progress on the path. When in doubt, I defer to the Buddha. He has not let me down yet. I am not always pleased with his approach, but I am always pleased with the outcome of understanding the teaching he gets across.

Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:13 am

Hi everyone,

This is just my opinion.

Why is there, among the monks, no debate about rebirth in the Five Nikaya's?

1. Each monk should put truth first, above other considerations, but
only in regard to their own personal understanding.

2. What they can say in public is governed by the strict rules of Right
Speech, where ethical considerations take precedence over truth.

Those monks who no longer believed in rebirth would not state this in
public because it was wrong to upset another by questioning their beliefs.

To be more precise, those beliefs which are of benefit and which lead to
wholesome states of mind, should not be called into question. Unwholesome
beliefs which are detrimental can, of course, be questioned.

A monk could, of course, share his understanding with another in private.

However, all those private conversations are lost to us, we have only the
teachings themselves, which are public discourses.

Everything said above about rebirth applies also to beliefs about the
reality of the three realms, the existence of Deva's, and many other things.

Our Modern culture is different, we put truth first in public discourse.
[ except in politics of course.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Thales » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:59 am

vinasp wrote:
Those monks who no longer believed in rebirth would not state this in
public because it was wrong to upset another by questioning their beliefs.



Then they are promoting dogma, which is equally wrong and harmful. Questioning things is how we arrive at direct insight.


A disciple of the Buddha named Musila tells another monk: ‘Friend Savittha, without devotion, faith or belief, without liking or inclination, without hearsay or tradition, without considering apparent reasons, without delight in the speculations of opinions, I know and see that the cessation of becoming is Nirvāna.’

And the Buddha says: ‘O bhikkus, I say that the destruction of defilement and impurities is (meant) for a person who knows and who sees, and not for a person who does not know and does not see.’

It is always a question of knowing and seeing, and not that of believing. The teaching of the Buddha is qualified as ehi-passika, inviting you to ‘come and see’, but not to come and believe.

...

Asked by the young Brahmin to explain the idea of maintaining or protecting truth, the Buddha said: ‘A man has a faith. If he says “This is my faith”, so far he maintains truth. But by that he cannot proceed to the absolute conclusions: “This alone is Truth, and everything else is false”.’ In other words, a man may believe what he likes, and he may say ‘I believe this’. So far he respects truth. But because of his belief or faith, he should not say that what he believes is alone the Truth, and everything else is false.

The Buddha says: ‘To be attached to one thing (to a certain view) and to look down upon other things (views) as inferior – this the wise men call a fetter.’


The bold portion is what attracts me to Buddhism; I can see for myself and know that teachings of the Buddha regarding the arising & cessation of dukkha are true. The same cannot be said for teachings of rebirth, heavenly/hell realms, etc, thus I set them aside.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:51 am

In his "Discourse on the Cūḷavedalla Sutta," which I am currently editing, the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw had this to say about Nihilism:

“The nihilistic view that everything passes into oblivion with the annihilation of existence after death is the result of craving. Because of the acceptance of this view it is believed that after expiry of the present life-term, nothing remains to experience the good or bad results of one’s own actions. Therefore, one who holds this view, also tends not to avoid vices and demeritorious deeds (akusala kamma). Neither will he or she be inclined to perform meritorious deeds (kusala kamma). His or her entire attention is devoted to finding various ways and means to search for pleasures and to possess and enjoy the delights of life. For a person who accepts the nihilistic view of (ucchedadiṭṭhi) (i.e. that death is the annihilation of existence), there is hardly any good kamma to cause rebirth in a noble or worthy existence. Nevertheless, unwholesome kamma is likely to be in abundance. Therefore, getting attached to one of the three death signs (kamma, kamma-nimitta, or gati-nimitta) that will appear on the verge of death, it is probable that he or she will, under the circumstances then prevailing, be driven to the mental state of rebirth consciousness that will drag him or her down to the lower realms (apāya).

The gravest danger of this "one life only" view is that it encourages the pursuit of selfish pleasures at any cost, and provides no incentive to abstain from unwholesome deeds, nor to cultivate wholesome ones. Though the non-believer in the doctrine of kamma and rebirth may not be totally lacking in morality, whatever morality he or she has will be conditioned by social norms, which in most societies will involve actions that are immoral or unwholesome from the Buddhist POV.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:37 am

Thank you, Bhante, that was most interesting.

If I may clarify, the reason I posited my earlier question related to something that I read in Ledi Sayadaw's Sammaditthi Dipani:

Refutation of Issaranimmana-hetu View
The Buddha declared: "Monks, of these three views, there are some samanas and brahmins who hold and set forth the following view: "All bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present existence are created by a supreme brahma or god."

"I approach them and ask: 'Friends, is it true that you hold and set forth this view: "That all bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations, and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god ? ' "

"To this those samanas and brahmins reply, 'Yes, Venerable sir.' Then I say to them: 'Friends, if that be the case, there will be persons who, owing to the creation of a supreme brahma or god

will kill any living being
will steal
will tell lies
will indulge in immoral sexual intercourse
will slander
will use harsh language
will foolishly babble
will be avaricious
will maintain ill-will against others
will maintain wrong views.
"Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who confidently and solely rely on the creation of a supreme brahma or god, there cannot arise such mental factors as desire-to-do and effort, as to differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from.

"Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who cannot truly firmly differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from, and live without the application of mindfulness and self-restraint, there cannot arise righteous beliefs that are conducive to the cessation of defilements.

"Monks, this is the second factual statement to refute the heretical beliefs and views advanced by those samanas and brahmins who maintain that all sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god."

Refutation of Ahetuka View
The Buddha declared: "Monks, of these three views, there are some samanas and brahmins who hold and set forth the following view: "All bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life come into existence of their own accord and without the intervention of generative or sustaining kamma."

'I approach them and ask: "Friends, is it true that you hold and set forth this view: 'That all bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life come into existence of their own accord and are not due to the generative and sustaining kamma?' "

'To this those samanas and brahmins reply: "Yes, Venerable sir." 'Then I say to them: "Friends, if that be the case, there will be persons who, without any cause or condition

will kill any living being
will steal
will tell lies
will indulge in immoral sexual intercourse
will slander
will use harsh language
will foolishly babble
will be avaricious
will maintain ill-will against others
will maintain wrong views.
'Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who confidently and solely rely on "uncausedness and unconditionality" of existence, there cannot arise such mental factors as desire-to-do and effort, as to differentiate between what should be done and what should be avoided.

'Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who cannot truly and firmly differentiate between what should be done and what should not be done, and live without the application of mindfulness and self-restraint, there cannot arise righteous beliefs that are conducive to the cessation of defilements.

'Monks, this is the third factual statement to refute the heretical beliefs and views advanced by those samanas and brahmins who maintain that all sensations enjoyed by beings come into existence of their own accord and are not due to the generative and sustaining kamma.' "


That it, appeared to me, the kammic consequences of Issaranimmana-hetu View and Ahetuka View. Not withstanding the following paragraph:

The possibility of becoming the holder of the view that all things are uncaused or unconditioned.
If this pubbekata-hetu-ditthi-vada (view of the inefficacy of action) be scrutinized or thoroughly analysed by the intelligence of wise people, it will be found that, according to this view, in all fields of actions there is nothing worthy for people to do but for them to follow the line of least resistance. How? It is in the following manner: those who hold this view reject all actions that should be done in the present life and also do not put forth the energy to be exercised by the virtuous. They also reject the functioning of energy and wisdom.

They maintain that the benefits relating to the present life and those relating to the next existence as declared by the wise are false. In the minds of those who hold this wrong view, there cannot arise the mental factors of desire-to-do and energy to perform all wholesome actions that should be performed by the virtuous. Thus this view becomes akiriya-ditthi (the wrong view of the uncausedness of existence).

Those who hold this pubbekata-hetu view are, therefore, good for nothing, and resemble a heap of refuse, or a piece of wood. For the reasons mentioned above, the Supreme Buddha was able to refute this wrong view.


Thank you again for your kind assistance.
with Metta,

Ben
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:22 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The gravest danger of this "one life only" view is that it encourages the pursuit of selfish pleasures at any cost, and provides no incentive to abstain from unwholesome deeds, nor to cultivate wholesome ones. Though the non-believer in the doctrine of kamma and rebirth may not be totally lacking in morality, whatever morality he or she has will be conditioned by social norms, which in most societies will involve actions that are immoral or unwholesome from the Buddhist POV.

Indeed. Thank you Ven. Pesala. It seems that other related consequences can be dismissing the validity of merit (puñña), not participating in Uposatha days, and the kind of moral relativism which fails to appreciate the purpose and value of monastic ordination.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:31 am

Hi everyone,

There is another possibility that we should consider.

Could encouraging someone to believe in rebirth actually result in an
increase in their suffering?

We all know people who worry too much, who imagine all sorts of things
which might happen in the future. And this is true even when they only
have one life to worry about. How is it good to give them ten, a hundred, or
a thousand more imaginary lives to worry about?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:13 am

Kare wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:The a- negates, it doesn't affirm, in this case it negates theism.


Yes, atheism implies disbelief while theism implies belief. Arguably both disbelief and belief are unskillful because they both involve attachment to views.

Spiny


Do I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No. So according to your explanation this is disbelief, which is unskilful because it involves attachment to views.


But we don't know that Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist. So disbelieving in this creature is a bit pointless when we can just shrug and say "I don't know". The same applies to God, angels, rebirth, space aliens etc etc.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:30 am

nowheat wrote:The problem is that when I read the Pali canon, I find the Buddha is not talking about literal rebirth.


I find it difficult to see how one can read the Pali Cannon and not come to the conclusion that the Buddha taught literal rebirth and the realms.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:35 am

vinasp wrote: If someone suggests that the earth is actually flat, then I reject that idea, because it does not fit with everything else which I believe.



Although there was a time when nearly everyone believed the earth was flat. ;)

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:11 pm

vinasp wrote: Why is there, among the monks, no debate about rebirth in the Five Nikaya's?

1. Each monk should put truth first, above other considerations, but
only in regard to their own personal understanding.

2. What they can say in public is governed by the strict rules of Right
Speech, where ethical considerations take precedence over truth.

Those monks who no longer believed in rebirth would not state this in
public because it was wrong to upset another by questioning their beliefs.

If you read the Khuddakanikāya Theragāthā & Therīgāthā you'll notice that many of the arahant monks and nuns had attained either the triple knowledge (tevijjā) or the six higher gnoses (chaḷabhiññā). And SN 8.7 Pavāraṇā Sutta informs us that of 500 arahants present on that occasion, 60 had triple knowledge, 60 had the six higher gnoses, 60 were liberated both ways (ubhatobhāgavimuttā, meaning jhānas & formless attainments), and the rest were liberated through discernment (paññāvimuttā). Therefore, there were many arahants who had direct knowledge of past lives and the passing away and reappearance of beings. These knowledges are fruits of the contemplative life. This is why MN 60 Apaṇṇaka Sutta states that when a person says that "There is no next world," he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Kare » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:17 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Kare wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Yes, atheism implies disbelief while theism implies belief. Arguably both disbelief and belief are unskillful because they both involve attachment to views.

Spiny


Do I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No. So according to your explanation this is disbelief, which is unskilful because it involves attachment to views.


But we don't know that Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist. So disbelieving in this creature is a bit pointless when we can just shrug and say "I don't know". The same applies to God, angels, rebirth, space aliens etc etc.

Spiny


When someone asserts the existence of a being without providing good evidence, you have to make a probability assessment. It is true that I do not know 100% that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist. But I would rate it with so low probability that for all practical purposes I would say it is non-existent. Of course I am willing to be proved wrong. Just bring up a genuine Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I'll gladly admit defeat. The same goes for Trolls in the woods, etc. To keep an 'agnostic' attitude or an 'open mind' in questions with a probability rate very close to zero, is not very rational.

The anti atheist campaign is really a campaign in favor of irrationality. It is an attachment to irrational views, and as such it has already been defined as unskilful. It is quite amusing, in fact, to see how the anti atheist campaigners use arguments without realizing that they at the same time draw the rug away under their own feet.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby kirk5a » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:27 pm

Kare wrote:The anti atheist campaign is really a campaign in favor of irrationality. It is an attachment to irrational views,

Such as?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:40 pm

I agree with Ven. Pesala's post above and the quote provided from Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw. There is a real danger in the nihilistic views.

But atheism doesn't have to be equated with either nihilism or denial of rebirth. Atheism, in one definition is belief in a supreme creator-God, which is not compatible with Buddhism and not accepted as doctrine in Buddhism. In fact equating the two (I'm not saying anyone here is doing that) might be a guilt-by-association fallacy. Sure there are atheists according to the definition Ñāṇa uses who deny rebirth and are nihilists. But that doesn't mean all atheists deny rebirth and are nihilists. There are Buddhists, Jains, Taoists, and others who reject a creator-God and still believe/accept rebirth.

There may be devas and there may be some Buddhists who believe/accept that and there may be others who don't. But the devas are about as delusional and impermanent as the rest of us.

Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami

I/we take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, not a God, not gods, not devas.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:53 pm

Kare wrote: But I would rate it with so low probability that for all practical purposes I would say it is non-existent. Of course I am willing to be proved wrong. Just bring up a genuine Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I'll gladly admit defeat. The same goes for Trolls in the woods, etc. To keep an 'agnostic' attitude or an 'open mind' in questions with a probability rate very close to zero, is not very rational.


Hello Kare,

One problem here is that the probability rate you speak of is a personal assessment and it is not necessarily a wholly rational one. Furthermore, that very same process of non rational assessment may well overlook the practical purposes for keeping an open mind.

Metta

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:05 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:But atheism doesn't have to be equated with either nihilism or denial of rebirth.

In the real-world this restrictive sense of the term "atheism" has been eclipsed by the inclusion of a myopic belief in the view of scientific materialism. This is the atheism being touted by popular authors such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and even Stephen Batchelor and other Secular Buddhism folks. Materialism is incompatible with Buddhist rebirth, and related teachings. Therefore, this pesky little word has significant connotations that are contrary to 2500 years of Pāli dhammavinaya and Theravāda Buddhism.

David N. Snyder wrote:There may be devas and there may be some Buddhists who believe/accept that and there may be others who don't.

Theravāda Buddhism offers a complete worldview and practice, including generating merit (puñña), and practicing the perfections (pāramī), and so on, in order to attain a good rebirth as a human or god. And far from being an inferior, conciliatory version of the Buddhadhamma, it is a meaningful and valid right view which can inform all aspects of practice and life. This Theravāda Buddhism is most fully expressed in texts such as the Apadāna, Buddhavaṃsa, Cariyāpiṭaka, and the Vimānavatthu -- where deities describe their former meritorious deeds that resulted in their rebirth as deities in heavenly mansions. Again, this worldview isn't compatible with mainstream atheism, which dismisses all of this.

David N. Snyder wrote:But the devas are about as delusional and impermanent as the rest of us.

There are gods and goddesses who have attained the noble path and are noble ones. Vimānavatthu 1.16:

    Thus I am a goddess, knowing the undying, a disciple of the Tathagata, the Unrivalled One; a knower of Dhamma established in the first fruit, a stream-enterer. Henceforth there is no bad bourn for me.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:25 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:I find it difficult to see how one can read the Pali Cannon and not come to the conclusion that the Buddha taught literal rebirth and the realms.


I understand this. I believe that happens for many different reasons (there are lots of causes that bring about the effect of making it seem obvious that the Buddha taught literal rebirth).

When I came to understand (through reading Stephen Batchelor) that I was not the only person who wondered about rebirth, and that some even thought it was not what the Buddha taught, I went searching for strong evidence one way or another, hoping to find the Buddha saying that we must believe in it. Someone pointed out MN 117 as evidence, and though I could understand how it was being interpreted as evidence, it was startlingly clear to me that this was definitely not what he was saying. After that, as evidence kept mounting that the first impression made by MN 117 was accurate, I still could not believe what I was seeing in the texts, because most of it is subtle, enmeshed in a style of speaking that is not natural to us in our culture, and our English translations are written with the assumption that literal rebirth is what he is teaching, which pushes understanding firmly in that direction.

But as time went on it became clear to me that the Buddha was always making reference to rebirth as some kind of framework for his lessons, and eventually, when I came to understand the structure of dependent origination -- that it was talking simultaneously about what people thought was going on, and what the Buddha wanted them to see was actually going on -- I could see that it was that lesson he was constantly referring to. What people thought was going on was that atta was created, perfected, and transitioned through death into rebirth and bliss -- but the Buddha is telling us what's created is anatta, it is not perfected, and it transitions here and now right into this life and goes not to literal rebirth and bliss, but to the dukkha that feeds on birth, aging, sickness and death (impermanence). He uses the language of rebirth to describe what is happening here and now, and he expects us to understand that this is what he is doing if we have understood the lesson of dependent arising.

As long as our understanding of dependent arising is fuzzy, it will continue to seem as though the Buddha is talking about literal rebirth. He was talking to an audience in his own time who will have been familiar with this way of framing things, and it will have been clearer to them than it is to us.

:namaste:
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