Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:05 pm

vinasp wrote: This is why DN 1 does not call these wrong views, nor does it ask lay
people to give up these views.

The wrong view in question is as follows:

    There is no next world,... no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground. The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death.

MN 60 Apaṇṇaka Sutta:

    Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma.

Again, one cannot attain the noble path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view which contradicts the arahants who know the next world.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Mr Man » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:49 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
vinasp wrote:
Again, one cannot attain the noble path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view which contradicts the arahants who know the next world.


Are you speaking from a position of authority here or is this a theoretical position? :)
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:31 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:That's how I understand it. In which case holding an annihalationist view must include a denial of rebirth and the realms. So if annihalationist view is wrong view, then rebirth denial must also be wrong view?


Yes.

But the question was does a view that is not an annihalationist view mean a view of belief in a literal rebirth, the answer is not necessarily,
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:45 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are you saying the Buddha didn't himself believe in devas but taught about them anyway? Or that he knew they didn't exist but still taught about them? That seems to be the logical conclusion of what you're saying.


What the Buddha taught is quite subtle and radical for his time, and as was shown in the passage where he made the decision to teach he was reluctant because he thought people wouldn't understand.

He taught differently to different people depending on where they were at and he used the words, beliefs, mythology, and rituals of his time as teaching methods depending on the worldview of the audience.

In a ideal world everyone would have an abidhammic understanding of their mind body process and would be ripe for arahantship, but that's never going to be he case. If somebody can develop a better understanding of sila and kamma through use of the teaching stories of the day then that's a good thing.

That doesn't necessarily imply endorsement of them as fact.

I think we have to focus on what the Buddha was trying to achieve, not the context within which he was trying to achieve it. I think wee have to ask ourselves if he were teaching 20th century westerners would he communicate the message differently so as not to confuse what's important with what's periferal, we can see teachers are already doing this.
Last edited by Goofaholix on Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:45 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Again, one cannot attain the noble path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view which contradicts the arahants who know the next world.


Are you speaking from a position of authority here or is this a theoretical position?

The Pāli Tipiṭaka is the authority. The ancient Theras are also the authority.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:51 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:And this is also a wrong view. Again, one cannot attain the path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view.


Still waiting for the reference that affirms the view that belief in a literal rebirth is a necesaary prerequisite.
Last edited by Goofaholix on Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:57 pm

Hi everyone,

"There are beings who are reborn spontaneously." Mundane right view MN 117.7

"What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation." MN 12.33

"Again, a monk who has abandoned the five lower fetters takes a spontaneous
rebirth and, without returning from that world, gains enlightenment."
[ Long Discourses, Walshe 1987, DN 6.13]

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

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:01 pm

piotr wrote:
vinasp wrote:However, I do not think that passages where the Buddha talks about devas, to
people who already believe in them, constitutes "affirming the existence of"
such devas.

You may as well say that parents who talk about the tooth fairy to their
child, must therefore actually believe in the reality of the tooth fairy.


The Buddha doesn't speak words which are untrue but endearing to others (MN 58).

Indeed. MN 58: "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them."
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:58 pm

santa100 wrote:I guess it depends on how we apply rebirth to our daily practice. MN48 and DN1 shows the wrong way of applying rebirth: just using it for mere talk and speculation; MN117 shows the correct way of application: actually using the right view to help carry out the practice of the 8NP..


Except that, in the text of MN 117, the supramundane view is listed as being "a factor of the path" and applying rebirth to one's practice (the tainted right view) is *not* described as a factor of the path. This is one of the distinctions between them.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Mr Man » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:01 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Again, one cannot attain the noble path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view which contradicts the arahants who know the next world.


Are you speaking from a position of authority here or is this a theoretical position?

The Pāli Tipiṭaka is the authority. The ancient Theras are also the authority.


So would it be fair to say that your answer would equate to the second option? I would see the Pali Tipiṭaka, ancient Theras (and contemporary) more as points of reference.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:32 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
nowheat wrote:The above equivocation is also repeated in the next sutta, where the viewpoint is attributed to Sanjaya. What becomes clearer on reading it there, is that it makes the holder of the view unable to do anything effectively because he cannot make up his mind. He is not even sure that action has an effect....

One doesn't have to equivocate on every point mentioned among the doctrines of equivocation in order to maintain a wrong view. A good example of equivocation regarding rebirth is the many qualms and doubts about rebirth stated in the 143 pages (and counting) of the Great Rebirth Debate thread.

We are agreed on this. But the thread is fed as much by those who insist that rebirth is or could be real, as by those who deny it. Then those, like myself and many others here, who believe that holding either view is a hindrance, step in and ask everyone to just let go.

nowheat wrote:The Buddha can be seen to equivocate (can be interpreted as equivocating) on many of the same issues.

Ñāṇa wrote:The only questions among these that the Buddha sets aside as undeclared are the four regarding the post-mortem status of a tathāgata.

We are agreed on that.

nowheat wrote:And this, I believe, brings us back to the point about modern "materialists". They aren't eel-wrigglers.... They are reasonably certain there is no other world....

Ñāṇa wrote:And this is also a wrong view. Again, one cannot attain the path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view.


It is clear to me that you aren't distinguishing any difference between absolute conviction in a cosmic order, and holding a view tentatively. As daverupa put it:

daverupa wrote:I think the problem has become clarified, and I will phrase it this way: an error is made by equating positions of honest epistemological assessment with positions of persistent eel-wriggling.


or even with dogged certainty.

If you cannot see a difference between assessment of likelihood and either determined clinging to a view or eel-wriggling equivocation, nothing I can say is likely to improve the situation. Sometimes, when we tend to experience situation in a particular way that is different from the way others experience it, it makes it next-to-impossible to understand how people who interpret differently in that situation would feel. I suspect that your way of interpreting information is just different from the way modern atheists approach the same information.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:39 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

"There are beings who are reborn spontaneously." Mundane right view MN 117.7

"What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation." MN 12.33

"Again, a monk who has abandoned the five lower fetters takes a spontaneous
rebirth and, without returning from that world, gains enlightenment."
[ Long Discourses, Walshe 1987, DN 6.13]

Oh dear! This seems to be saying (working backwards) that one who has abandoned the five lower fetters, and will gain enlightenment without returning from the final world of rebirth, gets to serve that last sentence in hell and the lower worlds! Ouch!

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:05 pm

nowheat wrote:We are agreed on this. But the thread is fed as much by those who insist that rebirth is or could be real, as by those who deny it. Then those, like myself and many others here, who believe that holding either view is a hindrance, step in and ask everyone to just let go.


I haven't noticed anybody on this thread denying rebirth. This thread is fed by those who insist that rebirth is real and one must hold this view, and those who that believe that holding either fixed view can be a hindrance.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:09 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are you saying the Buddha didn't himself believe in devas but taught about them anyway? Or that he knew they didn't exist but still taught about them? That seems to be the logical conclusion of what you're saying.


Goofaholix wrote:He taught differently to different people depending on where they were at and he used the words, beliefs, mythology, and rituals of his time as teaching methods depending on the worldview of the audience.

In a ideal world everyone would have an abidhammic understanding of their mind body process and would be ripe for arahantship, but that's never going to be he case. If somebody can develop a better understanding of sila and kamma through use of the teaching stories of the day then that's a good thing.

That doesn't necessarily imply endorsement of them as fact.

I think we have to focus on what the Buddha was trying to achieve, not the context within which he was trying to achieve it. I think we have to ask ourselves if he were teaching 20th century westerners would he communicate the message differently so as not to confuse what's important with what's peripheral, we can see teachers are already doing this.


:goodpost:

But.

The context is important in understanding why we read what we read in the suttas. It was normal for the wise ones to speak on several levels simultaneously, and that's what the Buddha does.

I would add that the Buddha always speaks to people in the idiom they are comfortable with. This is why he can use words that we translate as "Take refuge in yourself" even though, as we all know, we have no self to take refuge in. Is he lying when he speaks that way? No. He is using language without clinging to it. He even points out the correctness of speaking this way:

MN 74 wrote:A monk whose mind is thus released does not take sides with anyone, does not dispute with anyone. He words things by means of what is said in the world but without grasping at it."


When he speaks of gods, he is speaking in this way because, as he puts it:

MN 100 wrote:...whether one answers, 'There are gods,' or 'It is known to me to be he case [that there are gods],' a wise man can draw the definite conclusion that there a gods... It is widely accepted in the world, Bharadvaja, that there are gods."


This speech follows directly after a sutta in which he has pointed out that it is unwise, when wanting to make one's point, to talk to people in a way that conflicts with their understanding:

MN 99 wrote:"What do you think, student? What is better for those well-to-do-brahmins... that the statements they make accord with worldly convention or flaunt worldly convention?" "That they accord with worldly convention, Master Gotama."


The Buddha often counsels his followers not to cling to language when they speak of the dhamma, and he sets a good example. Unfortunately in our day and age we tend to get a little dogmatic about the use of language and see this as lying. The Buddha wouldn't lie so this must all be literal. Historical context is important.

But the bottom line, as Goofaholix pointed out in the last lines above, is to keep in mind what the Buddha was trying to achieve. He was trying not just to get his teaching across but to get it across in such a way that it would reach many people and have a chance of surviving. He used every skillful means at his disposal to get people to come and see for themselves, regardless of what they believed at the start, because he had the courage of his convictions in his dhamma, that if it was followed far enough, and understood well enough, it would lead them on to where dukkha ends.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:44 pm

Greetings Mike, Dave, all,

daverupa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Since the Buddha certainly talked about past and future (but advised not seeing a self in any of it) I don't really buy the "only things verifiable in the present moment are significant" interpretations.


Something quite interesting on this point:

SN 22.79 wrote:"Thus an instructed disciple of the noble ones reflects in this way: 'I am now being chewed up by [aggregates]. But in the past I was also chewed up by [aggregates] in the same way I am now being chewed up by present [aggregates]. And if I delight in future [aggregates], then in the future I will be chewed up by [aggregates] in the same way I am now being chewed up by present [aggregates].' Having reflected in this way, he becomes indifferent to past [aggregates], does not delight in future [aggregates], and is practicing for the sake of disenchantment, dispassion, and cessation with regard to present [aggregates]."


Here, indifference and non-delight are attitudes taken towards things that are insignificant, it seems to me. Perhaps we can see in this an instruction which guides from rebirth-view to right-view?

Indeed... this is how I understand the Buddha's teaching, having reflected that way.

mikenz66 wrote:It's possible that Interpretations that tend to label anything to do with past or future, or anything not currently directly verifiable as "speculative" may well be a form of nihilism, and a convenient way of dodging some difficult issues. I'm not saying you are doing that, I'm speaking generally about my unease with such interpretations.

Fair enough. I hope Dave's choice quote helped allay some of this unease.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:13 pm

K.N. Jayatilleke, PhD:



Buddhist Atheism While Buddhism is atheistic, we must not forget that Buddhist atheism has at the same time to
be distinguished from materialistic atheism. Buddhism asserted the falsity of a materialistic
philosophy which denied survival, recompense and responsibility as well as moral and spiritual
values and obligations, no less than certain forms of theistic beliefs. In its thoroughly objective
search for truth it was prepared to accept what was true and good in “the personal immortality
view” (bhavadiṭṭhi) of theism as well as “the annihilationist view” (vibhavadiṭṭhi) of atheistic
materialism: “Those thinkers who do not see how these two views arise and cease to be, their
good points as well as their defects and how one transcends them in accordance with the truth
are under the grip of greed, hate and ignorance … and will not attain final deliverance.” (MN
11.7/M I 65).
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh162.pdf
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 nowheat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:52 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
nowheat wrote:We are agreed on this. But the thread is fed as much by those who insist that rebirth is or could be real, as by those who deny it. Then those, like myself and many others here, who believe that holding either view is a hindrance, step in and ask everyone to just let go.


I haven't noticed anybody on this thread denying rebirth. This thread is fed by those who insist that rebirth is real and one must hold this view, and those who that believe that holding either fixed view can be a hindrance.


I should perhaps have included more of the original context. The "thread" referenced above is the Great Rebirth Debate, not this thread.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:02 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:The Pāli Tipiṭaka is the authority. The ancient Theras are also the authority.


So would it be fair to say that your answer would equate to the second option? I would see the Pali Tipiṭaka, ancient Theras (and contemporary) more as points of reference.

They are sources of refuge.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:04 pm

Greetings Ñāṇa,
Ñāṇa wrote:They are sources of refuge.

They can be... but no one necessarily needs to go for refuge to the Theravada doctrine (e.g. Abhidhamma) in order to go for refuge to the Dhamma, for example, much like one doesn't need to go for refuge to Mahayana doctrine in order to go for refuge to the Dhamma.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:11 pm

nowheat wrote:If you cannot see a difference between assessment of likelihood and either determined clinging to a view or eel-wriggling equivocation, nothing I can say is likely to improve the situation.

The canon is quite clear that there actually is a next world. I see no good reason for equivocating over this.
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