Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:41 pm

daverupa wrote:Instead, the tacit view being championed in the OP, that "strongly holding rebirth-view is mandatory for progress in the Dhamma," has failed to receive adequate support which would warrant accepting it as true; that phrase has actually been undermined in various ways.

Accepting what the texts say on the subject doesn't entail maintaining that "strongly holding rebirth-view is mandatory for progress in the Dhamma." I suggest you're misunderstanding my intentions as well as what I've said.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:50 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Is nobility the solely a characteristic of stream enterers?

Yes.

Goofaholix wrote:In that case only stream enterers can practise the noble eightfold path....

This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:00 pm

Hi everyone,

From a very interesting paper by Robert H. Sharf, titled: Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience.
Numen, Vol. 42, No. 3. (Oct., 1995), pp. 228-283.

1. "In fact, contrary to the image propagated by twentieth-century apologists, the actual practice of what we would call meditation rarely played a major role in Buddhist monastic life. The ubiquitous notion of 'mappo' or the "final degenerate age of the dharma" served to reinforce the notion that "enlightenment" was not in fact a viable goal for monks living in inauspicious times. This is readily confirmed by anthropological accounts: modern monks,
at least those who are not associated with "Protestant Buddhist" revival movements (see below), consider nirvana to be an impossibly distant ideal.(18) As such, the more earnest monks are content to spend their time cultivating moral virtue, studying scriptures, and performing merit-making rituals in the hope of being reborn in more favorable circumstances."

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

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:01 pm

Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:In that case only stream enterers can practise the noble eightfold path....

This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.

Yep, they're not called sekhas (trainees) for nothing.

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 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:34 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.

Yep, they're not called sekhas (trainees) for nothing.

Yes, they're also called path attainers (maggalābhi). In a couple of commentaries there is also mention of the lesser stream-entrant (cūlasotāpanna) who is still on the level of a worldling (puthujjanabhūmi), in addition to those who are established on the path of stream-entrance (sotāpattimaggattha) and have attained the level of noble ones (ariyabhūmi).
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:47 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: This is readily confirmed by anthropological accounts: modern monks,
at least those who are not associated with "Protestant Buddhist" revival movements (see below), consider nirvana to be an impossibly distant ideal.(18) As such, the more earnest monks are content to spend their time cultivating moral virtue, studying scriptures, and performing merit-making rituals in the hope of being reborn in more favorable circumstances."

This is an odd statement, but perhaps it needs some extra context of what he means by '"Protestant Buddhist" revival movements '.

Does he count the various Burmese Sayadaws and various Thai Forest groups to be "Protestant Buddhist"?
They certainly don't shy away from saying that nibbana is possible "in this very life" (to quote the title of a book derived from a U Pandita retreat [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/]). Mahasi Saydaw describes his interpretation, presumably based on personal and teaching experience, of how practitioners progress to nibbana in this book: http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html Ajahn Maha Boowa gives his opinions in various places. Sample here: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Maha_B ... ndying.htm

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:17 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.


That's how Stephen Batchelor teaches it.

Thanissaro appears to disagree;

    "The noble eightfold path is the most standard description of the Buddhist way of practice. The Buddha taught it to his first disciples and to his last [§240], as well as to the majority of those in between. It is called noble because when all of its factors come together in a fully developed form, they stand on the threshold to stream-entry, the first of the noble or transcendent attainments". - Wings to Awakening.

That's how I've heard it taught.

What is the path? Is it the destination? Is it the process towards the destination? I'd say either or both depending on perspective. The path can be talked about in terms of it's fruition and or it's cultivation.
"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 vinasp » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:19 pm

Hi Mike,

I have started another thread for discussion of the paper by R. H. Sharf.
It is in the Open Dhamma section. Title:

R. H. Sharf on Protestant Buddhism.

Regards, Vincent.
Last edited by vinasp on Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:20 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.

Ok so the notion that we can sort of choose to disregard the right view with effluents in favor of the right view without effluents - that would not be the case.
"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 Lazy_eye » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:21 pm

mikenz66 wrote:The alternative view is that modern backgrounds and views can also cause motivational problems. Speaking kind of generically from my experience with relatively secular people I observe that some see the practice as a way of having a less stressful life. I.e. the possibility of the total elimination of Dukkha .


Mike, if I haven't misread you, you seem to be saying that the secular Western approach tends to keep people stuck at a rather worldly level of practice ("for a less stressful life"), but isn't that largely the case in traditional Buddhist countries as well?

I would almost think the opposite -- with rebirth, kamma and merit taken out of the picture, the early stages of the "gradual path" are eliminated or at least need to be reinterpreted, so the whole basis for lay Buddhism gets called into question. From what I've seen, the atheists and agnostics who take up dhamma are primarily interested in the supramundane aspect.

But maybe I have misunderstood your point...
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:26 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:From what I've seen, the atheists and agnostics who take up dhamma are primarily interested in the supramundane aspect.

Yet they maintain mundane views of their own design.
"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 mikenz66 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:41 pm

vinasp wrote: I have started another thread for discussion of the paper by R. H. Sharf.
It is in the Open Dhamma section. Title:

R. H. Sharf on Protestant Buddhism.

Thanks. Here's the link:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=11912

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:51 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:The alternative view is that modern backgrounds and views can also cause motivational problems. Speaking kind of generically from my experience with relatively secular people I observe that some see the practice as a way of having a less stressful life. I.e. the possibility of the total elimination of Dukkha .


Mike, if I haven't misread you, you seem to be saying that the secular Western approach tends to keep people stuck at a rather worldly level of practice ("for a less stressful life"), but isn't that largely the case in traditional Buddhist countries as well?

Not so much that these people are this and those are that.

I know many secular Western practitioners who seem to be doing meditative practice "for a less stressful life".
I know many Asians who seem to practice mostly by meritorious deeds.
I know a few Westerners and a few Asians who do meditative practice with the idea that it will bring liberation.
Lazy_eye wrote:I would almost think the opposite -- with rebirth, kamma and merit taken out of the picture, the early stages of the "gradual path" are eliminated or at least need to be reinterpreted, so the whole basis for lay Buddhism gets called into question. From what I've seen, the atheists and agnostics who take up dhamma are primarily interested in the supramundane aspect.

But maybe I have misunderstood your point...

Perhaps it depends on who you happen to meet. There are a wide range of people out there...

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:04 am

Goofaholix wrote:Thanissaro appears to disagree;

    "The noble eightfold path is the most standard description of the Buddhist way of practice. The Buddha taught it to his first disciples and to his last [§240], as well as to the majority of those in between. It is called noble because when all of its factors come together in a fully developed form, they stand on the threshold to stream-entry, the first of the noble or transcendent attainments". - Wings to Awakening.

That description could agree with the traditional interpretation, depending on what he means by "stand[ing] on the threshold to stream-entry." Of course, Ṭhānissaro doesn't always go along with the commentarial tradition.

At any rate, the traditional version has it that the noble path moment of stream-entry is supramundane because one penetrates the four noble truths for the first time, and this results in the elimination of the first three fetters. The technical term for this is the "path moment," where, according to the Paṭisambhidāmagga, "Right view in the sense of seeing emerges from wrong view..." and so on for the other seven factors of the noble eightfold path.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:10 am

kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.

Ok so the notion that we can sort of choose to disregard the right view with effluents in favor of the right view without effluents - that would not be the case.

Right. According to the commentarial tradition the "noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path" occurs when one attains the noble path of stream-entry. This is why it's called noble (ariyā), without effluents (anāsavā), transcendent/supramundane (lokuttarā), and a factor of the path (maggaṅgā).
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby nowheat » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:17 am

kirk5a wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:This is the traditional understanding: The noble eightfold path arises for the first time at the moment of stream-entry.

Ok so the notion that we can sort of choose to disregard the right view with effluents in favor of the right view without effluents - that would not be the case.


(underlining mine, to match up wording in my question with your wording)

I'm not following the logic here. You seem to be saying that (to use Thanissaro Bhikkhu's phrasing) "one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path" must regard the mundane right view that is *with* effluents. Is that what you're saying? Does that make some kind of sense that I am missing?

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:46 am

nowheat wrote:I'm not following the logic here. You seem to be saying that (to use Thanissaro Bhikkhu's phrasing) "one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path" must regard the mundane right view that is *with* effluents. Is that what you're saying? Does that make some kind of sense that I am missing?

I am trying to clarify what "right view without effluents" actually is, whether anyone other than ariya actually have it, and whether it is appropriate to interpret "right view with effluents" as something that one can set aside, with the idea that one will develop the right view without effluents instead.
"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 Goofaholix » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:04 am

Ñāṇa wrote:That description could agree with the traditional interpretation, depending on what he means by "stand[ing] on the threshold to stream-entry." Of course, Ṭhānissaro doesn't always go along with the commentarial tradition.

At any rate, the traditional version has it that the noble path moment of stream-entry is supramundane because one penetrates the four noble truths for the first time, and this results in the elimination of the first three fetters. The technical term for this is the "path moment," where, according to the Paṭisambhidāmagga, "Right view in the sense of seeing emerges from wrong view..." and so on for the other seven factors of the noble eightfold path.


"stand[ing] on the threshold to stream-entry" seems pretty unambiguous to me.

If you are focussing on the culmination of the path and I am focussing on the cultivation of the path that should partly explain our differences on what could be considered a pre-requisite.
"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 daverupa » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:19 am

kirk5a wrote:the idea that one will develop the right view without effluents instead.


This seems to dovetail with another thread on whether rebirth-view is required for attaining stream-entry...

We know that right view is a characteristic of a stream-winner; is it not due to this that they are independent of others in the Teaching? If so, it would make the case that right view - without effluents - is only held by noble disciples, which is how I understand it.

So, is there any developmental connection between right view with effluents, and right view?

AN 2.126 wrote:"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."


SN 22.122 wrote:"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Which five? Form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. A virtuous monk should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. For it is possible that a virtuous monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry."


Right view with effluents is not mentioned at all.
    "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 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:20 am

kirk5a wrote:I am trying to clarify what "right view without effluents" actually is, whether anyone other than ariya actually have it, and whether it is appropriate to interpret "right view with effluents" as something that one can set aside, with the idea that one will develop the right view without effluents instead.

According to the classification system enumerated in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī, etc., any occurrence of a skillful mind (kusala citta) will be associated with right view, but only the path and fruition minds are supramundane (lokuttara) with right view that is a factor of the path (maggaṅga) included in the path (maggapariyāpanna). Thus, while the wording is a bit different, the "right view with effluents" would correspond to any skillful mind of the sensual sphere (kāmāvacara), the form sphere (rūpāvacara), or the formless sphere (arūpāvacara), and the "right view without effluents" would correspond to the path and fruition cognitions which penetrate the four noble truths and take cessation as the object-support.
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