How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:28 pm

Christopher, on reading through your posts on this forum one is struck by the number of times you say that you have to look up certain terms, fair enough except that much of the time those terms are very basic, and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that you are debating at times beyond your level of knowledge, The result is that you are forced to fall back repeatedly on to the same basic position, which could be summed up " as long as our hearts are in the right place and do some practice, (practise btw that you do not define as far as I am aware) its all the same". Now I think that shows the influence of a certain kind of western Zen which is anti scripture and anti intellectual .
The fact is that kind of approach to the Buddhas Dhamma may be shared on some Zen Forums, but is always going to be met with resistance on a Theravada forum. The Theravada view is that three things are needed for an understanding of the Dhamma, a moral code, a knowledge of the Suttas and a skillful means of developing insight into the nature of things. Any position which seems to downplay or ignore any of those aspects will be problematic in terms of the Theravada. Can I ask what your actual practice is ? I know that you are associated with a Zen forum in some way. Do you practice in accordance with Zen ? Or do you practice Vipassana as taught by Joseph Goldstein ? If the latter, may I ask where you were taught ? You are of course free to answer in part or whole or not at all. Its just that you refer to the experiential frequently, but its not clear where that experiential knowledge has been obtained, and I think it would aid communication to know that.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:07 pm

Hi Sanghamitta. As concerns Theravadin Buddhism i began to take a serious interest last September, listening frequently to Goldstein's audio talks. I started this thread mid-September asking for more information on Theravadin teachings.

In terms of background i'm one of those "independent" type practitioners that is frequently joked about. :tongue: Started meditating on my own in the late 1980s and have kept it up, without a personal teacher. Drawn initially to the Tao te Ching, Dhammapada, Upanishads, Advaita, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Krishnamurti, Shunryu Suzuki, Transcendentalism, Whitman, Thoreau, etc. New Age Western Tao & Zen type originally i guess, if you'd like to find a box for it.

Stumbled onto E-sangha about 5 years ago where i learned more about the different traditions of Buddhism. Thought my path was with the "Zen school" until last year, when i discovered there were some differences in approach to the dharma that i no longer felt comfortable with (though i do still find great benefit from reading the teachings of Zen teachers and communicating with Zen Buddhists).

Presently feel very much at home with the teachings of Ajahn Chah, but have been drawn especially to Goldstein and the Insight Meditation Society. Haven't had the chance to do a retreat or meet one-to-one with any teachers there yet. I hope that will happen in the future, but i've been "practicing" on my own for most of my life, so these conversations with people (E-S, DW, ZFI) and dhamma talks by Goldstein have provided much more "input" then i'd had previously.

As far as the study of the Pali suttas and conceptions go though, i've just begun to scratch the surface. When someone talks about something and it sounds interesting/helpful, i will look it up.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:15 pm

I take it that you are not comfortable talking about your actual practice past or present.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:51 pm

christopher::: wrote:. . . concerning the Hindu term atman and the Pali sutta term ajata i'm not sure why you think i am "claiming" them to be equivalent. If it sounded like i said that, either you misunderstood or i phrased something in a way that i hadn't intended. . . . I never meant to make it sound like i believed they were equivalent. I really hadn't put a lot of thought into it, honestly and had to go look up the term ajata just now...
Why would you look up a term as used by Buddhism on a Hindu site? That makes absolutely no sense. And obviously you have not read my above

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1755&p=48802#p48802

that looks at the ajata - “unborn” - at some length in terms of how it is used at a term indicating nibbana.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:26 pm

Our dear friend sounds very much like the modern new agers who preach about the equality of all religions but yet, can't prove their assertions. Some Hindus like to say Buddhism is a subset of their religions, very much in the same way as some Chinese who claimed that Tao can lead to liberation from the three realms while in the modern times, there are even claims that Jesus actually took Dharma teachings from India. :roll: Whatever....What Christropher and that goldstein guy suggest is not a new development at any rate although it probably never occurs to them as why Buddhism still exist as a separate religion from the rest instead of merging with them if they taught the same doctrine. (according to those two)

Nevertheless and fortunately, they are minority in this aspect. There are several reasons why Advaita never taught the same thing as Buddhism , among them, are the very different form of action theory (Karma), very different meaning of renunciation, very different type of insight mediation and last but not least very different path to liberation.

So what if they describe the characteristics of the ultimate in the same way as Buddhism? (Probably they rip off from it as well) Their conventional theory and practice is very, very different from ours. True, they mediate but what they mediate on? The dissolution of five aggregates? Impermanence of conditioned dhamma? Or Samara as a burning pit of endless suffering? From my personal knowledge and understanding of them, I very much, doubt so.

Furthermore, Advaita followers speculate and preach a lot of cosmology theories as related to their Brahman doctrine (Taoists also do the same but to a lesser extent) whereas in Buddhism, Theravada at least, its one of the imponderables as we are mainly concerned with liberation and the Buddha clearly stated that one might go mad if over speculate about them. How some Buddhists could miss all these significant difference is beyond me.

christopher::: wrote:As for Goldstein he presently says he just doesn't know about some things. As a sincere long-term practitioner he may come to a flash of deep unmistakable insight next Thursday, after which his position will change and he says he now "knows." Should we then trust what he has to say then, about the nature of mind? If he takes the Dzogchen position, you probably won't, if he lands firmly in Theravadin territory you probably will.


What goldstein think or say is of little consequence, he has zero authority in Theravada and is not a widely recognized Buddhist master. In fact, he should have kept his speculations to himself instead of spreading them around, misleading people.

Finally, giving wrong teaching about anatta (in the case, equating it to atman) have grave consequence and very heavy negative karma. Hope he realize this before its too late.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:36 pm

Yes, well... your views about Goldstein and newcomers like myself are probably shared by others, Heavenstorm.

Thanks for the link, Tilt. I didn't understand your description, perhaps it will make more sense in the future. As for Goldstein's statements they stand (or fall) on their own. If they are helpful to someone, wonderful. If not and you all want to try to take his "view" apart, that's fine too.

As for my views, i'm a total amateur, so feel free to dig in. :tongue:

Sanghamitta wrote:I take it that you are not comfortable talking about your actual practice past or present.


Would be more then happy to share greater details via PM, or to discuss practice in general in some of the other practice related threads, Sanghamitta. Several people i consider wiser then myself have advised that such details of personal practice are often better discussed privately.

With metta,
:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:42 pm

Heavenstorm wrote: that goldstein guy
That Goldstein guy is a very solid Dhamma and skilled teacher in the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage, and it would be very unfortunate to see him dismissed as some sort of fluffy-bunny new agey sort. Whiie I am not unsympathetic to what he is trying to do in his book, ONE DHARMA, this book is at best a opening statement in what should be a larger discussion of how the Dhamma is taking root in the West and how one might deal with the wild plurality Buddhist schools, and it really is not a basis judging Goldstein in terms of his Dhamma understanding and teaching skill in term of the Theravada and vipassana.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/
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: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:46 pm

christopher::: wrote:Thanks for the link, Tilt. I didn't understand your description, perhaps it will make more sense in the future.
I can only shrug my shoulders. It is rather straightforward.
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: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:51 pm

Joseph Goldstein has written some very useful things.

Christopher I wasnt asking about anything intimate or detailed . For example my main practises at present are Vipassana in a fairly orthodox Mahesi way, which I practise daily, as I have already shared in the relevant thread, and Metta Bhavana.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:22 pm

christopher::: wrote:Yes, well... your views about Goldstein and newcomers like myself are probably shared by others, Heavenstorm.


We will and can do nothing to you but karma, on the other hand, is an effective b1tch based on my experience. I tried to warn but the rest is still up to you people. At the end of the day, I can't do anything to the thousands of wrong views about Buddhism that is so widespread on the net.

If you guys ever read Adi Shankara's work and some of his debates, you will realize that he had no love for Buddhism and utterly rejected claims that he copied his ideas from Mahayana and criticize its doctrine of emptiness. Subsequently, due to his ferocious effort, Buddhism accelerated its long time decline in India before being almost extinct under the hands of muslim invaders in that region for centuries. So much for religious tolerance.....Yeah

Frankly speaking, I have higher opinion of advaita (see my post on the bottom of page 3) than most of their followers have on Buddhism. (Which they like to insist, is a subset) I guess their current interest in Buddhism after centuries of indifference since its extinction in India, is largely emerging from the fact that Buddhism is reviving from the ashes in its place of birth.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:28 pm

- What is the cause, the reason, Master Kaccana, why ascetics dispute with ascetics?
- It is, brahmin, because of lust for views, because of adherence, bondage, greed, obsession and cleaving to views, that ascetics dispute with ascetics.

AN 2.38

what is the point of engaging into disputes?
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:52 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:- What is the cause, the reason, Master Kaccana, why ascetics dispute with ascetics?
- It is, brahmin, because of lust for views, because of adherence, bondage, greed, obsession and cleaving to views, that ascetics dispute with ascetics.

AN 2.38

what is the point of engaging into disputes?
Probably none; however, there a point in trying to understand the Dhamma and there is a point in pointing out misrepresentations of the Dhamma.
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: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:18 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:- What is the cause, the reason, Master Kaccana, why ascetics dispute with ascetics?
- It is, brahmin, because of lust for views, because of adherence, bondage, greed, obsession and cleaving to views, that ascetics dispute with ascetics.

AN 2.38

what is the point of engaging into disputes?


To clarify the truth.

The Buddha engaged quite frequently in debates. Of course, as it is recorded in the canon, he always won. :)

-M
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:28 am

Read Gopi Krishna's account to see what happens to meditators in a Hindu context. They inevitably reify what are undoubtedly arupa states as "God" and/or "Self:"

http://www.om-guru.com/html/saints/gopi.html

http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/gopinterview.htm


Ajaan Chah's first experience of an arupa was powerful, but luckily he was skeptical about it. Buddhist meditative theory makes all the difference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1oK4Vt_ntY
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby shjohnk » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:14 am

It seems your friend is very attached to his view. There must be some strong reasons for this (I guess 700 million Hindus have to have some reason for being Hindus!) and it's unlikely he'll ever change his mind about it. Best to agree to disagree and get on with one's own practice. If the Buddha couldn't convince all of the Hindus he met, how can we? :) The best example we can set is practicing well, IMO.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:37 am

shjohnk wrote:If the Buddha couldn't convince all of the Hindus he met

At the risk of being facetious I HAVE to ask: Did the Buddha have a time machine? Ah, must be an abhinna (sp?) I don't know about :)

Edit: My understanding (and I'm probably wrong) is that what we call Hinduism is a rather complicated blend of Brahmanism a la Vedas and samanic ideas that the Brahmans may have adopted... some of which (as I recall hearing in a Bhikkhu Bodhi lecture) came after the Buddha, possibly as a direct response to the Dhammapada (I'm looking at you, Bhagavad Gita). I've not, however, studied ancient indian religious development enough to make a judgement, I just think calling the Brahmans 'Hindus' is a bit of a stretch.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:18 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
shjohnk wrote:If the Buddha couldn't convince all of the Hindus he met

At the risk of being facetious I HAVE to ask: Did the Buddha have a time machine? Ah, must be an abhinna (sp?) I don't know about :)

Edit: My understanding (and I'm probably wrong) is that what we call Hinduism is a rather complicated blend of Brahmanism a la Vedas and samanic ideas that the Brahmans may have adopted... some of which (as I recall hearing in a Bhikkhu Bodhi lecture) came after the Buddha, possibly as a direct response to the Dhammapada (I'm looking at you, Bhagavad Gita). I've not, however, studied ancient indian religious development enough to make a judgement, I just think calling the Brahmans 'Hindus' is a bit of a stretch.


Yeah, one could say that, in a kind of technical way.

Or, one can say "hindu" means "over that side of the Indus river" (which is apparently what the English meant when they coined the phrase), which means that even Buddhism itself, not just vedic brahmanic and sramanic stuff is also all "hindu". Though, I prefer to write this as "hindoo" just like "boodha".
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