The Secular Buddhist

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ted Meissner » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:32 pm

Justsit wrote: So does SB consider the teachings on rebirth as a cultural manifestation?


We find punna bhava, or "again becoming", in the Pali canon and references to the Buddha's discussions of having been such and such in a previous lifetime. So, from that perspective, it would be considered religious, not cultural.

However, as a skeptic, I would suggest that rebirth is an assertion not in evidence. We have wonderful and inspiring stories about it, the idea may help one's practice, or may not -- for many of us, it does not. Nor is rebirth in the Four Noble Truths, ending dukkha is. Sure, there is the teaching that ending rebirths is what results, that is the result of extinguishing the roots of lobha, dosa, and moha, but there are indications rebirth was not part of the original teaching.

And, honestly, I don't really have much attachment to what anyone said, I care what has been shown by my own experience is effective. Taking the Kalama Sutta at its word! In another arena, science, e=mc2 is valid all by itself, that it was Einstein who said it doesn't have any impact on the veracity of that formula. I respect and admire Einstein and Buddha, and take what they've said as great ideas to test for myself.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:42 pm

Einstein wrote:"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

I think the same can be said for religious teachings.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:29 pm

Going back a few steps in the hope of going forward ...
daverupa wrote:Thai
Burmese
Sri Lankan
Cambodian
Laotian
Indian
Chinese
Japanese
Vietnamese
Secular(/Western?)
---

All of these are extant iterations of Buddhism. Certainly there are more.

Retro's Buddhism
Kim's
Buckwheat's
Daverupa's
Ted's
Justsit's
etc
daverupa wrote:They all seem to know what to leave in, what to leave out, but there isn't perfect accord here.
Let's be wary of false dichotomies.

My point, of course, is that each person accepts from the teachings what they are ready to accept, and learns from the teachings what they are ready to learn. In this context, 'Secular Buddhism' is a pre-bundled sub-set of what's available, as is, e.g., 'the Goenka tradition'.
No-one has time to learn the whole lot and almost all of us find a benefit in approaching the teachings via one particular tradition rather than getting a confusing mish-mash.
:namaste:
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby vinasp » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:43 pm

Hi everyone,

The term "punna bhava" - again existing, can be taken as referring to rebirth,
in the literal sense.

However, bhava means personal existence, or existence as a self, and this
kind of existence is an ongoing process for all who are not yet liberated.

So "punna bhava" can be understood in another sense, as the "again existing"
which is taking place every moment.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:49 pm

Moggalana wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Is Secular Buddhism interested in accepting rebirth as a working hypothesis?

I guess one can choose it as working hypothesis if one feels inclined to do so. At the moment, no one can disproof rebirth just as no one can proof it (scientifically). You have three choices: accept it, reject it or put it aside. Whichever one you choose is a personal thing in my opinion. The question is: Does it make a difference? Or would it make a difference if you could be sure it was either true or not? And why do you need to belief in rebirth?

except the fact that Buddhism isn't science, so the two do not need to be in accordance, I agree. except for the point of believing in rebirth, I know from personal experiance it makes a difference.

Cittasanto wrote:or is it only interested in what agrees to its secular preferences?

It looks at the teachings from a certain point of view. But so does every interpretation. In the case of Secular Buddhism, the lenses through which the teachings are understood are science and sceptical thinking. An orthodox interpretation on the other hand might be influenced by certain metaphysical views of a certain time or specific cultural conditionings.

basically you answered this in the last quoted passage it is individualistic Buddhism, cut and paste what you want.

Cittasanto wrote:and how does it know what to leave in and take out?

I don't know, I'm not a scholar but I think that a good place to start would be to look at those elements of the teachings that are shared by all traditions. Teachings like the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and so forth. Those key teachings which survived the various translations and interpretations relatively unchanged are probably more important than teachings whice are modified through cultural conditioning.

So deity puja would be acceptable to all then (Karaniya metta sutta for a theravadan example, The vajrayanins are famous for it (NKT contraversy) and the other Mahayana schools put Boddhisatvas and buddhas up there and have gods they certainly worship.
calling it secular is misleading in my point of view, it is no more a tradition which pushes its own opinion on people, I know from my experience of interdenominational groups that no one actually knows more than the main opinion, which isn't necessarily in-line with the truth, and were shocked at simple things like walking meditation, or The Theravadin Boddhisatta. to put it short it is the theory that 'all is one' in a different guise.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:50 pm

Hi Kim Very good point and straight to it!
vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

The term "punna bhava" - again existing, can be taken as referring to rebirth,
in the literal sense.

However, bhava means personal existence, or existence as a self, and this
kind of existence is an ongoing process for all who are not yet liberated.

So "punna bhava" can be understood in another sense, as the "again existing"
which is taking place every moment.

Regards, Vincent.

yeah the canon has both this lifetime and multiple lifetime models of Dependent Origination.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Justsit » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:13 pm

"If we suspend our own predilections for the moment and instead go directly to our sources, we come upon the indisputable fact that the Buddha himself taught rebirth and taught it as a basic tenet of his teaching. Viewed in their totality, the Buddha's discourses show us that far from being a mere concession to the outlook prevalent in his time or an Asiatic cultural contrivance, the doctrine of rebirth has tremendous implications for the entire course of Dhamma practice, affecting both the aim with which the practice is taken up and the motivation with which it is followed through to completion." (emphasis mine).
-Bhikku Bodhi, on ATI

More here.

I don't want to turn this into another Great Rebirth Thread, but this quote points to the serious implications of tweaking selected portions of a complete path that has been successful for 2500 years. If we do not consider it successful,
why are we following it at all? (I'm talking the bottom line here, not the cultural accretions).

It sounds to me like SB is more "Secular Humanism Based on Buddhist Principles."

Just my .02.
Thanks.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:28 pm

hi Just sit
Justsit wrote:"If we suspend our own predilections for the moment and instead go directly to our sources, we come upon the indisputable fact that the Buddha himself taught rebirth and taught it as a basic tenet of his teaching. Viewed in their totality, the Buddha's discourses show us that far from being a mere concession to the outlook prevalent in his time or an Asiatic cultural contrivance, the doctrine of rebirth has tremendous implications for the entire course of Dhamma practice, affecting both the aim with which the practice is taken up and the motivation with which it is followed through to completion." (emphasis mine).
-Bhikku Bodhi, on ATI

More here.

I don't want to turn this into another Great Rebirth Thread, but this quote points to the serious implications of tweaking selected portions of a complete path that has been successful for 2500 years. If we do not consider it successful,
why are we following it at all? (I'm talking the bottom line here, not the cultural accretions).

It sounds to me like SB is more "Secular Humanism Based on Buddhist Principles."

Just my .02.
Thanks.

I have the same opinion, I used rebirth as an example of right view, there are no mothers fathers or spontaneously born beings can be interpreted to refer to litteral rebirth and is part of right view, I have seen other interpretations which also include rebirth for the spontaneously born being and duties to parents as an alternative.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:16 am

Hi all

If you wish to discuss rebirth then I suggest you visit the great rebirth debate thread in the Open Dhamma forum.
If members continue with discussing rebirth then the thread will be merged with the great rebirth debate thread.
kind regards,

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:26 am

Moggalana wrote: So what's Secular Buddhism about?


I think it's just another thicket of views, where the problem is not belief but disbelief. ;)

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:32 am

Secular Buddhism? Almost the same as Skeptical Buddhism - see http://www.sasana.org/sangha_background.shtml

:popcorn:
Kim

P.S. Here's another modern Western take: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bear.htm

:thinking:
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:59 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Moggalana wrote: So what's Secular Buddhism about?


I think it's just another thicket of views, where the problem is not belief but disbelief. ;)

Spiny

Disbelief is dependent on belief. Both are part of the thicket of views.
The opposite if belief is not disbelief..its knowledge.
In the absence of personal direct knowledge we have belief masquerading as saddha.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:08 am

Sanghamitta wrote: In the absence of personal direct knowledge we have belief masquerading as saddha.
But fortunately that can, with insight, change to real saddha.
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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote: In the absence of personal direct knowledge we have belief masquerading as saddha.
But fortunately that can, with insight, change to real saddha.

Absolutely...with Insight. In the meantime it is provisional.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:23 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote: In the absence of personal direct knowledge we have belief masquerading as saddha.
But fortunately that can, with insight, change to real saddha.

Absolutely...with Insight. In the meantime it is provisional.
And a lot of fighting over the provisional, it seems.
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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:36 am

Apparently so.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:14 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Moggalana wrote: So what's Secular Buddhism about?


I think it's just another thicket of views, where the problem is not belief but disbelief. ;)

Spiny

Disbelief is dependent on belief. Both are part of the thicket of views.
The opposite if belief is not disbelief..its knowledge.
In the absence of personal direct knowledge we have belief masquerading as saddha.


My point was that disbelief can be as much a hindrance as belief - it's all a thicket of views and opinions.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ted Meissner » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:43 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:My point was that disbelief can be as much a hindrance as belief - it's all a thicket of views and opinions.


That's one reason SB tends to focus on practice based on what can actually be demonstrated in the natural world -- the conjecturing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or what literal rebirth one might take, that's the thicket of views, not the reasonable inquiry into what can be shown as cause and effect.

It is also very similar to Secular Humanism, and I'm editing this weekend's episode with a Secular Humanist, Rick Heller. Secular Humanism is, to me, lacking in a practice which is what SB brings in the form of the Eightfold Path.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Ron Stillman » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:49 pm

Justsit wrote:So does SB consider the teachings on rebirth as a cultural manifestation?

You might like to listen to a series of talks entitled "Buddhism Before the Theravada" by John Peacock; a discussion of the history of the time in which the Buddha lived and the importance of that history as context of how and what he taught.
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/207/talk/2602/
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:02 pm

Ted Meissner wrote:SB tends to focus on practice based on what can actually be demonstrated in the natural world....

It seems that many of you folks have more in common with ancient Indian materialists than you do with any form of Buddhism. Why not just say that you are materialists who practice meditation?
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