The Secular Buddhist

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

Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:59 pm

Ñāṇa wrote: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?


Maybe because we aren't simply "materialists who practice meditation"? The Buddha's dhamma isn't just about meditation. It's about direct insight into *what is* and while meditation is one of the great tools that serves that end, meditation is not in itself THE end; the insight is, along with the wisdom and compassion that the insight generates, for the welfare of all beings.

And some of us -- myself, at any rate -- aren't materialists in any way at all. I follow the Buddha in taking an agnostic stance.

:namaste:
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:17 am

Ron Stillman wrote:
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/


Hi Ron,
Thanks for the link I will listen to these at some point.
Unfortunately there have been many attempts to rationalise rebirth, anatta, and a host of other teachings away, but the teachings are actually allot fuller than some would have people believe, or are as an example it is common for people to say that the buddha was responding to the Upanishads view, missing that there is quite often not one view represented within them, and there are arguments against views which are not part of the Upanishads. The Buddha argued against wrong views found within the Samana & Bramana circles, not one or the other, or one group within them.

and from what I have heard so far talks about the classes being closed to one another, which according to the Pali canon was not the case, one of the queens (I can not remember which one from memory) was from a low class, yet was married to the king.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:29 am

nowheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote: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?


Maybe because we aren't simply "materialists who practice meditation"? The Buddha's dhamma isn't just about meditation. It's about direct insight into *what is* and while meditation is one of the great tools that serves that end, meditation is not in itself THE end; the insight is, along with the wisdom and compassion that the insight generates, for the welfare of all beings.

And some of us -- myself, at any rate -- aren't materialists in any way at all. I follow the Buddha in taking an agnostic stance.

:namaste:


[quote =" —Udana, 5.5"] Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this discipline of Dhamma (dhamma-vinaya) has a gradual training (anupubbasikkhā), a gradual performance (anupubbakiriyā) , a gradual progression (anupubbapatipadā), with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch.[/quote]
Saddha - faith; conviction; trust - is a part of the path also. I do not know anywhere the buddha talks about being agnostic as a default position. The Buddha does say to leave aside questions of a certain kind as they are not useful to the path, but with things that are these require faith, at times an acceptance that one does not know but not a idea that it is therefore not able to be known or irrelevant.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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 Philo » Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:29 am

Ñāṇa wrote: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?

As a self-identified secular Buddhist, I'd answer this in a few ways.

Firstly, the place I know in the Suttas where the materialist view is discussed is in the talk by Ajita Kesakambalin in the Samaññaphala Sutta, and there's plenty of things with which to disagree, even as a physicalist. Thus, I'd dispute the claim that at least I have more in common with ancient Indian materialists.

Secondly, I'm strictly speaking a nonreductive physicalist, not a materialist. But I don't personally think that matters for practice, although I would be happy to discuss it further should you find it relevant. One thing my study and practice has told me is that many intellectual pursuits (such as metaphysics) yields little fruit.

Finally, if I think that calling myself "a [physicalist] who practice[s] meditation" would be somewhat misleading. I came to Buddhist practice through a convergence of intellectually studying Buddhism simply to round out my Western philosophical knowledge and also taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, and was content with MBSR for a while. To make a long story short, however, I came to realize that mindfulness outside of the Buddhist context was of limited value, and so I started practicing the Eightfold Path.

So, if you'd like to call me "a physicalist who practices the Eightfold Path as primarily laid out in the Pali Suttas and some later Theravadin tradition while not also ignoring the insights of some later Buddhist practioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana as well as some insights of modern science while also valuing strongly the skeptical and philosophical truth-tracking methods of inquiry that the West has developed", then I'd be fine with that. But that seems a bit of a mouthful! :smile: I find "secular Buddhist" to be short enough and get the gist across well enough. But I'm not particularly attached to labels.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:00 am

Philo wrote:Firstly, the place I know in the Suttas where the materialist view is discussed is in the talk by Ajita Kesakambalin in the Samaññaphala Sutta, and there's plenty of things with which to disagree, even as a physicalist. Thus, I'd dispute the claim that at least I have more in common with ancient Indian materialists.

Buddhist suttas aren't the best source of information on Indian materialist views....
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby twelph » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:20 am

The circle is almost complete.

Humanism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism
Secular Humanism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism
Buddhism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism
Humanistic Buddhism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Buddhism
Secular Buddhism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Buddhism

Let it be known here and now that I am starting Secular Humanistic Buddhism. Wikipedia page forthcoming :)
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:42 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Buddhist suttas aren't the best source of information on Indian materialist views....


Did these Indian materialists teach dependent origination? Did they teach anatta, anicca, dukkha? The Middle Way? Craving as the cause of suffering?
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:21 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Did these Indian materialists teach dependent origination? Did they teach anatta, anicca, dukkha? The Middle Way? Craving as the cause of suffering?

No, but neither do these modern secular "Buddhists." At least not in any traditional Buddhist context.

The Cārvāka views are completely in accord with scientific materialism, physicalism, atheism, or whatever one wants to call it. Most notably in the field of epistemology.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:22 am

Hi Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote:The Cārvāka views are completely in accord with scientific materialism, physicalism, atheism, or whatever one wants to call it. Most notably in the field of epistemology.

That's an interesting article. This sounds familiar:
Cārvākas cultivated a philosophy wherein theology and what they called "speculative metaphysics" were to be avoided.

The etymological meaning of the word Cārvāka is 'a person who is clever in speech and is extremely fond of wrangling (debate)'.


:anjali:
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:That's an interesting article. This sounds familiar:
Cārvākas cultivated a philosophy wherein theology and what they called "speculative metaphysics" were to be avoided.

The etymological meaning of the word Cārvāka is 'a person who is clever in speech and is extremely fond of wrangling (debate)'.


Yeah, much of it should sound familiar to most contemporary, Western educated readers. In Indian Philosophy, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya quotes S. N. Dasgupta:

    Purandara (a Lokāyata philosopher) [...] admits the usefulness of inference in determining the nature of all worldly things where perceptual experience is available; but inference cannot be employed for establishing any dogma regarding the transcendental world, or life after death or the law of karma which cannot be available to ordinary perceptual experience.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:54 am

Greetings,

Same source...
"It may be said from the available material that Cārvākas hold truth, integrity, consistency, and freedom of thought in the highest esteem."


That said, again, looking at the same source, I think it's needlessly disparaging, intolerant and inaccurate to call other Buddhists cārvākas...
Cārvāka, was attached to the position in order to disparage it.


...unless they really do subscribe to cārvāka theory...

The Carvaka believed there was no afterlife, no life after death

the Carvaka believed there was nothing wrong with sensual indulgence, and that it was the only enjoyment to be pursued.

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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:00 am

retrofuturist wrote:
the Carvaka believed there was nothing wrong with sensual indulgence, and that it was the only enjoyment to be pursued.


In the context of the middle way of practice of the dhammavinaya most modern human beings are hedonists to some degree.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:03 am

Greetings Geoff,

Do you care to elaborate?

I'm a bit unclear on the point you're trying to make...

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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:Do you care to elaborate?

I'm a bit unclear on the point you're trying to make...

One of the main traditional criticisms of the materialists by other Indian schools of thought was that there was no incentive towards renunciation of sense pleasures and conflicted emotions in their worldview. The same can be said of secular "Buddhism" sans post-mortem vipāka results, etc.

retrofuturist wrote:That said, again, looking at the same source, I think it's needlessly disparaging, intolerant and inaccurate to call other Buddhists cārvākas...

I think it's inaccurate to attempt to recast the Buddha as advocating a materialist worldview or as being an agnostic.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:23 am

Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:One of the main traditional criticisms of the materialists by other Indian schools of thought was that there was no incentive towards renunciation of sense pleasures and conflicted emotions in their worldview. The same can be said of secular "Buddhism" sans post-mortem vipāka results, etc.

Well that again assumes that "the secular Buddhist" holds such views, as if they are universally accepted by all who stand beside the "secular Buddhist" label. To take Triratna/FWBO as a comparable example, there is significant diversity in Dhammic view and practice amongst members.

I don't know that these labels are particular useful, but then, that group has taken it upon themselves to label themselves thus, and through the act of labelling and identification, have differentiated, distinguished and separated themselves... and by doing such have risked exposing themselves to being characterised in such ways.

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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Well that again assumes that "the secular Buddhist" holds such views, as if they are universally accepted by all who stand beside the "secular Buddhist" label.

Yeah, I doubt that there's a secular Buddhist version of a Nicene Creed.

retrofuturist wrote:I don't know that these labels are particular useful, but then, that group has taken it upon themselves to label themselves thus, and through the act of labelling and identification, have differentiated, distinguished and separated themselves... and by doing such have risked exposing themselves to being characterised in such ways.

People are certainly free to call themselves whatever they want. That's fine. It's a pluralistic world.

Personally, I think it's prudent to resist every urge to remake the samaṇa Gotama in one's own image.
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:42 am

Greetings,

Ñāṇa wrote:Personally, I think it's prudent to resist every urge to remake the samaṇa Gotama in one's own image.

:thumbsup:

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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:46 am

I think it's prudent to resist every urge to remake the samaṇa Gotama in one's own image.
Except, being human beings, that is always what is going to happen.
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 retrofuturist » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:52 am

Greetings,

Related to that is the following...

The Threefold Refuge - Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el076.html

Especially the second half which talks about differing degree of refuge, all the way through to total self-surrender.

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: The Secular Buddhist

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:17 pm

Ted Meissner wrote:
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.



Though SB freely admits cherry picking from the suttas, ie rejecting the bits that don't fit into his personal belief system. In other words secular Buddhism is still very much tied into the whole belief/disbelief thing.

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