danieLion wrote:Why do we need to? As Kant pointed out, "Ought implies can." This is problematic because:
To say we "need" to meditate is like saying we "need" to drink water. Yes, obviously, one is not impelled to do so by some mystical cosmic force; if you really want to, you can refuse to drink water until you die. When we say, "You need to drink water," we are really just stating the "if, then" - if you want to live, you need to drink water - with a universal "if" removed. We do the same here when we say we "need" to meditate. The universal "if" of "If you don't want to suffer" is removed because it is a self-evident truth.
If someone comes up to me in my house and asks, "Where is the bathroom?" I would say, "You ought to go down the hallway and enter the first door on the right." Does that mean that I am claiming there is now a moral or metaphysical imperative to do so?
I'm fine with the first and last sentence but not the bolded one. How could anyone possibly know this without going back in time and learning (or at least observing) from the Buddha and/or his approved teachers?
I don't think Bhante Pesala is referring to any specific method or technique and claiming it is original to the Buddha; he's just claiming that the degree to which modern Buddhists pursue that meditation, of whatever kind, is not equal in effort or focus to that which the Buddha commended. Until I see the sutta verse, "Oh, monks, what should one do when the cell phone rings? Answer it, oh monks!" I'm inclined to agree with him.
This isn't, of course, a sleight against lay Buddhists, but merely an admission that the level of insight required for enlightenment is very, very difficult to find without intense striving.
To support the REAL "meditation"/originalist thesis one, as Venerable Pesala typifies, seems compelled to assume or depend upon the validity of the rebirth doctrine:
I don't think that's true at all. Simply framing a practice against a doctrine for greater clarity is not the same as making that practice dependent on doctrine. However, for the record, exactly what is so damn crazy about bringing rebirth into the subject when rebirth was and is an undeniable cornerstone of traditional Buddhist philosophy? If you don't believe in rebirth, or are agnostic, there's nothing wrong with that, but the tone of amazement or derision when a monk brings up a fundamental concept of his religion is not wholesome.
So, the perspective goes like this, from my point of view: You secular or modernist Buddhists don't have the REAL, original teachings of the Buddha on "meditation," but I (insert contemporary teacher's name) do and will teach it to you.
Secular Buddhists absolutely do not
have the real, original teachings of the Buddha! I have no quarrel with them, honestly, but those who reject rebirth are in fact rejecting a teaching of the Buddha that cannot be cast into historical invalidity without inviting scholarly anarchy regarding the true message of the Pali Canon. If you reject rebirth, or claim that it was not taught by the Buddha, then you are in fact rejecting a core part of the original teachings - and you're free to do that, but please do acknowledge it.
But first, you have to believe in rebirth so when you have questions about progress variance, I can easily dismiss your inquiries and over-simplistically tell you that it depends on the work you've done in previous lives.
I have not been a Buddhist for more than about four years, but in those four years, during which time I have made contact with many different monks and teachers, I have never heard anyone, lay or ordained, make a claim like this to me or anyone else. This is a strawman.
However, to say, in effect, "I teach only original Buddhist meditation and in order to do it right you have to beleive in rebirth," seems not only provincialistic but also exclusionary. It also implies that some degree of BLIND FAITH is required to progress on The Path, something even the Buddha never demanded.
To say that you must have a general ideological and philosophical alignment with the founder of a spiritual practice in order to get the most out of that practice is not provincialist, any more than it would be provincialist to say that one who is studying biology must believe in the second law of thermodynamics.
And as for "faith," I think a much better word would be "confidence." To quote the Kalama sutta, one twisted and abused by many the secular Buddhist:
Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.
Rebirth, as a doctrine, is one that invites confidence not because of tradition, scripture, or legend, or
because of logical conjecture or probability. Rebirth is a framework which should be adopted because it is praised by the wise and conducive to practice - and it is conducive to practice! I do not doubt that many who do not accept rebirth, yourself included, have strong and worthwhile practices; it cannot be denied, however, that transmigration, both as a moral and causal framework and as a fact of nature, plays an integral part in the Buddhist worldview as well as in the "ought" statement we make about meditation being necessary.
So while I disagree with you that Pesala, and other strict and meditation-focused teachers are truly yoking vipassana to rebirth, I even more strongly disagree with the idea that they would be wrong to do so!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti SuttaStuff I write about things.