Faith-based against evidence-based

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Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:33 am

Hi all,
I am new here, so let me please introduce myself.

I am about 40 years old, I live in Japan
For about 20 year of my life I have been a devout Catholic Christian, later on I found out that all the teachings of the bible are essentially faith based
I also found out that one day I will die, and that no teachings alone will be likely to save me.
I spent few more years looking for evidence of Christianity, looking if miracles were "real", and I found that, again, there was no evidence that there was any miracle could be "real".
Some Christians may say that I was looking for a proof of God and this cant be without faith, but I do not think it can be possible to have a blind faith in something, in anything.
Then I turned to Zen, which at least promised to help me get satori in this life time.
After ten years of meditation I still could not get it, but I keep trying.

So, I have been recently interested in Theravada Buddhism, I read a book of Prof. Williams who was a professor of Buddhism at Bristol University and who recently converted back to Catholicism.
The reason of the conversion was basically the fact that Buddhism is as much faith-based as Catholicism and offers no hope.
I mean, unless you can reach Nirvana in this lifetime, which is something ultimately difficult for anyone.
Unless you do not, and I can say that almost all of us will not reach Nirvana in this lifetime, you have to believe that you will be able to reach it in a future life, but future lives and their existence is, again, faith based.
In fact, the four noble truths, the life of Buddha himself, his teachings, and the existence of Nirvana itself I would say is faith based.

I had a discussion about this with a monk who practiced for many years in Thailand and he told me that in the midst of so many different interpretations of Buddhism, I should go back and read what the Buddha actually said.
The fact that it is physically impossible to know what a man said more than 2500 years ago, when there were no cameras or taperecorders, did not seem to shaken his faith that what are the words attributed today to Buddha have any shred of evidence

Again, I have read books again of monks who practiced and had this r that sensation , that said that we must practice, but almost all people who talk about Buddhism seem to ignore the point that for me is the most important: which point do we have that the teachings of Buddha actually bring you anywhere important?
This question is basically ignored in many discussions, at least, I cant see it replied any way satisfactory.
Yes, you can get some peace, yes, you can get same good feelings, but you can get peace also by stopping to drink and you can get good feelings by making a family.
What about Enlightenment and what is it about?
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby chownah » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:49 am

The only thing not based on faith is direct experience. Everything else is a product of mental effort and in this one must have faith that the mind is correctly interpreting what is experienced.......so if you are looking for something that does not depend on faith then look to your direct experience as there is nothing else. Don't worry about enlightenment....if you take enlightenment as an idea then you must have faith in what has brought this idea.....if enlightenment is an experience then look to your direct experience and perhaps you will find it.....it can"t be anywhere else.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:49 am

chownah wrote:The only thing not based on faith is direct experience. Everything else is a product of mental effort and in this one must have faith that the mind is correctly interpreting what is experienced.......so if you are looking for something that does not depend on faith then look to your direct experience as there is nothing else. Don't worry about enlightenment....if you take enlightenment as an idea then you must have faith in what has brought this idea.....if enlightenment is an experience then look to your direct experience and perhaps you will find it.....it can"t be anywhere else.
chownah


This is what I am saying.
If I achieved enlightenment..
But is there any way to achieve enlightenment with Theravada?
It looks that it is not even claimed to be any realistically possible.
So what is the point of even trying?
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Derek » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:24 am

Matteo1972 wrote:which point do we have that the teachings of Buddha actually bring you anywhere important?


The teachings of the Buddha don't bring you anywhere -- except here and now.

Matteo1972 wrote:What about Enlightenment and what is it about?


Enlightenment is about realizing there's no one there to become enlightened.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:27 am

Matteo1972 wrote:I read a book of Prof. Williams who was a professor of Buddhism at Bristol University and who recently converted back to Catholicism.
The reason of the conversion was basically the fact that Buddhism is as much faith-based as Catholicism and offers no hope.


I think that is the guy who didn't comprehend or understand anatta (no-self) and felt Buddhism was too pessimistic; a common misconception.

Yes, you can get some peace, yes, you can get same good feelings, but you can get peace also by stopping to drink and you can get good feelings by making a family.


Just by stopping to drink? There are plenty of people who don't drink at all and they still suffer. Making a family? For some, that is the main cause of their suffering.

Matteo1972 wrote:It looks that it is not even claimed to be any realistically possible.
So what is the point of even trying?


Who states that it is not realistically possible?
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:45 am

Matteo1972 wrote:...It looks that it is not even claimed to be any realistically possible.
So what is the point of even trying?

Hi, Matteo,
The best answer I know is Apannaka Sutta: A Safe Bet http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.060.than.html
In very few words: if we live mindfully and virtuously we stand a good chance of having reasonably happy lives whether we achieve enlightenment or not - and we may achieve enlightenment. :bow: :bow:
If we go the other way - living mindlessly, dominated by greed, lust, hatred, etc - we will have horrible lives and bring suffering to ourselves and all around us. :toilet:
It's a no-brainer, isn't it?

That leads back to your original question, "Faith-based against evidence-based" ... the dhamma asks for a little initial faith and trust (e.g. that the teachings were faithfully recorded and transmitted) but then asks us to see for ourselves, look at our own experience. We can set troubling points aside and focus on what makes sense to us now, and maybe come back to them later. One of the reasons I'm here (both 'here' in Buddhism and 'here' on DW), in fact, is this attitude: I am not required to accept any particular point of doctrine to be welcome.

:namaste:
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Samma » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:54 am

:goodpost:

Here is the Paul W. thread:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10132
The guy is more Mahayana focused, so if you are interested in Theravada or early Buddhism, go study something else.
Here is the introductory resources thread:
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=148

As others said, the teachings are ultimately confirmed by direct experience.
Why would you believe anyone else anyway?
This is stuff you have to sort out for yourself.
Who knows maybe someday neuroscience can give us a good idea of any evidence.

Here is an article on Buddhism and faith recommended:
even though the Buddha recommends tolerance and a healthy skepticism toward matters of faith, he also makes a conditional request about faith: If you sincerely want to put an end to suffering — that's the condition — you should take certain things on faith, as working hypotheses, and then test them through following his path of practice.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ening.html
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:40 am

In Buddhism, faith (saddhā) is better translated as "Confidence based on knowledge."

If anyone who is neither devious nor mentally ill, really practices insight meditation sincerely and diligently for a few days or a few weeks they should be able to attain the stage of Purification by Overcoming Doubt

At this early stage of insight, the meditator can realise by direct experience that what the Buddha said about there being no self or soul, no person or being, no me or you, is true.
When that knowledge has come to maturity, the meditator perceives only body-and-mind processes occurring in strict accordance with their particular and appropriate conditions and he comes to the conclusion: “Here is only a conditioning body-and-mind process and a conditioned body-and-mind process. Apart from these, there is no person who performs the bending of the limbs, etc., or who experiences feelings of pain, etc.”

This stage of insight is still far removed from realising nibbāna and attaining a firm foothold on the path to Enlightenment, but it is deep enough to dispel the sceptical doubt that cannot be removed by reading, discussing, and thinking.

In my opinion, if anyone practises hard enough to attain this stage of insight, there is no possibility that they could convert to another religion. They may, or may not attain Enlightenment in this very life, depending on several factors — morality, intelligence, wisdom, diligence, etc., — but they would have gained genuine faith in the Buddha's teaching. In brief, they will become a a wise and virtuous ordinary person. (See also The Four Types of Buddhists)

All other religions believe in a soul and in an Almighty God. Buddhism rejects both of these concepts as being false, and requires the follower to rely on his or her own efforts to attain salvation.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:11 am

Derek wrote:
Matteo1972 wrote:which point do we have that the teachings of Buddha actually bring you anywhere important?


The teachings of the Buddha don't bring you anywhere -- except here and now.

Matteo1972 wrote:What about Enlightenment and what is it about?


Enlightenment is about realizing there's no one there to become enlightened.


I do not want to be disrespectful but you did not say much..

The usual self-contradictory statements to show up a little and tell everyone that you are wise..

David N. Snyder wrote:
I think that is the guy who didn't comprehend or understand anatta (no-self) and felt Buddhism was too pessimistic; a common misconception.


The "guy" has been a professor of Buddhism for over 20 years and wrote many books about the argument.
What makes you think you know better than him?

David N. Snyder wrote:Just by stopping to drink? There are plenty of people who don't drink at all and they still suffer. Making a family? For some, that is the main cause of their suffering.


Exactly.
Other people do not have a family and that is their main cause of suffering.
I have seen no evidence that being a Buddhist helps you remove such suffering

David N. Snyder wrote:Who states that it is not realistically possible?


There are some hundreds of thousands of monks in Thailand, still it is said that there may be 5-6 fully enlightened being, and we even do not know who they are ..
Does not seem to me a much optimistic view.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Kusala » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:25 am

Matteo1972 wrote:
Derek wrote:
Matteo1972 wrote:which point do we have that the teachings of Buddha actually bring you anywhere important?


The teachings of the Buddha don't bring you anywhere -- except here and now.

Matteo1972 wrote:What about Enlightenment and what is it about?


Enlightenment is about realizing there's no one there to become enlightened.


I do not want to be disrespectful but you did not say much..

The usual self-contradictory statements to show up a little and tell everyone that you are wise..

David N. Snyder wrote:
I think that is the guy who didn't comprehend or understand anatta (no-self) and felt Buddhism was too pessimistic; a common misconception.


The "guy" has been a professor of Buddhism for over 20 years and wrote many books about the argument.
What makes you think you know better than him?

David N. Snyder wrote:Just by stopping to drink? There are plenty of people who don't drink at all and they still suffer. Making a family? For some, that is the main cause of their suffering.


Exactly.
Other people do not have a family and that is their main cause of suffering.
I have seen no evidence that being a Buddhist helps you remove such suffering

David N. Snyder wrote:Who states that it is not realistically possible?


There are some hundreds of thousands of monks in Thailand, still it is said that there may be 5-6 fully enlightened being, and we even do not know who they are ..
Does not seem to me a much optimistic view.


This Buddhist Monk Is The World's Happiest Man ---------> http://www.businessinsider.com/how-scie ... is-2012-11
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Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:26 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:In Buddhism, faith (saddhā) is better translated as "Confidence based on knowledge."

If anyone who is neither devious nor mentally ill, really practices insight meditation sincerely and diligently for a few days or a few weeks they should be able to attain the stage of Purification by Overcoming Doubt


I do not think this is the case.
There are many monks who practiced for years and then disrobed.
How come they did not get to even this early stage?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:At this early stage of insight, the meditator can realise by direct experience that what the Buddha said about there being no self or soul, no person or being, no me or you, is true.


I do not think there is evidence of this
I know quite a lot of people who practice, and I do not see this as evident.
Also, which kind of meditation are you talking about?
There are many different kinds.
All of them can show you this truth after days or weeks of practise?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:In my opinion, if anyone practises hard enough to attain this stage of insight, there is no possibility that they could convert to another religion. They may, or may not attain Enlightenment in this very life, depending on several factors — morality, intelligence, wisdom, diligence, etc., — but they would have gained genuine faith in the Buddha's teaching. In brief, they will become a a wise and virtuous ordinary person. (See also The Four Types of Buddhists)

All other religions believe in a soul and in an Almighty God. Buddhism rejects both of these concepts as being false, and requires the follower to rely on his or her own efforts to attain salvation.


If few days or weeks would be enough to arrive already to understand that what Buddha say is true, then why so many monks in Thailand just become temporary monks for 3 months or 3 years and then go back to their families?
What about all the practitioners who stay in a temple for few years and then go back to their home countries.
Were they so sure they are on the right path, this would not make much sense.

Also, it is not true that all other religions believe in a soul and in Almighty God.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:27 am

Kusala wrote:This Buddhist Monk Is The World's Happiest Man ---------> http://www.businessinsider.com/how-scie ... is-2012-11


Err..
I would not believe the Business Insider for questions about "happiness"
Also, I dont believe happiness can be measured.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby chownah » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:04 am

Matteo1972 wrote:
chownah wrote:The only thing not based on faith is direct experience. Everything else is a product of mental effort and in this one must have faith that the mind is correctly interpreting what is experienced.......so if you are looking for something that does not depend on faith then look to your direct experience as there is nothing else. Don't worry about enlightenment....if you take enlightenment as an idea then you must have faith in what has brought this idea.....if enlightenment is an experience then look to your direct experience and perhaps you will find it.....it can"t be anywhere else.
chownah


This is what I am saying.
If I achieved enlightenment..
But is there any way to achieve enlightenment with Theravada?
It looks that it is not even claimed to be any realistically possible.
So what is the point of even trying?

You are taking enlightenment as an idea......so you must understand that anything you believe about it will be based on faith whether you are dealing with zen or Mahayana or Theravada or wherever you look it will always come up the same in that it will take faith to pursue it. You probably will not be able to have faith based on anything to convince you that enlightenment exists or is possible to achieve......if someone could prove that enlightenment exists or that it is possible to achieve then it would be the cover story in every magazine around the world....but it is not.....enlightenment as an idea requires faith. So, as I said before it is probably best to not worry about enlightenment....worrying about enlightenment is taking it as an idea and you don't seem to want to take it on faith which is required for ideas.....So just forget it, don't even bother with that idea.....instead why not do all that you can do to discern how experience (direct experience) arises and passes away......doing that will almost surely yield benefits of some sort(everyone says so, zen, Mahayana, Theravada,....even Catholics).....and who knows if enlightenment might just be a bonus.......or maybe not......it really won't matter.
Personally, I don"t have much faith in anything so I just go with direct experience......it seems to have worked pretty well for me......your mileage may vary.......
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:11 am

chownah wrote:Personally, I don"t have much faith in anything so I just go with direct experience......it seems to have worked pretty well for me......your mileage may vary.......
chownah


On this we agree :)

But it will not have worked well for me until I will stop with worrying about death ;)
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:47 am

Matteo1972 wrote:There are many monks who practiced for years and then disrobed.
How come they did not get to even this early stage?

Disrobing is not the same as converting to another religion or losing faith in the Buddha's teachings. In my experience, most monks who disrobed did so due to sexual desire. Some of them became successful lay meditation teachers.
Matteo1972 wrote:I know quite a lot of people who practice, and I do not see this as evident.
Also, which kind of meditation are you talking about?
There are many different kinds.
All of them can show you this truth after days or weeks of practise?

One must practice the right method to gain insight. Tranquillity meditation on it's own will not be effective. One must practice insight meditation (vipassanā), after developing at least purification of mind (freedom from the five hindrance, of which doubt is a major obstacle).
Matteo1972 wrote:If few days or weeks would be enough to arrive already to understand that what Buddha say is true, then why so many monks in Thailand just become temporary monks for 3 months or 3 years and then go back to their families?

Most temporary monks in Thailand are just "making merit" — a few may practice meditation, but again, if they do, they must practice the correct method and must be diligent.

Again, disrobing after a few months, or a few years, or after many years, is not any indication of having lost faith in the practice. I know a nun who practised for 100 days as a temporary nun, and then disrobed to run her family business. She may well have been a Stream-winner. There are many reasons that monastics disrobe, the most unlikely of which is losing faith in the Dhamma.

Matteo1972 wrote:Also, it is not true that all other religions believe in a soul and in Almighty God.

There cannot be many. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism,all believe in the soul and Almighty God. I am not sure about what Judaism believes.

You practised Zen Buddhism for 10 years, and apparently gained no insight. Prof Williams taught about a corrupt form of Buddhism for 20 years, and converted to Catholicism. We don't know what kind of meditation he practised, if any.

Doubt is a tricky defilement to overcome. One needs a good teacher, but also the student needs to be honest and hard-working. I don't accept your assumption that it is not realistically possible to attain realisation in this very life. It is impossible for some people, difficult for most, and easy for a few. The Puggalapaññati describes four kinds of individuals:

  1. Those who can attain realisation after a brief discourse
  2. Those who can attain realisation after a detailed discourse
  3. Those who can attain realisation after training
  4. Those who cannot attain realisation in this existence, but only in a future existence
A widely held belief is that only the latter two kinds are found in the world now. The mentally ill fall into the fourth category, and those who hold pernicious wrong views. I think most of us fall into the third category. So, it's only a matter of learning the right method, and obtaining the right training.

Pessimism never makes any sense. If you think you're hopeless, then you are.

Realistically, most athletes cannot expect to win an Olympic medal. Many, may not realistically expect to reach the Final, so they would be hopeless of winning any medal, let alone a gold one. Nevertheless, they compete in the hope of gaining some kind of medal in the future. Other lesser athletes compete just for the fun of it, or the benefits of health and well-being that they obtain on a daily basis.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:07 am

Pesala: The Puggalapaññati describes four kinds of individuals:

1.Those who can attain realisation after a brief discourse
2.Those who can attain realisation after a detailed discourse
3.Those who can attain realisation after training
4.Those who cannot attain realisation in this existence, but only in a future existence


the full translation is below:
What sort of person is quick in acquiring (ugghaṭitaññū)?
The person for whom there is penetration of the Dhamma at the very time when it is being taught is called “quick in acquiring.”

What sort of person is one who learns by means of a detailed exposition (vipañcitaññū)?
The person for whom there is penetration of the Dhamma when the meaning of what has been taught in brief is later analysed in detail is called “one who learns by means of a detailed exposition.”

What sort of person is one who may be guided (neyya)?
The person for whom penetration of the Dhamma comes gradually by means of recitation, questioning, proper attention, and by serving, cultivating and waiting upon kalyānamittas is called “one who may be guided.”

What sort of person is one for whom the letter alone is the highest thing (padaparama)?
The person for whom penetration of the Dhamma will not come in this life, however much [of the Teaching] he may hear and speak and bear in mind or recite, is called to be “one for whom the letter alone is the highest thing.”
(Puggalapaññatti 41-2; Designation of Human Types 58)
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:52 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Disrobing is not the same as converting to another religion or losing faith in the Buddha's teachings. In my experience, most monks who disrobed did so due to sexual desire. Some of them became successful lay meditation teachers.


And why they chose to be married and have a family if they gained insight in the high teachings of Buddha?
This would not make much sense if things were as you said.
One person would definitely go for the teachings of Buddha were he sure he got the right teachings

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:One must practice the right method to gain insight. Tranquillity meditation on it's own will not be effective. One must practice insight meditation (vipassanā), after developing at least purification of mind (freedom from the five hindrance, of which doubt is a major obstacle).


If you are talking about the purification of the mind, someone above said it takes a few days, a few weeks at best.
So why now is it called a major obstacle.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Most temporary monks in Thailand are just "making merit" — a few may practice meditation, but again, if they do, they must practice the correct method and must be diligent.


I thought you were "making merit" by practicing the correct meditation.
Is there any other way to make merit?
And is there any incorrect method out there? (there must be one since you speak about a correct one)
And how can we understand which is the correct method from the incorrect one?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Again, disrobing after a few months, or a few years, or after many years, is not any indication of having lost faith in the practice. I know a nun who practised for 100 days as a temporary nun, and then disrobed to run her family business. She may well have been a Stream-winner. There are many reasons that monastics disrobe, the most unlikely of which is losing faith in the Dhamma.


Why would someone disrobed after having entered the Stream to run a business is beyond me.
Should not be enlightened the highest goal of every being?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There cannot be many. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism,all believe in the soul and Almighty God. I am not sure about what Judaism believes.

Well..
Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents - soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed (a static universe similar to that of Epicureanism and steady state cosmological model). All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creator_deity

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:You practised Zen Buddhism for 10 years, and apparently gained no insight. Prof Williams taught about a corrupt form of Buddhism for 20 years, and converted to Catholicism. We don't know what kind of meditation he practised, if any.


On which grounds you claim that his version of Buddhism is corrupt while yours, apparently, is not?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Doubt is a tricky defilement to overcome. One needs a good teacher, but also the student needs to be honest and hard-working. I don't accept your assumption that it is not realistically possible to attain realisation in this very life. It is impossible for some people, difficult for most, and easy for a few. The Puggalapaññati describes four kinds of individuals:

  1. Those who can attain realisation after a brief discourse
  2. Those who can attain realisation after a detailed discourse
  3. Those who can attain realisation after training
  4. Those who cannot attain realisation in this existence, but only in a future existence
A widely held belief is that only the latter two kinds are found in the world now. The mentally ill fall into the fourth category, and those who hold pernicious wrong views. I think most of us fall into the third category. So, it's only a matter of learning the right method, and obtaining the right training.


If things were as you say, with 300000 practicing monks in Thailand we would have literally thousands of Enlightened beings.
Still, hardly we come to hear about one or two..
Statistically, this does not make sense.
Dont you believe ?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Pessimism never makes any sense. If you think you're hopeless, then you are.

Realistically, most athletes cannot expect to win an Olympic medal. Many, may not realistically expect to reach the Final, so they would be hopeless of winning any medal, let alone a gold one. Nevertheless, they compete in the hope of gaining some kind of medal in the future. Other lesser athletes compete just for the fun of it, or the benefits of health and well-being that they obtain on a daily basis.


So we are talking about having one Buddha every four years?
Winning the gold at the Olympics is tremendously difficult, so you are more or less telling me that it would be impossible for me and you to win a Gold.
Do you expect that the average 12-year-old will win the Gold at the Olympics, even if he/she trains incredibly hard?
And still, even with one "winner" every four years, we should know that at least there are 10-12 alive by today.
Do you know the name of any of them?
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:46 am

Matteo1972 wrote:And why they chose to be married and have a family if they gained insight in the high teachings of Buddha?

The Buddha's teaching is not only for monks and nuns. Lay people can also attain realisation and liberation from suffering.
Matteo1972 wrote:If you are talking about the purification of the mind, someone above said it takes a few days, a few weeks at best. So why now is it called a major obstacle.

I was not talking about purification of mind. I said that doubt is a major obstacle.
Matteo1972 wrote:I thought you were "making merit" by practicing the correct meditation. Is there any other way to make merit?

The traditional belief is that one can "make merit" just by living as a monk. I don't subscribe to this view. By just wearing the robes, but not fulfilling the monks' training, one might well make more demerit than merit.
Matteo1972 wrote:And is there any incorrect method out there? (there must be one since you speak about a correct one) And how can we understand which is the correct method from the incorrect one?

One can understand the correct method first by studying and questioning learned monks and meditation teachers, then by practising it oneself according to the instructions given.
Matteo1972 wrote:Why would someone disrobed after having entered the Stream to run a business is beyond me. Should not be enlightened the highest goal of every being?

Arahantship is the highest goal. Stream-winners still have sensual desire, but they are free from sceptical doubt and immorality.
Matteo1972 wrote:On which grounds you claim that his version of Buddhism is corrupt while yours, apparently, is not?

On the basis of over thirty years of study and practice.
Matteo1972 wrote:If things were as you say, with 300000 practicing monks in Thailand we would have literally thousands of Enlightened beings.

Many monks are just Buddhist priests performing rites and rituals. You won't hear about most monks who have attained the various stages of the path. It's an offence for a monk to tell a lay person about such attainments. What you do hear about is just hearsay and faith-based opinions — devotees and disciples of monks may be right or wrong about their revered teachers. It is hard to know the mind of others.
Matteo1972 wrote:So we are talking about having one Buddha every four years?
No. We are talking about confidence based on personal experience (saddhā) being an essential requirement before one can strive to attain insight.
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Matteo1972 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:26 pm

I do not want to look as pedantic, but..

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The Buddha's teaching is not only for monks and nuns. Lay people can also attain realisation and liberation from suffering.


I was thinking that reaching Nirvana, if this is what you mean, is already so much difficult for monks and nuns that a person seriously interested should become monk.
Now, if they have achieved some insight and appreciated it, why then they would like to go back as layman?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I was not talking about purification of mind. I said that doubt is a major obstacle.


Oh OK
But if doubt is a major obstacle and it is part of the five hindrance (purification of the mind), is not it like saying that is it difficult of getting purification of the mind?
And then it is not a few days or weeks achievement
Or maybe I am not really understanding

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The traditional belief is that one can "make merit" just by living as a monk. I don't subscribe to this view. By just wearing the robes, but not fulfilling the monks' training, one might well make more demerit than merit.


But the traditional belief must be shared by a lot of people in Thailand, including the monks and head monks who host laymen in the temples.
Then how comes that they are wrong?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:One can understand the correct method first by studying and questioning learned monks and meditation teachers, then by practising it oneself according to the instructions given.


If you talk about "correct" method, I assume you also think there are incorrect ones.
So how can we find out if the method I receive is correct or not.
How can I know if a monk is learned or not.
How can I know if the instruction I get are good or not

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Arahantship is the highest goal. Stream-winners still have sensual desire, but they are free from sceptical doubt and immorality.


Maybe that is the highest goal, but still be a stream winner should be an important milestone
Then why such people who have reached this important milestone decide to get back to a family business?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:On the basis of over thirty years of study and practice.


I am not questioning if your 30 years of practice are worth more or less than his 20 years of study
But on which basis should I believe you instead of him?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Many monks are just Buddhist priests performing rites and rituals. You won't hear about most monks who have attained the various stages of the path. It's an offence for a monk to tell a lay person about such attainments. What you do hear about is just hearsay and faith-based opinions — devotees and disciples of monks may be right or wrong about their revered teachers. It is hard to know the mind of others.


Then if it is difficult to know the mind of others, how can we know that they are enlightened at all?
I mean, how can we know that there is someone enlightened at all?
And if such attainments are genuine, why is it an offence to tell anyone?
If we wont hear about monks who have reached stages of the path and if they wont tell you, then how can we know if there is anymonk who has reached any stage of the path at all?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:No. We are talking about confidence based on personal experience (saddhā) being an essential requirement before one can strive to attain insight.


Yes, but if there are very very very very few monks who attain the highest grade of Enlightenment and they will not even tell you, what would this "personal experience" based on?
Unless you are close to Nirvana yourself
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Re: Faith-based against evidence-based

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:05 pm

Matteo1972 wrote:I was thinking that reaching Nirvana, if this is what you mean, is already so much difficult for monks and nuns that a person seriously interested should become monk.
Now, if they have achieved some insight and appreciated it, why then they would like to go back as layman?

They might be the main bread-winner for the family, or just not wishing to chose the vocation of a monk or nun.
Matteo1972 wrote:But if doubt is a major obstacle and it is part of the five hindrance (purification of the mind), is not it like saying that is it difficult of getting purification of the mind?

No. It's not difficult. Anyone could attain it in a few days or weeks.
Matteo1972 wrote:Or maybe I am not really understanding

There's a lot to be understood.
Matteo1972 wrote:But the traditional belief must be shared by a lot of people in Thailand, including the monks and head monks who host laymen in the temples. Then how comes that they are wrong?

Because they don't make a proper inquiry. It's far easier to follow a traditional belief than to attain genuine knowledge and insight. The Bodhisatta also had to abandon the traditional practices (self-mortification) that did not lead to Enlightenment to discover the right path.
Matteo1972 wrote:So how can we find out if the method I receive is correct or not. How can I know if a monk is learned or not. How can I know if the instruction I get are good or not?
A teacher's reputation and learning can only go so far, one has to test out the instructions for oneself to see if they work. Some may live with an Enlightened teacher for years, but still not understand how to practice what he's teaching. Still, they should be learning something useful at least.
Matteo1972 wrote:Maybe that is the highest goal, but still be a stream winner should be an important milestone. Then why such people who have reached this important milestone decide to get back to a family business?

Yes. It's an important milestone, but there are many reasons why some might return to lay-life. Even more so for those who have only attained the lower stages of insight. The monastic life is hard to live properly.
Matteo1972 wrote:I am not questioning if your 30 years of practice are worth more or less than his 20 years of study. But on which basis should I believe you instead of him?

Well, I haven't converted to Catholicism yet :)

You must do your own research. Don't take anyone's word at face value. Test it through your own study and practice.
Matteo1972 wrote:Then if it is difficult to know the mind of others, how can we know that they are enlightened at all? I mean, how can we know that there is someone enlightened at all?
And if such attainments are genuine, why is it an offence to tell anyone?

Even if you did know, how would it help you? Your task is to remove your own defilements, not to admire someone else who removed their's.
Matteo1972 wrote:Yes, but if there are very very very very few monks who attain the highest grade of Enlightenment and they will not even tell you, what would this "personal experience" based on? Unless you are close to Nirvana yourself

Long before nibbāna is reached, one can know for oneself by direct personal experience that when one lets go of craving for something, then suffering ceases. We call that momentary nibbāna (tadaṅgha nibbāna). If one grasps onto something again, one can know from direct personal experience that suffering starts all over again.

Do you need to drink the entire ocean to know that it's salty? I am sure you have lived long enough to know that sensual pleasures give very little satisfaction, and cause much grief, disappointment, and despair. How much longer do you need to pursue pleasure before you realise that renunciation of the pursuit of pleasure is a superior path to follow?
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