Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:19 pm

Alas. I do not follow this at all.


Sorry, Tilt, you probably need to read the thread in its entirety.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Mr Man » Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:41 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: So in simple terms a Christian assumes the existence of God and Soul, while a Buddhist assumes the non-existence of God and Soul.


So Buddhism is atheistic?
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:44 pm

Actually Buddhism is more pantheistic than atheist, at least in the scriptures. Buddha never denied Gods, he just denied that they were ultimately pure or perfect.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Mr Man » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:59 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Actually Buddhism is more pantheistic than atheist, at least in the scriptures. Buddha never denied Gods, he just denied that they were ultimately pure or perfect.

Pantheistic or polytheistic?

I'm not sure if Buddhist gods correlate with how gods are generally understood. A god that dies is not really much of a god.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:00 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: So in simple terms a Christian assumes the existence of God and Soul, while a Buddhist assumes the non-existence of God and Soul.


So Buddhism is atheistic?


Good question. I'd characterise it more as non-theistic, though I've observed that many western Buddhists are atheistic in outlook.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:04 pm

Mr Man wrote:I'm not sure if Buddhist gods correlate with how gods are generally understood. A god that dies is not really much of a god.


Yes, devas aren't directly comparable with polytheistic gods.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:07 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:The doctrine of anatta is only concerned with complete understanding of what the theistic position lacks.


Though anatta still is a doctrine, or at least an assumption. So in simple terms a Christian assumes the existence of God and Soul, while a Buddhist assumes the non-existence of God and Soul. The respective practices of the two traditions then reflect these different assumptions.


The Dhamma is not based on assumption. Knowledge of no-self is based on anattasaññā.


But the methodology involved in this "knowledge" relies on the assumption of anatta, so it's all a bit chicken and egg.

Also, we can't prove the non-existence of soul any more than we can prove the non-existence of God.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:43 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Ancient Buddhism:

The doctrine of anatta is only concerned with complete understanding of what the theistic position lacks...The difference is that the Dhamma and anatta doctrine was no mere view or claim. It is based upon empirical knowledge and is given in the discourses with the invitation to examine the relevance of an atta through ones own experience. This, for the Dhamma aspirant, is known through direct experience cognitions.


But unless one already has a complete understanding of the theistic position, and therefore what it lacks, one is no further forward. If "direct experience cognitions" are the deciding factor, we need to acknowledge that they may also be claimed by theists. Without direct knowledge, any choice between the two positions would presumably be based upon faith, preference, tradition, reasoning, considered acceptance of views, etc...


Direct knowledge is the hallmark and catalyst of contemplative work toward the aim of nibbāna. Your pleas to ignorance to acceptance of untenable views by default would make more sense if the context was framed as your own dilemma. Otherwise you present a poor fund of knowledge of Dhamma which makes for tedious reading.

There are many epithets for Dhammic empiricism, but this one is rather fitting at this time and may be helpful:

    “Is there a method by which … other than by faith, other by than preferences, other than by what was said, other than by circular reasoning, other than by acceptance of a theory one favors; but one by which can be proclaimed with direct knowledge ‘exhausted is birth, fulfilled is the highest aspiration, done is what had to be done, there is nothing more for this existence.”

    Atthi nū kho ... pariyāyo ... aññatreva saddhāya aññatra ruciyā aññatra anussavā aññatra ākāraparivitakkā aññatra diṭṭhinijjhānakkhantiyā aññaṃ vyākareyya: “khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ nāparaṃ itthattāyāti pajānāmī” ti…

    “ … having seen an object with the eye – if there is desire, corrupt intentions, and delusion within oneself, a bhikkhu directly knows ‘desire, corrupt intentions, and delusion are within me’; or if there is not desire, corrupt intentions and delusion within oneself, he directly knows ‘desire, corrupt intentions and delusion do not exist within me.’ ...”

    “cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohaṃ atthi me ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohoti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohaṃ natthi me ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohoti pajānāti…”

    – S.N. 35.153
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:50 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:There are many epithets for Dhammic empiricism, but this one is rather fitting at this time and may be helpful:

[list]“Is there a method by which … other than by faith, other by than preferences, other than by what was said, other than by circular reasoning, other than by acceptance of a theory one favors; but one by which can be proclaimed with direct knowledge ‘exhausted is birth, fulfilled is the highest aspiration, done is what had to be done, there is nothing more for this existence.”


But again it's relative, because different traditions will have different understandings of what "direct knowledge" is. A Christian might describe this in terms of their personal relationship with God.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:51 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:But the methodology involved in this "knowledge" relies on the assumption of anatta, so it's all a bit chicken and egg.


This is incorrect.

Spiny Norman wrote:Also, we can't prove the non-existence of soul any more than we can prove the non-existence of God.


We can develop direct knowledge of the relevance of an atta (or any other reification) to our cognitive range.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:05 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:There are many epithets for Dhammic empiricism, but this one is rather fitting at this time and may be helpful:

[list]“Is there a method by which … other than by faith, other by than preferences, other than by what was said, other than by circular reasoning, other than by acceptance of a theory one favors; but one by which can be proclaimed with direct knowledge ‘exhausted is birth, fulfilled is the highest aspiration, done is what had to be done, there is nothing more for this existence.”


But again it's relative, because different traditions will have different understandings of what "direct knowledge" is. A Christian might describe this in terms of their personal relationship with God.


Your reasoning is specious. There are people in the psych-triage unit with any number of ideas of direct knowledge too. But I don’t hold their views on reality as “relative” or equally valid.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:57 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Alas. I do not follow this at all.


Sorry, Tilt, you probably need to read the thread in its entirety.
I have, but what you are saying still make no sense.
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: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:03 pm

Mr Man wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Actually Buddhism is more pantheistic than atheist, at least in the scriptures. Buddha never denied Gods, he just denied that they were ultimately pure or perfect.

Pantheistic or polytheistic?

I'm not sure if Buddhist gods correlate with how gods are generally understood. A god that dies is not really much of a god.


my mistake, I meant polytheistic.

As to Gods dying, just look at the greek gods, they were killing themselves and dying all the time. The definition of a God does not have to match up with the Christian God's definition.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:18 pm

The book The Boundaries of Knowledge in Buddhism, Christianity, and Science is relevant to this discussion, for what it's worth, with articles covering epistemology as it relates to the three named fields.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby greenjuice » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:32 pm

Afaik, concerning god- in the sense of the (transcendent or immanent) creator of the universe- buddhism is agnostic.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:33 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Ancient Buddhism:

The doctrine of anatta is only concerned with complete understanding of what the theistic position lacks...The difference is that the Dhamma and anatta doctrine was no mere view or claim. It is based upon empirical knowledge and is given in the discourses with the invitation to examine the relevance of an atta through ones own experience. This, for the Dhamma aspirant, is known through direct experience cognitions.


But unless one already has a complete understanding of the theistic position, and therefore what it lacks, one is no further forward. If "direct experience cognitions" are the deciding factor, we need to acknowledge that they may also be claimed by theists. Without direct knowledge, any choice between the two positions would presumably be based upon faith, preference, tradition, reasoning, considered acceptance of views, etc...


Direct knowledge is the hallmark and catalyst of contemplative work toward the aim of nibbāna. Your pleas to ignorance to acceptance of untenable views by default would make more sense if the context was framed as your own dilemma. Otherwise you present a poor fund of knowledge of Dhamma which makes for tedious reading.

There are many epithets for Dhammic empiricism, but this one is rather fitting at this time and may be helpful:

    “Is there a method by which … other than by faith, other by than preferences, other than by what was said, other than by circular reasoning, other than by acceptance of a theory one favors; but one by which can be proclaimed with direct knowledge ‘exhausted is birth, fulfilled is the highest aspiration, done is what had to be done, there is nothing more for this existence.”

    Atthi nū kho ... pariyāyo ... aññatreva saddhāya aññatra ruciyā aññatra anussavā aññatra ākāraparivitakkā aññatra diṭṭhinijjhānakkhantiyā aññaṃ vyākareyya: “khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ nāparaṃ itthattāyāti pajānāmī” ti…

    “ … having seen an object with the eye – if there is desire, corrupt intentions, and delusion within oneself, a bhikkhu directly knows ‘desire, corrupt intentions, and delusion are within me’; or if there is not desire, corrupt intentions and delusion within oneself, he directly knows ‘desire, corrupt intentions and delusion do not exist within me.’ ...”

    “cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohaṃ atthi me ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohoti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohaṃ natthi me ajjhattaṃ rāgadosamohoti pajānāti…”

    – S.N. 35.153


The only knowledge which could categorically prove or disprove your original assertion that
The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims

would be that gained by our enlightenment, which thereby proves the Christian doctrine to be false; or, conversely, that gained by our knowledge of God, which would do something similar to Buddhism. Lacking such enlightenment or God-knowledge, we can only rely upon faith or something similar to support our claims for one side or the other. Me, I favour the anatta doctrine, and I do so on the basis of faith.
Saying that there is such knowledge, that it is a possibility, does not address the above. This is because whoever claims it could be met by a counter-claim from the other religion. Unless one knows for oneself - as opposed to believing that one could know - then one does not know that someone else knows better.
No matter how much one might want to weight the scales in one particular direction, merely asserting the superiority of one side, or the intellectual inferiority of the other, will not help. Nor will citing any amount of suttas, with or without the Pali version. Nor will pseudo-professorial disdain or de haut en bas bluster. It might strengthen some aspects of one's faith, of course, which is desirable but another matter entirely.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:36 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
Alas. I do not follow this at all.


Sorry, Tilt, you probably need to read the thread in its entirety.
I have, but what you are saying still make no sense.


You'll either have to explain in much greater detail which bit you can't make sense of, or accept that laconic questioning can be interpreted as lack of acuity.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby SDC » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:14 pm

greenjuice wrote:Afaik, concerning god- in the sense of the (transcendent or immanent) creator of the universe- buddhism is agnostic.


Though this is a widely accepted idea, this excerpt from the Rohitassa Sutta says otherwise:

"The world, the beginning of the world, the end of the world, and the way leading to the end of the world is all within this fathom long body itself with it's perception and conception"
(SN 2.26/AN 4.45)
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:41 pm

daverupa wrote:The book The Boundaries of Knowledge in Buddhism, Christianity, and Science is relevant to this discussion, for what it's worth, with articles covering epistemology as it relates to the three named fields.

I don't know the book but there's a decent introduction to it by the author at http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/buddhist-christian_studies/v031/31.numrich.html and a thoughtful review of it here ... http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/buddhist-christian_studies/summary/v031/31.cobb.html. You can preview it in Google Books http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_Boundaries_of_Knowledge_in_Buddhism.html.
It looks good ... so long as you are really interested in the subject.

:reading:
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby greenjuice » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:40 am

SDC wrote:
greenjuice wrote:Afaik, concerning god- in the sense of the (transcendent or immanent) creator of the universe- buddhism is agnostic.


Though this is a widely accepted idea, this excerpt from the Rohitassa Sutta says otherwise:

"The world, the beginning of the world, the end of the world, and the way leading to the end of the world is all within this fathom long body itself with it's perception and conception"
(SN 2.26/AN 4.45)

In my understanding of the text available here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Buddha here talks about origination and cessation of cosmos metaphorically as the origination and cessation birth and death being that he previously says that the cosmos is everywhere the place of birth and death.

Buddha (in the Brahmajala Sutta, part III, 2.) describes the origination and cessation that happens to "this world". He says that at one time this world "contracts" (according to Commentary- disintegrates) and during that destruction most beings that were in this world get reborn in the Abhassara deva loka, which is the 16th of the 31 planes of existence. According to Commentary, all planes beneath the 16th that get destroyed in this world-contraction. Then, Buddha says, after some time, the world "expands", that is, comes to being again. The first thing that appears in this recreation of this world is a palace in the Mahabrahma loka, the 14. plane of existence. The first being that gets born in this world after it's destruction and recreation ("contraction" and "expansion") is born in that palace and is later called Mahabrahma by the beings that get reborn in that or other planes, that have also reappeared.

There is a lot of question that one can ask when hearing this.

Does this contraction-and-expansion of this world happen on it's own, or does some being do it, or has it ordain for it to happen? Did this world exist for eternity and then started to contract and expand, or maybe this world didn't exist, but came into being at one point, and from that point continued to exist, contract and expand? Why don't planes above the 15th don't get destroyed? Who made them? Are they eternal? Is the world a conscious being (what Hindus call Brahman), or the lower 15 planes, or the higher 16 ones? Buddha uses a suspiciously theistic-sounding term vinnanancayatanupaga which means "infinite consciousness", and says that beings in the 29th plane dwell meditating on it. Does this have something to with God, one that is transcendent or immanent or both, or is just metaphorical?

On all this questions that one might ask Buddha is explicitly agnostic. In a short (Acintita) sutta he says that thinking about the topic of the world, that is- it's origination, etc. is acintita which means unfathomable, unconjecturable: "Conjecture about the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."

:namaste:
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