Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:53 am

A copy of The Boundaries of Knowledge in Buddhism, Christianity and Science, by Paul D. Numrich can be found in the Library.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

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

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:23 am

Also relevant is Proving a Negative, by Richard Carrier
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

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 manas » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:00 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)


I don't think 'the world' here being referred to means 'the entire cosmos' in the physical, 'out there' sense of the word, but rather, refers to it in the sense of 'the eye and forms, the ear and sounds...mind and mind-objects'. That is, a being transcends the world in that latter sense, the world that is manifest to us, due to having this body, these senses and consciousness. The Buddha seems to be making a kind of riddle out of it, in the sense that although you have to travel a long way, in the sense of treading the N8FP perhaps (?), that it is the only way to actually reach the ending of the cosmos for you - because after parinibbana, this being will not rearise; whereas even if you physically travelled for billions of light years, you would never find a place where the universe comes to an 'end' (in the physical sense). I see this as the Buddha engaging in some clever word-play. "Yes you have to travel a long way, but not in physical miles, rather, you have to reach cessation - and that it where 'the world' comes to an ending."

But I don't see the Buddha as being so much agnostic with regards to a prime creator or source, as much as indifferent, simply because that is not what he teaches. He teaches suffering, it's cause, it's cessation, and the Path leading there. He doesn't teach: where the world came from, how long it has existed for, whether someone is behind it all...he does not seem to see these as worth investigating. But that is not the same thing as outright denial, is it...

:anjali:

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby greenjuice » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:13 am

manas wrote:But I don't see the Buddha as being so much agnostic with regards to a prime creator or source, as much as indifferent

Apatheism :D

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Reductor » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:28 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:A copy of The Boundaries of Knowledge in Buddhism, Christianity and Science, by Paul D. Numrich can be found in the Library.


How many of those books have been published online with proper authorization from publisher and author?
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:28 am

ancientbuddhism wrote: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.


So your view of reality is the only valid one? How do you know?
And do you think Buddhism has a monopoly on truth? Again, how do you know? Have you explored other spiritual traditions in enough depth to understand what they are saying?
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:30 am

Sam Vara wrote: 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.


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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby SDC » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:28 pm

greenjuice wrote: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:


Any attempt to comprehend the origin of the world as something external and completely beyond the boundary of experience, i.e. an objective world without a subject, will be unfathomable. It leads to a fantastic dead end. However in the Rohitassa Sutta the question is posed to the Buddha from the deva, “If I were to travel through space, would I reach the end of the world where there is no old age, disease and death?” To this the Buddha answers, no. He then says, “However it is only by reaching the end of the world that one will be free from old age, disease and death. The world, the beginning of the world and the way leading to the end of the world is all within this fathom long body itself, with its perception and conception.” Also in the Dhp verse 153 and 154 (my signature) which is said to be one of the first verses after his awakening he says, “Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.” Here he understood that through a misunderstanding of experience he was seeking the creator outside, but it was within the subjective experience that the creative force was discovered and destroyed. Of course this is debatable, however I think it is enough to say he was not agnostic when it comes to the idea of a creator.

However when it comes to use of God in the teachings there is the phrase brahmabhu’to, which means “God become”. I believe the term predates the Buddha, but he used the concept of God to represent the highest level of perfection to be achieved. So while he was not using “brahma” to represent a creator, he was allowing the idea of God’s perfection to serve a purpose conceptually. It comes up mostly in suttas about the brahma-viharas from what I remember. Perhaps one of our more learned members could elaborate on the use of this term.

EDIT - Only spelling
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby SDC » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:37 pm

manas wrote:
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)


I don't think 'the world' here being referred to means 'the entire cosmos' in the physical, 'out there' sense of the word, but rather, refers to it in the sense of 'the eye and forms, the ear and sounds...mind and mind-objects'.


They are inseparable as far as I understand. The belief in the existence of an objective world separate from a subjective one is an example of the left hand and the right hand not knowing what the other is doing. Both ideas are a product of a false perception of reality.

EDIT - Spelling only
Last edited by SDC on Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:27 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote: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.


So your view of reality is the only valid one? How do you know?
And do you think Buddhism has a monopoly on truth? Again, how do you know? Have you explored other spiritual traditions in enough depth to understand what they are saying?


The theist view of reality is delusional; just as the views of some of the people in a psych-triage unit, or those of people who wear aluminum hats, or a child’s view of the Easter Bunny. (although the child will most likely mature past belief in the Easter Bunny to replace these with theistic ideas that loving Mummy and Daddy have instilled)

I know that these viewpoints are invalid because I am grounded in basic walking-around-sense. And to be sure, spending time working with Dhamma contemplative practice has strengthened that grounding somewhat I would think.

To say that the delusional viewpoints of theistic religions et al, are equally valid with the direct contemplative knowledge of the ariyasāvaka is at most mildly amusing. But the hubris of that has been introduced into this thread for our entertainment nonetheless.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

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 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:38 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:I know that these viewpoints are invalid because I am grounded in basic walking-around-sense.


Common sense is very subjective. And saying that the views of people in other spiritual traditions are "delusional" seems very patronising to me.
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:46 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:I know that these viewpoints are invalid because I am grounded in basic walking-around-sense.


Common sense is very subjective. And saying that the views of people in other spiritual traditions are "delusional" seems very patronising to me.


It's fun to have an example of subjectivity right after your assertion about it; nevertheless, such views as tri-omni-monotheism are delusional in an avijja sense, not a colloquially dismissive one; furthermore, the people who hold the views are still the targets of good-will, right intention, etc. It doesn't have to be as you perceive it, but instead you can step back and calmly see how this sense of things has arisen based on previous predilections, habits, and other variables.

More "different order" stuff from the Dhamma. I suppose you could pray for pleasant feeling (positive social change, personal success, etc.) instead, but it's just not even in the same class of soteriological effort.

(Atheism, of course, proposes no soteriology in and of itself.)
    "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 Spiny Norman » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:21 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:I know that these viewpoints are invalid because I am grounded in basic walking-around-sense.


Common sense is very subjective. And saying that the views of people in other spiritual traditions are "delusional" seems very patronising to me.


It's fun to have an example of subjectivity right after your assertion about it...


So you don't think it's patronising to say that anyone who doesn't share our view of the world is "delusional"?
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:45 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:I know that these viewpoints are invalid because I am grounded in basic walking-around-sense.


Common sense is very subjective. And saying that the views of people in other spiritual traditions are "delusional" seems very patronising to me.


I have been rather delicate with this tangent so far. Would reference to theistic religions as a foolish doctrine (bāladhammo) MN.22, or to their adherents as nitwits (moghapurisa) MN. 38, make this any clearer to you?
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

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

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:57 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:So you don't think it's patronising to say that anyone who doesn't share our view of the world is "delusional"?


Notice your shift: from "the view is delusional", to "anyone who doesn't share my view is delusional". You're moving the referent from the view to the person, and thereby showcasing some fuzzy thinking about this topic.

Have a care to parse the individual for whom one has good-will and the view adhered to by that individual.
    "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 Mr Man » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:21 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:To say that the delusional viewpoints of theistic religions et al, are equally valid with the direct contemplative knowledge of the ariyasāvaka is at most mildly amusing. But the hubris of that has been introduced into this thread for our entertainment nonetheless.


How about if their viewpoints were intended as "skillfull means" rather than as metaphysical statements?

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:35 pm

Mr Man wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:To say that the delusional viewpoints of theistic religions et al, are equally valid with the direct contemplative knowledge of the ariyasāvaka is at most mildly amusing. But the hubris of that has been introduced into this thread for our entertainment nonetheless.


How about if their viewpoints were intended as "skillfull means" rather than as metaphysical statements?


I will anticipate Sam Vara here and suggest that encompassing theism within a Buddhist-skillful-means approach can be met by e.g. a Catholic response from their Catachism which is of precisely the same tenor:

CCC 1260 wrote:"Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.


The problem is the unquestioned assumption (currently being questioned) that all such claims must be considered to be on the same footing.

To put it another way: the assumption that these different claims are all equivalently positioned, one to the next, in terms of evidence, necessary assumptions, etc. is not yet demonstrated. Real differences in approach and reasoning modalities and so forth are being inappropriately blended through use of the term 'faith', which is a very fuzzy and vague way to go about the discussion. Previous threads on saddha vs. theistic-faith have addressed this point before, in any event.
    "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 ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:08 pm

Mr Man wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:To say that the delusional viewpoints of theistic religions et al, are equally valid with the direct contemplative knowledge of the ariyasāvaka is at most mildly amusing. But the hubris of that has been introduced into this thread for our entertainment nonetheless.


How about if their viewpoints were intended as "skillfull means" rather than as metaphysical statements?


“Skillful means” (upāya-kusala), has come to represent a shift in Buddhist-religious communication to appeal to a particular audience, or as a euphemism for legitimising such a shift. To me this makes the term kusala more to ‘clever’ than skillful, as upāya-kusala, in this sense, was a device of later Buddhism that was not true to the original message.

But to your comment, and not to pick on the Christians per se, this seems to resonate with their marketing strategy, as I suppose they and most of the major religions and their sub-sects endeavor to make clever inroads into the community. Although their traditional 'metaphysical statements' is the central message of what they are about. And except for some eel wriggling theologians, the theists I know believe these flat-out.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

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

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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:56 am

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So you don't think it's patronising to say that anyone who doesn't share our view of the world is "delusional"?


Notice your shift: from "the view is delusional", to "anyone who doesn't share my view is delusional". You're moving the referent from the view to the person, and thereby showcasing some fuzzy thinking about this topic.


Dave, I don't think you read what I actually said, which was "our view of the world" - so your point is a strawman.

But my substantive point is this: If the adherents of another religion claimed that everybody else was deluded, wouldn't we say they were being patronising, even fundamentalist?
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Re: Is Buddhism closer to Christianity than atheism?

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:27 pm

Sorry about the our-my difference, but the point is that for us to have the view, many individuals have to have the view. The difference is insubstantial, and the point remains that a criticism of a view as being delusional is not a criticism of a person as being delusional.

Spiny Norman wrote:But my substantive point is this: If the adherents of another religion claimed that everybody else was deluded, wouldn't we say they were being patronising, even fundamentalist?


Everybody else? That's a problem, as I've already agreed. A particular view is not mentioned, but people are lumped together, and so that's no good. Even saying "only this is true, everything else is false" isn't any good. But one can say that this or that view is deluded due to examination, etc., and proceed via discourse. If people get riled up because they take umbrage over terms, conversation can clarify the meaning and eliminate inapplicable connotations, and so on.
    "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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