Buddhism, Religion?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby octathlon » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:56 pm

:goodpost: Great points, Eric!
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Thaibebop » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:06 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Thaibebop wrote:Since he stressed practicing to end suffering....

Hi Thaibebop,

Contemplating saṃsāra as an ongoing series of futile, hollow, and unsatisfactory repetitions of birth, sickness, pain, and death motivates one to practice with diligence to a degree that a limited view directed toward merely ending the unsatisfactoriness of this life cannot. The atheistic view that there is nothing after this present life entails the consequence that everyone reaches a cessation of dukkha (of sorts) upon death. If everyone were to attain the fruition effortlessly, merely by dying, then there would be no compelling motivation to fully engage in the integral practice of the dhammavinaya.

Thaibebop wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:How do you know that the Buddha didn't understand and teach about rebirth based upon his own direct knowledge of former existences?

A possibility to be sure....

There is no good reason to dismiss this possibility. A self-limiting approach will only yield (i) limited results, or (ii) no results.

Moreover, since there is no historical record whatsoever of an atheistic dhammavinaya, I would suggest that your atheistic, rationalist-only buddha is a myth of your own creation.

All the best,

Geoff

Okay, the article in the OP which started this whole thread, that monk seems to think that there is something to this question, and I have quoted a few sources which play out the same idea. So, no not of my creation, I am commenting on what I have already come across. There is also a ton of writings done that discuss this as well, just google Buddhism and atheism, or do a search on Amazon. Also, rationalist-only Buddha? When wasn't he rational? Didn't he state question everything? Why are you so dismissive of the idea or someone who is exploring it? Someone here asked why do you needed it to be non-religious, so I will ask why do you need the religion? Why take on the attachment?
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Thaibebop » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:09 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Thaibebop wrote:I think you are being (fill in the blank here) now.... I would say that trying to be nice to people is good training for you. I think though you are just trying to be nasty now with that sentence.


Thaibebop wrote:Wow, can the website hold your ego?!! Excuse me for doubting you noble professor....

Since you have exalted degrees in which to draw from....

Stop sitting on the fence professor, there is either proof or not....

You have not contributed to this discussion. Instead you have tried to play school master and 'put me in my place' with your degrees. You have not addressed any of the points I brought up and instead picked at places that you though showed weakness. You made the claim that I was ignorant on the subject of these religions being discussed and didn't bother to explain how. If you really want to take part please do do, but this post is just ridiculous. I have my education as well and I am not using what I have done, or what I am doing as an debating point. Perhaps this burst of vanity from you was unintended and I am just misreading your post, but considering you told me to 'have a care' I will say the same to you. This is a conversion between equals, not a classroom you get to direct. M'okay? M'okay!


Thaibebop wrote:You make the claim that I am ignorant on the topics discussed here and the only why you back that claim up is to wave your degree around like a victory flag. When I call you on this display of vanity this is your response? You are a discredit to academics sir. You make a claim you back it up. It's what I am having to do for my degrees and I assume it's what you had to do for yours. You don't make a point by saying I am an expert, agree with me. I can't believe that after causing such an offense that this is your response, to shrug, and to dismiss all I have said.

Your college education was wasted. If all you can do is shrug you have clearly said all you are capable of saying. Please let others who have something to contribute to this discussion to so without your inane interruptions and condensing demeanor.


Thaibebop wrote:
Sobeh wrote:<a bewildering array of indignation and aggressive sarcasm>

Seriously?

Yes, seriously. There is absolutely no call for self-righteous indignation, aggressive sarcasm, and belligerence here on Dhamma Wheel Thaibebop.

Are you a mod? If so, why does his post not count towards belligerence? Why are you taking sides in this disagreement between us? Does it really concern you, if so, why not call him out to? I would say that at this point I am done discussing with him, so why do you want to bring it back up? Let sleeping dogs in other people's yards lie, friend.
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Thaibebop » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:13 am

EricJ wrote:
Dhammapada, Sahassavagga wrote: Though month after month for a hundred years one should offer sacrifices by the thousands, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds that honor is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.

Though for a hundred years one should tend the sacrificial fire in the forest, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds, that worship is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.

Whatever gifts and oblations one seeking merit might offer in this world for a whole year, all that is not worth one fourth of the merit gained by revering the Upright Ones, which is truly excellent.

Dhammapada, Buddhavagga wrote:If you worship those worthy of worship, Awakened Ones or their disciples who've transcended objectifications, lamentation, and grief, who are unendangered, fearless, unbound: there's no measure for reckoning that your merit's 'this much.'
If we look at the suttas, devotional practices have never been absent from Buddhism and there is no reason that they should be now, aside from a averson to or misunderstanding of the purposes of these practices. I would contend that these practices have various benefits. First of all, engaging in such practices leads to the accumulation of advantageous kammic results. Merit is not merely for the purpose of rebirth in some pleasurable realm of existence, which seems to be a popular line of thought whenever others are denigrating the practices of merit-making Buddhists. Merit, if one accepts the notion of rebirth, contributed to the Buddha's enlightenment and merit has contributed to the fact that we have knowledge of the Dhamma and see its advantages. To quote Sutta Nipata 1.38: "This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond."

Furthermore, devotional practice engenders an attitude which subjugates samsaric concerns in light of those qualities we should emulate and teachings/practices we should follow. Buddhanussati reminds us of what qualites that we, as individuals seeking enlightenment, seek to engender in ourselves. Reminding ourselves of the sublime wisdom, complete enlightenment, and unwavering equanimity of the Buddha makes everything else that we could possibly be in samsara pale in comparison. Devotional practice, especially if immediately preceeding a meditation session, helps us to turn our minds towards Dhamma and reminds us of what we are doing and seeking in sitting. Finally, devotional practice engenders humility, which helps us to let go of ego and practices which nurture "self-view pleasures."

There is a fundamental difference between the meaning of the word "worship" or "venerate" in Buddhism and the meaning of the word in theistic, "soul" religions. The former uses the practice for an specific, individual, path-centered purpose, which is to develop qualities and conditions which are conducive to Unbinding. The latter directs the practice towards a supposedly personal, substantial being for the purpose of some sort of advantageous result (salvation, prevention of natural disasters, good crops, love, etc.), which according to Buddhist, is centered on "softening" samsaric existence instead of cutting it at its roots. I would contend that many posters in this topic are not making such a distinction.


Regards,
Eric

Nice post, thank you. :anjali:
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Nyana » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:15 pm

Thaibebop wrote:Also, rationalist-only Buddha? When wasn't he rational? Didn't he state question everything?

Hi Thaibebop,

The dhamma certainly includes rational thought, but goes well beyond any consensual egocentric rationality (whether atheistic or theistic). The first chinks in the armor of the conventional rational mind appear when one develops samatha sufficiently to be able to experience the rapture (pīti), pleasure (sukha), and expansive mind (mahaggatā citta) of jhāna. This opens up a whole new vista of experience not previously available, and displays the limitations of any previously held conceptual views based on conventional rationality or normative empiricism.

Beyond these refined meditative states, for the noble disciple who has attained any of the first three fruitions, there is no more adherence to egocentric rationality, and for the arahant no adherence to the limitations of the rational mind at all.

Thaibebop wrote:Why are you so dismissive of the idea or someone who is exploring it?

We all come to the dhamma with our unique life experiences and worldview. I acknowledge and respect that. I'm just suggesting that it is prudent to keep an open mind regarding those aspects of the dhamma which may not resonate with our present life experience or worldview. The path is a process of development and refinement of discernment, and what seems quite coherent to the worldling may very well be seen as delusional when that same individual attains the fruition of stream entry, etc.

Thaibebop wrote:Someone here asked why do you needed it to be non-religious, so I will ask why do you need the religion?

I'll leave it up to you and others to delimit just what is or is not religious about the dhamma. I don't have an opinion one way or the other.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Thaibebop » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:09 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Thaibebop wrote:Also, rationalist-only Buddha? When wasn't he rational? Didn't he state question everything?

Hi Thaibebop,

The dhamma certainly includes rational thought, but goes well beyond any consensual egocentric rationality (whether atheistic or theistic). The first chinks in the armor of the conventional rational mind appear when one develops samatha sufficiently to be able to experience the rapture (pīti), pleasure (sukha), and expansive mind (mahaggatā citta) of jhāna. This opens up a whole new vista of experience not previously available, and displays the limitations of any previously held conceptual views based on conventional rationality or normative empiricism.

Beyond these refined meditative states, for the noble disciple who has attained any of the first three fruitions, there is no more adherence to egocentric rationality, and for the arahant no adherence to the limitations of the rational mind at all.

Thaibebop wrote:Why are you so dismissive of the idea or someone who is exploring it?

We all come to the dhamma with our unique life experiences and worldview. I acknowledge and respect that. I'm just suggesting that it is prudent to keep an open mind regarding those aspects of the dhamma which may not resonate with our present life experience or worldview. The path is a process of development and refinement of discernment, and what seems quite coherent to the worldling may very well be seen as delusional when that same individual attains the fruition of stream entry, etc.

Thaibebop wrote:Someone here asked why do you needed it to be non-religious, so I will ask why do you need the religion?

I'll leave it up to you and others to delimit just what is or is not religious about the dhamma. I don't have an opinion one way or the other.

All the best,

Geoff

I agree with every thing you have said. First let me say, because I understand that words don't always carry through one's true meaning on a forum, I am open minded about this. I have kept all these supernatural possibilities in mind as more realistic than other religions metaphysical claims. The more I have studied, especially Theravada, the more I have seen teachers warn against attachment to the very same stages you have mentioned. So, this question has been burning in mind for a long time now. If you don't want to be attached to these stages, feelings, superstitions then why start with a mind state that would lead to attachment only to work to undo that attachment. It all seems so unnecessary. It's like a step you could skip if you capable.

Do you think that allowing yourself to become attached to aspects of the religion and practice only to undo that same attachment is somehow beneficial? Is there something that I am missing that people gain by first being attached?

The more I read these Theravadan masters the more I see this, for lack of a better word, secular philosophy. My reading keeps suggesting to me that the religious trappings are there for the people that need them, but that they are not necessary for anyones practice. Okay, so some need it and some don't and we could leave it at that, but if you really don't need it they why teach people that they do? Maybe some of those people who are practicing with all the attachment to the religious aspects wouldn't if they weren't taught that they did? Forgive me, but am I making sense? :anjali:
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:57 pm

You seem to be implying that not disregarding "religious trappings" necessarily involves attachment, because they are so illogical that the only reason anyone would hold those views is because they are attached? Forgive me if I am misinterpreting you but that seems pretty arrogant. What is illogical to you may not be the same for everyone else.
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Thaibebop » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:07 pm

Kenshou wrote:You seem to be implying that not disregarding "religious trappings" necessarily involves attachment, because they are so illogical that the only reason anyone would hold those views is because they are attached? Forgive me if I am misinterpreting you but that seems pretty arrogant. What is illogical to you may not be the same for everyone else.

No, not at all and don't worry your not offending me. I can easily see why you would think that. Someone people could easily be nonattached to these aspects of the practice. However, many do, right? So, my question is why teach those people that it's okay, or lead them into that attachment in the first place? If a person is one who is more likely to become attached in the first place, wouldn't it be better to lead that person away from those things? It seems that many advocate becoming attached to Buddhist superstition only to become unattached later. Again forgive me if I am not making sense.
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:35 pm

The incorporation of religious characteristics into the Dhamma may be a reflection of skillful means. Everyone has different motivations, whether they are those of a lay-person, monastic, or someone who is exploring the possibilities. Our levels of understanding also differ, from basic to intricate, general to detailed. Certain approaches to Dhamma are more suitable for different people. Thus, it seems only appropriate that the Dhamma is adjusted to meet the needs of its audience. It is often said that the Dhamma adapts to its context, where-ever it travels and when-ever it arrives.

Many rituals, beliefs, and customs seem to be at least in part culturally-influenced. Animistic and shamanic traditions will often integrate with the Dhamma in order to maintain the culture's integrity, rather than destroy its foundations and rebuild society from scratch through the introduction of entirely new teachings. This may not always be the case, but it certainly has some truth to it.

In my opinion, religious trappings are unnecessary obscurations that often distort Dhamma. They are not for me, though they seem to play an important role in many others' lives. They have their usefulness as tools, but when used improperly will not yield results. See the Alagaddupama Sutta, in which clinging to views is discussed, as well as the water snake simile and raft simile.
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Digger » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:33 pm

Please let me know your opinions of the following. I am not trying to argue or "bash" anyone, just wanting to have a meaningful and beneficial discussion.

a) There are many that call themselves Buddhist that have little or no understanding of the true path. They worship Buddha as Christians worship Jesus, as a diety. In this case, Buddhism might be called, by these people or by non Buddhists referring to them, a religion but this would not be a correct statement.

b) For those who understand the true path, but still call Buddhism a religion, isn't this an uncommon definition of the word religion? Wouldn't 99.99% of people define religion as relating to a diety? I believe scientology calls itself a religion and does not have a diety, but I think this was done strictly for tax relief purposes. Can anyone name any other religion that does not have a diety or dieties and/or some type of worship of a higher entity? I know some dictionaries have an alternate definition of religion as "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects" but isn't this a very obscure and not commonly used or understood use of the word?
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby octathlon » Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:34 pm

Digger wrote:Can anyone name any other religion that does not have a diety or dieties and/or some type of worship of a higher entity?

I can only think of Jainism (has deities but doesn't worship them), Taoism, and Confucianism (has "heaven").

I see no problem calling Buddhism a religion, even in its most atheistic sense. In the past I might have bristled at the idea, thinking it gives the impression of worshiping god(s), but all that is, is worrying about how other people perceive Buddhism/Buddhists, which is an ego issue. In other words, we can argue amongst ourselves whether it should be called a religion, but it will make no difference at all as to how other people view us once they have applied the label "Buddhist" to us -- then whatever misconceptions they may have will go into effect.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:19 pm

Is it possible that elements of folk religion masquerading as the Buddha's teachings have combined with the Dhamma to form what is popularly known as Buddhism? Is it possible that the Buddha's teachings have been embellished to some extent, even if only slightly? Can Buddhism be religion to some and not religion to others, or must anything with the name "Buddhism" be religion by default?

What might one who appreciates and follows the Buddha's teachings but does not take refuge and is skeptical about some of the more supernatural elements of the Dhamma call oneself? What does being a "Buddhist" involve? It has been mentioned, either here or elsewhere, that the Buddha did not teach "Buddhism", that he only taught Dhamma, and did not call those who followed the Dhamma by the name "Buddhist" (there being no official terminology for this at the time) instead calling them "Dhammic". What is the difference, if any, between "Dhammic" and "Buddhist"?
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Re: Buddhism, Religion?

Postby Kenshou » Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:38 pm

There's no real substance to names, why not make them up as we need to?
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