Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby BlackBird » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:51 am

I don't think Batchelor's enlightened. Maybe he has some interesting things to say Tilt, but really I have no great desire for spending time figuring him out. Scholastic works, are by and large (exceptions of course) superfluous on the path to enlightenment, and I have found in my own experience that less is best when it comes to listening to the views of those who have not gained a foothold in the Buddha's Dhamma.

My view is that the existence of a 'me' an 'I am' is an existential problem, that requires an existential solution. I've been down enough detours to know they won't get me where I want to go, and I have read enough about Batchelor and his ideas to know that they're at odds with my reading of the Suttas.

You don't have to watch a Uwe Boll film to know he's a rubbish director.

(Please don't take my book burning comment so seriously Sanghamitta :))

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:59 am

BlackBird wrote:I don't think Batchelor's enlightened.
He does not claim to be.

Maybe he has some interesting things to say Tilt, but really I have no great desire for spending time figuring him out. Scholastic works, are by and large (exceptions of course) superfluous on the path to enlightenment, and I have found in my own experience that less is best when it comes to listening to the views of those who have not gained a foothold in the Buddha's Dhamma.
The book I suggested is not a scholarly work. It is a book of practical consideration. A foothold in the Dhamma? You might be surprised.

My view is that the existence of a 'me' an 'I am' is an existential problem, that requires an existential solution.
Interestingly, that is what Batchelor says.
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: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:13 am

Jack,
Respectfully,I would caution you against disregarding that which you find disagreeable or disagreeable to your present understanding of the suttas. For as long as we remain unenlightened, our view is obscured by our own predelictions, our preferences and our conceit. We shouldnt invest any value to our own view. The value of another person's point of view, whether it is Batchelor, Goldstein, Ven Bodhi, Ven Analayo, particularly if it is something that we may find disagreeable, is that it offers an alternative perspective from where we can reconsider our own.

with metta

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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby BlackBird » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:22 am

Alright Ben, Tilt, Sanghamitta. I respect what you have to say, if and when I find a Batchelor book I won't shy away, I will give him his due. Sometimes I need to be dragged kicking and screaming into these things, seeing as I am now a hardened cynic. I appreciate the effort on your behalf.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Aloka » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:24 am

.

I started to read the book as far as the end of Chapter 7 , and so far I've found it quite boring to be honest- he's really not saying anything that's new or interesting to me. Certainly nothing to make a fuss about.

Perhaps it might improve later if I can be bothered to pick it up again !

.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby clw_uk » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:59 am

Hey Dhammakid


I never said there's anything wrong with Buddha being atheist/agnostic. To be more specific, I never said anything about the Buddha's specific beliefs - I made statements about the religion of Buddhism.


Thanks for clearing that up. I agree there can be differences between what the Buddha said and the religion of Buddhism


The Buddha never called himself atheist, agnostic, non-theist, or anything else. He simply stated that gods and devas are impermanent and not all-powerful. The Buddha transcended labels. He was not attached to views, even if those views were in-line with his own teachings. That's the problem I have with Batchelor insisting Buddhism be atheist - it's completely contrived and self-imposed. While Batchelor is trying to cut away what he perceives to be cultural baggage, he is obviously caught up in his own thicket of views.



Several points. First of all he was atheist or agnostic in regards to the traditional monotheistic creator Gods, i dont think anyone can argue against that. On another point the remark you made about "devas" does really depend on interpretation. If you follow classical thervadas line of thought then you could make a case for Buddha being a kind of polytheist. However if you take an alternative view point, say that of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand or Buddhadasa then "deva" is a mind state, which of course would mean that Buddha was silent on any kind of celestial realm, gods etc and would make him an agnostic or atheist in these issues.

However saying that even if you go with Classical Theravada I would still say that you can say Buddha was Atheisst or Agnostic due to the fact that the classical portrayal of the devas are as limited beings. You could then argue that they dont fit the definition of "gods" at all

I agree that the Buddha did not take up views


You're right - them being a minority doesn't make them elitist. But I don't see where I said this... My point is that their position comes off as elitist because they are insisting that everyone interpret religion and faith the way they do - with their own definitions, concepts and truths. If it's not elitist, it is at least selfish. They want to increase the number of non-believers who interpret religion the way they do - but there isn't one single type of atheist or non-theist. There are tons of non-believers with varying viewpoints, so who's to say Dawkins and his people are right?


Well either religion is right or its false I think we can agree on that. I agree there is differences among nonbelievers about how to interpret religion. Some see it as bad others as doing some kind of good for example. I think the whole point of their enterprise though is to increase non-belief, not necessarily non-belief in their terms of seeing religion as bad. On a side note not even Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens agree on everything. Hitchens has said that if he had the choice he would not get rid of religion completely.




Are they dialoguing with prominent religious members of various cultures (as opposed to just setting up debates organized by predominently white western universities where they yell at each other for an hour)? Are they having informal discussions with common everyday people who practice religious faiths? From the numerous videos I've watched and articles I've read on these guys, the answer is no, but I could be wrong. All I've seen is one pompous debate after another, one interview with a public radio station or a BBC anchor after another - all forums organized and controlled by white Westerners.



I honestly dont know if they are or not but I suspect you dont either, they very well may be. You keep bringing up race when I dont see this as an issue in these things at all. Why do you keep implying its all down to evil white westerners, which im sorry to say is what your coming accross as saying


It's not just about relying on tradition or religion or creed - like I stated before, there are legitimate reasons why people cling to these things, and these reasons must be understood before we can have any meaningful discussion about them or their abolishment. To ask a person to give up a belief on the grounds of evidence or reason in this day and age is like asking them to give up a part of who they are (or who they believe they are). It obviously doesn't work, and oftentimes they end up holding onto the belief even stronger than before (as is the case with many reactionary militant fundamentalists in the States).



Mostly its either fear, indoctrination, tradition or faulty reasoning. None of these things are good aspects that should be encouraged or left but should be challenged.


There isn't anything wrong with you having an opinion of certain behaviors. The problem comes in when we assume everyone must think like we do, or else we're somehow uneducated or unenlightened. This is what I get from Batchelor and the like. There are plenty of highly educated philosophers who take a more culturally relativistic approach to these issues. Just because they don't think like you, does that make them wrong?


Cultural relativism would mean that human sacrifice is ok in some circumstances or that child rape is. Do you really want to sign up to that. Either you condem these actions not matter where they are or you allow for their existence in some areas of the world.


You're right - it's not an unreasonable position at all. As a matter of fact, it is the most reasonable position to take in terms of evidence and observation. That doesn't mean everyone "should" believe it. If we approach discussions with religious followers based on what we want them to believe because we think they should, we will fail most everytime. Trust me, I've tried this numerous times. It doesn't work. We can't change anyone's mind - they have to change their own mind when they're ready to do so.



Well everyone should embrace it as reason, evidence and expermient are the only ways to reach any measure of truth in the world. However I agree that not everyone will, immediately anyway, embrace this. However the floor should still be open to criticism and people should be allowed to point out that the emperor has no clothes.


Batchelor is well-versed on the scriptures, maybe even one of the most versed. He's a former Zen and Tibetan monk, has translated numerous scriptures and written numerous books on Buddhist study. I have no doubt he is formulating his opinions based on his wealth of experience. However, it's obvious that not every highly educated Buddhist agrees on various points in the scriptures. The Venerable Bhikkhu Buddhadasa has much different views on rebirth than Ajahn Chah. Jack Kornfield has different views than Gil Fronsdal. Who's right?



Well from what I have read and heard from former disciples, Ajahn Chah used to formulate rebirth in terms of birth of ego in the same way Buddhadasa did most of the time. However yes there are divergences of opinion but I am skeptical that there is only one way to understand Buddhadhamma and one way to practice it


Just because a person is highly versed on a particular topic doesn't mean they can't make mistakes and be plain wrong sometimes. In this case, Batchelor is just plain wrong when it comes to his idea that rebirth isn't a central element of the suttas. He may very well be right about the falsehood of rebirth, but the evidence suggests that rebirth was absolutely essential to the Buddha's teachings.


Although its a different discussion, this isnt always the case. I myself, for example, see evidence in the Suttas pointing the other way


It is culturally insensitive to assume you have the answers to another culture's problem. It's culturally insensitive to assume another culture has a problem based on your own definitions, instead of the definitions relevant to that specific culture. The West is very good at doing this.



So if a country and culture practices child rape and marriage and in the middle east and I live in the UK but had a chance to stop it or at least campaign aggessivlely against it, should I do so or should I not incase its culturally insensitive for me to do so?


On a side note It seems you have a grudge against the west


First of all, what does "faced with this culture mean?" Does it mean if you were a member of this culture and you disagreed with the practice? If that's what you mean, you just stated what I've been saying the whole time - it is up to MEMBERS of that culture to decide what is and is not best for them, not up to us who are not a part of the culture. It's different if that culture is trying to invade your culture's space and impose their practices onto to you. In that case, fight like hell. But if you're a dissenter in your own culture, you have every right to dissent.


No we are talking about "outsiders" so you would be an outsider who is faced with this. Say you live in a country that is neighbours with this Aztec culture. Would you sit back and let the murder happen and hope that some dissidents would resolve it or would you campaign against it? Remember this is human sacrifice we are talking about.


We don't live the same everyday realities of other cultures because we aren't a part of their culture. How can we decide what is and is not good for them? What if someone from a dictatorship were to come to America and parade around espousing the death of democracy? And they were adamant that we have it wrong with this democracy nonsense? How would that make us feel?


Im sorry this is absurd. There are certain actions we know are wrong no matter what, murdering people for being homosexual is one of them. Are you seriously saying that, to take Iran for example, we shouldnt speak out with force and/or take action against them because it might upset their feelings? I really hope that isnt your view. If you think it should be stopped then I dont see what your arguing against.


Yep, you're absolutely right: the computer, the internet, central air and heating, and even the way we make buildings, are all completely unsustainable and are a direct result of human beings calling themselves scientist and engineers and insisting that nature is something to be controlled and dominated instead of it being the very lifeblood all life on the planet depends upon. A direct result of mainstream science's insistence that the planet and its ecosystems are lifeless, cold and without purpose, instead of it being a living, breathing organism to enter into a mutual relationship together.


Actually science is the pursuit of truth and its aim is the betterment of humanity. I dont know where you could have gotten the view that science says the earth is "lifeless". If that was so what on earth is biology for, in fact what on earth are we doing here. Ignoring this though I think I see what your saying, however science just presents facts. The interpretations come later. When I study evolution do you know what I find? I find the perfect case against all forms of racism since all humans come from Africa. I also find solidarity, not just with other humans but with everything that is alive since we are all genetically related. We are all one big family and I got this from materialist science, which you seem to think is so bad


This insistence that science only be materialistic goes against one of the most fundamental aspects of the scientific method


It is materialistic however since science can only study whats in nature and therefore only the world of energe/matter that we see around us. Science cant study "supernatural" things since these are by definition outside of nature. One effect of this is that they are outside space time and so there is nothing for science to measure or test.


There are scientists testing the existence of sixth senses using modern technology http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/199 ... sense.html


This is taken from the website you linked

The ancestors of humans may have communicated by a sixth sense, by detecting chemical signals given off by each other. They received these signals through a specialized organ in the nose, vestiges of which still exist.


All completely materialistic. Chemicals, organs etc



testing a part of the brain for the function of spiritual experiences http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =110997741



This isnt exactly a scientific website or article, its a radio station


and even how near-death experiences induced spiritual experiences http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU



NED's are interesting but they dont exactly prove anything in of themselves. Science is investigating however and there are some biological theories to as why these occur. If it was not material in nature science would have nothing to say on it since it would involve a supernatural element which science cant measure


It is unskillful for a culture or government to kill off its own citizens and expect to last beyond an uprising or armed resistance from its own members. They make themselves susceptible to coups, overthrows and invastion from external threats. History proves this. We don't have to invoke their religious beliefs to see this is true. To invoke any type of moral measurement upon them is unnecessary. Right and wrong are relative and subject to redefinition with the rise of subsequent generations. But cause and effect are immutable.


So child rape can be ok?


We in the West aren't even able to curb our own atrocities against ourselves and others


Such as?


As you can see from the links I provided above, there are obvious material connections to non-material phenomena. A person - let's say a meditator - is practicing the scientific method when testing the effectiveness of meditation and the Noble Eightfold Path. Their conclusions are based on their own experience, and can be duplicated by others. As a matter of fact, Buddhism necessitates the scientific method, or else the entire practice falls apart. This shows that science is not simply relegated to pure materialism.


There is nothing "obvious" about it and if it were obvious I would treat it as suspect and withhold judgement until an investigation has been made. It was pretty obvious that the world is flat, until it was investigated and found otherwise


Buddhists dont practice a complete form of science because they cant share data with others to examine or publish results, which is an important part of science as it helps eliminate biases. Also Buddhism doesnt = supernatural, so there is no problem with Buddhism and materialism (except perhaps the effect that view might have on Dhamma practice)


But what about theoretical sciences? Are practitioners of these fields not scientists because they don't actually see what the theories say should exist? There are widespread discussions of the Higgs boson, string theory, and the existence of consciousness. As a matter of fact, some of the world's largest scientific instruments have been to find evidence of many of these phenomena.


There is scientific, material evidence for them in regards to the effect they have even if they arent seen themselves. Also mathematics is involved. Theoretical doesnt mean a kind of guess.


This is true, but it has nothing to do with my argument. I'm arguing against the validity of members of one culture imposing their beliefs on members of another. Further along, I stressed the function of such beliefs, and how they cannot be easily divorced from cultural and ethnic traditions.


Sure they can. I am a culture christian without having faith in Jesus

To criticize faith alone is to entirely miss the reasons for such beliefs.


Well as I said the reason for the belief is either fear, indoctrination, tradition or faulty logic in which case its better then recieve criticism in order to face their fear etc and can overcome it


metta
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby clw_uk » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:02 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:Viz the "agnostic" question, the very word "buddha" and other terms used to describe him, such as "jnana" give the immediate and strong impression that, if anything, the buddha is "gnostic", and not at all "a-gnostic". Here, I do not mean "gnostic" in the sense of the early Christian idea, but in the sense of a "knower". All these terms, >gno, >jna, >kno and so on are obviously cognates or cognate roots. The other terms, such as >budh, >vid, and so on are from different roots, but mean the same thing more or less.

I find it difficult to even consider the idea that the Buddha was anything other than "gnostic", quite frankly.



Doesnt mean he knew everything. I dont see any evidence for this in the Suttas and so you could say he is agnostic in reguards to religious claims.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby zavk » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:57 pm

I too have found some aspects of Batchelor's works useful, even if I'm not quite sure what to make of the extent to which he characterises Buddhism as agnostic or atheistic. In any case, Batchelor's interpretation is not new. His interpretation of Buddhism as agnostic-atheistic can be located on genealogy of scholarship that traces back to T.W. Rhys-Davids. In Buddhism: A Sketch of the Life and Teachings of Gautama, the Buddha, Rhys-Davids wrote, 'Agnostic atheism was the characteristic of the [Buddha’s] system of philosophy' (p. 207).

Rhys-Davids is of course a key figure in the study of early Buddhism. Given how Rhys-Davids founded the Pali Text Society, his influence on how we now interpret Theravada is not insignificant. Richard Gombrich has suggested that Rhys-Davids 'did more than anyone else to introduce [Buddhism] to the English-speaking public, influencing even English-speaking Sinhalese Buddhists', and thus 'serious students of Buddhism will never allow [his] name to die' (quoted in Charles Hallisey 'Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravada Buddhism', in Donald Lopez (ed.) Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism)

I point this out not to suggest that Buddhism is indeed agnostic or atheistic, but to point out how Rhys-Davids' interpretation of Buddhism (like Batchelor's) was a decidedly modern one, a particular interpretation that was shaped by the conditions of his time. Rhys-David's interpretation of Buddhism must be viewed in the context of the late 19th century, where the tensions between western monotheism and the emergent scientific worldview framed his reading of Buddhism in humanist, non-religious terms. While I do not doubt his dedication to scholarship, it should nevertheless be noted that Rhys-Davids was selective in the materials he examined. Several studies (like Hallisey) have pointed how he ignored some texts (especially those that would associate Buddhism with ritual or religiosity) regarded by Asian Buddhists to be central for understanding Buddhism.

Rhys-Davids sought to uncover the biography of Gautama and portrayed the Buddha as a mere mortal, even though many accounts of the Buddha depicted him supernatural terms. Such a reading of the Buddhism effectively imbued the Buddha with Victorian values and portrayed him as the perfect Victorian gentleman. There was an ideological impetus behind this interpretation of the Buddhism. While this interpretation of Buddhism reflects Victorian values more than it does what Buddhism was 'originally', it allowed western interpretators to denigrate Asian Buddhism (with all its rituals and religiosity) as degenerate and adulterated. This disparaging attitude towards Asian Buddhism is tied with colonial politics: the claim that Asian Buddhism had forsaken the Buddha's 'original' agnostic-atheistic teachings served to justify the paternalism of colonial rule. It is worth recalling here that Rhys-Davids first encountered Buddhism while he was serving in the Ceylon Civil Service (1864-72).

What I am suggesting, then, is that there is no way to unambiguously position Buddhism as agnostic or atheistic. Any attempt to argue that Buddhism is agnostic-atheistic says more about the speaker and conditions from which s/he speaks than it does what Buddhism 'really is'. Keeping this in mind has been helpful for me. It has helped me to better appreciate the depth and complexities of Buddhism, reminding me to be on guard against reifying the sublime Dhamma as this or that. It has also helped me gain some perspective on such recurring debates as whether Buddhism is a religion or philosophy, whether rebirth is literal or not, whether Buddhism is agnostic or atheistic, whether the so-called supernatural elements in Theravada or Mahayana are superflous to the Buddha's 'original' teaching or not, and so forth. Being historically reflexive has helped me not to get so hung up about these never-ending, circuitous arguments, and thereby freeing up more energy to pursue the Dhamma in more productive and skilful ways.

To pick up on the key question underlying this discussion which clw_uk has posed: What is wrong with interpreting Buddhism as agnostic or atheistic? I would say that there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The issue, rather, is whether one is critically reflexive about one's position and whether one pursues that interpretation towards skilfull or unskfill ends.

----------------------------

FYI: For critical analyses of Rhys-Davids and the early western scholarship of Buddhism, Lopez's book mentioned above is helpful. Judith Snodgrass' (an Australian Buddhist historian, btw, whom I had the pleasure of meeting) 'Defining Modern Buddhism: Mr and Mrs Rhys-Davids and the Pali Text Society' is another useful source, as it David McMahan's The Making of Buddhist Modernism.

Hope this is of some use...... :anjali:
With metta,
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:08 pm

Thank you Ed for your excellent and very well-considered response.
Context, as they say, is everything.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:38 pm

clw_uk wrote: [ ... ] First of all he was atheist or agnostic in regards to the traditional monotheistic creator Gods, i dont think anyone can argue against that. On another point the remark you made about "devas" does really depend on interpretation. If you follow classical thervadas line of thought then you could make a case for Buddha being a kind of polytheist. However if you take an alternative view point, say that of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand or Buddhadasa then "deva" is a mind state, which of course would mean that Buddha was silent on any kind of celestial realm, gods etc and would make him an agnostic or atheist in these issues.

The Buddha conversed with devas (however that might be interpreted), and Brahmas. He even convinced one that he wasn't as all-mighty as he might've liked to think he was. Whether this is metaphorical or not, that goes against the very definition of "atheism," which means no god... not even an imaginary one just to make a point. Science, for example, is atheistic in the sense that it doesn't rely on any idea of gods (either false or otherwise) to try make points. These ideas abound in the Nikayas.

So, I think "non-theistic" might be a better word, since the Buddhism isn't centered on gods.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby clw_uk » Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:13 pm

So, I think "non-theistic" might be a better word, since the Buddhism isn't centered on gods.


Well I think this is playing with words to a certain extent. I dont believe in Gods but I dont say there are no Gods. I just see it as beyond resonable doubt like elves etc however im still an atheist because I dont BELIEVE in Gods.


More strictly speaking Im an agnostic Atheist as I have no evidence or reason to believe, so I dont and so am atheist


I think this applied to Buddha as well. He most likely did not make a metaphysical claim and say "there are no Gods/God" it just was an unimportant question to him. As such I see him as

A) Agnostic as he would have not had knowledge of said exsitence/non-exsitence of gods

B) Atheist as gods were unimportant to him he wouldnt have believed in gods


I think agnostic Atheist an non-theist could be seen as one in the same however
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby alan » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:17 am

zavk:
I think you were the one who recommended "The making of Buddhist modernism" to me a while back. If so, I want to thank you. It is extremely interesting, and very helpful!
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby alan » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:24 am

clw,
Just a hint--most people are going to glaze over when they see 20 column inches of text. It also appears somewhat indulgent.
Making your point in fewer words might be more effective.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby alan » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:20 am

You are correct, Ben--it is always good to keep an open mind.
No one is considering burning books here--although I did suggest throwing one of them out the window.
Oh, wait--Blackbird makes a joking aside, and everyone freaks out! That is nonsense, of course.
I'll come to his defense.

I've read Batchelor and have set him aside. He seems to be trying to construe a new version of Buddhism that conforms to his beliefs. Thats all well and fine, but not worth my time. As I've said before, he seems to be apologizing to himself--not very enlightening. My reading stack is high; my time is limited. I'll choose those that impress me. Not because I agree with them all the time, but because they challenge me with their ideas.
Batchelor doesn't qualify. He's out, for me at least.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby clw_uk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:03 am

alan wrote:clw,
Just a hint--most people are going to glaze over when they see 20 column inches of text. It also appears somewhat indulgent.
Making your point in fewer words might be more effective.



Dhammakid answered me in a long and detailed post so I am returning that courtesy. If you dont want to read it all then dont thats your choice
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby zavk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:13 am

alan wrote:zavk:
I think you were the one who recommended "The making of Buddhist modernism" to me a while back. If so, I want to thank you. It is extremely interesting, and very helpful!


Hi Alan

Yes, I think I remember suggesting the book to you. You're most welcome, I'm glad you like the book. While many other studies have explored similar issues, as far as I'm aware this is the first book to assemble an overarching narrative of the processes that has shaped Buddhism into what we know today. I really like how it demonstrates that the Buddhism we have in recent history is a unique construction, while not reducing it to a mistake or fabrication. It constantly draws attention to how change and conditionality is embodied in the very thing we call 'Buddhism' (if we can call it the one thing). Good stuff!
:anjali: :reading:
With metta,
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:12 pm

zavk wrote:... change and conditionality is embodied in the very thing we call 'Buddhism' (if we can call it the one thing)

It occurs to me that 'calling it one thing' is actually un-Buddhist. Surely Buddhism says, of itself as much as of any 'thing' else, that it has no self?
:juggling:
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby zavk » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:45 am

'Un-Buddhist' according to which version of Buddhism? Hahaha... ok, sorry, just being facetious. :tongue: Bhikkhu Thanissaro seem to also take the view that is better to think of Buddhism in the plural as the title of his book, Buddhist Religions, suggests.

Anyway, :focus:
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby alan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:07 am

Hmm, what's this, a new Thanissaro book? When did this come out?

On McMahon: He passes on taking a stand at the end of chapter 6. Understand why, but still see it as a flaw.
That goes back to your earlier post, as quoted by Kim:
"Change and conditionality is embodied in the very thing we call "Buddhism". I don't share Kim's objection of no self, but would like to ask what you were referring to there.
My objection with McMahon is that he squirmed out of the pressing question. Understandable, as he is an academic, and needs positive reviews in order to stay on the job. But a student might feel somewhat slighted, and want to ask another question. That student is concerned with getting to a useable truth.
The question would be: who are we to challenge the Buddha's statements?
They are right, or they are not right, right?
Where is there room for change and conditionality here?

Thanks zavk.
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Re: Batchelor's "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:13 am

" challenge " or "interpret" ? After all just for starters most of us are not sufficiently au fait with the Pali to make a judgement on the translation...
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