No place for spirituality in Theravada?

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:36 am

Annapurna wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Laurens wrote: I used the word spiritual because it helped describe what I was getting at.


For sure. The problem I have with words like "spiritual" is that they can mean entirely different things to different people.

Spiny


A definition was posted in the OP.


Which illustrated the many different ways "spirituality" can be thought of.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:39 am

Viscid wrote:Buddhism, by my (and apparently wikipedia's) definition is steeped in spirituality.

- Meditative practice is spiritual.
- Applying Insight into the nature of conditioned phenomena is spiritual.
- Stream-entry is an intensely spiritual experience.
- Realization of the Four Noble Truths is spiritual.
- Having knowledge of Karma and Past Lives is spiritual.


I think these statements would work better if you replaced "spiritual" with "insightful" or "liberating".

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:55 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Viscid » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:50 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:I think these statements would work better if you replaced "spiritual" with "insightful" or "liberating".

Spiny


Why can't spiritual things be insightful or liberating?

I think the reticence to label Buddhist things as 'spiritual' comes from the association 'spirituality' has with the realm of the new-age and other religions. People wish to see Buddhism strictly as a practical philosophy; philosophy is rational and possibly verifiable, while spirituality is not.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:45 am

Viscid wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:I think these statements would work better if you replaced "spiritual" with "insightful" or "liberating".

Spiny


Why can't spiritual things be insightful or liberating?

I think the reticence to label Buddhist things as 'spiritual' comes from the association 'spirituality' has with the realm of the new-age and other religions. People wish to see Buddhism strictly as a practical philosophy; philosophy is rational and possibly verifiable, while spirituality is not.


I don't disagree with what you say, I just think that words like "insightful" and "liberating" are more descriptive of Buddhist practice. Yes, I am reluctant to label Buddhism as "spiritual", partly for the kind of reasons you mention but mostly because it's such a vague word which people define in so many different ways.
I do see Buddhism as very practical, concerned with verification rather than superstition.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:56 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:03 am

Hanzze wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:I don't disagree with what you say, I just think that words like "insightful" and "liberating" are more descriptive of Buddhist practice. Yes, I am reluctant to label Buddhism as "spiritual", partly for the kind of reasons you mention but mostly because it's such a vague word which people define in so many different ways.
I do see Buddhism as very practical, concerned with verification rather than superstition.

Spiny

Reestablish the meaning of words is very buddhistic and leads to quick understanding of the Buddha Dhamma I guess :-)
Are you practicing here that not-thinking you said characterized Buddhism?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:15 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:34 am

Hanzze wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Are you practicing here that not-thinking you said characterized Buddhism?

I guess that will lead to off topic :-) Sometimes one needs to think to be able to let go of it :-) Everybody his needed/favorite staza :-) so lets look if I could stop the ball again.
Well, don't hurt your head.
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.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:08 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby zavk » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:09 am

Hi all,

Have been meaning to share some info re: spirituality.... so here, a very brief history of the idea of 'spirituality' as it has evolved in the West. Ideas taken from Walter Principe’s (1983) ‘Toward Defining Spirituality’:

    - First of all, the term 'spirituality' as such did not appear in European culture till about the seventeenth century--a pretty recent invention in the larger scheme of human history!

    - 'Spirituality' derives from the Latin 'spiritualitas', which comes from the noun 'spiritus', meaning breath of life

    - In early biblical usage (i.e. the start of the Common Era), spiritualitas referred to a moral sense of life. The Greek called it pneuma (life in the Spirit of God) as opposed to sarx (life of the flesh). And important point to note here is that this is NOT the same dualism that Greek philosophers and Christian writers of Late Antiquity would posit between body and spirit. What it referred to in its earliest usage was a moral order or way of life involving the disciplining of unrestrained desire.

    - Under Christian Hellenistic influence, the notion of ‘the spiritual’ was used to make a moral-political distinction in the assertion of scriptural truth and revelation

    - In the medieval period, the notion of 'the spiritual' was used to assert territorial rights, appearing in the ‘Lord’s spiritual’ as opposed to the ‘Lord’s temporal’ to distinguish between property own by the Church and that owned by the king. At around this time, an important precursor to the modern understanding of ‘spirituality’ began to emerge via Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556), who distinguished ‘spiritual exercises’—interiorised contemplative practices of the soul—from everyday bodily exercises.

    - In the seventeenth century, the French word spiritualité (from which we derive the English word ‘spirituality’) was coined to signify the devout or contemplative life in general. This was articulated by figures like Madame Guyon who, writing in the wake of the Reformation, sought to defend inner authority against that of the Church.

    - Even though it was coined in the seventeenth century, ‘spiritualité’ was not widely used until the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. This was a period of colonialism, a period that saw a proliferation of knowledge about ‘the Orient’. For many European and North American audiences, the ‘eastern philosophies’ of the Orient appeared to present alternatives to mainstream Christianity as well as solutions to the social ills of the day. The use of the term 'spirituality' became more common with increasing knowledge of Eastern traditions, which, of course, included Buddhism--and at the time 'Buddhism' accepted by the scholarly community was mainly early Pali Buddhism or what we now call Theravada.

So, the idea of 'the spiritual' has evolved and changed over time. The term 'spirituality' itself is a rather recent development and as the last point above suggests, it shares a lineage with modern understanding of Buddhism. To this extent, I don't think we can easily disassociate 'spirituality' from Buddhism. This, however, doesn't mean that we should simply apply the term to Buddhism willy nilly. I think it is important to be aware that the term has different connotations and that some of them are not helpful when projected onto Buddhism.

Given how 'spirituality' has been co-opted for commercial purposes, and Buddhism likewise dragged into it (there are many silly interpretations of Buddhism out there in the marketplace), I think it is important to actually reclaim the term. Because as the above suggests, 'spirituality' has been and can be a powerful conceptual prism that refracts various sociopolitical issues and through which social change is achieved. If anything, 'spirituality' could offer us the means to counter those very forces that seek to capitalise on it and turn it into a mere commodity, or worse, deployed as a means to regulate our lives.

So, I think a better way of approaching the issue is not to pin down the 'original' meaning of spirituality (why pin it down when it is a living, evolving concept?) and see if it is indeed compatible with Buddhism or not. Rather, a better way of approaching the issue, I think, would be to ask:

Are there elements of spirituality (perhaps elements which have fallen out of favour or which have been suppressed but which may nevertheless be socially and politically enabling) that, when taken up in the context of contemporary Buddhism and developed along the lines of Dhammic principles, become compatible with Buddhism?

This way, both 'spirituality' and 'Buddhism' become living knowledge-practices, responding to the needs of an evolving world, rather than dead traditions entombed, mummified, by old habits and interpretations.

:anjali: :smile: :group:
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:35 am

On the whole I agree zavk. I think that the term needs reclaiming but that in order to do so we need to carefully distinguish the Buddhist use both from earlier uses and from the decent into meaninglessness that is found in New Age definitions .
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Nov 25, 2010 1:36 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:On the whole I agree zavk. I think that the term needs reclaiming....


Personally I don't think it's worth reclaiming from a Buddhist point of view.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:29 pm

Well you might think that ,and I might agree, but that is not going to stop its use on this forum and other Buddhist sources of information. So rather than respond to all requests for information about Buddhist spirituality with a disclaimer about a word, perhaps we had better accept its inevitability and forge a Buddhist slanted definition ?
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:42 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:03 am

To be honest "Spiritual" is a nebulous word that is a type of glittering generality that can lead to miscommunication. A person hurt by such a word will see it as threatening. A person who finds such a word appealing will use it freely to describe whatever is in their imagination, but I think to be honest when looking at it introspectively the word "spiritual" is devoid of meaning. :thinking:
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:01 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Well you might think that ,and I might agree, but that is not going to stop its use on this forum and other Buddhist sources of information. So rather than respond to all requests for information about Buddhist spirituality with a disclaimer about a word, perhaps we had better accept its inevitability and forge a Buddhist slanted definition ?


I think that would be difficult given the wide scope of Buddhist schools and practices. I would rather look for a label which is more descriptive of Buddhist practice - I made a couple of suggestions earlier in the thread.

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:15 am

I also found those words you used to be far more direct, truthful, and universal when it comes to practice. The word spiritual somehow to me echoes of an empty meaningless word.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:53 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:54 pm

So if Buddhists words are empty and meaningless why post at all ?
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