No place for spirituality in Theravada?

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:18 pm

I also recommend the Comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... &q&f=false
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby zavk » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:56 am

In my work, I have spent a good part of the past ten years grappling with the philosophical premise that the relationship between the signifier and signified is an arbitrary one, that language is constituted in and reproduces a network of hierarchy of power relations, and more than occasionally I have felt like tearing my hair out over aphoristic arguments such as: 'I say the yes not the word 'yes' for there can be yes without the word, which is precisely our problem... What is it that is spoken, written, what occurs, with yes?' :cookoo: :rolleye:

This is just a convoluted way of saying that I am well aware of the slipperiness of words/language, of the nebulousness of a term like 'spirituality', of how a word like that can be imbued with political imperatives. But thank you for your repeated efforts at pointing this out, Wizard and everyone else who has raised similar points. It is encouraging to see that such issues are recognised outside institutional research settings.

In any case, when the dust has settled from all this word slinging and tweaking--and if the issue of 'spirituality' is indeed of genuine concern and not just a means to pat ourselves on our Buddhists backs for knowing better than those 'common people' who are drawn to this so-called meaningless thing that is 'spirituality'--then, for anyone who is interested may I suggest the book Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion.

The book begins by showing how 'spirituality' is a nebulous, 'humpty dumpty' word. It then examines how 'spirituality' has been co-opted for capitalist/consumerist purposes (there is a chapter on Asian wisdom traditions that includes Buddhism), before concluding with argument that what we need in contemporary times are 'spiritual atheisms'.

As you can see, the book echoes many of the arguments made here. But if its conclusion about 'spiritual atheisms' intrigues you or annoys you, don't argue with me or speculate on what it means here--check out the book yourself and see what you make of it. It is a short book, written in an easy style, but thought-provoking in analysis.

Well, I've written a lot, so I'll leave it here. For those who decide to read Selling Spirituality, I hope it helps you better understand, as it has helped me, the shared conceptual genealogy of contemporary Buddhism and 'spirituality', and what we can do to improve the relationship between the two as well as to encourage more wholesome applications of 'spirituality'.
With metta,
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:29 am

Thanks Zavk! I'll put that on my reading list. I like reading.

:reading:
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:39 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:31 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 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:48 am

As we've clarified, there's no need to take anything spiritual, because while my dog can be spiritual it doesn't mean anything of itself.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:02 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:31 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 kirk5a » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:33 pm

I'm pro-breathing, but the claim everything that aspirates is able to attain enlightenment is a highly speculative view. I doubt there is any support for it in the teachings.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:08 pm

It comes from the mistaken doctrine of Buddha Nature. Those who neglect discernment, do not preserve truth, can't develop relinquishment, and do not train for peace cannot hope to achieve Arahantship in this life. That isn't to say there's no potential EVER. Everything has the potential, but not an equal one.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:51 pm

I have said the word is a glittering generality which therefore makes the word essentially meaningless until you project your own perceptions and emotions on the word right?


Im sorry but I cant understand what your saying, could you say it in more simple terms?





Because it's a meaningless word. It's so nebulous it can mean whatever you want it to mean. :jumping:


I agree here

I sometimes think that its tied into emotion and an emotional response to something, knowing God or looking at the pictures of the hubble telescope etc
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby zavk » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:39 pm

clw_uk wrote:I sometimes think that its tied into emotion and an emotional response to something, knowing God or looking at the pictures of the hubble telescope etc


YES PRECISELY! Thank you for making this point, and summarising my longwinded posts. This was what I was trying to get at. Regardless of what one thinks about 'spiritutality', whether one is skeptical about it or outrightly against it, there is a certain emotion tied to one's view. Actually, it's even more basic than emotion--it's a kind of bare feeling or vedana that is tied to one's view. This feeling could either be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. If one is anti-spirituality, then chances are the feeling tied to one's view is an unpleasant one.

This is what I was trying to get across in my posts. Beneath all my intellectual knowledge of 'spirituality', I observed a certain unpleasant feeling. I began to see that it was a kind of aversion. And when I contemplated further, I realised that that feeling of aversion was feeding all sorts of unwholesome attitudes. I realised that attitudes of snobbishness, snootiness, 'I know better than you', etc, were tied to my views about 'spirituality'. It's not unlike the kind of feelings of aversion that a so-called music expert gets when they poo-poo at people who listen to mainstream pop music, or the feelings of aversion an artfilm critic harbours towards people who like anime or B-grade action films.

Recognising my feelings was a sobering realisation for me. I realised that, to be true to the Dhamma, the underlying feelings deserved more attention than my views about 'spirituality' because I have made a commitment to the Eightfold Path, and one component of the path is Right Effort, which involves letting go of and discouraging unwholesomeness and cultivating and encouraging wholesomeness.

Acknowledging and working with my unwholesome feelings towards 'spirituality' doesn't compromise the intellectual views I hold about 'spirituality'. I could still hold onto the view that it is a problematic term. But what is important is that by acknowledging my unwholesome feelings, I guard against getting caught by my views and also clear the ground--removing the weeds of unwholesomeness, as it were--for more wholesome attitudes to take root and flower. In this way, I do not hamper my own (well, for lack of a better word) spiritual progress.

So yes, certain feelings are always tied to this idea of 'spirituality'. Without directing this at anyone in particular, ask yourself honestly: How do I feel about it?
:anjali:
Last edited by zavk on Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby KonstantKarma » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:51 pm

Hanzze wrote:Every being is able to attain enlightenment here and now.
Even a dog.
Breath in breath out.
:smile:
here and now


We can only pray to be as enlightened as our dogs.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:58 am

clw_uk wrote:Im sorry but I cant understand what your saying, could you say it in more simple terms?


Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words that are so closely associated with highly-valued concepts and beliefs that they carry conviction without supporting information or reason. They are typically used by politicians and propagandists to promote false messages. Consider the "Hardworking Families" dilemma. To a person with a right-wing bias, a "hardworking family" would simply be a family, at any level, that does not comprise benefit recipients or the unemployed; whereas to a listener with a left-wing bias, a "hardworking family" would be one including wage earners on the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder who are unable to rise higher without some state support. So when a politician uses the word "Hardworking families" the words itself together are meaningless and are rather a projection to appeal to an agenda that is deceptive. "Spiritual" uses the same idea, except it is to sell something or manipulate people. It's like a Rorschach inkblot but worse. It's used to manipulate.
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:25 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:32 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 phil » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:41 am

Hi


The question:
Has the Buddhadhamma (please not from a religious/believe view) no place for spirituality? To be spiritual (active/employed with once/the spirit) contra productive on the path of the Buddhadhamma?


I'm not quite sure I understand the question, but I'll shoot away. I'll say that one thing that always strikes me as a bit "spiritual" and not quite in line with the Dhamma as taught every else is the idea of projecting one's metta. It's found in Visudhimagga, if I'm not mistaken, rather than in the suttanta. I think it's a concept-based meditation object that helps the mind sink into concentration, but we sometimes come across people saying "I'm going to send metta to you" or "Please send me metta" and that sort of thing as if it were a psychic force that could be sent flying through space across continents. (Maybe there is such an advanced psychic power described in the texts?) Personally speaking, since I am very oriented to conventional behavior and have little motivation at this time to seek to perfect understanding of the Dhamma in its deepest, purest forms, I say why not, if it helps people be happier and behave better especially if they are able to maintain an understanding somewhere in the back of their minds that this "spiritual" thing they are doing might not be a true teaching of the Buddha. Wholesome, harmless happiness first, pure understanding later, in my view...
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:52 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:The idea of "clinging" is useful to a degree, but is also to be dropped.


I'm very attached to my clinging though... :tongue:

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Re: No place for spirituality in Theravada?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:24 pm

zavk wrote: How do I feel about it?
:anjali:


I don't like the word "spiritual" because IMO it's so vague as to be meaningless.

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