pink_trike wrote:For me, again, it is the idea that someone "_must_ accept" something to "be a Buddhist" that I find foreign.
Again, this gets it backwards. It's not like there's a club that you're not allowed in until you accept a set of beliefs. Rather it's that a word needs a definition in order to be meaningful. A Buddhist is defined most sensibly as one who strives to implement the Buddha's teachings. A person who strives to implement some teachings and refuses to implement others, who doubts the Buddha or the Dhamma or the Sangha, who would rather make baseless accusations of mass corruption against sincere practitioners, who rejects thousands of years of tradition for no reason... such a person is not sensibly called a Buddhist. Perhaps someone influenced by Buddhism, perhaps someone on the way to becoming a Buddhist. And there's nothing wrong with being that sort of person. We are who we are. We are at where we are at on the path. There's no point trying to force yourself to be something you are not. Likewise, there is no point cheapening or lessening the path simply to fit where you are at.
Perhaps this view represents a general lack of access to teachers?
I think a teacher can help keep us focused where we need to be focused, can help us from going on irrelevant tangents, and can also help keep us from nurturing wrong views, obstructive views. I think without a teacher it is very easy to form wrong views regarding the teachings. So one with a teacher might say "I don't worry about rebirth in my practice. When I ask questions about rebirth my teacher tells me to not worry about it and get back to my practice." And that might be right for that person. But when one goes further to say "Rebirth is not a part of the path at all. Belief in rebirth is in fact an obstacle to the path" then one goes too far and teaches wrong view. Those without teachers who hear this wrong view are set on a wrong path and they have no one to help straighten them out.
I wonder if this is an internet phenomenon.... teachers generally slap questions like this down pretty fast and point us back to practice.
I think that response works well between a student and a teacher, where there is trust and respect. But if a person is seeking information and gets slapped down they will likely leave unsatisfied. Furthermore, this is a discussion
forum, not a practice forum. All we can do here is discuss. If we say "don't discuss, get back to practice" then there is no discussion forum. So yes, I think these sorts of conversations are due to the medium.