Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:34 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:In any case, you are presenting a fallacious argumentum ad populum. Just because a large number of people share a particular bias does not mean the bias is justified.

Of course it isn't justified, that's not the point. The point is that perceptions matter when dealing with people of other religious and cultural traditions. Hence the need for skillfulness. There are a number of rules in the Vinaya which were created to placate public criticisms of monastics contravening local social and cultural standards.


Many Western countries, the United States for instance, are secular, multicultural democracies in which "local social and cultural standards" are not exclusively the province of religion. Why only cater to the Bible Belt? What about the concerns and perceptions of secular humanists, for example?

"Faith-based thinking" has also acquired negative connotations due to religious' groups campaigns against teaching evolution, the regressive political/social views and support for militarism among some religious organizations, child abuse cases in the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches, and so on. Buddhism, by contrast, often gets a good press because it is seen as being more aligned with science and reason.

So the "skillfulness" argument can go both ways.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Zom » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:17 pm

From these two passages, so actually the true meaning of 'fully blown out' or 'fully extinct' is the realization of no I. What do you think?


It depends too. There are 2 elements of nibbana - sa-upadisesa and anupadisesa (with / without formations).

If we speak about "fully extinct "I" (or - "fully extinction of ignorance root") then we speak about sa-upadisesa nibbana (this kind of nibbana that happened with the Buddha "under the Bodhi tree")

If we speak about "fully extinct khandhas" then we speak about anupadisesa nibbana (that is - final nibbana that happens with arahant's death)

So we may speak about "extinction" in these 2 different contexts.
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:22 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

tiltbillings wrote:Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Well, the Buddha's teaching certainly is not theistic nor is it atheistic materialism.


And so there is the question if atheism has to go hand in hand with materialism. I guess it depends on how one uses the term.
The point is, as the Buddha's teaching shows, atheism need not be associated with materialism.
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: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby piotr » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:40 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
piotr wrote:Hi,

tiltbillings wrote:Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Well, the Buddha's teaching certainly is not theistic nor is it atheistic materialism.


And so there is the question if atheism has to go hand in hand with materialism. I guess it depends on how one uses the term.
The point is, as the Buddha's teaching shows, atheism need not be associated with materialism.


That's how I see it as well.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:46 pm

piotr wrote:That's how I see it as well.
And so did the Buddhist doctors of India, such as Dharmakriti, who gently said:

"The belief in a world-creator... [is] ... the mark of the crass stupidity of witless men."
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: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:55 pm

tiltbillings wrote:"The belief in a world-creator... [is] ... the mark of the crass stupidity of witless men."

As a Buddhist, Dharmakīrti was neither an atheist nor a materialist.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:02 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:So the "skillfulness" argument can go both ways.

Yes, of course. I'm not posting on an Atheist discussion forum, nor do I have any interest in doing so. This is a Theravāda Buddhism discussion forum. As such, discussion of what is right view and true dhamma and what is wrong view and false dhamma is both appropriate and relevant.
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:24 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"The belief in a world-creator... [is] ... the mark of the crass stupidity of witless men."

As a Buddhist, Dharmakīrti was neither an atheist nor a materialist.
Sure looks like he rejected the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos. A rose by any other name . . . .
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: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:26 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:So the "skillfulness" argument can go both ways.

Yes, of course. I'm not posting on an Atheist discussion forum, nor do I have any interest in doing so. This is a Theravāda Buddhism discussion forum. As such, discussion of what is right view and true dhamma and what is wrong view and false dhamma is both appropriate and relevant.



Sure, I agree, but you appeared to be putting forward the claim that Buddhism should disassociate itself from atheism because followers of various religions despise atheists and consider them equivalent to rapists, and what I'm saying is that this is a bogus argument. Following the same logic, Buddhists should persecute gays because followers of other religions do so.

There may be valid reasons to disassociate Buddhism from atheism, but this one doesn't fly.

On a separate, but related note, you have defined "atheism" as equivalent to "annihilationism", and as support you cite Ajita Kesakambalin's words in the Samaññaphala Sutta:

The person is composed of the four great elements; when he dies, earth returns and goes back to the element of earth, water returns and goes back to the element of water, fire returns and goes back to the element of fire, wind returns and goes back to the element of wind, while the senses disappear into space.... Fools and wise alike are destroyed and perish at the breaking up of the body, they do not exist after death.


But Ajita Kesakambalin did not simply reject the possibility of an afterlife. He also taught that "generosity is for idiots" and that "there is no fruit of good or bad actions" -- in other words, he was not simply an atheist but a moral nihilist. It is this latter aspect of his thinking which is most significant for our purposes, because it renders ethics meaningless and undermines all basis for the contemplative life.

But moral nihilism does not automatically follow from lack of belief in an afterlife; there are belief systems (secular humanism, for example) which are strongly concerned with ethics even as they reject supernaturalism. The argument that non-belief in an afterlife leads automatically to moral peril is an easily debunked canard. So we have to be a little careful about drawing an equivalence between annihilationism (in the specific sense described in the Samaññaphala Sutta) and the entire spectrum of atheistic or agnostic views.
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:35 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Sure looks like he rejected the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.

Yes, of course. That doesn't make him an atheist.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:A rose by any other name . . . .


:goodpost: (Seriously, atheism is often rendered to mean no all-powerful-Creator God, not usually referring to impermanent devas or other such beings)
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:50 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:There may be valid reasons to disassociate Buddhism from atheism, but this one doesn't fly.

Yes, I understand. It was, at most, only a tangential point.

Lazy_eye wrote:So we have to be a little careful about drawing an equivalence between annihilationism (in the specific sense described in the Samaññaphala Sutta) and the entire spectrum of atheistic or agnostic views.

To be more clear: Atheism (in the broad sense of the term as already stated), moral nihilism, materialism, physicalism, and so on, are each an unskillful false dhamma. None of them are compatible with the Buddhadhamma.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:05 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:To be more clear: Atheism (in the broad sense of the term as already stated), moral nihilism, materialism, physicalism, and so on, are each an unskillful false dhamma. None of them are compatible with the Buddhadhamma.
That is one defintion, but I rather doubt it is the definition --the only definition, the definitive defintion.
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: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:08 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Different translation. Here's the full passage from the ATI translation:


Just above that passage in ATI the heading is Annihilation not Nihilism, two very different things, though parts of the passage lean towards the latter I think.

I don't see the part that says this is the definition of Natthika Ditthi though.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:10 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Can I propose "Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma" is an Unskillful False Dhamma?


well said.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:12 pm

a·the·ism
   /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/ Show Spelled[ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA
noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism?s=t

BuddhaDhamma is compatible with both numbers 1 and 2 above. Note the capital G in number one above. Number 2 refers to "supreme beings". There are no "supreme" beings in Buddhism, period.
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:15 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Well, the Buddha's teaching certainly is not theistic nor is it atheistic materialism.


Maybe it's true to say that the theistic / atheistic dichotomy is irrelevant to Buddhism.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:19 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Well, the Buddha's teaching certainly is not theistic nor is it atheistic materialism.


Maybe it's true to say that the theistic / atheistic dichotomy is irrelevant to Buddhism.
Like anything, it depends upon how these terms are defined.
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: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:20 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:Parinibbuto means 'fully extinct'.

What is the exact difference between 'fully extinct' and nihilism?


We have to exist in the first place before we can be fully extinct, whereas nihilism says we don't exist at all.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:21 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Maybe it's true to say that the theistic / atheistic dichotomy is irrelevant to Buddhism.


Which effectively makes it atheistic. Because since the Buddha was fully enlightened, he knows for sure if there was/is a Creator-God and he would have spoken about him/her. He would not have kept it a secret.

Three things shine openly, not in secret. What three? The orb of the moon, the orb of the sun and the Dhamma and discipline taught by the Tathàgata’ (Anguttara Nikaya I. 283).

He reiterated this same point just before his final passing when he said;

I have proclaimed the Dhamma without any idea of a hidden and open teaching. I do not have the closed fist of the teacher who holds anything back’ (Digha Nikaya II. 100).
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