Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:22 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: Perhaps I have misunderstood the later Theravada position, I was thinking
of this passage:

From: What the Buddha taught, by Walpola Rahula - online version - Link:

http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-04.html

"Some popular inaccurately phrased expressions like ‘The Buddha entered into Nirvāna or Parinirvāna after his death’ have given rise to many imaginary speculations about Nirvāna. [22]The moment you hear the phrase that ‘the Buddha entered into Nirvāna or Parinirvāna’, you take Nirvāna to be a state, or a realm, or a position in which there is some sort of existence, and try to imagine it in terms of the senses of the word ‘existence’ as it is known to you. This popular expression ‘entered into Nirvāna’ has no equivalent in the original texts. There is no such thing as ‘entering into Nirvāna after death’. There is a word parinibbuto used to denote the death of the Buddha or an Arahant who has realized Nirvāna, but it does not mean ‘entering into Nirvāna’. Parinibbuto simply mean ‘fully blown out’ or ‘fully extinct’, because the Buddha or an Arahant has no re-existence after his death."

That seems entirely consistent with the suttas. Nibbana is not a realm where arahants go. An arahant is not reborn. Where's the inconsistency with the suttas in that?

The book actually continues with a discussion of the relevant suttas:
Rahula wrote:Now another question arises: What happens to the Buddha or an Arahant after his death, parinirvāna? This comes under the category of unanswered questions (avyākata).[http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.001.than.html] Even when the Buddha spoke about this, he indicated that no words in our vocabulary could express what happens to an Arahant after his death. In reply to a Parivrājaka named Vaccha, the Buddha said that terms like ‘born’ or ‘not born’ do not apply in the case of an Arahant, because those things-matter, sensation, perception, mental activities, consciousness- with which the terms like ‘born’ and ‘not born’ are associated, are completely destroyed and up-rooted, never to rise again after his death.[http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html]



An Arahant after his death is often compared to a fire gone out when the supply of wood is over, or to the flame of a lamp gone out when the wick and oil are finished.[see above reference] Here it should be clearly and distinctly understood, without any confusion, that what is compared to a flame or a fire gone out is not Nirvāna, but the ‘being’ composed of the Five Aggregates who realized Nirvāna. This point has to be emphasized because many people, even some great scholars, have misunderstood and misinterpreted this smile as referring to Nirvāna. Nirvāna is never compared to a fire or a lamp gone out.


Of course, it would be foolish to claim that every pronouncement by every ancient or modern commentator is consistent with the suttas, if only because, as you can see from the discussion on this board, there is no common agreement on exactly what some suttas mean...

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby santa100 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:23 pm

If Atheism in a broad sense is defined as the rejection of belief in the existence of deiTIES, then it's kinda tough to clearly label atheists as all good or all bad. There might be atheists who do not believe in the existence of a single almighty creator god and there might be atheists who do not believe in the existence of any kind of god in any non-human realms. So if we are to draw a Venn diagram of "Atheist" and "Buddhist", instead of seeing a complete separation between the 2 entities, there'll be overlapping areas. So, it's not a simple matter. In the case where there're atheists who do not believe in a single creator god NOR in any kind of gods in any realms, and yet they do not kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, etc.. In that case, there should still be an overlapping "sila" area that is shared between Atheists and Buddhists. Even within the Buddhist circle of the diagram, taking closer look turns out to be that it's actually a sub Venn diagram of sub circles: there're those who only believes in the Elder's Way and dissing Mahayana and Vajrayana as fakes; and there're those who only believes in the Big Vehicle and dissing those Hinyanas as narrow-minded; yet they all believe in the 4NT, 8NP, 12DO, etc...So, it's not a simple matter I guess..
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:26 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.


Atheism is a-theism the opposite of theism. I don't think anybody is really interested in rebranding Buddhism as a theism.

While deities are referred to in Buddhism in no way are we instructed to worship them or believe in them, they are merely beings trapped in samsara like you and me .
Last edited by Goofaholix on Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"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 7:28 pm

piotr wrote:Atthikadiṭṭhi and atthitā are not the same. First affirms kamma and so on, second affirms atta.


Thanks for that, either works, the main point is to find a middle way between opposite unskilful views.
"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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:36 pm

tiltbillings wrote:That is one defintion, but I rather doubt it is the definition --the only definition, the definitive defintion.

The term has already been defined earlier in the thread:

Ñāṇa wrote:Rowe, William L. "Atheism". In Edward Craig. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    [A]n atheist, in the broader sense of the term, is someone who disbelieves in every form of deity, not just the God of traditional Western theology.


Ñāṇa wrote:Atheism isn't just a disbelief or denial of monotheism or a creator God. It is also a denial of gods, god realms, and entails denial of any form of post-mortem existence. The American Heritage Dictionary:

    atheism

    1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
    2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

Collins English Dictionary:

    atheism

    Rejection of belief in God or gods.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:38 pm

santa100 wrote:it's kinda tough to clearly label atheists as all good or all bad.

This is a discussion of view, not a judgement of people.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:40 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I don't think anybody is really interested in rebranding Buddhism as a theism.

This is a nonstarter. Pointing out that atheism is incompatible with Buddhism doesn't entail equating Buddhism with any form of theism.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:43 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:I don't think anybody is really interested in rebranding Buddhism as a theism.

This is a nonstarter. Pointing out that atheism is incompatible with Buddhism doesn't entail equating Buddhism with any form of theism.


The lesson to be learned is that the wise person avoids loaded polarising terminology so as to avoid the terminology being discussed instead of the question posed.

Buddhism is an a-theism in the normal english use of the word.
"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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:45 pm

Goofaholix wrote:The lesson to be learned is that the wise person avoids loaded polarising terminology so as to avoid the terminology being discussed instead of the question posed.

The term was chosen for a reason. Buddhism is not compatible with atheism.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:46 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:That is one defintion, but I rather doubt it is the definition --the only definition, the definitive defintion.

The term has already been defined earlier in the thread:
Which makes my point. It depends upon how one defines the term atheism. One can say that Buddhism is non-theistic, but that fails to get at the fact that a the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos has been rejected by the Buddha onwards.
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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Which makes my point. It depends upon how one defines the term atheism.

Which I have clearly done.

tiltbillings wrote:One can say that Buddhism is non-theistic, but that fails to get at the fact that a the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos has been rejected by the Buddha onwards.

Again, pointing out that atheism is incompatible with Buddhism doesn't entail equating Buddhism with any form of theism.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:58 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Which makes my point. It depends upon how one defines the term atheism.

Which I have clearly done.
You have give a defintion, but one can offer variations of what atheism means.

tiltbillings wrote:One can say that Buddhism is non-theistic, but that fails to get at the fact that a the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos has been rejected by the Buddha onwards.

Again, pointing out that atheism is incompatible with Buddhism doesn't entail equating Buddhism with any form of theism.
I am not arguing that point; rather, I am arguing with the idea that one definition is inclusive of all definitions. Inasmuch as the Buddha has pointedly rejected an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos it is atheistic, but that does not necessarily entail all the other attachments that have been applied by others to that word.
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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:17 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Inasmuch as the Buddhism has pointedly rejected an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos it is atheistic....

The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.

tiltbillings wrote:...but that does not necessarily entail all the other attachments that have been applied by others to that word.

Show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of gods and higher realms?
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:26 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Inasmuch as the Buddhism has pointedly rejected an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos it is atheistic....

The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.
Depend up[on how you define the term atheist.

tiltbillings wrote:...but that does not necessarily entail all the other attachments that have been applied by others to that word.

Show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of gods and higher realms?
That has already been done above. If one limits the definition of atheism to simply, and not unreasonably, to a rejection of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, no problem. Whatever the case, the Buddha's teachings are always going require some discussion of what is and what is not entailed concening the idea of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.
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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:36 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of gods and higher realms?

That has already been done above.

No it hasn't. Show me a quotation from a philosophy text of a definition of atheism which affirms the existence of gods and higher realms.

tiltbillings wrote:If one limits the definition of atheism to simply, and not unreasonably, to a rejection of an omnipotent, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, no problem.

As already shown, this is an overly restrictive definition of the term.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:36 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of gods and higher realms?


The a- negates, it doesn't affirm, in this case it negates theism. One could equally say show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of icecream, both make no sense.
"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 8:38 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms.


And he demoted them from higher powers worthy of worship to beings like you and me trapped in samsaric realms.
"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 8:40 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:The term was chosen for a reason. Buddhism is not compatible with atheism.


It's not compatible with militant athiesm, I'll concede that, it's equally not compatible with militant theism.
"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 8:45 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:BTW, I'm not interested in feeding trolls.


Actually you introduced the topic of terrorism, something that didn't do the point you are trying to discuss any favours.
"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 Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:49 pm

Goofaholix wrote:The a- negates, it doesn't affirm, in this case it negates theism. One could equally say show me a definition of atheism that affirms the existence of icecream, both make no sense.

Again, the Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Pāli canon contains many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinion of Stephen Batchelor, et al, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.
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