Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:43 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I think you need to be a little more detailed than that, given the context of this thread. What sort of attitudes towards the idea of post-mortem rebirth does it require?


Annihalation means simply annihalation.

I guess it means nothing usually identified as "me" continuing on in some form or other after this body dies, other than as food for words.

No continuation of any of the aggregates in some form or another, no force of becoming or kamma creating a new process.

Metaphysics aside I think though the most significant thing is a lack of a long term view in that the fruits of ones actions bear results even outside of the limited perspective of "my life", taking such a view is self centered and the opposite of what the Buddha was trying to achieve. From what i've observed the force of becoming is so powerful I don't find it hard to believe the affects of it could continue on in some form or another, of course though I don't apply "I", "me", or "mine" to that whatever it is.
"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 Alex123 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:55 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi Nana,

"Ananda, there are eight reasons, eight causes for the appearance of
a great earthquake. This great earth is established on water, the
water on the wind, the wind on space." [ DN 16.3.13 Walshe 1987 ]

So it seems that the Buddha thought that the earth was flat.

Do you believe that the earth is flat?

Do you want all of us to believe that the earth is flat?

Do you think that the Buddha may have been wrong about that?

If he was wrong about the earth, could he have been wrong about other
things?

Regards, Vincent.


If we turn the diagram upside down, then there is nothing strange.
Continents are surrounded by water which is below them (elevation of earth is typical higher than of the ocean). Above earth there is air (wind) we breath and higher than that it is space (cosmos). Even if we take in the opposite order (go downwards) it still doesn't state that earth is flat.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:57 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Ben wrote:Have a read of the Buddha's advice to a group of rebirth skeptics in MN 60: Apannaka Sutta.
It makes for some interesting reading and should put your mind at rest.
with Metta,


I agree with this that avoiding an annihilationist view is a safer bet "If there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a good throw twice". It's interesting how the Buddha is happy to talk in terms of "If there really is a next world" however according to some people we aren't allowed to do so today. This passage encourages reflection and reason, not faith or blind belief I'd have thought.

Indeed. I love this sutta because the Buddha doesn't try to convert his skeptical interlocutors. He is very respectful of their attitude and appeals to their sense of reason.

Goofaholix wrote:This passage still doesn't answer the question though, a safe bet is not the same as a prerequisite.

Goof, what I take from this sutta is the message that belief is not a pre-requisite as Geoff seems to be saying. If one acts as though one does believe in rebirth and the existence of heavens and hells and the moral agency of intention (kamma) then one reaps the wholesome and supramundane benefits of those intentions and actions.
with metta,

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:03 am

Hi all,

I think we have the capacity to cultivate a high degree of empathy with beings in the future. With that empathy and as long as a practitioner accepts that the effects of karma are not lost at our death but continue onwards through the future lives of beings to come, there can be a similar result to believing in literal 1 to 1 rebirth. I have experienced this, but I do not reject rebirth as a possibility.

Metta

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:19 am

Ben wrote:Goof, what I take from this sutta is the message that belief is not a pre-requisite as Geoff seems to be saying. If one acts as though one does believe in rebirth and the existence of heavens and hells and the moral agency of intention (kamma) then one reaps the wholesome and supramundane benefits of those intentions and actions.
with metta,


Yes, it's about actions not beliefs.

I think taking a longer term view that this teaching encourages while acknowleding the uncertainties that surrounds it promotes a sense of awe and respect for the world we live in.

Wheras taking a belief as a consolation could invite complacency, in the sense that there is nothing more to learn.
"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 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:19 am

Prasadachitta wrote:I think we have the capacity to cultivate a high degree of empathy with beings in the future. With that empathy and as long as a practitioner accepts that the effects of karma are not lost at our death but continue onwards through the future lives of beings to come, there can be a similar result to believing in literal 1 to 1 rebirth. I have experienced this, but I do not reject rebirth as a possibility.


A good point.
"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 mikenz66 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:What sort of attitudes towards the idea of post-mortem rebirth does it require?

Right, which takes us back to the line Goofaholix was pursuing...
goofaholix wrote:What I believe nowheat is asking for is the reference that supports Nana's assertion that belief in (or acceptance of) a worldview that includes literal rebirth as a fact is a prerequisite to the eightfold path and/or a pre-requisite to stream entry.
Something i've been struggling to pin down also.

I too would like to see this.

I think both of you are skirting around addressing this statement:
mikenz66 wrote:It seems clear that not holding a materialist-annihilationist view is mandatory.

What does not having an annihilationist view mean? Does it imply some sort of rebirth?

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:31 am

Ven. Thanissaro wrote a great essay called "The Truth of Rebirth - And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice". Kind of long but definitely a great read..

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... birth.html
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:33 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:What does not having an annihilationist view mean?

Not believing in a self that is annihilated at death.

mikenz66 wrote:Does it imply some sort of rebirth?

No.

Brahmajala Sutta wrote:"There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the future, who hold settled views about the future, and who on forty-four grounds assert various conceptual theorems referring to the future. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins frame their speculations?

The common theme in all these speculations are that they are soul-theories, and their inherent error arises from them being speculative soul-theories.

Brahmajala Sutta wrote:"Whatever recluses or brahmins, bhikkhus, are speculators about the past or speculators about the future or speculators about the past and the future together, hold settled views about the past and the future, and assert various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future, all of them do so on these sixty-two grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none. This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands."

Therefore, there are no speculations about post-mortem fate that are not speculative soul-theories, according to the Buddha.

So as per comments made to you previously...

Goofaholix wrote:Annihalation means simply annihalation.

retrofuturist wrote:In practice, this means not holding a materialist-annihilationist view. Is there more to it than that?


... and the Blessed One himself...

MN 48 wrote:If a monk is absorbed in speculation about the other world, then his mind is enthralled

mikenz66 wrote:Could we discuss what that would mean in practice?

It means not being given to speculative soul theories.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:36 am

mikenz66 wrote:What does not having an annihilationist view mean? Does it imply some sort of rebirth?


No, it could be an agnostic or open minded or non-fixed view or anything in between. Not x does not mean y.

If someone did have a specific view then literal rebirth is not the only one non-annihilationist view. The judeo-Christian heaven/hell and/or resurrection view would be another example, the your relatives hang around in some kind of limbo and can be contacted by mediums and psychics is another, I'm sure there are more.
"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 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:It means not being given to speculative soul theories.


That's a good way of putting it, that's the danger of putting undue emphasis on this particular aspect of the teaching.
"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 mikenz66 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:49 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Could we discuss what that would mean in practice?

It means not being given to speculative soul theories.

OK, thanks for your clarification of your interpretation. I"m not convinced that it is always as simple as that, but I'd have to think a bit to come up with anything concrete about my reservations.

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:59 am

nowheat wrote:I am taking "rejecting the actuality of the next world" to mean that the opposite is necessary: "accepting the actuality of the next world". But if you mean "holding the dogmatic view that there cannot be a next world" then we are agreed. If you mean "accepting the actuality of the next world" then I would like to know where the Buddha says that accepting its actuality is necessary. I am not asking for a generalized statement that "it's part of the noble eightfold path" but where specifically it says one must accept the actuality of the next world to have right view.

Equivocation about the actuality of the next world is a wrong view. DN 1:

    Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin is dull and stupid. Due to his dullness and stupidity, when he is questioned about this or that point, he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: 'If you ask me whether there is a world beyond — if I thought there is another world, I would declare that there is. But I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that is neither this nor that.'

    Similarly, when asked any of the following questions, he resorts to the same evasive statements and to endless equivocation: Is there no world beyond? Is it that there both is and is not a world beyond? Is it that there neither is nor is not a world beyond?

It's impossible to simultaneously hold a wrong view and right view.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:07 am

mikenz66 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Could we discuss what that would mean in practice?

It means not being given to speculative soul theories.

OK, thanks for your clarification of your interpretation. I"m not convinced that it is always as simple as that, but I'd have to think a bit to come up with anything concrete about my reservations.

Thinking about this some more, the reservation I have with the "it's all just speculative soul theories" interpretation is that this drifts dangerously towards a nihilistic denial of kammic consequences, an "It's all just speculative soul theories, so, no worries...".

I'd be interested to hear thoughts about this, since I think it's an important thing to explore (since this interpretation, on the face of it, seems quite attractive...).

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:16 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:a nihilistic denial of kammic consequences, an "It's all just speculative soul theories, so, no worries..."

Someone could deny the efficacy of kamma, but then that would involve wilfully ignoring what the Buddha taught about kamma.

AN 6.63 wrote:"And what is the result of kamma? The result of kamma is of three sorts, I tell you: that which arises right here & now, that which arises later, and that which arises following that. This is called the result of kamma.

I see no necessary connection between "not being given to speculative soul theories" and "it's all just speculative soul theories, so, no worries...".

As I see it, it's simply a matter of what you bring to mind and what you don't. You mention kamma and as I understand it, kamma and its effects can be discerned without recourse to speculation - in fact, such speculation would serve as a hindrance to doing actually discerning the causal relationship between kamma and vipaka for oneself (as one would necessarily be substituting observation with speculative thought and recourse to a "subject" to whom vipaka occurs).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:18 am

Hi Nana,

Quote:

"The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms."

I agree, but I suspect that my understanding of "gods" and "higher realms"
is different to yours.

However, I do not think that passages where the Buddha talks about devas, to
people who already believe in them, constitutes "affirming the existence of"
such devas.

You may as well say that parents who talk about the tooth fairy to their
child, must therefore actually believe in the reality of the tooth fairy.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby piotr » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:25 am

Hi,

vinasp wrote:However, I do not think that passages where the Buddha talks about devas, to
people who already believe in them, constitutes "affirming the existence of"
such devas.

You may as well say that parents who talk about the tooth fairy to their
child, must therefore actually believe in the reality of the tooth fairy.


The Buddha doesn't speak words which are untrue but endearing to others (MN 58).
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:I see no necessary connection between "not being given to speculative soul theories" and "it's all just speculative soul theories, so, no worries...".

No worries for you then...

Since the Buddha certainly talked about past and future (but advised not seeing a self in any of it) I don't really buy the "only things verifiable in the present moment are significant" interpretations. It's possible that Interpretations that tend to label anything to do with past or future, or anything not currently directly verifiable as "speculative" may well be a form of nihilism, and a convenient way of dodging some difficult issues. I'm not saying you are doing that, I'm speaking generally about my unease with such interpretations.

:anjali:
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Since the Buddha certainly talked about past and future (but advised not seeing a self in any of it) I don't really buy the "only things verifiable in the present moment are significant" interpretations.


Something quite interesting on this point:

SN 22.79 wrote:"Thus an instructed disciple of the noble ones reflects in this way: 'I am now being chewed up by [aggregates]. But in the past I was also chewed up by [aggregates] in the same way I am now being chewed up by present [aggregates]. And if I delight in future [aggregates], then in the future I will be chewed up by [aggregates] in the same way I am now being chewed up by present [aggregates].' Having reflected in this way, he becomes indifferent to past [aggregates], does not delight in future [aggregates], and is practicing for the sake of disenchantment, dispassion, and cessation with regard to present [aggregates]."


Here, indifference and non-delight are attitudes taken towards things that are insignificant, it seems to me. Perhaps we can see in this an instruction which guides from rebirth-view to right-view?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Postby vinasp » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:01 pm

Hi everyone,

I think that Retro has made some excellent points, for example:

MN 48 wrote:
"If a monk is absorbed in speculation about the other world, then his mind is enthralled."

This agrees with DN 1 and indeed, most discourses.

But a few discourses, such as MN 117, say things like:

"There is this world, there is the next world, ... this is right view .."

Does this mean that some teachings contradict others?

Regards, Vincent.
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