Buddhism and religion

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Hoo » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:09 am

My apologies for not keeping my fingers off the send button. My apologies, too, for not being the Buddhist I wish I could be. I sometimes struggle with a long history of anger, cynicism, and argumentativeness, and this exchange just hit me at a weak moment.

For what it's worth, my opinion is that PT has every right to pose any question that's within the TOS. He's under no obligation to perform according to someone else's standards = opinions about what he should do are about as valuable as any other opinion. He has the right to not live up to anyone's expectations.

By like token, tiltbillings has every right to demand that people play according to his rules. He also has the right to be disapointed when that don't happen.

In a more positive universe, PT, TB and I will all have our eye on the Buddha and our fingers off the send button. Though I have to admit that I thought PT showed remarkable restraint. I'm afraid I am much too blunt for that kind of exchange - old habits die hard.

Again my apologies. I'm off to see where I left the Buddha.

Steve
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:18 am

Hoo wrote:For what it's worth, my opinion is that PT has every right to pose any question that's within the TOS. He's under no obligation to perform according to someone else's standards = opinions about what he should do are about as valuable as any other opinion. He has the right to not live up to anyone's expectations.


He can pose whatever question he wishes, and I can counter that however I see is appropriate. It goes both ways. If he wants others to "befriend" his highly negative point of view about religion, let us see how he has done so in with the positive idea of religiosity. That is not an unreasonable request. Not only is it a fair way to proceed, but it actually would open up the discussion in a far more meaningful and sharing way.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:24 am

Hello,

Im gonna shoot from the hip here so please excuse me if anything seems out of whack or lacks any correlation to accepted understandings.

As far as I understand it the word "religion" is like the word "personality". Someone might say "that guy has personality" but very little can be gleaned about that person from such a statement because everybody has a personality. Its true that in common usage such a statement would mean "that guy is flamboyant in an out of ordinary way", but if we are using the term personality in a strictly literal way then it means little to nothing.
.....
Pink Trike,

You seem to be using the term religion in two ways. It sounds like you want to refer to it technically in a literal way as well as figuratively at the same time. I can often understand what people mean when they use the term by paying attention to the context and apparent tone of the statement in which they use it. In this case I am confused. :shrug:
.....
I do consider my practice of Buddhist teachings to be a religious practice generally speaking. I could go through a number of technical reasons which sight dictionary's and such but I wont. Instead I will just say that I am immensely grateful for the clarity, compassion, and perfectly pragmatic message which I understand to be conveyed by these teachings. I feel this gratefulness consistently and often to point of tears. I know my statue of a walking Buddha is just a piece of metal which I bought at a shop but a bow to it with a sense of humble devotion because I LOVE it. I look out into the lexicon I am familiar with and "religious practice" fits as well as anything else I can find.

....

- What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally? How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?
I think I have answered this
- How familiar are you with the history and origin of the idea of religion (the concept, not the phenomenon)?
I dont know how to quantify this but more than many and less than some.
- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?
Because it is such a valuable body of wisdom and practices.
- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?
I dont understand the question.
- Is meditation inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is lovingkindness inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is generosity inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is compassion inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is death contemplation inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?
I don't understand the question.
- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?
I don't understand the question especially since I don't fully understand kamma.
- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
I would say that at some point in its development "clarity"(an appreciative awairness and understanding of the workings of reality) does become a religious quality.
- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?
That depends on either why we are meditating or how we feel about what we encounter.



Take care all...

Gabe
- If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?
Last edited by Prasadachitta on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby zavk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:27 am

Pink: The are many aspects of what we currently understand about religion that I find abhorrent. Yet, I don't quite want to jettison the category of religion altogether. I do have some thoughts about religion and will try to articulate it, but I don't have the time to sort through my thoughts now so I'll reply later (I hope this thread doesn't go down a trajectory that gets it locked.)
With metta,
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby pink_trike » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:28 am

Peter wrote:Please define what you mean by "a religious view". If you don't define your terms, we'll all just end up talking past each other. Without this much, the rest of your questions don't make much sense. Is meditation a religious activity? Is chanting? Is making toast? It depends on how you define "religious".


I already did. Please see my reply to the first question and questions 4-13 .

Why on earth would anyone who feels they "choose a religious view" care to respond to what is clearly not curiosity but rather venomous hatred and contempt? It is as if I wandered into a food forum and asked "All of you deluded fools who like coffee, please explain to me why you drink something so awful." :twisted:


venomous hatred and contempt? wow. Better read it again. Any venomous hatred and contempt you're sensing is entirely of your own making. This type of reaction is what I referred to early when I mentioned that many self-acknowledged religionists feel that religion is under attack if religion is questioned at all and then they feel persecuted - so they lash out at...er, a ghost that prowls their own mind.

That list has it's merits, but not when it's used to defend the posting of unprovoked insults.

For anything I said to be perceived as an insult requires that you take it personally and react to it emotionally. I was hoping we could avoid emotionality in this thread, but I hope you had fun with that. :jumping:

Might another way of saying this be... one meets an admirable person and finds confidence in that person grows? And that such confidence leads one to listen what that admirable person has to teach? And that such confidence leads one to further investigate and explore those teachings? to put them into practice? Even though one has not yet seen for himself the results of those teachings, he pursues them and develops them due to the confidence his has in his teacher. Wouldn't that be another way of describing a "conceptual/emotional attachment regarding a group of ideas" aka religion?


This reply might have been interesting and worth making friends with if it was within a response to my post that was participatory rather than defensively dismissive.

So, y'know, it's already entwined. What can you do? :shrug: :lol:

Shine the light of dispassionate inquiry on it? Isn't that an important part of the Dharma?

Is the religious element of Buddhism exempt from focused, critical examination? I could (and have) engage scientists all day about the scientific mind-view and not get a single angry, defensive, or passive-aggressive response. It seems that scientists are quite open to examining their biases (conscious and unconscious) and how these biases affect their scientific practice and the fruits of it. Also, in the practice of psychotherapy it is important for both therapist and client to not just know what they feel, but to know why they feel it - and whether what they feel is beneficial or not.

This is just a normal expectation of any mature adult.
Last edited by pink_trike on Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:56 am, edited 7 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby pink_trike » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:45 am

zavk wrote:Pink: The are many aspects of what we currently understand about religion that I find abhorrent. Yet, I don't quite want to jettison the category of religion altogether. I do have some thoughts about religion and will try to articulate it, but I don't have the time to sort through my thoughts now so I'll reply later (I hope this thread doesn't go down a trajectory that gets it locked.)

Thanks, zavk - I'll enjoy reading your comments about religion. I hope you'll also take a moment to answer the questions. The questions are there so that our biases are stated clearly before we engage in dialogue.

To everyone: I want to point out that this thread really isn't about the pros and cons of religion, a direction it seems that a couple of the responders have tried to steer it. It's about why some people choose to engage Buddhism religiously and some don't as I stated in the OP. Likely at some point in the dialogue I''ll be sharing why I've chosen to engage Buddhism free from viewing it as religion and free from mind-states of religiosity. I'm interested in looking closely at how people make this choice and why, and knowing whether that choice is conscious or unconscious for others.
Last edited by pink_trike on Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Jechbi » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:56 am

Hi Pink,

I'll give it a shot. My views are probably just as full of holes as anyone else's, but here goes:
pink_trike wrote:- What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally? How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?
I regard "religion" as a social construct. Religions appear to me to be groupings of individuals around shared ideas, values, rituals and traditions. Religions also appear to go hand-in-hand throughout history with politics. In Christianity, for example, we can recognize that the canon accepted as the New Testament is a political document designed to consolidate the orthodox church at a time when that was useful to the purposes of Rome. This is just the way the texts were selected. Other texts were not selected. Other non-orthodox forms of Christianity were excluded from the orthodox for political reasons. I imagine that political considerations also have shaped Buddhism in places like Japan, Tibet, and elsewhere.

I think religion is an inevitable element of human society, and as much as we might like to think that there was no "religion" 20,000 or 30,000 years ago, I'm sure that in the social groups that existed at the time, there was some religion. This is just what people do. A combination of anxiety, curiosity, hope, wisdom, coupled with a sense of community and other factors create a kind of primordial soup that is a fertile culture for religion to grow.

When you get down to the basic individual, each person has his or her own views, and each religion at its core has a membership of just one. But in society, that's not how it works. I think it's impossible to separate the concept of "religion" from the social fabric with which it is embroidered.

How does the idea of religion make me feel? It makes me feel excited and curious. I'm fascinated by the way in which my fellow human beings experience this social engine of personal growth. Generally speaking, I find the underpinnings of religious thought to shine a light on psychological realities that are universal in the human mindset. But it's like looking through a prism, with lots of different facets. The terms, the language, the customs, everything can seem so contrived and foreign. Underneath it are human beings, struggling for meaning, seeking to fill a need, trying to come to terms with suffering. In this respect, Buddhism deeply informs my understanding of religion.
pink_trike wrote:- How familiar are you with the history and origin of the idea of religion (the concept, not the phenomenon)?
Not very. There's probably lots of history I've completely missed.
pink_trike wrote:- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?
Because Buddhism is a religion. Sorry, I think that violates the premise of your OP, but the reality is that Buddhism, in its various forms, is a social construct. Now if we're talking about one's personal sojourn in the Dhamma, that's a different story. I choose to engage that as a religion because of my kamma. It's a habit.
pink_trike wrote:- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?
For me personally, those elements that involve fellow practitioners need to be viewed as a religion. In this context, I choose to be respectful, and I choose to give my Dhamma brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt. I bow to the venerable monks. I respect the social constructs when it is appropriate to do so. Privately, in my own space, however, the question never crosses my mind.
pink_trike wrote:- Is meditation inherently a religious activity?
Not sure what to make of the way the question is constructed. What does that mean, for something to be "inherently" religious? For me personally, I guess that would mean that the thing cannot be separated from its social function. So in this respect, no, meditation is not inherently a religious activity. But it can be one.
pink_trike wrote:- Is lovingkindness inherently a religious activity?
Not necessarily, but it can be one.
pink_trike wrote:- Is generosity inherently a religious activity?
Same answer.
pink_trike wrote:- Is compassion inherently a religious activity?
Same answer.
pink_trike wrote:- Is death contemplation inherently a religious activity?
Same answer.
pink_trike wrote:- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?
Insofar as Buddhist instruction occurs in a religious setting, then yes. If one talks about "secular Buddhist sila," that seems like a way of repackaging what is in fact a religious practice.
pink_trike wrote:- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?
Possibly not, but I think it helps.
pink_trike wrote:- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
Yes it is. I say this because at moments such as this, one better understands the nature of religion, and how religion has helped to shape this type of experience. We are brought into contact with our teachers through the process of kamma. Again, in keeping with the premise of the OP, this is my personal view. I stand to be corrected.
pink_trike wrote:- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?
Yes, they certainly can be. But it's completely unnecessary to label them as "religious" or "non-religious" experiences, in my view.
pink_trike wrote:- If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?
I think it's a lot more complicated than that. Under no circumstances would I try to predict any person's rebirth on the basis of such narrow parameters as whether or not "religious perspective" is present.

Metta
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:03 am

Hi Pink_Trike,

Here's my thoughts :)

- What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally? How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?


I'm not all that familiar with religion in general. I wasn't raised with religion; my father was passionate about atheism and my mother was Jewish but agnostic. In my twenties I began feeling interested in religion and I started attending synagogue. I liked the temple, and I liked the god idea. And the people were really nice. But it was never a fit; my heart wasn't in it. I could go to services, which were very pretty and fun for me and I could do the holidays, etc. but I never felt at home. Later I tried on Christianity and that was far less of a fit. Jesus never worked for me, I always felt like a fake. I tried to believe it but couldn't.

But there's always been things and phenomena that are beyond everyday language and experience, and I wanted explanations. After finding Buddhism I never looked back for a moment. Finally the right fit! It's a wonderful balance of "religion" with practical advice, philosophy, and who knows what I'm leaving out.

- How familiar are you with the history and origin of the idea of religion (the concept, not the phenomenon)?


I'm not very familiar with the history of religion. I have studied Psychology, and some Sociology so I know a little bit about human nature and group dynamics in general. And I've studied a little bit about other religious beliefs and practices, like those of Islam. But as for religion as a concept, I don't know very much.

- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?


I don't have a very well-developed personal definition of "religion." But for me Buddhism involves practices, spirituality, spiritual teachings, and metaphysical ideas, and occasional ritual, so I call it a religion. The development of wisdom is part of the practice, and studying the Buddha's wisdom is part of the spiritual development (that I identify as religious stuff).

- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?


I don't think that it's necessary to view it any one way. And it seems to depend upon one's definition of religion. Until we're liberated I think we're all going to view Buddhism through a deluded lens. At some times, such as when I'm practicing mindfulness, I would say I'm using Buddhism as a 'life philosophy.' If I'm using a ritual object I'm probably doing a religious practice. When I'm practicing generosity or recycling it's part of my religious teachings/understandings as well as my life philosophy. That one thing I love about Buddhism, it's so flexible and multi-functional.

- Is meditation inherently a religious activity?


I don't know. I only know about Buddhist meditation but I'm sure there's other kinds.

- Is lovingkindness inherently a religious activity?


It depends upon the person and the situation, I think. For some it's natural and others can develop and work on it.

- Is generosity inherently a religious activity?


No, I don't think so. But if someone is practicing generosity and working on developing generosity, that could be done in religious practice or activity.

Is compassion inherently a religious activity?


No, I don't think so.

Is death contemplation inherently a religious activity?


It can be (for example if you're doing specific visualizations and meditation in Buddhism) but it's also a normal, natural thing to think about outside of structured religious practice.

Is generosity inherently a religious activity?


It can be, but I try to practice generosity all the time. But if I give dana, for me it's a religious activity. If I'm being generous in general, I'm usually just trying to be a decent person.

Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?


Again, it depends upon the person. Some have to work on it and use his/her religion as a guide, and for some it's second nature.

Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?


I don't know if it's necessary but I believe it's certainly helpful.

Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?


I wouldn't know :)

Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?


I don't know.

If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?


According to my understanding, it's rarely a positive experience if your perspective is that of an ordinary being.

Please feel free to answer all or some of these questions...or to respond regarding the questions themselves. Thanks...looking forward to insight into your personal experience of religion and the religious mind-state.


I hope there was something interesting or useful to try on here. These are just my personal opinions and thoughts. I just responded and didn't even proofread, so I hope it's not a jumble of non-sense.

:anjali:
Last edited by Ngawang Drolma. on Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:19 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:I don't have a very well-developed personal definition of "religion." But for me Buddhism involves practices, spirituality, spiritual teachings, and metaphysical ideas, and occasional ritual, so I call it a religion. The development of wisdom is part of the practice, and studying the Buddha's wisdom is part of the spiritual development (that I identify as religious stuff). ...

Like s/he said...

I'm certainly not comfortable calling what I do with regard to Dhamma "science". Science is what I do for a living but it's much more restricted in scope - to questions that have (at least in principle) well-defined answers.

Mike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:36 am

Hi Pink, all,

What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally?

"Spiritual endeavour, with an end goal in mind." Subsequent responses should be seen through this frame of reference.

- How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?

Religion makes me think of potential, but also waste of potential if that religion isn't closely aligned with spiritual development.

- How familiar are you with the history and origin of the idea of religion (the concept, not the phenomenon)?

Not particularly

- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?

As per my definition above. Religion should exist to serve people, not the other way around.

- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?

The need is up to the individual.

- Is meditation inherently a religious activity?

No.

- Is lovingkindness inherently a religious activity?

No.

- Is generosity inherently a religious activity?

No.

- Is compassion inherently a religious activity?

No

- Is death contemplation inherently a religious activity?

No

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?

No, though it would add to it.

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?

No, though it would add to it.

- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?

Spiritual, yes. Religious, potentially.

- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?

Could be... it depends.

- If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?

(I hold this belief and answer) No.

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: Buddhism and religion

Postby pink_trike » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:41 am

Hi Gabe,

Thanks for replying...

gabrielbranbury wrote:You seem to be using the term religion in two ways. It sounds like you want to refer to it technically in a literal way as well as figuratively at the same time.


Yes, there are two ends of the stick...sorry I wasn't clear. I see the concept of religion as 1. a naming strategy (roping off certain areas of inquiry and institutions under the rubric of "religion") that in turn, 2. produces emotionally-triggered mind-states of religiosity. Let me clarify:

1. The term religion is a mental concept - a convenient box, nothing more. This concept of "religion" is applied to the institution of Buddhism and the teachings as a convenience - a way of categorizing. The term is heavily loaded for nearly all people but most people don't take the time to unpack the term before they use it, and I think carelessly apply it to the area of inquiry that Buddhism and it's practices address.

2. The mind-state of religiosity (which is what I'm curious about) is the various emotions that seem to arise and then collect into a view as a result of learning to see Buddhism conceptually as a religion - from naming it as religion. These mind-states don't seem to be a direct effect of the Buddhist teachings or practices themselves - it appears that they arise solely as a result of Buddhism being named a religion. Nothing in Buddhist teachings or practices, as far as I'm aware, has as their stated goal the development of these emotionally-triggered mind-states. Any sensation that arises from the practice of Buddhism is just sensation, not religion.

I do consider my practice of Buddhist teachings to be a religious practice generally speaking. I could go through a number of technical reasons which sight dictionary's and such but I wont. Instead I will just say that I am immensely grateful for the clarity, compassion, and perfectly pragmatic message which I understand to be conveyed by these teachings. I feel this gratefulness consistently and often to point of tears. I know my statue of a walking Buddha is just a piece of metal which I bought at a shop but a bow to it with a sense of humble devotion because I LOVE it. I look out into the lexicon I am familiar with and "religious practice" fits as well as anything else I can find.

We have some common ground here. I have great appreciation for the Dharma. I am also grateful for the clarity, compassion and pragmatic message that can be found in Buddhism. I bow to my wooden Buddha (a simulacra of the teachings).

Where we differ is that these things aren't religion or religious practices for me. I have a great appreciation of geology also - and the study of the earth also inspires clarity, compassion, and contains pragmatic messages that address the nature of reality. I occasionally bow to the globe on my desk (another simulacra), but I don't consider it religion or religious practice. And I can say the same about medicine, psychology, etc..all these areas of inquiry and practices are just that - inquiry and practice.

- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?
Because it is such a valuable body of wisdom and practices.

I'm unclear how that makes it "religious". There are many valuable bodies of wisdom and practice that aren't named as religion - many that have to do with quality of life and the nature of reality. I too find the Dharma to be a supreme body of wisdom and practice, but I don't see inherent religion there. I would imagine that someone who experiences heart surgery and goes on to live for many more years highly values the body of wisdom and practices that create a heart surgeon. Or someone who finds relief from psychotic episodes might find psychotherapy and medical treatment to be highly valuable. But are these religion? For me, they aren't.

Is meditation, [lovingkindnes, generosity, compassion, death contemplation] inherently a religious activity?
no but religious activity is inherently possible within it

I agree that this is possible and see people do it a lot. Is bringing "religious activity" to these practices taught in Buddhism?

- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
I would say that at some point in its development "clarity" (an appreciative awairness and understanding of the workings of reality) does become a religious quality.

This is interesting - what form of perception or expression do you think this religious quality manifests? How do you think it is experienced?

Is the religious quality something we bring to the clarity? Or are you saying that the experience of clarity at that point is itself in some way a religious experience?

- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?
That depends on either why we are meditating or how we feel about what we encounter.

Would it be fair to say then that a sense of religiosity is something that would need to be brought to these mind-states by the practitioner?

Thanks, Gabe.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby pink_trike » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:39 am

Hi Retro,

Thanks for your reply,

Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
Spiritual, yes. Religious, potentially.

Sorry, I don't understand the term "spiritual". Do you mean that "Spiritual" is incremental or mundane clarity, and "Religious" might apply if there is ultimate clarity? The end goal (ultimate clarity?) is potentially a religious experience?

If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?
(I hold this belief and answer) No.


Are you're saying that ""Spiritual endeavour, with an end goal in mind." (the concept of religion) isn't necessary for a positive rebirth? Does this mean that a religious perspective then is only (or primarily) useful to keep one on the path during life - that it is a way of structuring one's life so that clarity might emerge.

Thanks, Retro
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby pink_trike » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:42 am

That's all for me today. I'll respond to Jechbi and Drolma's posts tomorrow evening after I've had time to think about them. G'nite all. :zzz:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:37 am

Greetings Pink,

pink_trike wrote:Sorry, I don't understand the term "spiritual". Do you mean that "Spiritual" is incremental or mundane clarity, and "Religious" might apply if there is ultimate clarity? The end goal (ultimate clarity?) is potentially a religious experience?


I don't have a hard and fast definition for spiritual... but it would include mundane clarity, and the end goal of ultimate clarity. Perhaps 'counter-samsaric' might be a good definition.

pink_trike wrote:Are you're saying that ""Spiritual endeavour, with an end goal in mind." (the concept of religion) isn't necessary for a positive rebirth?

Correct.

pink_trike wrote: Does this mean that a religious perspective then is only (or primarily) useful to keep one on the path during life - that it is a way of structuring one's life so that clarity might emerge.


The religious perspective is as beneficial (or otherwise) as it is as a transforming agent. The benefit is the gap between how one finishes this life with that perspective, compared to how they would have fared without it.

Just how I see it.

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:03 pm

pink_trike wrote:Hi Gabe,

Thanks for replying...


Yes, there are two ends of the stick...sorry I wasn't clear. I see the concept of religion as 1. a naming strategy (roping off certain areas of inquiry and institutions under the rubric of "religion") that in turn, 2. produces emotionally-triggered mind-states of religiosity. Let me clarify:

1. The term religion is a mental concept - a convenient box, nothing more. This concept of "religion" is applied to the institution of Buddhism and the teachings as a convenience - a way of categorizing. The term is heavily loaded for nearly all people but most people don't take the time to unpack the term before they use it, and I think carelessly apply it to the area of inquiry that Buddhism and it's practices address.

2. The mind-state of religiosity (which is what I'm curious about) is the various emotions that seem to arise and then collect into a view as a result of learning to see Buddhism conceptually as a religion - from naming it as religion. These mind-states don't seem to be a direct effect of the Buddhist teachings or practices themselves - it appears that they arise solely as a result of Buddhism being named a religion. Nothing in Buddhist teachings or practices, as far as I'm aware, has as their stated goal the development of these emotionally-triggered mind-states. Any sensation that arises from the practice of Buddhism is just sensation, not religion.


Hello Pink Trike,

All Terms are mental constructs often with baggage which we do not wish to convey when we use them. Concepts are convenient for communication. They categorize and convey a sense of meaning through that shared framework or "box" as you say. In My usage I understand "religion" to convey a sense of the utmost priority to that which it is applied. In my opinion virtually all people have some sense of priority which could be labeled religious even though they do not do so. This sense of priority can and often does take the shape of guiding principles which represent and shape how we interact with that which is most important to us.

I looked up "religiosity" and it is partly defined as "excessive devotion to religion". I can see how this definition could fit what you are conveying. Personally I do not think there can be excessive devotion to what is most valuable to us. I would say devotion is not the problem but confusion regarding the object or rather non objectification of our object of devotion.:lol:

We have some common ground here. I have great appreciation for the Dharma. I am also grateful for the clarity, compassion and pragmatic message that can be found in Buddhism. I bow to my wooden Buddha (a simulacra of the teachings).

Where we differ is that these things aren't religion or religious practices for me. I have a great appreciation of geology also - and the study of the earth also inspires clarity, compassion, and contains pragmatic messages that address the nature of reality. I occasionally bow to the globe on my desk (another simulacra), but I don't consider it religion or religious practice. And I can say the same about medicine, psychology, etc..all these areas of inquiry and practices are just that - inquiry and practice.


For me Dhamma practice subsumes all the aspects of my life and interest. In other words, I have found that all my interests and activities are put into context and the relative value is unveiled by the practice. Of course I am grateful for many things but none of them rival my gratefulness for the opportunity to practice Dhamma.

I'm unclear how that makes it "religious". There are many valuable bodies of wisdom and practice that aren't named as religion - many that have to do with quality of life and the nature of reality. I too find the Dharma to be a supreme body of wisdom and practice, but I don't see inherent religion there. I would imagine that someone who experiences heart surgery and goes on to live for many more years highly values the body of wisdom and practices that create a heart surgeon. Or someone who finds relief from psychotic episodes might find psychotherapy and medical treatment to be highly valuable. But are these religion? For me, they aren't.


The way you understand the term religion is narrow and I think there is plenty of room to work with the term in order to convey what I have been talking about above. In my definition a person who perceives that Buddhism is as you say " a supreme body of wisdom and practice" is by definition regarding that wisdom and practice in a religious manner even if that person doesnt use the term. :tongue:

Fair thee Well

Gabriel
Last edited by Prasadachitta on Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:08 pm

Hi Pink

pink_trike wrote:It's about why some people choose to engage Buddhism religiously and some don't as I stated in the OP. Likely at some point in the dialogue I''ll be sharing why I've chosen to engage Buddhism free from viewing it as religion and free from mind-states of religiosity. I'm interested in looking closely at how people make this choice and why, and knowing whether that choice is conscious or unconscious for others.


Like Drolma and Mike, I do have some difficulty with the term 'religion' and 'religiosity'. One of the reasons is that I grew up in a staunch Roman Catholic family and the exposure I've had to Catholicism through practice, via the catholic education system and through family life is very different to my experience with Buddhism.

Another reason is that the Dhamma that I was introduced to and continue to practice, lacks many of the cultural and institutional artefacts associated with religion. As I have grown and matured, possibly as the result of practice, I find myself associating more closely with the classical interpretation and have developed a deep reverence for the institution of the Bhikkhu Sangha.
Metta

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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Hoo » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:21 pm

Where we differ is that these things aren't religion or religious practices for me. I have a great appreciation of geology also - and the study of the earth also inspires clarity, compassion, and contains pragmatic messages that address the nature of reality. I occasionally bow to the globe on my desk (another simulacra), but I don't consider it religion or religious practice. And I can say the same about medicine, psychology, etc..all these areas of inquiry and practices are just that - inquiry and practice.


Through most of my life, that is almost exactly the way I saw all things religious. It was contaminated, though, by growing up where the Sunday morning crowd spent the rest of the week killing (insert the name of your favorite group), burning them out, conspiring to kill off abortion clinic doctors and spirit them off to Europe (they finally caught them), launching political campaigns to take over school boards so they could dictate their chosen curriculum, etc. And anyone who opposed the bad guys was intimidated into understanding that "you could be targeted, too."

So when I discovered Buddhism, I was pleased that there was no required institutional religion. My answer to nearly all of your questions would be no, none, and not ever :)

Since I took the instructions to test the teachings literally, I began practicing. I discovered that the Dhamma is true. Instead of just learn and do, I began to experience the Dhamma, and that has made me rethink some things. It added a dimension that wasn't there from just learning and intellectual understanding.

I don't consider Buddhism to be a religious experience, though I suppose it could be. Where I would have automatically shut the door on things institutionally religious, I leave the door open now. I leave it open for others, even though I'm not likely to go down that path myself :)

My background was in philosophy and psychology so I have some understanding of the search for the transcendental and the forest of views. They neither explain, nor explain away, my experience of the Dhamma.

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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:49 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:The way you understand the term religion is narrow and I think there is plenty of room to work with the term in order to convey what I have been talking about above. In my definition a person who perceives that Buddhism is as you say " a supreme body of wisdom and practice" is by definition regarding that wisdom and practice in a religious manner even if that person doesnt use the term.

From Miriam Webster: "a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance".

Ben wrote:Like Drolma and Mike, I do have some difficulty with the term 'religion' and 'religiosity'. One of the reasons is that I grew up in a staunch Roman Catholic family and the exposure I've had to Catholicism through practice, via the catholic education system and through family life is very different to my experience with Buddhism.

I see this often - people have a very negative experience with one religion (usually Catholicism) and thus don't want Buddhism to share anything in common with that which they have fled. Conversely, I have seen other people (usually Jews) who did not have such fearful and traumatic experiences but rather simply found their birth religion not very fulfilling. Such people seem to have far less resistance to seeing Buddhism as a religion.

Is espresso something altogether different from coffee? or is it the very best form of coffee? I find it depends on just how much you hate coffee and love espresso. :coffee:
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:17 pm

I'll take a shot at it:


- What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally? How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?


A group of people with similar belief systems which includes this worldly and other worldly pursuits, working toward their goals. The community is encouraging and motivating for me.

- How familiar are you with the history and origin of the idea of religion (the concept, not the phenomenon)?


Yes, mostly.

- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?


I take refuge in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. All three constitute a religion. If I only took refuge in Dhamma, it may not be a religious experience, not sure, but for me I take refuge in all three.

- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?


Rebirth, kamma, nibbana, the "other-worldly" realms

- Is meditation inherently a religious activity?


No

- Is lovingkindness inherently a religious activity?


No

- Is generosity inherently a religious activity?


No

- Is compassion inherently a religious activity?


No

- Is death contemplation inherently a religious activity?


No

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?


No

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?


Yes, because it includes the "other-worldly" dimension for Buddhism and for me.

- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?


Yes and no; some initial insights no; ultimate, nibbana, yes.

- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?


See above.

- If you hold a belief in rebirth: Is a religious perspective necessary in order to have a positive rebirth experience upon death of the body?


No.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:59 pm

Peter wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:The way you understand the term religion is narrow and I think there is plenty of room to work with the term in order to convey what I have been talking about above. In my definition a person who perceives that Buddhism is as you say " a supreme body of wisdom and practice" is by definition regarding that wisdom and practice in a religious manner even if that person doesnt use the term.

From Miriam Webster: "a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance".


What is interesting here is that the religion poo-poo-ers are working with definition of religion that is far too limited. The above gets at religion as it actually is on a personal level without limiting it to institutional structures.

The other thing is that humans want transcendence, which plays a very large role in what religion is on a personal level.
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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