Buddhism and religion

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:00 pm

Hey Pink

First of all good topic :)


- What does the _concept_ of religion mean to you personally?



An institute of rites and ritual aimed at reaching or pleasing something metaphysical coming from conditioning, wish thinking, false concept of morals or false concept of conditionality and so, for the most part, superstitious in nature. Something that for the most part is removed from this world and focuses on something beyond. I see it as a set of beliefs that have no inherent meaning anymore other than having the ability to comfort ( and inspire art and poetry etc). Something that stands at odds with how we think, an offering of an extraordinary "truth" but offering no evidence in support and so a system of non-thinking

How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?


To me personally religion means nothing. I dont hate or like religion it just doesnt have any inherent meaning to me, like football :jumping:. I do feel sad for people though when i see them being twisted by absurd dogma or when that religious dogma turns evil and begins to cost lives

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


I did write a paragraph here but realized that it was all speculation and guess work. I dont think we can know what concept our ancestors had, if they had the concept of religion as we have or not

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


I dont, to me it is valuable wisdom and practice

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


Nothing

- 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?


I dont know all there is about kamma but i say no

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


No

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


No

- 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?


N/A


Metta
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:01 pm

Hey tilt

You say something interesting here

The other thing is that humans want transcendence


But isnt this wish thinking. I could want a lot of things, doesnt mean they are true or ritual in their name is worth while. Also why does transcendence have to invoke the supernatural? (which all religions/religious thought does)


Metta
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:02 pm

clw_uk wrote:
The other thing is that humans want transcendence


But isnt this wish thinking. I could want a lot of things, doesnt mean they are true or ritual in their name is worth while


Whether or not is wishful thinking or even true is beside the point.
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.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:06 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
The other thing is that humans want transcendence


But isnt this wish thinking. I could want a lot of things, doesnt mean they are true or ritual in their name is worth while


Whether or not is wishful thinking or even true is beside the point.



But isnt it the point? Following wish thinking doesnt help people face reality and if it is wish thinking then it may or not be true and needs to be weighed against evidence to decide if its logical to accept and act on, if there is no evidence at all and its just a wish then why organize something so massive around it since your probably just deluding yourself and others because of your own wish for reality to be a certain way (not you personally)
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:09 pm

Hi Craig

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
The other thing is that humans want transcendence


But isnt this wish thinking. I could want a lot of things, doesnt mean they are true or ritual in their name is worth while


Whether or not is wishful thinking or even true is beside the point.


Not necessarily. One could interpret your comment to mean that you deny transcendence. If this is your attitude then i can assure you that it is not the case.
I can't speak for the availability of the transcendent experience available via other religions or spiritual practices, but its certainly available to the sincere practitioner within Buddhism. But, to quote Rachel Hunter in an often quoted shampoo commercial It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.
Metta

Ben
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:11 pm

Howdy Ben

Not necessarily. One could interpret your comment to mean that you deny transcendence. If this is your attitude then i can assure you that it is not the case.
I can't speak for the availability of the transcendent experience available via other religions or spiritual practices, but its certainly available to the sincere practitioner within Buddhism. But, to quote Rachel Hunter in an often quoted shampoo commercial It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.
Metta



Why does transcendence have to mean supernatural. For example I can see the images from deep space and look at all those billions of stars and feel transcendent. That doesnt involve supernatural but natural
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:12 pm

Why does transcendence have to mean supernatural.

I didnt say it did
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:21 pm

Ben wrote:
Why does transcendence have to mean supernatural.


I didnt say it did


So if we can experience the transcendent and spirituality while having a solid moral outlook without adhering to the supernatural and/or wish thinking belief why have religion which invloves the transcendent being supernatural (or view that the highest transcendent is) and unsupported belief in that supernatural transcendence?
Last edited by clw_uk on Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:24 pm

Greetings Craig,

clw_uk wrote:So if we can experience the transcendent and spirituality while having a solid moral outlook without adhering to the supernatural and/or wish thinking belief why have religion?


Because it helps as a transforming agent. The beliefs themselves don't have any supernatural powers, but because of the way in which holding those beliefs and living in accordance with them impacts mindstates, behaviours and attitudes, compared to the status quo. I can see how living a Buddhist life has impacted my life for the better, in its capacity as a transforming agent... no "supernatural" required.

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 tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:30 pm

clw_uk wrote:
But isnt it the point? Following wish thinking doesnt help people face reality and if it is wish thinking then it may or not be true and needs to be weighed against evidence to decide if its logical to accept and act on, if there is no evidence at all and its just a wish then why organize something so massive around it since your probably just deluding yourself and others because of your own wish for reality to be a certain way (not you personally)


You are agruing something entirely other than the basic question of how to define religion.
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.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
But isnt it the point? Following wish thinking doesnt help people face reality and if it is wish thinking then it may or not be true and needs to be weighed against evidence to decide if its logical to accept and act on, if there is no evidence at all and its just a wish then why organize something so massive around it since your probably just deluding yourself and others because of your own wish for reality to be a certain way (not you personally)


You are agruing something entirely other than the basic question of how to define religion.



I agree its gettting to off topic

:focus:
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:33 pm

clw_uk wrote:Howdy Ben

Not necessarily. One could interpret your comment to mean that you deny transcendence. If this is your attitude then i can assure you that it is not the case.
I can't speak for the availability of the transcendent experience available via other religions or spiritual practices, but its certainly available to the sincere practitioner within Buddhism. But, to quote Rachel Hunter in an often quoted shampoo commercial It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.
Metta



Why does transcendence have to mean supernatural. For example I can see the images from deep space and look at all those billions of stars and feel transcendent. That doesnt involve supernatural but natural


It does not have to be "supernatural," and any number of religious people will tell you that your feeling of transcendence is very much religious in nature.
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.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:36 pm

It does not have to be "supernatural," and any number of religious people will tell you that your feeling of transcendence is very much religious in nature.


Once again this comes down to how one defines religion. What i feel looking at those stars i dont call religious but spiritual or transcendent. Feelings of awe and humility in face of the beauty and scope of nature but not removed from nature or "faith" based


Religion i defined in my answer to pinks original questions

An institute of rites and ritual aimed at reaching or pleasing something metaphysical coming from conditioning, wish thinking, false concept of morals or false concept of conditionality and so, for the most part, superstitious in nature. Something that for the most part is removed from this world and focuses on something beyond. I see it as a set of beliefs that have no inherent meaning anymore other than having the ability to comfort ( and inspire art and poetry etc). Something that stands at odds with how we think, an offering of an extraordinary "truth" but offering no evidence in support and so a system of non-thinking


with that in mind i dont define those feelings as religious at all


metta
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ben » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:44 pm

Hi Craig

I am reminded of a conversation with a chaplain at a christian school I worked at a couple of years ago. He told me, eventually, that his experience of god is a feeling. I was gobsmacked.

I just want to point out that transcendence is not vedana (feeling/sensation). Transcendence manifests when certain cittas arise. Certainly, while we work towards liberation on the path, vedanas co-arise with cittas. However, when we become sotapanna, and again when we experience the phala and magga cittas associated with sakadagami, anagami and arahatta, when Nibbana becomes the object of those cittas, vedanas are not present for the duration of those expereinces.

While we are veering off-topic it was good to explore this aspect of transcendence.
Metta

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:45 pm

clw_uk wrote:
It does not have to be "supernatural," and any number of religious people will tell you that your feeling of transcendence is very much religious in nature.


Once again this comes down to how one defines religion. What i feel looking at those stars i dont call religious but spiritual or transcendent. I feeling of awe and humility in face of the beauty of nature but not removed from nature or "faith" based


Good heavens! You are having a religious experience, which I have heard others describe much the same thing and call it religious. Religion on a pertsonal level does not need to be limited to the very narrow defintion you quote below.


Religion i defined in my answer to pinks original questions

An institute of rites and ritual aimed at reaching or pleasing something metaphysical coming from conditioning, wish thinking, false concept of morals or false concept of conditionality and so, for the most part, superstitious in nature. Something that for the most part is removed from this world and focuses on something beyond. I see it as a set of beliefs that have no inherent meaning anymore other than having the ability to comfort ( and inspire art and poetry etc). Something that stands at odds with how we think, an offering of an extraordinary "truth" but offering no evidence in support and so a system of non-thinking


with that in mind i dont define those feelings as religious at all


metta


PT's definition seems a bit limited.
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: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:58 pm

The problem with conflating the obvious failures of religious institutions with the human religious impulse itself is that it misses far to much. I think Gabe's comments above are very much to the point. The religious impulse is a far broader experience than participation in religious institutions. Also, what humans want, and strive for in countless ways, is transcendence, the inchoate recognition that our "self" is constantly under attack by the universe (becuase the self really is not what it thinks it is). To protect ourself from the insecurity of its true natue, we need to align ourselves with something bigger, stronger, be it our parents, our family, our clan, our sports team, our country, or a god, and we try put our self aside with alcohol, sex, adrenaline, drugs, distractions. I think in a very real sense, we all are religious.

Given that I do think that institutional religions is not without its virtues, but it is also all too eassily suseptible to corruption and should be criticized strongly for that.

Here is a photo of a religious celebration:
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This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Peter wrote: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.

I wonder what happens if I use the above definition on the original questions?

- How does the _idea_ of religion itself make you feel?
The idea that one could ascribe supreme importance to a pursuit or interest strikes me as a positive thing. Greatly motivated people are often the ones who accomplish great things. (To paraphrase Mr. Ollivander, "Terrible, yes sometimes, but great!")

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

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

- For you personally, what elements of Buddhism need to be viewed through the lens of "religion"?
The non-obvious parts, the non-intuitive parts, and the parts that bug me.

- Is meditation, lovingkindness, generosity, compassion, or death contemplation inherently a religious activity?
No, nothing is inherently ascribed supreme importance.

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand and practice sila?
I think to develop it fully, yes, one needs to ascribe to sila supreme importance. Otherwise, one is prone to let lesser motivations take the reins.

- Is a religious perspective necessary to understand kamma?
I think for one to practice in accordance with it one needs to ascribe to kamma supreme importance. Otherwise, one is prone to favor short term gains with long term harm over short term discomfort with long term benefit.

- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
Yes, the experience of clarity is of supreme importance.

- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?
I suppose it depends on which mind states we're talking about. Perhaps it also depends on what stage of the path one is at.

- 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, positive rebirths can be due to kamma made in the past.
- Peter

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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:55 am

On reflection, it seems to me the OP questions could probably be shortened to:

a] How do you define "religion" or "religious"?
b] How do you feel approaching Buddhism as a religion, or taking a religious approach to Buddhism is helpful? how is it harmful?
- Peter

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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:00 am

Mr Pink

Peter wrote:On reflection, it seems to me the OP questions could probably be shortened to:

a] How do you define "religion" or "religious"?
b] How do you feel approaching Buddhism as a religion, or taking a religious approach to Buddhism is helpful? how is it harmful?


Are you happy with that or do you wsh the topic to carry on in its original form?
Metta

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:03 am

Ben wrote:Mr Pink

Peter wrote:On reflection, it seems to me the OP questions could probably be shortened to:

a] How do you define "religion" or "religious"?
b] How do you feel approaching Buddhism as a religion, or taking a religious approach to Buddhism is helpful? how is it harmful?


Are you happy with that or do you wsh the topic to carry on in its original form?
Metta

Ben


It cuts through the papanca of the OP.
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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