John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby befriend » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:40 pm

the rhinocerous sutta says to go alone if one does not find an equal or better practitioner to travel with.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby sunyavadin » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:47 am

I started reading Peacock's interview, didn't much care for it, really. He says that the Buddha was trying to break away from the religion of his day - I'm sure that is true - but he says he was an atheist - and I don't think that is true at all. Certainly he didn't 'believe in God', and he certainly didn't worship any of the Vedic deities. After all, in the context, if you did affirm 'belief in God' the question would follow: which one?

But the word 'atheist' carries a lot of meanings which I am sure are wrong to attribute to the Buddha. Even if we don't really know 'the original and authentic word' the tradition was well aware of, and quite opposed to, 'materialists' (carvakas) who believed that the body only consisted of material elements, very early in the piece. These were all classed with nihilists. On the other hand, I'm sure that he didn't advocate 'belief in an eternal God' - or belief at all, in the sense that modern Christians understand it. He wasn't about believing, but about seeing and knowing. But what he saw and knew cannot, I am quite sure, be understood in purely 'naturalistic' terms. The kind of knowledge he communicates is jnana, which is clearly related, in more than simply etymological terms, to 'gnosis'. And in that, he was in almost complete accord with the Upanisads. He agreed with the idea of 'mukti', or liberation from samsara. Where he parted company was with their ritualism, dogmatic belief, the association with the class system, and so on.

From what little I read of Peacock he is something like Bachelor. A pragmatic, sensible man who wishes to portray 'the real Buddha' in terms acceptable to humanism. Again we see that there are many different 'readings' possible, depending on how key terms are interpreted. I think a lot of people are looking for ways not to have to believe that the Buddha taught something truly 'world-transcending', lokuttara, and basically humanist and naturalist. There may not be too much wrong with that, but it is only one amongst other interpretations.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:13 am

:goodpost:

sunyavadin wrote:I think a lot of people are looking for ways not to have to believe that the Buddha taught something truly 'world-transcending', lokuttara, and basically humanist and naturalist. There may not be too much wrong with that, but it is only one amongst other interpretations.


This really seems to be the notable the way the West in general handles Buddhism. It's gone through some aggressively arrogant phases, with the current narrative version being the supremacy of philology & history, et al over national tradition and lived heritage.
    "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: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby C J » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:30 pm

Hi,

Is there any Arahat today? I haven't came across anyone.

If there are not, then can it be because we have messed up real Buddhist teachings somewhere, somehow?

Can it be that because people are practicing on inaccurate teachings they are not attaining Arahat(-ship)?

I had posted following question on the Lounge section before coming here; Hope someone can help me with it.

Does anyone know a forum/website where I can ask few questions from John Peacock. I searched the web but could not find any such place. So I thought about asking this community where I learned about him.

As he is neutral about reincarnation, I want to know his opinion on Dr. Ian Stevenson's research and about Edgar Cayce life readings.

If any of you have any opinion about above I like to see them all.

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=15122&p=217958#p217958


Thanks
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Digity » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:20 am

I don't mind what John brings to the table...whether I agree or not. I think it's good that people like him make us at least question our assumptions about Buddhism.

I found more talks fom him here:
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/91/

I've listened to one talk so far, but he seems to have a good understanding of the Dhamma.
Samsara sucks.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby IanAnd » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:16 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I haven't (yet) heard or read Peacock but (FWIW) this is close to my own view of the Buddha.
And it presents a plausible (though probably unprovable) reason for the "lack of systematic doctrinal formulation" (to borrow Nana's phrase) in the earliest teachings. That is, any teacher worth listening to will gradually clarify and refine his/her teaching approach in light of further realisations and (just as importantly) difficulties his/her students have with the material and the most effective ways of making it clearer and more approachable.
Any teacher wants their students to grasp their teachings as quickly and accurately as possible. In time, s/he learns what gives the students trouble and improves the explanation. We know the Buddha was teaching constantly for forty years. That is a lot of time to develop and refine his presentation, and I can't imagine that he was unwilling or unable to improve on his first, reluctant, foray into teaching the dhamma.

Nevertheless, there are many other good reasons to cherish the Suttanipāta.


suttametta wrote:We sometimes, perhaps because we are projecting, but perhaps because we are seeing clearly, see a Buddha who was 2500 years ahead of his time, almost a man of today's way of thinking, a skeptic, a realist, a pragmatist and an egalitarian social reformist.

It seems to me that what really happened was that the traditions that arose in the name of the Buddha actually broke the tradition the Buddha was trying to create and we modern newcomers to Buddhism are trying to figure out what tradition that might have been. In a sense, the modern Buddhist is trying to get at the more ancient and more traditional buddhism [or more correctly, Dhamma], and what we are finding is a Buddha who looks a lot more like a modern scientist.


Dmytro wrote:On the other hand, the aspects mentioned - "noble truths, dependent origination, three characteristics" are the pillars of rationalistic and doctrinal Western Buddhism, and the expression "Noble Truth" a Western invention. These aspects were selected to represent a "doctrine" of the Buddha's Teaching, while there's really no doctrine. Instead, there's a roadmap for practice. So searching for the doctrines in the Canon would at best produce apparitions of them.

I'm a late arrival to this thread, but from the opinions presented thus far that I have read, I'm on the same page with Kim, Ñāṇa, suttametta, and Dmytro. :thumbsup:
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby IanAnd » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:18 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:This is why a useful distinction can be made between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism. Original Buddhism refers to the actual oral teachings of the historical Gotama and his immediate disciples. Early Buddhism refers to the early formative pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism and the extant textual documents which claim to be records of the Buddha's teachings as remembered by his immediate disciples after his death.

I'm not sure, I could be wrong here, however, was the term "Buddhism" ever mentioned in the suttas in reference to the Dhamma that Gotama taught? Did he ever refer to it as "Buddhism?" I don't recall ever having seen such a reference.

If not, then to refer to it as "original Buddhism" would be a misnomer, if not misleading to those of us who are purists. Better might be "the original Dhamma" as opposed to labeling the Dhamma as "Buddhism." I say this to indicate a separation between what Gotama is said to have taught (meaning the [or his] Dhamma) and what those who followed him after his demise turned what he taught into, namely the so-called religion of "Buddhism." (BTW, this comment isn't mentioned in order to be knit picky here about the usage of this term, within the context that Ñāṇa meant it. Just saying. . . that's all.)

Religions are political tools, devised by fallible men in order to control the hearts and minds of other men (and women).

I'm okay with the term "early Buddhism" because that is exactly what it was (after the original sangha died out and others got hold of the teachings and began proliferating them). Apparently, they needed a label to identify themselves as distinct from, for example, the Brahmanical tradition or the Jains or what eventually became known as Hinduism. It helped ease the socialization of the Dhamma in succeeding generations. I can imagine someone saying, "What do we call ourselves, Dhammaists?" And someone else answering, "No. We follow the teacher we recognize as the Buddha. We're Buddhists."

Ñāṇa wrote:What is clearly evident, however, is that the vast majority of discourses which survive share common doctrines and practices which are original and unique in the history of ancient Indian thought, and are therefore likely rooted in the ideas and practices developed and taught by one remarkable historical person, namely the samaṇa Gotama.

"Ideas and practices" which, of course, according to "Buddhology," we are told, pre-dated Gotama by several generations of previous "Buddhas." That's not to take anything away from what the "remarkable historical person" Gotama realized and spent a lifetime teaching, for which many of us here are reverentially grateful.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Nyana » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:56 pm

IanAnd wrote:If not, then to refer to it as "original Buddhism" would be a misnomer, if not misleading to those of us who are purists. Better might be "the original Dhamma" as opposed to labeling the Dhamma as "Buddhism."

Point taken. "Original Buddhism" is merely a modern designation referring to the dhammavinaya taught and practiced by the Buddha and his followers during his lifetime.

IanAnd wrote:Religions are political tools, devised by fallible men in order to control the hearts and minds of other men (and women).

Depends on how you want to define "religion." It's a rather slippery term.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby IanAnd » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:18 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
IanAnd wrote:If not, then to refer to it as "original Buddhism" would be a misnomer, if not misleading to those of us who are purists. Better might be "the original Dhamma" as opposed to labeling the Dhamma as "Buddhism."

Point taken. "Original Buddhism" is merely a modern designation referring to the dhammavinaya taught and practiced by the Buddha and his followers during his lifetime.

Yes, I know that's what you meant. That is why I put in the disclaimer: "BTW, this comment isn't mentioned in order to be knit picky here about the usage of this term, within the context that Ñāṇa meant it."

I wasn't endeavoring to make a point with you (because I know you understand it), but rather with other readers of the thread, in order to inspire further thought and discernment. Of course, that further thought and discernment would depend upon how well read and how well understood (in regard to the discourses) said readers are.

The point being that, from my reading and understanding of the discourses, Gotama never meant to found a "religion" in the popular sense that that term is interpreted by people of less than discerning ability. That point seems to be made clear in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya when Gotama disdains anyone taking over leadership of the Sangha after his departure. "Therefore, Ananda, you should live as islands unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with no one else as your refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge." It seems quite clear that he did not want what he started to be turned into a ritual of personality worship. I take Gotama at his exact word in this passage. Of course, that is just my personal opinion and view based on the integrity of the man that is portrayed in the discourses.

Ñāṇa wrote:
IanAnd wrote:Religions are political tools, devised by fallible men in order to control the hearts and minds of other men (and women).

Depends on how you want to define "religion." It's a rather slippery term.

Well, there is religion (as the ordinary untaught worldling might understand and interpret it) and then there is religion (as the more discerning sincere seeker of a process that is meant, as the Latin term religare intends to mean, to "bind back together," might understand and interpret it). To "bind back together" in the sense of binding disparate parts of a whole back together into one united whole, which is what a true religion (such as the Dhamma, or original Christianity, if you can find and discern it) attempts to undertake.

The ordinary untaught worldling, I'm thinking, might hold the popular view, based on cultural conditioning, that like the Old French definition of "religion" (based as it was on the word "religio") meant "reverence for the gods, holiness." My dictionary defines it (in the first and second entries) as: "1 a) belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe b) expression of such a belief in conduct and ritual. 2 a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy (the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion etc.) b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values , etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system (humanism as a religion)."

It is a small step, indeed, from belief in the divinity of some "superhuman power or powers" to this same kind of respect and reverence for some undeserving, fallible human being (say in the form of a king or queen or some other type of worldly governor of a nation) who makes claims to be one's ruler, president, or prime minister. As Yeshua is said to have said (and which Gotama might also agree) "The Kingdom of heaven (nibbana) lies within you." Which has the meaning or implication of taking responsibility for self-governance over one's emotions and actions.

All through history, one can see how the former definition of "religion" has been used by despotic personalities to wreak tyranny on mankind, all in the pursuit of power and greed, using delusion (in the form of corrupting forms of "religion") as their tool.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:03 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Depends on how you want to define "religion." It's a rather slippery term.



I take it to mean an unjustifiable set of beliefs or faith. It includes ritualistic practices, and its own clergy.

It is an excellent tool to control the masses and set one nation against another nation.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:53 am

Greetings,

Alex123 wrote:I take it to mean an unjustifiable set of beliefs or faith.

That's a pretty unfair description that I don't think anyone would sign up to.

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: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Alex123 wrote:I take it to mean an unjustifiable set of beliefs or faith.

That's a pretty unfair description that I don't think anyone would sign up to.

Metta,
Retro. :)


What do you mean unfair? Religion is a set of beliefs on faith. It is not philosophy (where reason is used rather than blind faith) or when you yourself seek the truth.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:32 am

Greetings Alex,

It was the "unjustifiable" bit that I found problematic. Are Buddhist beliefs "unjustifiable", for example?

It seems you're taking an unnecessarily narrow and patronizing view of "religion".

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: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby appicchato » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:14 am

..."The Kingdom of heaven (nibbana)..."...(and which Gotama might also agree)...


To conflate 'The Kingdom of heaven' and Nibbana, and to suggest that the Buddha 'might' also agree is, well, very far removed from this wanderer's understanding of his (the Buddha's) teaching...
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:33 am

appicchato wrote:
..."The Kingdom of heaven (nibbana)..."...(and which Gotama might also agree)...


To conflate 'The Kingdom of heaven' and Nibbana, and to suggest that the Buddha 'might' also agree is, well, very far removed from this wanderer's understanding of his (the Buddha's) teaching...
But it feels good.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby IanAnd » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:04 am

appicchato wrote:
..."The Kingdom of heaven (nibbana)..."...(and which Gotama might also agree)...


To conflate 'The Kingdom of heaven' and Nibbana, and to suggest that the Buddha 'might' also agree is, well, very far removed from this wanderer's understanding of his (the Buddha's) teaching...

Yes, I know what you mean, venerable.

However, if you can, for a moment, suspend your coarse definition of "Kingdom of heaven" and look at what might have been the subtle intended metaphorical meaning that Yeshua was pointing at, ergo the "peace which passes all understanding" or put more briefly, "peace of mind," I don't think you would have much room for disagreement given that context. The part of the quotation that you left out ("lies within you") points toward this very context (at least to my mind and way of viewing).

That is the context that I was aiming at, rather than the mentioned conflation of a mythical "kingdom of heaven" (a physical or spiritual place) with the refined concept of nibbana or "This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all mental formations, the relinquishment of all attachment, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbana."
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:40 am

Alex123 wrote:Religion is a set of beliefs on faith. It is not philosophy (where reason is used rather than blind faith) or when you yourself seek the truth.

That still seems unnecessarily restrictive. In his paper Atheism and Religion, Michael Martin summarizes the defining factors of the concept of religion as philosophical, ethical, and soteriological responses to certain questions, as offered by Monroe and Elizabeth Beardsley in Philosophical Thinking: An Introduction:

    Arguing that one cannot define “religion” in terms of a belief in god or in a soul because such beliefs are not found among all religions, they propose that “religion” be defined in terms of the attempt to answer basic religious questions. These are the following:

      (1) What are the fundamental characteristics of human beings and the chief problems they face?
      (2) What are the characteristics of nonhuman reality that are of greatest significance for human life?
      (3) Given the nature of man and the universe, how should men try to live?
      (4) Given the answers to the first three questions, what practices will best develop and sustain in men an understanding of the nature of human and nonhuman reality and a dedication to the ideal of human life?
      (5) In seeking true answers to the first four questions, what method or methods should be used?
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:42 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Religion is a set of beliefs on faith. It is not philosophy (where reason is used rather than blind faith) or when you yourself seek the truth.

That still seems unnecessarily restrictive. In his paper Atheism and Religion, Michael Martin summarizes the defining factors of the concept of religion as philosophical, ethical, and soteriological responses to certain questions, as offered by Monroe and Elizabeth Beardsley in Philosophical Thinking: An Introduction:

    Arguing that one cannot define “religion” in terms of a belief in god or in a soul because such beliefs are not found among all religions, they propose that “religion” be defined in terms of the attempt to answer basic religious questions. These are the following:

      (1) What are the fundamental characteristics of human beings and the chief problems they face?
      (2) What are the characteristics of nonhuman reality that are of greatest significance for human life?
      (3) Given the nature of man and the universe, how should men try to live?
      (4) Given the answers to the first three questions, what practices will best develop and sustain in men an understanding of the nature of human and nonhuman reality and a dedication to the ideal of human life?
      (5) In seeking true answers to the first four questions, what method or methods should be used?

Buddhism doesn't fit neatly within any of the three categories which westerners most often try to squeeze it into - religion, philosophy or science - but rather covers a little of each of them. Michael Martin's definition of religion is broader than usual and makes it fit Buddhism much better than usual; that's probably good. However, I'm not totally sure that the definition is narrow enough to be useful. Wouldn't it describe Secular Humanism as a religion? Marxism? Psychotherapy?
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:54 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: Wouldn't it describe Secular Humanism as a religion? Marxism? Psychotherapy?
Yes, very much so, and sports.


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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:28 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Buddhism doesn't fit neatly within any of the three categories which westerners most often try to squeeze it into - religion, philosophy or science - but rather covers a little of each of them. Michael Martin's definition of religion is broader than usual and makes it fit Buddhism much better than usual; that's probably good.

It's Monroe and Elizabeth Beardsley's criteria, paraphrased by Martin. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the Beardsley's text: Philosophical Thinking: An Introduction.

Kim O'Hara wrote:However, I'm not totally sure that the definition is narrow enough to be useful. Wouldn't it describe Secular Humanism as a religion? Marxism? Psychotherapy?

"Religion" is a slippery term. In the paper Atheism and Religion, Martin addresses this as follows:

    Beardsley and Beardsley reject the objection that their definition is too broad in that there are sets of interrelated beliefs, attitudes, and practices that meet their specifications and are not recognized as world religions. On the one hand, they say that a restriction on the meaning of religion in terms of the content of beliefs, attitudes, or actions cannot be given. On the other hand, they point out that increased cultural and historical knowledge has tended to broaden what is counted as a religion and that their usage is in harmony with this trend. They also maintain that a term is needed to refer to all serious attempts to answer the basic religious questions and that “religion” is the appropriate one to use. And finally, they say that their definition is in harmony with common usage, in that it includes all those sets of beliefs, emotions, and actions that have been commonly called a “religion.”

    Beardsley and Beardsley admit that there are controversial cases of religion, and they put both humanism and Marxism in this category. Although their definition includes the disputed case of humanism, they leave open the question of whether Marxist communism is a religion.
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