Buddhism and Intellectualism

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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:46 pm

danieLion wrote:Some Buddhists, including some here at Dahmmawheel, come off to me as very anti-intellectual and at times even demonstrate some kind of ingrained provincialism.

Mr Man wrote:I think that is, genrally speaking, a misconception or a non-constructive view.

I wasn't speaking generally, but particularly. What particularly do you find misconceived and non-constructive about it?
danieLion wrote:Yet we find some Buddhists wanting to very much define themselves by partitioning themselves off into camps or clubs.

Mr Man wrote:Isn't this what you are doing?

No! I guess you only read the first half of my post you're quoting? What club or camp do you imagine I want to raise a flag for?
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.

Discussing dhamma intellectually is a very different thing form intellectualism as applied to the dhamma. The former involves the application of scientific iteration and critical thinking to discourse; the latter involves imposing pre-determined yet unverified assumptions onto dialogue.

I can see how some individuals would be intimidated by some of the more intellectual individuals here, but even the most shy minds can use the challenge as a tool for growth. Intelligence can be increased, and even the "dumbest" person has the potentioal to become "smart." We naturally avoid things we don't understand, but this is not always healthy or the wisest course of action. Of course, one probably should not go into dark tunnels, especially if one has not been there before when they are illuminated or does not carry with one a way to illuminate the passage. The choice is ultimately personal: do you want to test the veracity of your beliefs, or do you want to stay in the cozy warmth of the light, which is really no true comfort, for even sunny days can exist is the sub zeros.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:48 pm

manas wrote: Yep...I thought I knew quite a bit about the Buddha Dhamma...and then, I found Dhamma Wheel. It's good, though, both for humility, and for making me realize that I really ought to study more; then some of the stuff I read here would not go 'whoosh' over my head.

:anjali:
:thumbsup:
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:49 pm

Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.

why do you find it like that at times?
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:53 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.

why do you find it like that at times?
That can often be seen, despite the sniping, in the exchanges between Sylvester and Ñāṇa, and with some others who have a considerable command of textual knowledge and such.
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 Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:54 pm

manas wrote:
danieLion wrote:Is Buddhism anti-intellectual, under-intellectual, or just intellectual enough?


...Then, my intellect wants more answers than just 'it's not important knowledge, don't ponder it'! So really, it's subjective, and the mind with craving will never really be satisfied anyway, it will always find something to complain about (or is that just in my case?
I'm not sure what you mean by "subjective" but I think one can at least approximate which knowledges to grow and which knowledges to ignore using appropriate attention (yoniso manasikara) (which is similar to Socrates' lifelong goal to pursue wisdom where wisdom is defined as the capacity for sound judgment).
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:06 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.

why do you find it like that at times?


Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:10 pm

Mr Man wrote:Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.
It is not necessarily a bad thing, though the arcana of some discussions can be bewildering.
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 Intellectualism

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:22 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.

why do you find it like that at times?


Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.

Quite liked his comment.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:26 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Quite liked his comment.


Yes
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:40 pm

danieLion wrote:
danieLion wrote:Some Buddhists, including some here at Dahmmawheel, come off to me as very anti-intellectual and at times even demonstrate some kind of ingrained provincialism.

Mr Man wrote:I think that is, genrally speaking, a misconception or a non-constructive view.

I wasn't speaking generally, but particularly. What particularly do you find misconceived and non-constructive about it?

Hi danielLion.
I think it is misconceived because I don't really think it is possible to negate ones own intellectuality It is just that different peoples intellectuality manifests or goes or has been developed in different directions. I think it is non-constructive as per the Sutta quoted by David N. Snyder

danieLion wrote:
danieLion wrote:Yet we find some Buddhists wanting to very much define themselves by partitioning themselves off into camps or clubs.

Mr Man wrote:Isn't this what you are doing?

No! I guess you only read the first half of my post you're quoting? What club or camp do you imagine I want to raise a flag for?

I read the whole post and I wasn't assigning you to a particular camp.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:20 pm

(To generalize) many Zen traditions are seen as anti-intellectual and the Far East traditions are sometimes seen as anti-intellectual. Zen because of the use of art, work (wax-on, wax-off), koans, poetry, which is to go beyond thinking and studying, for a direct approach to enlightenment. The Far East schools such as Pure Land in the belief that enlightenment is too difficult in this era.

Theravada is probably one of the more intellectual schools of Buddhism, with our Abhidhamma, Visudhimagga, and veneration of the written Pali Canon. As Bhikkhu Pesala pointed out in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=16391 those who attained enlightenment rather quickly such as Bahiya had gained much mindfulness and advancement in previous lives. It is not likely any of us could gain enlightenment so quickly just by washing a cloth, repeating a mantra, or washing dishes. If intellectualism refers to reading and studying the Pali Canon, then there certainly can be no harm in that and only everything to gain. We don't need to be experts in Pali (although it doesn't hurt), nor do we need to memorize texts, but a good grasp of the material in the Pali Canon is very helpful, in my opinion.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby rohana » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:42 pm

It can take a wide spectrum - from very little intellectualism to a lot, and you can pretty much choose material by teachers from anywhere in the spectrum. Ajahn Cha's teachings, for example, are very down-to-earth, whereas Venerable Ñānānanda's writings are towards the other end of the spectrum.

But for those of us who prefer the more intellectual end of the spectrum, I think there is a danger of pride ("my teachings are better than your teachings") and a danger of getting trapped in an intellectual thicket of papañca. I've also seen people saying they prefer Mahāyāna texts because the Pāli canon is "too simplistic" for them, and I think it's the same kind of sentiment that's behind it - i.e. an attraction to any text/teaching that seems 'intellectual' on the surface, and seeing any 'simple teaching' as not worthy of attention.
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:20 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:For instance, many "buddhists" are materialists who just repaint their western intellectual materialism a nice buddhist saffron color and then carry on with business as usual.
And you know this how?

From reading this board and others of its kind.

EDIT: Also it seems to be present in modern buddhist literature. I remember hearing a "dharma" talk by stephen batchelor where he spent as much time talking about freud and jung as about buddhism. He seemed to me to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the fact that worshiping at the altar of freud and jung and clutching at western intellectualism was part of the problem not part of the solution.
Oddly enough, i dont see much of this in the buddhists i have known IRL.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:13 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:For instance, many "buddhists" are materialists who just repaint their western intellectual materialism a nice buddhist saffron color and then carry on with business as usual.
And you know this how?

From reading this board and others of its kind.

EDIT: Also it seems to be present in modern buddhist literature. I remember hearing a "dharma" talk by stephen batchelor where he spent as much time talking about freud and jung as about buddhism. He seemed to me to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the fact that worshiping at the altar of freud and jung and clutching at western intellectualism was part of the problem not part of the solution.
Oddly enough, i dont see much of this in the buddhists i have known IRL.
Yes, well, you referenced one author and this forum. Not a convincing argument for saying "many." Let me ask you, am i one of those dreaded materialists?
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 Intellectualism

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:Yes, well, you referenced one author and this forum. Not a convincing argument for saying "many." Let me ask you, am i one of those dreaded materialists?


:D Not that i can tell, no.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:58 am

m0rl0ck wrote:For instance, many "buddhists" are materialists who just repaint their western intellectual materialism a nice buddhist saffron color and then carry on with business as usual.
tiltbillings wrote:And you know this how?

m0rl0ck wrote:From reading this board and others of its kind.

EDIT: Also it seems to be present in modern buddhist literature. I remember hearing a "dharma" talk by stephen batchelor where he spent as much time talking about freud and jung as about buddhism. He seemed to me to demonstrate a complete ignorance of the fact that worshiping at the altar of freud and jung and clutching at western intellectualism was part of the problem not part of the solution.
Oddly enough, i dont see much of this in the buddhists i have known IRL.
tiltbillings wrote:Yes, well, you referenced one author and this forum. Not a convincing argument for saying "many." Let me ask you, am i one of those dreaded materialists?

Hi Tilt,
Do you consider yourself a materialist of some kind? That would surprise me, but, then again, you often surprise me. :hello:
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:14 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Tilt,
Do you consider yourself a materialist of some kind? That would surprise me, but, then again, you often surprise me. :hello:
Given that rebirth is not a belief for me, so probably not.
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 Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:53 am

tiltbillings wrote:
danieLion wrote:Hi Tilt,
Do you consider yourself a materialist of some kind? That would surprise me, but, then again, you often surprise me. :hello:
Given that rebirth is not a belief for me, so probably not.

I'm confused. Aren't belief in re-birth and materialism incompatible? I don't believe in rebirth either (for now anyway), but I'm not a materialist, so my reasons aren't based on that.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby Anagarika » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:57 am

On intellectualism in Buddhism...

I saw this today over at the sister site Dharma Wheel:

“Chiasmus in the Early Prajñāpāramitā: Literary Parallelism Connecting Criticism & Hermeneutics in an Early Mahāyāna Sūtra”

Submitted by Orsborn, Matthew Bryan (this is Ven. Huifeng) for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in January 2012

This study examines the early Prajñāpāramitā sūtras through the theory of “chiasmus”. Chiasmic methodology analyses a text into two parallel halves, identifying complementary “prologue” (A) and “conclusion” (A’), and highlighting the critical “central point” (X), with sub-themes paralleled in the two halves (A-B-C-D…X…D’-C’-B’-A’). Through chiasmus theory, many ancient texts formerly considered fragmentary and incoherent have been shown to be structurally sophisticated wholes.

I started to read the treatise, and my brain began to hurt. I'm glad for the level of scholarship in Buddhism, and the intellectuals that contribute to its complex fabric.
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Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Postby danieLion » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:18 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:On intellectualism in Buddhism...

I saw this today over at the sister site Dharma Wheel:

“Chiasmus in the Early Prajñāpāramitā: Literary Parallelism Connecting Criticism & Hermeneutics in an Early Mahāyāna Sūtra”

Submitted by Orsborn, Matthew Bryan (this is Ven. Huifeng) for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in January 2012

This study examines the early Prajñāpāramitā sūtras through the theory of “chiasmus”. Chiasmic methodology analyses a text into two parallel halves, identifying complementary “prologue” (A) and “conclusion” (A’), and highlighting the critical “central point” (X), with sub-themes paralleled in the two halves (A-B-C-D…X…D’-C’-B’-A’). Through chiasmus theory, many ancient texts formerly considered fragmentary and incoherent have been shown to be structurally sophisticated wholes.

I started to read the treatise, and my brain began to hurt. I'm glad for the level of scholarship in Buddhism, and the intellectuals that contribute to its complex fabric.

Thanks. For introductions to the Buddha's own intellectual habits, I recommend What the Buddha Thought by Richard Gombrich, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (which illustrates his very frequent use of logic and emprical methods) by K. N. Jayatilleke, and Skill in Questions: How the Buddha Taught (which demonstrates that the Buddha himself was highly intellectual and how this aided him on The Path) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). You can easily find these last two free online and the Gombrich book is well worth the purchase.
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