Skeptical doubt

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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:17 pm

binocular wrote:There's a very instructive joke:
- How many skeptics does it take to change a lightbulb?
- Actually they won't do it. They have no sense of urgency about the situation; they aren't sure they're really in the dark.


:D

A healthy amount of skepticism is good and is probably how most of here came across the Dhamma; for example being skeptical of some of the things in the Bible, creation-stories, chosen race above the rest, a Divine being with many human frailties, etc. I know, I know, Buddhism has some things which many consider religious and far-fetched, but they are not the essence of Buddhism of suffering and the way out of suffering.

But too much skepticism and one cannot make progress as shown in some of the similes here. Everything is considered relative, there are no absolutes, everything is culturally nuanced, etc. and no progress can be made. I sometimes wonder if Jesus or some other supernatural figure came flying through the air to return to earth to save us, the Christians would of course be happy and the skeptics would be saying 'it must be photoshopped' or 'it must be some weather anomaly where the humidity and sun are in such a way to produce some strange colors and images' and then theists from non-Christian religions might say 'it is the devil doing this to trick us'. Only non-Christians with an open-mind might be saying 'okay maybe I was barking up the wrong tree; let me examine this some more'.

I don't think the literalist extreme is useful either (at least not for me) because then it can become a Buddhist example of what we find among extremists in other religions.

I think there can be a middle way where you start with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings and try it out for yourself and see if it works; sanditthiko.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby SDC » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:18 am

Vicikicchā - Wavering state of the mind. Oscillation or vacillation of the mind. The mind not fully in one direction. Going from one extreme to the other as a balancing act between reason and emotion.

Personally I feel 'skeptical doubt' limits the meaning of this word, causing it to be micro-applicated to any and all aspects of the dhamma. This severely waters down the the meaning. Throw the word doubt out for a second. This wavering state has little to do with doubt and more to do with balance and equilibrium in the how the path is understood and practiced. How ever far one goes to one extreme they must travel the same distance to the other extreme to balance out the situation. The person is not doubting either direction, they are just using one or the other for balance when they move too far one way.

Now if you take, for instance, someone that is not aware of the dhamma they will perform this balancing act also. During the week they may work hard, be responsible, eat right and go to the gym, but on the weekend they may go nuts at the bar and be rather reckless. Not making a judgment, but it is a balancing act in order to maintain equilibrium - to maintain a particular lifestyle. If they just work with no play it will build up and they get out of control. If all they do is play and not work they will lose any chance of having any stability. Now let's take a look at one that is practicing the dhamma - the person has a goal and specific ideals that they want to follow in regards to the path - they have a lifestyle they want to practice. They also have certain habits and behaviors that in the past were okay, but now must be left behind. So as they practice they continue to perform this balancing act. Too much work - bad. Too much play - bad. For a period of time the mind oscillates.

However, when one enters the stream they will no longer experience this oscillation. They will no longer have to perform this balancing act. The mind will be moving in one direction avoiding these two extremes.

Dave sort of touched on this.

daverupa wrote:The hindrance of doubt is doubt over the distinction between wholesome and unwholesome. Skeptical doubt about this or that doctrinal point or historical event is quite different.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby ground » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:45 am

Actually there is a type of (skeptical) doubt that is not a hindrance at all which refers to the conditioned arising of consciousnesses, both in early stages (identification of experience as this or that) and later stages (conditioned lines of thinking). In practice that means that each time consciousness is on the verge of "stationing" or "building its lodgement" doubt removes that which may serve as the basis for "stationing" or "building its lodgement". Have a try. (including the identifications "I" and "mine") :sage:
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby SDC » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:56 am

Not sure if that was to me, but I agree with you, ground. Skeptical doubt is useful. I just do not agree with it as the translation of vicikicchā.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:33 am

Thanks for the inputs guys, i like to add another simple simile.

Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.

A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. It's true the road sign is there to help us get to our destination but we need to use the brake and slow down whenever:
-there's limitation of vision upon the journey. (poor weather, bad and confusing road sign etc...)
-there's limitation of our own skills upon facing extreme situation. (overtaking another speeding vehicle, dangerous traffic etc...)

Back to Dhamma, i see that doubt may still exist along the practice of noble 8 fold path for example when nimitta arise for the first time and especially when coming across some obscurities in the sutta. But, it is there to alert and keep us from clinging to one particular view. And of course it must be pair with right determination and effort to make progress.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby ground » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:50 am

barcsimalsi wrote:A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. ...

Depends. What may appear as "naive and over confident attitude" to a skeptical mind may just be the manifestation of a very successful "faith follower". :sage:
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:56 am

barcsimalsi wrote:Thanks for the inputs guys, i like to add another simple simile.

Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.


Actually faith is essential in both cases, in driving down the road and in following the eightfold path. In driving, you have to have faith that the road is safe enough to drive down, you have to have faith that the road is taking you somewhere you want to go, and you have to have faith that you'll arrive at the destination as long as you keep progressing down the road.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:00 am

ground wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. ...

Depends. What may appear as "naive and over confident attitude" to a skeptical mind may just be the manifestation of a very successful "faith follower". :sage:

Sure, it depends on how much his pure knowledge can support his personal perception and reasoning.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:17 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:Thanks for the inputs guys, i like to add another simple simile.

Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.


Actually faith is essential in both cases, in driving down the road and in following the eightfold path. In driving, you have to have faith that the road is safe enough to drive down, you have to have faith that the road is taking you somewhere you want to go, and you have to have faith that you'll arrive at the destination as long as you keep progressing down the road.

:anjali:

Then faith should be the driving force.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby ground » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:22 am

barcsimalsi wrote:
ground wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. ...

Depends. What may appear as "naive and over confident attitude" to a skeptical mind may just be the manifestation of a very successful "faith follower". :sage:

Sure, it depends on how much his pure knowledge can support his personal perception and reasoning.

Sorry, I have no idea what "pure knowledge" is meant to stand for (and there is no need to discuss this here). I don't think a faith follower needs support other than faith and the conduct resulting from faith. Besides this I would like to refer to what was said about "faith followers" by the Buddha. :sage:
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:23 am

barcsimalsi wrote:
Then faith should be the driving force



Dukkha is what gets someone searching for a path out of dukkha and faith is what motivates someone to follow the path laid out by the Buddha. So it is the driving force in some sense.

Here is a great work to read if you're interested:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby ground » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:34 am

... birth is the supporting condition for suffering, suffering is the supporting condition for faith, faith is the supporting condition for joy, ...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby ground » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:50 am

just for illustration purposes


...

"One who has conviction & belief ... is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted ... is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who knows and sees ... is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby mogg » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:14 am

barcsimalsi wrote:
5. Sceptical Doubt

A man traveling through a desert, aware that travelers may be plundered or killed by robbers, will, at the mere sound of a twig or a bird, become anxious and fearful, thinking: "The robbers have come!" He will go a few steps, and then out of fear, he will stop, and continue in such a manner all the way; or he may even turn back. Stopping more frequently than walking, only with toil and difficulty will he reach a place of safety, or he may not even reach it.

It is similar with one in whom doubt has arisen in regard to one of the eight objects of doubt.[4] Doubting whether the Master is an Enlightened One or not, he cannot accept it in confidence, as a matter of trust. Unable to do so, he does not attain to the paths and fruits of sanctity. Thus, as the traveler in the desert is uncertain whether robbers are there or not, he produces in his mind, again and again, a state of wavering and vacillation, a lack of decision, a state of anxiety; and thus he creates in himself an obstacle for reaching the safe ground of sanctity (ariya-bhumi). In that way, sceptical doubt is like traveling in a desert.
The 5 hindrances

If not because of doubt, Gautama Buddha would never left his 2 great teacher to pursue higher attainment.

Between a pagan who has 100% faith and an dubious atheist, though ignorance imbedded in both of them but i think most people will agree that the atheist is in a better position.

Is it not doubt that keep a person from practicing blind faith and being proud and naive?
Is it not doubt that regulates the act of further investigation to gain more knowledge?

I failed to deeply understand how skeptical doubt is a hindrance. Please enlighten me.

I don't believe there is such thing as 100% faith. To me, 100% faith equates to knowledge.

I had the misfortune of living in a country for a year, where the predominant religion is a most troublesome one indeed (no prizes for guessing which one I'm talking about). It became clear to me after a time, that the reason said followers were so edgy about criticism of their religion was that they themselves had major internal doubts about its validity. You will never hear an admission of that, but its clear as day. They feel inferior and oppressed, but its almost like Stockholm Syndrome and peer pressure (on a massive scale) combined into a nefarious trap of wrong view. So as far as I'm concerned, there is no one with 100% faith who isn't a sotapanna. Ergo, I believe 100% faith (i.e knowledge) can't exist outside of Buddhism.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:44 pm

ground wrote:
... birth is the supporting condition for suffering, suffering is the supporting condition for faith, faith is the supporting condition for joy, ...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

polarbuddha101 wrote:Here is a great work to read if you're interested:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html

Thanks, the exact thing i needed to read.

But faith is good only when the information is right. I don't want to have a false sense of joy condition by a deluded faith.
As what i see, oppose to other dogmatic religions, the key to a proper faith is right understanding which is the foundation of Buddhism. That's why i think we shall not cultivate faith on things we do not understand.

ground wrote:Sorry, I have no idea what "pure knowledge" is meant to stand for... :sage:

Sorry, i must have misread your earlier post and end up writing a non related reply.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:53 pm

mogg wrote: So as far as I'm concerned, there is no one with 100% faith who isn't a sotapanna. Ergo, I believe 100% faith (i.e knowledge) can't exist outside of Buddhism.

Yes they do.
A few people from Abrahamic religions i have encountered shows that syndrome. Maybe not 100% but close like 99.999%. Not to mention those who are bathing in Ganges river...
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby mogg » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:55 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:
mogg wrote: So as far as I'm concerned, there is no one with 100% faith who isn't a sotapanna. Ergo, I believe 100% faith (i.e knowledge) can't exist outside of Buddhism.

Yes they do.
A few people from Abrahamic religions i have encountered shows that syndrome. Maybe not 100% but close like 99.999%. Not to mention those who are bathing in Ganges river...

99.99% is not 100% my friend. They are a world apart

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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby alan » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:02 pm

I'd like to focus everyone's mind on the original premise, which is incorrect. The discussion has wandered.

MN 26 is the relevant Sutta. Summary: Buddha met many teachers, attained their level, but was not satisfied, so he went out on his own.

It wasn't wisdom that made him feel incomplete. It was his desire to find "the unexcelled relief from the yoke..unbinding"

Wisdom is what happens after you awaken, not something that propels it. As for doubt, that is another matter entirely, and should be taken up in another context.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:20 pm

alan wrote:I'd like to focus everyone's mind on the original premise, which is incorrect. The discussion has wandered.


I don't think it has wandered. The title of the thread is "Skeptical doubt" and that is what is being discussed.

alan wrote:MN 26 is the relevant Sutta. Summary: Buddha met many teachers, attained their level, but was not satisfied, so he went out on his own.


I agree, it wasn't skeptical doubt in them as teachers, just that they could only take him so far. He needed to go on his own for the final stretch.
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:28 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.

A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. It's true the road sign is there to help us get to our destination but we need to use the brake and slow down whenever:
-there's limitation of vision upon the journey. (poor weather, bad and confusing road sign etc...)
-there's limitation of our own skills upon facing extreme situation. (overtaking another speeding vehicle, dangerous traffic etc...)


Here is another version of that:

The person with too much doubt has his foot on the brake. He refuses to take it off, not knowing or afraid of what might happen. He sees a green light but knows that the green color has no intrinsic meaning and is culturally based. It might mean stop in one culture or go in another. He has no faith or confidence that the cars going the other way are stopped or will stop. So he keeps his foot on the brake. He goes no where.

Another person has a good balance of some skepticism and confidence. He has confidence in the people who placed the signs that they did so at the right places. He follows those signs. He trusts that the signs will take him to the place where he is supposed to go. He is also careful, so when he enters the intersection, he still checks with his head and eyes to make sure it is clear. He gently puts his foot on the accelerator. He progresses toward his destination.
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