Buddhism and Islam

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Buddhism and Islam

Postby Kalama » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:46 pm

Hi All,

I stumbled upon a video in which Iman Dr. Zakir Naik explains his Muslim auditorium 'What is the exact believe of Buddhists?'
see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0ws36pd-Q0

His argumentation goes roughly :' there is misery , which is due to desire. To get rid of misery you must remove desire , i.e. by following the 8th fold Nobel Path.
That means: to do so you must have desire in order to remove desire , which is contradictory , therefore the 4 Noble Truths cannot stand on its own feet'.

How would you have responded if you had the chance? ( chanda comes into my mind but I have to admit - despite some years of Dhamma study - I miss the punchy brief answer, at least for now) .

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby kmath » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:09 pm

In Pali, there's two different kinds of desire. There's tanha which is translated as craving and which leads to "misery." Then there's chanda which is a wholesome desire for well-being and which does not lead to misery. So one does need desire (chanda) in order to remove desire (tanha).

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:11 pm

Here's an essay on the subject: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... imits.html

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:14 pm

And here's a nice simile:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=16900
"Brahman, there is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire & the fabrications of exertion. He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence... concentration founded on intent... concentration founded on discrimination & the fabrications of exertion. This, Brahman, is the path, this is the practice for the abandoning of that desire."

"If that's so, Master Ananda, then it's an endless path, and not one with an end, for it's impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire."

"In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: Didn't you first have desire, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular desire allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have persistence, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular persistence allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have the intent, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular intent allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Didn't you first have [an act of] discrimination, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular act of discrimination allayed?"

"Yes, sir."

"So it is with an arahant whose mental effluents are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who is released through right gnosis. Whatever desire he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular desire is allayed. Whatever persistence he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular persistence is allayed. Whatever intent he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular intent is allayed. Whatever discrimination he first had for the attainment of arahantship, on attaining arahantship that particular discrimination is allayed. So what do you think, brahman? Is this an endless path, or one with an end?"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:47 pm

See also this previous thread about Naik: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=16520

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby binocular » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:03 pm

Kalama wrote:How would you have responded if you had the chance?

It's not possible to defeat an ignorant man in argument, nor a dishonest one.
Until he learns what exactly it is that Buddhism teaches and is able to correctly repeat it in discussion, it's like ... talking to a wall ... only worse.


Kalama wrote:His argumentation goes roughly :' there is misery , which is due to desire. To get rid of misery you must remove desire , i.e. by following the 8th fold Nobel Path.
That means: to do so you must have desire in order to remove desire , which is contradictory , therefore the 4 Noble Truths cannot stand on its own feet'.

Interestingly, this is the kind of understanding and criticism of Buddhism I have heard also from some Christians and Hindus. And from some people without an apparent religious affiliation. These people work out of this strawman, and even when provided with an explanation (SN 51.15), they have just ignored it, insisting in their strawman. Which would suggest that they are not interested in actually discussing the topic, but in pushing their particular agenda.
Come to think of it, maybe that agenda doesn't even have anything to do with Christianity or Islam, but with something much more general - possibly simply people protecting their desires as such, fearing what it would be like to be desireless. Ordinarily, people seem to equate a state of not desiring anything with misery, not happiness.
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Sanjay PS » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:45 am

binocular wrote:
Kalama wrote:How would you have responded if you had the chance?

It's not possible to defeat an ignorant man in argument, nor a dishonest one.
Until he learns what exactly it is that Buddhism teaches and is able to correctly repeat it in discussion, it's like ... talking to a wall ... only worse.


Kalama wrote:His argumentation goes roughly :' there is misery , which is due to desire. To get rid of misery you must remove desire , i.e. by following the 8th fold Nobel Path.
That means: to do so you must have desire in order to remove desire , which is contradictory , therefore the 4 Noble Truths cannot stand on its own feet'.

Interestingly, this is the kind of understanding and criticism of Buddhism I have heard also from some Christians and Hindus. And from some people without an apparent religious affiliation. These people work out of this strawman, and even when provided with an explanation (SN 51.15), they have just ignored it, insisting in their strawman. Which would suggest that they are not interested in actually discussing the topic, but in pushing their particular agenda.
Come to think of it, maybe that agenda doesn't even have anything to do with Christianity or Islam, but with something much more general - possibly simply people protecting their desires as such, fearing what it would be like to be desireless. Ordinarily, people seem to equate a state of not desiring anything with misery, not happiness.


i have often come across people who are such , they however do not realize the two truths ; being desire free is the most difficult task ( people think its a cake walk , but a wasteful way of living ) in the world , secondly it results in real happiness .

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:24 am

Tanhā is literally translated as thirst. It's not the same thing as desire. I'd say desire is wanting to do something and craving is to be impelled towards doing something.

Ven. Analayo wrote:The term tanhā literally stands for "thirst", a meaning echoed also in its near synonym tasinā. Tanhā − as a figurative type of thirst that demands the satisfaction of desires − manifests as a sense of lack or want, and has its root in dissatisfaction. Various aspects of craving are reflected in the use of a range of imageries and similes in the discourses.

-source, page 7
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby chownah » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:12 am

A person is far above the ground clinging to a rope. Clinging to a rope is stressful but letting go will mean falling to death. Some one tells that person to cling a bit lower on the rope and move downward a bit.....and then cling yet again lower on the rope and move downward again.......eventually you will reach the ground and you can relinquish your clinging to the rope. Another person says that it is impossible to eliminate clinging to a rope by clinging to a rope so it will not work.
who is right?
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Sanjay PS » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:40 am

chownah wrote:A person is far above the ground clinging to a rope. Clinging to a rope is stressful but letting go will mean falling to death. Some one tells that person to cling a bit lower on the rope and move downward a bit.....and then cling yet again lower on the rope and move downward again.......eventually you will reach the ground and you can relinquish your clinging to the rope. Another person says that it is impossible to eliminate clinging to a rope by clinging to a rope so it will not work.
who is right?
chownah



Really nice Chownah , excellent , makes so much of sense .

sanjay

PS:

The three exhortations in Pali viz. ( the syntax and exact english spelling is wrong though , but the meaning conveys what was conveyed in the earlier post that you had come across , sometime ago),

Kalam agmaiye

Aukhit chako

bhath mataniyo

are well and truly from the Pali language , and does not in any way trouble the sanctity of the Triple Gem . i cross checked with VRI ( Vipassana Research Institute ) , and a scholar in the Pali wing of the academy , replied endorsing the same .
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Weakfocus » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:01 am

Kalama wrote:
His argumentation goes roughly :' there is misery , which is due to desire. To get rid of misery you must remove desire , i.e. by following the 8th fold Nobel Path.
That means: to do so you must have desire in order to remove desire , which is contradictory , therefore the 4 Noble Truths cannot stand on its own feet'.

How would you have responded if you had the chance?


I have had the pleasure of coming across many such philosophers/'intellectuals' and I have learnt my lesson. I would not respond to this at all. Some people are simply not ripe enough to understand Dhamma, they expend tremendous amount of energy and find all kind of theoretical "faults" in Dhamma just so they do not have to meditate. They cling to wrong views. When even the Buddha could not guide every single person during his time towards liberation what chance do we have in today's world. Trying to reason with such coarse people and show them the path is a waste of time.
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby binocular » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:45 am

:goodpost:
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Jason » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:16 pm

Yes, it can appear somewhat contradictory, especially to people not as familiar with Buddhism. Part of the issue is that people often conflate desire (chanda) and craving (tahna), and this is partially the fault of translators, but desire and craving are actually two different but closely related aspects of our psychology. Desire is a neutral term, and one generally has to have the desire to achieve a goal in order to achieve it, even nibbana (SN 51.15); whereas the Pali word for craving, tahna (literally 'thirst'), is something that's directly tied to suffering.

The second noble truth states that the origination of suffering is "the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming" (SN 56.11). As Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains in Wings to Awakening:

    Craving for sensuality, here, means the desire for sensual objects. Craving for becoming means the desire for the formation of states or realms of being that are not currently happening, while craving for non-becoming means the desire for the destruction or halting of any that are. "Passion and delight," here, is apparently a synonym for the "desire and passion" for the five aggregates that constitutes clinging/sustenance [III/H/ii].

Desire, on the other hand, can be skillful (kusala) or unskillful (akusala) depending on the context. The desire for happiness, especially long-term welfare and happiness, is actually an important part of the Buddhist path. Moreover, desire is listed as one of the four bases of power (iddhipada), which themselves are included in the seven sets of qualities that lead to the end of suffering (MN 103). The four qualities listed in the bases of power are desire, persistence, intent and discrimination. In Wings to Awakening, Thanissaro Bhikkhu points to this passage:

    There is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire & the fabrications of exertion, thinking, 'This desire of mine will be neither overly sluggish nor overly active, neither inwardly restricted nor outwardly scattered.' (Similarly with concentration founded on persistence, intent, and discrimination.)

He goes on to explain that, "This passage shows that the problem lies not in the desire, effort, intent or discrimination, but in the fact that these qualities can be unskillfully applied or improperly tuned to their task." If we take a look at the exchange between Ananda and the brahmin Unnabha in SN 51.15, for example, we can see that the attainment of the goal is indeed achieved through desire, even though paradoxically, the goal is said to be the abandoning of desire. That's because at the end of the path desire, as well as the other three bases of power, subside on their own. As Ananda explains at the end of SN 51.15:

    He earlier had the desire for the attainment of arahantship, and when he attained arahantship, the corresponding desire subsided. He earlier had aroused energy for the attainment of arahantship, and when he attained arahantship, the corresponding energy subsided. He earlier had made up his mind to attain arahantship, and when he attained arahantship, the corresponding resolution subsided. He earlier had made an investigation for the attainment of arahantship, and when he attained arahantship, the corresponding investigation subsided. (Bodhi)

So, in essence, desire can be beneficial in certain contexts, and one shouldn't be worried about the desire to do skillful things. Craving, on the other hand, is something that, by its very nature, conditions suffering through the way it encourages the mind to feed upon sensory experiences and either causes it to intensely cling to pleasant experiences or violently push away unpleasant ones. It may have helped us at some point in our evolution, but now it tends to do more harm than good. It's more of a paradox than a contradiction. That's how I'd answer, at any rate.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Kalama » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:20 pm

Hi all,

thanks for the responses. Sorry for missing that the issue has been treated in a similar way by lojong1, on March 14 already. I am a newbie on this forum, though not
with Buddhist lists activities. ( Briefly: German with long experience in S.E.Asia , living in Hamburg now , retired , my refuge is the Triple Gem.)
My question , the same lojong1 raised , was not only the interest in a punchy response but as well to say hello and possibly looking forward to joining the discussions of Dhamma related topics. I am not yet sure how to use proper editing acc. to the choices on top , respectively about the style .. eventually will learn it in time , .

Directly to the messages :
kirk5a » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:02 pm

In college, a philosophy professor expressed exactly the same objection to me. Too bad I didn't know how to respond at the time. I knew it was fishy reasoning, but I couldn't put my finger on why.

D: that's what I meant as well: why is that why seemingly so difficult to express?

David N. Snyder » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:17 pm
Sylvester wrote:
Aah. The Unnabha Paradox. See SN 51.15.

That is a great Sutta. The issue comes up somewhat often at Dhamma centers where someone will state that all desire is bad, that even 'desire' for enlightenment is bad and having that desire will prevent it from happening. This is not true and when I get the chance I tell them about chanda, the wholesome desire. Ananda explains it much better in this Sutta.

D: the sutta is of course useful for contemplation.. quoting:

"If that's so, Master Ananda, then it's an endless path, and not one with an end, for it's impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire."
"In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think: Didn't you first have desire, thinking, 'I'll go to the park,' and then when you reached the park, wasn't that particular desire allayed?"

The brahman's statement made an answer a bit easier than Kirk5a's professor by refering to an endless path , as the Brahmana Sutta doesn't treat the more general background ' why to take a path which seemingly needs to replace one evil with another'.


y kmath » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:09 pm

In Pali, there's two different kinds of desire. There's tanha which is translated as craving and which leads to "misery." Then there's chanda which is a wholesome desire for well-being and which does not lead to misery. So one does need desire (chanda) in order to remove desire (tanha).


D: I think the matter of chanda and tanha has been discussed quite often. Common understanding seems to me wholesome and unwholesome desire.
I wonder however whether the use of desire as a term covering both is suitable. Chanda in respect to the Noble Path is related to ' quest for (ultimate) truth' , whereas tanha refers to wordly desire. Kim seems to have a similar idea:

Kim OHara » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:33 am

Sylvester wrote:
Aah. The Unnabha Paradox. See SN 51.15.

An alternative (and I am not claiming it is a better one :tongue: ) is to distinguish between desire/craving/greed and intention.
I can intend to follow the path which leads to my workplace tomorrow morning but that isn't really the same thing as desiring to do so.


binocular » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:03 pm

Kalama wrote:
How would you have responded if you had the chance?

It's not possible to defeat an ignorant man in argument, nor a dishonest one.
Until he learns what exactly it is that Buddhism teaches and is able to correctly repeat it in discussion, it's like ... talking to a wall ... only worse.

D: I do not know Dr. Naik and so not his ability to be open enough of a religious dialogue , more of interest to me is the auditorium he addressed and the likely bias
he implanted.

binocular:Interestingly, this is the kind of understanding and criticism of Buddhism I have heard also from some Christians and Hindus. And from some people without an apparent religious affiliation. These people work out of this strawman, and even when provided with an explanation (SN 51.15), they have just ignored it, insisting in their strawman. Which would suggest that they are not interested in actually discussing the topic, but in pushing their particular agenda.
Come to think of it, maybe that agenda doesn't even have anything to do with Christianity or Islam, but with something much more general - possibly simply people protecting their desires as such, fearing what it would be like to be desireless. Ordinarily, people seem to equate a state of not desiring anything with misery, not happiness.

D: we live in a society of consumerism ..but I believe Jon and Jane Doe may get an understanding when it is properly explained..


sanjay wrote:i have often come across people who are such , they however do not realize the two truths ; being desire free is the most difficult task ( people think its a cake walk , but a wasteful way of living ) in the world , secondly it results in real happiness .

D: possibly a bit more explanation needed to get an understanding by those

Mkoll » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:24 am

Tanhā is literally translated as thirst. It's not the same thing as desire. I'd say desire is wanting to do something and craving is to be impelled towards doing something.

Ven. Analayo wrote:
The term tanhā literally stands for "thirst", a meaning echoed also in its near synonym tasinā. Tanhā − as a figurative type of thirst that demands the satisfaction of desires − manifests as a sense of lack or want, and has its root in dissatisfaction. Various aspects of craving are reflected in the use of a range of imageries and similes in the discourses.

D: yes.. the term tanha, thirst , serving as a metaphor for the urge of : I -moha, want- lobha , do not want-dosa , one may consider whether term desire is really fitting.


y chownah » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:12 am

A person is far above the ground clinging to a rope. Clinging to a rope is stressful but letting go will mean falling to death. Some one tells that person to cling a bit lower on the rope and move downward a bit.....and then cling yet again lower on the rope and move downward again.......eventually you will reach the ground and you can relinquish your clinging to the rope. Another person says that it is impossible to eliminate clinging to a rope by clinging to a rope so it will not work.
who is right? chownah

D:the idiom to 'pulls oneself up by one's own bootstraps ' is fitting here, similar to the self who is supposed to work towards anatta
(greetings to the Thai farmers ;-) )

so far .. I intend to write shorter messages in future ;-)

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:36 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Here's an essay on the subject: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... imits.html

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Mike

Thanks Mike. Great article by Ven. Thanissaro.

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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Kalama » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:13 pm

Hi all,

I thought about a possible answer in response to Dr.Naik's critical remarks and conluded with following for an address to the Muslim auditorium :

You all know the story of Genesis , in which (Adam and) Eve committed the original sin being seduced by the serpent:
' “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil". So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes,a tree desirable to make one wise'.

This common Bible text describes desire by a beautiful picture: sensual craving and its sibling : delusion (to make one wise = i.e. ' you will be like God, knowing good and evil) , so to say birth of a self or ego.

Both sensual craving or greed and delusion are - together with hate (compare with the story of Cain, directly after banishment) the elements , which represent in Buddhism the Truth of the Origination of Suffering.
'She took of its fruit [B.T.W. tanha -upadana] and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened (symbol of delusion)..' God sent them forth from the garden of Eden into the world of misery' [-bhava] , in detail described by Gensis 3.16 ff .
And that is were we are and to which desire ( and delusion) lead us , cause and effect .

Religion tells us that there is an end to this misery , but although the how is different, common point of salvation is faith and by that commitment to specified action. It is faith which carries the necessary desire to undertake the hard task , no easy way to heaven.
With that in common , how can Dr. Naik speak of the contradiction in Buddha's teaching?
It is not that Buddhism replaces one evil with another , but to change what is unwholesome to wholesome desire and so wrong to right action, namely towards salvation.

In a world of conflicts , often due to misunderstandings about religious issues , we need to emphasize what is common and not to seek what separates u.
Though Buddhism doesn't acknowledge a begin of suffering , I consider the contemplation of Genesis quite useful.

Comments wellcome ,
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby mettafuture » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:05 am

Kalama wrote:How would you have responded if you had the chance?

Buddhism is about removing suffering and materialistic desires. That's how I interpret the teachings. I can't recall the Buddha ever saying that we shouldn't desire anything.
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby suhailjan5 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:23 am

Dr, zakir naik say true about Buddhism, Dr, zakir naik alway says true fact and figure with reasonable debate.
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Re: Buddhism and Islam

Postby Kalama » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:25 pm

suhailjan5 wrote:Dr, zakir naik say true about Buddhism, Dr, zakir naik alway says true fact and figure with reasonable debate.


I suppose Dr. Naik would also appreciate that his statements are considered and evaluated and not blindly believed. The Buddha went even further, asking his followers to check his teaching like a goldsmith is proving the genuity of silver and gold.
This said , I wonder whether it is too much to ask for addressing the issue in reference to my response.
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