Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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retrofuturist
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Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:49 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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mikenz66
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:54 am

Hi Retro,

In my view, it depends on whether your approach is "historical" or "religious". If it is "religious" (i.e. your aim is the liberation taught by the Buddha then history may not be the best way to approach it).

Mike

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:59 am

i like sujato, and i dont see anything wrong with that quote you posted, but the big question is , so now what do you want to do about it?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby zavk » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:22 am

Last edited by zavk on Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:34 am

What a breathe of fresh air. It's way past the time to dissolve the arbitrary wall between those trained to read the texts from within the institution of Buddhism and those trained to read them within secular research institutions - and in addition, it's time to examine the texts in light of what we now know about the patterns and architecture of myth and oral tradition that are consistent among nearly all premodern cultures.

We live in the most amazing time...technology is erasing borders between disciplines. For example, mythology is being used to confirm findings in geology and climate, and the geological record is being used to confirm aspects of mythology. Sacred cows are crumbling in all fields of research and belief...and out of the rubble is emerging clarity. Why not hold Buddhism up to the light of research and scholarship also...there will be things that need to be let go of, but isn't that consistent with the Dharma? There may be bitter pills to take, but every other religion and discipline is having to swallow hard so let's go!
Last edited by pink_trike on Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:41 am, edited 8 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Dugu » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:38 am

I agree with Ajahn Sujato. That's why I only study the Sutta Pitaka.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:49 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Jechbi » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:52 am


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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:53 am

Hi Dugu
I am reading an inference in your post which suggests you dismiss the Abhidhamma. My apologies if i have assumed wrong.
But if you are dismissing the Abhidhamma based on its contested provenance, then I think it would be a mistake.
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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e: [email protected]..

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:57 am


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zavk
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby zavk » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:07 am

With metta,
zavk

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:13 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Dugu
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Dugu » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:19 am


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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:23 am

The best things in life aren't things.


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pink_trike
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:54 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Dan74
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Dan74 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:13 am

It sounds sensible enough.

I must say that in my experience all the myths have been simply irrelevant. My teacher has never appealed to them, nor used them as any sort of justification for Zen. Rather all the teachings have been concerned with practice (sila, samadhi, pana in everyday life, workings of the mind and its habitual tendencies, the Unconditioned, etc). I do not recall her use the Mahakasyapa story more than once and that was to illustrate a point rather than provide some sort of lineage backing.

Similarly with reading other Zen teachers - I haven't seen them make much mileage out of the myths at all.

As for Mahayana justification of its sutras, I think that for quite a while the common story was that they were not spoken by the historical Buddha in his physical emanation as Siddhartha Gotama anyway. In simple terms, realized masters "channeled" Buddhahood that is not separate nor ultimately different from Gotama. Besides Mahayana sutras are likely composite documents with "forewords" often added later.

So I am all for being brutally honest about the history and all that, but hopefully not to get hung up on it. That would be a waste of energy that is best spent on practice.

_/|\_
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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:31 am


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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:55 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:26 am


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Re: Call to arms for reasoned & critical perspective on Buddhism

Postby PeterB » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:06 pm

I think to some extent the apparent split between myth and history is not altogether relevant when talking about a spritual tradition. Something can be true without being historical, just as something can be historical but not directly shed light on what is true. Poetry is true, but does not correspond with scientific fact necessarily. A poetic description of a sunset is no less true than an analysis of the refraction of light through water droplets and atmospheric particles..
My own questioning of the Mahayana is not due to its relability as history or myth. Its to do with whether its myths tell the same story as does the Theravada.
My faith in the Theravada stems from it's narrative about what it is to be a human being whose existence is coloured by Dukkha, and its narrative of the way to be free of Dukkha by clear and practical means.
Some of the commentaries are poetic, some of them are analogous to science. Some are both. Instead of junking the commentaries I think which should learn to read them aright.


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