OK to disagree?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: OK to disagree?

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:32 am

notself wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
notself wrote:Even the most precise scientific inquiry is colored by perception and assumption. The very instruments we use to examine reality create bias because we only measure those things we can imagine or perceive. Pure science is an approximation of the truth and is always subject to falsification.

All true, Notself, but what does that mean to you in the context of this thread? What implications do you wish us to draw from it?
:thinking:

Kim


Making science the measure on truth in Buddhism can be a mistake. The quote "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." is from the Dalai Lama. I don't necessarily think that it is the job of science to prove or disprove Buddhism. If some scientific hypothesis or theory conflicts with Buddhim, I don't think Buddhism necessarily has to change. I think science need to look at its experimental evidence for possible error.

It also begs the question. What has the Dalai Lama got to do with anything from a Theravada perspective ? I'm sure he is a nice chap and all.
NB This is the General Theravada Forum.
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:53 am

Ben wrote:Hi Hunter
The Dhamma as it has been recorded in the Pali Canon is vast and profound. Many people struggle with some material within the Canon.
The Buddha said that one of the qualities of the Dhamma is 'ehi passiko', (must be seen for oneself). So if there is something that you have difficulty with, for the time being, 'put it to the side', and in time, through one's own penetration of the Dhamma from bhavana (mental cultivation) the nature of reality will be revealed to you.
metta

Ben


Thanks Ben! :goodpost:

metta
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:10 pm

PeterB wrote:
notself wrote:Making science the measure on truth in Buddhism can be a mistake. The quote "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." is from the Dalai Lama. I don't necessarily think that it is the job of science to prove or disprove Buddhism. If some scientific hypothesis or theory conflicts with Buddhim, I don't think Buddhism necessarily has to change. I think science need to look at its experimental evidence for possible error.

It also begs the question. What has the Dalai Lama got to do with anything from a Theravada perspective ? I'm sure he is a nice chap and all.
NB This is the General Theravada Forum.


Hi, everyone :hello:
Notself, you seem to be saying either that science must be wrong where it conflicts with Buddhism, or that we must expect to hold two incompatible 'truths' in our heads all the time; I don't think either option is viable.

Peter, I think the Dalai Lama's comments are absolutely to the point here. You don't have to accept him as your spiritual leader, but this issue is as relevant to Theravada as to Mahayana.
However, I think you are coincidentally right in suggesting that this is not the best forum to continue the discussion. When I get time to put my thoughts together, I'll post them to the Two Naked Buddhas thread which is explicitly about the relationship of the Dharma to modern western culture.

Meanwhile, readers may like to bear in mind these two questions when looking at other active threads:
• Would the original question have been needed if there were no conflict between the Dharma and our science-based culture?
• How essential to enlightenment is the issue?

My concern is always to help others, and in this context that means reducing the barriers between ordinary folks and the benefits of the teachings - without, I hasten to add, dumbing down the teachings in the process. :tongue:

:namaste:
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby meindzai » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:48 pm

I would have to say (not without a biased perspective) that Tibetan Buddhism makes a lot more claims about the physical world (energy, elements, healing, physiology and so forth) than does Theravada, and therefore the DL's statement is much more applicable to those kinds of teachings.

The main gist of Theravada isn't concerned much with the physical world, which science is limited to. In other words, science can only talk about the aggregate of form. It can say nothing of feelings, perceptiosn, impulses, consciousness, which are nama ("name" or "mentality"). Science can say nothing about dukkha, kamma, enlightenment factors, and a host of other teachings that are essential in Theravada.

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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:44 pm

Greetings,

meindzai wrote:The main gist of Theravada isn't concerned much with the physical world...


Verily so. In the Rohitassa Sutta the Buddha states:

"In this very one-fathom long body along with its perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world."

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: OK to disagree?

Postby notself » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:35 pm

Kim O'Hara
notself wrote:Making science the measure on truth in Buddhism can be a mistake. The quote "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." is from the Dalai Lama. I don't necessarily think that it is the job of science to prove or disprove Buddhism. If some scientific hypothesis or theory conflicts with Buddhim, I don't think Buddhism necessarily has to change. I think science need to look at its experimental evidence for possible error.

Hi, everyone :hello:
Notself, you seem to be saying either that science must be wrong where it conflicts with Buddhism, or that we must expect to hold two incompatible 'truths' in our heads all the time; I don't think either option is viable.

I did not say that, You are mistaken in your reading of my comments. What I said was scientific theory changes; can be overturned by new information; can be modified by new analysis. The message of the Buddha does not change.

Meanwhile, readers may like to bear in mind these two questions when looking at other active threads:
• Would the original question have been needed if there were no conflict between the Dharma and our science-based culture?
• How essential to enlightenment is the issue?

Please give specific examples and links where there is a scientific study that conflicts or refutes Buddhist teachings. I don't think you can come up with one. Why do I think that? Science depends on funding and interest. At the present time, for example, there is no interest or funding to investigate rebirth. Science is interested in the study of the brain/mind and there is funding for research. Here are several links where science examines the affect meditation on the brain.

http://www.livescience.com/health/07062 ... tions.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 204236.htm
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8317
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/04 ... tummo.html
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:51 pm

I think Kim O Hara that you are projecting your own dilemma, your own conflicted ideas onto the world. If we want to know about DNA or the structure of metal we go to science. If we want to transcend suffering we go to the Dhamma. There is no conflict. That is not to say that your dilemma, your need to find an accomodation for yourself, is not authentic or important to you.. Its just that it might not be shared as widely as you seem to imply.
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:01 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
How essential to enlightenment is the issue?



Important question. If we go based on the Suttas, then there would seem to be less and less people getting enlightened as time goes by - despite an increase in our knowledge of science.

Enlightenment is about a state of mind, or an attitude, or a perspective. Imagine the Buddha sitting there under the Bodhi tree. One second he's an unawakened Bodhisatta - the next minute he is the Buddha. A spectacular event with no physical manifestations of anykind. He's just sitting there. What difference could science possibly make?

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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:16 pm

PeterB wrote:I think Kim O Hara that you are projecting your own dilemma, your own conflicted ideas onto the world. ... That is not to say that your dilemma, your need to find an accomodation for yourself, is not authentic or important to you.. Its just that it might not be shared as widely as you seem to imply.

Hi, Peter, Meindzai,
I don't actually have a dilemma or conflicted idea. I am perfectly comfortable, relaxed, happy and contented with my own understanding of science and of the dhamma. :smile: (OK, I know I should spend more time meditating and less time on Dhamma Wheel, but that's a separate issue.)
But I see on the board here, and even more in the community I live in, lots of people who do have problems in this area. I asked you to look at the board to see them popping up, remember?

PeterB wrote:If we want to know about DNA or the structure of metal we go to science. If we want to transcend suffering we go to the Dhamma.

Absolutely.
PeterB wrote:There is no conflict.

Most of the time there is no conflict. But every time there is a conflict - 'hell realms' comes to mind because it seems to be one of the most active current threads - the conflict turns some people away from the dhamma.
I have been a teacher for more than half my life and I can't help seeing things from that perspective. One of the most basic principles of good teaching practice is that you don't set up unnecessary obstacles between the learner and the subject.
That's where I'm coming from. Does that make my concerns clearer?

:namaste:
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby PeterB » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:22 am

It clarifies that they are your concerns. It not possible to extrapolate from that some kind of crisis in the establishment of The Dhamma in the west. To seek clarification for yourself is quite right and proper. To assume that you have identified a widespread issue for western Buddhists is another issue altogether. I think most western Buddhists have in fact reached or are reaching or will reach their own accomodation with science.
As to topics like the Hell realms it is my experience that the longer we spend on the cushion the more these issues resolve themselves. As we penetrate more deeply into the various aspects of the Dhamma as a result of developing insight, the essential cohesiveness of The Buddha's Dhamma reveals itself, and what was difficult is seen in its wider context. A subtle interaction of elements that have their origin in the event under the Bo Tree.
In short I think that you are conflating the personal with the communal. Another thought that strikes me is that although my considered view is that the Theravada represents the Buddhas teaching in its most clear and unaltered form, it is not the only view. Jundo Cohen over at ZFI for example thinks that modern western views of Buddhism are an improvement on the original. I disagree completely, but some might feel more comfortable with that. Its what works for us.
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby Sthiracitta » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:25 pm

Hi can any one give me the sutta reference to Ajahn Chah's quote?

In the Buddha's time there was one disciple who was very astute. At one time, as the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma, he turned to this monk and asked, "Sariputta, do you believe this?" Venerable Sariputta replied, "No, I don't yet believe it." The Buddha praised his answer. "That's very good, Sariputta, you are one who us endowed with wisdom. One who is wise doesn't readily believe, he listens with an open mind and then weighs up the truth of that matter before believing or disbelieving."

Now the Buddha here has set a fine example for a teacher. What Venerable Sariputta said was true, he simply spoke his true feelings. Some people would think that to say you didn't believe that teaching would be like questioning the teacher's authority, they'd be afraid to say such a thing. They'd just go ahead and agree. This is how the worldly way goes. But the Buddha didn't take offense. He said that you needn't be ashamed of those things which aren't wrong or bad. It's not wrong to say that you don't believe if you don't believe. That's why Venerable Sariputta said, "I don't yet believe it." The Buddha praised him. "This monk has much wisdom. He carefully considers before believing anything." The Buddha's actions here are a good example for one who is a teacher of others.



Thanks in advance.
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:46 pm

Greetings Sthiracitta ,

It's not sutta based... it's from the Dhammapada commentary.

I don't remember off the top of my head which verse though, but I think it's one somewhere in the 80-100 range?

I'll try to remember to look it up once I've got ven K. Sri Dhammananda's translation back in front of me (even then though, it will be his paraphrasing of the commentary story, rather than a word-for-word translation of it).

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: OK to disagree?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:03 am

We had an extensive discussion of this on E-Sangha a while ago...

As I recall, It's a rather loose telling of a story from the Dhammapada, which accoding to Ven Dhammanando, is the same story as this Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
SN 48.44 Pubbakotthaka Sutta: Eastern Gatehouse
I have tried to hightlight the key parts...
"Lord, it's not that I take it on conviction in the Blessed One that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation. And as for me, I have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment. I have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."

It seems clear that Sariputta is saying that he doesn't take it on faith because he's seen it. Not that he is going to go and check it out later...

Perhaps Ajahn Chah had it a little mixed up with some other stories...

Metta
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby wtp » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:19 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The word "sexist" is itself sexist. It always implies discrimination against women by men, but women can equally well discriminate against men due to their sexist views.


While technically correct this is an extremely naive interpretation of sexism. It ignores the inherent power structure between the sexes in most modern societies. For example if a woman has a "sexist" view about a man it is extremely rare for her to be able to denigrate or otherwise inflict suffering on said man in Western society, on the other hand male sexist views have caused ongoing and extreme harm to women over centuries. The ones in power (in this case men) have a far more pervasive and negative effect with sexist views than the one with relatively little power (in this case women).

So while Bhikku Pesala is technically correct - women can be sexist - to suggest there is some level of "equality" in this sexism because of this technical definition, is a denial of female suffering that is sweeping, hurtful and plainly ignornant or at the least in severe denial. It is like saying slaves can discriminate "equally" against their enslavers, or that blacks in South Africa were "equally" discriminatory against the whites during aparteid. Sure women have made a lot of progress and we should not endorse female sexism, but lets get some perspective!
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:29 am

Hunter wrote:Question: If I read something in the Pali Canon and i dont agree with is that O.K.? So far I dont disagree with really any of it, but just in case! I dont like that other religions make you accept things with blind faith.

To the Theravada Buddhist is the Pali Canon like the WORD OF BUDDHA, or can one disagree with some of it?

Thanks

This is the thread topic.
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:49 am

Greetings,

retrofuturist wrote:It's not sutta based... it's from the Dhammapada commentary.

I don't remember off the top of my head which verse though, but I think it's one somewhere in the 80-100 range?


Verse 97 it is (lucky guess!)

Faith alone cannot make one realise Nibbana

Thirty bhikkhus from a village had arrived at the Jetavana monestary to pay homage to the Buddha. He knew that the time was ripe for those bhikkhus to attain Arahanthood. So, he sent for Sariputta, and in the presence of those bhikkhus, he asked, 'My son, do you accept the fact that by meditating of the senses one could realise Nibbana?' Sariputta answered, 'Venerable Sir, in the matter of the realisation of Nibbana by meditating on the senses, I do not accept it simply because I have faith in you. It is only those who have not personally realised it who accept the fact from others'. Sariputta's answer was not properly understood by the bhikkhus, who thought, 'Sariputta has not given up wrong views yet. Even now he has no faith in the Buddha'

Then the Buddha explained, 'Bhikkhus, the meaning of Sariputta's answer is simply this: he accepts the fact that Nibbana is realised by means of meditation on the senses, but his acceptance is due to his own personal realisation and not merely because I have said it or somebody else has said it. Sariputta has faith in me. He also has faith in the consequences of good and bad deeds.'

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: OK to disagree?

Postby Sthiracitta » Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:56 pm

thank you retrofuturist and mikenz66. I'll look into this more
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Re: OK to disagree?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:33 pm

Thanks for finding the Dhammapada reference, Retro.

The verse, with copious footnotes, and a shorter version of the story, can be found here:
http://home.nethere.net/dsparks/narada/ ... 0Vagga.htm
NOBLE IS HE WHO IS NOT CREDULOUS

16The man who is not credulous, 17 who understands the Uncreate 18 (Nibbana), who has cut off the links, 19 who has put an end to occasion 20 (of good and evil), who has eschewed 21 all desires, 22 he indeed, is a supreme man. (Verse 97)

Story

The Buddha put some questions to the Venerable Sariputta with regard to faith. Sariputta replied that as he had realized the Paths and Fruits he would not act by mere faith in the Buddha. The monks were displeased to hear that he refused to believe in the Buddha. Thereupon the Buddha explained to the monks that Sariputta was not open to censure as he believed through personal experience and not through mere faith in another.

17 Assaddho, lit. unfaithful. He does not merely accept from other sources because he himself knows from personal experience.

18 Akata, Nibbana. It is so called because it is not created by anyone. Akatannå can also be interpreted as ungrateful.

19 The links of existence and rebirth. Sandhicchedo also means a housebreaker, that is, a burglar.

20 Hata + avakaso - he who has destroyed the opportunity.

21 Vanta + aso he who eats vomit is another meaning.

22 By means of the four paths of Sainthood. Gross forms of desire are eradicated at the first three stages, the subtle forms at the last stage.

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