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Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" - Dhamma Wheel

Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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gavesako
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Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby gavesako » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:23 pm

Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

By B. Alan Wallace

"As Buddhism has encountered modernity, it runs against widespread prejudices, both religious and anti-religious, and it is common for all those with such biases to misrepresent Buddhism, either intentionally or unintentionally. ... But if we are ever to encounter the Buddhist vision of reality, we must first set aside all our philosophical biases, whether they are theistic, agnostic, atheist, or otherwise. Then, through critical, disciplined study of the most reliable sources of the Buddha’s teachings, guided by qualified spiritual friends and teachers, followed by rigorous, sustained practice, we may encounter the Buddhist vision of reality. And with this encounter with our own true nature, we may realize freedom through our own experience. That is the end of agnosticism, for we come to know reality as it is, and the truth will set us free."


http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives ... d-atheist/

__________


Well worth reading!

:reading:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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Kare
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Kare » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:41 pm

Mettāya,
Kåre

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mikenz66
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:30 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:38 pm


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Ben
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:44 pm

“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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby KalyanamittaWgtn » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:09 pm

Many thanks to Ven Gavesako for posting the link to the comments by B Allan Wallace on Stephen Batchelor's book Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. It would be good to look closely at the way the ancient Pali texts are being translated by scholars such as Ven Analayo and Bhikkhu Bodhi and put them alongside those of Stephen Batchelor. That way we can approach the Buddha.

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mikenz66
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:25 pm


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Ben
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:19 pm

Thanks Mike, that is excellent!
“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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Kare
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Kare » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:14 pm

"The secularization of life and the widespread decline in moral values have had grave consequences throughout the world, jeopardizing our collective sanity and survival. "

If Bhikkhu Bodhi here really means that a less secularized society has higher moral standards, I suppose the victims of priestly abuses and the victims of religious terrorists and suicide bombers might beg to disagree.
Mettāya,
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:41 pm

The best things in life aren't things.


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Kare
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Kare » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:11 am

Mettāya,
Kåre

plwk
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby plwk » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:45 am

Gawd ... just can't get over Batchelor and on with life can we... :tongue:

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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:23 am

A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Laurens » Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:50 pm

I do not think it is correct to try to manipulate the teachings of the Buddha to suit one's own personal views, and it is for this reason that I personally abandoned Buddhism. I do not believe in kamma as a system that spans from life time to life time, I do not believe that we are reborn after we die, I do not believe that there are other realms of existence, I do not believe in ghosts. However, I would not seek to make out that the Buddha did not teach these things. I think the most humble thing one can do in that situation is to step away from Buddhism, rather than rewrite it. I felt the practice of Buddhism required me to make leaps and assumptions that I wasn't comfortable making, or to entertain these teachings as probably being true, when I did not feel this was so. Therefore I stopped being Buddhist.

Sure I learnt a lot from it, and I still meditate. But I am not a Buddhist, because I believe some of the fundamental tenants of Buddhism may well be false. I think Stephen Bachelor should take the same approach. Rather than perverting Buddhism into saying something that it does not, just abandon the label Buddhist, because it clearly doesn't fit with the way you view the world, if you are having to twist the core teachings.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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Dan74
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Dan74 » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:00 pm

_/|\_

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Laurens
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Laurens » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:32 pm

My view was that the way I interpreted Buddhism - it would not function without the doctrine of rebirth. Kamma teaches that each of our actions bears a kammic fruit at some point. This is fundamental to Buddhism because it constitutes Right View - a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. However if your view of kamma is restricted to being limited to only one lifetime, then it becomes evident that the teaching starts to fall apart. Would it hold true that in the span of one lifetime all volitional actions would bear fruit? The killing of living beings is said to bear negative kammic fruit, this may not be the case if restricted to one lifetime. Take a man who works in a slaughter house, or a pest controller etc. Their actions may not bear fruit in this life time - our society does not punish people who kill for a living, they may lead this whole lifetime killing animals every day and not receive any real retribution for their actions before they reach the grave. I'm sure there might be other examples of this.

Kamma is also used as an explanation for where we are at in the present. This sense of kamma also starts to make less sense if you restrict it to only one lifetime. Say for example a child who is kidnapped and horrendously abused for years in captivity, what could they have possibly done within this one lifetime for this to be deemed the ripening of kammic fruits? This is usually where the past life kamma comes in, that this person had done something in a previous life which is bearing fruit in this life (a notion that I strongly disapprove of, for reasons I shall not go into now). If there is only one life - what can an innocent child possibly have done to deserve abuse or murder? Kamma, at least from the way I was taught it, fails as any kind of 'actions bearing fruit' doctrine if it is viewed as being restrained to a single lifetime. So in my view denial of rebirth leads to the failure of the system of kamma - which is defined as a requisite for Right View - which is a part of the core teachings.

I do not believe in rebirth, this means that I cannot accept the kammic teachings in the way that the Buddha intended them to be understood, which means I fall into the category of Wrong View, which presumably means I cannot attain Nibbana, without fulfilling the Eightfold Path. Conclusion: I am not a Buddhist.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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Hanzze
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Hanzze » Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:03 pm

Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Laurens
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Laurens » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:03 pm

If as the article states and the book title is accurate then it would seem that Batchelor is less of an agnostic, and more of an atheist when it comes to rebirth. Assuming Batchelor's title is accurate then an atheist view on rebirth would be; not believing in rebirth is the default position because the burden of proof for the claim 'there is such a thing as rebirth' has not been met and/or there are no convincing arguments to suggest in favour of rebirth. If Batchelor holds any other view then his title is misleading.

Being an atheist about rebirth would not be; 'I don't know if it's true, but it might be, so I'll practice like it is anyway' (you don't see Christopher Hitchen's or Richard Dawkins taking Pascal's wager and going to church because there might be a God) - that view is more likely to be held by an agnostic, and it doesn't seem to be Batchelor's position. Either he is an atheist or he isn't. The article (it seems to have vanished now) paints a picture of someone actively denying rebirth, or at least playing down its importance in Buddhism - which to me suggests that he doesn't believe it at all.

And so it leads on to my previous post... Remove the doctrine of rebirth, kamma fails, you fall into wrong view meaning the eightfold path cannot be followed, which means you cannot realise the fourth noble truth. Batchelor isn't Buddhist, he might think he is, but he is not really following the path laid out by the Buddha.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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Goofaholix
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:54 am


alan
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Re: Critique of Batchelor’s "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist"

Postby alan » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:04 am

Never liked him.


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