The problem of secularised Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Laurens
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The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by Laurens »

If, as many Westerners do, we reject the doctrine of rebirth, what is the point of engaging in a life of difficult renunciation, strict moral discipline, meditation etc. to achieve the cessation of suffering, when suicide would end our suffering without all that effort?

If there is the assumption that there is nothing after death, then there is no suffering beyond our demise, thus for secular Buddhists who deny rebirth, the question becomes why not suicide?

Surely any answers such as 'I like being alive' are counter to the Buddhist principles of non-attachment and renunciation of sensory pleasures. So if you deny rebirth as a Buddhist, but wish to live out this life, then why engage in any form of renunciation? Why not just enjoy it all whilst you are here? Eat as much cake, have as much sex, watch as much TV, as you want etc.

I'm starting to think that without rebirth Buddhism negates itself.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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DooDoot
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by DooDoot »

Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am If, as many Westerners do, we reject the doctrine of rebirth, what is the point of engaging in a life of difficult renunciation, strict moral discipline, meditation etc. to achieve the cessation of suffering, when suicide would end our suffering without all that effort?

If there is the assumption that there is nothing after death, then there is no suffering beyond our demise, thus for secular Buddhists who deny rebirth, the question becomes why not suicide?

Surely any answers such as 'I like being alive' are counter to the Buddhist principles of non-attachment and renunciation of sensory pleasures. So if you deny rebirth as a Buddhist, but wish to live out this life, then why engage in any form of renunciation? Why not just enjoy it all whilst you are here? Eat as much cake, have as much sex, watch as much TV, as you want etc.

I'm starting to think that without rebirth Buddhism negates itself.
The above is illogical. I recommend to practise & realise Dhamma rather than behave like a Christian fundamentalist.
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SarathW
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by SarathW »

I'm starting to think that without rebirth Buddhism negates itself.
Perhaps you may be right that is why Buddha taught Anatta.
If you understand Anatta, will you commit suicide?
(Please do not get to the debate of suicide Arahants, which I do not believe and it is another topic)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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DooDoot
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by DooDoot »

Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am If, as many Westerners do
Many Asian Buddhists also reject your personal interpretation of "rebirth".
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amwe reject the doctrine of rebirth, what is the point of engaging in a life of difficult renunciation, strict moral discipline, meditation etc. to achieve the cessation of suffering
Because, in the here & now, there is a suffering, which individuals, who are not interested in suicide, seek resolve. Individuals who have realised Dhamma generally do not consider committing suicide; including prior to entering the Path.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amwhen suicide would end our suffering without all that effort?
The above is a poor argument. It is completely irrelevant and appears to be a form of attempted emotional blackmail.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amIf there is the assumption that there is nothing after death, then there is no suffering beyond our demise, thus for secular Buddhists who deny rebirth, the question becomes why not suicide?
No. The above is nonsense. As said, most people that suffer actually do not consider suicide.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amSurely any answers such as 'I like being alive' are counter to the Buddhist principles of non-attachment and renunciation of sensory pleasures.
The above is becoming ridiculous. 1st you condemn people for suicide and then you condemn people for liking being alive. You sound like a very hard task master. :smile:
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amSo if you deny rebirth as a Buddhist, but wish to live out this life, then why engage in any form of renunciation?
The above again is illogical. Renunciation is practised because real happiness cannot be found in sensual pleasures. That's it!
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amWhy not just enjoy it all whilst you are here?
Because there is nothing much to enjoy in the sensual world. Sensual pleasures get boring or, otherwise, harmful.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amEat as much cake, have as much sex, watch as much TV, as you want etc.
The above things are often HARMFUL. Doing the above things can be similar to committing suicide. The above shows you don't understand the basics of Buddhism very well yet you want to lecture others about how they should view the Dhamma.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 amI'm starting to think that without rebirth Buddhism negates itself.
I'm starting to think you may be suicidal. If so, please send me a private message. I will be much nicer to you in person. The practise of the 8 foldpath will result in the absence of suicidal thoughts.

Kind regards. With metta :heart:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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BrokenBones
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by BrokenBones »

DooDoot... would that be a modified 8 fold Path or the one taught by the Buddha?

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confusedlayman
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by confusedlayman »

without rebirth beleif or view, people take everything ends in death stance.. when they do this, they think to expeirence life fully before they die.. they will mindlessly do everything crazy to satisfy their sence by indulging in bad habits (as they bring results of sence pleasure soon) and they reborn in hell...

Rejecting rebirth is like a big disaster thrown on one self...

u may not see rebirth but it exist and astetics who practice meditation have seen some past lives and proclaim it.,.

so secular buddhist view contradicts astetics view who know for themselves.

hence I dont have much respect for secular buddhist as instead of trying to attain abhinna and see for themselves, they just reject it due to laziness
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

I don't honestly know how Buddhism without rebirth makes any sense.

Without kamma and anattā we have three wrong views 1) the wrong view of inefficacy of actions, 2) the wrong view of uncaused existence, 3) nihilism. Who dares to call it Buddhism?
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
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confusedlayman
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by confusedlayman »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:04 am I don't honestly know how Buddhism without rebirth makes any sense.

Without kamma and anattā we have three wrong views 1) the wrong view of inefficacy of actions, 2) the wrong view of uncaused existence, 3) nihilism. Who dares to call it Buddhism?
:goodpost:
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
SteRo
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by SteRo »

Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am ... what is the point of engaging in a life of difficult renunciation, strict moral discipline, meditation etc. ...?
If such kind of practice does not improve quality of life/experience then such kind of practice isn't useful. And this is independent of believing in rebirth or not believing in rebirth.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am If there is the assumption that there is nothing after death, then there is no suffering beyond our demise, thus for secular Buddhists who deny rebirth, the question becomes why not suicide?
Why should one commit suicide if the practice improves quality of life/experience? This is independent of believing in rebirth or not believing in rebirth.

Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am Surely any answers such as 'I like being alive' are counter to the Buddhist principles of non-attachment and renunciation of sensory pleasures.
I don't think so. Enjoying life isn't necessarily enjoying sensory pleasures and isn't necessarily associated with suffering while attachment is necessarily associated with suffering.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am So if you deny rebirth as a Buddhist, but wish to live out this life, then why engage in any form of renunciation?
When insight supports renunciation and well-being through renunciation then renunciation is appropriate.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am Why not just enjoy it all whilst you are here? Eat as much cake, have as much sex, watch as much TV, as you want etc.
Again, enjoying life isn't necessarily enjoying sensory pleasures.
Laurens wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:24 am I'm starting to think that without rebirth Buddhism negates itself.
No doubt, rebirth is an essential element of buddhist doctrine.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ . (This is the esoteric essence of the yoga of continuous flow which is no different from the universal flux of materiality. Therefore exoteric natural science provides vital guidelines.) अञ्जलि वागीश्वर
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Ceisiwr
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

Many would say its because they are agnostic and so do not know what is on the other side. Your question is more pertinent for those who specifically hold a view of death being oblivion.
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

It seems agnosticism is another name for vicikicchā. :quote:
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
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DooDoot
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by DooDoot »

BrokenBones wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:59 am DooDoot... would that be a modified 8 fold Path or the one taught by the Buddha?
"Rebirth" appears not part of the Noble Truth however Right Speech is. Therefore, it appears the above is a "modified" path to somewhere else. Best wishes for whatever. :smile:
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:54 am It seems agnosticism is another name for vicikicchā. :quote:
No. It seems the opposite. As I previously said, please do not address me as "friend". Thank you. "Rebirth" appears not part of the Noble Truth. MN 117 clearly states any views about "rebirth" are not part of the Noble Path. Surely, speculatively entertaining thoughts: "I was such in the past"; "I will be reborn thus in the future", etc, nurture restlessness (vicikicchā). :smile:
Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:14 am Your question is more pertinent for those who specifically hold a view of death being oblivion.
What were the final words of the Buddha? Thank you :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

:rofl:
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
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Ceisiwr
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

DooDoot
What were the final words of the Buddha? Thank you
Little to do with what I said. Please quote where its said that nibbana = nothingness? Thanks.
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

MN 86
Laurens
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Re: The problem of secularised Buddhism

Post by Laurens »

Firstly let me clarify that I'm not at all suicidal, concern is appreciated but unwarranted.

To be clear I'm not stating that secular Buddhists actually want to commit suicide. But it does raise the question. In the rebirth model suicide does not solve the problem of suffering, as one will be reborn thus it is no legitimate escape. Without it, the result is the same we end up dead, and this is the release of suffering for the ignorant, malevolent fool as for the one who devotes their life to meditation etc. So the question becomes why put in the effort? If you are desperate for the cessation of suffering why not commit suicide? If you don't do it because you enjoy being alive, why engage in any renunciation and just fully enjoy what is here to enjoy whilst you can?

One can say that Buddhist practises can improve the quality of life for a secular person and this might be true. But so far as I understand it, this is never put forth as a path in traditional Buddhism. It seems to be either go the route of hardcore renunciate and try to attain liberation in this life, or lead a good life in the hopes that your subsequent births prove fortunate for attaining arahantship or at least to avoid hell, and aim for heaven etc. I don't recall the Buddha teaching in terms of making this life more pleasant as an end in itself.

I think taking out rebirth creates a big problem. The motivation in Buddhism is to escape the cycle of suffering, that cycle has to continue beyond this life, otherwise Nibbana becomes one of two options for escape, and thus the question becomes, why aim at Nibbana? Why not just either end your own life, if the suffering is unbearable, or if it is bearable just indulge yourself and enjoy life?

At the very least the secular Buddhist has to admit that suicide or hedonism is as rational a response to suffering as becoming a Buddhist if there is no rebirth
Last edited by Laurens on Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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