Faith and Reliability

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 5701
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Mae Wang Huai Rin, Li District, Lamphun

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Dhammanando »

binocular wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:40 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:55 pmTry telling that to Mrs. Marmaduke Moore. Or the Vicar of Bray. Or any of these guys.
Clearly, you jest, sir.
Not in the case of the third link, which includes, for example, the multiple leaps to faith of St Augustine.
Svākkhātaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, sandiṭṭhikam’akālikaṃ,
Yattha amoghā pabbajjā, appamattassa sikkhato.


“The holy life is well proclaimed,
directly visible, immediate,
Where not in vain is the going forth
of one who trains heedfully.”
— Sela Sutta
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Dhammanando wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:59 pmNot in the case of the third link, which includes, for example, the multiple leaps to faith of St Augustine.
Multiple conversions from one religion to another don't equate to multiple leaps to faith.
For example, people who go from one Christian religion to another sometimes do so as an act of refinement or clarification, going from what they believe is a Christian religion that has a less true idea of God to one that has a more true idea of God, so for such people, there are multiple conversions within one leap to faith. (And if they were born and raised into a Christian religion, such people possibly never actually took a/any leap to faith to begin with.)
Similar for people who go from one monotheistic religion to another.

For some people, the leap to faith may consist of leaping to the belief "I can be whatever religion I want to be" (upon which they just go with the flow of their minds), which makes their subsequent religious choices incomparable to the choices of those people who leaped to some specific religious belief.

We'd have to look into each name on that list to establish the exact nature of those conversions and leaps to faith.

There are several further problems with that list:
1. First-person accounts are not always available. Several people have been assumed by others to convert to this or that religion, but there is no personal testimony of their conversion.
2. Several people on that list converted for political or economic reasons. Religious conversions motivated by economic, social, or political reasons don't count as conversions for religious reasons. For the purposes of this discussion, we're interested only in conversions and leaps to faith for religious reasons.
3. The list is relatively short.


There is a passage in the suttas that talks about people who were previously adherents of some other religion before coming in contact with the Buddha's teachings, and that they have specific problems with it. How so?
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7424
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:52 am There is a passage in the suttas that talks about people who were previously adherents of some other religion before coming in contact with the Buddha's teachings, and that they have specific problems with it. How so?
Isn't that because the fetter of doubt is not abandoned until stream entry?
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:48 am
binocular wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:52 am There is a passage in the suttas that talks about people who were previously adherents of some other religion before coming in contact with the Buddha's teachings, and that they have specific problems with it. How so?
Isn't that because the fetter of doubt is not abandoned until stream entry?
Perhaps. But this applies for everyone anyway, regardless of their religious history.

The nature of a person's doubt or lack of certainty is shaped by their religious history. Those who were previously adherents of other paths will surely have different doubts, different uncertainties in regard to the Buddha's teachings than those without such a history.

People who were previously adherents of other paths have lost their "epistemic virginity" so to speak. They are not tabulae rasae anymore. Such a person also experiences a leap to faith or the prospect of a leap to faith differently than someone who has never taken one before.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
Pulsar
Posts: 1041
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Pulsar »

Dear Binocular: I love your reasoning,
Multiple conversions from one religion to another don't equate to multiple leaps to faith.
For example, people who go from one Christian religion to another sometimes do so as an act of refinement or clarification, going from what they believe is a Christian religion that has a less true idea of God to one that has a more true idea of God, so for such people, there are multiple conversions within one leap to faith. (And if they were born and raised into a Christian religion, such people possibly never actually took a/any leap to faith to begin with.)
Similar for people who go from one monotheistic religion to another.

For some people, the leap to faith may consist of leaping to the belief "I can be whatever religion I want to be" (upon which they just go with the flow of their minds), which makes their subsequent religious choices incomparable to the choices of those people who leaped to some specific religious belief.

We'd have to look into each name on that list to establish the exact nature of those conversions and leaps to faith.
You are plain brilliant, when I said 'Multiple leaps of faith' I totally meant "The Void" where the Arahants dwelled, free of defilement, AKA Nibbana. One does not have to die, to get nibbanized.
the multiple leaps to faith of St Augustine.
What does that even mean in the context of Buddhism, What was St Augustine leaping into?
I have no idea. I am totally ignorant of these other faiths.
Is it into the idea that God will make Augustine her/his child and save the Saint from the cruelties of Samsara? Or was
the saint leaping into the arms of Jesus or Mary? Who anointed Augustine a saint?
According to Buddha that would be leaps
into Micca ditthi? Right?
Sometimes you fail to see how clever you are, and undermine your potential.
Don't be so. You already understand the Buddha enuf, to take that leap of faith.
Believe me.
With love :candle:
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Pulsar wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:45 pm Sometimes you fail to see how clever you are, and undermine your potential.
Don't be so. You already understand the Buddha enuf, to take that leap of faith.
No. I refuse to make religious choices out of desperation, under any other kind of durress, or because of the sunk cost effect.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7424
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:33 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:48 am
binocular wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:52 am There is a passage in the suttas that talks about people who were previously adherents of some other religion before coming in contact with the Buddha's teachings, and that they have specific problems with it. How so?
Isn't that because the fetter of doubt is not abandoned until stream entry?
Perhaps. But this applies for everyone anyway, regardless of their religious history.

The nature of a person's doubt or lack of certainty is shaped by their religious history. Those who were previously adherents of other paths will surely have different doubts, different uncertainties in regard to the Buddha's teachings than those without such a history.

People who were previously adherents of other paths have lost their "epistemic virginity" so to speak. They are not tabulae rasae anymore. Such a person also experiences a leap to faith or the prospect of a leap to faith differently than someone who has never taken one before.
People have doubts regarding the Triple Gem. These may well be conditioned by previous experiences.

Can you explain what you mean by a "leap to faith"? It sounds very dramatic, an all or nothing, do or die action. Most people I know just tried out aspects of the teachings and gradually gained confidence in them. A bit like trying out Pilates, or a new diet, or a new relationship. Their trust (because that's what the Pali word seems to mean) just developed from there, if at all.
Pulsar
Posts: 1041
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Pulsar »

Binocular wrote
No. I refuse to make religious choices out of desperation, under any other kind of durress, or because of the sunk cost effect.
"Sunk cost" effect, do you mean you have invested too much without getting anything in
return? there are things that cannot be measured... a thing you learned years ago,
might be retrieved at the most unexpected moment, and save you from a situation that is unsavory...
I am trying to use lang. carefully here.
I agree one must not make religious choices out of desperation, but some when desperate 'cause
their faith in God has not solved life's angst, might see the truth in Buddha's way.
Buddha never promised anything.
When Dhotaka said to him in Parayanavagga
"The eye that sees everything, please, Man of Sakaya, free me from confusion"
Buddha's response was
"It is not in my practice to free anyone, from confusion, from doubt,
when you have understood the doctrine, thus you cross the flood.
It is a peace which, when one understands via Sati and clear knowing (Steps 7 and 8 of 8-fold path), he releases his hold on the world.
The drawback in Buddhism is that Buddha is not there to hold your hand, like a god might.
But unlike a god, he offers you a very fine set of tools, to work with....
His teaching is not for everybody... It is for the person who has found no other way out of
suffering. It requires conviction, this is true.
Leap of faith is just a form of expression. One sees a rose drop its petals and die.
and the observer becomes so distraught and thinks "I must find a way to the deathless"
do you get my drift? it is the small everyday things of life, that gives the courage to follow
the Buddha.
Good night dearest Binocular! :candle:
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:15 pmCan you explain what you mean by a "leap to faith"?
It's a Kierkegaardian term (often rendered incorrectly as "leap of faith"):
A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in or accepting something outside the boundaries of reason.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_f ... 20a%20leap.
It sounds very dramatic, an all or nothing, do or die action.
Because in terms of quality, it is an all or nothing, do or die action.
Most people I know just tried out aspects of the teachings and gradually gained confidence in them. A bit like trying out Pilates, or a new diet, or a new relationship. Their trust (because that's what the Pali word seems to mean) just developed from there, if at all.
This describes quantity, not quality.

Many things, including in religion/spirituality, work by the principle of the placebo: they work because one believes they work.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7424
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:33 am
Sam Vara wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:15 pmCan you explain what you mean by a "leap to faith"?
It's a Kierkegaardian term (often rendered incorrectly as "leap of faith"):
A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in or accepting something outside the boundaries of reason.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_f ... 20a%20leap.
It sounds very dramatic, an all or nothing, do or die action.
Because in terms of quality, it is an all or nothing, do or die action.
Yes, it might have been for Kierkegaard, or for some people who think that their immortal souls somehow hang in the balance, but what has this got to do with Buddhism?
This describes quantity, not quality.
What is the difference here between quantity and quality? Again, where does the Buddha or a modern commentary make this distinction?
Many things, including in religion/spirituality, work by the principle of the placebo: they work because one believes they work.
And again, what has this got to do with Buddhism? Are you saying that one either needs to make some dramatic "leap to faith" and accept something outside the boundaries of reason, or put up with placebos; there being nothing outside these two options?

Try applying these highfalutin' concepts to the many people I know who have taken up meditation as a first step in Dhamma, because of recommendations from friends. Is that a "leap to faith"? Is is quantitative or qualitative? Is this something which must "work by the principle of the placebo"?
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Pulsar wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:26 pm"Sunk cost" effect, do you mean you have invested too much without getting anything in
return? there are things that cannot be measured... a thing you learned years ago,
might be retrieved at the most unexpected moment, and save you from a situation that is unsavory...
Ah yes, the "just in case" mentality. It had me hoarding things for decades, to no avail.
Buddha never promised anything.
Of course he did. Take MN 60, for example.
When Dhotaka said to him in Parayanavagga
"The eye that sees everything, please, Man of Sakaya, free me from confusion"
Buddha's response was
"It is not in my practice to free anyone, from confusion, from doubt,
when you have understood the doctrine, thus you cross the flood.
Which is the same type of argument that other religions make, placing the whole burden solely on the individual who is supposed to take for granted that the religion is true to begin with.
The drawback in Buddhism is that Buddha is not there to hold your hand, like a god might.
?? Gods do not hold people's hands.
But unlike a god, he offers you a very fine set of tools, to work with....
And all the other religions claim the same in their own favor.
it is the small everyday things of life, that gives the courage to follow the Buddha.
It's the small everyday things, esp. those done by Buddhists, that convince one that doing so is a mistake.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:47 amWhat is the difference here between quantity and quality?
When you decide to shovel a heap of coal into your basement, that's about quality.
When you actually shovel it, little by little, that's about quantity.

When you decide that meditating will be good for you, that's about quality.
When you actually meditate day by day, that's about quantity.

The more you invest, the less likely you are to quit, even if there seems to be no improvement from your practice, because you're bound by the sunk cost effect.
Again, where does the Buddha or a modern commentary make this distinction?
We're talking about the meta-epistemology of Buddhism.
You're not going to find any of this in the suttas or the commentaries. But it is something that a person does in the back of their mind, sometimes not even being aware of it, in order to "practice" Buddhism.
Are you saying that one either needs to make some dramatic "leap to faith" and accept something outside the boundaries of reason, or put up with placebos; there being nothing outside these two options?
Yes.
Try applying these highfalutin' concepts to the many people I know who have taken up meditation as a first step in Dhamma, because of recommendations from friends. Is that a "leap to faith"? Is is quantitative or qualitative? Is this something which must "work by the principle of the placebo"?
Yes, absolutely.
They had faith that it would work, they did it, and then it worked. But this is not verification; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy or the placebo effect. The placebo effect is real. It works. The only catch is that the person must have that initial faith, must be able to initially take for granted that something is good, true, before doing it, in order for the doing to prove worthwhile.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 7424
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:36 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:47 amWhat is the difference here between quantity and quality?
When you decide to shovel a heap of coal into your basement, that's about quality.
When you actually shovel it, little by little, that's about quantity.

When you decide that meditating will be good for you, that's about quality.
When you actually meditate day by day, that's about quantity.
Ah, yes, I understand. So the initial decision to do something is qualitative; keeping on doing it once you have started is quantitative.
The more you invest, the less likely you are to quit, even if there seems to be no improvement from your practice, because you're bound by the sunk cost effect.
That doesn't hold, because nobody is "bound" by the sunk costs of anything. Sometimes, sunk costs appear to justify continuing with an investment, but sometimes they don't. If they were always so bound, then once I had started to shovel coal into my basement, I couldn't stop if my wife informed me that we had no fire or furnace to burn it with. People invest huge amounts of time and energy into things - including Buddhist practice - and quit. Although, in your case, as Ceisiwr reminds us, you appear to have sunk massive amounts of energy and time into this forum and remain as hostile towards and ignorant of Buddhism as you were 11 years ago. But not everyone is like this.
We're talking about the meta-epistemology of Buddhism.
Sounds impressive! Is there a book or an article or something, or can you outline what the main themes are in the meta-epistemology of Buddhism? If we are only talking about the difference between deciding to start something and carrying on doing it, there are lots of examples in the suttas. In fact, it looks as if you are using a lot of complicated and imperfectly understood concepts in order to talk about something very simple indeed.
You're not going to find any of this in the suttas or the commentaries. But it is something that a person does in the back of their mind, sometimes not even being aware of it, in order to "practice" Buddhism.
Ah, so you have found out something that Buddhists do, but they are unaware of doing? State clearly what it is, please.
Are you saying that one either needs to make some dramatic "leap to faith" and accept something outside the boundaries of reason, or put up with placebos; there being nothing outside these two options?
Yes.
So deciding to shovel coal. Is this a dramatic leap of faith, Kierkegaard-style, or is it putting up with placebos?
They had faith that it would work, they did it, and then it worked. But this is not verification; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy or the placebo effect. The placebo effect is real. It works. The only catch is that the person must have that initial faith, must be able to initially take for granted that something is good, true, before doing it, in order for the doing to prove worthwhile.
Two things wrong with this. Trying something out to see if it works is not really what Kierkegaard or anyone else really means by a leap to faith. That seems like a massive over-dramatisation. If it applies to someone taking up meditation to see if it improves their life, it would also apply to other trivial examples of new activities.

Second, there is no way that you could establish whether your hypothesis is true. What possible verification could there be, other than the fact that the placebo effect works elsewhere? We can only know about the placebo effect because we can test people unknowingly taking substances which are inert. How could we get people unknowingly practising Buddhism? What would that look like? Personal experience is the only possible verification, which is what the suttas say.
Last edited by Sam Vara on Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Pulsar
Posts: 1041
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: Faith and Reliability

Post by Pulsar »

Binocular wrote
It's the small everyday things, esp. those done by Buddhists, that convince one that doing so is a mistake.
In defense of Pulsar, the comment did not discriminate between Buddhists and Non-buddhist. For me it would be hard to create categories like this, esp since based on what is said on chat groups, there is no consensus on what a buddhist is or who a buddhist is.
Besides when I said 'small everyday things',
I meant stuff like, how the sunsets change from day to day,
or how the rivers flow differently from one area to another, negotiating obstacles,
or how the appearance of clouds change reflecting the changing feelings. Or how a person picks up colorful Dahalias and place them in a vase tenderly, only to see the flowers die, in just a few days.
Nothing stays the same forever, yet we get attached to things around us in spite of
Buddha's admonition.

Regarding your saying that Buddha promised, (I assume you mean Nibbana). If you read him clearly, what he said was if you follow the 8-fold path and design that to break up DO, you will win the lottery in other words, but not if you follow the path willy-nilly.
Just defending Buddha here.

As for other religions, you smart one! are well read and well practiced in other religions based on your
comment. I am totally in the dark in this regard.
Pl tell me what is in the tool box of Jesus and Mohammed, or Lord Vishnu or Indra.
With love :candle:
Post Reply