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Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

personperson Veteran
edited March 2012 in Modern Buddhism
by 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. Reputable scholars of Buddhism, both traditional and modern, all agree that the historical Buddha taught a view of karma and rebirth that was quite different from the previous takes on these ideas. Moreover, his teachings on the nature and origins of suffering as well as liberation are couched entirely within the framework of rebirth. Liberation is precisely freedom from the round of birth and death that is samsara. But for many contemporary people drawn to Buddhism, the teachings on karma and rebirth don’t sit well, so they are faced with a dilemma. A legitimate option is simply is adopt those theories and practices from various Buddhist traditions that one finds compelling and beneficial and set the others aside. An illegitimate option is to reinvent the Buddha and his teachings based on one’s own prejudices. This, unfortunately, is the route followed by Stephen Batchelor and other like-minded people who are intent on reshaping the Buddha in their own images.

http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2010/october/distorted-visions-of-buddhism-agnostic-and-atheist/
And a secular Buddhist rebuttal:

http://www.thesecularbuddhist.com/articles_response.php
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Comments

  • personperson Veteran
    I fall in with Alan Wallace. But I'm perfectly fine with someone practicing Buddhism without the more mystical elements, there is much benefit to be gained. I come into disagreement when that practice starts making any claims about what the true Buddhism is, particularly when that view goes in opposition to 2,500 years of tradition.

    Buddhist practice is refined and tested in each individuals practice and isn't merely a devotion to a historical recording of words. I find most of the secular arguments against spiritual realizations and insights ignore or deny that aspect.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Wallace has an ax to grind with Batchelor. It's merely his opinion that Batchelor and others are reshaping the Buddha in their image, it's not fact. There are Buddhism scholars in a number of countries, all doing research to try to determine what the Buddha taught, and what is a later influence. They don't all agree. And that's ok. Batchelor is just one of many.
  • Wallace's essay reads like relentless Batchelor bashing. Batchelor's response, however, has a lot of class:
    http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2011/january/an-open-letter-to-b-alan-wallace/
    So does the review of his book - a much more open, much kinder approach to a fellow Buddhist's public thoughts and worries.
    http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2010/october/editors-choice/ Scroll all the way down.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Fascinating. Thanks, @possibilities. :) He really makes a good point with Zen, doesn't he?
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    This is an interesting and important debate these people are having.
    I think it is a debate which can be found in all religions.
    In Christianity it can focus on creation versus evolution; in Buddhism it evolves around karma and rebirth.
    In both cases: you can’t hold the traditional faith for the full 100% without closing your eyes for reality; not in our days not anymore.

    God did not create the world in six days. At some point in time in Europe Christian belief clashed with findings of astronomy. Astronomy won. This world is not flat and it is not in the center of the universe.
    And no; there’s not any scientific support really for traditional beliefs in karma and rebirth; or for supernatural powers attained through meditation. Believe what you want, but don’t say there is proof. Ian Stevenson – by the way -was a collector of anecdotes. His researchs does not tip the scale by far.

    So imo we have the choice between either finding new ways of understanding our religion, or dismissing it entirely.
    We have to be honest about our world; about reality. My understanding is that the Buddha would have been the last person on earth who would encourage people to close their eyes and dig into their dogmatic beliefs.
    We have to find the heart of Buddhism and see how it fits into our world as it really is.
  • Buddha was agnostic in a sense.

    discovering and realizing the true nature of ourselves and the world.

    which is discovering the natural world as it is, just like science try to do but using different tools.
    doesn't matter whats in that world.

    it doesn't matter weather karma is in the form that is usually interpreted, or in the form that is more similar to biological evolution and functions.
    Or weather it is truly possible to know.

    Our job is to understand the natural world as best as it is possible to do so.

    And both versions of the interpretation allow for personal liberation from suffering, which is the goal of Buddhism.
  • Very interesting article by someone who has known both Wallace and Batchelor for 30+ years and sheds some light on their personal differences - and their different approaches to Buddhism.
    http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2011/april/an-old-story-of-faith-and-doubt-reminiscences-of-alan-wallace-and-stephen-batchelor/
  • Very interesting article by someone who has known both Wallace and Batchelor for 30+ years and sheds some light on their personal differences - and their different approaches to Buddhism.
    http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2011/april/an-old-story-of-faith-and-doubt-reminiscences-of-alan-wallace-and-stephen-batchelor/
    entertaining article!
    such drama!! haha

    i made a joke to my wife as she watched Beverly hills housewives, the joke was "I'd watch Tibetan housewives! or the same show but with monks.."

    thinking it should be pretty uneventful from the point of view of drama but it look like this guy Alan Wallace could carry this show on his shoulders ;)

  • personperson Veteran
    Very interesting article by someone who has known both Wallace and Batchelor for 30+ years and sheds some light on their personal differences - and their different approaches to Buddhism.
    http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2011/april/an-old-story-of-faith-and-doubt-reminiscences-of-alan-wallace-and-stephen-batchelor/
    Nice article, I had no idea that their two histories go so far back.
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    Ah, this debate again.

    image

    Did Buddha teach rebirth? Yes, even Batchelor had to admit that.

    BUT then one should question, is faith in rebirth essential to the teachings? It turns out, for some it is, for some it isn't. For me the discussion ends there.
  • Buddhism 'grew up' in India. And though there have been renaissances and Abrahamic etc other roots of modern life including the industrial resolution and the experiment of democracy the European and possibly American society is more similar to Indian ie Indo-European civilization than Tibetan or Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese or other cultures.

    I am probably taking this all out of context but it's 'food for thought' ;)
  • An illegitimate option is to reinvent the Buddha and his teachings based on one’s own prejudices. This, unfortunately, is the route followed by Stephen Batchelor and other like-minded people who are intent on reshaping the Buddha in their own images.
    There may be some truth in this - Stephen Batchelor does freely admit that he cherry-picks from the suttas, ie ditching the bits he doesn't like. And is SB really an authority on the suttas, or is he just an ex-monk who needs to make a living from writing books?
  • BUT then one should question, is faith in rebirth essential to the teachings? It turns out, for some it is, for some it isn't. For me the discussion ends there.
    I agree. Sadly not everyone can separate their personal beliefs from their understanding of Buddhist teachings.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Batchelor is a class act. I'm not such a class act, so I'll tell you exactly what I think.

    Alan Wallace doesn't have a clue.

    "When Buddhism encounters modernity it runs against widespread prejudices..." Nonsense. When Buddhism spreads into a new culture, it always encounters people who see the world in a slightly different way. That was true when Buddhism spread from India to China, and from China to Japan and Thailand, and from Tibet to the West. When Bodhidharma came to China from India, the Chinese considered that the "modern world" and Buddhism was translated into the world of the Taoist and became Chan, but minus the magical, tantric elements. The spread of Buddhism is a long history of fresh minds taking the stale traditions and making them "modern". Wallace might as well bitch about the tide coming in one more time and complain that "in these modern times the water keeps rising".

    And Tibetan Buddhists, while doing a lot of the criticism of Batchelor, are exactly the wrong people to complain, since their Tantric practice has nothing whatsoever to do with the original Buddhist teachings, and this transmigration and veneration of the Dalai is certainly counter to what Buddha taught.

    But they have the most to lose, I suppose, since literal reincarnation is a necessary belief to their practice. When we say, "Believe what you feel is true about reincarnatin, it's not important," they have to disagree. Their practice places this belief in the center. It is very important indeed to them and matters a great deal.

    And that's fine. All it means is, if reincarnation isn't your thing, then Tibetan Buddhism isn't for you.

    Buddhism started off agnostic, picked up a lot of supernatural elements as it matured into a religion in India, and over two thousand years, every new culture that heard the Dharma stripped away some of the extra baggage and translated it into something that transformed their lives. And, every single time, EVERY single time, someone like Alan Wallace was standing in the background wringing their hands and complaining that people weren't practicing that Olde Time Religion.

    I prefer to have faith in the Dharma. It has survived Confusionism, and Taoism, and Emperor Worship, and Bon Tantric demon worship, and will survive Secular Buddhism. The water doesn't care what shape the bowl is and it doesn't change the nature of the water to a thirsty man.





  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    <

    I agree. Sadly not everyone can separate their personal beliefs from their understanding of Buddhist teachings.

    Depending on how you mean that...

    If you mean that some people who consider themselves Buddhist vary in their acceptance of various aspects of Buddhism, then I agree, and feel that those people are really thinking about Buddhism.

    If you mean that some people have totally confused their own beliefs and Buddhist beliefs, than I also agree, and find that disturbing about them.

  • The spread of Buddhism is a long history of fresh minds taking the stale traditions and making them "modern".
    It's certainly true that the Dharma has gone through many cultural adaptations. Though I think it remains to be seen whether secular Buddhism is really modern or just reactionary.

    Spiny
  • If you mean that some people have totally confused their own beliefs and Buddhist beliefs, than I also agree, and find that disturbing about them.
    I would like to see somebody write a book called "Buddhism without disbeliefs" or maybe "Confessions of a Buddhist agnostic".

    ;)
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited March 2012
    <

    I agree. Sadly not everyone can separate their personal beliefs from their understanding of Buddhist teachings.



    Depending on how you mean that...

    If you mean that some people who consider themselves Buddhist vary in their acceptance of various aspects of Buddhism, then I agree, and feel that those people are really thinking about Buddhism.

    If you mean that some people have totally confused their own beliefs and Buddhist beliefs, than I also agree, and find that disturbing about them.

    I don't know what Norman wanted to say, but for me a discussion is only fruitful if anyone can learn something from it. If both camps have personally found their practice of dhamma is (un)dependent of a certain belief, than what is the use of discussing? I feel this discussion usually only solidifies the entranchments of both camps. Discussing whether the belief in rebirth is needed or unneeded is one I personally can't imagine the Buddha go into.

    Some people are skeptic by nature. However, I do think it is important to keep an open mind and leave the possibility of rebirth open; as a result it can naturally develop as a factor of the path, either by insight or faith. But to say that others need to belief in it, because it is in the scriptures, no. Taking beliefs because the Buddha spoke them is unwise. The Buddha also took no teaching for granted until he was sure he found what he was looking for by his own experience.

    Also I have to add it is totally another thing when people start to distort the (context of the) Buddha's teachings to fit their own view, and bring this to the public. It may confuse people a lot and even send them the wrong way. Of course, our interpretation of the suttas is shaped by our own views, but some people go really far in altering them - taking obvious quotes or suttas out of the full context. A rare few even go as far as flat out denying the Buddha taught rebirth as part of the path.. Both of these things I think are unwise to do, so I can understand Wallace's reaction if he sees Batchelor is doing this.

    In this context, here you can also find a reaction to the book. I especially like this paragraph.
    It is worth considering what this text [Kalama Sutta] actually does say about accepting and rejecting teachings. The Buddha lists a number of invalid reasons for accepting a view. These include being misled by hearsay or tradition or by proficiency in the scriptures, but also, please note, by logic and inference. The Buddha then gives some valid reasons for accepting a teaching; these are that the teaching when put into practice conduces to one's well-being and happiness and, significantly, that the teaching is one "praised by the wise." Further, when one finds such a teaching, then one should "undertake and abide in it." This is hardly a recommendation for a persistent agnosticism, nor is it a blanket condemnation of authority.
    What it comes down to is our own experience.
  • personperson Veteran
    To me whether one finds a belief in rebirth necessary or not depends upon what one wants out of Buddhism. If ones goal is a happier, more fullfilled life then rebirth is unneccesary. If ones goal is liberation or enlightenment then looking at my mind I don't think its possible in this one life.

    By working for liberation and enlightenment one may or may not find happiness in this life, I think usually we do. If by working for happiness in this life we may or may not find liberation and enlightenment as well, maybe we usually do too.
  • Then it doesn't depend...
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    The path is supposed to be "good in the beginning, the middle and the end" ;)
  • personperson Veteran
    Then it doesn't depend...
    Maybe not. In general I think we hit what we're aiming for. I don't know what happens beyond this life or how our intentions effect it. Maybe enlightenment is a big target and is easy to hit, maybe its not. I honestly don't know but I'm putting my money on that it does.

  • There are Buddhism scholars in a number of countries, all doing research to try to determine what the Buddha taught, and what is a later influence. They don't all agree. And that's ok. Batchelor is just one of many.

    But SB doesn't claim to be a scholar....
  • We are not reshaping anything. We are just avoiding or don't believe in the supernatural. Why believe in something which has no proof? If I should be required to believe in hungry ghosts, rebirth, karma, and nirvana. Then I should go back to Christianity to believe a dead Jew can save my soul just for believing in him. Christianity is much better because it's the lazy way to "salvation" and I am feared to being good person.
  • We are not reshaping anything. We are just avoiding or don't believe in the supernatural. Why believe in something which has no proof? If I should be required to believe in hungry ghosts, rebirth, karma, and nirvana. Then I should go back to Christianity to believe a dead Jew can save my soul just for believing in him. Christianity is much better because it's the lazy way to "salvation" and I am feared to being good person.
    You are a buddhist that does not believe in Nirvana?
    :screwy:

    For real?
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited March 2012
    We are not reshaping anything. We are just avoiding or don't believe in the supernatural. Why believe in something which has no proof? If I should be required to believe in hungry ghosts, rebirth, karma, and nirvana. Then I should go back to Christianity to believe a dead Jew can save my soul just for believing in him. Christianity is much better because it's the lazy way to "salvation" and I am feared to being good person.
    Nobody says there is a general tendency to reshape things, or that 'you' are reshaping. The quoted essay was a book review on a single book. At least, I think you are referring to that?

    With respect to that I can agree with Wallace on some points. Batchelor for example states in his book something in the lines of "the Buddha had no fundamental insight into the nature of the universe" (been a while since I read it). This goes directly against the suttas and the general lines of thought in Buddhism, so it is reshaping. Batchelor did similar things on other occasions. One of the things I remember from my quick read is that his explanation of Dependent Origination is a bit dodgy as well in my eyes.

    I'm certainly not saying all skeptics do this and I also don't say having a different opinion is bad. It doesn't even matter if the ideas of Batchelor are wrong or right, but one certainly has to be mindful not to just mix ones own ideas with those of the Buddha and presenting them like that's still pure, or like that's a recovery of the original ideas of the Buddha. Because it's not.
  • I support the Philosophy of Buddhism. I don't see evidence for nirvana or expect any type of salvation when I die.

    I try my best to keep within the Eightfold path. I believe life is suffering and attachment is a key role in that suffering. I do believe we can end our suffering, but I don't believe in the nirvana which religious Buddhism endorses.

    The Buddha is the greatest psychologist of all time I believe and the best philosophers in the world.
  • I support the Philosophy of Buddhism. I don't see evidence for nirvana or expect any type of salvation when I die.

    I try my best to keep within the Eightfold path. I believe life is suffering and attachment is a key role in that suffering. I do believe we can end our suffering, but I don't believe in the nirvana which religious Buddhism endorses.

    The Buddha is the greatest psychologist of all time I believe and the best philosophers in the world.
    Oh now I remember you are That Guy!

    Alright don't mind me. But God do I miss DD.

    /Victor

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    We are not reshaping anything. We are just avoiding or don't believe in the supernatural. Why believe in something which has no proof? If I should be required to believe in hungry ghosts, rebirth, karma, and nirvana. Then I should go back to Christianity to believe a dead Jew can save my soul just for believing in him. Christianity is much better because it's the lazy way to "salvation" and I am feared to being good person.


    You are a buddhist that does not believe in Nirvana?
    :screwy:

    For real?
    I never agree with B5C. But, here I will have to say that in my view he is treating Buddhism as a philosophy, not a religion. And that is an historical viewpoint that has merits. Others treat Buddhism as a religion. That is an historical viewpoint that has merits. Nothing screwy about it. It's a different, but valid viewpoint.

  • VictoriousVictorious Veteran
    edited March 2012
    @vinlyn.

    There is the mystical side to Nirvana and then there is the logical rational side. Both these are Important to understand but at least if you are using the philosophical side you GOT to understand the logical side of Nirvana and how it correlates with the Philosophy of Buddhism.

    Without Nirvana there is no point to Buddhism. The Concept of Nirvana is what differentiates Buddhism and makes it stand out. Everything else in Buddhism is derived from that concept since the logical thruth value of Dhamma is connected to it.

    /Victor

    EDIT:
    And yeah I forgot. vinlyn for heavens sake COME ON. Are you serious? Buddhism without Nirvana?
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited March 2012
    @Victorious
    What exactly is Nirvana?
    Believing in Nirvana is not such a simple thing. The Buddha (imho) didn’t stress (or even teach) reaching some kind of heavenly afterlife when finally we die for good.

    He taught “waking up” or “liberation’ or “seeing things as they truly are”. Very practical things which point at our present condition; not at some afterlife beyond rebirth.
    When Buddha reached enlightenment he said something like “Builder of this house, you are seen. You will build this house no more”. (It’s famous enough, I hope, to go without reference).
    That’s not saying; wow I will go to this wonderful place after I die.

    The point I’m trying to make: Buddhism is relevant to our present lives. It’s a practical thing.
    We can follow Buddhism (undistorted) without having any particular ideas about what happens after death.

  • VictoriousVictorious Veteran
    edited March 2012
    @Victorious
    What exactly is Nirvana?
    Believing in Nirvana is not such a simple thing. The Buddha (imho) didn’t stress (or even teach) reaching some kind of heavenly afterlife when finally we die for good.
    I never implied that. So agreed! No heavenly afterlife. Thats Christianity or Hinduism.

    He taught “waking up” or “liberation’ or “seeing things as they truly are”. Very practical things which point at our present condition; not at some afterlife beyond rebirth.
    When Buddha reached enlightenment he said something like “Builder of this house, you are seen. You will build this house no more”. (It’s famous enough, I hope, to go without reference).
    That’s not saying; wow I will go to this wonderful place after I die.

    The point I’m trying to make: Buddhism is relevant to our present lives. It’s a practical thing.
    We can follow Buddhism (undistorted) without having any particular ideas about what happens after death.
    Who said anything after Death? On the contrary Nibbana is here and now in this life.
    What you described in the beginning of this is nibbana. In this life. Seeing reality as it really is. Learning to apply it so that the house does not get built. That is what is meant but there is much more to it than that.

    So again, agreed!

    /Victor
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited March 2012
    @Victorious

    The original post quoted:
    “Moreover, his teachings on the nature and origins of suffering as well as liberation are couched entirely within the framework of rebirth. Liberation is precisely freedom from the round of birth and death that is samsara.”
    I don’t like having to adopt the idea of rebirth, or else...getting disqualified as a cherry-picking distorted Buddhist.
    So when we agree that Nirvana (whatever it is) is relevant here and now in this life, I’m a happy man.
  • @zenff I have never seen you live but, distortion or not, I have no doubt you look incredible when you are cherrypicking! No one will dare disqualify you!

    Myself I like papaya!

    Cheers
    Victor
  • Yes, @Victorious, Buddhism without Nirvana, if by that you mean the end of the cycle of reincarnation. What is the use of Buddhism without Nirvana? The end of suffering in this life. Nowhere in the Noble Truths is Nirvana given as the reason for practicing the Middle Way.

    There is no difference between someone saying Christianity is all about making it into Heaven and Buddhism is about making it to Nirvana. Both miss the point about what it means to live today. That is where some of us come from.
  • We can follow Buddhism (undistorted) without having any particular ideas about what happens after death.
    Yes, of course. Which means that trying to distort Buddhist teachings merely so they conform with our current belief system is unecessary and pointless.

    Spiny
  • ..getting disqualified as a cherry-picking distorted Buddhist.

    I don't have a problem with people cherry-picking, what concerns me is people who cherry-pick and then claim that they haven't. ;)
  • When I say Nibbana I mean this!

    NIBBANA

    A. III. 55
    Enraptured with lust, enraged with anger, blinded by delusion,
    overwhelmed, with mind ensnared, man aims at his
    own ruin, at the ruin of others, at the ruin of both, and he
    experiences mental pain and grief. But, if lust, anger, and
    delusion are given up, man aims neither at his own ruin, nor
    at the ruin of others, nor at the ruin of both and he experiences
    no mental pain and grief. Thus is Nibbana immediate,
    visible in this life, inviting, attractive, and comprehensible to
    the wise.

    S.XXXVIII.1
    The extinction of greed, the extinction of hate, the extinction
    of delusion: this, indeed, is called Nibbana.

    I can not really understand what is so 'Religious' about this definition of Nibbana? Somebody care to explain?

    /Victor

  • What is the use of Buddhism without Nirvana? The end of suffering in this life.
    But in the suttas the cessation of dukkha ( suffering ) is synonymous with Nibbana.
  • ..getting disqualified as a cherry-picking distorted Buddhist.



    I don't have a problem with people cherry-picking, what concerns me is people who cherry-pick and then claim that they haven't. ;)
    Everyone "cherry picks" or focuses on the parts of the Dharma that apply to their own practice. There are hundreds of sutras and as many ways to practice the Dharma. You do the same thing we all do when you assign priority to what works for you. It's just easier to divide the world into people who think like us and people who are wrong, than people who think like us and people who think different.
  • ..getting disqualified as a cherry-picking distorted Buddhist.



    I don't have a problem with people cherry-picking, what concerns me is people who cherry-pick and then claim that they haven't. ;)


    Everyone "cherry picks" or focuses on the parts of the Dharma that apply to their own practice. There are hundreds of sutras and as many ways to practice the Dharma. You do the same thing we all do when you assign priority to what works for you. It's just easier to divide the world into people who think like us and people who are wrong, than people who think like us and people who think different.
    But like I said, what concerns me is when people cherry-pick the bits they like and then pretend they have arrived at a superior intepretation.
  • What is the use of Buddhism without Nirvana? The end of suffering in this life.


    But in the suttas the cessation of dukkha ( suffering ) is synonymous with Nibbana.
    I agree it means the same thing to a lot of Buddhists and that is how it is explained when questions arise. I disagree a person has to believe in reincarnation for elimination of suffering to be the purpose in their practice, and tend not to use the word because for many people, Nibbana is equated with an actual realm instead of a state of mind.

    In what way does nonbelief stop anyone from seeing Nibbana as the goal of their practice?
  • S.XXXVIII.1
    The extinction of greed, the extinction of hate, the extinction
    of delusion: this, indeed, is called Nibbana.

    I can not really understand what is so 'Religious' about this definition of Nibbana?
    Perhaps people are unclear about the distinction between Nibbana ( enlightenment ) and Pari-nibbana ( death of a Buddha )?



  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited March 2012
    We can follow Buddhism (undistorted) without having any particular ideas about what happens after death.


    Yes, of course. Which means that trying to distort Buddhist teachings merely so they conform with our current belief system is unecessary and pointless.

    Spiny
    Ah, I think you turned something around.
    Karma and rebirth is the belief system.
    And it just doesn’t make much sense, sorry.

    Our present worldview is open to change; that’s what's good about it. It’s not made up of fixed dogmatic ideas. Science is a method not a dogma.
    I believe there’s a place for Buddhism in this dynamic and changing world because Buddhist practice also is a method, not a dogma.
  • We can follow Buddhism (undistorted) without having any particular ideas about what happens after death.


    Yes, of course. Which means that trying to distort Buddhist teachings merely so they conform with our current belief system is unecessary and pointless.

    Spiny


    Ah, I think you turned something around.
    Karma and rebirth is the belief system.
    And it just doesn’t make much sense, sorry.

    Our present worldview is open to change; that’s what's good about it. It’s not made up of fixed dogmatic ideas. Science is a method not a dogma.
    I believe there’s a place for Buddhism in this dynamic and changing world because Buddhist practice also is a method, not a dogma.
    There are repeated references to karma and rebirth in the suttas. There is no need to believe these things, but also no need to disbelieve them. No need to impose your preconceptions on what the suttas and sutras say.


  • Buddhist practice also is a method, not a dogma.
    It depends what you mean by "dogma". Do you think the Four Noble Truths are dogma? Calling them "Truths" sounds a bit dogmatic...
    ;)
  • VictoriousVictorious Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Oh yeah and this. What is so supernatural about this? This is pure unadorned logic! It is so darn beautiful that it is perfekt! I mean have you seen a women this attractive? How can you say this is superstition?

    THE IMMUTABLE
    Ud. VIII. 1 och Ud. VIII. 3
    Truly, there is a realm, where there is neither the solid, nor the
    fluid, neither heat, nor motion, neither this world, nor any
    other world, neither sun nor moon.
    This I call neither arising, nor passing away, neither standing
    still, nor being born, nor dying. There is neither foothold, nor
    development, nor any basis. This is the end of suffering.
    There is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If
    there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated, this Uncreated,
    this Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the
    originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible.
    But since there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated,
    Unformed, therefore is escape possible from the world of the
    born, the originated, the created, the formed.

    /Victor
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Buddhist practice also is a method, not a dogma.


    It depends what you mean by "dogma". Do you think the Four Noble Truths are dogma? Calling them "Truths" sounds a bit dogmatic...
    ;)
    Good point.
    From now on let's call them the Four Possible Truths :D
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    @vinlyn.

    Without Nirvana there is no point to Buddhism. The Concept of Nirvana is what differentiates Buddhism and makes it stand out. Everything else in Buddhism is derived from that concept since the logical thruth value of Dhamma is connected to it.

    /Victor

    EDIT:
    And yeah I forgot. vinlyn for heavens sake COME ON. Are you serious? Buddhism without Nirvana?
    I think you have a very cynical viewpoint about Buddhism, because if it turns out that there is no such thing as actual nirvanna -- after all, it's never been proven -- then in your view, the whole of Buddhism gets flushed down the toilet.

    Looking at it as a philosophical system, which millions do, still leaves Buddhism as one of the great -- and valid -- moral systems of man.

    Looking at it as a philosophical system, one can still use the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path as a means to greatly reduce suffering, which is as far as anyone you actually know has done.

  • Nirvana is the absence of Dukkha... greed, hatred, and delusion. In Sangha, in a community of practitioners... realizing Nirvana ....a taste of freedom, is not mysterious or a big deal. What matters is that old habits die hard and practice goes on, and not to cling..... to move on.
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