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I found this Batchelor quote interesting

vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

"The Buddha was not a mystic. His awakening was not a shattering insight into a transcendent Truth that reveled to him the mysteries of God. He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick. Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening. In describing to the five ascetics what his awakening meant, he spoke of having discovered completed freedom of heart and mind from the compulsions of craving. He called such freedom the taste of the dharma."

This is the Buddhism in which I believe.

What are your thoughts?

Hamsaka
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Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    I'd have to know more about Batchelor's take on relevant sutra items. For example, the teaching about the multiple realms of existence. How did the Buddha come by that "knowledge", or does Batchelor consider that and related sutras to be later additions to the canon? And how did the Buddha come by his taste of freedom? Was that the sole result of his marathon meditation session under the Bodhi tree? Or did he have other insights? Is it true he experienced temptations there?

    More info needed.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    It would be helpful to know where the quote came from so as to put it into context with what else was being said at the time. This sentence: "He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick," I think the Buddha would've agreed with because the Buddha said that anyone can learn his teachings. I think people then and now would consider him a mystic - what's a mystic, after all...

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    "The Buddha was not a mystic. His awakening was not a shattering insight into a transcendent Truth that reveled to him the mysteries of God. He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick. Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening. In describing to the five ascetics what his awakening meant, he spoke of having discovered completed freedom of heart and mind from the compulsions of craving. He called such freedom the taste of the dharma."

    This is the Buddhism in which I believe.

    What are your thoughts?

    Well it does cut out a lot of the religious red tape that Buddhism has accumulated over the centuries...But I still feel that 'mystic' is an appropriate term to use for the Buddha's exploration of the mind's contents...

    The mind and its workings are still somewhat of a mystery for many of us psychonauts (mystics) ...

    @silver https://triangulations.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/the-buddha-was-not-a-mystic-not-believing-buddhism/

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @silver said:
    It would be helpful to know where the quote came from so as to put it into context with what else was being said at the time. This sentence: "He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick," I think the Buddha would've agreed with because the Buddha said that anyone can learn his teachings. I think people then and now would consider him a mystic - what's a mystic, after all...

    "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    I'd have to know more about Batchelor's take on relevant sutra items. For example, the teaching about the multiple realms of existence. How did the Buddha come by that "knowledge", or does Batchelor consider that and related sutras to be later additions to the canon? And how did the Buddha come by his taste of freedom? Was that the sole result of his marathon meditation session under the Bodhi tree? Or did he have other insights? Is it true he experienced temptations there?

    More info needed.

    Can't help you. I am just getting started on Batchelor.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Thank you for the link, @Shoshin...this sentence: " Over time, increasing emphasis has been placed on a single Absolute Truth, such as “the Deathless,” “the Unconditioned,” “the Void,” “Nirvana,” “Buddha Nature,” etc., rather than on an interwoven complex of truths," clarifies things for me and in my mind, underscoring "...interwoven complex of truths." I wouldn't know how else to refer to him, but as a mystic, but I've never given the lexical definition of the word much thought. It sounds good to me.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    I thought a mystic was just someone who thinks the comprehension of the truth is beyond the purview of the intellect.
    What spiritual explorer here, except those attached to their intellect, would then not qualify to also be called mystic?

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @how I agree, we practitioners (novices and the more experienced ) are all on the magical mystery tour of the mind.... It's still all a mystery to me...

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2015

    How does he know what Buddha thought?

    If he expressed certain material at his first sermon at deer park to a handful of yogis who had practiced for 20 years or more of aeseticism and yoga every day all day why say that is the only material he gave? I would say he actually had a whole lot of material for less accomplished students than the yogis at deer park. And then another train of thought is that maybe he did know something about 'cosmology' or whatever that he did not teach his first sermon at deer park. Or maybe even other streams of thought than in the pali canon. There were many religious yogis at that time who knew about yoga and esoteric knowledge. Perhaps Buddha taught to his audience. To those yogis he gave an oral transmission of Buddha nature and so forth. Or perhaps he just taught the nature of mind and then later additions expanded the dharma doors more and more going for so called 84000 dharma doors.

    HamsakaRowan1980
  • Buddha said contradictory things. In one sutra he said he withheld no teachings. In a different sutra he said that what he had taught was like a handful of leaves compared to the forest of leaves of what he knew.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Nobody anywhere has said that the Buddha's insight had to do with God.

    silverRowan1980
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Buddha said contradictory things. In one sutra he said he withheld no teachings. In a different sutra he said that what he had taught was like a handful of leaves compared to the forest of leaves of what he knew.

    A person can truthfully say they 'withhold no teachings' while offering a handful of leaves (from a forest floor of leaves). It's a bit abstract but not contradictory. The handful of leaves and forest floor of leaves is a metaphor for how little we can hold in our hands to offer to someone else compared to what the forest floor holds.

    Stephen Batchelor is probably my Buddhism midwife. Midhusband. Midmale. Never mind :pleased: I started off with an aversion to anything 'religious' (ie, faith based), and Batchelor made it easy for me (considering my aversion) to commit myself to the Dharma. So I'm grateful that someone with a similar aversion did the hard work of interpreting an essentialized Dharma. My 'issue' with religion is pretty hard core and I wouldn't have had the wisdom or patience to do the hard work myself :( .

    I'm drawing this from memory, so if I remember correctly Batchelor focuses almost entirely on the Pali canon. He doesn't 'do' Buddhadhasa et al. He wrote a book about Nagarjuna and explored what he called 'the subtle'.

    I'm more 'open' to the religiosity of Buddhism now, it doesn't 'offend' me or distract me too much, and what I think of as 'religious' is my own personal stuff anyway.

    lobstersilver
  • @how said:
    What spiritual explorer here, except those attached to their intellect, would then not qualify to also be called mystic?

    There may be some perhaps lurking, that do not qualify . . .
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transpersonal_psychology

    I would suggest that the fourth wave of psychology is recognising experiences and developing skilful means to enable or empower peak experiences.

    Transpersonal psychology is dealing with healthy egos and is still in development. Teachings in dharma or mystical traditions fulfill a similar function . . .

    The Buddhist tradition does require work and does work, as do many theistic mystical traditions.

    :)

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    Can't help you. I am just getting started on Batchelor.

    That's a good project. =)

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Dakini said:> I'd have to know more about Batchelor's take on relevant sutra items. For example, the teaching about the multiple realms of existence. How did the Buddha come by that "knowledge", or does Batchelor consider that and related sutras to be later additions to the canon? And how did the Buddha come by his taste of freedom? Was that the sole result of his marathon meditation session under the Bodhi tree? Or did he have other insights? Is it true he experienced temptations there?

    I think Stephen basically argues that the Buddha teaching rebirth and realms was skilfull means, using a popular contemporary cosmology to convey his message.

    Others argue that all this stuff was added in later, though that's a can of worms when you get into the detail, given the long oral history and the uncertainty about what was written when.

    Both arguments have some credibility, but I don't think either could ever be proved. Actually there is no need to prove them, and the pragmatic view is probably one of agnosticism. The stuff about rebirth and realms can easily be put to one side as not relevant to daily practice, there is really no need to argue about it.

    We now have Secular Buddhism for those who want it, and of course several mainstream schools which focus on "moment-to-moment" practice and don't concern themselves with these issues.

    As for the Buddha being a mystic, yes, he certainly comes across as one!

  • @vinlyn said:
    "The Buddha was not a mystic. His awakening was not a shattering insight into a transcendent Truth that reveled to him the mysteries of God. He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick. Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening. In describing to the five ascetics what his awakening meant, he spoke of having discovered completed freedom of heart and mind from the compulsions of craving. He called such freedom the taste of the dharma."

    This is the Buddhism in which I believe.

    What are your thoughts?

    What does SB mean by a mystic? I must disagree with SB. Siddhartha's awakening was transcendent. But his awakening had nothing to do with Jesus or God. Buddhism is a-theistic. Just about everything SB says in his book Buddhism Without Beliefs can be disputed. SB is a clever writer. Oddly, in this book, he all but ignores the subject of nirvana mentioning it in passing only 3 times.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Blondel, in all fairness, out of a couple of dozen books I've read by Thai monks, I could easily say that much of it can be disputed. Anyone can read something in a book and dispute it, particularly when much of what one is reading is about religious/spiritual ideas.

    While I don't disagree that the teachings of Buddhism are transcendent, we don't truly know what happened to Siddhartha sitting under that bodhi tree, or if he really was sitting under a bodhi tree, or if much of what was eventually written in Buddhist scriptures is a true depiction of what Siddhartha said. Or, was much of what is in Buddhist scriptures added to and edited over dozens and dozens of years?

    The physical evidence of Siddhartha's life is about as lacking as physical evidence of anyone's life can be.

    See, that's how easy it is to dispute what someone has written.

    I'm not far enough along in the book to judge Batchelor's point of view, but it is a point of view. You have stated a different point of view. And you haven't written a dozen books on Buddhism and sold tens of thousands of books. That doesn't make Batchelor "right"...after all, he's just putting forward a point of view. But why should I jump to your point of view any quicker than I jump to Batchelor's point of view.

    Now, to the wider audience, why do so many people get so in a tizzy because Batchelor has a different point of view about Buddhism? What are they afraid of? I mean, your typical Western Buddhist goes into a state of apoplexy over Batchelor's point of view, while that same person has pretty much dumped the Old World point of view of Buddhism.

    I guess it's just that old maxim that, "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have."

    lobsterHamsaka
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @vinlyn said:> Now, to the wider audience, why do so many people get so in a tizzy because Batchelor has a different point of view about Buddhism? What are they afraid of? I mean, your typical Western Buddhist goes into a state of apoplexy over Batchelor's point of view, while that same person has pretty much dumped the Old World point of view of Buddhism.

    I'm not sure who these "typical western Buddhists" are.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Oh.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I have never read a single word of SB's, under my own steam, other than passages and quotations mentioned here.

    Nothing I have read so far, compels me to do so either.

    Yours truly, a "Typical Western Buddhist."

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2015

    A person can truthfully say they 'withhold no teachings' while offering a handful of leaves (from a forest floor of leaves). It's a bit abstract but not contradictory. The handful of leaves and forest floor of leaves is a metaphor for how little we can hold in our hands to offer to someone else compared to what the forest floor holds.

    That doesn't refute my point. You are admitting Buddha can only hold a handful. It is simple logic that if he only hands one handful then there is a whole forest left. Buddha said he gave a handful not that his followers can only hold a handful.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    I thought the Buddha was saying that out of endless knowledge, he only concerned himself with that which leads towards suffering cessation.

    JeffreyvinlynlobsterHamsaka
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I thought so too...

    "In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

    He didn't NOT teach them because his monks couldn't process it all. He didn't teach it because it wasn't relevant to the path for cessation of Suffering.

    This is why I keep banging on about the occasional futility of some of the imponderable, unanswerable questions sometimes posed or asked on this forum.

    The answer to any question, first and foremost would be:

    "How would knowing the answer to this, accelerate/support my progress on the Path?"

    silverhowlobsterHamsaka
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @how said:

    I thought the Buddha was saying that out of endless knowledge, he only concerned himself with that which leads towards suffering cessation.

    I still believe you cannot have 'the final word' on suffering. You can always say or teach more. At the same time you could say that such and such number of sermons or whatever is enough. You could say 'I have presented enough to reach enlightenment'. But there is no final word. And additional words can potentially open more and more of the 84000 dharma doors.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    It furthers by belief that Buddha would have us wake up first so we have the wisdom to figure out the rest without hurting anyone.

    But I know I can't resist having fun with the extra pondering.
    vinlynsilverHamsaka
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes, I believe it's referred to as 'papañca'.... ;)

  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Jeffrey said:
    Buddha said contradictory things. In one sutra he said he withheld no teachings. In a different sutra he said that what he had taught was like a handful of leaves compared to the forest of leaves of what he knew.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html

    Jeffrey
  • BlondelBlondel Veteran
    edited March 2015

    " Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening" (BWB, p. 5).

    This is SB's clever way of dismissing parts of the Buddha's teachings which are mystical and/or allude to a transcendent reality which, as I read him, he is not a big fan of.

    From the Sutta-Nipāta:

    In the world, such a wise monk who is freed from desire and attachment attains the immortal, the tranquil and deathless state of Nibbana (tr. H. Saddhatissa).

    SB could claim that this is not really the Buddha's teaching but something added much later which doesn't reflect his awakening. The same might be said of this passage from the Dutiyagilāna Sutta.

    The Dhamma is taught by the Buddha for the sake of final Nibbana without clinging (SN 35:75).

    This passage is about old karma which SB is uncomfortable with. It is from the Natumha Sutta.

    This body is not yours, nor does it belong to others. It should be regarded as previous karma effected through what has has been willed and felt (SN 12:37).

    Might we dismiss this too under the assumption that this was not part of the original teaching of the Buddha being added later because of Hinduism's influence?

    At least for me, it seems that much of what SB claims Buddhism is about is difficult to find in the Pali Nikayas.

  • At least for me, it seems that much of what SB claims Buddhism is about is difficult to find in the Pali Nikayas.

    Perhaps so. However I do not worship scripture, Buddhas or Bachelors. Therefore I am partial to discernment, focus and awareness that Hindu notions of evolution through death are . . . superstition.

    I will be meditating in the naughty corner if anyone needs me :p

    silvervinlyn
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @how said:> I thought the Buddha was saying that out of endless knowledge, he only concerned himself with that which leads towards suffering cessation.

    Yes, the "problem" is that the suttas do contain quite a lot about rebirth, realms and cosmology, so one might ask whether that is also necessary for suffering cessation? Which takes us back to the question of whether this content is skillful means ( SB ) or whether it was added later, or whatever. As I said, I can't see that a conclusive answer is possible on these questions, so it ends up being more speculation on imponderables, with people having their preferences.

    It seems to me the pragmatic approach is one of focussing on the suttas which relate to practice, and putting the rest to one side.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @lobster said:I will be meditating in the naughty corner if anyone needs me :p>

    You're a naughty crustacean! But seriously, I think on quite a few of these forums it's a traditionalist who would more likely end up in the naughty corner.

    bookworm
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Blondel said:At least for me, it seems that much of what SB claims Buddhism is about is difficult to find in the Pali Nikayas.>

    I think he argues a good case, though some of what he says looks like a real stretch based on what the suttas actually say. Would a teacher like the Buddha really have "made stuff" up to reach a wider audience? Do we assume he knew he was making stuff up? Or was stuff added in later to give his teaching wider appeal? We simply don't know.

    I've heard very similar arguments being made about the New Testament, Jesus using God language because it was common currency, and / or stuff being added in later by the early church to give him wider appeal. But again, we simply don't know.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 2015

    The word mystic could apply to the Buddha or perhaps psychologist or yogi, religious reformer, prophet, symbol etc. These are all labels that can and have been applied. There are unique aspects within dharma but . . .

    How many feel that Darwinian evolution, creationism and evolution over lifetimes should be taught in science class?

    Don't have a cow, man!

    . . . and back to the naughty corner . . .

  • It seems to me the SB is stepping into the zone of argument by ignorance, believing what he proposes is plausible because it has not yet been proven 100 percent false or the opposite, something is false or can be doubted because it can't be proven 100 percent true. SB certainly doubts some of the important tenets of Buddhism. His doubt reminds me of an earlier book by him, The Faith to Doubt: Glimpses of Buddhist Uncertainity (1990).

  • zenffzenff Veteran

    If the discussion is about what the Buddha really taught or meant; we are still stuck in an appeal to authority http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority
    A” Buddhism without beliefs” should go a little further I think.

    The point is that what the Buddha said could very well be both wrong and what he believed, because in many ways he probably was a child of his time. It would be absurd to expect him to know about the theory of relativity or about evolutionary biology. It makes sense when he believed in some sort of rebirth.
    No big deal.

    We are not cherry-picking when we separate the valuable heart of his teaching from the outdated ideas that where commonplace in his time.

    lobstervinlynsilverHamsaka
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Such doubts were inevitable as western Buddhism began to emerge. As we've discussed before here, Buddhism has adapted to many cultures throughout it's history, and now it's adapting to modern western culture. So we say we must understand the suttas in their cultural context, sometimes forgetting that we are looking through the lens of our own cultural context.....it gets quite complicated!

    lobster
  • @lobster:

    So you see Buddhists who study the discourses of the Buddha as people who "worship scripture"? I don't put worship and study in the same category. The Buddha, himself, was not a fan of worshiping his dhamma either. Are you familiar with the the parable of the raft (M 22), that dhamma is for crossing over, not for retaining?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @zenff said:> . It makes sense when he believed in some sort of rebirth.

    Perhaps when he started out, though there were many competing ideas around at the Buddha's time, much like today. Are you suggesting he never seriously questioned such beliefs, and that he hung on to them even after he became enlightened? And then preached the Kalama Sutta? It doesn't make sense to me at all.

  • Yes I am familiar with abandoning the rafts of the 100 per centers. I am also familiar with rowing back from the far shore with a raft for stragglers, which does not come from worship, suttra study or other categorisations . . .

    Abandon raft, women, children and cructaceans first
    . . . oh a beach . . . As @Blondel says, just a vehicle . . .

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    A vehicle to where though? Another thorny issue.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Blondel said:> So you see Buddhists who study the discourses of the Buddha as people who "worship scripture"?

    It's an accusation sometimes made by people who haven't bothered to read the discourses themselves. ;)

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @SpinyNorman said:
    A vehicle to where though? Another thorny issue.

    "Hi! YOU! Hellooo..? How do I get to the other side?!"

    "What?....You're already ON the other side - !"

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    All at sea mostly.... ;)

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Just like every other wave.....

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    I thought you were referring to the TV show when I read the thread header. I was quite intrigued to find out what the handsome single guy had come out with! Perhaps something profound about impermanence?
    Hamsaka
  • zenffzenff Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    ...Are you suggesting he never seriously questioned such beliefs, and that he hung on to them even after he became enlightened? ...

    No I said that he could be wrong.

    It does make sense when the Buddha was a human being. He could have some brilliant ideas and at the other hand some…well not too brilliant.

    He could be enlightened and at the same time have weird ideas about let’s say healthy food or about astronomy. The enlightened bit would be his perfect realization of the characteristics of life and his liberation of (or his way of transcending) human suffering.

    The way I see it the Buddha could have seriously believed in rebirth (like many of the people around him) and he would be wrong. His enlightenment wouldn’t be any less for it.

    lobsterHamsaka
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    So when the Buddha remembered his previous lives and saw the countless rebirths of other beings, do you think he was delusional? Or was he just making it up? Or what exactly?

    You think the Buddha just had an unquestioning belief in rebirth, despite being from an high-status family and therefore undoubtedly well-educated on all the other ideas around at the time, and despite his period of seeking and exploration, his contact with other ascetics and their various views?

    I think there is some credibility in SB's theory of the Buddha using rebirth as skillful means, but what you're suggesting just doesn't make sense.

  • So when the Buddha remembered his previous lives and saw the countless rebirths of other beings, do you think he was delusional? Or was he just making it up? Or what exactly?

    Lack of food.

    Aleister Crowley the well known 'wickedest conjurer in the world' after drug taking and doing more ritual badly than is usual, heard voices that dictated the 'book of the dharma/law'.

    Jesus in the Desert, not eating, met the devil.

    Jacob physically wrestled with God.

    So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. (Genesis 32:24-31)

    Mohammed, went to a cave to fast and pray, heard voices and thought he was going mad. Later on he 'realised' it was the Angle Gabby. Oh boy, Koran is the book dictated almost directly by Thor . . . Eh Elohim . . . Eh . . . who is that guy in my head?

    Now time to eat my porridge and wash my bowl

    zenff
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    So the Buddha was delusional? Oh dear! According to the suttas his enlightenment occurred immediately afterwards, so maybe that was a delusion too? Maybe we need a new messiah. ;)

    lobsterzenff
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