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Are You A Secular Buddhist ?

ShoshinShoshin No one in particularNowhere Special Veteran

Are you a secular Buddhist ?

I think that when it comes to the Dharma and Secular Buddhism, Doug and I have much in common....

For example, I see the Buddhist gods (that one often comes across in Tibetan Buddhism) as useful tools which help to train/tame the mind...they help to bring out the wholesome qualities that one already possesses, but are often hard to access in the Samsaric environment... In other words they are already part of who we are, but live incognito so to speak...

Secular Buddhism is for the most part just what the Buddha taught...with no frills attached

Vastmind
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Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited July 29

    No I am not

    "And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view...

    MN 117

    Shoshinlobstercaz
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @FinnTheHuman said:
    So, in answer to the question; no :p

    I trend towards the know side too ...
    Good answer from @Bunks too.

    As we raft towards the far shore from the for sure (the realm of uncertainty) certain awakened or Buddha attunements arise ...

    @FinnTheHuman and Buddha described them well.

    • The intellect can not grasp. Secularists may gasp o:)
    • There is no fruit but certainly flowing into flowering <3
    • Ground Divine is soiled but grounded :)
    • Wordless is not silent. Truth is not a wheel spoke ... :3
    ShoshinBunksFinnTheHuman
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited July 30

    Even though the teachers that I've had the good fortune to go and listen to their Dharma Talks have all been Tibetan... I would say that I am more secular in my outlook and I'm not what one would call a religious Buddhist as such...

    I adhere to the 4NTs & 8FP (as best as I can :) )...I'm open to many teachers from different schools traditions sects...

    And the way I see it when it comes to Religious or Secular Buddhism is Dharma practice is Dharma practice ......with or without the bells and whistles...
    Dharma practice provides one with the tools to enable one to develop a kind heart & open mind...a heart & mind in which the acts of unconditional Kindness & Compassion flow more freely...(Well that's the overall plan :) )

    I'm reminded of this....which would apply to both Religious & Secular Buddhists..

    The most essential method which includes all other methods is to behold the Mind-The Mind is the root from which all things grow-If one can understand the Mind...Everything else is included...
    ~Bodhidharma~

    I guess it's a case of whatever floats one's raft...and keeps it afloat in these often turbulent waters/times...After all they are just labels...And actions speak louder than words and labels put together...

    BunksKeromelobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Definitely not. The Buddha taught about actual gods, actual rebirth and actual hell realms, etc. and a Buddha does not lie about such things. But I do find Tibetan Buddhism a bit too frilly for my taste. Now zen, much less frilly. =)

    rocala
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited July 30

    Are you a secular Buddhist ?

    On balance I'd say no. Despite the fact that Buddhism is first and foremost a method, and not a set of beliefs, it still occupies the same place in my life as a theistic religion. Or so I imagine. Buddhism is a refuge I suppose, the only true refuge, and I think that takes it beyond a method or a set of tools, even beyond a way of life. As a refuge, Buddhism becomes the place where my heart dwells, not to become too poetic about it. It's where I turn in hard times, and I think that's a quality of religions rather than secular philosophies.

    This is something I've been thinking about for some time, since in my family being religious is synonymous with being stupid or gullible. So maybe my identification as a religious Buddhist is a form of rebellion.

    I also think it's verging on arrogance to assume that we educated Westerners can take on a foreign tradition and discern what is essential to it and what are just bells and whistles. I don't mean to accuse anyone of this attitude; it's just part of my feeling towards Buddhism not to be too quick to throw things away.

    Shoshinperson
  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    I don't know what I am.

    I guess the most accurate statement I could make is "I'm confused."

    FinnTheHumanShoshinBunks
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Generally I don’t believe it is right to put complete faith in any book, not even the Pali cannon. After all they are all written by men

    Perhaps I should qualify this a little more. The Buddha too was a human being, although the stories magnify him into a mythic figure who was the source of all Buddhism. Hence, I feel that spiritual traditions flow as a fountain from a limited number of gifted teachers, and if you want to truly know the mystery, it would seem a good thing to investigate today’s teachers. Today, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti are just some of the ones who are still alive.

    At the same time, Buddhism provides a long and deep tradition and path, from which much can be learnt if you are cautious about not falling in the traps that come with any established religion. Osho was very good at pointing out the traps. But there’s the idea of knowledgeability is progress, or becoming very righteous because one knows ‘the truth’.

    We are lucky that these days there is a wealth of teaching easily accessible on the internet for the discerning seeker. It is only a question of sorting the charlatans from the real thing. And good buddhist teachers definitely have their place. Osho once said that any real teacher could be discerned by you “being taken high in his presence”.

    ShoshinBunks
  • techietechie India Veteran

    Secular Buddhism is another label. It's best to avoid all labels n focus on attaining peace.

    FinnTheHumanShoshinlobsteradamcrossley
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited July 30

    @Shoshin > Are you a secular Buddhist ?

    I couldn't say, really. I certainly went through a very secular period, partly in reaction against what I saw as the arrant baloney I was taught in Sunday school as a child. Yet the more I practice Buddhism, the more religious I seem to become. On the continuum between secular and religious, I see no stopping point to which I can apply a certain label.

    ShoshinBunksadamcrossley
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    If you believe in a soteriological aspect to awareness and meditation does that mean you are non-secular?

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    That seems to be a plausible argument. For myself, I presently seem to have a soteriological sense of Buddhist practice, but shy away from hardening it into a belief.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:

    Are you a secular Buddhist ?

    On balance I'd say no. Despite the fact that Buddhism is first and foremost a method, and not a set of beliefs, it still occupies the same place in my life as a theistic religion. Or so I imagine. Buddhism is a refuge I suppose, the only true refuge, and I think that takes it beyond a method or a set of tools, even beyond a way of life. As a refuge, Buddhism becomes the place where my heart dwells, not to become too poetic about it. It's where I turn in hard times, and I think that's a quality of religions rather than secular philosophies.

    This is something I've been thinking about for some time, since in my family being religious is synonymous with being stupid or gullible. So maybe my identification as a religious Buddhist is a form of rebellion.

    I also think it's verging on arrogance to assume that we educated Westerners can take on a foreign tradition and discern what is essential to it and what are just bells and whistles. I don't mean to accuse anyone of this attitude; it's just part of my feeling towards Buddhism not to be too quick to throw things away.

    You make some interesting points @adamcrossley ...and I can see why the idea of religious Buddhism is more appealing for some...

    However from what I gather a lot of the bells & whistle (rituals-ceremonies) are add ons, not coming from the Buddha Dharma itself, they have for the most part over the years been absorbed in one form or other into Buddhism from cultural practices of the country that Buddhism has reached... A typical example is Zen which is a combination of Buddhism and Taoism

    The entry of Buddhism into China was marked by significant interaction and syncretism with Taoism.[130] Originally seen as a kind of "foreign Taoism", Buddhism's scriptures were translated into Chinese using the Taoist vocabulary.[131] Representatives of early Chinese Buddhism, like Sengzhao and Tao Sheng, knew and were deeply influenced by the Taoist keystone texts.[132]

    ...Bon (according to some scholars) was the religion of Tibet before the arrival of Buddhism
    and in Japan Shinto was being practiced before Buddhism arrived...Some lay practitioners in Japan may have a Shinto wedding and when they die a Buddhist funeral...

    So by the time Buddhism reached the West it had accumulated cultural elements from the Asian countries it spread to...

    Hence why I see Dharma practice( 4NTs & 8FP) is Dharma practice (4NTs & 8FP ) training/taming the mind... with or without the bells & whistles...

    BTW ...Like Religious Buddhists, many Secular Buddhists also take refuge in the Buddha Dharma & Sangha and many still attend Dharma Talks given by 'religious' Buddhist teachers...and belong to local Sanghas...It for the most part is just the labeling that sets them apart...

    lobsteradamcrossley
  • 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 don't like labels... and my practice varies according to what I absorb and learn... I'm just ambling along, not sure what you'd call me...

    ShoshinBunks
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I guess for the most part some Secular Buddhists would see the Buddha as a Great Teacher, and I guess one could say a savior of sorts, when it comes to he's deep experiential understanding of how the mind works (inner science) and the guidelines he provided for others (if they so choose) to also obtain this experiential understanding ... However many of us feel that he left the actual saving part up to the individual....

    He more or less said (in colloquial terms) "Here's the paddle, raft and instructions...knock your self out" ;) "Ehipassiko"

    Bunks
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited July 30

    No I'm not.

    I also think it's verging on arrogance to assume that we educated Westerners can take on a foreign tradition and discern what is essential to it and what are just bells and whistles. I don't mean to accuse anyone of this attitude; it's just part of my feeling towards Buddhism not to be too quick to throw things away.

    EXACTLY! This has always been my view, even if it has gotten me howled down previously.

    Shoshinrocala
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Well I think we modern Westerners barely have an understanding of our own traditions. Many of us have some sort of roots in the Christian tradition, even if somewhat remote and lapsed.

    But I do feel strongly connected to the scientific tradition, which is something I absorbed especially during the later stages of schooling, and which allowed me at the time to make sense of the physical world at the time. And I think that part of that is a cleaning-out of superstitious beliefs, which have no basis in what is.

    We have an opportunity to re-examine the roots of the beliefs around us, and to see what makes sense and what does not. What is old is not necessarily good.

    Shoshin
  • 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

    ... and what is new is not necessarily bad. It follows, ln my view....

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @techie said:
    Secular Buddhism is another label. It's best to avoid all labels n focus on attaining peace.

    @techie
    Indeed.
    Are we peaceful (at peace with our labelling/judgements/self hindrance)?
    I certainly am wrathful at best/useless Buddhist at worst. In fact I may be an un-Buddhist.

    The need to define/belong/constrict our being, is not always helpful ...
    I may just be a secular Christian, as I don't believe in the godly Jesus ...

    Peace Be With You 😇

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I'm not secular but I'm not unsecular if that makes any sense.

    I don't much care for words like "supernatural" or "divine" but only because I feel that if something happens, it happens naturally. That makes the line between the mundane and the divine vanish. It's all either mundane or it's all divine, depending on my mood.

    ShoshinadamcrossleyFinnTheHuman
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited August 1

    Perhaps I will have to read Stephen Batchelor after all, his bibliography is looking quite interesting if you look at the recent titles. I’ve avoided buying too many books recently but I’m intrigued by this one: After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age.

    Still, there are proponents of secular Buddhism but somewhat of a dearth of teachers. And I think you will see relatively few sangha’s if there are no teachers. It still seems very niche, even though it has my sympathy.

  • @Kerome said:
    Still, there are proponents of secular Buddhism but somewhat of a dearth of teachers. And I think you will see relatively few sangha’s if there are no teachers.

    Lots of secular mindfulness teachers and sanghas communities. It's not quite the same as secular Buddhism though?

    BunksKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:
    Lots of secular mindfulness teachers and sanghas communities. It's not quite the same as secular Buddhism though?

    Certainly not if you go by what Stephen Batchelor is writing. He has basically gone back to the Pali Cannon and tried to create a limited, slightly reworked version devoid of supernatural influences. That’s a lot more than just mindfulness.

    But I do understand what you mean, if you want a community that just meditates together then perhaps a mindfulness group will suit you. I’m more minded towards Thich Nhat Hanh’s groups, where they meditate and share something with the group. Maybe I will try that.

    Alex
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited August 2

    yes. =)

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 3

    Some see Buddhism as a religion...Some see Buddhism as a philosophy ...Some see Buddhism as just a way of life...I guess in the long run regardless how one chooses to see it.... it's a spiritual path...

    The lay group that I attend has been going for around 18 years, meeting every Monday evening at members homes... It involves reading and discussing mostly Buddhist Dharma text, ( but we do read other stuff from different spiritual leanings) or discussing an issue that somebody is facing, from a Dharmic point of view...and we meditate for around 20 minutes after the discussion...We also recite an aspiration at the beginning of the meditation and after..."May I.................." taken from a Buddhist text...(some may view it as a prayer, but for most it's just an affirmation ...a reminder to self )

    The group meetings was suggested by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who for quite a few years visited the island once a month to give 'free' Dharma talks...The group/sangha is a mixed bunch, some dedicated followers of certain traditions, Mahayana eg Tibetan, Zen, Theravada and some secular and others who don't follow any particular school. tradition or sect of Buddhism, but just have an interest in learning more about the Buddha Dharma ( perhaps later they may decide to choose a particular tradition to follow)...Everyone is welcome...Atheists, Agnostics, Theists ....Secular, Traditional...The labels all come off in the (Anatta) wash :)

    Bunksadamcrossleylobsterperson
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    I guess you could call my approach 'agnostic Buddhism.' I accept the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, and especially karma as a psychological concept. For a very long time I was a materialist (in the philosophical sense) and I have a hard time accepting supernatural beliefs and beings, e.g. rebirth, gods, devas, nagas, etc.

    That said I'm more open-minded than I used to be, and accept that these things might be true, but I have not seen nor directly experienced such events or entities. And there's no objective scientific proof of their existence either, so that is a barrier to me accepting supernatural ideas as true.

    The Buddha was very wise and had keen insight into human nature. But Buddhist cosmology is alien to me, and hard to accept even given that the Buddha is right about so much else.

    ShoshinTraisea
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Do we resonate with the three jewels in some way?
    Then our perception, understanding, may change ... 😎👍🏻😇
    As @Shoshin mentions ... everyone welcome 🙏🏽

    BunksShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I’ve been reading a bit of Stephen Batchelor’s Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, and it’s been quite interesting so far. He talks about his time as a Buddhist monk, how he was studying Dharmakirti under a Tibetan Geshe, and how they were told to examine each of the claims in the book but also how they were told the author was a fully enlightened being. His conclusion was that they were supposed to examine things, but only until they came to the right conclusion. There is a certain intellectual dishonesty about that, and I’m not surprised that he had a problem with it.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited August 4

    @Kerome said:
    I’ve been reading a bit of Stephen Batchelor’s Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, and it’s been quite interesting so far. He talks about his time as a Buddhist monk, how he was studying Dharmakirti under a Tibetan Geshe, and how they were told to examine each of the claims in the book but also how they were told the author was a fully enlightened being. His conclusion was that they were supposed to examine things, but only until they came to the right conclusion. There is a certain intellectual dishonesty about that, and I’m not surprised that he had a problem with it.

    Therefore if he has his own students and they come to different conclusions than him about what he tells them about his experiences and understanding thereof then where should he go with his students from there? Hypothetically I mean. I don't know if he has students in the sense of he is their teacher.

    Kundo
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 4

    @Jeffrey said:

    Therefore if he has his own students and they come to different conclusions than him about what he tells them about his experiences and understanding thereof then where should he go with his students from there? Hypothetically I mean. I don't know if he has students in the sense of he is their teacher.

    I guess he would go where a traditional Buddhist teacher would go...to the suttas ...

    But in the long run the Buddhist practitioners (Secular - Traditional ) have to see for themselves...
    A case of.....

    federica
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited August 5

    @Kerome said:
    I’ve been reading a bit of Stephen Batchelor’s Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, and it’s been quite interesting so far. He talks about his time as a Buddhist monk, how he was studying Dharmakirti under a Tibetan Geshe, and how they were told to examine each of the claims in the book but also how they were told the author was a fully enlightened being. His conclusion was that they were supposed to examine things, but only until they came to the right conclusion. There is a certain intellectual dishonesty about that, and I’m not surprised that he had a problem with it.

    That is similar to my experiences as well. The Tibetans are pretty open and don't force dogma on anyone, but the intellectual world is pretty insular and self reinforcing. It reminds of a quote by John Stuart Mill

    “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

    I think they haven't really had debate or ideas from people outside of the tradition who actually hold them.

    A teacher I was attending was covering Madhyamika in traditional fashion where pre emptiness Indian philosophies and earlier Buddhist emptiness ideas are covered first. We were in the early Indian parts and I decided to study ahead. I found some stuff online and found it interesting. In class when he went over it a couple main points were missed or interpreted differently than what I had read, to the effect that overall the philosophy presented was a rather straw man version of the idea.

    A similar sort of thing often happens regarding science. To many of the lamas science amounts only to a list of ontological truths about the universe. Whereas the main feature of science isn't so much what truths it reveals but its methodology for doing so, namely empirical research and critical peer review. So a particular Buddhist view of cosmology is on equal ground as a scientific one unless it has been definitively disproven.

    I don't want to come across as overly critical of certain dogmatic thinking. The open mindedness that many Tibetans show is pretty substantial.

    KundoShoshinKeromeadamcrossley
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    The open mindedness that many Tibetans show is pretty substantial.

    Indeed and I love TB. Yet they remain open-minded while a lot of people call their practices and beliefs superstition. That's pretty rude IMO

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Therefore if he has his own students and they come to different conclusions than him about what he tells them about his experiences and understanding thereof then where should he go with his students from there? Hypothetically I mean. I don't know if he has students in the sense of he is their teacher.

    He is more an author than a teacher, as I understand things. But yes, I think his brand of Buddhism is very open to students having different opinions.

    I’ve been watching a few of his interviews on YouTube as well, it’s interesting. He basically casts it as “Buddhism adjusting to the western way of thinking”, and says that whenever Buddhism has made a transition to a new place, such as going from India to China, or China to Japan, the way it was taught changed too.

    But I think the whole world is still adjusting to the internet and there being a global community of religions and thinkers.

    Jeffrey
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    That is similar to my experiences as well. The Tibetans are pretty open and don't force dogma on anyone, but the intellectual world is pretty insular and self reinforcing. (Snip)
    I think they haven't really had debate or ideas from people outside of the tradition who actually hold them.

    I think that’s true. Another example that Batchelor mentions is that of accepting the mind as a phenomenon separate of the body. He said that his Geshe, when pushed, said that at certain advanced stages of meditation it is directly observable that the mind is not part of the body. Now a lot of the theory of rebirth is bound up in this, and you’re supposed to take the subjective experience of these advanced meditators on faith until you see so for yourself. It’s the same thing again.

    A similar sort of thing often happens regarding science. To many of the lamas science amounts only to a list of ontological truths about the universe. Whereas the main feature of science isn't so much what truths it reveals but its methodology for doing so, namely empirical research and critical peer review. So a particular Buddhist view of cosmology is on equal ground as a scientific one unless it has been definitively disproven.

    Yes, there are certain problems with “debate”. It is often the case that debaters try to argue both sides of a case, and the debate becomes entertainment and not really a search for truth. You see it even in science these days, the climate debate, debates over sugar in diet, whenever there are vested interests sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    But I do think the scientific method has value, especially in a community of people who seek the truth. The whole thing of theory and experimental proof, and seeing for yourself, are very persuasive.

    I don't want to come across as overly critical of certain dogmatic thinking. The open mindedness that many Tibetans show is pretty substantial.

    They don’t quickly expound their ideas. But is it truly the same as being open-minded? The process that Stephen Batchelor describes as an education for their monks doesn’t seem to me to be very conducive to creating people who will change their minds when presented with evidence...

  • @Kundo said:
    Yet they remain open-minded while a lot of people call their practices and beliefs superstition. That's pretty rude IMO

    Well said. Surely “superstition” is just a derogatory word for beliefs we don’t personally hold. Is there any legitimate way to use the word?

    Kundo
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @person said:
    That is similar to my experiences as well. The Tibetans are pretty open and don't force dogma on anyone, but the intellectual world is pretty insular and self reinforcing. (Snip)
    I think they haven't really had debate or ideas from people outside of the tradition who actually hold them.

    I think that’s true. Another example that Batchelor mentions is that of accepting the mind as a phenomenon separate of the body. He said that his Geshe, when pushed, said that at certain advanced stages of meditation it is directly observable that the mind is not part of the body. Now a lot of the theory of rebirth is bound up in this, and you’re supposed to take the subjective experience of these advanced meditators on faith until you see so for yourself. It’s the same thing again.

    I've wondered about that experience. Whether a subjective experience that feels like the mind is separate, and some of these "knowledge" experiences apparently come with a sense of a high degree of certainty, is really a way to truly gain knowledge of the outer world. I'm fully on board with what skilled, trained introspection can tell us about our own minds, just not so sure about the material world.

    A similar sort of thing often happens regarding science. To many of the lamas science amounts only to a list of ontological truths about the universe. Whereas the main feature of science isn't so much what truths it reveals but its methodology for doing so, namely empirical research and critical peer review. So a particular Buddhist view of cosmology is on equal ground as a scientific one unless it has been definitively disproven.

    But I do think the scientific method has value, especially in a community of people who seek the truth. The whole thing of theory and experimental proof, and seeing for yourself, are very persuasive.

    Just wanted to make the point that the bold text was what many Tibetans thought of science compared to Buddhist views, not my own. I didn't state it very clearly.

    Yes, there are certain problems with “debate”. It is often the case that debaters try to argue both sides of a case, and the debate becomes entertainment and not really a search for truth. You see it even in science these days, the climate debate, debates over sugar in diet, whenever there are vested interests sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    It's known as debating in good faith or bad faith.

    I don't want to come across as overly critical of certain dogmatic thinking. The open mindedness that many Tibetans show is pretty substantial.

    They don’t quickly expound their ideas. But is it truly the same as being open-minded? The process that Stephen Batchelor describes as an education for their monks doesn’t seem to me to be very conducive to creating people who will change their minds when presented with evidence...

    I think there are competing forces. True, much of the education style leads to dogmatism, but also debate in whatever form does lead one to change one's mind from time to time. And the meditative mind leads to openness, and pervades the world there.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A small segment from Stephen Batchelor’s Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, about writing his first book and the slow process of breaking up with Tibetan Buddhist orthodoxy...

    I saw myself, arrogantly perhaps, as a participant in a groundbreaking experiment to redefine traditional religious thinking in a way that transcended sectarian identities. This experiment was neither Christian, Jewish, nor Buddhist: it was an attempt to humanize and secularize religion, to free it from the prison of metaphysics and supernatural beliefs, to allow it to speak out in a lucid, impassioned, and committed voice.

    It seems a very worthwhile field to which he certainly has made a contribution.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It's interesting to see the different opinions being expressed...thanks...

    It would seem that the only thing that sets the lay traditionalist Buddhist and secular Buddhist apart... is just a thought ( a belief ) that is not physically obvious when it comes to how both try to use a Dharmic approach when interacting with other sentient beings and navigate the ups and downs of daily life...AKA ..pursuing a more meaningful and peaceful life..

    And apart from this 'belief', it would be hard to tell them apart... for this pursuit goes Beyond Religion :)

    adamcrossley
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:

    @Kundo said:
    Yet they remain open-minded while a lot of people call their practices and beliefs superstition. That's pretty rude IMO

    Well said. Surely “superstition” is just a derogatory word for beliefs we don’t personally hold. Is there any legitimate way to use the word?

    Well, the scientific method is a way towards knowledge that can be proven. You could argue that any beliefs which cannot be proven are superstitious, in the sense that they can be based on any thought that the brain can come up with which is not subject to testing and review.

    But in that sense there are a lot of ideas that are quite common that people hold which cannot be verified scientifically. God for instance, to name a popular one.

  • @Kerome, I think you're right in that religious knowledge can only be experienced and can't be proved by a third party. That does set it apart from scientific knowledge. But I still think we use the words "belief" and "superstition" in different ways.

    There's the case of "superstition" in one's own culture. In Britain that might be the idea of good and bad luck, and how that's affected by walking under ladders or crossing paths with a black cat. And then there's the case of "superstition" in a foreign culture, which I think is always derogatory and patronizing. This is how the word is used when talking about Tibetan Buddhism.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    There’s a kind of subtext to the word “superstition”, in that it is held to be something that one shouldn’t believe because it is non-sensical. But that’s different, in my view, to it being patronising, although it can be derogatory. At the same time, it also has a certain informational content, although that’s not free of a subjective judgment.

    In Dutch, belief is ‘geloof’ and superstition is ‘bijgeloof’, literally “with-belief”. It shows the close relationship of the two concepts, where belief is considered okay and often healthy, while superstition is held to be not-okay. I wouldn’t be offended if someone called a belief of mine superstitious, although I might choose to debate it with him.

    adamcrossley
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Well, the scientific method is a way towards knowledge that can be proven.

    Certainly true! Which, according to logic, means that the scientific method is not even applicable to claims that are unfalsifiable. So to make scientific claims of true, or false, is already a misguided attempt to begin with. For example, you cannot prove ghosts exist, to the extent demanded by modern day science. You also cannot prove they don't. Therefore, scientific method is irrelevant.

    You could argue that any beliefs which cannot be proven are superstitious, in the sense that they can be based on any thought that the brain can come up with which is not subject to testing and review.

    Also certainly true! However, it's also quite arrogant to believe that human scientific capability is so far advanced that anything and everything in the universe can be reviewed or tested. For example, I head someone say once "If ghosts existed, we would have found them by now". The problem with that statement is that it's completely illogical. It has no basis to be declared true to begin with. In essence, it's really just a belief. A belief that could easily be wrong.

    Kundoadamcrossley
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I think ideally the default scientific view is one of not knowing, ignorance or agnosticism. It takes observations about the world and asks what we can demonstrably, empirically show to be true about them.

    You can't prove a negative, so saying something like ghosts or God doesn't exist isn't really a scientific statement. I think the scientific view would be we don't know and there isn't any empirical evidence saying there is. Its a subtle distinction between a lack of a belief in something and a positive assertion that it doesn't exist.

    ShoshinKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited August 8

    You can’t prove a negative, but there is no need to accept the absurd. There is the famous case of Russell’s teapot — Bertrand Russell posited the existence of a teapot in orbit around the sun between the Earth and Mars, and said that just because someone said they believed in the teapot, no sensible person would believe them.

    The fact that there is any doubt in the case of God or ghosts is just down to social conditioning. Like the teapot, there is no actual evidence they exist, and also little reason to assume that anyone backing the idea, and especially those with ulterior motives or vested interests, would tell the truth.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited August 8

    Reminds me of an interview with Carl Sagan once, from his book "The Varieties of Scientific Experience"

    "Questioner: As a scientist, would you deny the possibility of water having been changed into wine in the Bible?

    CS: Deny the possibility? Certainly not. I would not deny any such possibility. But I would, of course, not spend a moment on it unless there was some evidence for it."

    A prominent and quite rational scientist, refusing to deny that Jesus turned water into wine! LOL. He was a great proponent of not committing the logical fallacy of Argument from ignorance.

    In more than one of his books he has stated "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," to illustrate that point. In other words, when it comes to things that are completely outside the realm of scientific investigation to begin with, non-belief is quite rational, while outright denial is irrational.

    Shoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    That’s true, but you have to understand the mental climate in which these scientists spoke... the population was 90% or more Christian at that time, and holding other opinions was extremely unpopular.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 8

    When it comes to holding a belief or not holding a belief.... In the ultimate scheme of things.... (when push comes to shove)
    the Buddha did say something along the lines of ...
    "Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" Nothing whatsoever should be clung to... If one clings, one will suffer...

    I think he's got a point :)

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    You can’t prove a negative, but there is no need to accept the absurd. There is the famous case of Russell’s teapot — Bertrand Russell posited the existence of a teapot in orbit around the sun between the Earth and Mars, and said that just because someone said they believed in the teapot, no sensible person would believe them.

    The fact that there is any doubt in the case of God or ghosts is just down to social conditioning. Like the teapot, there is no actual evidence they exist, and also little reason to assume that anyone backing the idea, and especially those with ulterior motives or vested interests, would tell the truth.

    I'm trying to make a distinction between acceptance of baseless claims and openness.

    Also, Russell's teapot or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I think are different than some other supernatural claims. Both a teapot and spaghetti are human manufactured items in untestable situations. God or ghosts aren't human manufactured and don't have the same level of unreasonableness.

    I think I'd also say that it is possible a supernatural claim may have some basis in reality but the particular interpretation is off the mark.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited August 9

    @Kerome said:
    That’s true, but you have to understand the mental climate in which these scientists spoke... the population was 90% or more Christian at that time, and holding other opinions was extremely unpopular.

    That's a bit of an edgelord statement. There are scientists who are Christian or religious and can separate their faith from their work.

    True this is Wikipedia but it's a vast listing of Christian scientists and their works:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology

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