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Diverging views and sanghas

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

So one thing I was wondering about is people’s experience of non-conformist views in a Western Buddhist community. If I were to say, I’m a secular Buddhist in the vein of Stephen Batchelor and I don’t believe in rebirth or karma, would people still accept me as part of the group? What’s your experience been?

Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Even though it was a "Tibetan lama" who first suggested the group be started ( way back in 2001, he used to come over every month to give teachings), the Buddhist group on the island still meets every Monday evening (we are Zooming at the moment during lockdown) and is made up of practitioners from different traditions/schools, (even new age) there are secular Buddhists, non-secular Buddhist, some who don't actually see themselves as Buddhist, but the one thing we all have in common is the Dharma....Everyone is welcome all are accepted...

    If a Buddhist group would not accept you because you are secular...what would this say about the Dharma they practice ???

    Keromeadamcrossley
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I think they would accept you provided that you accept them as they are right? I would just think that you should save any questions you have for a time when people are encouraged to ask questions rather than interjecting in the middle of course. And don't insist on arguing every point at the end rather let each person have a fair amount of time with questions. During your personal interviews with the teacher or one of their senior students you should be able to ask your own questions but again they only have certain amount of time regardless of what their students views on secularism/karma etc is..

    personlobsterSuraShineShoshin
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    @Jeffrey said:
    I think they would accept you provided that you accept them as they are right?

    Exactly. And given some other posts by the OP, I really don't think the OP could do that.

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    Why would you stay with a group that doesn't align with your practise or accept you? That makes no sense...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    If I were to say,

    No need. Good answer from @Jeffrey.

    My experience is I question up to the point of my or others ignorance. However I listen out for others wisdom.

    It is a bit like putting up a brick wall without cement. In knocking down ridiculous allegations and questionable separatists, we can be following a groove but also derailed ...

    “When watching after yourself, you watch after others. When watching after others, you watch after yourself.”
    The Buddha
    (From the Samyutta Nikaya)
    https://www.realbuddhaquotes.com/

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @FeistyGibblets said:
    Why would you stay with a group that doesn't align with your practise or accept you? That makes no sense...

    It depends on what other buddhist groups are in the area... sometimes there’s just one of a particular denomination and then you think, better some sangha than no sangha at all. For a while I attended a Tibetan Buddhist temple, even though my sympathies are not really in that direction. I found that with a live-and-let-live attitude one can fit in, and they will let you run around and do stuff, but there are some limits.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    What’s your experience been?

    Waffle from the designated expert and meditation for the real work.
    Every Western sangha/group I have attended has opportunity for meditation. I can even practice mindful attention and restraint. I do not need to counter everything.

    As Bodhi Jesus said: 'The ignorant will always be with us'
    He may have said 'poor' but meant fat cat spiritual experts IMHO ...

    adamcrossleySuraShine
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @FeistyGibblets said:
    Why would you stay with a group that doesn't align with your practise or accept you? That makes no sense...

    It depends on what other buddhist groups are in the area... sometimes there’s just one of a particular denomination and then you think, better some sangha than no sangha at all. For a while I attended a Tibetan Buddhist temple, even though my sympathies are not really in that direction. I found that with a live-and-let-live attitude one can fit in, and they will let you run around and do stuff, but there are some limits.

    Just don’t put one of their books on the floor!! They hate that the Tibetans 😊

  • 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

    @Bunks said:
    Just don’t put one of their books on the floor!! They hate that the Tibetans 😊

    Hate is such a strong word. I'm sure they wouldn't hate...
    .

    .

    .

    They might give you a fixed smile, icy stare and stiffened stance. And kinda tilt their heads just a leeeetle bit.

    But they wouldn't hate....

    (You'd feel the chilly draught tho'...)

    Bunks
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    So one thing I was wondering about is people’s experience of non-conformist views in a Western Buddhist community. If I were to say, I’m a secular Buddhist in the vein of Stephen Batchelor and I don’t believe in rebirth or karma, would people still accept me as part of the group? What’s your experience been?

    Yeah. My experience is that nobody really cares what you believe except online. It's more about sitting practice, Dhamma talks, and discussions, and I've never seen anyone get side-eyed for not believing in things like rebirth.

    lobsterSuraShineadamcrossleyKerome
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    So one thing I was wondering about is people’s experience of non-conformist views in a Western Buddhist community. If I were to say, I’m a secular Buddhist in the vein of Stephen Batchelor and I don’t believe in rebirth or karma, would people still accept me as part of the group? What’s your experience been?

    OP, how would anyone know you don't believe in karma or rebirth? No one ever asked in the sanghas I've been in. I suppose it depends on the sangha; if you end up in a more cultic one that's more rigid, then it probably wouldn't work out, but you wouldn't want to be in a group like that, anyway.

    lobsterKerome
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica - actually, to be honest with you, my only experience was an Aussie guy telling me he took his wife to the Tibetan Dharma Centre here and she inadvertently placed a pamphlet she was given on the floor. Another Aussie lady had a go at her about it. As you can imagine, it left a pretty sour taste in her mouth......

    lobster
  • 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

    @Bunks said:
    @federica - actually, to be honest with you, my only experience was an Aussie guy telling me he took his wife to the Tibetan Dharma Centre here and she inadvertently placed a pamphlet she was given on the floor. Another Aussie lady had a go at her about it. As you can imagine, it left a pretty sour taste in her mouth......

    Just as part of the discussion, not as a critique:
    I once was told to discern the subtle difference between ritual and religion... quite the distinction...

    Having personal views on kamma and rebirth, is religion.
    Putting literature on the floor, is ritual.
    However, both merit respect if you're a passing visitor.

    "Ours is not to reason why...."

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    @Jason said:

    Yeah. My experience is that nobody really cares what you believe except online. It's more about sitting practice, Dhamma talks, and discussions, and I've never seen anyone get side-eyed for not believing in things like rebirth.

    ABSOLUTELY!!!! :+1:

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    OP, how would anyone know you don't believe in karma or rebirth?

    Indeed.

    When I first attended dharma centres I did not believe in any of that Buddhist nonsense. I had different theistic nonsense. :o

    Nobody tried to brainwash me, make me wear orange robes or steal my children. Despite being mostly witless I never had any problems ... however I managed to keep what few wits I had around ...

    adamcrossleyKerome
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran UK Veteran
    edited April 16

    @Kerome said:
    So one thing I was wondering about is people’s experience of non-conformist views in a Western Buddhist community. If I were to say, I’m a secular Buddhist in the vein of Stephen Batchelor and I don’t believe in rebirth or karma, would people still accept me as part of the group? What’s your experience been?

    I would echo the other posts—believing in things has never been compulsory at any Buddhist group I’ve visited. Many people attend these groups for the stress-reduction benefits alone, which in my experience has always been respected.

    @Kerome, I just wanted to point you to this online retreat that has been advertised to me (20-24 April). Stephen and Martine Batchelor will be conducting the Dharma talks and meditation instructions respectively. They are regular teachers at Gaia House, which is the primary Insight Meditation centre in the UK. I’ve been on two retreats there and always found the teaching and the environment superb. Registration is free of charge. Check it out!

    https://gaiahouse.co.uk/son-online-retreat-20-24-april/

    Thinking about it, maybe you could find a Sŏn group that was practising near you, or online if not. Apparently the central practice in Sŏn is meditating with a word or phrase, like “Who am I?” And I’m sure I remember you saying recently that you sometimes meditate in this way.

    BunksKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:
    I would echo the other posts—believing in things has never been compulsory at any Buddhist group I’ve visited. Many people attend these groups for the stress-reduction benefits alone, which in my experience has always been respected.

    That’s good to hear. I have not had a lot of negative experiences but there have been some murmurings which reached me about a person who encountered this kind of behaviour so I thought I would check to see if it was widespread.

    @Kerome, I just wanted to point you to this online retreat that has been advertised to me (20-24 April). Stephen and Martine Batchelor will be conducting the Dharma talks and meditation instructions respectively.

    Cool, thank you for that, I will definitely check it out.

    adamcrossley
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran UK Veteran
    edited April 16

    By an extremely strange coincidence, I just tuned into the Gaia House sitting group on Zoom, and who was giving the Dharma talk but Martine Batchelor. What a lovely surprise!

    It was mentioned in the group that Stephen will be giving talks via Zoom as part of the Festival of the Middle Way this weekend. On Saturday at 11:30, he’ll be discussing Buddhism and the climate emergency. And on Sunday at the same time, he’ll be taking to Iain McGilchrist about Buddhism and the arts.

    http://www.middlewaysociety.org/

    Dakini
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