Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:40 pm

Many westerners ( at least I did ) have the impression that Buddhism is in tight with science, encourages critical thinking ( logic, evidence, etc ) and free thought. You see many younger westerners with a rebellious or scientific bent with an interest in Buddhism for that reason. After years of reading chunks of the Pali Canon, meeting Buddhists from Asia I think this impression is an exaggeration.

I don't think an authoritarian mentality is bad. Like anything else, it has a sweet spot. You can have too much or too little which can cause detriment.

Too little, and people tend not to stick with things long enough to see the benefits. Too much, and you get stagnation. People aren't free to question things, either from someone else telling them to be quiet or from people internalizing those rules inside of themselves. Without questioning things you can't learn enough to make things work, discover new beneficial things or make beneficial changes to make things work better.

In my opinion, too much of an authoritarian mentality is born out of a frightened or beaten down mind. Too little respect for authority is the sign of either an immature mind, a troubled mind or ignorance.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:57 pm

Question authority.

ALL authority?

Yes, ALL authority.

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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:11 pm

chownah wrote:Question authority.


I wasn't even thinking of anything that extreme. It would be nice to talk about dhamma things without people telling you to "shut up" either covertly or onvertly.........or people self censoring out of internalized fear of certain discussions.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby dagon » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:37 pm

I am not sure if there is a question that goes with this statement but anyway …

I don’t identify as a westerner or as Asian for that matter as I have lived in both (and other) cultures. My formative years were in asia and my education mainly in the western world.

My understanding is that Buddha taught us his Dhamma and asks us to test what we can out of it. He asks us to build faith in the path by our experiences and testing of the Dhamma that is within reach. We are free to explore what we can with our intellect but warns us of the parameters beyond which we are engaging in speculation.

I doubt that I have the ability now, or will have the ability in this lifetime of learning “enough to make things work, discover new beneficial things or make beneficial changes to make things work better.” Not only do we have the teaching of The Buddha but also 2500 years of practice of the dhamma by others.

As to the issue of censorship by others, or self censorship; I would agree that finding “the middle way’ on this issue is hard. Where censorship is justified is where we stray into the realms of what is beyond reach or where there is a legal requirement to do so. There are also cases where censorship is applied where the health and welfare of an individual would/could be put at risk. I personally do not find the official censorship to authoritarian – in fact I sometimes thing that there maybe a little too much kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity applied at least to some of what I and others have written.

In regard to censorship by others I guess that you need to look at that on a case by case basis. The 4 choices that I have made is to learn, ignore, report , or let it go and use it to help me work on my equanimity.

If i have said anything that offends you it has been unintentional i would offer you my apology - if i ever do please tell me.

with a lot of respect
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:53 pm

I'd like to discuss any examples of experienced authoritarianism in the Dhamma, rather than the isolated term.

I don't know what it means to be "tight" with science, but they do seem to share a positive evaluation of empiricism. However, Buddhism pairs this source of knowledge with personal phenomenology and the individual point of view in its discourses and considers this pairing wholly sufficient for the Path, while science tends to prefer a more thoroughgoing objectivity while increasing the range of sensory inputs which can be examined (instrumentation, etc.) and integrated into theory(ies).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Bodhisurfer » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:13 pm

chownah wrote:Question authority.

ALL authority?

Yes, ALL authority.

chownah


:thumbsup: with you on this one :goodpost:
Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:53 pm

daverupa wrote:I'd like to discuss any examples of experienced authoritarianism in the Dhamma, rather than the isolated term.

I don't know what it means to be "tight" with science, but they do seem to share a positive evaluation of empiricism.


Philosophers of science and scientists would disagree with that. Empiricism is about observable evidence that is observable by anyone. That isn't the case with Buddhism, which is force to say something like "sit on this cushion for 30 years, then you will see the thing I do". That is just for what can theoretically be seen through meditation. A canon full of multiple universes, invisible beings, etc would never be accepted as empirical.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:54 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
daverupa wrote:they do seem to share a positive evaluation of empiricism.


Philosophers of science and scientists would disagree with that... A canon full of multiple universes, invisible beings, etc would never be accepted as empirical.


There are a range of views on this; if the mind is considered a sense akin to the five used in Western empiricism, then Buddhist empiricism is empirical while also being different, as I had suggested above: "However..."
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:23 pm

Try telling that to a scientist, that the empiricism of Buddhism is the empricisim of science. Instead of evidence that everyone can see for themselves, you have evidence that you have to wait for several decades ( if ever ) doing a special mind altering regime to see.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:35 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Try telling that to a scientist, that the empiricism of Buddhism is the empricisim of science.


This is exactly what has not been said.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:15 pm

dagon wrote:My understanding is that Buddha taught us his Dhamma and asks us to test what we can out of it. He asks us to build faith in the path by our experiences and testing of the Dhamma that is within reach. We are free to explore what we can with our intellect but warns us of the parameters beyond which we are engaging in speculation.

:thumbsup:
I agree with all that.

dagon wrote:Not only do we have the teaching of The Buddha but also 2500 years of practice of the dhamma by others.

That can be a bit more problematic.
It seems to be in the nature of institutions to ossify and then fail to cope with changed conditions. Intelligent examination of the new conditions in the light of the original teachings will often provide a smarter response to the new status quo. Issues like ordination of women are a case in point. The current "Obedience" thread http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=18024 is another.

:namaste:
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:21 pm

daverupa wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:Try telling that to a scientist, that the empiricism of Buddhism is the empricisim of science.


This is exactly what has not been said.


I disagree. "Empiricism" is one word, with one meaning, as is "physics" and the term "critical thinking". Loads of westerners who have heard of Buddhism, but who have not digged in think Buddhism is all about those things, when it only has a small portion ( albeit more than other religions ) of those things, along with the usual superistitions, myths and appeals to faith ( accepting something as true without evidence ) as other religions.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby chownah » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:03 am

In discussing empiricism I think it best to decide if the discussion will be about Buddhism which is fairly weak on empiricism or about what the Buddha taught which is fairly strong on empiricism.

I am a philosopher of science and a scientist and I would say that the Buddha taught that we should learn through direct experience and the idea of learning through direct experience is a fundamental expression of empirical methodology.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:10 am

chownah wrote:I am a philosopher of science and a scientist and I would say that the Buddha taught that we should learn through direct experience and the idea of learning through direct experience is a fundamental expression of empirical methodology.


That and inference cover the sources of knowledge held in esteem by the Buddha according to the Nikayas, as far as I can discern.

(And by the way, there are all sorts of empiricisms, e.g. logical empiricism, phenomenalism, etc. While it doesn't encapsulate the Dhamma, it is nevertheless accurate to describe it as deploying a certain variety of empiricism.)

---

...and what of authoritarianism?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby chownah » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:21 am

Jhana4,
You expressed dislike for my original post and I'm pretty sure you didn't like my second post either. Both of my posts were meant to show certain aspects of your topic but it seems they were not the aspects of your topic that you wanted to discuss. I really hope that you can find the discussion that you are looking for.....really, I do hope it happens. Maybe you can rethink this topic and reword it to help keep it in the area that you would like to discuss. Maybe if you posted here how you would like the discussion to go or what kinds of ideas you were hoping to find then that would help.

Sorry if my posting is hindering the discussion you are looking for....
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:14 pm

Chowah,

I didn't dislike your posts. I just didn't agree with them or they inspired me to comment. I am concerned that you got the impression that I disliked to your posts. Can you point to anything that gave you that mistaken impression?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
Jhana4
 
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby chownah » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:57 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
chownah wrote:Question authority.


I wasn't even thinking of anything that extreme. It would be nice to talk about dhamma things without people telling you to "shut up" either covertly or onvertly.........or people self censoring out of internalized fear of certain discussions.

This is your post which gave me the impression that you did not like my first post.
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Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:17 pm

When I wrote

It would be nice to talk about dhamma things without people telling you to "shut up" either covertly or onvertly.........or people self censoring out of internalized fear of certain discussions.


I was referring to this board in general, not a particular person.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
Jhana4
 
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Location: U.S.A., Northeast

Re: Authoritarianism And Buddhism

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:01 am

Jhana4 wrote:
It would be nice to talk about dhamma things without people telling you to "shut up" either covertly or onvertly.........or people self censoring out of internalized fear of certain discussions.

So, if this was not meant as a reply to me (even though it was posted as a reply to me) then is this a pretty good statement of why you started this topic?...the thing you would like to discuss?
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