Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:14 am

What I see here in this thread, and elsewhere on the forum, is a lack of self-reflexive analysis or discussion about one's own distorted vision.
Too often do we see "I've got it right, this other approach (or your approach) is wrong"

A friend posted the following article by Ajahn Thanissaro this morning on facebook and speaks to the heart of the issue.
I urge you all to "lend an ear" as it were and give the good bhikkhu's article the wise attention that it deserves.

Lost in Quotation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Dan74 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:58 am

Ben wrote:What I see here in this thread, and elsewhere on the forum, is a lack of self-reflexive analysis or discussion about one's own distorted vision.
Too often do we see "I've got it right, this other approach (or your approach) is wrong"

A friend posted the following article by Ajahn Thanissaro this morning on facebook and speaks to the heart of the issue.
I urge you all to "lend an ear" as it were and give the good bhikkhu's article the wise attention that it deserves.

Lost in Quotation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

kind regards,

Ben


Indeed, one of the best Suttas, to keep returning to, and contemplating. And a very good talk by the Venerable.
_/|\_
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Kare » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:00 am

binocular wrote:
The scientific model is necessarily reductionist and does not apply in areas that people generally consider the most important aspect of their lives - ie. their inner experience of life.



I agree. The scientific model explains the facts that make up the "outer" experience of life. But for the "inner" experience of life, as you say, the Dhamma is more helpful. That is why I regard science and Dhamma as complimentary and equally important. As long as we do not mix up the outer and the inner, the objective and the subjective experiences of life, I see no conflict between them at all.

Kare wrote:Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.


How come you are recommending it?
Do you endorse it?


Parts of it. Especially the first half of the book, where the author shows the connection between the second law of thermodynamics and the evolution of life. Also the chapters showing how morality arose from evolution. I have to admit, however, that I struggle with accepting the radical anatta of the second half of the book.

But don't take my word for this. Read the book and evaluate it for yourself.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:56 am

binocular wrote:And that is called scientism.
The scientific model is necessarily reductionist and does not apply in areas that people generally consider the most important aspect of their lives - ie. their inner experience of life.


If you want to believe in geocentric world, Earth being flat disc on 4 elephants who stand on the turtle, etc - you are welcome.

In any case science is the best we have right now dealing with biology, astronomy, physics, etc. Of course current science is imperfect. We don't know everything.
If you want the final truth, there is the Bible. If you want imperfect current knowledge about external world there is science.

Dhamma teachings is the best psychology. These two can compliment each other.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:01 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:Which dhamma?
The one without teachings on kamma and rebirth - and giant fishes?


The one dealing with origin and cessation of suffering and what happens here-and-now.


As things stand, humans typically have a sense of past and future, and they tend to consider their actions in regard to past and future.

It is with consideration for the past and the future that we act.



While at some points we need to consider future consequences of actions in order to change behavior in here-and-now, ultimately this present moment is what is actually experienced. Thoughts about past and future occur in the present moment.


binocular wrote:If humans would really be limited to merely the present moment, we'd probably have no sense that there is suffering to begin with.


Great. The less suffering the better. That is what I want.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:16 pm

Kare wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
binocular wrote:Like I already said:

Falsifiability may be an essential scientific criterium - but how exactly do scientific criteria relate to an actual person?

What reason do we have to believe that scientific criteria can adequately grasp the human experience and provide us with heuristics for achieving our goals, regardless of what those goals may be?

Stepping aside from the broader discussion for a moment:
Science generally doesn't claim spiritual or philosophical insight but limits itself to what is observable and verifiable in the physical world. It is very good at what it does - science works and that is why it has become one of our main ways of understanding the world.
Problems arise when people try to apply science outside its realm of expertise - trying to derive morality from it, for instance - or when people try to say that science is wrong within its realm of expertise - saying that the world was literally created in seven days, for instance.

:namaste:
Kim


Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.


Based on this review, this book seems to go beyond the "dictates of science" and requires much interpretation of the facts based on the authors opinion. Certainly, based on evolutionary history, we can glean insight as to what generalized moral characteristics are conducive to a the survival of our society, but that is far from dictating an ethical code of conduct. What does evolutionary history have to say about such heated issues as abortion or gay marriage?

Also, our evolutionary history would only tell us what qualities were conducive to survival over the last few million years. As our future looks to be quite different from that time period, maybe we will need a whole new set of moral characteristics to survive this future environment characterized by rapid advancements in technology, information dissemination, and overpopulation.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:33 pm

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:Dhamma teachings is the best psychology. These two can compliment each other.


Maybe we need to reconsider the term "psychology". The way I once heard it, is that modern psychology is well suited to corrected acute mental illness, while dhamma is well suited to enhancing the "normal" mind. I wouldn't be surprised if an excellent teacher would be capable of healing a mind with acute mental illness, but on average, a person with acute mental illness is not going to benefit very much from reading suttas and meditating if they do not get some feedback from a very wise person.

Dhamma is great for learning to deal with the sorrows and struggles of everyday life, and the meditation tools laid out by the Buddha have their place in a therapeutic regime, but modern psychology is more focused on acute illness, and therefore better suited at handling those problems. My main point, is that we have to realize that dhamma is not better or worse than modern psychology, simply that they each have their time and place, and sometimes a synthesis is optimal.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:00 pm

Buckwheat wrote:Maybe we need to reconsider the term "psychology".


By psychology I mean study and dealing with the mental states (as opposed to the "external" world) and Dhamma goes further than merely dealing with extreme mental states. It is supposed to fix all unpleasant mental states.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Kare » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:01 pm

Buckwheat wrote:Based on this review,


I would never base anything on a review which is so obviously prejudiced as that one ... unless, of course, if it supports my own prejudices.

A golden rule: If you wish to discuss a book, read the book.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby binocular » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:44 pm

Ben wrote:What I see here in this thread, and elsewhere on the forum, is a lack of self-reflexive analysis or discussion about one's own distorted vision.
Too often do we see "I've got it right, this other approach (or your approach) is wrong"


It may be that; but sometimes it is also due to one's particular communication skills that one misinterprets something as an ego-contest when it fact it isn't.

For example, my experience is that people who don't have formal training in college-level philosophy tend to find college-level philosophizing offensive. Also, people who aren't trained to recognize and to use different communication styles (assertive, aggressive, passive, passive aggressive) also tend to take offense at the assertive style.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby binocular » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:50 pm

Alex123 wrote:If you want to believe in geocentric world, Earth being flat disc on 4 elephants who stand on the turtle, etc - you are welcome.

In any case science is the best we have right now dealing with biology, astronomy, physics, etc. Of course current science is imperfect. We don't know everything.
If you want the final truth, there is the Bible. If you want imperfect current knowledge about external world there is science.


Lol.
I don't think you'll get very far with an attitude like that.


Alex123 wrote:What is unfortunate is that despite Buddhism being the best, the best religion - it still have elements of faith in it. And while we can ignore irrelevant teachings such as fish 5,000 km in length and sun rotating around the earth, and demon rahu swallowing the moon- kamma and rebirth are important elements that we can only believe in.


Without some consideration for kamma and rebirth, one's efforts will possibly be limited.

If one believes that this one lifetime is all there is, and given that death could come at any time and cut one's efforts short: in the face of this, how much effort will one really be willing to invest, into anything, not just in spiritual practice?
It takes a good amount of pride and egotism to insist in investing effort despite the belief that this one lifetime is all there is and despite the awareness that death could come at any time and cut one's efforts short. But what when that pride and egotism are gone, for whatever reason?


You might want to consider this book by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
The Truth of Rebirth
And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby binocular » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:53 pm

Buckwheat wrote:I wouldn't be surprised if an excellent teacher would be capable of healing a mind with acute mental illness, but on average, a person with acute mental illness is not going to benefit very much from reading suttas and meditating if they do not get some feedback from a very wise person.


Agreed.

Dhamma is great for learning to deal with the sorrows and struggles of everyday life, and the meditation tools laid out by the Buddha have their place in a therapeutic regime, but modern psychology is more focused on acute illness, and therefore better suited at handling those problems. My main point, is that we have to realize that dhamma is not better or worse than modern psychology, simply that they each have their time and place, and sometimes a synthesis is optimal.


I don't think so at all.

Modern psychology requires a firm belief that this one lifetime is all there is, it requires a firm belief in materialism.
Without those beliefs, I think it is depressing to try to keep with the treatments/approaches that psychologists tend to prescribe.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:56 pm

binocular wrote:Without some consideration for kamma and rebirth, one's efforts will possibly be limited.


And how do we know that there isn't some God (and which one?) who is going to send one to eternal hell for not believing in him? How do we know that more rational teaching than Christianity, and evidence against God, Creation, etc, is not created by God to test our faith in Him and his son Jesus who died for us?

Unfortunately we have to take things on faith.

binocular wrote:If one believes that this one lifetime is all there is, and given that death could come at any time and cut one's efforts short: in the face of this, how much effort will one really be willing to invest, into anything, not just in spiritual practice?


I agree. But how much effort do you want to invest in the "right path" without believing in Jehovah, Allah, or Zeus, for example? Who cares for "maggaphala" if the peace will last only for this short life until one is burning in hell forever? Pascal's wager is totally useless in argument for rebirth or some religion.

How do we know that this world didn't spontaneously appear 5 minutes ago with all our memories of past dozens of years, old and young people, crumbling ancient buildings and new buildings, planets, stars etc?

Life is full of uncertainties... The only certainty is doubt or faith, and it can happen only in the mind and right now.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Kare » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:21 pm

binocular wrote:It takes a good amount of pride and egotism to insist in investing effort despite the belief that this one lifetime is all there is and despite the awareness that death could come at any time and cut one's efforts short.


Pride and egotism?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:25 pm

Alex123 wrote:Unfortunately we have to take things on faith.

Yeah. It's preferable to paralysis.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:28 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Unfortunately we have to take things on faith.

Yeah. It's preferable to paralysis.



Not taking a step toward going to hell (for disbelieving God and his son Jesus) is preferable than walking toward it.
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:45 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Unfortunately we have to take things on faith.

Yeah. It's preferable to paralysis.



Not taking a step toward going to hell (for disbelieving God and his son Jesus) is preferable than walking toward it.

It's preferable to take some things on faith. The Buddha did not advocate faith in which the results were only knowable after death.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:51 pm

Alex123 wrote:Not taking a step toward going to hell (for disbelieving God and his son Jesus) is preferable than walking toward it.

kirk5a wrote:It's preferable to take some things on faith. The Buddha did not advocate faith in which the results were only knowable after death.


Based on what do you pick one faith over another faith?
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:Based on what do you pick one faith over another faith?

One in which there can be observable beneficial results here and now, not solely about results after death. The Kalama sutta provides guidance on that question.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:58 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Based on what do you pick one faith over another faith?

One in which there can be observable beneficial results here and now, not solely about results after death. The Kalama sutta provides guidance on that question.


Who care about short lasting results (which might not even be achieved) in this short life if afterwards one will eternally burn in hell? Maybe the results (if they even exist) are from the devil (or God) to tempt us away from Christianity.
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