Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
Locked
User avatar
Kusala
Posts: 754
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:02 am

Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kusala » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:51 am

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16496
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:29 am


User avatar
James the Giant
Posts: 792
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:41 am

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by James the Giant » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:00 am

Just another Stephen Batchelor-bashing article.
Nothing new.
Same old anti-secular-buddhism position.
Fair enough to criticise, and valid points, but it has all been said before.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Ben » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:14 am

I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
kirk5a
Posts: 1959
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by kirk5a » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:12 pm

Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
That's an interesting statement. Care to expand on that? For example, we could read Bhikkhu Bodhi's various articles about Buddhism and get a vision of Buddhism. In what ways do you see that as distorted?
"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

User avatar
marc108
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by marc108 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:02 pm

Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
:thumbsup: :goodpost:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

Dinsdale
Posts: 6117
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:27 am

Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
So how do we assess the level of distortion in a particular approach?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Buckwheat
Posts: 960
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:39 am
Location: California USA

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Buckwheat » Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:12 pm

porpoise wrote:
Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
So how do we assess the level of distortion in a particular approach?
Investigation, the second "Factor of Awakening".
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:24 pm

Good link. Imo it pretty much nails batchelor:
There would be nothing wrong if Batchelor simply rejected the authenticity of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the core of his teachings, but instead he rejects the most reliable accounts of the Buddha’s vision and replaces it with his own, while then projecting it on the Buddha that exists only in his imagination.
What he is teaching doesnt look like buddhism to me, he should call it something else.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:44 pm

porpoise wrote:
Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
So how do we assess the level of distortion in a particular approach?
Unfortunately we have no perfect way apart from practicing the best we know and reaping pragmatic results. What is left is living tradition and guidance of living, or recently deceased Ajahns (through writtings of their teaching). The Buddha didn't leave video or audio recordings. I don't even know that He existed, though I do believe despite the lack of hard evidence.

The best thing we can do is to get close to what the early Buddhists believed, hoping that they didn't unintentionally distort Buddha's message like Sati or Arittha did (even though these two lived under the Buddha).

Here are the problem areas:
1)a) As Buddha was teaching some monk, ven. Ananda heard the lecture ONE time.
b) Some other monk heard the lecture one time and had to tell it to ven. Ananda who then remembered it.

2) How accurately word-for-word did ven. Ananda remember?

3) What did Ananda recollect 20 years later at the First Council.

4) How accurate was the teaching that was verbally being spread from generation to generation of monks for few centuries.

5) Teaching was then written down centuries after the Buddha during Fourth Buddhist Council (1st century BCE).

6) Copying books for centuries until today.
The climate of Theravāda countries is not conducive to the survival of manuscripts. Apart from brief quotations in inscriptions and a two-page fragment from the eighth or ninth century found in Nepal, the oldest manuscripts known are from late in the fifteenth century,[41] and there is not very much from before the eighteenth.[42]link
The Ashoka's pillars (supposedly built centuries after the Buddha) contain very little, and very general Dhamma.
The Gandhāran Buddhist texts are the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, dating from about the 1st century CE.[1] They are written in Gāndhārī, and are possibly the oldest extant Indic texts altogether. link
Gāndhārī is not pāli and neither is it Theravādin, it is Dharmaguptaka school. And it is still ~5 centuries after the Buddha's death.

We have very little (if any) hard evidence about the Theravāda and pāli teaching prior to 15th century. That is about 2000 after the Buddha!

Lots of places for typos, omissions, and mistakes!
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 11916
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by DNS » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:40 pm

Alex123 wrote:
The Gandhāran Buddhist texts are the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, dating from about the 1st century CE.[1] They are written in Gāndhārī, and are possibly the oldest extant Indic texts altogether. link
Gāndhārī is not pali and neither is it Theravada. And it is still ~5 centuries after the Buddha's death.
We have Ashoka's edicts dated to about 250 BCE and the the British Museum Scrolls you quoted to about the 1st century CE. That is pretty hard evidence, although still a few hundred years after Buddha's paranibbana.
Alex123 wrote: We have very little (if any) hard evidence about the Theravada and pali teaching prior to 15th century, about 2000 after the Buddha!
See above, we do have some hard evidence much earlier than the 15th century.
Alex123 wrote: Lots of places for typos, omissions, and mistakes!
True, but (in my opinion) this does not give some modern scholars free license to re-write Buddhism completely to fit their views, for example to claim that the Buddha did not teach anatta, rebirth, etc.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:09 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:We have Ashoka's edicts dated to about 250 BCE and the the British Museum Scrolls you quoted to about the 1st century CE. That is pretty hard evidence, although still a few hundred years after Buddha's paranibbana.
I bolded the important part. And what do Ashoka's edicts teach? Do they teach Theravada or other scholastic doctrine?

David N. Snyder wrote: See above, we do have some hard evidence much earlier than the 15th century.
Still those fragments are centuries later than the Buddha. A century is a long time for doctrine and interpretations to evolve.

Considering that even when the Buddha was alive some monks misinterpreted him, nothing to say about what can happen centuries later and without the living Buddha to correct mistakes...

David N. Snyder wrote: True, but (in my opinion) this does not give some modern scholars free license to re-write Buddhism completely to fit their views, for example to claim that the Buddha did not teach anatta, rebirth, etc.
Right. Those need to call the new teaching to be their own rather than the Buddha's. But with all of that said, we don't know what Buddha (if He even existed) has actually vocally said, and in which dialect. We have fragments of Buddhist teaching that dates centuries after Buddha's death.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
Kare
Posts: 766
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kare » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:49 pm

Ben wrote:I think most, if not all visions of Buddhism are distortions. Some visions more distorted than others.
Instead of 'distortions', I would rather say 'adaptions'. The Dhamma is adapted to the society, culture and person. This happened already at the time of the Buddha, when he debated with brahmans and ascetics, when he gave Vinaya rules motivated by a wish to keep up respect for the bhikkhus among the lay folk.

It has been an ongoing process since then. The Buddhadhamma was exported to other cultures in Asia, and it was adapted in different ways to those cultures. Today the Buddhadhamma is in the process of being adapted to Western society.

A totally unadapted form of Buddhism is (almost) unthinkable. It would mean an extremely fundamentalist literal belief in every word in every Sutta, and it would only work in a society that is an exact copy of northern India at the time of the Buddha. So we should not complain over adaptions. Adaptions may be good, and they may be bad. The important question is of course this: How well is the adaption done? Does it keep the essence of the Dhamma? And that can of course be discussed (what is the essence of the Dhamma?) ... and discussed (how well is this specific adaption preserve the essence of the Dhamma?) ... and discussed ...
Mettāya,
Kåre

User avatar
imagemarie
Posts: 420
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by imagemarie » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:02 pm

:goodpost: (I like Stephen Bachelor)

:anjali:

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 5016
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:44 pm

I'm going to say :goodpost: too, although I'm not madly enthusiastic about Batchelor.
As Kare said, the teachings were adapted to (and in) each new culture they were carried to. Over time they diverged further, which is why we have so many schools - each of which is still "Buddhism" by its own account and by any reasonable outside assessment. Now - in the last fifty years anyway - the different schools have come into regular contact with each other after their long isolation and have to resolve some of the differences.
At the same time, the dhamma is finding ways to co-exist with a scientific worldview and is having to downplay (or even throw out) elements which are totally inconsistent with that worldview. (And not just the dhamma - the Christians have had exactly the same problem, and the Moslems are going to have it even worse as and when their cultures become truly modern.)
Batchelor's is just one of the more radical adaption attempts. Not the worst, not the best ... but at least it's an attempt.

:namaste:
Kim

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 63 guests