The Secular Buddhist

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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retrofuturist
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:30 am

Greetings Sanghamitta,
Sanghamitta wrote:Can we expect Retrofuturist that you will float that view of Tong-len on Dharma Wheel ?
No you can't expect that, and based on the information provided by Geoff I have since updated my earlier post with the caveat that I'm talking about Tonglen as described by Kelly McGonigal.

If you wish to advise Kelly of her error, it may be to the benefit of many meditators who undertake meditation practices with inadequate background on the Dhamma... http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p175356" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Nyana » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:41 am

Sanghamitta wrote:On " it all comes out in the wash "

I have been on a number of Vipassana and Metta Bhavana retreats involving participants from the spectrum of western Buddhist orientations. From devotees of the Suttas to those exclusively preoccupied with practice.
As far as I could see any major difference in what they experienced was pretty much down to effort ..effort put forth against a backdrop of Sila.
What they believed before hand appeared to have little or no effect on the outcome at all.
I suspect that as they travelled back from the retreat each participant donned the uniform that they most identify with, but perhaps it was a little less fitting. A little more roomy.
The qualitative difference in my experience is between those who regularly attend retreats and those who do not..this is not intended to offend. It is a much repeated and consistent observation.
To be sure, there are different degrees of commitment and different degrees of the sense of urgency to practice. I wonder though, how this notion of secular Buddhism fits with Buddhist monasticism?... I think most of the ordained monastics I know -- who have dedicated their lives to the dhammavinaya -- do accept the teachings on rebirth and take this view seriously and also practice contemplative recollections like recognition of the uncertainty of the time of death, and so on (although I've never conducted anything like a formal survey on the subject).

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:42 am

Your updated caveat is duly acknowledged. :smile:

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:48 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:On " it all comes out in the wash "

I have been on a number of Vipassana and Metta Bhavana retreats involving participants from the spectrum of western Buddhist orientations. From devotees of the Suttas to those exclusively preoccupied with practice.
As far as I could see any major difference in what they experienced was pretty much down to effort ..effort put forth against a backdrop of Sila.
What they believed before hand appeared to have little or no effect on the outcome at all.
I suspect that as they travelled back from the retreat each participant donned the uniform that they most identify with, but perhaps it was a little less fitting. A little more roomy.
The qualitative difference in my experience is between those who regularly attend retreats and those who do not..this is not intended to offend. It is a much repeated and consistent observation.
To be sure, there are different degrees of commitment and different degrees of the sense of urgency to practice. I wonder though, how this notion of secular Buddhism fits with Buddhist monasticism?... I think most of the ordained monastics I know -- who have dedicated their lives to the dhammavinaya -- do accept the teachings on rebirth and take this view seriously and also practice contemplative recollections like recognition of the uncertainty of the time of death, and so on (although I've never conducted anything like a formal survey on the subject).
I dont doubt your experience...I can tell you that many of the monks I know/knew best, and Ajahn Chah, dropped/drop the subject like a handful of warm ordure as soon as it was raised and did not pick it up again.
It became a bit of an in game for example ( which I am sure he was aware of ) to try to get Ajahn Sumedho to talk about Rebirth..
I think I MAY know what his actual position was...but he invariably answered in terms of " do the work ! " pointing metaphorically or literally to the cushion..
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Nyana » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:58 am

Sanghamitta wrote:I can tell you that many of the monks I know/knew best, and Ajahn Chah, dropped/drop the subject like a handful of warm ordure as soon as it was raised and did not pick it up again.
Yes, Chah and Sumedho are skillful teachers.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:... I have since updated my earlier post with the caveat that I'm talking about Tonglen as described by Kelly McGonigal.

If you wish to advise Kelly of her error, it may be to the benefit of many meditators who undertake meditation practices with inadequate background on the Dhamma... http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p175356" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I don't think anyone needs saving from her. The description was not from Kelly, it was from a Wikipedia article.

Actually I don't see any inherent contradiction between what I quoted, what Geoff said, and karuna and metta as described in the Suttas. Metta and karuna practice as described in the suttas generally involve some sort of visualisation:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#brahma1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"That disciple of the noble ones, headman — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will,
...
"That disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction with an awareness imbued with compassion...
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by kirk5a » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:08 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Buckwheat wrote: Or do you believe that we just get a little more pure and happy and then a little more pure and happy and then we die? There would be nothing immoral with that but I'm not sure it would qualify as Buddhism.
Sure, why not.
How is that different from the annihilationist view?

How would one go for refuge in the Buddha while thinking that much of what he said was false? Not just - "I don't personally know the truth on this point yet" but "what the Buddha is recorded saying there is false."
"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: The Secular Buddhist

Post by vinasp » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:03 pm

Hi everyone,

The annihilationist and the eternalist views are both views of a self.

Here are the descriptions of eternalism and annihilationism from DN.1
The Brahmajala Sutta, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

1. Eternalism (Sassatavāda): Views 1–4

30. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are eternalists, and who on four grounds proclaim the self and the world to be eternal. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

4. Annihilationism (Ucchedavāda): Views 51–57

84. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are annihilationists and who on seven grounds proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

85. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine and view: 'The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.' In this way some proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:24 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Liking or disliking particular teachings is only an issue in the absence of instruction.
With proper instruction one just gets on with it.
I agree, but this seems to assume there is only one approach to proper instruction, which is clearly not the case.

So there is also the issue of liking / disliking this or that approach ( this or that teacher ).

Spiny

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:28 pm

If the instruction is proper, liking or disliking this or that approach or teacher is as frivolous as liking or disliking a given fireman when the house is on fire....it really doesnt matter.
Its our response and application that matters, nothing else.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Buckwheat » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:20 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:If the instruction is proper, liking or disliking this or that approach or teacher is as frivolous as liking or disliking a given fireman when the house is on fire....it really doesnt matter.
Its our response and application that matters, nothing else.
I think you make a valid point that whomever saves you from the fire your going to be grateful. However, we are still in the burning building. How would you feel if the firefighter that comes into your bedroom to save you is a bumbing idiot? You would probably think,"We're never going to make it out of here." Similarly, we look for teachers we have confidence in. Do they seem to genuinely live the dhamma? Can they express it in a way that relates to your previous life experiences? These are very important questions in choosing a teacher.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:33 pm

If they were a " bumbling idiot "Then it wouldnt be " proper instruction "....would it ?
Likewise someone who does not live the Dhamma cannot, by definition, give proper instruction.
Relating to previous life experiences is neither here nor there imo.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Buckwheat » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:42 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Goofaholix wrote:It's not a big deal to believe that something you know and have experienced can be overcome and cease to arise, nibbana is defined in terms of the cessation of something very normal. Easier than believing in something you don't know and haven't experienced.
:twothumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
Is believing in Nirvana really that easy? We are talking about the irreversible elimination of all greed, hate, and delusion. Going on witout a sense of self? The final end of suffering? Totally eradicated. That seems HUGE to me.

I hope the Buddha was right and most of the time have have conviction that he was, but there are times that Buddhism seems like just another elixer to ease our slug through this miserable life.

I will admit this doubt arises partly due to my disbelief in rebirth.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Buckwheat » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:51 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:If they were a " bumbling idiot "Then it wouldnt be " proper instruction "....would it ?
Likewise someone who does not live the Dhamma cannot, by definition, give proper instruction.
Relating to previous life experiences is neither here nor there imo.
By "relating to previous experiences" I simply mean teaching the dhamma in a way that you can understand it and that should be pretty important. Some teaching styles work better for different people.

And when somebody says, "I don't like this teacher" there are multiple reasons they might say as much. One is that this is nicer than saying the teacher is a bumbling idiot. Another is that the teaching style just doesn't resonate with the student. Those two are important considerations. The other motive is a petty dislike of the teacher and that is frivolus and should be overcome.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by nowheat » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:55 pm

Good morning, all!
Buckwheat wrote: My question is do you think Nirvana is true, false, or "it's complicated"?
I don't have any "belief" in what *constitutes* nirvana one way or another. The Buddha indicates that it is a state beyond the comprehension of one who has yet to experience it, and I trust him. He teaches us not to waste time on things that are beyond our experience, so I don't. I believe there is such a thing because he describes it, but I don't expect that my opinions on the subject of what it is like are worth anything.

Do I have any theories about it? I suspect I would not be human if I didn't. My pet theory is this: No single explanation in the suttas will be adequate to understand nirvana. But what nirvana really is, is a waste of time to worry over.
And the reason I ask this is when doubt creeps up real strong for me it becomes tempting to dump the whole of Buddhism because without nirvana you don't have Buddhism.
Some traditions put nirvana in with the three marks and make the four something-or-others, with nirvana being "nirvana is bliss" and that's an article of faith. I notice the Buddha still suffered from backaches so I don't know about the definition of "bliss" there, but -- while I object to putting an article of faith in with the three marks (which are things we don't need faith to "get") -- I think it is the one thing we need to put into the faith category.
The buddha taught conviction/faith built on a trust in his teachings built on previous successes with subduing suffering. It is not a blind faith but it is still conviction. True unwaverin conviction only comes with stream entry (personal glimpse of nirvana). Do secular Buddhists see a role for conviction that nibbana is the final cessation of suffering?
I certainly do. I find nirvana provides me with a direction and a goal, but I also find that the effect of the practice is so excellent that I'd keep doing it even without the goal.
Without that I really don't think you are talking about Buddhism. There is nothing more central than nirvana and this is what moves Buddhism from "philosophy" to "religion". IMO
It really makes no difference whether we can justify calling Buddhism a philosophy or a religion or a way of life or whatever we want to call it. It is what it is regardless of labels, and it simply does what it does for us. As long as what it does for us is worthwhile to us, and can be seen by others ("by the wise" as the Buddha would put it) to be good for those around us, that's all that's really required for a driving force, at least for me.

Now I suppose I should read on and find out what everyone else had to say.

:namaste:

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