The Secular Buddhist

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

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:11 pm

Buckwheat wrote:OK - another question: do Secular Buddhists (collectively or individually) tend to believe in powers such as the ability to read minds?
I think this question demosonstrates missing the point.

I think secular Buddhists question the usefulness of belief for the sake of belief. What point would there be in believing in "the ability to read minds"?, what point would there be in not believing in "the ability to read minds"?

If you consider the purpose of the path as being the end of craving, aversion, and delusion then "the ability to read minds" is entirely beside the point and not relevant, therefore there is no need to have a position for or against.

It's only relvant if one is scrambling for something to believe in as if that would somehow validate that there is something spiritual going on here.

In a lot of peoples minds rebirth falls into this category also, but at least in the case of rebirth one can put up reasons rightly or wrongly why it shouldn't be.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

Sanghamitta
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:06 pm

Believing is pointless when that which is believed is untrue. Even more when it is true.
That is not an attempt to sound " Zenny"...its just a fact.
Buddhadhamma and belief systems are incompatible.
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 Philo » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:56 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Believing is pointless when that which is believed is untrue. Even more when it is true.
That is not an attempt to sound " Zenny"...its just a fact.
Buddhadhamma and belief systems are incompatible.
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you mean by "believe" here.

I suspect you mean it to mean "hold as true with insufficient evidence" (as it's sometimes used in religious circles), but I can't be sure.

I tend to use it as it's used in Western philosophy - as taking an attitude toward a proposition as if it were true (regardless of how it was formed and the evidence associated with it).

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retrofuturist
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:59 pm

Greetings Sanghamitta,
Sanghamitta wrote:Believing is pointless when that which is believed is untrue. Even more when it is true.
That is not an attempt to sound " Zenny"...its just a fact.
Can what you say here be resolved with MN 60, or do you believe MN 60 is in error?

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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Goofaholix
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:28 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Can what you say here be resolved with MN 60, or do you believe MN 60 is in error?
I can't speak for Sanghamitta but looking at MN 60 it seems to me the following is the point at which there is a departure from Dhamma;
shunning these three skillful activities — good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct — they will adopt & practice these three unskillful activities: bad bodily conduct, bad verbal conduct, bad mental conduct
I don't think not holding to fixed beliefs is necessarily a pre-requisite to the above happening.

The sutta is contrasting belief with disbelief rather than belief with nonbelief (aka agnostic).

If anything I'd think an agnostic view is in the spirit of the safe bet view explained in this sutta.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Dan74
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Dan74 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:51 pm

Sorry to step in late with my 2c worth, folks.

To me the value of Batchelor & Co is that they refocus the attention on the nitty-gritty of practice.

The trouble with them (IMO) is that what they strip away can be very valuable for practice too. Faith, beliefs in rebirth, veneration of the Buddha have and continue to inspire and motivate many practitioners around the world.

And to me, this is a good thing.

As an aside. Anecdote: Batchelor was with my teacher at the temple in Korea (well not in the same living quarters obviously but not completely segregated). FWIW she says that while she disagrees with him on many points, he is a very decent and kind man.
_/|\_

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by thaijeppe » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:44 am

Dan74 wrote:Sorry to step in late with my 2c worth, folks.

To me the value of Batchelor & Co is that they refocus the attention on the nitty-gritty of practice.

The trouble with them (IMO) is that what they strip away can be very valuable for practice too. Faith, beliefs in rebirth, veneration of the Buddha have and continue to inspire and motivate many practitioners around the world.
I totally agree with Dan74
Faith is an integrated part of the practice, and as I have stated before, when you start your pracice you need to have a lot of faith, because you don't know.
During your practise you will then realize that what you started to have faith in, is actually the truth, and by that your faith will be even strengthen, and
your practice will accelerate.
Faith is the cause, insight knowledge the effect.
Without Faith there would have been no Buddhisme. If no one had had fate in The Buddha, this discussion will not take place.

:anjali: Jeppe
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you
let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely,
you will know complete peace and freedom.
Ajahn Chah

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Goofaholix
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:06 am

thaijeppe wrote:I totally agree with Dan74
Faith is an integrated part of the practice, and as I have stated before, when you start your pracice you need to have a lot of faith, because you don't know.
During your practise you will then realize that what you started to have faith in, is actually the truth, and by that your faith will be even strengthen, and
your practice will accelerate.
Faith is the cause, insight knowledge the effect.
Without Faith there would have been no Buddhisme. If no one had had fate in The Buddha, this discussion will not take place.
The faith that you are talking about here though is faith in the practise is it not? it's the confidence (saddha) that if you put forth the prescribed actions you'll obtain the prescribed results.

I would have thought that believing that somebody can/could develop the ability to read minds, or that the Buddha spent aeons in Tusita heavens etc would require a different kind of belief, and such a belief would have no usefulness in terms of practise, clinging to such a belief could prove to be a hindrance even.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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thaijeppe
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by thaijeppe » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:32 am

The faith that you are talking about here though is faith in the practise is it not? it's the confidence (saddha) that if you put forth the prescribed actions you'll obtain the prescribed results.
Yes it is faith/confidence in what The Buddha taught, because without that you don't get anywhere.
Concerning the ability to read minds and similar things, I don't think it is so important for your practice.
When we talk about practice, we need to look at what is important for your practice to develop.
Then there are all the minor important thinks, like mind reading etc, just let them go, they are not important for your development.

:anjali: Jeppe
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you
let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely,
you will know complete peace and freedom.
Ajahn Chah

twelph
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by twelph » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:25 am

Snp 4.5 , PTS: Sn 796-803
One who isn't inclined toward either side — becoming or not-, here or beyond — who has no entrenchment when considering what's grasped among doctrines, hasn't the least preconceived perception with regard to what's seen, heard, or sensed. By whom, with what, should he be pigeonholed here in the world? — this brahman who hasn't adopted views.
My belief is that there exists nothing after this, but I don't pretend that I know for sure. Eventually I hope to not care at all, and have neutral feelings on the matter. For now though, I don't think it's affecting my practice too much. Most of the Buddha's teachings can be experienced directly, and that's always been important to me.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sanghamitta,
Sanghamitta wrote:Believing is pointless when that which is believed is untrue. Even more when it is true.
That is not an attempt to sound " Zenny"...its just a fact.
Can what you say here be resolved with MN 60, or do you believe MN 60 is in error?

Metta,
Retro. :)
I think that when Luang Por Chah said that "the only book worth reading is the heart " he actually meant it. He was not being provocative or flippant.

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

Bhikku Bodhi.

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retrofuturist
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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:35 am

Greetings Sanghamitta,

I believe that goes nowhere towards answering the question, other than to imply that you will not stoop to such low depths as to read a sutta (yet ironically, you will read words on a Buddhist forum by those who clearly aren't Buddhas).

Whatever floats your boat down the Thames, I guess.

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 Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:48 am

Well that assumes that I have not read the suttas Retro.. :smile:
In reality I attended I.B. Horner's classes on the suttas at the London Buddhist Society for several years. I also attended the classes given by the great Pali scholar Dr Ven H Saddhatissa at the London Buddhist Vihara for a year.
On meeting Ajahn Chah things took a different course.

:anjali:

edited to remove senior moment.
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 Kenshou » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:31 am

Who was himself well enough versed in the suttas, if I'm not mistaken. But of course every tool has its proper place and eventually things will need to develop a dimension beyond theory and literature. If that is what you mean to state then I have no disagreement. The majority of our real practice isn't going to take place in front of a book. But even so "reading the heart" is something easy to do wrong and all the more so without the right foundation. No reason that sutta cannot help construct that foundation in addition to our instruction and practice. I will look forward to the day when I can read my heart confidently and independently without training wheels but I don't expect to get up that hill without the right pair of boots.

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Re: The Secular Buddhist

Post by Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:51 am

The right foundation is I think the company of those who read their own hearts.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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