The place of doubt in practice

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SDC
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The place of doubt in practice

Post by SDC » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:03 pm

Luca123 wrote: I already hear the true believers saying "I will believe no-matter-what"
I'm somewhat ambivalent to kamma, rebirth, long life spans, etc., but I'm curious what the issue is even if such true believers are out there. Why is that a problem? Someone trying to force it down your throat?

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by Luca123 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:23 pm

SDC wrote:
Luca123 wrote: I already hear the true believers saying "I will believe no-matter-what"
I'm somewhat ambivalent to kamma, rebirth, long life spans, etc., but I'm curious what the issue is even if such true believers are out there. Why is that a problem? Someone trying to force it down your throat?
Who said that there is a problem?

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by SDC » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:36 pm

Luca123 wrote:
SDC wrote:
Luca123 wrote: I already hear the true believers saying "I will believe no-matter-what"
I'm somewhat ambivalent to kamma, rebirth, long life spans, etc., but I'm curious what the issue is even if such true believers are out there. Why is that a problem? Someone trying to force it down your throat?
Who said that there is a problem?
Your skeptical tone. And it is not a problem if it is a problem for you, but I am just curious as to why. And, no, you are not obligated to explain yourself but it begs the question.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:55 pm

Luca123 wrote: I already hear the true believers saying "I will believe no-matter-what"
The whole point is to go beyond conviction, to attain the truth and become one who is faithless. Conviction, skeptical doubt or Faith one way or another are attributes of one who does not know for sure. Person should attain the truth and final knowledge.
In practice tho it is obviously better to hold conviction in what is the truth, as in making the right bet, that would be the next best thing to attainment of the truth. Third best thing would be being skeptical to the truth and forth would be being fixed in wrong view effectively denying the truth.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by binocular » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:28 pm

SDC wrote:I'm somewhat ambivalent to kamma, rebirth, long life spans, etc., but I'm curious what the issue is even if such true believers are out there. Why is that a problem?
Some possible replies to this:
-- Envying the true believers their confidence (while lacking such kind of confidence oneself).
-- Fearing that what the true believers say is in fact true, and what (usually bad) consequences this will likely have for one (in short, it's the prospect of no guilt-free fooling around anymore).
-- Confusion or unease about the fact that one is living in a universe in which there is seems to be no way to know what the truth is (at least no actionable way that would produce results in a foreseeable time).
-- Fearing that one will be left behind (while others move on, in knowledge of the truth).
-- Fearing that something might be wrong with oneself, given that one seems to be having more difficulty in knowing the truth (and esp. The Truth) in comparison with others (ie. the true believers).
-- Fearing that one will be singled out for being different (and not knowing how to cope with that prospect).
-- Feeling weak and fearing that one will be overpowered by others (the true believers).
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by SDC » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:18 pm

binocular wrote:
SDC wrote:I'm somewhat ambivalent to kamma, rebirth, long life spans, etc., but I'm curious what the issue is even if such true believers are out there. Why is that a problem?
Some possible replies to this:
-- Envying the true believers their confidence (while lacking such kind of confidence oneself).
-- Fearing that what the true believers say is in fact true, and what (usually bad) consequences this will likely have for one (in short, it's the prospect of no guilt-free fooling around anymore).
-- Confusion or unease about the fact that one is living in a universe in which there is seems to be no way to know what the truth is (at least no actionable way that would produce results in a foreseeable time).
-- Fearing that one will be left behind (while others move on, in knowledge of the truth).
-- Fearing that something might be wrong with oneself, given that one seems to be having more difficulty in knowing the truth (and esp. The Truth) in comparison with others (ie. the true believers).
-- Fearing that one will be singled out for being different (and not knowing how to cope with that prospect).
-- Feeling weak and fearing that one will be overpowered by others (the true believers).
As you and I have discussed in other threads, one of the healthiest attitudes I believe one can have is to maintain appropriate levels of skepticism for no other reason than, “If you do not know for sure than you do not know for sure.” Inroads to the Dhamma would be far more welcoming if such an attitude were more accepted. I think many suffer in silence with this with not much offered solace other than, “You do not need to accept it to practice”, but at the same time get crooked glances for that very skepticism. Or worse, “If you do not like it, you should stop investigating Buddhism”.

Though it is clearly built into the Dhamma, right into the nature of the pursuit, even beyond the “free inquiry” offered in the Kalama Sutta: doubt is a fetter, i.e. it is supposed to be there for the puthujjana. It is indicative of that state and therefore is a very important thing to acknowledge. So one’s ability to disregard doubt is not indicative of one who has gone beyond doubt, nor is bolstered faith indicative of ignorance. So knowing how to evaluate what doubt remains is critical to understanding what it is that we actually do know.

Though there is more to it than that – you can be a skeptic on the way in to “Buddhism” but also on the way out. DW has had its fair share of both, veiled and unveiled. I prefer the unveiled in either direction. Far more thought provoking than the run of the mill axe grinding.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by binocular » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:46 pm

SDC wrote:As you and I have discussed in other threads, one of the healthiest attitudes I believe one can have is to maintain appropriate levels of skepticism for no other reason than, “If you do not know for sure than you do not know for sure.” Inroads to the Dhamma would be far more welcoming if such an attitude were more accepted. I think many suffer in silence with this with not much offered solace other than, “You do not need to accept it to practice”, but at the same time get crooked glances for that very skepticism. Or worse, “If you do not like it, you should stop investigating Buddhism”.

Though it is clearly built into the Dhamma, right into the nature of the pursuit, even beyond the “free inquiry” offered in the Kalama Sutta: doubt is a fetter, i.e. it is supposed to be there for the puthujjana. It is indicative of that state and therefore is a very important thing to acknowledge. So one’s ability to disregard doubt is not indicative of one who has gone beyond doubt, nor is bolstered faith indicative of ignorance. So knowing how to evaluate what doubt remains is critical to understanding what it is that we actually do know.
I think it's very important to know how to live with and move on with and despite doubt, or uncertainty about the Dhamma, or about Buddhism as a whole. (Note how the term "uncertainty" carries different, less negative connotations than "doubt".)
I wish there would be more discussion about this. Instead, I find it is usually the elephant in the room.

I don't understand why acknowledging one's doubts or uncertainties should be such a problem (to others, and/or to oneself) or reason for criticism or even ostracism.
Feigning faith or certainty really isn't helping anyone.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by SDC » Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:47 pm

binocular wrote:I think it's very important to know how to live with and move on with and despite doubt, or uncertainty about the Dhamma, or about Buddhism as a whole. (Note how the term "uncertainty" carries different, less negative connotations than "doubt".)
I wish there would be more discussion about this. Instead, I find it is usually the elephant in the room.

I don't understand why acknowledging one's doubts or uncertainties should be such a problem (to others, and/or to oneself) or reason for criticism or even ostracism.
Feigning faith or certainty really isn't helping anyone.
Skepticism is exposure, exposure to that uncertainty, and many people are working very hard not to be exposed, so it is always a touchy subject. Doubt about the Dhamma is found in private, but it should be an acceptable thing to talk about. It is there as one of the three lower fetters and is nothing to be embarrassed about. You need doubt, you need to be able to identify it, it highlights the things that are troubling and literally points at the work.

Like I said, I think it comes down to which direction the skeptic is trying to go; if it’s towards the Dhamma I think people are more apt to soften towards that attitude, but if that intention of direction is not made clear it leaves a berth for the reader to fill in the blanks with nothing but insinuation and assumption, and that is when things can get ugly. The reader and the writer alike need to accept equal responsibility in that.

I split this thread off from "Long life spans".

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:58 am

I don't think doubting Devas, karma, Rebirth, and long lifespans is the same thing as doubting Buddhism itself. What is Buddhism? At its most basic core, buddhism is a system for removing suffering by removing hatred, Greed, and ignorance. One might consider Doubting Devas, karma, Rebirth, and long lifespans as Ignorance, but this is fine! Absolutely Fine! With a capital F. Doubt is the nature of the mind. Our mind is doubtful. Pretending it isn't to adhere to religious expectations is the OPPOSITE of the Dhamma, which asks us to look for truth within ourselves. This is what the Buddha did! I see so many many Buddhists trying to be "Good Buddhists" or "Do what they are supposed to" because they want to get nirvana and they want other people to see that they are chasing it. Pretending you don't think or feel something you do, or lying to yourself, is NOT the Dhamma. It INCREASES ignorance. It is not Right Speech. It is not Right Intention.

If you doubt Devas, karma, Rebirth, and long lifespans then shout that to others, get their opinions, look for facts, look for proof. Seek out spiritual methods for contacting Devas and find your answers. I believe in rebirth because it makes sense to me. I believe in kamma because it makes sense to me, I believe in long lifespans because it makes sense to me. If it didn't make sense to me, I wouldn't pretend it did.

If members of the Sangha shame people for doubting Devas, karma, Rebirth, and long lifespans , then they are impeding their practice and yours. Shame does nothing but shame people. It is not Right Speech. To talk to people about WHY they don't believe in Devas, karma, Rebirth, and long lifespans is appropriate. To help them find answers. Give suggestions. Ect.

Shaming others is Desire for religious doctrine and ritual, which is one of the 10 Fetters that must be given up.

Edit: Doubt is in fact essential for practice. It is one of the things required to have a curious mind which is essential to learning about the mind, about the Dhamma. The Buddha himself doubted the religious practices of his day. Have at it!

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by binocular » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:04 am

SDC wrote:Skepticism is exposure, exposure to that uncertainty, and many people are working very hard not to be exposed, so it is always a touchy subject. Doubt about the Dhamma is found in private, but it should be an acceptable thing to talk about. It is there as one of the three lower fetters and is nothing to be embarrassed about. You need doubt, you need to be able to identify it, it highlights the things that are troubling and literally points at the work.
Okay, this begins to answer for me a question I had about where the work is.
Like I said, I think it comes down to which direction the skeptic is trying to go; if it’s towards the Dhamma I think people are more apt to soften towards that attitude, but if that intention of direction is not made clear it leaves a berth for the reader to fill in the blanks with nothing but insinuation and assumption, and that is when things can get ugly. The reader and the writer alike need to accept equal responsibility in that.
But that's just it: one cannot (always) know in advance whether the direction one seems to be going in is leading to a destination one wishes to be in.

How is one supposed to intelligibly desire to go towards the Dhamma, when one doesn't even know clearly what the Dhamma is?

Or, one happens to have a strong attachment to many things that have to do with Buddhism, but then wakes one morning to find themselves worried that becoming enlightened would make them into an animated corpse (and as such, not a goal to aspire to)?

Enlightenment and complete cessation of suffering can sound nice and appealing enough at first glance (because who wouldn't want to be enlightened and be free from all suffering, right?). But when looking into the path that is proposed as the means to reach them, one can get horrified by what the path of practice would do to one.

How is an unenlightened person supposed to have a clear image of what it is like to be an arahant?
As such, how is an unenlightened person supposed to have a clear image of whether they want to become an arahant or not?

And as for the lesser attainments -- they do feel like defeat.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:33 pm

binocular wrote:

How is one supposed to intelligibly desire to go towards the Dhamma, when one doesn't even know clearly what the Dhamma is?



It seems like once you get this question sorted out, the rest would fall into place. Time to learn, either from the Suttas or a teacher.Everyone has to learn for themselves what the Dhama means and if it is applicable to them and their lives. Even for the Buddha, the path required a lot of hard work.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by SDC » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:34 pm

binocular wrote:
SDC wrote:Skepticism is exposure, exposure to that uncertainty, and many people are working very hard not to be exposed, so it is always a touchy subject. Doubt about the Dhamma is found in private, but it should be an acceptable thing to talk about. It is there as one of the three lower fetters and is nothing to be embarrassed about. You need doubt, you need to be able to identify it, it highlights the things that are troubling and literally points at the work.
Okay, this begins to answer for me a question I had about where the work is.
Like I said, I think it comes down to which direction the skeptic is trying to go; if it’s towards the Dhamma I think people are more apt to soften towards that attitude, but if that intention of direction is not made clear it leaves a berth for the reader to fill in the blanks with nothing but insinuation and assumption, and that is when things can get ugly. The reader and the writer alike need to accept equal responsibility in that.
But that's just it: one cannot (always) know in advance whether the direction one seems to be going in is leading to a destination one wishes to be in.

How is one supposed to intelligibly desire to go towards the Dhamma, when one doesn't even know clearly what the Dhamma is?

Or, one happens to have a strong attachment to many things that have to do with Buddhism, but then wakes one morning to find themselves worried that becoming enlightened would make them into an animated corpse (and as such, not a goal to aspire to)?

Enlightenment and complete cessation of suffering can sound nice and appealing enough at first glance (because who wouldn't want to be enlightened and be free from all suffering, right?). But when looking into the path that is proposed as the means to reach them, one can get horrified by what the path of practice would do to one.

How is an unenlightened person supposed to have a clear image of what it is like to be an arahant?
As such, how is an unenlightened person supposed to have a clear image of whether they want to become an arahant or not?

And as for the lesser attainments -- they do feel like defeat.
I think it comes down to hearing different takes on what it means to practice. And of course those are going to vary, but I think they will likely all share some fundamental quality of being, in the very least, in a direction opposed to the face-value way of things that we see all around us. I think movement towards the Dhamma begins in finding such a direction appealing, and upon further investigation, just keep building upon the understanding of what it means to go in that direction.

So even if there are doubts about where it will take you, just the mere possibility of something other than that regular understanding is a prospect worth dedicating some time to. But of course there has to be some payoff along the way, there has to be potential for results and I think finding that give and take between what you would like to get and what is available with this pursuit must be developed. I think that all starts with the investigation process and for one who is more apprehensive than most, it is going to take more of a leap initially to get that first glimpse of that "interaction" with the work.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by Bundokji » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:43 pm

I think the doubt about devas, rebirth, other realms ...etc is pretty harmless, but there is a more serious underlying doubt that holds most practitioners back (including myself): do we really believe that the Buddhist ideal is what we want?

The problem with Buddhism is that it only takes from you and gives you nothing in return. Even though what it takes from is delusions, but at least those delusions give temporary consolations/satisfaction, they give individuals things to live for. Even the very search for the truth is a symptom of our deluded minds (where most of us get stuck), so what does Buddhism leave us with?

The problem is not whether the Buddha's teachings are true or not. The problem is: do we have what it takes to understand it and live by it? To his own credit, the Buddha was looking for people with "a little dust on their eyes" but when we start to study and practice Buddhism, we did not really know the implications of what that means. No one would accept or admit that he has a lot of dust on his/her eyes (to the point of blindness) and the result is: most of us end up not enjoying the pleasures of life as we used to be (without strong sense of guilt knowing that it leads no where) nor we are free from the dread of the meaninglessness and emptiness of the world.

I think Buddhism should become an elitist club, interviewing and testing people before they let them in.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by BasementBuddhist » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:43 am

Bundokji wrote:No one would accept or admit that he has a lot of dust on his/her eyes (to the point of blindness) and the result is: most of us end up not enjoying the pleasures of life as we used to be (without strong sense of guilt knowing that it leads no where) nor we are free from the dread of the meaninglessness and emptiness of the world.
I think this is pretty much based on what Buddhism means to you. If you have this idea that Buddhism means not feeling happiness because it is an arising and it must be crushed to maintain equanimity, then of course you will feel like a failure. But I do not think this is what Buddhism means. Equanimity is not having no feelings come up and being perfectly still. This is death. This is emotional denial. The dhamma is one of acceptance and learning, not harsh denial that claims that things that do exist do not exist. You are more than welcome to feel happiness, pleasure, joy, all of these things. You can feel them in their totality. You just have to focus on the next moment when that moment is passing, and to know that this joy is impermanent, and to be okay with that. That is true Equanimity. In order to be mindful of what you are feeling you have to accept it. Not pretend it is bad and you aren't feeling it. That is ignorance.

For example, A bird lands on you, happiness arises, you think "Yay a bird". You admire the bird. The bird flies away. As long as you say "Goodbye bird" and do not feel bad because you know the bird being on you had to end some day, you are doing it right.

The buddha believed that joy was the nature of the world, and that we blot that out with clinging. If we pretend joy is bad, we are missing the whole point.

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Re: The place of doubt in practice

Post by Bundokji » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:31 am

BasementBuddhist wrote:

The buddha believed that joy was the nature of the world, and that we blot that out with clinging. If we pretend joy is bad, we are missing the whole point.
I think you are missing the point of my post.

If you practice Buddhism seriously and then you decide to leave it, your ability to enjoy life (especially sensuality and hedonism in general) is permanently affected, something you don't take into consideration before you decide to start practicing. For instance, i don't think i can ever enjoy again the so-called romantic love. I still can play the game, but knowing that its only a game, there is no drama (which is surprisingly the source of both enjoyment and pain).

Drama is the main source of meaning for most of us whether we admit it or not, and it can take countless forms: a parent, a partner, a hero ..etc and when the role playing comes to an end and you realize that you are just an ordinary person, it is very unpleasant truth.

The real pretending is not the denial of joy as you indicated in your post, but the denial that we don't want to be something extra ordinary. I can promise you that most Buddhists, whether they know it or not, are practicing to be extra ordinary (and the extra ordinary experiences some of them have is a manifestation of this fantasy). The existence of this deeply held desire can be easily seen by their selective perception of what constitutes an insight in their minds.

Even the so called "innocent" pleasures of renunciation fade away with time, and those pleasures does not come without their own pain, which is starving the senses (ultimately not so different from the pleasures of sensuality).

The most natural outcome for someone who sees the truth of the Buddha's teachings is not joy, but despair. Pleasure is mostly experienced and valued by beginners in my opinion.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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