Secular Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ceisiwr
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Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Sun May 12, 2019 6:25 pm

I've just read an interesting article on secular Buddhism by a secular Buddhist. Would be interested to hear people's views on it, or secular Buddhism in general. The article can be found here:

https://secularbuddhism.org/secular-bud ... X5ITbu6oTE

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Zom
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Zom » Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 pm

Haven't read it in full, but secular Buddhists (for me) are just those who doubt. Of course, there are many [normal] buddhists who doubt too, but these people say explicitly: "we doubt". 8-)

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Polar Bear
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Polar Bear » Sun May 12, 2019 9:30 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 6:25 pm
I've just read an interesting article on secular Buddhism by a secular Buddhist. Would be interested to hear people's views on it, or secular Buddhism in general. The article can be found here:

https://secularbuddhism.org/secular-bud ... X5ITbu6oTE
You might be interested in reading the thread that spawned the article:

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... -true/6399

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Kim OHara
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Kim OHara » Sun May 12, 2019 10:47 pm

Zom wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 pm
Haven't read it in full, but secular Buddhists (for me) are just those who doubt. Of course, there are many [normal] buddhists who doubt too, but these people say explicitly: "we doubt". 8-)
I would say say that it goes a little further than doubt. Secular Buddhists explicitly reject or dismiss some parts of what the article calls "orthodox" Buddhism.
But some reject more than others. One kind of question about that is, "How much can you reject before you're not a real Buddhist any more?" or, "How much must you believe before you're a real Buddhist?" This is pure identity politics in a religious context and (IMO) is totally unproductive.
A more useful (skillful) kind of question is, "Do your beliefs help you be a better person?" or, "Do your beliefs lead towards liberation?"

:namaste:
Kim

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Sun May 12, 2019 10:58 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:47 pm
Zom wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 pm
Haven't read it in full, but secular Buddhists (for me) are just those who doubt. Of course, there are many [normal] buddhists who doubt too, but these people say explicitly: "we doubt". 8-)
I would say say that it goes a little further than doubt. Secular Buddhists explicitly reject or dismiss some parts of what the article calls "orthodox" Buddhism.
But some reject more than others. One kind of question about that is, "How much can you reject before you're not a real Buddhist any more?" or, "How much must you believe before you're a real Buddhist?" This is pure identity politics in a religious context and (IMO) is totally unproductive.
A more useful (skillful) kind of question is, "Do your beliefs help you be a better person?" or, "Do your beliefs lead towards liberation?"

:namaste:
Kim

Yet someone could be a materialist and still believe that their view is in line with the Dhamma and leads them to liberation. In my dealings with secular buddhists you often find this idea that Buddhism is whatever the person wants it to be, which I think stems from the à la carte approach that many of them have.

I think its important to have a demarcation between what is Buddhadhamma and what is Buddhadhamma influenced and to state when a set of ideas is either one or the other.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Sun May 12, 2019 10:59 pm

Polar Bear wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:30 pm
clw_uk wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 6:25 pm
I've just read an interesting article on secular Buddhism by a secular Buddhist. Would be interested to hear people's views on it, or secular Buddhism in general. The article can be found here:

https://secularbuddhism.org/secular-bud ... X5ITbu6oTE
You might be interested in reading the thread that spawned the article:

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... -true/6399

:anjali:
Thank you. An interesting read.

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cappuccino
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by cappuccino » Sun May 12, 2019 11:49 pm

Faith is one of the five spiritual faculties

The strength of these faculties is what determines progress

markandeya
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by markandeya » Mon May 13, 2019 12:31 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:47 pm
Zom wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 pm
Haven't read it in full, but secular Buddhists (for me) are just those who doubt. Of course, there are many [normal] buddhists who doubt too, but these people say explicitly: "we doubt". 8-)
I would say say that it goes a little further than doubt. Secular Buddhists explicitly reject or dismiss some parts of what the article calls "orthodox" Buddhism.
But some reject more than others. One kind of question about that is, "How much can you reject before you're not a real Buddhist any more?" or, "How much must you believe before you're a real Buddhist?" This is pure identity politics in a religious context and (IMO) is totally unproductive.
A more useful (skillful) kind of question is, "Do your beliefs help you be a better person?" or, "Do your beliefs lead towards liberation?"

:namaste:
Kim
:goodpost:

There is also practice of awakening to consider, are the practices in Orthodox Buddhist, which are based on western translated teachings good enough for real awakening, many of them seem to be stuck in lower psychology or focusing only on body sensations awareness and breath, waiting for something magical to happen. Mindfulness practices as just using bare awareness so the states shift by themselves, this can be in Orthodox Buddhism that mainly follow the translated teachings, which were thrown together quite quickly using linguistic systems, and also modern mindfulness and certain vipassana groups can also be said to have diverted from real practice of chittabhavana.

Maybe its just part of the West evolution in Dhamma, due to the crippling effects of the previous religion and how that was taught, and the scientific methods, which are purely empirical.

With both the pure original ideals of secular Buddhism, that wants to drop the religious and ism's out of Dharma and Orthdox Buddhist Teachings set up by Western Intellectuals and Monastics, maybe the best thing is read between the lines of both, and find the middle way, buddha was quite favourable to the middle way.

:anjali:

SarathW
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by SarathW » Mon May 13, 2019 1:46 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:47 pm
Zom wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 pm
Haven't read it in full, but secular Buddhists (for me) are just those who doubt. Of course, there are many [normal] buddhists who doubt too, but these people say explicitly: "we doubt". 8-)
I would say say that it goes a little further than doubt. Secular Buddhists explicitly reject or dismiss some parts of what the article calls "orthodox" Buddhism.
But some reject more than others. One kind of question about that is, "How much can you reject before you're not a real Buddhist any more?" or, "How much must you believe before you're a real Buddhist?" This is pure identity politics in a religious context and (IMO) is totally unproductive.
A more useful (skillful) kind of question is, "Do your beliefs help you be a better person?" or, "Do your beliefs lead towards liberation?"

:namaste:
Kim
Well said Kim.
I have a problem with so called secular Buddhists. I think that is un-necessary and divisive. They shut the free inquiry.
As you know I have problem with the teaching of re-birth, Kamma etc.
However, I do not consider myself as a secular Buddhist.
We have enough teaching in the Sutta itself for free inquiry without making a new label.
I personally do not consider secular Buddhists as Buddhists.

Kalama Sutta.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el008.html

Are you a Buddhist?

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=18611&p=261588&hilit=
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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mikenz66
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 13, 2019 2:57 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:47 pm
One kind of question [about rejecting some aspects of Buddhism] is, "How much can you reject before you're not a real Buddhist any more?" or, "How much must you believe before you're a real Buddhist?" This is pure identity politics in a religious context and (IMO) is totally unproductive.
A more useful (skillful) kind of question is, "Do your beliefs help you be a better person?" or, "Do your beliefs lead towards liberation?"
This is echoed somewhat in one of the comments at the bottom of the article by Robert M. Ellis:
It’s OK to criticise divisive criticism over collaborative dialogue if you have a model for how collaborative dialogue ought to work. This, crucially, involves accepting the provisionality of your own view, and you can then quite reasonably point out the dogmatism in others’ views.
Of course, in that comment he's addressing the the readers of the Secular Buddhism website and goes on to say:
However, if your own view as it is being applied, implicitly or explicitly, involves the belief that science tells you how the world is – rather than science following the Middle Way [this is referring, I think, to his own particular approach] in demonstrating useful methods for overcoming delusion and addressing conditions – then you will be simply adding more divisive criticism of your own.
However, I think it cuts both ways. I find Secular Buddhists in the Stephen Batchelor/Ted Meissner mould a little irritating, when they say things like:
Ajahn Sujato and anyone else who wishes to practice in a religious way, in an institution that matches their beliefs, are welcome to do so and have whatever beliefs resonate with them on a cultural, social, and personal level. That includes their acceptance of rebirth, the existence of devas, and anything else that is helpful to them.
This reads to me like: "We know that's all nonsense, but if you want to believe that we won't stop you...". I think that's the heart of what Ajahn Sujato is objecting to - that they run the risk of depriving the Dhamma of its transformation potential by taking too much out. The rebirth issue creates a lot of heat, but I think the more fundamental issue is over whether or not the Dhamma can provide a complete liberation from dukkha (as opposed to making life a little happier).

On the other hand, orthodox Buddhists can equally fall into the same dismissive dialogue, from the other side: " Your Secular Buddhist stuff is fine as far as it goes, and by all means go ahead and practice it, but we have the real deal for you when you see the error of your ways." [We see this sort of thing among different orthodox Buddhist sects as well...]

As Kim says, a more constructive approach would be to discuss how these different belief systems inform practice, and it's results.

As an aside, I find the "Neuroscience Buddhists" like Robert Wright a lot more congenial than the Meissner/Batchelor types. From what I've read and listened to, people like Wright don't take the approach of the Secular Buddhists of actively dismissing parts of the Canon and arguing that: "this is what the Buddha really meant..." Wright seems genuinely sincere that he is picking the parts that fit with his word view and purposes, and leaving the rest aside. In fact, he commented amicably here: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/wh ... true/6399/
Unfortunately, I don't think the proposed discussion ever happened...

:heart:
Mike

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cappuccino
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by cappuccino » Mon May 13, 2019 3:13 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think the more fundamental issue is over whether or not the Dhamma can provide a complete liberation from dukkha
(as opposed to making life a little happier)
as was said by the Master: 'As even a little excrement is of evil smell, I do not praise even the shortest spell of existence, be it no longer than a snap of the fingers.'

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cappuccino
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by cappuccino » Mon May 13, 2019 3:18 am

there is no secular Buddhism

there is Secularism


Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations."

chownah
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by chownah » Mon May 13, 2019 4:01 am

clw_uk wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:58 pm
I think its important to have a demarcation between what is Buddhadhamma and what is Buddhadhamma influenced and to state when a set of ideas is either one or the other.
Everyone will have a different demarcation depending on what has influenced their views on buddhadhamma. You seem to think that there is some natural sort of intrinsic boundary around what you think of as buddhadhamma and that once this is found it can be enforced.......you also seem to think that it is possible to examine the buddhadhamma without being influenced by views.
chownah

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon May 13, 2019 5:14 am

I guess if I’m a passionate Hitlerite who believes in a soul and sacrifices animals daily to a God I can still be a Buddhist.

Even the Buddha made a distinction between what is the Dhamma and what isn’t.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Mon May 13, 2019 5:25 am

Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:14 am
I guess if I’m a passionate Hitlerite who believes in a soul and sacrifices animals daily to a God I can still be a Buddhist.

Even the Buddha made a distinction between what is the Dhamma and what isn’t.
On that...

The Buddha didn't define the term "Buddhist" so we can't ask him what he thinks makes someone a Buddhist, but someone was regarded by him as a lay follower, if they took refuge in the Triple Gem. Mind you, taking refuge in the Triple Gem doesn't necessarily means one is guaranteed to have Right View either.

So, as for a "Buddhist"...

Is it a matter of beliefs?
Is it a matter of identitiy?
Is it a matter of taking refuge?
Is it a matter of conformity with precepts?
Is it a matter of reverence?
etc.

Whilst there is no uniform consensus, there will be no uniform answer... whether that be for "Buddhist", generally, or for a more restricted term like "Secular Buddhist". Or "Theravada Buddhist" for that matter.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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