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...