Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sam Vara
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:46 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:41 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:15 pm
You can understand enough of Dhamma to practice very effectively without joining a group. Many do, especially in the West and especially on this forum. If you want those benefits specific to a particular group, then the choice is yours to pay the price by joining it, or dropping the wanting.
Doing your own thing is not admirable friendship.
Nor is "doing your own thing" anything like practising as the Buddha recommended.
Admirable friendship is the whole of the holy life.
This doesn't mean what you appear to think it means. Ananda claimed that admirable friendship was half the holy life. The Buddha chided him, saying that it was in fact the whole of the holy life. But the "whole of the holy life" is (unsurprisingly!) the Noble Eightfold Path, and the "admirable friendship" which makes it possible is the admirable friendship of the Buddha.
When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

"And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve... right speech... right action... right livelihood... right effort... right mindfulness... right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

There is a particular "line of reasoning" that is important here. It might be nice if we found a group of like-minded self-identifying "Buddhist" compatriots who we could meditate with and discuss the dhamma with. (Although I always found that - strangely enough! - such situations give rise to their share of vexations) But such a group is not essential.

Elsewhere, the Buddha recommends to us lay-folk that we hang out with the right people rather than the wrong people, but doesn't specify that they are followers of the Dhamma. He also gives excellent advice on all the other stuff that can be done, whether or not those friends are there.https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

binocular
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:59 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:15 pm
You can understand enough of Dhamma to practice very effectively without joining a group.
Also, this is seeing things too narrowly, as if the only way of fitting in would be in the form of joining a group, physically or the virtual equivalent thereof.

Instead, already if one is listening to Dhamma talks, reading Dhamma texts, contemplates them, internalizes the vocabulary, the values, the practices, then one is fitting oneself in.
Many do, especially in the West and especially on this forum.
Indeed, and these people, even if they are physically not members of any particular group, are nevertheless fitting in and trying to fit in even more.
Just look at all their effort to master the Buddhist discourse: that is an aspect of fitting in.


IOW, I think that the line you and Dinsdale are drawing is artificial, wrongly placed. Fitting in is, primarily, a matter of mental attitudes. It's about trying to be part of the Culture of the Noble Ones. One can be part of that culture in the physical, virtual, or ideational presence of others. But if one doesn't do it in one's mind to begin with, ideationally, then even being physically in the presence of the Noble Ones might not be able to make any difference.

binocular
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:07 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:46 pm
This doesn't mean what you appear to think it means.
You don't say.
:rolleye:

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Sam Vara
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Re: Can I still follow the path without being buddhist/religious?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:14 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:59 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:15 pm
You can understand enough of Dhamma to practice very effectively without joining a group.
Also, this is seeing things too narrowly, as if the only way of fitting in would be in the form of joining a group, physically or the virtual equivalent thereof.

Instead, already if one is listening to Dhamma talks, reading Dhamma texts, contemplates them, internalizes the vocabulary, the values, the practices, then one is fitting oneself in.
Ah, sorry, I thought you meant a group you meet face-to-face. Indeed, with access to the internet then one can "fit in", if that's the way you see it.
IOW, I think that the line you and Dinsdale are drawing is artificial, wrongly placed. Fitting in is, primarily, a matter of mental attitudes.
Agreed. And the beauty of this is that any hindering mental attitudes can be changed if we want to; unlike the existence of real- life face-to-face groups, which may or may not be there.
One can be part of that culture in the physical, virtual, or ideational presence of others. But if one doesn't do it in one's mind to begin with, ideationally, then even being physically in the presence of the Noble Ones might not be able to make any difference.
Yes, very true, and again salutory in that it puts the emphasis on us rather than external circumstances.
Though all his life a fool associates with a wise man, he no more comprehends the Truth than a spoon tastes the flavour of the soup.
The point is for us to stop being fools; there are enough wise men around without us going looking for more.

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