What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Polar Bear
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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:12 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:If religion can be blind to evidence (and I agree, it can), science has deliberately blinded itself to motivation and ethics but isn't even aware of that blindness, let alone able to admit to it.
And so on ...

:namaste:
Kim
science:a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

science isn't blind to ethics, ethics simply is not part of science (in a strict sense, obviously ethical issues come up in scientific fields of study but it is the human beings, the scientists, not the subject "science" that contain any ethical obligation, duty, or imperative which may seek to limit the boundaries of acceptable methods of gaining knowledge) . scientists may be concerned about ethics but science, the definition of science, is not concerned with ethics or motivation. human beings are motivated to learn and many are motivated to live by some sort of ethical code whether that code is well formulated or vague. so to infer an inherent weakness in science that religion does not have is to ignore the parameters of meaning that the english language has given to the term science and therefore it seems to me that the above quoted proposition is fallacious.

I only seek to clarify meaning, once that is done, truly valuable conversations may be had. If one seeks to make statements about modern society disregarding ethics or proper motivation due to influence from a purely scientific worldview (which states nothing about ethics and describes motivation as a function of evolution) and that that has led to societal problems then that's fine, but science is not to blame, what's to blame (if anything) is a disregard for ethics in our world society which may or may not be larger than it was in scientifically unenlightened times. Ethics is a branch of philosophy, a subject too often relegated by many to the category of "mostly useless"

anyway, I hope my point came across. I have quite a few bones to pick with the article in the OP but I don't feel the motivation at this time to illuminate my thoughts. Perhaps later I will.

with goodwill,
Andrew
"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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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by daverupa » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:15 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:If you are looking for Buddhist teachings which are in direct opposition to scientific knowledge, the biggie is cosmology.
If you are looking for Buddhist teachings which are unsupported by scientific knowledge and often rejected by science-oriented people for that reason, open any book of the suttas at random and you will find something within a page or so: rebirth, obviously; ghosts, devas, hell-realms, ...
The unsupported stuff can receive an agnostic attitude without trouble, it seems to me, and the cosmology can be entirely jettisoned, can't it? I see nothing about the Dhamma, yet... "Buddhist teachings" isn't very precise... after all, are these things really "teachings"? Perhaps it's just me, but I don't see these things as at all relevant.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by DAWN » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:35 am

Alex123 wrote:Hello Kim, all,
Kim O'Hara wrote: Hi, Dave,
How one answers that question depends almost entirely on one's worldview, aka assumptions ... bringing the discussion neatly full circle. :tongue:
Perhaps examination of those assumptions should get a higher priority, as Taylor suggests.

:namaste:
Kim

Sorry to but in. Here is my opinion. My "assumption" is that evidence counts and Extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.

Difference between religion and science is this:
Religion believes that it's holy book (each religion has its own) is unalterable final truth that can never be improved or questioned.
Science accepts new facts and evidence to improve knowledge of the world.
Здравствуйте Алекс,
Hello Alex,

When a scientific theoretician (the one who believe) have any assumption, he asking a scientist (the one who know), who build a machine to asking a nature(dhammas) directly, if this assumption is right.
When a religious (the one who believe) man have any assumption, he asking a practitioner (the one who know) who can asking a nature (dhammas) directly, if this assumption is right.

So for a religious man, his Holy Book, is like a LHC for a scientific theoreticien.

I dont want to be a shovininst, but the our LHC, The Bouddha, was a greatest LHC of all time, first of all, because 2500 years ago he was talking about the things that scientist started to understand just now, secondly beacause he could explain the quantum phisic to peoples who lives 2500 years ago, wheras the scientifist cant explain that to them selves...

Anyway, modern peoples, who accept all that science say, shuld study the science to get a higher conviction that The Bouddha Dhamma is the Truth.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:44 am

daverupa wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:If you are looking for Buddhist teachings which are in direct opposition to scientific knowledge, the biggie is cosmology.
If you are looking for Buddhist teachings which are unsupported by scientific knowledge and often rejected by science-oriented people for that reason, open any book of the suttas at random and you will find something within a page or so: rebirth, obviously; ghosts, devas, hell-realms, ...
The unsupported stuff can receive an agnostic attitude without trouble, it seems to me, and the cosmology can be entirely jettisoned, can't it? I see nothing about the Dhamma, yet... "Buddhist teachings" isn't very precise... after all, are these things really "teachings"? Perhaps it's just me, but I don't see these things as at all relevant.
Hi, Dave,
The phrase use used was 'the Dhamma'. I said 'Buddhist teachings' instead because I think that is a reasonable equivalent. If you don't, and don't agree with my statements because of that, I think you will have to tell me/us what you mean by 'the Dhamma.'

Either way, you seem perfectly willing to reject large chunks of the teachings which have been passed down to us. Is that correct? If you are, why are you willing to do so? And what does that tell us - and you - about your worldview?

As I said to Alex, I am not highlighting this because I disagree with you (I am in general agreement with you) but because I think it is useful, even necessary, to know why we choose certain things to believe in.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:56 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:If religion can be blind to evidence (and I agree, it can), science has deliberately blinded itself to motivation and ethics but isn't even aware of that blindness, let alone able to admit to it.
And so on ...

:namaste:
Kim
science:a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

science isn't blind to ethics, ethics simply is not part of science (in a strict sense, obviously ethical issues come up in scientific fields of study but it is the human beings, the scientists, not the subject "science" that contain any ethical obligation, duty, or imperative which may seek to limit the boundaries of acceptable methods of gaining knowledge) . scientists may be concerned about ethics but science, the definition of science, is not concerned with ethics or motivation. human beings are motivated to learn and many are motivated to live by some sort of ethical code whether that code is well formulated or vague. so to infer an inherent weakness in science that religion does not have is to ignore the parameters of meaning that the english language has given to the term science and therefore it seems to me that the above quoted proposition is fallacious.

I only seek to clarify meaning, once that is done, truly valuable conversations may be had. If one seeks to make statements about modern society disregarding ethics or proper motivation due to influence from a purely scientific worldview (which states nothing about ethics and describes motivation as a function of evolution) and that that has led to societal problems then that's fine, but science is not to blame, what's to blame (if anything) is a disregard for ethics in our world society which may or may not be larger than it was in scientifically unenlightened times. Ethics is a branch of philosophy, a subject too often relegated by many to the category of "mostly useless"

anyway, I hope my point came across. I have quite a few bones to pick with the article in the OP but I don't feel the motivation at this time to illuminate my thoughts. Perhaps later I will.

with goodwill,
Andrew
Hi, Andrew,
I stand by what I said. It's another way of saying, as you did, that, "ethics simply is not part of science," or, "science, the definition of science, is not concerned with ethics or motivation."
I could go a bit further than you and say, "science deliberately excludes ethics and morality from its field of view." Would you agree with that? It means the same thing.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:08 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: Hi, Andrew,
I stand by what I said. It's another way of saying, as you did, that, "ethics simply is not part of science," or, "science, the definition of science, is not concerned with ethics or motivation."
I could go a bit further than you and say, "science deliberately excludes ethics and morality from its field of view." Would you agree with that? It means the same thing.

:namaste:
Kim
I would disagree if I am correct that when you say 'deliberately' you mean that science (as opposed to scientists) should include ethics in its field of view which to me is the same thing as saying that mathematics should include ethics in its field of view or that we should consider whether its more ethical to call trees trees instead of gurglons or some other arbitrary arrangement of syllables, vowels and consonants. None of those statements really makes sense because ethics has nothing to do with it. Science and mathematics, unlike religion and philosophy, do not make any suggestions about how people should live, one can USE science to help determine ways to live that are conducive to longevity and health but it does not say anything about oughts or ought nots, however, it can be useful in providing the knowledge necessary to make inferences such as "I probably should not drink mercury or jump off a cliff IF I want to live and I definitely ought not put my small child on top of a metal pole when there's a lightning storm going on IF I want my baby to live". 2+2 does not equal Don't Kill and the fact that atoms can be split thus releasing huge quantities of energy says nothing about whether humans deserve to live or die or neither. Science doesn't deal with those things and by definition it never will.

I would honestly appreciate it if you would elaborate on what you really meant. You are absolutely correct in your response to Alex when you point out that religion and science often ask and answer totally different questions and the fact is that science, I repeat, by definition, does not ask questions pertaining to whether something is right or wrong (ethics). Have a good one

:namaste:
"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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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:20 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote: Hi, Andrew,
I stand by what I said. It's another way of saying, as you did, that, "ethics simply is not part of science," or, "science, the definition of science, is not concerned with ethics or motivation."
I could go a bit further than you and say, "science deliberately excludes ethics and morality from its field of view." Would you agree with that? It means the same thing.

:namaste:
Kim
I would disagree if I am correct that when you say 'deliberately' you mean that science (as opposed to scientists) should include ethics in its field of view which to me is the same thing as saying that mathematics should include ethics in its field of view or that we should consider whether its more ethical to call trees trees instead of gurglons or some other arbitrary arrangement of syllables, vowels and consonants. None of those statements really makes sense because ethics has nothing to do with it. Science and mathematics, unlike religion and philosophy, do not make any suggestions about how people should live, one can USE science to help determine ways to live that are conducive to longevity and health but it does not say anything about oughts or ought nots, however, it can be useful in providing the knowledge necessary to make inferences such as "I probably should not drink mercury or jump off a cliff IF I want to live and I definitely ought not put my small child on top of a metal pole when there's a lightning storm going on IF I want my baby to live". 2+2 does not equal Don't Kill and the fact that atoms can be split thus releasing huge quantities of energy says nothing about whether humans deserve to live or die or neither. Science doesn't deal with those things and by definition it never will.

I would honestly appreciate it if you would elaborate on what you really meant. You are absolutely correct in your response to Alex when you point out that religion and science often ask and answer totally different questions and the fact is that science, I repeat, by definition, does not ask questions pertaining to whether something is right or wrong (ethics). Have a good one

:namaste:
Okay, Andrew, one more try :smile:
I don't mean that science 'should include ethics in its field of view' at all.
However, the fact - which I know you accept - is that it excludes ethics from its field of view. In its own terms, it does so to maintain 'objectivity', rational discourse and 'impartiality' - all good reasons.
There is nothing wrong with that so long as everyone knows that it is a limitation. After all, you don't expect a hammer to be a screwdriver as well, do you?
However (as my :quote: suggest) it fails. And it fails precisely because it has ruled ethics, morality and subjectivity to be unexaminable within its own framework, because that means that a scientist, acting as a scientist, cannot ask himself why he is interested in one problem rather than another, why he asks one question rather than another, or why he observes one aspect of a situation and not another.
A good parallel is the way of your typical nineteenth century politicians asked which men should be allowed to vote - and didn't even realise that they were excluding half the adult population. Their question was not objective or impartial, however much they thought it was, but blinkered.

I was interrupted halfway through writing this. I hope it still makes sense.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:57 pm

daverupa wrote:
zavk wrote:such a question already begins with the assumption that 'the religious' is inherently 'problematic' and necessarily at odds with 'Buddhism'.
So, creationism is the example. It is not an assumption to say that this renders an irredeemably skewed view of life's development on this planet, given what is scientifically known. So there is an immediate and overt contradiction, not an assumption of one. It is observable right there in the competing claims, and is not fueled by a religion-v-science dichotomy; creationism and the backbone of the life sciences - evolution - are simply incompatible. Therefore, creationism is problematically (because flawed) religious (because based on such a text).

This question is not informed by such a thing as "science is obviously at odds with religion...". It is prompted by the abject failure of creationism in the face of a stronger explanation. So the phrase "problematically religious" has caused some warning bells, but it's just a phrase referring to this sort of issue. Getting lost in a mire of ideological dialogue is to miss this point. Depending on context, we might just as well say "problematically cultural" (female circumcision; whaling), and so forth.

You can even drop the second word, and stick with simply "problematic". It isn't about whether science can prove this or that aspect of ones favored worldview, it's about what science has demonstrated as against competing explanatory claims for the same thing.

Is there anything like that in the Dhamma, in the first place?
As far as assumptions of the extraordinary as fact go, Buddhism has oodles. Whether it is the myth of rebirth, or paranormal jhānic advertisements; these only become an issue of religion vs. science when the later-day – most likely Western – Buddhist feels the need to defend these as fact. Then it’s Ptolemy's Epicycles all over again.
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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:00 pm

daverupa wrote:We might go on for a long time in this way; but nevermind this dichotomy of science vs. religion. Where is there an aspect of the Dhamma which requires explanations which are contradicted by a scientific explanation? Are there any at all?
What about Kamma?

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by DAWN » Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:19 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
daverupa wrote:We might go on for a long time in this way; but nevermind this dichotomy of science vs. religion. Where is there an aspect of the Dhamma which requires explanations which are contradicted by a scientific explanation? Are there any at all?
What about Kamma?
Kammic mouvement is the inertia of energy

If we push a ball, he will continue his mouvement by a law of inertia. When this energy of pushing is and, ball stop his mouvement, if we push again and again, he will continue his mouvement.
Sabbe dhamma anatta

What is energy? We have energy if we make a wave who move from 0 to -1, from -1 to 0, from 0 to +1, from +1 to 0 etc..
Sabbe dhamma anicca
Sabbe dhamma dukkha

All the energy is drawn to calm
All dhamma are seeking for nibbana, like all waves comes to the ground, conditioned by the ground, and cannot exist without the ground.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:29 pm

DAWN wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
daverupa wrote:We might go on for a long time in this way; but nevermind this dichotomy of science vs. religion. Where is there an aspect of the Dhamma which requires explanations which are contradicted by a scientific explanation? Are there any at all?
What about Kamma?
Kammic mouvement is the inertia of energy

If we push a ball, he will continue his mouvement by a law of inertia. When this energy of pushing is and, ball stop his mouvement, if we push again and again, he will continue his mouvement.
Sabbe dhamma anatta

What is energy? We have energy if we make a wave who move from 0 to -1, from -1 to 0, from 0 to +1, from +1 to 0 etc..
Sabbe dhamma anicca
Sabbe dhamma dukkha


All the energy is drawn to calm
All dhamma are seeking for nibbana, like all waves comes to the ground, conditioned by the ground, and cannot exist without the ground.
Yes, this is an analogy which enables us to make sense of what the Buddha says about Kamma, in terms of what looks like Newtonian physics. It might be a useful and beneficial thing to believe. But the issue arising from the article (and from Taylor's work) is how we are to make sense of claims that Kamma has a moral dimension, or that it determines future experiences.
"Here, student, some woman or man is one who harms beings with his hands or with clods or with sticks or with knives. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he is sickly wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to sickness, that is to say, to be one who harms beings with one's hands or with clods or with sticks or with knives.

Most scientists would be inclined to see action as mere behaviour; and even if they don't, they would say that the results of actions are discernible in terms of purely physical changes. Harming with hands or clods etc. would have an impact upon matter, but the scientific world-view (which is what Taylor is, I think concerned with) would struggle to make any sense of the quote above.

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Alex123 » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:56 pm

DAWN wrote: So for a religious man, his Holy Book, is like a LHC for a scientific theoreticien.
Of course when it comes to psychology, no problem. Hard Science studies one area, Dhamma is another. When it comes to psychology, then Dhamma is the best.

But when it goes into natural field (ex: cosmology) which hard science studies as well, then we can have problems. Science, in principle, operates on evidence. The more evidence something has, the more I believe in that.

If someone would say: "You must believe and worship Zeus who lives on Jupiter. If you don't believe him, then after death you will go to Hades for eternity!"
Is it reasonable to ask for the evidence? Of course. Is it close mindedness to ignore such things, unless there is good evidence?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by DAWN » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:07 pm

To Sam Vara:
It's true that tey dont understand that all fenomena,internal and external, all dhamma, is energy, and so is leaded by the same law that all other energy.
And it's a shame that peopels dont have the open mind
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by DAWN » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:26 pm

Alex123 wrote:
DAWN wrote: So for a religious man, his Holy Book, is like a LHC for a scientific theoreticien.
Of course when it comes to psychology, no problem. Hard Science studies one area, Dhamma is another. When it comes to psychology, then Dhamma is the best.

But when it goes into natural field (ex: cosmology) which hard science studies as well, then we can have problems. Science, in principle, operates on evidence. The more evidence something has, the more I believe in that.

If someone would say: "You must believe and worship Zeus who lives on Jupiter. If you don't believe him, then after death you will go to Hades for eternity!"
Is it reasonable to ask for the evidence? Of course. Is it close mindedness to ignore such things, unless there is good evidence?
Science and The Dhamma study interactions between objects(dhammas), but by different way, external and enternal. But dhammas still the sames for both, it's all energy, so them have the same interactions, both internal or external dhammas, both to phisician or meditator.

So if we understood interactions by internal way, we can understand the external way, how apeares planets etc.

Scientific world seek for a "Law of All", that will explain ALL.
The Buddha has found this Law of All, and the one who knows this law of all, the Nibbaha, the True Dhamma, he can explain all dhammas, planets, Bozon Higgs or other. It's like be on the highest mountant and see all around without necessarily visiting that places, or study that in scool. All dhammas have the same interactions, leaded by the same Law

Also, ancient peoples uses words and images, and metaphors to describe interactions of this world, and scienctists uses words and numbers to discribe the same interactions.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: What's at stake as the Dharma goes modern

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:39 pm

DAWN wrote:To Sam Vara:
It's true that tey dont understand that all fenomena,internal and external, all dhamma, is energy, and so is leaded by the same law that all other energy.
And it's a shame that peopels dont have the open mind
Scientists do understand that all phenomena are energy; but the problem posed by the original article is that they would not have a worldview which could accommodate the types of energy transformation which make Kamma important in Buddhism.

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