Buddhism and religion

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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clw_uk
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by clw_uk » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:59 pm

It is the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion, and those blameworthy qualities can be identified and rooted out.

and what if the religion demands child sacrifice as a central pillar? What if religion demands death to apostates? Isnt the blame on religion and not just the person here so its not always the problems of moral superiority but doctrine itself
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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:01 pm

clw_uk wrote:
It is the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion, and those blameworthy qualities can be identified and rooted out.

and what if the religion demands child sacrifice as a central pillar? What if religion demands death to apostates? Isnt the blame on religion and not the person here so its not always the problems of moral superiority but doctrine itself

And so we characterize all religion by the worst expressions of religion?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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clw_uk
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by clw_uk » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
It is the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion, and those blameworthy qualities can be identified and rooted out.

and what if the religion demands child sacrifice as a central pillar? What if religion demands death to apostates? Isnt the blame on religion and not the person here so its not always the problems of moral superiority but doctrine itself

And so we characterize all religion by the worst expressions of religion?

No course not, im not blind to the xtian run charities, the art and churches. My point was that the prolem isnt just "the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion"
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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:15 pm

No course not, im not blind to the xtian run charities, the art and churches. My point was that the prolem isnt just "the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion"
We can certainly stipulate that at one extreme we have religions that advocate child sacrifice, but does that make all religions, all religious acitivity, suspect?

Actually, you are really not addressing Peter's point. You are simply attacking religion, again.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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pink_trike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by pink_trike » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:28 pm

Great post, Peter.
Something clearly happened in Sigala's mind bridging the gap from simply approving of what the Buddha said to finding the Buddha worthy of following for the rest of his life. It is a gap bridged by sadha, faith, confidence.
This gets to the heart of the matter, and is the event that I've been pointing at also...this mind event (religious impulse) and the continued (habitual?) religiosity that follows it. My question has been "why wouldn't we just note that impulse as sensation/emotion/reaction, let it go, and proceed to do the work?" instead of (my view --->) getting getting sticky with it, entrenching it as identity, and letting it color reality (attachment)? Non-religious buddhists aren't unfamiliar with this religious impulse...what makes us different is that we don't attach to it when it arises.

The moving to the other side of gap is what really puzzles me, and concerns me also because from my perspective it is from this place that all religious horrors have emerged. It appears to me to be an altered state of consciousness that is often fueled by less than benign emotion, rather than a neutral place of equanimity....which is why I've referred to it as a mind obscuration or defilement. Is it maybe the case that some people hang out in the gap for awhile before they go to the other side, and while in the (confusing?) gap there is the potential for some of the less beneficial behavior and perspectives that arise from the religious perspective to occur? That someone experiences the religious impulse (glimpses of bliss, comfort, expansiveness, insight, agency, etc...) and then doesn't want to let go of it? It seems to me that this is what teachers warn against.

Is this mind event, the gap, and moving to the other side of the gap in one's mind explicitly addressed by the 4NT/8 FP? The suttas?
I would call this the difference between merely finding some Buddhist teachings interesting to taking on Buddhism as a religion, taking the Noble Eightfold Path as the supreme guiding principle in one's life.
Non-religious Buddhists also take the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life - do you think that there a difference in how non-relig and relig people experience this commitment?
To say "the religious impulse is bad because it is a supporting condition for all sorts of bad behavior" is going to make one less objective. To say "the religious impulse is good because it is a supporting condition for liberation" is also going to make one less objective.
Isn't this an essential starting point though? Isn't that exactly what's taken place in this thread? Don't these biases need to be self-identified and shared with each other before the the event (religious impulse) and religiosity (habitual or commitment to religiosity) can be productively and closely examined by both sides?

I think we're both in agreement that no matter how we decide to engage the religious impulse, it's essential to do it and it needs to be done mindfully.
Last edited by pink_trike on Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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pink_trike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by pink_trike » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:29 pm

Peter wrote:
pink_trike wrote:Religious impulse:

A movement of the mind. A mind-state. A sensory/conceptual experience that arises as a result of internal/external conditioning. An obscuration.
This is a little vague. Perhaps you could clarify? A movement from what? or to what?

A movement of mind is a neutral thing. So is a mind state. So is a sensory/conceptual experience. The only part of your definition which implies some sort of negativity is "an obscuration" but it's still too vague to be actually saying anything. An obscuration of what?
An obscuration of the natural state of the mind. The uncluttered, quiet, non-moving mind.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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pink_trike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by pink_trike » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
It is the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion, and those blameworthy qualities can be identified and rooted out.

and what if the religion demands child sacrifice as a central pillar? What if religion demands death to apostates? Isnt the blame on religion and not the person here so its not always the problems of moral superiority but doctrine itself

And so we characterize all religion by the worst expressions of religion?
I think we all need to take note that there might be potential for that worst expression inherent in all religion.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by kc2dpt » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:56 pm

clw_uk wrote:
It is the feelings of moral superiority and pity that are blameworthy, not religion or lack of religion, and those blameworthy qualities can be identified and rooted out.
and what if the religion demands child sacrifice as a central pillar? What if religion demands death to apostates? Isnt the blame on religion and not just the person here so its not always the problems of moral superiority but doctrine itself
The blame would be on that particular religion, not on religion as a whole (which is what this thread is about). To put it another way, just because one religion might promote child sacrifice does not mean all religions advocate child sacrifice or that child sacrifice is a necessary part of any religion.

To continue this theme... if a particular religion promotes moral superiority as a doctrine then that religion is blameworthy. But again, that does not reflect on religion as a whole or as a concept.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:25 pm

I think we all need to take note that there might be potential for that worst expression inherent in all religion.
He said, making an essentialist argument. There might be, but then there might be the potential great good.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:27 pm

Non-religious Buddhists also take the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life - do you think that there a difference in how non-relig and relig people experience this commitment?

The "non-religious" Buddhists are simply doing religion, but refuse to call it that.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by kc2dpt » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:41 pm

pink_trike wrote:My question has been "why wouldn't we just note that impulse as sensation/emotion/reaction, let it go, and proceed to do the work?" instead of (my view --->) getting getting sticky with it, entrenching it as identity, and letting it color reality (attachment)?
Some do, some don't. :shrug: Why? I would say the answer is the same as to why a person does anything: previous conditions.
Non-religious buddhists aren't unfamiliar with this religious impulse...
I'm sorry, didn't you say just a few posts ago that you are unfamiliar with it?
what makes us different is that we don't attach to it when it arises.
Perhaps, perhaps not. You are "moving the goalposts" so to speak. You are changing your definitions on the fly. Let's back up a minute.

Are you wishing to discuss why some people experience a religious impulse and some don't?
Or are you wishing to discuss why some people react badly to the religious impulse and some don't?
The moving to the other side of gap is what really puzzles me, and concerns me also because from my perspective it is from this place that all religious horrors have emerged.
It is also the place that all religious wonders have emerged.

There is something else to consider as well. We can expect the people who react badly to the religious impulse tend to do so in very public, very noisy, very messy ways... while the people who react well, on the other hand, tend to do so in very reclusive, private, quiet ways.
That someone experiences the religious impulse (glimpses of bliss, comfort, expansiveness, insight, agency, etc...) and then doesn't want to let go of it? It seems to me that this is what teachers warn against.
The Buddha himself warned against it. He used a simile of searching for heartwood but getting attached to the leaves and twigs. For example, a person might get attached to jhanas and not progress to Nibbana. It is worth noting that the Buddha did not conclude one should not value jhana, just that one should not get stuck on it. Hopefully someone else can provide the reference. I always have trouble remembering which sutta this is.
Is this mind event, the gap, and moving to the other side of the gap in one's mind explicitly addressed by the 4NT/8 FP? The suttas?
I already provided a quote which I feel illustrates it with the "follower for life" refrain. In general I would say it is addressed by the phrase "a mind free from hindrances, purified and bright", and also by the concept of refuge. In brief, it is a mind free from doubt and endowed with faith. I am sure this hits the issue square on the head as issues of faith and doubt tend to be the main point of contention between religious and non-religious people. (Of course there are wholesome types of doubt and unwholesome types of faith but as I said this is in brief.)
pink_trike wrote:
Peter wrote:I would call this the difference between merely finding some Buddhist teachings interesting to taking on Buddhism as a religion, taking the Noble Eightfold Path as the supreme guiding principle in one's life.
Non-religious Buddhists also take the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life - do you think that there a difference in how non-relig and relig people experience this commitment?
I would say (and the Oxford dictionary would say) a person who takes the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life is thus religious. :shrug: I've already said this though.
To say "the religious impulse is bad because it is a supporting condition for all sorts of bad behavior" is going to make one less objective. To say "the religious impulse is good because it is a supporting condition for liberation" is also going to make one less objective.
Isn't this an essential starting point though?
No, it isn't. You might find it fun to slag all religious people but it is not necessary if one wants to discuss what constitutes religion or religiosity.
I think we're both in agreement that no matter how we decide to engage the religious impulse, it's essential to do it and it needs to be done mindfully.
I do not think it is essential; I think it is interesting. What is essential if you are going to discuss it is to approach it with respect and care, something you have yet to do.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by kc2dpt » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:46 pm

pink_trike wrote:
Peter wrote:
pink_trike wrote:Religious impulse:

A movement of the mind. A mind-state. A sensory/conceptual experience that arises as a result of internal/external conditioning. An obscuration.
This is a little vague. Perhaps you could clarify?
An obscuration of the natural state of the mind. The uncluttered, quiet, non-moving mind.
The natural state of mind for whom? According to the Buddha, and according to readily observable experience, the natural state of the unenlightened mind is cluttered, noisy, and moving. Thus the religious impulse is nothing out of the ordinary.

If you are going to categorize any movement of mind as problematic then that would include logging on to Buddhists web forums and debating the merits of religion. I will agree an uncluttered, quiet, non-moving mind is the goal; I will not agree that therefore puts all religion in a special category worse than any other movement of the mind in an unenlightened person.

(Your position is beginning to resemble a pseudo-Zen argument.)
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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pink_trike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by pink_trike » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Non-religious Buddhists also take the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life - do you think that there a difference in how non-relig and relig people experience this commitment?

The "non-religious" Buddhists are simply doing religion, but refuse to call it that.
These are not easy things to apply words to - I'm sure you would agree.

Non-religious people encounter the same impulses (glimpses of bliss, expansiveness, insight, subtle or seemingly profound states, progressive stages, etc...) that naturally arise in practice, but with practice refrain from delighting in them and cherishing them as religious (engaging it as religious materializes it and turns these experiences into egoic hooks). Therefore it isn't a "religious" impulse that non-religious people experience - it is just movements of the mind arising from changing internal conditions...teachers warn us about these mind-states and instruct us not to get sticky with them or build an identity from them...not to own them.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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pink_trike
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by pink_trike » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:39 pm

I've been warned by a moderator that if I continue to suggest that the religious impulse is an ego-defending reaction that I will be suspended. Therefore I can't continue further in this valuable discussion.

In light of that I'll take the opportunity to bow out of Dhamma Wheel. If anyone would like to keep in touch, you can find me on Facebook by searching this email address: jeffreyjoemiller at gmail.com
:anjali:
This a a warning. This is not the first time you have done this, where you have essentially characterized those who disagree with very negatively. Do it once more and you will be suspended.
....referencing this:
Or perhaps the religious impulse and the recurrent question "why?" are respectively, ego-defending aversive and grasping reactions to an unconscious sense of the boundlessness of the Whole, and Siddhārtha Gautama's teachings were the antidote to these reactions.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddhism and religion

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:42 pm

pink_trike wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Non-religious Buddhists also take the 8FP as the supreme guiding principle in one's life - do you think that there a difference in how non-relig and relig people experience this commitment?

The "non-religious" Buddhists are simply doing religion, but refuse to call it that.
These are not easy things to apply words to - I'm sure you would agree.

Non-religious people encounter the same impulses (glimpses of bliss, expansiveness, insight, subtle or seemingly profound states, progressive stages, etc...) that naturally arise in practice, but with practice refrain from delighting in them and cherishing them as religious (engaging it as religious materializes it and turns these experiences into egoic hooks). Therefore it isn't a "religious" impulse that non-religious people experience - it is just movements of the mind arising from changing internal conditions...teachers warn us about these mind-states and instruct us not to get sticky with them or build an identity from them...not to own them.
You are not describing anything here that is unique to a supposedly "non-religious" practitioner. What you are describinbg is religious practice within a Buddhist framework. Not a problem. The difference seems to be that the supposed religious practitioner does not have the painfully obvious aversion you are displaying towards even the idea of a religious context. The religious context (minus the overloaded negativity you've dump onto it) is just stuff to work with. It can be quite benificial, but it is nothing to hold onto. The only difference here is that you define anything to do with religion in negative, aversive terms, but there is no need for that, no justification for that. Certainly not within a Buddhist context. So what it comes dowen to is: The "non-religious" Buddhists are simply doing religion, but refuse to call it that.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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