Skeptical doubt

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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kirk5a
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by kirk5a » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:35 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:He gently puts his foot on the accelerator.
Or "emphatically" puts his foot on the accelerator, if his vehicle has an entertaining horsepower/weight ratio.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

binocular
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by binocular » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:03 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:Thanks for the inputs guys, i like to add another simple simile.

Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.

A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. It's true the road sign is there to help us get to our destination but we need to use the brake and slow down whenever:
-there's limitation of vision upon the journey. (poor weather, bad and confusing road sign etc...)
-there's limitation of our own skills upon facing extreme situation. (overtaking another speeding vehicle, dangerous traffic etc...)
I don't think this is an adequate analogy.

"To doubt" basically means "to be of two minds; to be torn in two; to not be able to decide; to be uncertain."

If we are to go with a vehicular analogy, then doubt would be to have one's vehicle pulled by two horses, each of them going in different directions.

Back to Dhamma, i see that doubt may still exist along the practice of noble 8 fold path for example when nimitta arise for the first time and especially when coming across some obscurities in the sutta. But, it is there to alert and keep us from clinging to one particular view. And of course it must be pair with right determination and effort to make progress.
The raft is to be clung to until one reaches the other shore, and only then let go.
Last edited by binocular on Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by binocular » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:15 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:A healthy amount of skepticism is good and is probably how most of here came across the Dhamma; for example being skeptical of some of the things in the Bible, creation-stories, chosen race above the rest, a Divine being with many human frailties, etc.
I don't relate to what you seem to mean here ... It's as if your default is to believe anything anyone says, and only afterwards put a stop to it. ...?

But too much skepticism and one cannot make progress as shown in some of the similes here. Everything is considered relative, there are no absolutes, everything is culturally nuanced, etc. and no progress can be made.
Skeptics aren't interested in making progress to begin with.

I think there can be a middle way where you start with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings and try it out for yourself and see if it works; sanditthiko.
I am skeptical (!) about such a verificationist approach.
In a true experiment, there are constants and there are variables. But in "spirituality," we cannot perform real experiments (ie. we cannot really test or verify anything) because we are operating only with variables and no constants. We can just go, putting one foot in front of the other.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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DNS
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by DNS » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:43 pm

binocular wrote: I don't relate to what you seem to mean here ... It's as if your default is to believe anything anyone says, and only afterwards put a stop to it. ...?
And I am not sure what you mean here. :lol: I don't agree with everyone here on every issue and I don't put a stop to anyone expressing their views. If you see something I posted that suggests otherwise, please report it to another moderator or admin.
binocular wrote: I am skeptical (!) about such a verificationist approach.
In a true experiment, there are constants and there are variables. But in "spirituality," we cannot perform real experiments (ie. we cannot really test or verify anything) because we are operating only with variables and no constants. We can just go, putting one foot in front of the other.
Sure we can (in my opinion). We can see if we are happier, if we have less suffering. We can see if we are making progress.

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Alex123
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by Alex123 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:19 pm

binocular wrote:"To doubt" basically means "to be of two minds; to be torn in two; to not be able to decide; to be uncertain."
Right. When one knows a bit more, one can see other ways of looking at same things and this can create doubt until one has enough wisdom to see the precise truth (if there is such a thing).


If one has enough certain (if there is such a thing) knowledge, doubt and faith is no longer needed.
"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..."

mogg
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by mogg » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:58 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote: Lets compare a person on a spiritual path with driving:
Vision/driving skill = spiritual knowledge and experience
Acceleration pedal = determination and effort
Brake pedal = doubt
Road sign = Dhamma
*It seems like faith doesn't fit anywhere.

A naive and over confident attitude is like driving a car without using the brake pedal. It's true the road sign is there to help us get to our destination but we need to use the brake and slow down whenever:
-there's limitation of vision upon the journey. (poor weather, bad and confusing road sign etc...)
-there's limitation of our own skills upon facing extreme situation. (overtaking another speeding vehicle, dangerous traffic etc...)
Here is another version of that:

The person with too much doubt has his foot on the brake. He refuses to take it off, not knowing or afraid of what might happen. He sees a green light but knows that the green color has no intrinsic meaning and is culturally based. It might mean stop in one culture or go in another. He has no faith or confidence that the cars going the other way are stopped or will stop. So he keeps his foot on the brake. He goes no where.

Another person has a good balance of some skepticism and confidence. He has confidence in the people who placed the signs that they did so at the right places. He follows those signs. He trusts that the signs will take him to the place where he is supposed to go. He is also careful, so when he enters the intersection, he still checks with his head and eyes to make sure it is clear. He gently puts his foot on the accelerator. He progresses toward his destination.
This is an excellent analogy :thumbsup:

barcsimalsi
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by barcsimalsi » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:40 am

binocular wrote: The raft is to be clung to until one reaches the other shore, and only then let go.
Of course not the raft but it's defective parts.

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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by ground » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:06 am

binocular wrote:
I think there can be a middle way where you start with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings and try it out for yourself and see if it works; sanditthiko.
I am skeptical (!) about such a verificationist approach.
In a true experiment, there are constants and there are variables. But in "spirituality," we cannot perform real experiments (ie. we cannot really test or verify anything) because we are operating only with variables and no constants. We can just go, putting one foot in front of the other.
The whole issue seems to be depending on perceiving "true" vs "false" in the context of the ideas arising upon reading, seeing words of the teachings. "Is it really true?" seems to be the essence. But there is no truth without the one that perceives or sees a truth.
It is most likely that there will arise confirmation when someone starts "with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings" and tries it out for himself and "see if it works" if this happens in the context of dukkha and wanting to get rid or reduce dukkha. It is most likely that this someone will perceive the teachings as "true" because the expected effect has arisen. It is totally irrelevant what an outside experimenter who is conceiving in terms of "real" and "true" in an objective sense may have to say about all this. Why? Because dukkha has a source and the way to reduce or eliminate it affects this very source - it is not meant to convince an outside experimenter.
It is just about this:
Both formerly and now, monks, I declare only stress and the cessation of stress
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... tml#dukkha
:sage:

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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:10 am

Well said, ground.

:sage:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

barcsimalsi
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by barcsimalsi » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:20 am

equilibrium wrote:
If there is a pot of water which is turbid, stirred up and muddy, and this pot is put into a dark place, then a man with a normal faculty of sight could not properly recognize and see the image of his own face. In the same way, when one's mind is possessed by doubt, overpowered by doubt, then one cannot properly see the escape from doubt which has arisen; then one does not properly understand one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized. (source: SN46.55)
Part of the cognitive distortion is that we’re temporarily unable to remember any counter-examples — times that we succeeded and when the task went well, and times when we experienced obstacles and difficulties and overcame them. We think of ourselves as trapped, and stuck, and can’t imagine any creative way out of our situation. The hindrance of doubt hijacks the mind — both our emotions and our thoughts — and leaves us feeling trapped.
http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practi ... l-of-doubt
Now i understand much better.

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ground
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by ground » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:52 am

"skeptical doubt" is a kind of wavering, which however prevents involvement. Once "skeptical doubt" has been let go of practice based on the teachings may arise. Once practice based on the teachings has arisen desired effects may arise. Once desired effects have arisen applying the teachings to one's own conceiving and practice of it may arise OR uncritical affirmation of one's own ideas in the context of the teachings may arise, passion in the context of the teachings may arise, dukkha in the context of the teachings may arise, conceiving "what is good for me must be good for others too" may arise, perceiving one's own ideas as "What the Buddha said" may arise, perceiving one's own ideas as the only way, the only truth may arise.

:sage:

binocular
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by binocular » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:38 am

ground wrote:
binocular wrote:
I think there can be a middle way where you start with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings and try it out for yourself and see if it works; sanditthiko.
I am skeptical (!) about such a verificationist approach.
In a true experiment, there are constants and there are variables. But in "spirituality," we cannot perform real experiments (ie. we cannot really test or verify anything) because we are operating only with variables and no constants. We can just go, putting one foot in front of the other.
The whole issue seems to be depending on perceiving "true" vs "false" in the context of the ideas arising upon reading, seeing words of the teachings. "Is it really true?" seems to be the essence. But there is no truth without the one that perceives or sees a truth.
It is most likely that there will arise confirmation when someone starts "with some faith or confidence in the Path and the teachings" and tries it out for himself and "see if it works" if this happens in the context of dukkha and wanting to get rid or reduce dukkha. It is most likely that this someone will perceive the teachings as "true" because the expected effect has arisen. It is totally irrelevant what an outside experimenter who is conceiving in terms of "real" and "true" in an objective sense may have to say about all this. Why? Because dukkha has a source and the way to reduce or eliminate it affects this very source - it is not meant to convince an outside experimenter.
I'm not talking about convincing an outside experimenter. I'm talking about having an experimenter's mentality oneself - looking at oneself, at one's own life, one's own experiences with the kind of distance with which an outside observer would watch another person.
In fact, I'd say modern society is encouraging this kind of distant attitude toward oneself. Technically, such an attitude is based on internalizing external criteria to the point where one thinks those criteria are one's own, and where one is willing to dismiss one's insights and experiences if they don't match those criteria.


It seems we're actually generally in agreement, but have not expressed ourselves the same way.

Other than that, I still don't believe in a verificationist or confirmationist approach. Just as one doesn't enroll to college just for the sake of seeing whether one can complete the courses and get a degree or not, so one doesn't take up a path of spiritual practice just to see if it works. Instead, I think one starts out with the conviction that it will work out and that it will be worth the effort.

I don't believe in gambling nor in trying things out just for the sake of trying them out. Perhaps some people's lives are open and resourceful enough that they can afford gambling and trying things out for the sake of trying them out. Mine certainly isn't, so I guess on this point, there is a disconnect between myself and those people ...
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by binocular » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:41 am

ground wrote:The whole issue seems to be depending on perceiving "true" vs "false" in the context of the ideas arising upon reading, seeing words of the teachings. "Is it really true?" seems to be the essence.
Of course, when talking about spirituality and such, there can also be the issue present of how to talk about it in such a way that will not endanger one's image in the eyes of other people.

So defending traditional Buddhism against modern skeptics may involve a lot of pandering to scientism, skepticism etc.

But the result of that may simply be wrong view and a deterioration of one's practice.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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ground
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by ground » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:11 pm

binocular wrote:I'm not talking about convincing an outside experimenter. I'm talking about having an experimenter's mentality oneself - looking at oneself, at one's own life, one's own experiences with the kind of distance with which an outside observer would watch another person.
Yes .... but how do you look at yourself without getting involved in self? How? How can such a selfless investigation be done? And what is the basis for investigational assessments?
No answer expected ...
binocular wrote: Other than that, I still don't believe in a verificationist or confirmationist approach. Just as one doesn't enroll to college just for the sake of seeing whether one can complete the courses and get a degree or not, so one doesn't take up a path of spiritual practice just to see if it works. Instead, I think one starts out with the conviction that it will work out and that it will be worth the effort.
I do not understand "verificationist or confirmationist approach" as "just to see if it works" but I understand"verificationist or confirmationist approach" as: One takes it up because there is identification with what is called dukkha and because one expects relief, i.e. one has at least faith that it can work if done rightly. But maybe there are some that do not believe in dukkha and just have some time to spend ... I don't know. :sage:

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ground
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Re: Skeptical doubt

Post by ground » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:17 pm

binocular wrote:
ground wrote:The whole issue seems to be depending on perceiving "true" vs "false" in the context of the ideas arising upon reading, seeing words of the teachings. "Is it really true?" seems to be the essence.
Of course, when talking about spirituality and such, there can also be the issue present of how to talk about it in such a way that will not endanger one's image in the eyes of other people.
One's image? Who cares and why?
Why carry so much weight?

Don't talk to people who do not understand. Do not seek affirmation from others by means of explanations being understood or accepted. It is just the sense of self seeking affirmation.
binocular wrote:
So defending traditional Buddhism against modern skeptics may involve a lot of pandering to scientism, skepticism etc.

But the result of that may simply be wrong view and a deterioration of one's practice.
Defend? Why? Too much weight ... drop it.

You think there is something weak like "traditional Buddhism" that needs your shelter?

Or is it sense of self clinging to an idea that wants to protect itself?

Yes cultivation of the latter may deteriorate practice.

:sage:

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