Fundamentalist Questions

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Tenma
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Fundamentalist Questions

Post by Tenma » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:24 am

Unfortunately, as I do not have much experience in the dharma, I would like some help here.
How does one answer the following questions from Christian fundamentalists (even when they are very wrong on science and evolution)?
https://answersingenesis.org/world-religions/buddhism/
  • Since souls are impermanent—i.e., there is no real self—how can Buddhism refer to nirvana as achieved or experienced?
    When Buddhism teaches reincarnation, but also denies that souls exist, what then is reincarnated? With no self to be reborn, how can cycles of rebirth occur?
    If all things are impermanent, does not that very conviction implode?52
    Karma entails that past acts and future incidents are inseparably linked together (i.e., we truly reap in this life what we’ve sown in a previous one). But how can this be if nothing is permanent?
    The Buddhist’s whole worldview is predicated on overcoming suffering, but how can this be if (some of the same) Buddhists deny that suffering is real?
    Buddhism infers one has no personal significance. But then why do some Buddhists seem to live as if they do have some modicum of significance?
    How can Buddhism claim that suffering comes from the pursuit of private fulfillment, and then pursue (desire) a private fulfillment like nirvana?
    As part of our world of sensory illusion, how are ethical notions (like good and evil or cruelty and non-cruelty) even sustainable?53 Specifically, what objective moral basis can Buddhism provide to distinguish between them?
    It is commendable that Buddhists live ethically. But by holding that ultimate reality is impersonal—with distinctions between good and evil being illusory—isn’t such an ethic wholly arbitrary with no objective underpinning?54
    With no personal God, who/what decides whether an act deserves “good” or “bad” karma?
    How is it even known that the search for enlightenment is worthy?
    If self-effort is imperative to curry good karma, how does this mesh with the aid of a bodhisattva?
“If one cannot empirically know the minds of other people, then pursuing knowledge of other minds is inconsistent with the Buddha’s doctrine regarding the kind of knowledge necessary to end suffering. . . . Is not compassion then inconsistent with the kind of knowing that leads one to be able to end one’s suffering?” A head monk answered, “If someone truly understands the Buddha’s teaching, they will see that compassion is meaningless.” Collender comments, “If metaphysical claims are that which we cannot possibly verify, then the Buddha cannot verify . . . that there are any individuals beyond himself. This makes the Buddha’s epistemology an enemy of compassion.”—Michael Collender
The moral contradiction is precisely this: A person should want to get saved from desire or selfishness. But wanting to save oneself is just as selfish as any other act for selfish ends. If a person wants enlightenment, he still wants. And wanting, desiring, is the very fault which [sic] prevents enlightenment.
http://orthochristian.com/69124.html
“The way that Buddha showed to Nirvana was twofold. On the one hand, psychophysical exercises of self-immersion, concentrated meditation, holding the breath—in their techniques, almost identical to the system of yoga. But on the other hand, self-sacrifice and love towards all existence. However, this second way is, so to speak, a part of the first, especially psychophysical exercise. Love, mercy, compassion—all these for the Buddhist are not feelings, for feelings must not remain in his soul, but only results, the consequences of the complete loss of his feeling of individuality and of his personal wishes. In such a mental state, it doesn’t cost a person anything to sacrifice himself for his neighbor, for, not having his own desires, he naturally fulfils the desires of others easily. To suppress one’s will so much that one does the will of another exclusively is recommended precisely in the form of an exercise. Forgiveness of all is looked upon as a means of obliterating the feelings. Apathy or indifference reaches perfection when a person relates to his enemy in the same way as to his friend; when he is indifferent to joy or to pain, to honor or dishonor."ii

In other words, such a person becomes like a robot, which has neither a personality nor feelings, and therefore impassively fulfils whatever program is installed on it. In contrast to this, Christian sacrifice, forgiveness, and love are based not on the suppression of desires within oneself, not on the annihilation of one's personal authority, but on the purity of a heart that has acquired God's grace. The soul that has found in God freedom from sin joyfully helps its neighbor; it forgives and makes sacrifices because it loves—in this lies its secret happiness.
:anjali:

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:40 am

Buddhism is not really for the purpose of trivial debate with outsiders. This said:

1. Buddhism does not teach good & evil are illusory. Moral law exists because people have a nervous system that is inflicted by pain via physical violence or via deprivation of what is loved. Love exists because Nature creates life forms with reproductive instincts or tendencies (called ‘anusaya’). No ‘god’ is required here.

2. As for impermanence & faith, the Law Of Dhamma & Nirvana are permanent because they are not ‘conditioned things’. Buddhism teaches only conditioned things are impermanent.

3. As for not-self vs reincarnation, this is more complex thus the Christians might have you stumped here (given Buddhists themselves debate this issue also).
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:01 am

To add. I am posting on small iPhone.

Buddhism says self-delusion is the cause of suffering. Therefore Buddhism does not deny a delusion known as “self” comes to exist. This is not a real self but just a thought or delusion. When this delusion ends, there is peace & nirvana. There is no contradiction here. Jesus said he who loses his life will save it.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:10 am

Love & purity are the absence of desires. Even the New Testament says this. The Christian here is illogical. When there is the absence of desire, what remains is pure bliss & love, which is the Kingdom of Heaven or a heavenly Brahma realm of mind
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:15 am

What is saved in Buddhism is the mind or life. The nervous system is purified of pain cause by the traumatic impact of the grasping mind. In Buddhism, salvation is called “ceto vimutti”, which means liberation of mind. It is not called liberation of self. It is liberation from self delusion. There is no contradiction here.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:34 am

The quote of —Michael Collender is difficult to follow however:

It is plainly obvious people in general suffer due to the same causes, namely, due to desire, attachment & selfishness; especially in situations of aging, death, loss & change and particularly over addiction to sensual & worldly pleasures. Even the New Testament teaches this.

While the universal causes & conditions for suffering are plainly obvious, similar to the report about Jesus, the Buddha also has psychic power to know the minds of others.

In summary, since the causes & conditions about suffering are universal, naturally compassion occurs.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:44 am

The last quote is non-sense.

Feeling is unrelated to “self”.

“Soul” in Christianity does not mean “self”.

Even Jesus taught to “forget self”.

The Jesus notion of “soul” is similar to the Buddha notion of “citta” (heart-mind).

As I posted previously, liberation in Buddhism is “liberation of citta” or “heart-mind”.

The liberated heart or soul feels love due to its natural nature. No god is required here
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

cookiemonster
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by cookiemonster » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:57 am

Tenma wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:24 am
Unfortunately, as I do not have much experience in the dharma, I would like some help here.
How does one answer the following questions from Christian fundamentalists (even when they are very wrong on science and evolution)?
https://answersingenesis.org/world-religions/buddhism/
  • 1. Since souls are impermanent—i.e., there is no real self—how can Buddhism refer to nirvana as achieved or experienced?
    2. When Buddhism teaches reincarnation, but also denies that souls exist, what then is reincarnated? With no self to be reborn, how can cycles of rebirth occur?
    3. If all things are impermanent, does not that very conviction implode?
    4. Karma entails that past acts and future incidents are inseparably linked together (i.e., we truly reap in this life what we’ve sown in a previous one). But how can this be if nothing is permanent?
    5. The Buddhist’s whole worldview is predicated on overcoming suffering, but how can this be if (some of the same) Buddhists deny that suffering is real?
    6. Buddhism infers one has no personal significance. But then why do some Buddhists seem to live as if they do have some modicum of significance?
    7. How can Buddhism claim that suffering comes from the pursuit of private fulfillment, and then pursue (desire) a private fulfillment like nirvana?
    8. As part of our world of sensory illusion, how are ethical notions (like good and evil or cruelty and non-cruelty) even sustainable? Specifically, what objective moral basis can Buddhism provide to distinguish between them?
    9. It is commendable that Buddhists live ethically. But by holding that ultimate reality is impersonal—with distinctions between good and evil being illusory—isn’t such an ethic wholly arbitrary with no objective underpinning?
    10. With no personal God, who/what decides whether an act deserves “good” or “bad” karma?
    11. How is it even known that the search for enlightenment is worthy?
    12. If self-effort is imperative to curry good karma, how does this mesh with the aid of a bodhisattva?
IMO, answers in order with your questions:

1. There is a conventional self that experiences suffering and release from suffering.
2. Reincarnation (transmigration of a soul or enduring self) is not taught in early Buddhism, rebirth is taught. Rebirth is simply an aspect of cause & effect (an effect is "born" from its cause(s)).
3. What conviction?
4. Kamma is cause, and causes inevitably produces its effects (in this samsaric world).
5. Buddhism does not deny that suffering is real (in the early Buddhist texts).
6. Personal significance is only & finally overcome by the fully awakened ones (arahants), it has only been overcome to some degree by lesser awakened ones.
7. Ven. Ananda answered this in the Brahmana Sutta (SN 51:15) https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN51_15.html
8. Ethical notions of good and evil are interpretations of the mind - what seems good to one may be evil to another.
9. The objective underpinning is the truth of phenomenological experience.
10. There is no "good" or "bad" kamma, but there are skillful or unskillful ones which leads away from or towards suffering.
11. Because literally every volitional action in life is done for the sake of reducing dukkha or increasing sukkha, which reaches its pinnacle in parinibbana (aka enlightenment).
12. Bodhisattas are beings aiming for full awakening; we gain inspiration and motivation for our own practice by observing those who have successfully forged ahead.
The moral contradiction is precisely this: A person should want to get saved from desire or selfishness. But wanting to save oneself is just as selfish as any other act for selfish ends. If a person wants enlightenment, he still wants. And wanting, desiring, is the very fault which [sic] prevents enlightenment.
There is no contradiction, Ven. Ananda answered this in the Brahmana Sutta (SN 51:15) https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN51_15.html
Last edited by cookiemonster on Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.

SarathW
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by SarathW » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:59 am

Since souls are impermanent—i.e., there is no real self—how can Buddhism refer to nirvana as achieved or experienced?
What Buddha said was there is the five aggregate in this world. The thought "I" is a consciousness having a back word look.What is there is ignorance. Not a self
When Buddhism teaches reincarnation, but also denies that souls exist, what then is reincarnated? With no self to be reborn, how can cycles of rebirth occur? Due to ignorance, five clinging-aggregate create the future.
If all things are impermanent, does not that very conviction implode? What Buddha said was only Sankahata Dhamma are impermanent.
Karma entails that past acts and future incidents are inseparably linked together (i.e., we truly reap in this life what we’ve sown in a previous one). But how can this be if nothing is permanent? Agree. Kamma does not operate in its own. There are five Niyamas.
The Buddhist’s whole worldview is predicated on overcoming suffering, but how can this be if (some of the same) Buddhists deny that suffering is real?
Buddha did not say suffering is not real.
Buddhism infers one has no personal significance. But then why do some Buddhists seem to live as if they do have some modicum of significance?
I think Nibbana is about your own liberation.
How can Buddhism claim that suffering comes from the pursuit of private fulfillment, and then pursue (desire) a private fulfillment like nirvana?
The desire for Nibbana is ending desire.
As part of our world of sensory illusion, how are ethical notions (like good and evil or cruelty and non-cruelty) even sustainable?53 Specifically, what objective moral basis can Buddhism provide to distinguish between them? There are ethics in Buddhism
It is commendable that Buddhists live ethically. But by holding that ultimate reality is impersonal—with distinctions between good and evil being illusory—isn’t such an ethic wholly arbitrary with no objective underpinning?
With no personal God, who/what decides whether an act deserves “good” or “bad” karma? You decide what is good and bad.
How is it even known that the search for enlightenment is worthy? It is gradual training and you taste Nibbana here and now.
If self-effort is imperative to curry good karma, how does this mesh with the aid of a bodhisattva?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by SarathW » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:30 am

There is a conventional self that experiences suffering and release from suffering.
Buddha did not say that there is a conventional self.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Dinsdale
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:11 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:30 am
There is a conventional self that experiences suffering and release from suffering.
Buddha did not say that there is a conventional self.
He did actually. In SN22.22 the person is the bearer of the burden, ie the aggregates.
https://suttacentral.net/sn22.22/en/sujato

And of course there are references to "beings", which can refer either to sentient living creatures, or to the convention "a being".
Last edited by Dinsdale on Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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budo
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by budo » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:15 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:11 am
SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:30 am
There is a conventional self that experiences suffering and release from suffering.
Buddha did not say that there is a conventional self.
He did actually. In SN22.22 the person is the bearer of the burden, ie the aggregates.
https://suttacentral.net/sn22.22/en/sujato
Also in pottaphada sutta
"Just as when milk comes from a cow, curds from milk, butter from curds, ghee from butter, and the skimmings of ghee from ghee. When there is milk, it's not classified as curds, butter, ghee, or skimmings of ghee. It's classified just as milk. When there are curds... When there is butter... When there is ghee... When there are the skimmings of ghee, they're not classified as milk, curds, butter, or ghee. They're classified just as the skimmings of ghee.

"In the same way, when there is a gross acquisition of a self... it's classified just as a gross acquisition of a self. When there is a mind-made acquisition of a self... When there is a formless acquisition of a self, it's not classified either as a gross acquisition of a self or as a mind-made acquisition of a self. It's classified just as a formless acquisition of a self.
Ultimately there is no-self, but there is still an impermanent "conventional " self.

SarathW
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by SarathW » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:40 am

There is no self but an acquisition of a self. Which is ignorance as I said before.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Dinsdale
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:46 am

I'm not sure I would even try to answer questions from a fundamentalist, given they are strongly attached to their own views, and not really interested in the answers.
Such people are so convinced about the rightness of their own position that they are not interested in genuine discussion.
Last edited by Dinsdale on Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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DooDoot
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Re: Fundamentalist Questions

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:46 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:40 am
acquisition of a self
Attabhāvapaṭilābho :candle:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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