why is authenticity under-valued

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Kim OHara
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:35 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:48 pm
Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach
I guess the Mahayanists whose sutras were found underneath a rock by a naga would likely agree with you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
In a pre-scientific age, which is where almost all religions come from, important people, things and events were given origin-stories and attributes which reflected and emphasised their importance.
Virgin birth (not exclusive to JC).
Laws on stone tablets.
Enormous lifespans.
Unusual beauty - or physical marks https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title= ... _great_man.
Annunciation by angels/devas/etc.
Ladies in lakes offering swords.
Divine parentage (handy for legitimising heroes born outside the nobility).
...

In a scientific age, e.g. now, most people clinging to the view that these things are literally true and essential to the belief system are considered a bit loony by most other people - outside or inside the belief system.The workarounds which avoid the conflict between science and religion include the "poetic truth" and "mythic truth" interpretations and "that's not really as important as the core teachings".

:namaste:
Kim

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Coëmgenu
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:48 pm
Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:09 pm
Well said. It would seem somewhat ironic to over-emphasise a scientific/materialistic approach to verifying the authenticity of a religious path whose texts reject that approach
I guess the Mahayanists whose sutras were found underneath a rock by a naga would likely agree with you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Actually, for your information, the Prajñāpāramitāsūtrāṇi were found by a scuba-diving Nāgārjuna visiting an undersea civilization of transdimensional magical giant snakes who preserved the higher discourses of the Buddha concerning emptiness. Get your facts right.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Subharo
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Evolutionarily Stable States become "stronger" automatically

Post by Subharo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:09 pm

Before I begin, I'm not out to debate! These are just my personal 2 cents. Take it or leave it.

I remembered a very good book I read about half a year ago, which was Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene." It was quite mind-blowing, and worth reading. Note: I feel it had much to contribute in the way of anatta, as it makes many statements implicitly agreeing with the Buddha when the Buddha explained the origin of the world as we know it by saying that "this all comes to be, simply due to the existence of the four elements" (heavily paraphrasing there, sorry, can't remember the reference in the Suttas).

BTW: Others have cautioned me that Richard Dawkins is a serious atheist, but his atheism has nothing to do with what I'm about to say. No doubt his atheism will get dragged out as somehow relevant, but I assure you, it isn't relevant to what I'm saying here. I respect him as a Biologist who spoke authoritatively on Biology in that book, and his religious views don't interest me whatsoever here.

Dawkins explains an important and profound concept (relevant to the OP) in Biology, called the "Evolutionarily Stable State", or ESS for short. It's very well worth reading about and contemplating (especially vis-a-vis anatta). The concept and phenomenon of the ESS is what I'm going to point at here, not Dawkins or the other beliefs that Dawkins has.

No doubt I'm not explaining an ESS all that perfectly here, but here's an attempt at a summary: when a given population (of beings) all implicitly agree to operate by a set of (usually unvoiced) "rules" and behaviours such that the population becomes optimally stable over the longer term, then that set of rules can be called an ESS. An ESS necessarily has the curious property that it resists changes to the rules. In other words, an ESS, by definition, has a "self-defendingness" built into it. If an even more stable ESS comes along later, and manages, with great difficulty, to overcome this built-in resistance to rule-changing, then it is an even-more-stable-Evolutionarily-Stable-State.

Over vast stretches of time, the most clever and resilient and "dirty" (from a moral point of view) ESS's will tend to win out. They optimize on success for the whole population, and no other thing. ESS's have no sense of morality, they just work because they work, and anything goes when it comes to Mother Nature, which is red in tooth and claw. ESS's (when taken in the pure sense of Biology's view on them) are certainty not spiritual whatsoever. They are not like the constitution of a government, where things are formally written down, or reasoned out. This is purely about propagating genes (or "memes", a term which Dawkins DEFINED in that book). There is no orchestrating God, or supreme patriarch or something, when an ESS is at play. Success itself determines who wins and loses, and which ESS's win the day. Winner stays, loser pays.

ESS's apply to groups of animals (and other life forms), but it can also apply to groups of humans as well. And it's not just about genes propagating. Memes can also propagate according to their own ESS's. And organized religions, such as Buddhism, can be similarly described as being a "meme".


The OP asked "why is authenticity under-valued".

After thinking over the whole ESS thing for a long time, I answer the OP by saying "because an even-more-successful ESS came along which was less-than-authentic". Less spiritual? Less conducive to enlightenment? Sure. But ESS's are not out to be spiritual, nor help you to attain enlightenment (as they are not themselves living beings who could possibly think rationally). ESS's are simply patterns which have the curious quality of automatically forming, over time, in an increasingly-stable population of like beings. ESS's are about a population surviving and thriving using any means possible, no holds barred (admittedly, a "meme" like Buddhism must still have good morality in many ways to remain appealing). There doesn't need to be any evil mastermind behind this whole loss of authenticity of Buddhism. Increasingly-successful ESS's form all by themselves. That's my big point here.

For example, when Hindu views intermingled with Buddhism in countries like Sri Lanka, the resulting "meme" of Buddhism you find there was an even-more-stable variant of Buddhism than the one the Buddha invented. It's an even more stable and successful ESS. You see the monks acting like Brahmins in many ways, engaging in silabataparamasa (being masters of "priest-lore", with all the intensely important and pious rites and rituals, and pujas, such as Buddha Pujas), and the laypeople really, really get behind it and support it (quite possibly because it provides an even-easier path to Heaven than improving one's sila, thereby increasing the attractiveness of these Hindu views to the wider Buddhist population). Puja is a Hindu-originating word, BTW.

In Thailand, we see Confucianism intermingling with Buddhism to again create an even-more-stable variant of Buddhism than the one the Buddha invented (and Hindu views have snuck in as well). The iron-clad loyalties that Confucius taught make for an aggressive, empirical-style spread of monasteries, within a lineage controlled by the lineage-holder, not necessarily the teachings of Buddha.

Here's a relevant Confucius quotation (from "Sayings of Confucius", translated by James R. Ware):
If those at the top are fond of rites, the people are easy to direct.
(pg. 96)
Basically, whenever some views (outside of Buddhism) come along, like the ceremoniousness-as-livlihood of Hinduism, or the iron-clad loyalty thing of Confucianism, which have an institutionalism-strengthening quality, then when they intermingle with Buddhism, they will make for an even stronger ESS than the one the Buddha invented, and they will unfortunately prevail automatically over time, because of the even-stronger stability (for the population of all Buddhists as a whole, never mind arahantship) that they bring to the table.

The ESS that the Buddha originally built is more delicate, but optimized for enlightenment. The ESS's you often see in modern Buddhism are optimized for long-term survival of the religion of Buddhism itself, not enlightenment.

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Sayings of Confucius cover
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Last edited by Subharo on Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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mikenz66
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:29 pm

Thanks for that, Bhante.

I think Dawkins is brilliant when he's explaining what he knows well. When he strays into other areas he just makes me cringe...

I recall reading basically a description of anatta in The God Delusion. Unfortunately he knows little about religion and zero about Buddhism, so didn't make the connection. If only he had had dinner with Richard Gombrich occasionally...

Mike

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Subharo
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Subharo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:02 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:29 pm
Thanks for that, Bhante.

I think Dawkins is brilliant when he's explaining what he knows well. When he strays into other areas he just makes me cringe...

I recall reading basically a description of anatta in The God Delusion. Unfortunately he knows little about religion and zero about Buddhism, so didn't make the connection. If only he had had dinner with Richard Gombrich occasionally...

Mike
:lol:
Agreed.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Bundokji » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:07 pm

Ven Subharo's post provoked some thoughts both about science and Buddhism.

Science as a method is something we use and proved useful, but i am not sure to what extent we should take science seriously when it comes to theories which attempt to explain our existence or our behavior.

For example, the theory of Evolution has a very strong explanatory power, but the theory itself is a product of evolution, and when it makes "Truth" claims such as that evolution is a blind and amoral force, it gives the impression that the theory itself is somehow exempt from that which it describes even though it admits that it is eventually/ultimately the product of it.

When it comes to Buddhism, i remember that one of the definitions of Anatta is "essence-less" which makes one wonder if there can be a "pure" or "authentic" Dhamma to begin with before we start investigating why its authenticity is under valued!
But if truth, pure, abstract, and free from anything of a mythical nature, is always to remain unattainable by us all, philosophers included, it might be compared to fluorine, which cannot be presented by itself alone, but only when combined with other stuffs. Or, to take a simpler simile, truth, which cannot be expressed in any other way than by myth and allegory, is like water that cannot be transported without a vessel; but philosophers, who insist upon possessing it pure, are like a person who breaks the vessel in order to get the water by itself.
Arthur Schopenhauer
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Evolutionarily Stable States become "stronger" automatically

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:04 pm

Subharo wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:09 pm
Dawkins explains an important and profound concept (relevant to the OP) in Biology, called the "Evolutionarily Stable State", or ESS for short.
/.../
The ESS that the Buddha originally built is more delicate, but optimized for enlightenment. The ESS's you often see in modern Buddhism are optimized for long-term survival of the religion of Buddhism itself, not enlightenment.
Ha! I didn't know this concept existed! It's basically what I've been getting at for a while, talking about power hierarchies, turf supremacism, etc.

And you're trying to take on this ESS called Buddhism?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by auto » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:01 pm


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Subharo
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Re: Evolutionarily Stable States become "stronger" automatically

Post by Subharo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:14 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:04 pm
Subharo wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:09 pm
Dawkins explains an important and profound concept (relevant to the OP) in Biology, called the "Evolutionarily Stable State", or ESS for short.
/.../
The ESS that the Buddha originally built is more delicate, but optimized for enlightenment. The ESS's you often see in modern Buddhism are optimized for long-term survival of the religion of Buddhism itself, not enlightenment.
Ha! I didn't know this concept existed! It's basically what I've been getting at for a while, talking about power hierarchies, turf supremacism, etc.

And you're trying to take on this ESS called Buddhism?
No, that would be virtually impossible. ESS's, by their nature, defend themselves from changes! The concept of the ESS helps me to quit being upset that modern Buddhism has "drifted" away from the Buddha's original ESS, because that "drifting" happens completely naturally (well, actually, the "drifting" is not really random, but is rather highly, highly ordered, which is what ESS's "push towards").

If I can see the ESS itself with a sense of anatta, that frees me from getting upset (or oppositional) towards any one person or group.

Here's a great analogy of this, from "The Way of Chuang Tzu", translated by Thomas Merton:
The Empty Boat
...
If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.

But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.

If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.

And all because there is somebody in the boat.

Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.


pg. 113
:yingyang:

BTW: I would not call myself Taoist, but I must admit that Chuang Tzu is the man when it comes to getting over and moving on from angst towards institutions which are simply behaving like institutions naturally will, given enough time. (Hey Bhikkhunis out there, maybe you should read "The Way of Chuang Tzu"!)

When I hear many monks I've met voicing views which I would categorize as Confucian or Hindu (and they think they are representing the Buddha's Dhamma, parroting vague, intensely-clever euphemisms and aphorisms they've been taught by their teachers), I try not to get upset, and I don't directly oppose them. This takes restraint, and a measure of equanimity. I try to see that person with a sense of anatta (the anatta especially being seen on their side of the conversation) and try to think to myself "that's just an ESS spewing out of this misguided person's mouth."
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:56 am

the bhikkhu's post is tl;dr (too long; didn't read) for me. but because i am totally uninterested in what richard dawkins says or in biology. if anyone wants to give me the 'skimmings of ghee'
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

binocular
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Re: Evolutionarily Stable States become "stronger" automatically

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:24 am

Subharo wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:14 pm
No, that would be virtually impossible. ESS's, by their nature, defend themselves from changes! The concept of the ESS helps me to quit being upset that modern Buddhism has "drifted" away from the Buddha's original ESS, because that "drifting" happens completely naturally (well, actually, the "drifting" is not really random, but is rather highly, highly ordered, which is what ESS's "push towards").

If I can see the ESS itself with a sense of anatta, that frees me from getting upset (or oppositional) towards any one person or group.
Oh, this is so fancy! I mean, really. It looks like you've found (part of) a solution to a problem I've been struggling with hopelessly for a long time!

However, if you know the ESS Buddhism and how it functions, then how can you possibly know the Buddha's original ESS (ESS Dhamma)?

How do you distinguish ESS Buddhism from ESS Dhamma?

And how can you learn the ESS Dhamma, if you distance yourself from the ESS Buddhism?

This is where I get stuck.
Here's a great analogy of this, from "The Way of Chuang Tzu", translated by Thomas Merton:
The Empty Boat
/.../
And similarly, if you were to walk down the street and someone behind you called you a moron, you'd get upset; but when you turned around and saw it was a drunk person or someone with Down Snydrome, your anger would instantly dissipate.
When I hear many monks I've met voicing views which I would categorize as Confucian or Hindu (and they think they are representing the Buddha's Dhamma, parroting vague, intensely-clever euphemisms and aphorisms they've been taught by their teachers), I try not to get upset, and I don't directly oppose them. This takes restraint, and a measure of equanimity. I try to see that person with a sense of anatta (the anatta especially being seen on their side of the conversation) and try to think to myself "that's just an ESS spewing out of this misguided person's mouth."
The thing is that you've learned about anatta (and Chuang Tzu, for that matter) from those same monks!
How do you deal with that?? How do you make sense of that?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Subharo
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by Subharo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:39 am

Hey binocular,

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... on/550859/

Please don't act like Peterson's interviewer (putting words into people's mouths). Thanks.

I think I've said all I need to say in this thread. Maybe your questions might make good, new threads aimed at a general audience.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

binocular
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:44 am

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:39 am
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... on/550859/
Please don't act like Peterson's interviewer (putting words into people's mouths). Thanks.
??
Actually, I don't see a problem with the interviewer. She was furthering the conversation and sought clarification for potentially problematic points. Her only "fault" is that she wasn't passive enough, not enough of a mere sounding board, not submissive enough.

Edit: Gee, now I get it. I thought we were having a conversation, a discussion; but you seem to think this was an interview! :o :(
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

auto
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by auto » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:43 pm

The disc behind Buddha head. It has a dhamma meaning, but instead one of the opinion is that it is art style of that period. There are other cultures also with that "art style". Dhamma is universal, other traditions have different names but it is still dhamma.

auto
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Re: why is authenticity under-valued

Post by auto » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:49 pm

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/ ... ms.html#XX
XX
Jentī (or Jentā).
The story of her past and present is like that of Nandā the Fair; but it was at Vesālī, in the princely family of the Licchavis, that she was reborn. 121 There is this further difference: she attained Arahantship after hearing the Master preach the Dhamma, and it was when reflecting on the change that had come over her that she, in joy, uttered these verses:

The Seven Factors of the awakened mind 122–
Seven ways whereby we may Nibbana win–
All, all have I developed and made ripe,
Even according to the Buddha's word. (21)
For I therein have seen as with mine eyes
The Bless'd, the Exalted One.123 Last of all lives
Is this that makes up Me. The round of births
Is vanquishèd–Ne'er shall I be again! (22)

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