Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

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mettafuture
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Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by mettafuture » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:38 am

“Take a foolish person who memorizes the teaching—statements, songs, discussions, verses, inspired sayings, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and analyses. But they don’t examine the meaning of those teachings with wisdom, and so don’t come to a reflective acceptance of them. They just memorize the teaching for the sake of finding fault and winning debates. They don’t realize the goal for which they memorized them."

— Alagaddūpama Sutta (MN 22)
When encountering someone who holds very critical views of the Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha, how do you respond? Do you try to engage in a discussion? Do you debate them? Or maybe you don’t respond at all? Sometimes I feel obligated to say something when a mischaracterization is being publicly made. But I usually find such discussions tiresome. I may need more patience.

rightviewftw
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by rightviewftw » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:58 am

As i see it many people are deprived of the faith faculty, are stubborn and attached to their views. In such case any discussion is most likely to end in a "I can't prove you wrong but i don't believe you either" no matter how much evidence they are presented with.

Therefore i find it best to nip it in the bud by asking if they have a alternative grand theory which they would like to defend or if they can disprove the Buddhist doctrine, furthermore i will point out that "I don't believe you" is not an argument.

It is akin to people saying "I don't believe in gravity and want to fly off the cliff", well you have my commiserations.

If people say that those who have supposedly verified the Buddha's teaching by direct experience are liars or are unreasonable people who ought not to be believed for some reason, i ask for evidence right away because that has not been established and therefore is a mere ad-hominem agumentation strategy made to dismiss the claims by assuming imaginary flaws in the character.

If people are genuinely curious, are able to entertain the ideas and are interested in putting the claims to the test then i am more inclined to explain things.

Furthermore any discussion on decisions, right & wrong, better & worse is also going to be affected because if a person does not in fact have a comprehensive grand theory of their own one may constantly point to the lack of basis and consistency pertaining to their ethics and morals. If they do claim to have a grand theory of any sort one can then point out the flaws and irrationality therein.

You will be left alone quickly and most people will probably just say "I don't share your beliefs but i respect your opinion"
Last edited by rightviewftw on Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:24 am, edited 4 times in total.
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budo
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by budo » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:17 am

I personally think that there are borders where doubt is allowed and beyond those borders doubt should not be allowed because it is too off topic and in denial. Within the borders you are just following different traditions, outside the borders you are simply denying Buddhism and going off topic, which is just a subtle level of trolling.

When I say "not allowed" I don't mean to ban them although banning them in some cases would benefit the forum as a whole, but instead to the point where they've reached "no hope" territory and they do not contribute any knowledge nor to the progression of members, and they remain stubborn despite showing them their absurdity.

- Interpretation of various teachings is allowed, denying the noble eightfold path and the dhamma in general not allowed.
- Degrees of techniques is allowed, denying the technique as a whole that's in the scripture itself, is not allowed
- Denying relatively allowed, denying absolutely not allowed (e.g. satipatthana may be wrong because of xyz vs satipatthana is absolutely wrong) or (it is very hard to attain enlightenment in this day of age vs it is impossible to attain enlightenment in this day of age)

I don't go to Muslim forums and tell them they're wrong and to convince me. It is a faith after all and faith by definition means objectively unprovable, i.e. see for yourself. In general though I believe a person has no business being on a theravadan Buddhist forum if they absolutely deny the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path, relativistic doubting is ok, but absolute denial is not ok and troll level absurdity.

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Volovsky
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by Volovsky » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:31 am

MN103 wrote:Now, bhikkhus, you should not hurry to reprove him; rather, the person should be examined thus: ‘I shall not be troubled and the other person will not be hurt; for the other person is not given to anger and resentment, he is not firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes easily, and I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. ’ If such occurs to you, bhikkhus, it is proper to speak.

[...listing all other combinations...]

Then it may occur to you, bhikkhus: ‘I shall be troubled and the other person will be hurt; for the other person is given to anger and resentment, and he is firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes with difficulty; and I cannot make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome.’ One should not underrate equanimity towards such a person.

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:05 am

I used to be very passionate about arguing and persuading critics or Christians that I was right and they were wrong about Buddhism. But these days I don't bother to convince them, whatever they believe is ok with me. They can get it in the next life when they're ready.
Maybe it's because I'm aged 41 now.
I used to argue a lot with Christians especially, but now if we discuss it we tend to talk about the similarities between the two religions, even though I believe they are incompatible and one is utterly false!

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by Laurens » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:26 am

Don't talk about your practise with people whom you don't think will respect it, or gain any benefit from it.

If you don't make any unwarranted reference to your beliefs you won't draw as much unwarranted criticism.

Where you do encounter it, I'd say rather than try to argue out of the situation, just accept their views and leave them to it.

Generally you only get drawn into tiresome discussions if you let yourself, but you really don't have to.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

SarathW
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:34 am

I think your energy is well spent if you spend the time to teach the true Buddhism to Buddhists.
The biggest problem we face today is Buddhist do not understand Buddhism.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:39 pm

I find myself mostly these days not getting involved in debating, for example, Christians who think us Buddhists are going to hell, or atheists/materialists. The only time I tend to speak up is when people misrepresent what the Buddha taught.

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by Zom » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:00 pm

I used to be very passionate about arguing and persuading critics or Christians that I was right and they were wrong about Buddhism. But these days I don't bother to convince them, whatever they believe is ok with me. They can get it in the next life when they're ready.
Maybe it's because I'm aged 41 now.
Many years ago I was so passionate about Dhamma that I tried to share it with a number of friends. No matter what approach I used - nothing worked out. Then, later, I witnessed hundreds of people listening to Dhamma because of their own "spiritual interest" - but they never became buddhists. Of course there were others who grasped it and consider themselves as buddhist even now - but those were few. So I too don't even bother trying to "convert" someone anymore ) Perhaps, this is a "buddha's work". As for those who became buddhists (in the West) - there must be some some kammic inclination, and these people usually come to Dhamma by themselves (as it was in my case in this very life). And those who doubt - they keep doubting. 8-)

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by TRobinson465 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:18 am

mettafuture wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:38 am
“Take a foolish person who memorizes the teaching—statements, songs, discussions, verses, inspired sayings, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and analyses. But they don’t examine the meaning of those teachings with wisdom, and so don’t come to a reflective acceptance of them. They just memorize the teaching for the sake of finding fault and winning debates. They don’t realize the goal for which they memorized them."

— Alagaddūpama Sutta (MN 22)
When encountering someone who holds very critical views of the Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha, how do you respond? Do you try to engage in a discussion? Do you debate them? Or maybe you don’t respond at all? Sometimes I feel obligated to say something when a mischaracterization is being publicly made. But I usually find such discussions tiresome. I may need more patience.
It depends. If i think the person can be convinced or if there is blatant misinformation to be corrected or something I engage. Some people are lost causes however, so i just leave it be. I will defend my views if i am attacked but not try to persuade others who cannot let go of thier views. Like you said, its very tiresome and just a frivolous waste of valuable time. People who are convinced they are right about everything, by definition, cannot be convinced otherwise. Excellent Sutta quote btw.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by Pseudobabble » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:32 pm

When you encounter someone who doesn't understand that putting their hand in the fire burns them, what do you do?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


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budo
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by budo » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:48 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:32 pm
When you encounter someone who doesn't understand that putting their hand in the fire burns them, what do you do?
You remind yourself that you may also be putting your hand in fires that you are blind to, which is what we're all doing until we attain full enlightenment.

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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by Manopubbangama » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:22 pm

mettafuture wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:38 am
“Take a foolish person who memorizes the teaching—statements, songs, discussions, verses, inspired sayings, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and analyses. But they don’t examine the meaning of those teachings with wisdom, and so don’t come to a reflective acceptance of them. They just memorize the teaching for the sake of finding fault and winning debates. They don’t realize the goal for which they memorized them."

— Alagaddūpama Sutta (MN 22)
When encountering someone who holds very critical views of the Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha, how do you respond? Do you try to engage in a discussion? Do you debate them? Or maybe you don’t respond at all? Sometimes I feel obligated to say something when a mischaracterization is being publicly made. But I usually find such discussions tiresome. I may need more patience.
I don't know, maybe this is just me - but I could care less about people thinking Buddha is a fat Chinese guy who gives away fortune cookies - its 2018 - if you don't want to know something you won't. That is their own karma.

What I have an issue with is so-called Buddhist monks who [engage in sexual relations with] every wide-eyed female acolyte follower and who promote cults of self-worship and who create divisions in the Sangha.

No, I won't name names - its not my job to.

Again, we should investigate some of these so-called masters.

I am far more concerned about the Sangha self-policing than what outsiders think of the teachings of the Buddha.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

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mettafuture
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by mettafuture » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:10 am

budo wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:17 am
In general though I believe a person has no business being on a theravadan Buddhist forum if they absolutely deny the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path, relativistic doubting is ok, but absolute denial is not ok and troll level absurdity.
I understand these sentiments. Skeptics tend to be very negative, and their negativity often sucks the joy out of a room. It would be nice if there were more places where one could go and discuss, practice, and revere the dhamma in an unabashedly orthodox way without cynicism.
JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:05 am
I used to be very passionate about arguing and persuading critics or Christians that I was right and they were wrong about Buddhism. (...) Maybe it's because I'm aged 41 now.
Same. I'm in my late 30s. Arguing just isn't as much fun as it used to be. I'd rather sleep.
Laurens wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:26 am
If you don't make any unwarranted reference to your beliefs you won't draw as much unwarranted criticism.
I'm careful about this. If I sense curiosity about my beliefs or practices, I'll briefly mention the benefits that meditation has had without referring to “Buddhism.” If they’d like to know more beyond that, I’ll share it. And if I know someone who’s struggling with stress, I might recommend mindfulness or breath meditation—again without referring to “Buddhism.” I'll share additional details if they're requested.

The are times I interject are when I see someone propagating a wrong or one-dimensional view of the dhamma, which is typically encountered online. For example, I often see people telling newcomers to Buddhism that arahantship is the only attainment worth striving for, implying that they'll need to abandon sensual desire and any current or future partners. This is awful advice. As AN 8.54 shows, the Buddha was not this hardlined.
Last edited by mettafuture on Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

TRobinson465
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Re: Responding to Critics and Anti-Buddhists

Post by TRobinson465 » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:29 am

budo wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:48 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:32 pm
When you encounter someone who doesn't understand that putting their hand in the fire burns them, what do you do?
You remind yourself that you may also be putting your hand in fires that you are blind to, which is what we're all doing until we attain full enlightenment.
Yes theres this part also. I dont want to assume im always right either. because i know im not. As for cases where ppl are clearly burning themselves, you can only help them if they will listen to you. Imagine anti-vaxxers, you can use reason and tell them about how its safer to vaccinate thier children, but ur wasting effort if u know they will never be convinced either way. It is the same with those who burn themselves with wrong speech or actions. The dhamma is medicine for the mind, every doctor knows you cant save everyone.
Last edited by TRobinson465 on Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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