Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
chownah
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by chownah » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:13 pm

There is major difference with saying, "I'm not sure I believe in all of this" versus, "I can remove this from the tradition because I don't agree with it."
There is also a middle way here that I see.....it has to do with why the buddha taught all that fantastic stuff like devas etc.....
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by zerotime » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:00 pm

Ripser wrote: But I wouldn't go as far as saying that it is a universal belief, and when it appears in the Ancient Greece it's not difficult to see the connection with India (Pythagoras, Plato...). It seems to me that its assumption in early Christian gnosticism was through the influence of Plato. A very different thing is the intra-familiar rebirth found in small scale societies around the world, where it's the deceased relatives who are reborn, because there rebirth is usually not seen as something unpleasant and hence there is no idea of moksha, nirvana or liberation from it. That proves it's a wholly different conception from the Indian one.
it was really universal. It doesn't care if some cultures or groups looked to that in different ways, something pleasant or unpleasant. The main thing here it's about the preservation of causality in the arising of living beings. which most times need the company of some causal retribution
.
It is important being aware of our exact situation in the western culture. The rebirth idea was the belief shared by all the human kind. Before 1500 years ago, we cannot find any land in this world in where the rebirth it was not present. All the first Christians were believers in rebirth. Not only the Gnostics as you says but also Simonians, Basilidians, Valentinians, Marcionits, Manichean among others.

Perhaps you can think those first Christians were a few heretical or some minority. This would be a a very wrong idea. We can see Origen(183-253 A.D.) the father of the Church, how he kept the rebirth in his times. And still we find the rebirth ruling the Christendom in the 4th century as we read in Gregory of Nyssa (335-384 A.D):

"By some inclination toward evil, certain souls ... come into bodies, first of men; then through their association with the irrational passions, after the allotted span of human life, they are changed into beasts, from which they sink to the level of plants. From this condition they rise again through the same stages and are restored to their heavenly place."


We can see one of the main reasons to forget rebirth and to prefer the arising of the absurdity of non-rebirth. It is explained by the same Origen:

"But on these subjects much and that of a mystical kind, might be said; in keeping with which is the following: It is good to keep close the secret of a king, (Tobit 12:7), in order that the doctrine of the entrance of souls into bodies, not, however, that of the transmigration from one body into another, may not be thrown before the common understanding, nor what is holy given to the dogs, nor pearls be cast before swine. For such a procedure would be impious, being equivalent to a betrayal of the mysterious declaration of God's Wisdom."

Can you see it?. Why they wanted that secretism and to spread the non-rebrirth only for the populace?.

Despite they knew the rebirth was the true thing it was not a comfortable idea for the masses. It was an urgent need of killing and wars to expand the Christendom. In that way the Christ teaching of Love started to evolve in a very different thing for political and social purposes,.

Today what we see in our present Science with its preference for non-rebirth, it is just a relgious heritage. Despite both positions lacks of any positive proof, there is one which still can preserve the logics and this is Rebirth. As the empirical David Hume said many time ago. However, most of scientifics lacks of knowledge of the History of the arising of this idea. They are assuming their cultural heritage because they have grown with the same cultural and educative programming than the rest of us.

If one wants to see this issue with objectivity, one needs to review the History of the arising of that new and bizarre idea, and how the main religious persons and philosphers were dealing with that imposition.

When one search with some depth in this topic, little doubt is available the Rebirth it's the only hypothesis able to be conciliated with Logics and Reason. We see how it share the same logics of the DNA, physics, or any basic behaviour in the cosmos which is ruled by causal laws.

The non-rebirth only can share its logics with the illusionists who try to deceive the children. No adult person can believe that a rabbit can be created from a nothingness. This is not for rational minds.


More info about the arising of this strange idea in the western world:
http://www.near-death.com/reincarnation ... story.html


Still, many societies never reached the idea.
What societies and in what time before 1500 years ago?. Can you be more explicit?

The notion that somebody "returns" this is an universal belief.
And as for it being the only 'the only logical thing', a detractor might say that it stops being logical when you ask where the souls or whatever that is reborn first come from. Then you have to postulate a creator (as in theistic Hinduism) or an endless world of transmigration (as in Jainism or Buddhism), which for many is extremely counterintuitive. Logic isn't necessarily a one-way road.
the rebirth preserve its logics for the arising of beings. About the religious frame in where this explanation is inserted, for that reason I'm buddhist instead following another path.

However, as you can see in the previous cites of Christian people, the rebirth is not incompatible with theism or other beliefs.

What is fully incompatible it is the non-rebirth. Because no thing can arise "by chance". The expression "by chance" in front some phenomena it is precisely a confession that we are accepting that there is a relation and a causality in the arising of the phenomena, although we are ignoring the cause.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by zerotime » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:14 pm

Garrib wrote:I believe in rebirth - and I am a "Westerner" ... and it doesn't seem counter-intuitive to me, rather it seems to explain a lot more about life than mere physical evolution ever could. I think if you adopt the view of modern materialism, you still have yet to explain the origin of all this "stuff" and all these processes. The Big Bang doesn't cut it - because naturally one would ask, what happened before that? and so and and so on...
in fact in these times there is a new "humanism" which is a very recent thing. This is an artificial and a poor quality reflection in historical terms. Useful for universities or to political purposes, although It have only some things in common with the historical and real Humanism, which is a very ancient and implicit ideal to improve the human being In this non-temporal, true Humanism, we can find both religious and non religious people from all lands and cultures. Obviously Buddha and Christ among many others.

No true humanism can be anti-religious; this is an antithetical notion. A coarse imposture of the true Humanism.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Ripser » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:50 pm

zerotime wrote: All the first Christians were believers in rebirth. Not only the Gnostics as you says but also Simonians, Basilidians, Valentinians, Marcionits, Manichean among others.
Most of those are technically Gnostic-influenced sects, but I grant that the belief was far more widespread than it might seem if we look at Christianity in the past 1500 years. And the influence of Plato and of the so-called Eastern mystery religions was great at the period we're referring to (which is also the era of Neoplatonism).
zerotime wrote: What societies and in what time before 1500 years ago?. Can you be more explicit?
It seems early Judaism didn't have a formalized belief in future lives, not to speak of former lives. That's one of the reasons why, in the oldest strata of the Old Testament (as in Exodus 20:5), you will find so many "generational" damnations: the punishment which is not carried out in this life will befall future generations, up to the fifth, the seventh... As far as I know, pre-Buddhistic Chinese religion had little to do with rebirth as well. Even in Theravada countries there are hill tribes and other mostly animistic and shamanistic groups where the belief in rebirth is very incidental, if held at all; they usually practice ancestor worship, something that sometimes disagrees with the logic of Theravadan rebirth (beings are reborn instantly according to their deeds) when it's practiced by Buddhified groups. It might have been the custom of pre-Buddhist Thais or Khmers. Also the Ancient Romans and many other societies venerated the spirits of the dead, generation after generation.

I don't see the universality of rebirth in some distant past as a proof that Buddhism is right or wrong, and the Buddha often remarked the extraordinariness of his teachings. But anyway, the older you go in history, the less proofs you can find of anything, so you're somewhat entitled to shed your own light on things.
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by zerotime » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:20 am

just a point: when I write the term "rebirth" this is to use an opposite to the term "non-rebirth". Because in this notion of a continuity there are many views like the metempsychosis, rebirth, reincarnation, palingenesis and many others that I cannot remember.
So I'm not talking just about the Buddhist rebirth but about the opposite notion to non-rebirth which is that idea that there is not a causality for the arising of the live and death.

My main interest it is in the absurdity of keeping the non-rebirth idea much more than defending rebirth. This is a wrong view. Of course, we can suspend our thoughts in this issue but this is different with keeping the non-rebirth. Because in case of observing non-rebirth, this wrong view can be an obstacle for the contemplation of the world, the arising of beings and the live and death.
Most of those are technically Gnostic-influenced sects, but I grant that the belief was far more widespread than it might seem if we look at Christianity in the past 1500 years. And the influence of Plato and of the so-called Eastern mystery religions was great at the period we're referring to (which is also the era of Neoplatonism).
strictly there were not "gnostics" in those first Christians because this is a label which was created only 300 years ago. Although I suppose you are thinking in some gnosis notion in those groups. I'm not an expert anyway although it's sure those first Christians were a heterogeneous mixture of trends and views. And in further times they were labeled and so on.

It seems early Judaism didn't have a formalized belief in future lives, not to speak of former lives.
I have read that at very early stage those Semites tribes were devoted to the natural things like trees and similar motives. This sound quite well because we know this is the general pattern in the first developments of a transcendent notion. In these devotions for the nature, always there is some rebirth idea by means spirits or a similar notion. In these type of beliefs, the distance between the different worlds become shorter and flexible.It causes a very easy "traffic" of spirits among the humans, animals, plants, etc.. who can enter or arising in the beings

This is also the pattern that we still today we find with shamans and tribal people. From Siberia to the Amazonas, Asia or whatever other place, This was also the common view in those times previous to the big religious times in Europa, Asia and everywhere.

That's one of the reasons why, in the oldest strata of the Old Testament (as in Exodus 20:5), you will find so many "generational" damnations: the punishment which is not carried out in this life will befall future generations, up to the fifth, the seventh... As far as I know, pre-Buddhistic Chinese religion had little to do with rebirth as well. Even in Theravada countries there are hill tribes and other mostly animistic and shamanistic groups where the belief in rebirth is very incidental, if held at all; they usually practice ancestor worship, something that sometimes disagrees with the logic of Theravadan rebirth (beings are reborn instantly according to their deeds) when it's practiced by Buddhified groups. It might have been the custom of pre-Buddhist Thais or Khmers. Also the Ancient Romans and many other societies venerated the spirits of the dead, generation after generation.
I should disagree becuase in all these beliefs there is some rebirth notion by means spirits, souls, etc. who reappear again from the past or in some future, This was also present ion the old civilizated world with Romans, Greeks, Egyptians...Everywhere. Also in the pre-columbine civilization

In the case of Jews, as soon they were able to develop a more sophisticated device with the Kabbalah, also a rebirth notion appeared everywhere. We find it inside the Zohar and many other places.

I don't see the universality of rebirth in some distant past as a proof that Buddhism is right or wrong, and the Buddha often remarked the extraordinariness of his teachings. But anyway, the older you go in history, the less proofs you can find of anything, so you're somewhat entitled to shed your own light on things.
of course, I agree. I don't defend rebirth just because this is Buddhist. This is a shared belief in all the world with the many logical differences.

I believe the important thing is start to realize the non-rebirth it's a social belief like the other one. However, one should know that this is something new in the western world, and it was imposed suddenly and surrounded by political reasons. We cannot ignore this reality to understand this presence in our own mind as something "more comfortable".

Any social dogmatics can work invisible but powerful. Today many people think the non-rebirth sounds more logical, despite they cannot give any argumentation. Just they say: "then, proof me the rebirth is truth". This type of argumentation it is explanatory of what happens. We can keep that bizarre belief about things which arise or perish from a nothingness. Like pure magics. However, we will ask about enough reasons to leave it before start to thinking in another possibility

We should put any belief under investigation for the logics and the rational mind. Specially if we feel that some idea is already present in our mind although it lacks of any logics. In the case of this absurdity of a non-causal issue like the non-rebirth, this belief can be stronger of what we think because this is shared by the majority.

Most of people are keeping this idea from childhood as a part of our educative programming. Including scientist and another supposed "rational" people. It doesn't care. The point is that no additional logics is needed for this majority of people while they ignore that in fact there is none available.
In a very different way, the rebirth is supported by the same mechanics of the reality and the whole universe. We can see in the rebirth the inherent causal logics of nature that also we can see, in example, in the DNA.

I understand the right view according Dhamma is: keeping the rebirth view or in the last case don't keep any thought in the issue. But keeping the non-rebirth view it is a wrong view.

I don't know of any defence of non-rebirth in the texts as a beneficial view. (Well, except nibanna!!)

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by CedarTree » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:16 pm

Great question,

Answer yes and no.

I think in some ways it's almost a dialectic between the two. The most important thing we can do though is not water down the Dharma/Dhamma but also allow modernism (depending on how you define it) to help us grow and be more productive and efficient.

Modernism* can grow by learning about Jhana and I think the unconditioned is an excellent subject for metaphysical philosophy :)
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Will » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:00 am

The new book by Bhikkhu Thanissaro has a detailed section on wrong view that starts like this:
Wrong views.
Many of the points that the Buddha discussed under mundane right view were unique to him in his time. There is a widespread misunderstanding that he simply picked up his teachings on kamma and rebirth from ancient Indian culture, but this is simply not true. In fact, the Buddha often used the teachings of mundane right view to counter many of the views widespread among his contemporaries.
Of the many forms of wrong view that he rejected in this way, six stand out, both because he argued against them so frequently and because they correspond to wrong views that are still widely held at present: annihilationism, materialism, fatalism, the denial of causality, eternalism, and racism. The Buddha had to counter these views because they either (1) denied the possibility of any path of skillful action leading to the end of suffering, (2) denied the need for such a path, or (3) undermined the motivation needed to stick with the specific path he had discovered and taught.
See chapter III - http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... n0000.html
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by DNS » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:31 am

Will wrote:The new book by Bhikkhu Thanissaro has a detailed section on wrong view that starts like this:
Wrong views.
The Buddha had to counter these views because they either (1) denied the possibility of any path of skillful action leading to the end of suffering, (2) denied the need for such a path, or (3) undermined the motivation needed to stick with the specific path he had discovered and taught.
See chapter III - http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... n0000.html
Good points by the venerable. And that looks like a good book, just published for free access a few days ago. I just downloaded the pdf and see it's 460 pages long! That was quite the accomplishment, mudita to the bhikkhu for his merit.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Warrior_monk1 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:39 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Will wrote:The new book by Bhikkhu Thanissaro has a detailed section on wrong view that starts like this:
Wrong views.
The Buddha had to counter these views because they either (1) denied the possibility of any path of skillful action leading to the end of suffering, (2) denied the need for such a path, or (3) undermined the motivation needed to stick with the specific path he had discovered and taught.
See chapter III - http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... n0000.html
Good points by the venerable. And that looks like a good book, just published for free access a few days ago. I just downloaded the pdf and see it's 460 pages long! That was quite the accomplishment, mudita to the bhikkhu for his merit.
It's a free book, right? I do not want to download or anything anymore :P. I rather buy a copy where I can share my love with other people about a book.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Will » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:02 pm

Warrior_monk1:
It's a free book, right? I do not want to download or anything anymore :P. I rather buy a copy where I can share my love with other people about a book.
You have to request the printed book by snail mail:
A paperback copy of this book is available free of charge. To request one, write to: Book Request, Metta Forest Monastery, PO Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082 USA.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by maranadhammomhi » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:34 pm

:goodpost:
binocular wrote:
Ripser wrote:Do you believe there can be some sort of reconciliation between traditional Buddhism and the scientific-evolutionary-rationalistic mindset which doesn’t harm the former?
No.
Will Buddhism “without mythology”, in your view, ever be able to constitute a solid worldview on its own?
No.
Or does it need to be constantly supplemented by the Western modern worldview, losing perhaps too much (if not everything worthwhile) in the process?
Yes.
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:18 pm

binocular wrote:
chownah wrote:
binocular wrote: If Western science would in fact acknowledge anatta in any meaningful way, then Western science's whole reason to live would fall apart. If "someone is there" only provisionally, then the whole competition, the whole evolutionary struggle for survival is merely an absurdist game that even the most cynical couldn't play.
There are a few neurological studies which lean towards showing that our sense of indentity is a by-product of neural associations and not the driver in the wheel.

I guess these must not constitute meaningful acknowledgement.
Then I'd really like to see you provide a justification for continuing the struggle for survival -- when there's really noone there.
Why do scientists work to provide people with a good education, work qualifications, improve their health, quit drugs, and such -- when there's noone really there?
Answer me that.
Because they are people I suppose? Because if they don't feed themselves their stomachs will hurt, they will get a headache, they will die eventually?

Scientists are not a monolith.

Anil K Seth is a Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex. I just copypasted that from wikipedia. He engages in research. He is a "scientist".

He gives this talk, "secular Buddhism" if I have ever heard it, one salient feature is that it is heavy on metaphysics and light on morality:

"Scientists" are not a monolith, nor is "science", so asking "why do scientists do X" and expecting a single answer doesn't make a lot of sense.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by binocular » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:30 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
binocular wrote:Then I'd really like to see you provide a justification for continuing the struggle for survival -- when there's really noone there.
Why do scientists work to provide people with a good education, work qualifications, improve their health, quit drugs, and such -- when there's noone really there?
Answer me that.
Because they are people I suppose? Because if they don't feed themselves their stomachs will hurt, they will get a headache, they will die eventually?
Ah, yes, they have to spend their time somehow ...
Scientists are not a monolith.
Except when there is a presumed uniform scientific front against religion, irrationality, or whatever.
"Scientists" are not a monolith, nor is "science", so asking "why do scientists do X" and expecting a single answer doesn't make a lot of sense.
Great! Then let's remember this the next time someone speaks favorably about science and scientists.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by cappuccino » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:31 pm

"Really no one there"?

I save bugs, they seem to understand and cooperate.
Last edited by cappuccino on Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Blessed One would never say that on the dissolution of the body the saint who has lost all depravity is annihilated, perishes, and does not exist after death.
Yamaka Sutta

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by cappuccino » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:37 pm

Secularism is weak faith.

Weak faith doesn't help, it hinders your progress.
The Blessed One would never say that on the dissolution of the body the saint who has lost all depravity is annihilated, perishes, and does not exist after death.
Yamaka Sutta

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