Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Garrib
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:54 pm

I think we should be careful not to conflate the doctrine of annata and the idea that "no one is home so nothing matters" - in no way are these the same things. Beings experience suffering, and human beings have needs and desires, and it is kind and right that we should wish and support others to have a decent quality of life. The fact that there is no inherently existing independent eternal self or soul has nothing to do with the practical fact that a hungry person needs food. Non-self is not nihilism - it is meant to dispel a persistent delusion that leads to suffering, continuously.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Ripser » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:25 pm

binocular wrote: Postmodernism (ha ha*) can be said to be a "solid view of its own" as well. Even Justin Bieber fans have a solid worldview of their own ...

There are differences indeed, but if they're from a Western background I think they're likely to appear as two sides of the same coin when compared with many of the views on life and the universe of some average rural Cambodian, for example, even if the latter likes Justin Bieber...
Of course, these are just coarse definitions and generalisations. Anyway, conceptual proliferation seems to be our lot when referring to this conventional world of ours.
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Lazy_eye » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:32 pm

Garrib wrote:I think we should be careful not to conflate the doctrine of annata and the idea that "no one is home so nothing matters" - in no way are these the same things. Beings experience suffering, and human beings have needs and desires, and it is kind and right that we should wish and support others to have a decent quality of life. The fact that there is no inherently existing independent eternal self or soul has nothing to do with the practical fact that a hungry person needs food. Non-self is not nihilism - it is meant to dispel a persistent delusion that leads to suffering, continuously.
:goodpost:

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Aloka
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Aloka » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:57 am

Ripser wrote:
No wonder "secular" Buddhism has softened the potentially "gloomy" side of the teachings, as well as the emphasis on monasticism and on the determination and zeal required to attain higher states of consciousness, a heavenly rebirth or, of course, Nirvana. As Bhikkhu Bodhi pointed out somewhere, this gradual adaptation seems to reduce Buddhism to some ancient form of psychological -or stress- therapy.
Here's Doug Smith of the Secular Buddhist organisation talking for 7 minutes about "What is Secular Buddhism".

(I'm not a member of this group myself, by the way.)





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binocular
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:43 am

Garrib wrote:I think we should be careful not to conflate the doctrine of annata and the idea that "no one is home so nothing matters" - in no way are these the same things.
Yet this conflation is precisely what so often happens.
Beings experience suffering, and human beings have needs and desires, and it is kind and right that we should wish and support others to have a decent quality of life. The fact that there is no inherently existing independent eternal self or soul has nothing to do with the practical fact that a hungry person needs food.
In traditional secular terms, it's (innate) personhood that is the highest criterion and the greatest good that justifies actions. It's why Westerners help those poor hungry Africans, "because they're people too."

To be a secular Buddhist, one has to take away nibbana as a goal or the greatest good (because it is "too mystical" or whatever).
But taking away (innate) personhood (due to embracing the anatta doctrine) as well means there is, for the secularist, also no traditional secular greatest good anymore, hence, for the secularist, qualities like kidness, compassion, etc. become the greatest good and an end to themselves.
And from a secular Buddhist perspective, this of course makes sense. From some other perspectives, it doesn't.

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Maitri
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Maitri » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:38 pm

Just practice and study Stoicism and leave Buddhism out of it. Secular Buddhism is just as silly as saying Secular Hinduism or Secular Islam.

If a person is uncomfortable with cultivating faith in certain aspects of a tradition, it is not right of them to change it to suite it their own neurosis or uncertainty. Making Christianity more liberal and secular friendly has absolutely destroyed it as an institution in the West. The mainline churches are collapsing in the West and even the non-denominational churches have leveled off in popularity.

People like Spong did more to gut Christianity from the inside than any outside atheist could even dream. Buddhism will not be able to grow based on a Secular model. Secular Buddhism is a false teaching.
"Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.
Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom." Dhammapada: Pupphavagga

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:50 pm

Buddhism always adapts to the place it is introduced. East asia has always been atheist, ever since before the Buddha and that's how we got brands of buddhism that make it only a stress relief technique such as Zen. In the west we got the Mahasi technique, basically the same thing but theravada affiliated. Most who start with it start as atheist and then they might develop into secular buddhist or normal buddhist, depending on how strong is his belief in materialism.

But here we are speaking about mass buddhism or "local folk buddhism" not about what Buddha really taught. Buddha had a very specific view, a very specific explanation about how the 5 aggregates work. And his view was very different than materialism or solipsism or postmodernism that are today popular in the west. He refuted all these views in debates.

Also, I like to point out that materialism is not necessarily a popular view in the west. Only in some random countries such as Russia, Bulgaria, UK, Chech republic it really got to be the main view or close to it. Postmodernism is only popular in USA and nonexistent in other parts of the word.

Also, materialism has been refuted. Believing in materialism is like believing the world is flat. It has started losing popularity among scientist ever since quantum physics have been discovered and the more we find out about the world, the more hits it keeps receiving. When dealing with secular buddhist, the focus should be on reminding them that materialism has been refuted rather than try to make a case for rebirth, a thing that can't be done in 5 minutes without understanding the whole higher dhamma about how the world works. (about 1500 pag). A message I've wrote a couple of days ago:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism

In short, we have the idea that everything originates out of matter, including consciousness. From this comes the idea that after out body will die, all ends there. Since consciousness originted out of matter, and matter originated randomly out of other matter, consciousness will never originate again and therefore no rebirth.

The problem with this theory is that it's only a dogma, an assumption. Because consciousness is supported by a physical body, the idea appeared that it also originated because of this body that supports it. The problem is, the way it has originated has never been solved and that's why it's called "the hard problem of consciousness'. The reason it has never been solved is because it's impossible for consciousness to originate out of matter. Many more centuries can pass from today and nobody will solve it, because it's a wrong question.

The other problem is about materialism being contradicted by scientifical findings such as neuroplasticity, the placebo effect, quantum physics, etc. How can an immaterial things such as a simple mental tendency or a simple belief have the ability to modify matter ? This should not happen if the theory of materialism would be correct. You can try some mental juglerly, saying this consciousness is something immaterial that originated out of some form of material process that made it pup into existence and then it has the power to modify matter. But it is technically impossible for an immagerial thing to pup out of a material process, let alone go on to have a life of it's own, with the ability to modify matter from that point on.

And do we even need to get started about quantum physics, which has simply burried materialism ? The only way for materialist scientist to preserve their views after quantum physics has been the Many-worlds interpretation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worl ... rpretation
And even this theory, as ridiculous as it it, does not properly defend materialism. Not to mention it doesn't even have anything to do with the hard problem of consciousness, so not addressing the big problem at all.

Materialism is a theory that has been refuted. Believing in a refuted theory is like believing the world is flat. You can try some twisting in your head, such as saying "maybe all these things don't refute materialism. Maybe materialist will find something in the future and make it all stick together" - is just like trying to say the world is not 10.000 years old but the bible is still true. I repeat, believing in a refuted theory is just like believing the world is flat.
And I would add: In order to know when consciousness will disappear without reminder, you need to know how it originated. Unless you know how it originated, you can never know weather it will origiante again through the same process that it did the first time or weather it will disappear without reminder. It might just appear again like it did the first time, through the same mechanism that it did the first time. Unless you know that mechanism, you can't say anything about what happens with consciousness after death.

This is what needs pointed out to materialist. Rather than focusing of explaining rebirth, a thing that can't be done in 5 minutes, one should simply remind that person that materialism has been refuted. Believing in a refuted theory is the same as believing the world is flat. Is it appropiate for an inteligent person to just believe in an idea out of dogmatism or because it's popular in the corner the world where that person currently lives ? Is it a good idea to just go with the herd, never question the belief of the herd in your area ? If an idea is refuted, it doesn't matter if everybody in the world believes in it. A refuted idea is wrong, just like the idea about the world being flat. (which has actually got popular again in recent times)

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:23 am

binocular wrote:To be a secular Buddhist, one has to take away nibbana as a goal or the greatest good (because it is "too mystical" or whatever).
I don't think this is the case. There are different interpretations of what Nibbana is.
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by binocular » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:11 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:I don't think this is the case. There are different interpretations of what Nibbana is.
Sure. In secular terms, "complete cessation of suffering attained by one's own action" is not what is meant by "nibbana", even if secularists use the word "nibbana" -- although I think they'd go for "nirvana".

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Will » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:38 pm

Maitri wrote:Just practice and study Stoicism and leave Buddhism out of it. Secular Buddhism is just as silly as saying Secular Hinduism or Secular Islam.

If a person is uncomfortable with cultivating faith in certain aspects of a tradition, it is not right of them to change it to suite it their own neurosis or uncertainty. Making Christianity more liberal and secular friendly has absolutely destroyed it as an institution in the West. The mainline churches are collapsing in the West and even the non-denominational churches have leveled off in popularity.

People like Spong did more to gut Christianity from the inside than any outside atheist could even dream. Buddhism will not be able to grow based on a Secular model. Secular Buddhism is a false teaching.
Well said and so true also. :buddha1:

Secularism or materialism applied to any traditional religion is not a modifier, but purely destructive. Many moderns require above all, comfort, comfort in sensory realms and comfort emotionally & intellectually. Only the visible matters, brain = mind etc. Ancient truths of invisible, intangible realms and beings, complex and thus un-comfortable notions of rebirth and karma are just too bothersome.

Reduce stress and avoid bad vibrations, we only live once anyway - such is secularism - however adorned with any spiritual trappings.

By the by Maitri, I think even Stoicism had God or Divine reason, so even it is not material enough for many moderns.
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by befriend » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:18 pm

how can a secular Buddhist even read the Nikayas? Wouldn't it make them feel odd? its really religious intolerance it's like an advanced form of a hate crime. It's religious genocide.
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Garrib
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:32 pm

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Garrib
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:34 pm

Garrib wrote:It's really difficult to say what the effect of this secularization really is - in my own case, I encountered "secular buddhism" and became interested a few years before I took refuge as a proper Buddhist. However, I also was looking into Mahayana/Vajrayana etc...Something was obviously drawing me towards 1) Meditation and 2) the Buddha. Eventually I realized that it was the Buddha I was looking for all along, and that I didn't need all these go betweens. Too confusing!

So, can secular buddhism (and the other forms of "buddhism") be a gateway towards the dhamma? (A stepping stone?) Or something that obscures it? Or both? Or neither? :tongue: Hard to say...

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Maitri » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:04 am

befriend wrote:how can a secular Buddhist even read the Nikayas? Wouldn't it make them feel odd? its really religious intolerance it's like an advanced form of a hate crime. It's religious genocide.
:goodpost:

I think the lack of reading source material in many Buddhist circles is a problem. Even more so for the "secular Buddhists". In order to shape the narrative to their liking, they basically must omit any overtly supramundane portions or teachings in the suttas to fit their paradigm:
And when the Blessed One had set the Wheel of Dhamma in motion, the earth devas cried out: "At Varanasi, in the Game Refuge at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahman or contemplative, deva, Mara or God or anyone in the cosmos." On hearing the earth devas' cry, the devas of the Four Kings' Heaven took up the cry... the devas of the Thirty-three... the Yama devas... the Tusita devas... the Nimmanarati devas... the Paranimmita-vasavatti devas... the devas of Brahma's retinue took up the cry: "At Varanasi, in the Game Refuge at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahman or contemplative, deva, Mara, or God or anyone at all in the cosmos."

So in that moment, that instant, the cry shot right up to the Brahma worlds. And this ten-thousand fold cosmos shivered & quivered & quaked, while a great, measureless radiance appeared in the cosmos, surpassing the effulgence of the devas. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Right at the very heart of the Buddha's teachings one can clearly see that the preaching the Dhamma penetrates all levels of reality and the world is immediately transformed by his actions. There is no mistake that the Buddhist tradition has seen, and continues to see, the Three Jewels as divine and sacred.I get that some people aren't sure what to make of these passages or of the final metaphysical goals of the tradition, but "Secular Buddhism" attempts to omit these perspectives entirely or re-write them as solely metaphors or stories. This is very disingenuous and wrong. 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".
"Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.
Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom." Dhammapada: Pupphavagga

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

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Maitri
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Maitri » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:21 am

Secularism or materialism applied to any traditional religion is not a modifier, but purely destructive. Many moderns require above all, comfort, comfort in sensory realms and comfort emotionally & intellectually. Only the visible matters, brain = mind etc. Ancient truths of invisible, intangible realms and beings, complex and thus un-comfortable notions of rebirth and karma are just too bothersome.
Yes, materialism is about reduction of reality rather an expansion of understanding it. It is a wrong view that is argued against by the Buddha and subsequent Buddhist philosophers.
Reduce stress and avoid bad vibrations, we only live once anyway - such is secularism - however adorned with any spiritual trappings.
Basically, yes. Materialism, consumerism,secularism, and modernity are all philosophical epochs and positions of argument. The problem with shaping Buddhism to them is that they are all wrong view. The Dhamma is right view and does not require later amendments.
By the by Maitri, I think even Stoicism had God or Divine reason, so even it is not material enough for many moderns.
:spy: Hey, I'm just trying to steer people back to the West. Stoicism is a great alternative to Buddhism. Just settle in with Meditations:
“Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.”
I think that it's a bit triggering that it was written by a bunch of dead, white, males. It's not as dreamy as Asian mystics and mediators wandering the jungles instead of the streets of Rome.
"Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.
Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom." Dhammapada: Pupphavagga

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/

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