Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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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/

Circle5
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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 Spiny Norman » 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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Will
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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.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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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.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

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

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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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Maitri
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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/

narhwal90
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by narhwal90 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:28 pm

I listen to a secular buddhism lecture series. To me its generally sterile and unmotivating, lots of talk and ideas that come and go and not a lot of imprint. I view it as an expedient and unlikely to have a lot of traction in terms of motivating power to help people change. To me, distilling down a concept from a sutra or whatever decreases its nuance commensurately. Its a low effort low risk sort of material, which is not to say a sutra is "high risk" in the sense of danger- but reading a sutra that is motivating can get one changing and maybe thats a scary prospect to some. All that said, I march thru the series because sometimes the author makes an inspired statement, deconstructing a message or concept in a clear way. I sure wouldn't want to try to build a practice upon it, but maybe its attractive to some people. As an expedient, I'm in favor- if it gets people doing dharma things a little and they like it, then it may lead to bigger dharma things later.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by binocular » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:50 pm

narhwal90 wrote:I listen to a secular buddhism lecture series. To me its generally sterile and unmotivating, lots of talk and ideas that come and go and not a lot of imprint. I view it as an expedient and unlikely to have a lot of traction in terms of motivating power to help people change.
Agreed. I listen to/read such secular sources sometimes as well. On their own, I find those sources useless, but I listen to/read them anyway, because they indirectly help me identify and better formulate my own questions and concerns. That is, I find the secular sources to be lacking, but listening to/reading them helps me to better identify that lack.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by befriend » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:32 pm

At a zen retreat I was at one of the monks said people who take up meditation practice but aren't concerned with the great matter of life and death never stick with their meditation practice.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by binocular » Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:33 pm

befriend wrote:At a zen retreat I was at one of the monks said people who take up meditation practice but aren't concerned with the great matter of life and death never stick with their meditation practice.
Someone who isn't concerned with the great matter of life and death doesn't have much to meditate about ...

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by befriend » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:41 pm

In the anguttara nikaya not sure where but I was reading that noble ones or maybe virtuous ones? Show compassion first to people's endowed with faith. I will go look for it.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by befriend » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:45 pm

Anguttara nikaya the book of the fives number 38. faith
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

Ripser
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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Ripser » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:40 pm

For me there's a huge difference between Buddhist reformers and modernists who stick to the traditional background of kamma and samsara and the ones who want to get rid of it. I don't think modernity doesn't have anything to teach other cultures; actually, in my view, most of those who do think so generally have a lack of understanding of how modernity has already shaped their views. Even hard-line religious fundamentalists make use of it. That's the world we're living in, I'm afraid.

But, if other cultures want to improve by learning some useful things from the century-old modern (scientific, democratic, humanistic, rationalistic...) tradition, the playground must be theirs. Otherwise, it is modernity that is reforming itself.

Which is not wrong, and they can call themselves Buddhist or whatever they want. It's just that it feels more like Buddhist humanism than humanistic Buddhism, if you know what I mean.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by zerotime » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:55 am

Ripser wrote: As for me, the more I learn about Buddhism, the more it seems to me that it only makes full sense within the traditional set of beliefs of Asian Buddhism, which includes karma and rebirth
I believe you are lacking of historical perspective. The rebirth is not an Asiatic cultural trend. This is a world trend from always, from thousand years ago in all this world and in all the cultures without exception.

You should be aware the non-rebirth it's something very new. It was imposed only 1500 years ago with violence and many difficulties, because it lacks of any logics. And never it was completely accepted. Even the empirical David Hume he denounced the absurdity of non-rebrith for the logics and knowledge. This idea contradicts the logics of nature and of the whole cosmos, and of course, nobody was able never to show any proof of that new and bizarre idea which was imposed by other reasons.

Also the first Christians all were believers in rebirth. Even the first fathers of the Church like Origen The non-rebirh was a new sociological device needed for the war in the emergent expansion of the Christendom.

Think again in this: we cannot see in the nature any thing arising by chance and without a cause. That would be an aberration for the understanding.
Science lacks of any reason to support non-rebirth. All what we know today on nature advices the rebirth instead non-rebirth. From biology to physics, the biggest absurdity is non-rebirth. Any rational person can realize how all the cosmos points to rebirth as the only logical thing.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Ripser » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:08 am

zerotime wrote: The rebirth is not an Asiatic cultural trend. This is a world trend from always, from thousand years ago in all this world and in all the cultures without exception.
I didn't mean that only Asians believe on rebirth, but that traditional Asian Buddhists do in comparison to a large part of what we call Western Buddhism, which at its best is agnostic in regard to rebirth.

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.

Still, many societies never reached the idea. 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.

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Re: Does Buddhism really "resist" secularism?

Post by Garrib » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:00 pm

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...

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