Cannot believe in magical things

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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manas
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by manas » Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:02 pm

It's possible that hell would freeze over before I would ever advocate blind faith.

I would only advocate informed faith.

It is regretful that what I wrote previously was misinterpreted by some, and it makes me feel that sometimes, when I voice my feelings on this essentially wonderful internet forum, I end up having to clarify justify and defend my point of view, and this can end up causing me so much stress that I end up wishing I had never made the post in the first place.

With metta - to all -

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:28 am

Even the Venerable Sāriputta did not have blind faith in the Buddha.

See An Excellent Man is Not Credulous and Sāriputta's Lion's Roar
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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:04 pm

Jhana4 wrote:I agree with Richard Dawkin's that human beings evolved with a psychological "need" for "religion" ( see his theory in his book "The God Delusion" ). I think otherwise rational people not raised in Buddhism, being unaware of this vulnerability, get swept up with the powerful experiences of meditation and the camaraderie of community to become "Buddhist" with beliefs they would never otherwise endorse.
It may be that some Buddhists have a psychological need to believe in rebirth, the realms, etc, though I personally think most Buddists are a little more intelligent than that. But is it also possible that some modern Buddhists have been swept up with the powerful experience of scientific materialism and have a need to disbelieve such things?

Spiny

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Prasadachitta » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:38 pm

HI ALL,

Magical things? For some the word magical refers to something that by definition has no correlation to actuality. What actually is cannot, by that way of seeing, be magical in any way. For some, magical is an adjective that describes actuality when it seems to remarkably diverge from our model of how we see things.

With the second definition in mind, I would call the field of intention "magical". I would caution anyone (especially a Buddhist) when they imagine limitations on the power of intention. Since the field of intentionality is a critical aspect of Buddhist rebirth It does not surprise me that it remarkably diverges from models of how things actually are. Those who see "magic" everywhere tend to be more in touch the incredible power and scope of the field of intentionality. Those of us (me included) who are a bit more skeptical will not be so inclined to give credence to unfathomed potentials and that's fine. However, I think we should be careful to not hold on to our limited notions of what is possible.

Just my thoughts on magic.

Take care and practice well.

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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cooran
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by cooran » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:31 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Viscid wrote:I don't see why you should need to 'sacrifice' anything in order to be open to the possibility of rebirth. There would only be a 'sacrifice' if one had very strong conviction in their denial of rebirth. A conviction born of ego, a bias one should willingly renounce. If you do not directly perceive a process which occurs after death, you do not need to have a personal opinion on the matter. Your affirmation or denial of rebirth doesn't make it any more or less true.
Well said. Blind disbelief can be as much of a hindrance as blind belief.

Spiny
Saddhu! Well said!

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:56 pm

Prasadachitta wrote: However, I think we should be careful to not hold on to our limited notions of what is possible.
Yes, and our limited notions of what is impossible. For me an important aspect of practice is in trying to develop an open-mind, and beginning to let go of all those views, opinions, beliefs and disbeliefs.

Spiny

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:56 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Prasadachitta wrote: However, I think we should be careful to not hold on to our limited notions of what is possible.
Yes, and our limited notions of what is impossible. For me an important aspect of practice is in trying to develop an open-mind, and beginning to let go of all those views, opinions, beliefs and disbeliefs.

Spiny

I concur Spiny.

:smile:
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Jhana4 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:06 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Prasadachitta wrote: However, I think we should be careful to not hold on to our limited notions of what is possible.
Yes, and our limited notions of what is impossible. For me an important aspect of practice is in trying to develop an open-mind, and beginning to let go of all those views, opinions, beliefs and disbeliefs.

Spiny
Do you have an open mind to talking otters who mate with Native American women and produce viable offspring?
( I'm referencing an earlier post I made in this thread )
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:24 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Prasadachitta wrote: However, I think we should be careful to not hold on to our limited notions of what is possible.
Yes, and our limited notions of what is impossible. For me an important aspect of practice is in trying to develop an open-mind, and beginning to let go of all those views, opinions, beliefs and disbeliefs.

Spiny
Do you have an open mind to talking otters who mate with Native American women and produce viable offspring?
( I'm referencing an earlier post I made in this thread )
Hi Jhana4,

I do strive to have an open mind to such things. In the sense that they represent an actual experiential relationship to some kind of notion about how things are. I try to stay focused on how people's notions relate to the way in which they feel and act in the world. I generally find it a wast of time to engage with a process of correcting notions which lie outside of that proximate field of practicality.


Take care

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by sublime » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:25 pm

Or you can keep an open mind. Even theoretical physicists say stuff like "the world is a strange and magical place." The more one knows about science the more miraculous the world seems. Mathematician and philosopher Wittgenstein marveled that anything should exist. I agree with what others are saying to an extent: sure use what you like. But don't forget Buddha said explicitly holding to a view of no kamma and no rebirth is wrong view. Holding to a view of no buddha is wrong view too. All I'm saying is don't hold on to a view. The contention from this side is that dhamma is the nature of everything. If we are correct, then it is happening to you and your consent is not required. Like when you sit at the beach, the tide will make you wet. If I tell you to feel the wetness, it won't mean that when you feel the wetness you are doing something. It is the same when you practice samatha and vipassana, the nature of mind has it's own quality, like water has wetness, coolness, weight and motion. Mind's qualities are kamma, iddhi and ultimately, nibbana.

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:16 am

Jhana4 wrote:Do you have an open mind to talking otters who mate with Native American women and produce viable offspring?
( I'm referencing an earlier post I made in this thread )
I know very little about otter communication or Native American customs, so it's hard for me to comment. ;)

Spiny

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gavesako
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by gavesako » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:08 pm

What about this:

http://my.news.yahoo.com/blogs/yahoo-ma ... 37643.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:shock:
Last edited by bodom on Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed broken link
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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by BubbaBuddhist » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:34 pm

Jhana4 wrote:I agree with Richard Dawkin's that human beings evolved with a psychological "need" for "religion" ( see his theory in his book "The God Delusion" ). I think otherwise rational people not raised in Buddhism, being unaware of this vulnerability, get swept up with the powerful experiences of meditation and the camaraderie of community to become "Buddhist" with beliefs they would never otherwise endorse.
Just to be clear, this isn't Dawkin's theory but a model of human psychology built up through multidisciplined reflection over many years. As far as I can see Dawkins hasn't had an original thought in his life but selectively parrots the theories that buttress his own various agendae. :broke:

M4
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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by JackV » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:43 pm

manasikara wrote:Hi pedro,

I agree that you don't need to believe eveything you read in the suttas if you cannot verify them via your experience. That's ok, so long as you follow the precepts, and find the Teachings useful in daily life, that is great. In fact it's more than just ok, it's good to not be too believing of things without also testing them out via direct experience, imho. Blind faith is not encouraged. But as Zom mentioned, I am making a special effort with just one thing, and that is the concept of kamma, rebirth and faring according to one's kamma. As a naturally sceptical person - and believe me, I can get plagued with doubt badly on occassion - I've come to an understanding of sorts over the years. As I have discovered through direct experience that many of the things that the Buddha speaks of in the suttas are indeed true, particularly in regards to the training and purification of the mind, I've had these wonderful moments where it's dawned on me, "the Buddha was right again! i've been misapprehending this...now I can see what he was talking about!" This keeps happening, and recently I confronted myself about my doubt regarding this world and the next, beings faring according to their kamma, etc. I said to myself, "the Buddha has been right about everything else so far...so many things that you did not understand before, have become clearer over the years...no other teacher knows anywhere near as much about the human mind-and-heart as the Buddha, I mean, have you found one, ever? No! So can't you just open your mind to one thing that you cannot as yet directly perceive, i.e. rebirth and faring according to kamma, on the basis that 'well he's been right about everything else, so why not just take this one (rebirth and kamma) on trust for now, on the basis of trusting the words of an exceedingly wise and noble being?"

I have not done this with regard to deva realms, hell realms, magical powers...no, those things are not central to the practice in the here-and-now. But at the least keeping the mind open to the possibility of kamma and rebirth is so important that I also recommend making a special effort with it. I see it as the one thing that I am finally willing to accept on faith, after so many years of being a die-hard sceptic, based upon my ever-growing regard for the Buddha as the consummate master of the mind, and it's training in virtue, concentration and insight, and as one who was also exceedingly good. It is a kind of 'sacrifice' I've made, to open my mind to something that I cannot directly perceive in the here and now. At the very least we must not deny the possibility of the next world (for us) and faring according to kamma, because to cling to that denial would hinder our progress. Just keep the mind open, and don't deny the possibility, that's my humble advice (and what i'm trying to do myself).

metta.
I concur.
Here where a thousand
captains swore grand conquest
Tall grasses their monument.

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Re: Cannot believe in magical things

Post by Buckwheat » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:40 pm

For the record, I am on the fence when it comes to rebirth.
Spiny O'Norman wrote:Blind disbelief can be as much of a hindrance as blind belief.
Well said, my friend.
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Buckwheat wrote: Finally, there is a large difference between developing trust in the Buddhadhamma :sage: and blind faith. :evil:
Agreed. But there is also a large difference between keeping an open-mind and rejecting those teachings which don't fit with one's ( current ) personal belief system.

Spiny
I agree. I was simply making the point that one should build a sense of trust in the Buddhadharama in general and see the limitations of belief/disbelief so that reality may present itself to an open mind. Blind faith is not an open mind, and neither is blind disbelief. I think we are making the same point.
Prasadachitta wrote:...Magical things?...
I see your point. The term "magical things" is a loaded catchphrase that distorts reality into a wrong view. It is pretty convenient, though. :tongue:
sublime wrote:Or you can keep an open mind. Even theoretical physicists say stuff like "the world is a strange and magical place." The more one knows about science the more miraculous the world seems.....
From the scientific perspective, I would add the adjectives uncertain, impermanent, illusive, and empty.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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