Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
vinasp
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by vinasp » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:46 am

Hi Nana,

From SN 35.245 - Kimsuka Sutta - The Riddle Tree.

"When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the four great elements [earth, water, wind, & fire], my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."

Regards, Vincent.

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Zom
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Zom » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:07 am

Good topic.

I will add 5 cents.

from SN 22.55
"It might not be, and it might not be for me. It will not be, [and] it will not be for me" - resolving thus a bhikkhu can cut off the lower fetters.

Ven. Bodhi comment:

This formula for resolution recommended by the Buddha is found in the suttas
in two versions, one used by the annihilationists, the other the Buddha’s adaptation
of this; as the two versions differ only with respect to two verb forms, they are sometimes
confounded in the various recensions. From the commentarial glosses, it appears that
the confusion had already set in before the age of the commentaries.
....
The annihilationist version — explicitly identified as uccheda-di††hi at 22:81 and
classed among the wrong views at 22:152 and 24:4 — reads: "no c’assaμ no ca me siyå,
na bhavissåmi na me bhavissati". At AN V 63–64 the Buddha describes this
creed as the highest of outsider views (etadaggaμ båhirakånaμ di††higatånaμ), the reason being
that one who accepts such a view will not be attracted to becoming nor averse to the cessation of becoming.
It is problematic how the optative clause in the annihilationist version should be interpreted;
perhaps it can be read as an assertion that personal existence, along with its world, is utterly fortuitous
(“It might not have been and it might not have been mine”). The clause in the future tense
is clearly asserting that personal existence and its world will terminate at death.

The Buddha transformed this formula into a theme for contemplation consonant
with his own teaching by replacing the first person verbs with their third person counterparts:
"No c’assa no ca me siyå, na bhavissati na me bhavissati". The change of person shifts the stress
from the view of self implicit in the annihilationist version (“I will be annihilated”)
to an impersonal perspective that harmonizes with the anattå doctrine.

In the present sutta, resolving (adhimuccamåno) on the formula is said to culminate
in the destruction of the five lower fetters, that is, in the stageof non-returning (anågåmitå).
Elsewhere the formula includes a rider, yad atthi yaμ bhËtaμ taμ pajahåmi, “what exists, what
has come to be, that I am abandoning.” Contemplation of this is said to lead to equanimity.
At MN II 264–65 practice guided by the full formula (with the rider) culminates in rebirth in the base of neit
her-perception-nor-non-perception (if the meditator clings to the equanimity) or in Nibbåna
(if there is no clinging to the equanimity). At AN IV 70–74, resolution guided by the formula,
again with the rider, leads to one of the five levels of non-returning or to arahantship.
At Ud 78 the shorter formula is applied to mindfulness of the body; one who dwells thus
gradually crosses attachment, i.e., wins arahantship.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:10 am

vinasp wrote: "When a monk discerns, as it actually is, the origination & passing away of the four great elements [earth, water, wind, & fire], my friend, it is to that extent that his vision is said to be well-purified."
This quote is not advocating natthika-diṭṭhi.

vinasp
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by vinasp » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:35 am

Hi Nana,

Quote: "This quote is not advocating natthika-diṭṭhi."

It is not "advocating" anything, it is describing a stage in the
development of right view.

My interpretation is that at this stage a monk understands that the four
great elements cease completely and permanently.

How do you understand this passage?

Regards, Vincent.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:40 am

Ñāṇa wrote:and entails denial of any form of post-mortem existence.
Not in the definitions you gave, or any definitions I've seen.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:42 am

Ñāṇa wrote: You've never heard of anyone who believes in this view:
  • The person is composed of the four great elements; when he dies, earth returns and goes back to the element of earth, water returns and goes back to the element of water, fire returns and goes back to the element of fire, wind returns and goes back to the element of wind, while the senses disappear into space.... Fools and wise alike are destroyed and perish at the breaking up of the body, they do not exist after death.
No, I've never heard of anyone touting a view natthika-diṭṭhi as defined in the link I posted above.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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mikenz66
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:44 am

Hi Zom,
Thanks for the interesting quote:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote: The annihilationist version — explicitly identified as uccheda-di††hi at 22:81 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and
classed among the wrong views at 22:152 and 24:4 — reads: "no c’assaμ no ca me siyå,
na bhavissåmi na me bhavissati". At AN V 63–64 the Buddha describes this
creed as the highest of outsider views (etadaggaμ båhirakånaμ di††higatånaμ), the reason being
that one who accepts such a view will not be attracted to becoming nor averse to the cessation of becoming.
It is problematic how the optative clause in the annihilationist version should be interpreted;
perhaps it can be read as an assertion that personal existence, along with its world, is utterly fortuitous
(“It might not have been and it might not have been mine”). The clause in the future tense
is clearly asserting that personal existence and its world will terminate at death.
Here is that passage from AN 10.29 Kosala Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
[10] "There are some brahmans & contemplatives who proclaim the foremost Unbinding in the here-&-now. Now, of those who proclaim the foremost Unbinding in the here-&-now, this is supreme: liberation through non-clinging, having known, as they actually are present, the arising, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks of, & the escape from the six sense-contact media. And when I teach that, when I point that out, some brahmans & contemplatives accuse me of being false, unfactual, hollow, vain, [saying,] 'Gotama the contemplative does not declare the full comprehension of sensuality, does not declare the full comprehension of forms, does not declare the full comprehension of feelings.' But I do declare the full comprehension of sensuality, I do declare the full comprehension of forms, I do declare the full comprehension of feelings. Unhungering, unbound, cooled in the here-&-now, I declare total Unbinding from lack of clinging."
:anjali:
Mike

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Goofaholix
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:48 am

Ñāṇa wrote:One of the reasons that atheism is an unskillful view to maintain and express, is that it is divisive and dismissive of other religious views. Moreover, people who are members of other religions have very low opinions of atheists. For example, a University of British Columbia study found that religious people distrust atheists as much as rapists. Buddhism is not atheistic, and shouldn't be associated with atheism.
Sorry but you don't get to change the english language to suit your needs, your definition is wrong plain and simple and you'd do your point better justice if you use more appropriate and less polarising terminology.

Also I think you'll find most people agree it is theism that is most divisive and dismissive of other religious views.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:53 am

vinasp wrote:My interpretation is that at this stage a monk understands that the four
great elements cease completely and permanently.

How do you understand this passage?
It pertains to understanding the four noble truths.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think it's a useful to change the focus from the question of "rebirth" to the question of "annihilation", which hopefully carries less baggage.
It has less baggage sure though presumably "no rebirth" and "annihilation" are synonyms, the latter sounds much more harsh and final I wonder if the use of the word "annihilation" would make those who have difficulty with believing in rebirth think again.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:59 am

Goofaholix wrote:No, I've never heard of anyone touting a view natthika-diṭṭhi as defined in the link I posted above.
I've provided you with a translation of part of the canonical definition. The full canoncial definition includes denial of the other world, and so on.
Goofaholix wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:One of the reasons that atheism is an unskillful view to maintain and express, is that it is divisive and dismissive of other religious views. Moreover, people who are members of other religions have very low opinions of atheists. For example, a University of British Columbia study found that religious people distrust atheists as much as rapists. Buddhism is not atheistic, and shouldn't be associated with atheism.
Sorry but you don't get to change the english language to suit your needs, your definition is wrong plain and simple and you'd do your point better justice if you use more appropriate and less polarising terminology.
Nonsense. Buddhism is not atheism, and shouldn't be associated with atheism. Rowe, William L. "Atheism". In Edward Craig. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
  • [A]n atheist, in the broader sense of the term, is someone who disbelieves in every form of deity, not just the God of traditional Western theology.

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cooran
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by cooran » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:06 am

Hello all,

Not a huge fan of Wikipedia – but it often gives pointers to other info and/or food for thought.

God in Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Buddhism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Nyana » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:07 am

Goofaholix wrote:Also I think you'll find most people agree it is theism that is most divisive and dismissive of other religious views.
Here is a good example of the type of atheistic extremism that is being touted by many these days:

Image

Equating religion with terrorism is fallacious.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:16 am

Ñāṇa wrote:I've provided you with a translation of part of the canonical definition. The full canoncial definition includes denial of the other world, and so on.
This would be DN 2 Sāmaññaphala Sutta:, I've tried really hard but i have not been able to find the paragraph you posted on this page http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; so have no way of verifying that it is in fact the definition of natthika-diṭṭhi.
Ñāṇa wrote: Nonsense. Buddhism is not atheism, and shouldn't be associated with atheism.


That is your opinion, and so far you appear to be in a minority of one.
Ñāṇa wrote: Rowe, William L. "Atheism". In Edward Craig. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
  • [A]n atheist, in the broader sense of the term, is someone who disbelieves in every form of deity, not just the God of traditional Western theology.
Nothing about rebirth then, but I'll stick with the english dictionary anyway thanks.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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mikenz66
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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:17 am

Goofaholix wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I think it's a useful to change the focus from the question of "rebirth" to the question of "annihilation", which hopefully carries less baggage.
It has less baggage sure though presumably "no rebirth" and "annihilation" are synonyms, the latter sounds much more harsh and final I wonder if the use of the word "annihilation" would make those who have difficulty with believing in rebirth think again.
What I meant is that it is easier to dismiss stories of rebirth in various realms as fanciful additions than passages such as the one Geoff quoted, which are often embedded in the "technical" suttas such as in SN 12:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11269" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"The world in general, Kaccaayana, inclines to two views, to existence[2] or to non-existence.[3]

2. Atthitaa: "is-ness." The theory of "Eternalism" (sassatavaada).

3. Natthitaa: "is-not-ness." The theory of "Annihilationism" (ucchedavaada). All forms of materialism come under this heading.
:anjali:
Mike

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