Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

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

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:19 am

Ñāṇa wrote:If someone accepts the existence of devas and higher realms then they are not atheistic.
Unless of course you believe the dictionary.
“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 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:27 am

nowheat wrote:I would support the macro-literal-rebirth view as being a useful teaching tool if I did not find volumes and volumes being written debating whether there could be rebirth or not, rather than focusing on practice. It was undoubtedly a good teaching tool when it was the default belief system. I find that Westerners who do not have rebirth as their native view spend a great deal of time and effort trying to understand and adopt it, time that would be far better spent on understanding what the Buddha is saying at the core about how we create our false sense of self. With dependent origination, the Buddha is saying something very precise about where that "self" originates, how we create it, and why we should be doing something about it, and that is being obscured by efforts to get people to adopt a world-view that is not natural to them. A world view that they will have to let go of to be liberated unless it becomes evident through their practice to be a truth.
It does seem to be a trojan horse that gets us focussing on the problem as defined in several indian religions rather than the solution as ddefined by the Buddha.

Luckily on retreats we have noble silence otherwise we'd be wasting our time discussing the mephysical context rather than the eightfold path there too.
“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 nowheat » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:59 am

mikenz66 wrote:This "speculative" argument is not very useful, in my opinion.

By all means label taking various statements in the suttas at face value as speculative, but you'd then have to agree that the possibility of nibbana, and the end of all dukkha is also speculative.
Just as, if I lived long ago in an area where tobacco grew wild, and most of the people I knew smoked, and died young, and coughed a lot, and I noticed that those who didn't smoke didn't die young, and I thought, "If I could give up smoking, maybe I could free myself of this." And I slowly cut down on the amount I was smoking, and my cough lessened, and I felt better. Could I predict with absolute certainty that I would be able to quit smoking, and avoid the evil fate of an early death? Not with certainty, no. Would certainty be necessary to continue? No, simply finding that I get better and better is enough to keep me moving in that direction.

I don't need certainty that nibbana and the end of all dukkha are possible to continue heading in that direction. Faith is not necessary, only the confidence built of experience.
There is an appeal to authority by all non-ariyan Dhamma practitioners.
Is there? And which one is that?

:namaste:

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by vinasp » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:21 am

Hi everyone,

Of course the puthujjana is correct in that the teachings are meant to be
understood in the way that he claims, by the majority of followers.

His mistake is to assume that this is the only way to make sense of the
teachings. In fact, it is merely the puthujjana's understanding.

The problem is that the puthujjana cannot see that there is another way
to understand the teachings. If he could see this, then he would no longer
be a puthujjana, but an ariya savaka.

"Potthapada, all those wanderers are blind and sightless, you alone
among them are sighted." DN 9.33 Walshe 1987.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:12 am

nowheat wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:This "speculative" argument is not very useful, in my opinion.

By all means label taking various statements in the suttas at face value as speculative, but you'd then have to agree that the possibility of nibbana, and the end of all dukkha is also speculative.
Just as, if I lived long ago in an area where tobacco grew wild, and most of the people I knew smoked, and died young, and coughed a lot, and I noticed that those who didn't smoke didn't die young, and I thought, "If I could give up smoking, maybe I could free myself of this." And I slowly cut down on the amount I was smoking, and my cough lessened, and I felt better. Could I predict with absolute certainty that I would be able to quit smoking, and avoid the evil fate of an early death? Not with certainty, no. Would certainty be necessary to continue? No, simply finding that I get better and better is enough to keep me moving in that direction.

I don't need certainty that nibbana and the end of all dukkha are possible to continue heading in that direction. Faith is not necessary, only the confidence built of experience.
Well, sure, meditation and sila make one happier and so on. Any meditation/sila programme will do that, not just Buddhist.

How do you know you're heading in the direction of Nibbana? By all accounts it's a difficult and challenging process, that involves nibbida (variously translated as dispassion, or often something stronger, such as aversion) with the aggregates, to the extent that one can drop them completely:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11701" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
nowheat wrote:
There is an appeal to authority by all non-ariyan Dhamma practitioners.
Is there? And which one is that?
That nibbana is possible. Something that I take on faith.

As the Buddha himself states:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Excellent, Sariputta. Excellent. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:24 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:That nibbana is possible. Something that I take on faith.
That's one way of getting there... there may be others.

For example, nibbana is asankhara (unfabricated). We can observe sankharas (fabrications) rise and cease. We can learn to tranquillize the fabrications. We can learn that it is possible to forestall the rising of sankharas.

In other words, rather than headlong believing in nibbana, we can see and understand the characteristics of experience which make it not nibbana.

Actually, a simile comes to mind. Imagine a rubbish dump. You can learn how to take the existing rubbish away. You can also learn how rubbish goes into the rubbish dump and see from experience that it's possible to stop that process from occurring. You can reasonably envisage a site devoid of rubbish, even though you've not witnessed it (i.e. nibbana) with your body.

(None of that necessarily contradicts your statement "There is an appeal to authority by all non-ariyan Dhamma practitioners." statement though... however it may be possible to downgrade it from 'appeal to authority' to inference? maybe?)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by vinasp » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:48 am

Hi everyone,

"There is Brahma, sir, who is overcomer, by none overcome, he is the
seer of whatever may be, with power and dominion: who sees him of the
Brahmas, that is the best of sights.
There are the devas of radiant splendour, in whom joy flows and
overflows, who ever and again utter a cry of: 'Joy, oh joy!'
who hears that sound - it is the best of sounds.
There are the all-lustrous devas ...
There are the devas which go to the sphere of ....

[Ananda] "This is but the way of puthujjana's, this talk of the venerable
Bhaddaji."
..........
"When, while one looks, the cankers are destroyed - that is the best
of sights.
When, while one listens, the cankers are destroyed - that is the best
of sounds. ......... [AN Book of Fives # 170.]

[ PTS Gradual Sayings, III, page 148, E.M.Hare.]

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Nyana » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:56 am

nowheat wrote:I say again, that if you know personally that your understanding of the Buddha's teaching is both what he taught and what is true, then I cannot see why you would object to dedicated practitioners trying the path even if they are (as above) atheists. The truth will reveal itself, and these "atheists", being a generally open-minded lot, will then see it.
Again, materialism is a wrong view. Rejecting the actuality of the next world is a wrong view. Equivocating about the next world is a wrong view. It's impossible to attain the first noble path of stream-entry while maintaining a wrong view. Likewise, it's impossible to attain the higher paths and fruitions and full liberation while maintaining a wrong view. In other words, these wrong views are impediments to seeing the four noble truths.
nowheat wrote:The way the sangha is organized needs to change to survive changes in society, that's sure. Our ability to keep passing on the dhammavinaya is a definite concern for all Buddhists, especially here in the West, where the old models aren't an easy fit with the existing culture.
It's not the dhamma nor the vinaya which needs to change. It's the views of the people who go for refuge in the three jewels which need to change. This is what the path is all about. There is a developmental process. Otherwise, human beings would already be awake and there would be no need for a noble eightfold path.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:That nibbana is possible. Something that I take on faith.
That's one way of getting there... there may be others.

For example, nibbana is asankhara (unfabricated). We can observe sankharas (fabrications) rise and cease.
Sure, that's the normal thing to do isn't it? Watch rise and fall, etc.
retrofuturist wrote: We can learn to tranquillize the fabrications. We can learn that it is possible to forestall the rising of sankharas.
Sure, with the cessation of ignorance, clinging, etc....
retrofuturist wrote: In other words, rather than headlong believing in nibbana, we can see and understand the characteristics of experience which make it not nibbana.
I don't understand the point here. Did anyone suggest attaining nibbana by believing it?

What I meant was that we take the possibility of nibbana on faith, and then we practice. As you say:
retrofuturist wrote: But that doesn't contradict your statement that "There is an appeal to authority by all non-ariyan Dhamma practitioners."
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by rowboat » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:35 am

Ñāṇa: It's not the dhamma nor the vinaya which needs to change. It's the views of the people who go for refuge in the three jewels which need to change. This is what the path is all about. There is a developmental process. Otherwise, human beings would already be awake and there would be no need for a noble eightfold path.
Very true.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by vinasp » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:52 am

Hi Nana,

"Ananda, there are eight reasons, eight causes for the appearance of
a great earthquake. This great earth is established on water, the
water on the wind, the wind on space." [ DN 16.3.13 Walshe 1987 ]

So it seems that the Buddha thought that the earth was flat.

Do you believe that the earth is flat?

Do you want all of us to believe that the earth is flat?

Do you think that the Buddha may have been wrong about that?

If he was wrong about the earth, could he have been wrong about other
things?

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:14 am

Greetings Mike,
retrofuturist wrote:In other words, rather than headlong believing in nibbana, we can see and understand the characteristics of experience which make it not nibbana.
mikenz66 wrote:I don't understand the point here. Did anyone suggest attaining nibbana by believing it?
I'll refer you to my "rubbish tip" simile I added to my post (seemingly whilst you were responding to it).

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:21 am

mikenz66 wrote:That nibbana is possible. Something that I take on faith.
I think when you observe the cooling of desire aversion and delusion in some measure over time that gives one a taste of nibbana, then it becomes more based on confidence rather than faith.

Sure you can't be absolutely certain that ultimate freedom is possible, but you an have confidence that if it is you're heading in the right direction.
“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 mikenz66 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't understand the point here. Did anyone suggest attaining nibbana by believing it?
I'll refer you to my "rubbish tip" simile I added to my post (seemingly whilst you were responding to it).
Is that your invention, or does it have some basis in suttas or commentaries?

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:25 am

Goofaholix wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:That nibbana is possible. Something that I take on faith.
I think when you observe the cooling of desire aversion and delusion in some measure over time that gives one a taste of nibbana, then it becomes more based on confidence rather than faith.

Sure you can't be absolutely certain that ultimate freedom is possible, but you an have confidence that if it is you're heading in the right direction.
Well, yes, of course, that's how all of us operate. I'm mostly objecting to the labelling of some things in the suttas as "speculative" or "appeals to authority" and some not.

:anjali:
Mike

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