Thanks for replying...
gabrielbranbury wrote:You seem to be using the term religion in two ways. It sounds like you want to refer to it technically in a literal way as well as figuratively at the same time.
Yes, there are two ends of the stick...sorry I wasn't clear. I see the concept of religion as 1. a naming strategy (roping off certain areas of inquiry and institutions under the rubric of "religion") that in turn, 2. produces emotionally-triggered mind-states of religiosity. Let me clarify:
1. The term religion is a mental concept - a convenient box, nothing more. This concept of "religion" is applied to the institution of Buddhism and the teachings as a convenience - a way of categorizing. The term is heavily loaded for nearly all people but most people don't take the time to unpack the term before they use it, and I think carelessly apply it to the area of inquiry that Buddhism and it's practices address.
2. The mind-state of religiosity (which is what I'm curious about) is the various emotions that seem to arise and then collect into a view as a result of learning to see Buddhism conceptually as a religion - from naming it as religion. These mind-states don't seem to be a direct effect of the Buddhist teachings or practices themselves - it appears that they arise solely as a result of Buddhism being named a religion. Nothing in Buddhist teachings or practices, as far as I'm aware, has as their stated goal the development of these emotionally-triggered mind-states. Any sensation that arises from the practice of Buddhism is just sensation, not religion.
We have some common ground here. I have great appreciation for the Dharma. I am also grateful for the clarity, compassion and pragmatic message that can be found in Buddhism. I bow to my wooden Buddha (a simulacra of the teachings).I do consider my practice of Buddhist teachings to be a religious practice generally speaking. I could go through a number of technical reasons which sight dictionary's and such but I wont. Instead I will just say that I am immensely grateful for the clarity, compassion, and perfectly pragmatic message which I understand to be conveyed by these teachings. I feel this gratefulness consistently and often to point of tears. I know my statue of a walking Buddha is just a piece of metal which I bought at a shop but a bow to it with a sense of humble devotion because I LOVE it. I look out into the lexicon I am familiar with and "religious practice" fits as well as anything else I can find.
Where we differ is that these things aren't religion or religious practices for me. I have a great appreciation of geology also - and the study of the earth also inspires clarity, compassion, and contains pragmatic messages that address the nature of reality. I occasionally bow to the globe on my desk (another simulacra), but I don't consider it religion or religious practice. And I can say the same about medicine, psychology, etc..all these areas of inquiry and practices are just that - inquiry and practice.
- Why do you choose to engage with Buddhism as a religion rather than just as a body of valuable wisdom and practices?
Because it is such a valuable body of wisdom and practices.
I'm unclear how that makes it "religious". There are many valuable bodies of wisdom and practice that aren't named as religion - many that have to do with quality of life and the nature of reality. I too find the Dharma to be a supreme body of wisdom and practice, but I don't see inherent religion there. I would imagine that someone who experiences heart surgery and goes on to live for many more years highly values the body of wisdom and practices that create a heart surgeon. Or someone who finds relief from psychotic episodes might find psychotherapy and medical treatment to be highly valuable. But are these religion? For me, they aren't.
Is meditation, [lovingkindnes, generosity, compassion, death contemplation] inherently a religious activity?
I agree that this is possible and see people do it a lot. Is bringing "religious activity" to these practices taught in Buddhism?no but religious activity is inherently possible within it
- Is the experience of clarity (both incremental and ultimate) a religious experience?
This is interesting - what form of perception or expression do you think this religious quality manifests? How do you think it is experienced?I would say that at some point in its development "clarity" (an appreciative awairness and understanding of the workings of reality) does become a religious quality.
Is the religious quality something we bring to the clarity? Or are you saying that the experience of clarity at that point is itself in some way a religious experience?
- Are the various mind-states (or stages) encountered throughout our meditation practice religious experiences?
Would it be fair to say then that a sense of religiosity is something that would need to be brought to these mind-states by the practitioner?That depends on either why we are meditating or how we feel about what we encounter.