Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:17 pm

Ultimately I believe that what matters is application of wisdom and removal of extra suffering. I believe that Dhamma is the best.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

binocular
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by binocular » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:34 pm

Alex123 wrote:How do we solve the above? What pov can be empirically checked? What pov gives what pragmatic results?
Of course we cannot ever be 100% certain of anything. Of course current scientific knowledge is not absolute final word. It is just that some claims have more probability than others.
Alex123 wrote:It is not matter of feeling comfortable or uncomfortable but the facts and evidence that we have today.
Like I already said:

Falsifiability may be an essential scientific criterium - but how exactly do scientific criteria relate to an actual person?

What reason do we have to believe that scientific criteria can adequately grasp the human experience and provide us with heuristics for achieving our goals, regardless of what those goals may be?


Alex123 wrote:So what do we do? I guess we need to go with the best current evidence that we have, and realize that we are dealing with probabilities rather than absolute certainties.
But does this approach give you peace of mind? Probably not.

Also I believe in pragmatic use of one's beliefs.

Lets say that someone logically "proves" that world is an illusion. What pragmatically and experientially does this change?
Does this mean that:
- Person can jump under the truck (which is only illusion) and not get hurt?
- person can avoid eating when hungry and not die because body, hunger and food are all "illusions"?
If "the world is an illusion," then so are pain and starvation.

What is your source for the idea that the world is illusory?

binocular wrote:
Alex wrote:I don't hold much faith in metaphysics (be it materialism or idealism).
Of course you do. :o Just not the kind that some other people do.
Please explain.
Metapyhsics of one kind or another is inescapable.

These experiments were performed on humans, and performed well enough to suggest causal link. Even Arhats are still biologically human. Their psychology is different.
That won't do.

Again: What reason do we have to believe that scientific criteria can adequately grasp the human experience?

The population they have experimented with was not representative on mankind.
Unless you want to argue that there is _no actual_ difference between a run-of-the-mill person and an arahant.

Alex123 wrote:Ultimately I believe that what matters is application of wisdom and removal of extra suffering. I believe that Dhamma is the best.
Which dhamma?
The one without teachings on kamma and rebirth - and giant fishes?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:00 pm

binocular wrote:Which dhamma?
The one without teachings on kamma and rebirth - and giant fishes?
The one dealing with origin and cessation of suffering and what happens here-and-now. Or as I like to put it "the bigger the difference between what one wants and what is experienced, the bigger the suffering".

As for the brain. There were lots of experiments where if the brain function was altered, so where the mental states. If a person drinks tea that contains some mind altering substances, that person's mental states can alter after the brain function is altered.

If there is even a single well researched case where a person can think, and yet his brain activity (as measured by fMRI, etc) is zero at that exact time, then I will believe that mind can be independent of the brain.
binocular wrote:Metapyhsics of one kind or another is inescapable.
Why can't we talk about what is given to experience, can be observed by tools that we have today and can be falsified?

How can we falsify materialism or idealism? A stubborn person can always fall back on "it is all known by the mind" or "it is all product of matter".

binocular wrote:The population they have experimented with was not representative on mankind.
Unless you want to argue that there is _no actual_ difference between a run-of-the-mill person and an arahant.
Arhats don't have a brain? They don't have biological body that follows biological laws?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Lazy_eye » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:31 pm

Alex123 wrote:
The one dealing with origin and cessation of suffering and what happens here-and-now. Or as I like to put it "the bigger the difference between what one wants and what is experienced, the bigger the suffering".
:goodpost:

Just to add one thing -- getting what we want is also an opportunity for dukkha. Sometimes even more so.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Buckwheat » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:32 pm

binocular wrote:If "the world is an illusion," then so are pain and starvation.
Einstein wrote:Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:52 pm

binocular wrote:Like I already said:

Falsifiability may be an essential scientific criterium - but how exactly do scientific criteria relate to an actual person?

What reason do we have to believe that scientific criteria can adequately grasp the human experience and provide us with heuristics for achieving our goals, regardless of what those goals may be?
Stepping aside from the broader discussion for a moment:
Science generally doesn't claim spiritual or philosophical insight but limits itself to what is observable and verifiable in the physical world. It is very good at what it does - science works and that is why it has become one of our main ways of understanding the world.
Problems arise when people try to apply science outside its realm of expertise - trying to derive morality from it, for instance - or when people try to say that science is wrong within its realm of expertise - saying that the world was literally created in seven days, for instance.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kare » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:19 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
binocular wrote:Like I already said:

Falsifiability may be an essential scientific criterium - but how exactly do scientific criteria relate to an actual person?

What reason do we have to believe that scientific criteria can adequately grasp the human experience and provide us with heuristics for achieving our goals, regardless of what those goals may be?
Stepping aside from the broader discussion for a moment:
Science generally doesn't claim spiritual or philosophical insight but limits itself to what is observable and verifiable in the physical world. It is very good at what it does - science works and that is why it has become one of our main ways of understanding the world.
Problems arise when people try to apply science outside its realm of expertise - trying to derive morality from it, for instance - or when people try to say that science is wrong within its realm of expertise - saying that the world was literally created in seven days, for instance.

:namaste:
Kim
Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:09 am

Kare wrote:
Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.
And http://www.amazon.com/The-Bonobo-Atheis ... B007Q6XKEY
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by binocular » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:16 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:Which dhamma?
The one without teachings on kamma and rebirth - and giant fishes?
The one dealing with origin and cessation of suffering and what happens here-and-now.
As things stand, humans typically have a sense of past and future, and they tend to consider their actions in regard to past and future.

It is with consideration for the past and the future that we act.

If humans would really be limited to merely the present moment, we'd probably have no sense that there is suffering to begin with.


And to be clear, I'm not arguing from a Buddhist perspective, nor in favor of kamma and rebirth; I am pointing out where I see a flaw in your reasoning.

As for the brain. There were lots of experiments where if the brain function was altered, so where the mental states. If a person drinks tea that contains some mind altering substances, that person's mental states can alter after the brain function is altered.

If there is even a single well researched case where a person can think, and yet his brain activity (as measured by fMRI, etc) is zero at that exact time, then I will believe that mind can be independent of the brain.
You don't seem to see what enormous faith you have in science; you don't even seem to realize it is faith.

Arhats don't have a brain? They don't have biological body that follows biological laws?
Why can't we talk about what is given to experience, can be observed by tools that we have today and can be falsified?
But you're not talking about actual human experience.

You are talking about particular scientific generalizations and abstractions of interpretations of human experiences.
Particular scientific generalizations and abstractions that can only be taken on faith, but for the most part, are impossible to be personally verified.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by binocular » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:20 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Problems arise when people try to apply science outside its realm of expertise - trying to derive morality from it, for instance - or when people try to say that science is wrong within its realm of expertise
And that is called scientism.

The scientific model is necessarily reductionist and does not apply in areas that people generally consider the most important aspect of their lives - ie. their inner experience of life.

Kare wrote:Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.
How come you are recommending it?
Do you endorse it?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Ben
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Ben » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:14 am

What I see here in this thread, and elsewhere on the forum, is a lack of self-reflexive analysis or discussion about one's own distorted vision.
Too often do we see "I've got it right, this other approach (or your approach) is wrong"

A friend posted the following article by Ajahn Thanissaro this morning on facebook and speaks to the heart of the issue.
I urge you all to "lend an ear" as it were and give the good bhikkhu's article the wise attention that it deserves.

Lost in Quotation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Dan74
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Dan74 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:58 am

Ben wrote:What I see here in this thread, and elsewhere on the forum, is a lack of self-reflexive analysis or discussion about one's own distorted vision.
Too often do we see "I've got it right, this other approach (or your approach) is wrong"

A friend posted the following article by Ajahn Thanissaro this morning on facebook and speaks to the heart of the issue.
I urge you all to "lend an ear" as it were and give the good bhikkhu's article the wise attention that it deserves.

Lost in Quotation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

kind regards,

Ben
Indeed, one of the best Suttas, to keep returning to, and contemplating. And a very good talk by the Venerable.
_/|\_

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Kare
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Kare » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:00 am

binocular wrote:
The scientific model is necessarily reductionist and does not apply in areas that people generally consider the most important aspect of their lives - ie. their inner experience of life.
I agree. The scientific model explains the facts that make up the "outer" experience of life. But for the "inner" experience of life, as you say, the Dhamma is more helpful. That is why I regard science and Dhamma as complimentary and equally important. As long as we do not mix up the outer and the inner, the objective and the subjective experiences of life, I see no conflict between them at all.
Kare wrote:Alex Rosenberg, "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" has an interesting discussion where the author in fact derives morality from our evolutionary history. It's too long to summarize here, but I can recommend reading the book.
How come you are recommending it?
Do you endorse it?
Parts of it. Especially the first half of the book, where the author shows the connection between the second law of thermodynamics and the evolution of life. Also the chapters showing how morality arose from evolution. I have to admit, however, that I struggle with accepting the radical anatta of the second half of the book.

But don't take my word for this. Read the book and evaluate it for yourself.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:56 am

binocular wrote:And that is called scientism.
The scientific model is necessarily reductionist and does not apply in areas that people generally consider the most important aspect of their lives - ie. their inner experience of life.
If you want to believe in geocentric world, Earth being flat disc on 4 elephants who stand on the turtle, etc - you are welcome.

In any case science is the best we have right now dealing with biology, astronomy, physics, etc. Of course current science is imperfect. We don't know everything.
If you want the final truth, there is the Bible. If you want imperfect current knowledge about external world there is science.

Dhamma teachings is the best psychology. These two can compliment each other.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Alex123
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Re: Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

Post by Alex123 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:01 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:Which dhamma?
The one without teachings on kamma and rebirth - and giant fishes?
The one dealing with origin and cessation of suffering and what happens here-and-now.
As things stand, humans typically have a sense of past and future, and they tend to consider their actions in regard to past and future.

It is with consideration for the past and the future that we act.

While at some points we need to consider future consequences of actions in order to change behavior in here-and-now, ultimately this present moment is what is actually experienced. Thoughts about past and future occur in the present moment.

binocular wrote:If humans would really be limited to merely the present moment, we'd probably have no sense that there is suffering to begin with.
Great. The less suffering the better. That is what I want.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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