Secular Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon May 13, 2019 6:28 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:25 am
Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:14 am
I guess if I’m a passionate Hitlerite who believes in a soul and sacrifices animals daily to a God I can still be a Buddhist.

Even the Buddha made a distinction between what is the Dhamma and what isn’t.
On that...

The Buddha didn't define the term "Buddhist" so we can't ask him what he thinks makes someone a Buddhist, but someone was regarded by him as a lay follower, if they took refuge in the Triple Gem. Mind you, taking refuge in the Triple Gem doesn't necessarily means one is guaranteed to have Right View either.

So, as for a "Buddhist"...

Is it a matter of beliefs?
Is it a matter of identitiy?
Is it a matter of taking refuge?
Is it a matter of conformity with precepts?
Is it a matter of reverence?
etc.

Whilst there is no uniform consensus, there will be no uniform answer... whether that be for "Buddhist", generally, or for a more restricted term like "Secular Buddhist". Or "Theravada Buddhist" for that matter.

Metta,
Paul. :)

All those are subsumed in taking refuge. To take refuge means to have confidence in the Buddha and the Dhamma that he teaches. That in turn excludes certain points of view and practices. Of course someone can still be a Buddhist and go for refuge yet break the precepts at some point, but they can still be classed as a Buddhist if they know what they are doing goes against the Buddhadhamma and their own confidence in the Buddha and Dhamma. The alternative is to say that Buddhism is whatever you want it to be no matter what you do, believe or say.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon May 13, 2019 6:32 am

chownah


Also I never once made an argument for enforcing anything. I can think that person X is not a Buddhist without forcing anything upon them.

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Dan74-MkII
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Dan74-MkII » Mon May 13, 2019 6:37 am

Many good comments above and I am not sure how much I am adding..

To me Secular Buddhism is for those of us who are not not really capable of faith in the Dhamma and so take of the Dhamma whatever they can grok and process. I confess to not entirely understanding Mike's distinction between Wright and Secular Buddhists, exept perhaps that the latter appear to be more assertive of their identity.

Perhaps it is a form of hubris, erecting a wall around our limited knowledge and understanding, an identity that seems to insist that we've basically got it all figured out? I'd be happer with Agnostic Buddhists, who may currently lack the faith, but keep an open mind.


But I've got to admit that faith, in its fervent energetic form, doesn't come easy.. as much as I can appreciate its importance.

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Aloka
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Mon May 13, 2019 6:58 am

Hi,

Firstly I'd like to point out that I don't identify as a Secular Buddhist myself, I have been mainly interested in the suttas and the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, since leaving Tibetan Buddhism several years ago.

However, I though I'd post this 7 minute video by Doug Smith of the Secular Buddhist Association "What is Secular Buddhism".

He also appears to post at the Sutta Central forum - and at the link below Ajahn Sujato is telling him he's free to post his videos there:

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/ou ... dhism/5201


:anjali:



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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon May 13, 2019 7:03 am

Dan74-MkII wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 6:37 am
Many good comments above and I am not sure how much I am adding..

To me Secular Buddhism is for those of us who are not not really capable of faith in the Dhamma and so take of the Dhamma whatever they can grok and process. I confess to not entirely understanding Mike's distinction between Wright and Secular Buddhists, exept perhaps that the latter appear to be more assertive of their identity.

Perhaps it is a form of hubris, erecting a wall around our limited knowledge and understanding, an identity that seems to insist that we've basically got it all figured out? I'd be happer with Agnostic Buddhists, who may currently lack the faith, but keep an open mind.


But I've got to admit that faith, in its fervent energetic form, doesn't come easy.. as much as I can appreciate its importance.

For me it was a simple case of extending confidence in the Dhamma to include rebirth and kamma as I already had in Nibbana, which we all here take on faith (I assume).

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retrofuturist
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 am

Greetings Dan74-MkII,
Dan74-MkII wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 6:37 am
I confess to not entirely understanding Mike's distinction between Wright and Secular Buddhists, exept perhaps that the latter appear to be more assertive of their identity.
The distinction I saw was that Mike interpreted the secular buddhists of demonstrating hubris, whereas Wright and co. did not do so.

I did not see any fundamental differences in Dhamma interpretation, however. (But then, I didn't follow any links, I just read what was presented to us).

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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mikenz66
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 am
Dan74-MkII wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 6:37 am
I confess to not entirely understanding Mike's distinction between Wright and Secular Buddhists, exept perhaps that the latter appear to be more assertive of their identity.
The distinction I saw was that Mike interpreted the secular buddhists of demonstrating hubris, whereas Wright and co. did not do so.
[\quote]
Yes, that's how I see it. To me, Wright and others in the psychology/neuroscience/wellbeing vein take what they find useful in terms of Buddhist techniques. The seem genuinely not interested in arguing about what the Buddha really taught. Secular Buddhists like Meissner, Batchelor, etc, seem very concerned about explaining where they think the traditional interpretations, and even the Buddha, were mistaken...
retrofuturist wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 am
I did not see any fundamental differences in Dhamma interpretation, however. (But then, I didn't follow any links, I just read what was presented to us).
The difference I see is between picking only what they find useful vs arguing about the parts that they don't like.

On the other hand, I understand that Batchelor and his wife are an excellent teaching team...

:heart:
Mike

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Dan74-MkII
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Dan74-MkII » Mon May 13, 2019 11:23 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:51 am
retrofuturist wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 am
Dan74-MkII wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 6:37 am
I confess to not entirely understanding Mike's distinction between Wright and Secular Buddhists, exept perhaps that the latter appear to be more assertive of their identity.
The distinction I saw was that Mike interpreted the secular buddhists of demonstrating hubris, whereas Wright and co. did not do so.
[\quote]
Yes, that's how I see it. To me, Wright and others in the psychology/neuroscience/wellbeing vein take what they find useful in terms of Buddhist techniques. The seem genuinely not interested in arguing about what the Buddha really taught. Secular Buddhists like Meissner, Batchelor, etc, seem very concerned about explaining where they think the traditional interpretations, and even the Buddha, were mistaken...
retrofuturist wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 am
I did not see any fundamental differences in Dhamma interpretation, however. (But then, I didn't follow any links, I just read what was presented to us).
The difference I see is between picking only what they find useful vs arguing about the parts that they don't like.

On the other hand, I understand that Batchelor and his wife are an excellent teaching team...

:heart:
Mike
As an anecdote, Stephen Batchelor was a Tibetan monk and scholar and then for a few years a Korean monk where he met his future wife, Martine, who was one of the earliest Western nuns at that monastery. Incidentally, I never read anything "Secular Buddhist" from her. My Korean Zen teacher was a nun at the monastery with both of them and knows particularly Martine, for obvious reasons, rather well. My understanding is that on they are both lovely people, which of course doesn't mean we have to agree with what he/they teach.

I guess we all fit Buddhism willy-nilly into our limited samsaric understanding. Best we can do, IMO, is to be as honest and aware of it as we can.

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Aloka
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Mon May 13, 2019 11:42 am

Dan74-MkII wrote:As an anecdote, Stephen Batchelor was a Tibetan monk and scholar
Yes, and just as an aside, he did a very good translation of Shantideva's "A Guide To The Bodhisattva's Way of Life" (Bodhisattvacharyavatara), during that time.


.

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DooDoot
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by DooDoot » Mon May 13, 2019 12:35 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 6:25 pm
I've just read an interesting article on secular Buddhism by a secular Buddhist. Would be interested to hear people's views on it, or secular Buddhism in general.
My view: :mrgreen:

My impression is Secular Buddhism appears to believe traditional or mainstream Buddhism to be real Buddhism but then rejects parts of it. Secular Buddhism appears to be a "rebellion" against what they believe Buddhism to be rather than a "revisionism" about what they believe Buddhism truly is.

For example, the followers of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa called his teachings "radical conservatism"; claiming Bhikkhu Buddhadasa explained the original teachings of the Buddha. Both Bhikkhu Buddhadasa & his followers claimed Bhikkhu Buddhadasa taught the True Dhamma. It seems Secular Buddhists are not like this. It seems they believe the Buddha taught about material rebirth & material other worlds and then choose to disbelieve. Its like believing in Jesus but choosing to disbelieve in God. Its like those Jewish Atheist Zionist (such as Theodor Herzl & Ben Gurion) who believe God promised them Palestine even though they didn't believe in God. Where as "radical conservatism" actually believes seriously in "heaven & hell" & the "other worlds" (for example), which is why strict morality is practised by "radical conservatives".
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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mikenz66
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 13, 2019 7:39 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 12:35 pm
Its like believing in Jesus but choosing to disbelieve in God.
Parenthetically, that is actually a serious development in modern Christianity. For example New Zealand theologian Lloyd Geering's book Christianity Without God
http://www.sof.org.nz/sfbr0112.htm

:heart:
Mike

jasday
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by jasday » Mon May 13, 2019 7:53 pm

From my understanding, Secular Buddhism is really just Buddhism. I've spoken with a secular Buddhist through the comment section on his youtube page. The Buddha gave all the room in the world for not believing something is true and that practicing the noble eightfold path is the priority. I consider myself Therevadan Buddhist but I don't believe in rebirth or karma in the broadest sense of it's meaning but I hold both of those things highly in my mind as a theory to take seriously. There is no need to believe anything if you haven't experienced it yourself.

To put it short, I believe secular buddhists mostly put supernatural claims to the side until further evidence is provided. They don't dismiss it at all.

Thoughts please.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon May 13, 2019 7:55 pm

jasday wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:53 pm
From my understanding, Secular Buddhism is really just Buddhism. I've spoken with a secular Buddhist through the comment section on his youtube page. The Buddha gave all the room in the world for not believing something is true and that practicing the noble eightfold path is the priority. I consider myself Therevadan Buddhist but I don't believe in rebirth or karma in the broadest sense of it's meaning but I hold both of those things highly in my mind as a theory to take seriously. There is no need to believe anything if you haven't experienced it yourself.

To put it short, I believe secular buddhists mostly put supernatural claims to the side until further evidence is provided. They don't dismiss it at all.

Thoughts please.

Yet you find they believe in Nibbana :shrug:

It also depends on how you define Right View and how secular Buddhists relate to saddha, which is an important spiritual quality.

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Aloka
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by Aloka » Mon May 13, 2019 8:18 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 7:55 pm

It also depends on how you define Right View and how secular Buddhists relate to saddha, which is an important spiritual quality.

I found this video of Doug Smith talking about Right View but haven't had time to watch it yet:





:coffee:

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DNS
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Re: Secular Buddhism

Post by DNS » Mon May 13, 2019 8:31 pm

Everyone is at different places in terms of their practice and sila, so I'd say defining who is what religion relies mostly on beliefs.

Buddhism is probably more inclusive than most religions because it comes in so many schools and varieties and also due to Ehipassiko, allowing one to test out and see for yourself.

The minimum belief standard needed (in my opinion) in some of the most famous religions:

In Islam, it would be the Five Pillars of Islam.

In Christianity it would be the Divinity and Messianic nature of Jesus and some concept of Trinity, although there are varying interpretations of Trinity in the many denominations.

In Judaism it would be the Torah or at least some interpretation and acceptance of the Torah. Although Judaism is a little different from the rest as DooDoot has noted, some simply identify with Judaism as an ethnicity and for Zionism, with little to no religious beliefs. Most other religions don't have this issue and are more about beliefs and practices.

In Buddhism, it would be the 4NT and some level of acceptance of the 9 points unifying Theravada and Mahayana as pointed out by Ven. Walpola Rahula.

I like inclusivity as much as possible, but at some point, a demarcation needs to be placed, in my opinion. Due to Ehipassiko, Kalama Sutta, and others, I believe secular buddhists can still be included in the banner of Buddhism, if they so identify.

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