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Buddhism

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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ComradeDX
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Joined: February 9th, 2008, 2:00 pm

Buddhism

#1 Post by ComradeDX » February 9th, 2008, 2:35 pm

Just another religious dogma practiced by deluded people? or something which can be practiced by a secular person with a naturalistic outlook? A set of rules to believe in, dogma on a literal rebirth and karma? Or metaphors to explain the way things are for a pre-scientific people? Is there a Buddhism without the nonsense? Is it a Religion, or life philosophy?

DISCUSS :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams.

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Alan C.
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Re: Buddhism

#2 Post by Alan C. » February 9th, 2008, 3:04 pm

There are so many different versions of Buddhism that there's probably one to fit each of the questions you ask. Impossible to debate unless you specify one particular "brand".
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

ComradeDX
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Re: Buddhism

#3 Post by ComradeDX » February 9th, 2008, 10:31 pm

Let's say Zen Buddhism, just for the sake of it.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams.

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Alan C.
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Re: Buddhism

#4 Post by Alan C. » February 10th, 2008, 12:15 am

ComradeDX wrote:Let's say Zen Buddhism, just for the sake of it.
Tomorow? Pleeeeeeeeeese! I'm not 19 ging on 20, and need my beuty sleep. :wink:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Maria Mac
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Re: Buddhism

#5 Post by Maria Mac » February 11th, 2008, 10:35 am

I don't know much about it except that they seem to have some pretty strange ideas like reincarnation. My impression of it is of 'me, me, me' religion. Aspects of it are adopted by people with a naturalistic world view but it has always struck me as a very casual adoption.

I'm willing to be proved wrong, however.

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Lifelinking
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Re: Buddhism

#6 Post by Lifelinking » February 11th, 2008, 3:53 pm

Well I am pretty unconvinced about the idea of humans being inherently virtuous and wise. I reckon that the concept of all sentient beings having such inherent qualities, or a 'Buddha Nature' if you will, is lacking in supporting evidence. (For the record I find what might call the 'opposite' idea, that of Original Sin, just as lacking). Lots of interesting stuff in Buddhist thought right enough.



L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

ComradeDX
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Re: Buddhism

#7 Post by ComradeDX » February 12th, 2008, 3:28 pm

http://home.elp.rr.com/helmling/nonfict/buddha.htm An interesting link on secular buddhism.

I ask these questions because you could consider me a secular buddhist, although i don't readily apply labels to myself.. This article sums up alot of what I view Buddhism as, but also "Hardcore Zen - Punk rock, monster movies and the truth about reality" by Brad Warner is a good place to start, it had a profound impact on me with it's no nonsense ideas. Also "Buddhism without beliefs" is another interesting one which i've read. I accept all opinions on this subject, and all contributions and ideas are welcome.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams.

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Lifelinking
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Re: Buddhism

#8 Post by Lifelinking » February 12th, 2008, 5:20 pm

I find some of the ideas about the nature of matter and the very transitory nature of things to be interesting.



L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

Felicia
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Re: Buddhism

#9 Post by Felicia » February 12th, 2008, 10:19 pm

I don't know much about Zen, but I was a Mahayanan Buddhist for some years and retain a fondness both for its philosophy and its morality. The clincher for me was that its all in the mind; that we can only access the external world through our senses, information from which goes into our brains and forms our experience. Therefore, if we train our minds right, we can interpret the world in the most helpful way. The heavy end of this is that the world each of us experiences is formed by our karmic past ie, it has no inherent existence apart from our apprehension of it. The monk who taught us (a philosophy graduate) said that karma, reincarnation and all the other magical bits have no inherent existence either: he said, believe them if you find they're useful in keeping you moral. A strict morality is the point, because, he said, it keeps you happy. Helping others, not lying or stealing or killing frees us from guilt, regret, misery etc. Realising that possessions just tie us down with worries and responsibilities is very freeing too. There was a small charge for his classes, but he always offered to refund the entire amount if anyone found they did not become happier from following his teaching. I don't think anyone ever did take him up on it.

ComradeDX
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Re: Buddhism

#10 Post by ComradeDX » February 14th, 2008, 7:20 pm

I am no longer sure whether i want to stick with buddhism or not, but only time will tell. For me the practice of meditation is obviously something interesting, and living in the moment is something important. But i don't really believe that you have to meditate to do this, and also i have become (after a recent event) wary of the institutionalised aspect of it. I'm not sure, but most of all i am a secular humanist, and this is what i will always promote.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams.

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Lifelinking
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Re: Buddhism

#11 Post by Lifelinking » February 14th, 2008, 7:22 pm

living in the moment is something important. But i don't really believe that you have to meditate to do this
I agree
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

Maria Mac
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Re: Buddhism

#12 Post by Maria Mac » March 7th, 2008, 9:03 am

I've just seen this quote elsewhere and wanted to keep hold of it so I'm parking it here:
I am a Buddhist and I believe that sexual freedom is another form of slavery because you cannot stop desiring sex and when you have it, you want more and more. Its a thirst that can never be quenched. Common look how tired you get of one porn actress and find the next best one. Before you know it, you are going through thousands of movies without lasting happiness. Lust seems fun but it is an endless death trap. I know this because of life experience.
Source

FloatingBoater
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Re: Buddhism

#13 Post by FloatingBoater » March 7th, 2008, 4:13 pm

I also dabbled a bit with the common concepts of the various forms of Buddhism and found much which fitted in with my own values, at least with regard to having respect for one life we share in common with everything on the planet.
I drew the line firmly however across the spiritual element of Karma though, which for me was no better than any other mythological premise that relies totally on blind faith dreamed up in some ancient pre-enlightenment era.
Having said that I don’t recall any Buddhist campaign of war for territorial gain, Jihad or Crusade to advance their philosophy upon the will of any pre-existing group or population, so on that basis it’s the one group of religionists that I am prepared to listen to.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

mdean
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Re: Buddhism

#14 Post by mdean » March 8th, 2008, 6:45 pm

Just to point out that Buddhism is an atheistic position.

I don't consider myself a Buddhist but I can see the point. For example, I find the concept of interconnectedness as a precept for moral and ethical foundation very useful as is the idea of right and wrong being based in that witch is useful rather than provided by a sky daddy. Meditation is interesting both professionally (I'm in medicine, there is some very reproducible evidence on physiological changes in a meditative state as well as some slightly less convincing stuff on longterm psychological changes and physical health benefits - reduced need for anti hypertensive meds for example) and personally - I find meditation helpful in finding a state of calm and perspective when life gets a little fraught.

I do have a problem with karma though. For a start, to fully accept karma as a force requires a belief in reincarnation. No evidence for it so - no. Secondly, just as I find the idea of doing the right thing cos an all seeing judge will one day bring you to justice as repugnant (I'm a rational adult and not a naughty eight year old, after all), I find the idea of doing good for the sake of good things happening to you and not doing bad for the same reason to make an assumption of all people being basically selfish as hell. There is no possibility of a good action for its own sake, there must be a reward.

Compassionist
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Re: Buddhism

#15 Post by Compassionist » November 27th, 2009, 8:01 am

Felicia wrote:I don't know much about Zen, but I was a Mahayanan Buddhist for some years and retain a fondness both for its philosophy and its morality. The clincher for me was that its all in the mind; that we can only access the external world through our senses, information from which goes into our brains and forms our experience. Therefore, if we train our minds right, we can interpret the world in the most helpful way. The heavy end of this is that the world each of us experiences is formed by our karmic past ie, it has no inherent existence apart from our apprehension of it. The monk who taught us (a philosophy graduate) said that karma, reincarnation and all the other magical bits have no inherent existence either: he said, believe them if you find they're useful in keeping you moral. A strict morality is the point, because, he said, it keeps you happy. Helping others, not lying or stealing or killing frees us from guilt, regret, misery etc. Realising that possessions just tie us down with worries and responsibilities is very freeing too. There was a small charge for his classes, but he always offered to refund the entire amount if anyone found they did not become happier from following his teaching. I don't think anyone ever did take him up on it.
Thank you Felicia for your interesting comments. Do you think that if we train the mind to be compassionate and optimistic we are in danger of deluding ourselves about the facts of life? Is it really possible to know all the facts of life? Or is it enough to know just enough to be pragmatic?

I found the following books to be worth reading:

Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet

The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life

I agree with the Buddhist concepts of compassion, interdependence, impermanence and emptiness. Although I am skeptical of the concepts of karma and rebirth. I meditate and recommend it. Do you meditate?

Felicia
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Re: Buddhism

#16 Post by Felicia » November 27th, 2009, 8:56 am

Hi Compassionist - it's always interesting reading your posts!

What facts of life do you think are missed out by training the mind? I don't think being optimistic is part of it at all, in fact contradicts the universal compasiion which is valued so highly. Suffering is everywhere, (one of the 4 Noble Truths, I seem to remember) Do you mean that some things/people are irredeemably awful and not worthy of compassion? I remember the buddhist monk who taught us seeing Alien when it first came out and being very much on the side of the monster, who was only trying to protect her young after all (!)

No I don't meditate much, just look for moments of stillness now and then. Thank you for your book recommendations: the one I'll probably go for is The Quantum and the Lotus, because it sounds like a more up to date version of The Tau of Physics, which opened my eyes to this different way of thinking.

Compassionist
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Re: Buddhism

#17 Post by Compassionist » November 27th, 2009, 11:02 am

Felicia wrote:Hi Compassionist - it's always interesting reading your posts!

What facts of life do you think are missed out by training the mind? I don't think being optimistic is part of it at all, in fact contradicts the universal compasiion which is valued so highly. Suffering is everywhere, (one of the 4 Noble Truths, I seem to remember) Do you mean that some things/people are irredeemably awful and not worthy of compassion? I remember the buddhist monk who taught us seeing Alien when it first came out and being very much on the side of the monster, who was only trying to protect her young after all (!)

No I don't meditate much, just look for moments of stillness now and then. Thank you for your book recommendations: the one I'll probably go for is The Quantum and the Lotus, because it sounds like a more up to date version of The Tau of Physics, which opened my eyes to this different way of thinking.
Felicia, I am glad that you find my posts to be interesting. I don't think everyone finds my posts to be interesting. Not that it's anyone's fault or credit.

I don't think that some things/people are irredeemably awful and unworthy of compassion - far from it. I have compassion for all who suffer - this includes those who have caused me great suffering, as well as those who have caused suffering to others. I was thinking that it is possible to become delusional by trying to do the impossible i.e. love everyone equally when one is neither omnipotent, nor omniscient, nor omnipresent.

I agree that the alien was simply trying to defend its children. When one is cornered, it brings out the worst in one. After all, a fatal offense is the strongest defence! Ideally, all should be omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omniculpable and that way no one would suffer and no one would feel cornered.

While The Quantum and the Lotus is very interesting, I found the Happiness book much more useful on a personal level. It is possible to live in the present continuous without formally meditating. It is done through mindfulness and avoidance of rumination on the past and worry about the future.

I am curious about your comments about this free course. Thank you. :smile:

Nirvanam
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Re: Buddhism

#18 Post by Nirvanam » November 27th, 2009, 11:25 am

ComradeDX wrote:Just another religious dogma practiced by deluded people? or something which can be practiced by a secular person with a naturalistic outlook? A set of rules to believe in, dogma on a literal rebirth and karma? Or metaphors to explain the way things are for a pre-scientific people? Is there a Buddhism without the nonsense? Is it a Religion, or life philosophy?

DISCUSS :)
Nice topic. I see some of the responses are based on popular culture and therefore interpreted in a way that popular culture interprets it.

To start with some historical facts about Buddhism: Buddhism is not really a religion in the sense that it is not a unique philosophy that did not exist before. Every aspect of early Buddhism or for that matter Jainism is part of Vedic way of life. The Vedic way of life itself is filled with contradictory/variety of philosophies within it. For ex - one "thread" of Vedic philosophy is what the European Missionaries of the 19th century termed as Brahmanism. Another thread of Vedic philosophy is based on "Dvaita" concept i.e. the concept of separation meaning god is separate from you and me. Another thread of Vedic philosophy is based on "Advaita" concept i.e. the concept of non-duality/oneness meaning there is no "god" as in a separate entity. All is this and this is it. It is difficult to put these in words because we are working with the constraint of language. And there are other such threads...I don't know all of them and have not bothered to know them.

One common concept you'll find in all threads of Vedic belief system is the 3-part existence. The physical, the energy level, the virtual. It equates physical = body, the energy level = quantum level = consciousness, the virtual = unconscious = soul.

Quanta flicker in and out of "existence". The in-flicker state is called consciousness/mind. The off-flicker state is called unconsciousness/soul/virtual. Space and Time are physical entities and this is contradictory to popular belief of Vedic/Buddhism. But if you get a chance to meet a well trained Buddhist monk and ask him or her, you'll find that at the root of it all Buddhism considers space and time as physical...even time.

Buddhism became known as a different religion because people started to "worship" Sid. Just like so many people before him Sid also said that it is all within you...what ever is inside is also outside. In pure scientific terms the philosophy refers to the fact that all is made up of the same thing...quanta. And what we see as physical objects is basically "denser" areas of the quantum soup. If your eyes could see quanta, then everything will look same, you'll not be able to differentiate that this is my hand and that is a tree, etc. Since quanta can move around, the density in areas also changes. That is the root understanding of the word "maya" or "illusion".

One more misunderstanding in popular interpretation of Vedic thought is that Vedas regard physical world as "illusion" and that there is some other "real" world. Nope, at the very root of Vedic philosophy I am told that everything is equally "real" or "illusory".

So, the set of rules that you are referring to is more an interpretation of Vedic philosophy (in particular Buddhism under this context) by a particular individual, which individual depends on which set of "rules" you are referring to. The thing is that all these set of rules although were based on good-intent they are definitely not THE way of understanding Vedic/Buddhist things. The originator of the rules found that these rules/activities worked for him and felt that it should work for everyone else. Hence they became rules. But the fact is that it is, to each his own. So every individual has to find his or her own way to understanding "existence".

Broadly Vedic way of life categorizes these paths rather people following these paths as:
a. Bhakta Yogi: individuals who use 'devotion' as a tool to understand existence. Devotion could be devotion to physical objects or concepts. This is the root for the "god separate from me" philosophy. And considering meditation as a method of 'devotion', Buddhism falls under this category.
b. Jnana Yogi: individuals who rely on 'contemplation' and 'questioning' things to understand existence. For ex - scientists, doctors, etc. This is the root for the philosophies of 'Ayurveda', 'Sankhya', Nyaya, etc
c. Karma Yogi: individuals who rely on 'work' and physical experience to understand existence.

Now, it is not necessary that each individual will fall under one of these categories. Individuals may be all 3 at the same time or have more affinity to one way than the other. The categorization is just for 'structural organization of the different paths in your mind' purpose.

Here's a link I found on some of the orthodox philosophies of Vedic life: it includes the philosophies of Buddhism and Jainism:

http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Ort ... s/id/22967

So, in the end, the philosophy of Buddhism or for that matter any philosophy (ex - Jainism, Vegetarianism, Humanism, Satanism, Judaism, etc) is only a guideline and basically a record of what worked for some people who cared enough to make these records available for future generations. Nothing more nothing less. Each individual HAS to find his own unique way of understanding existence. If individuals follow someone else blindly whether it be Kant or Jim Jones or Sid it may not necessarily yield any results for the individual.

Remove the flab off Buddhism philosophy and it could possibly help you understand it better. By flab I am referring to the superstitions, the rules, the rituals, etc.

Nirvanam
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Re: Buddhism

#19 Post by Nirvanam » November 27th, 2009, 11:46 am

mdean wrote:I do have a problem with karma though. For a start, to fully accept karma as a force requires a belief in reincarnation. No evidence for it so - no. Secondly, just as I find the idea of doing the right thing cos an all seeing judge will one day bring you to justice as repugnant (I'm a rational adult and not a naughty eight year old, after all), I find the idea of doing good for the sake of good things happening to you and not doing bad for the same reason to make an assumption of all people being basically selfish as hell. There is no possibility of a good action for its own sake, there must be a reward.
I think what you are referring to the popular interpretation of good-bad karma. Karma is not necessarily based on reincarnation. The concept of Karma uses reincarnation as a vehicle but not as a necessity. The way I understand Karma, the only necessary and sufficient condition for Karma is the existence of "soul-mind-body". Everything else is neither necessary nor sufficient.

If an individual does not believe in soul-mind-body then there is no need to even think about Karma. If modern science does not prove the existence of soul, does it mean a soul does not exist? I choose not to believe modern science in this case. Others choose to believe.

Here's the thing: a lot of these concepts are misunderstood and hence either attract people or detract them. People who like esoteric stuff, who like to find some kinda context for their existence outside of their self get attracted to the concept of reincarnation. People who do not believe anything other than material existence as evidence find their attraction in stuff that can be felt or seen. Does not make one group any better than the other. Does not even make the group that consider both aspects or neither aspect any better. That;s just the way it is. After all without everybody else, how can I experience myself? Without a Humanist how can I know a non-Humanist? Without a Religionist how can I know a non-Religionist?

Compassionist
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Re: Buddhism

#20 Post by Compassionist » November 30th, 2009, 9:41 pm

I am not convinced of the validity of the concept of reincarnation based on karma in previous life. I think the Brahmins made it up to suit themselves. I think the caste system of Hinduism is one of the worst things people have invented. Can you imagine being an Untouchable and knowing that your children and grand-children and great-grand-children and on and on will be Untouchable and will be condemned to a life as a cleaner of sewers? I think the caste system is a form of victim blaming, just as the Original Sin is a form of victim blaming and both rely on faith based imaginary constructs. What do you think?

I watched a film called Water which showed the plight of widows in India. Some of these widows were widowed as a child. According to Hinduism an widow becomes a widow due to bad karma in previous life and once widowed has three options: 1. Be burned to death on the funeral pyre with her late husband. 2. Become a nun. 3. If the family agrees, marry the brother of the late husband, should there be a brother who is single. According to the film the 2001 census of India showed 14 million widows struggling as poor nuns. Exactly how is this in accordance to Human Rights?

Although I am not a Buddhist, I much prefer Buddhism to Hinduism. There hasn't been a single conquest by Buddhists and I don't want to go into the depressing details of how the Hindu Senas took over Bengal from the Buddhists. Of course, the Muslims did the same to the Hindus. I am not defending Islam, just as I am not defending Hinduism or Christianity or Judaism.

All religions are flawed but some are more flawed that others. I think Buddhism is the least flawed because it has a lot of empiricism built into it. Although superstition and rituals have crept into it over the last 2,500 years, the concepts of mindfulness, impermanence, interdependence, emptiness and compassion are evidence-based and wise.

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