Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:07 pm

Andrew108 wrote:You deepen the meaning of refuge when you stop taking yourself and beliefs so seriously. You see non-fixation as the way things are, experiences are embedded in natural awareness, equality is how it is. When you deepen refuge naturally then call yourself a buddhist.

So let's do that.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:10 pm

So no need to abandon such a naturally beautuful view. It's good to be a buddhist whose view is natural.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Berry » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:15 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
With the 84 mahasiddhas there is no single example. Just lots of inspiration.


If one can get past all the obvious symbolism - for example the story with the title "Mekhala" in the book "Buddha's Lions" tells of 2 sisters dancing around with their heads in their hands (after cutting them off themselves)... symbolising "we have cut off the illusion of samsara..." and so on.
.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:28 pm

Andrew108 wrote:With the 84 mahasiddhas there is no single example. Just lots of inspiration.
"Talented artists paint such terrifying pictures
That gazing at their work we grow afraid;
But look again, and besides the painted form
[an]Unreal unreal reflected image is all that we find."

The Jackal-Yogin Siddha Syalipa

"Susceptible to the venom of dualistic thought,
Intellectual minds are poisoned by analysis;
The ultimate grace of the Guru's Word
Cures the malaise of deluded samsaric wisdom."

The Eternal Student Siddha Dharmapa
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Berry » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:57 pm

..the 84 mahasiddhas..


"You cannot be successful with faith alone
or with just the bliss of compassion.
You must truly see without distinctions
just as do the Aryans themselves."

~Pankaja



:meditate:
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:42 pm

Samsara is insubstantial like a dream,
This body iridescent like a rainbow;
But poisoned by nescience, desire and vanity,
We cling to illusion, believing it to be real.
Awaken from the poison-trance of attachment
And samsara itself becomes the dharmakaya.

There was a low-caste man of Gauga, who due to his practice
of patience and tolerance in past lives, was endowed with a par·
ticularly beautiful body. Comparing himself with others, he became
very conceited. One day a gentle and courteous monk accosted him
and graciously begged alms. Ananga, the handsome youth, invited
him to his house, asking him to accept his hospitality for a few days.
The monk accepted, and Ananga washed his feet, prepared a couch
for him, and offered him good food.
"Why do you beg and mortify yourself like this?" he asked the
monk.
"To free myself from the fear that the wheel of existence has in·
stilled in me," the monk replied.
"What is the difference between the basis of your character and
mine?" Ananga asked him.
"There's a great deal of difference," replied the monk. "Conceit is
the basis of your character and pride is devoid of creative potential.
The basis of my character is faith, and faith creates immense
capacities."
"What kind of capacities?" Ananga asked.
"In this lifetime the capacity to practice Dharma, so that the
problems of men and gods are resolved," the monk told him. "But
ultimately the capacity to obtain the Body of a Buddha, which
depends on faith." The monk elaborated upon the various mundane
and supra-mundane qualities and powers.
"Is it possible for me to obtain this capacity?" Ananga asked him.
"Have you any skill at craft or trade?" enquired the monk.
"I can do nothing of that sort," Ananga replied.
"Then can you sit still and meditate?" asked the monk.
"That I can do," Ananga asserted.
The monk bestowed upon him the initiation and empowerment of
Sarpvara and instructed him in the inherent lucency of the six sense·
fields.
All the multiplicity of appearance
Exists as nothing but the nature of your mind.
Let the objects of your six sense fields alone
And abide in a state of freedom and non-attachment.
Anatiga meditated accordingly, and within six months he had
reached his goal. As Guru Anangapada he worked selflessly for
others, and finally in his very body he attained the Dakini's
Paradise.


Mahasiddha Anangapa The Handsome Fool.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:56 pm

From Keith Dowman:

" The number eighty-four is a "whole" or "perfect" number. Thus the eighty-four siddhas can be seen as archetypes representing the thousands of exemplars and adepts of the tantric way. The siddhas were remarkable for the diversity of their family backgrounds and the dissimilarity of their social roles. They were found in every reach of the social structure: kings and ministers, priests and yogins, poets and musicians, craftsmen and farmers, housewives and whores. However, the greatest names amongst the eighty- four - Tilopa, Naropa, Saraha, Luipa, Ghantapa, Dombipa, etc., - were sadhu siddhas, mendicant yogins living with the people on a grass-roots level of society, teaching more by psychic vibration, posture and attitude - mantra, mudra and tantra - than by sermonizing. Some of these siddhas were iconoclasts, dissenters and anti-establishment rebels fulfilling the necessary function of destroying the rigidity of old and intractable customs and habits, so that spontaneity and new vitality could flourish. Obsessive caste rules and regulations in society, and religious ritual as an end in itself, were undermined by the siddhas' exemplary free-living. The irrelevance of scholastic hairsplitting in an academic language, together with a host of social and religious evils, were exposed in the poets' wonderful mystical songs written in the vernacular tongues, They taught existential involvement rather than metaphysical speculation, and they taught the ideal of living in the world but not of it rather than ascetic self mutilation or monastic renunciation, The siddhas are characterized by a lack of external uniformity and formal discipline."
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:54 pm

Count me among the people who would like to see a forum for ex-Buddhists. I sympathize and identify with those who find that they can no longer honestly consider themselves Buddhists, and hope that their experience of the religion has been more positive than that of, say, the ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, despite whatever it is that drove them away. As compassionate people (at least by aspiration) who perhaps bear some responsibility for their disillusionment, we should encourage them in whatever way we can. It's not like they've committed the Unpardonable Sin or anything. (And hopefully we haven't either--hopefully we can "still be friends," as the saying goes.)

Why would anyone want to dis-affiliate? Certainly Dharmawheel has seen any number of discussions in which someone is scolded for disbelieving in, say, reincarnation, spirits, the traditional authorship of Mahayana texts, or for that matter, the basic cosmology of samsara and nirvana. DJKR, whom I generally admire, encourages the view that unless one subscribes to the Four Seals, one is not really a Buddhist. (Cue insistence that they are demonstrably true.) Although this interpretation would disenfranchise any number of traditional Buddhists who have been raised in the religion, I can see how converts--especially from belief-oriented religions like Christianity--might take this kind of talk seriously, and follow through by resigning.

Of course, religion is not purely a matter of belief, but also a social institution. The cold reality is that for many people who are attracted to Buddhism at some point, that religion turns out not to be a viable option. Some may not live near a functioning dharma center, or have enough money to belong to it. Some may be experiencing social and family pressures to identify with a different (and exclusive) religion, or simply like another group better. (Raising children as Buddhist presents various problems in the West.) Some have been burned by their encounter with Buddhism, perhaps through the misbehavior of a teacher or fellow participant. Some may recoil from news reports associating Buddhism and its leaders with various crimes against humanity (e.g., in Burma)--if so, I can hardly blame them for following their conscience.

For those who are still on the fence, there is another option. I sometimes describe myself as "half a Buddhist" in order to capture, in a phrase, my identification with, and reservations about, the religion. This has the interesting side-effect of encouraging further conversation (people often ask what the other half is!), and frustrating efforts to apply a more simplistic label. The drawback, of course, is that I may go to hell for my obduracy in failing to believe various things based on the authoritative testimony of lamas like DJKR, or some of the more strident posters here! On the other hand, if I really understood enough to believe 100 %, then I should probably be enlightened, with all the major and minor marks!

The thing is, even for people who leave, Buddhism is likely to remain a part of them in some sense, just as our "original" religions (assuming a classic "convert" situation) remain a part of us. This is not a bad thing at all--this suggests the possibility of ties of friendship between "us" and "them," regardless of what path we end up on. How we negotiate this blended identity is a very individual thing. There's no reason that our sense of community can't transcend these divisions. And Buddhism can handle the diversity!
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:05 pm

Very well said, Alfredo.
:anjali:

However...
Last edited by dharmagoat on Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:33 pm

From Buddhism in a Nutshell: The Four Seals of Dharma by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche:
So what is the particular view that Buddhists try to get used to? Buddhism is distinguished by four characteristics, or “seals.” Actually, if all these four seals are found in a path or a philosophy, it doesn’t matter whether you call it Buddhist or not. You can call it what you like; the words “Buddhist” or “Buddhism” are not important. The point is that if this path contains these four seals, it can be considered the path of the Buddha.

Therefore, these four characteristics are called “the Four Seals of Dharma.” They are:

All compounded things are impermanent.

All emotions are painful. This is something that only Buddhists would talk about. Many religions worship things like love with celebration and songs. Buddhists think, “This is all suffering.”

All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence. This is actually the ultimate view of Buddhism; the other three are grounded on this third seal.

The fourth seal is that nirvana is beyond extremes.

Without these four seals, the Buddhist path would become theistic, religious dogma, and its whole purpose would be lost. On the other hand, you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism. The Tibetans, the Chinese, or the Japanese might not like it, but teaching doesn’t have to be in a “traditional” form. The four seals are quite interrelated, as you will see.

The truth of the Four Seals is evident to anyone that has taken the time to fully examine them. They do not call on belief to back them up, yet they engender faith.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby dude » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:51 pm

Alfredo wrote:The thing is, even for people who leave, Buddhism is likely to remain a part of them in some sense, just as our "original" religions (assuming a classic "convert" situation) remain a part of us. This is not a bad thing at all--this suggests the possibility of ties of friendship between "us" and "them," regardless of what path we end up on. How we negotiate this blended identity is a very individual thing. There's no reason that our sense of community can't transcend these divisions. And Buddhism can handle the diversity!


You're absolutely right. The dialogue should continue.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:32 am

Isn't 'being a Buddhist' often just another ego-trip? It sometimes seems to me that It's often just a way of comforting yourself through a belief system. You can see that even for tradtional Buddhism where belief revolves around the promise of a favourable re-birth. It is hardly any different to Christian belief in that regard.

When I set out to explore Buddhism, I believed it was critical of this kind of thinking. I was trying to find the 'real thing'. Before starting a specifically 'Buddhist' style of meditation I had been an enthusiastic reader of Krishnamurti who was famously sceptical about any kind of method when it comes to meditation, and likewise rejected all kinds of religious movements, gurus and the rest. He had a big influence on my approach.

But as time passed, I realised that 'reading Krishnamurti' wasn't actually efficacious, it didn't bring about the radical change that I was seeking. That was why I realised the Buddhist emphasis on application and some elements of 'method' were necessary, so have been trying to implement that since.

As to whether I am really Buddhist or not, I think of it as like a working title, or a work-in-progress. I have studied it seriously through an academic perspective, combined with sitting zazen and contemplating the teachings. I have been meeting with a Sangha group since 2007 who are more like a peer group than a teacher, but through these activities I feel I have brought myself into conformity with the dharma in some small degree and have 'internalised' the meaning to some extent.

Andrew108 wrote: Other people who are experts tell me that I have a wrong view. Personally I don't feel that I am struggling. You know that the buddhist tradition is heterodox. Take a look at the lives of the 84 mahasiddhas.

You see non-fixation as the way things are, experiences are embedded in natural awareness, equality is how it is. When you deepen refuge naturally then call yourself a buddhist.


I think you have defined it very much in your own way. Tantric Buddhism is a deep subject. The idea of 'naturalness' that is found in teachings such as Dzog'chen is not simply 'being yourself' or 'being relaxed about your life' but the result of a profound transformation of mind.

Alfredo wrote:Of course, religion is not purely a matter of belief, but also a social institution.


I would say dharma is also a matter of the transformation of perception. It is a radical change in the way you see things. That is a constant theme in Buddhism, not so much so in mainstream Western religion, which does indeed emphasise belief and membership of the Church as primary. It is where the 'dharmic' and 'semitic' religions are very different.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby greentara » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:07 am

wayfarer, "Isn't 'being a Buddhist' often just another ego-trip? It sometimes seems to me that It's often just a way of comforting yourself through a belief system. You can see that even for tradtional Buddhism where belief revolves around the promise of a favourable re-birth. It is hardly any different to Christian belief in that regard" The Buddhas words are very inspirational but at the end of the day you have to let go! How you do that depends on your insight and ripeness. For all the talk and all the teachers....very few make it to the 'other shore'.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Alfredo » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:55 am

Dharmagoat, right on cue!

"All compounded things are impermanent." Except, according to rumor, the Holy Trinity! (Now we have to talk about what it means to be compounded and/or impermanent. The latter gets us into the nature of time!)

"All emotions are painful." I am not sure that this accords with my experience. "'Tis better to have loved and lost..."

"All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence." There is disagreement among Buddhists as to what this actually means. Anyway, I have no way to examine "all phenomena" or to know whether they all lack "inherent existence," whatever that may be.

"The fourth seal is that nirvana is beyond extremes." Now that's religion-talk! There's no way we can know something like that, at least under normal conditions--it has to be taken on faith.

See? Buddhism is not a science at all, but an arbitrary set of religious beliefs! Anyway, there are numerous Buddhists who have never heard of the Four Seals, and not even DJKR gets to kick them out of the club.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:32 am

Alfredo wrote:Now we have to talk about what it means to be compounded and/or impermanent.


Such ideas as 'compounded/uncompounded' need to be interpreted within their context. Buddhism was originally formulated in the ancient world and was contemporary with the early Greek philosophers and the like. What is 'uncompounded' or 'unconditioned' is based on the observation that all the objects of ordinary experience are compound - made of parts - and subject to decay. Such observations were also very much part of early Greek philosophy which also wanted to find something 'beyond the realm of appearances'.

The question was, then, is there anything which is not 'compound and subject to decay'?

The Greek philosophers proposed various answers, such as Plato's Idea of the Good, The Brahmins' answer was that Brahman was not compound and not subject to decay. There are similar notions associated with the Christian idea of God.

The Buddha never proposed an answer in terms of God or Brahman. But the question is still the same - what is it, that is beyond change and decay, that is not suffering, impermanent and transitory? The Buddhist answer to that is much more concerned with realising the nature of things than with speculating about what is beyond. But it's dealing with the same question, and the idea of the 'the uncompounded' or 'unconditioned' or 'uncreated' is without any doubt a kind of theological or theosophical (small 't') idea.

So it is 'religion-talk', and has to be taken on faith, up until the point where you can actually grasp the meaning by insight.

See? Buddhism is not a science at all, but an arbitrary set of religious beliefs!


Why 'arbitrary'? You haven't shown that at all. Maybe it is the only way you can conceive of such ideas. That there are numerous Buddhists who have never heard of 'the Four Seals' doesn't really prove much of anything, other than that Buddhism is perhaps something of a fad and is talked about by a lot of people who don't have much knowledge of it.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:56 am

One thing is for sure we are not certain of ourselves because we keep trying to explain what we are. Zen's teaching is deep relinquish all ideas which most of us find it hard to do. Faith in yourself and faith in Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why? Because I am weak and need this nourishment.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Alfredo » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:42 am

LastLegend:
Zen's teaching is deep relinquish all ideas


Some modernist Zen rhetoric holds that Zen is what you get when you relinquish all dualistic concepts. But that notion is itself a dualistic concept (and one with a particular history to boot).

Wayfarer:
Why 'arbitrary'? You haven't shown that at all.


Well, of course it arises from a particular historical tradition, and so is not "arbitrary" in the sense that anything other random belief system might have arisen instead. But there are no good reasons for accepting what amounts to one set of religious claims over another. "Nirvana" is a religious claim, not anything we can confirm (short of attaining it ourselves--but then, the same could be said of the unity of Brahman and atman).

Maybe it is the only way you can conceive of such ideas.


Like Han Solo, I can conceive of a lot of things!

Buddhism was originally formulated in the ancient world and was contemporary with the early Greek philosophers and the like.


The assumption that everything is divisible into discrete parts may have made sense to the Greek atomists, or their Indic equivalents, but is insufficient from the point of view of modern science. For that matter, it clashes with the Buddhist teaching of selflessness (which deconstructs the notion of discrete entities).

The question was, then, is there anything which is not 'compound and subject to decay'?


Not surprisingly, the main examples that have been proposed are of a speculative religious nature. But short of omniscience, we can't be sure that there is no such entity.

That there are numerous Buddhists who have never heard of 'the Four Seals' doesn't really prove much of anything, other than that Buddhism is perhaps something of a fad and is talked about by a lot of people who don't have much knowledge of it.


I was thinking more along the lines of folk Chinese believers. But what is this "it" that they're supposed to have knowledge of? Who gets to decide that the Four Seals, for example, represent the essence of Buddhism?
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby Mkoll » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:00 am

Alfredo wrote:But there are no good reasons for accepting what amounts to one set of religious claims over another.

Apparently not for you. But that rule doesn't apply to everyone.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:46 am

Alfredo wrote:
Some modernist Zen rhetoric holds that Zen is what you get when you relinquish all dualistic concepts. But that notion is itself a dualistic concept (and one with a particular history to boot).



I don't understand what you are trying to say.
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Re: Abandoning Buddhism, What Now?

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:03 am

Alfredo, attachment to rational ideas is as pernicious and ultimately grounds for suffering as attachment to religious or cultural ideas.
For instance, I personally have verified three of those four claims, all of which you disagree with.
Instead of claiming that because your current experience has not borne them all out and therefore they are false or of no use to you personally, why not turn the inquiry into your own experience as such, continuing to explore and probe with the dharma as a guide rather than a set of absolutes?
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
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