Navayana Buddhism

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:41 am

To 'label' yourself a buddhist, you need to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma & the Sangha.
Of course, the dharma talks about and refers to rebirth in many texts.
Many people have a very distorted misunderstanding of karma & rebirth.
Many people think, for example, that there is some kind of permanent self that is reborn.
This is sometimes part of the reason why people do not believe it, or refute it.
I think that it is quite impossible to take refuge in something that you don't believe.
If an individual person takes refuge in the three jewels, even with some doubts here and there, that is still valid refuge.
Of course, that is different from setting up a sect that flatly denies the basic teachings.

Sometimes my friends or relatives ask me about Buddhism and they say, "what do buddhists believe about..."
And I usually tell them, "there are millions of buddhists.
What Buddhism teaches,
and what buddhists believe
may not always be the same thing".


This forum shows that!
:tongue:
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby dnourie » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:47 am

Interesting to read how people view those of us who are secular Buddhist practitioners. There are some incorrect assumptions about our views, and some very interesting attachments to views. Most of all I found it interesting how some of you have rules about who can and cannot call themselves a Buddhist, when we all know there really is no such thing, that Buddhism and Buddhist are modern day labels:-) Labels can be slippery to define, and I suspect Buddha would be quite amused by all of this:-)

At any rate, we are aware that our views differ from traditional Buddhism concerning Rebirth. We do have reasons for this, and you can read articles on the secularbuddhism.org web site to understand our point of view instead of just talking about us here. We'd even be happy to answer questions if you engaged us directly. Please understand that we do not feel traditional Buddhism should go away. We simply have dropped "belief" in favor of the practice of mindfulness, meditation, compassion, and ethics. Our practices are very similar and often identical to traditional Buddhism. We just lack beliefs about metaphysics.

All that said, one of our members wrote a really great article about what the early texts had to say about Rebirth, when the idea entered the text, and possibly how it entered the text. In fact, this article is not his opinion, but about a book he read on that very topic. I hope you'll read it, as well as our other articles, and if you have questions, please ask. All we ask of you is that you practice Right Speech.

Here is the article: http://secularbuddhism.org/2012/04/24/t ... /#comments
May you all be happy and well.

Dana Nourie
dnourie
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:37 am

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:12 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:I disagree.
Why couldn't a person who does not believe in rebirth try for realization in this lifetime, and if it isn't attained, then at least they gave it a good try.

In fact, if one thinks this is their only opportunity to realization, that might motivate some people to work even harder at it.

To their way of thinking, at the time of death, that would be the end of it.

But to a buddhist who believes in rebirth, they would see that that person would sow very good seeds of karma.
The Buddha goes into this logic in detail in explaining the four assurances to the Kalamas viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5678&p=62550&hilit=assurance#p62550 BUT you will not find any mention of ultimate liberation in the four assurances. Just a carefree present life and the possibility of positive rebirth in the case that rebirth actually does exist after this life.

The other major problem with denying/questioning/not believing in rebirth is karma. How does one explain the variety of life circumstances experienced by (or into which are born) individual beings? Pure luck? What about beings that do not (or cannot, in the case of animals, to limit our discussion to beings with physical form) come into contact with Dharma? Condemned to suffering with no chance of ultimate liberation? What about dependent origination? How does one explain that without recourse to previous lives and karma.

But that's what happens when you start trying to pull out individual threads, the entire piece of material unravels.
:namaste:
"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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 7878
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:11 pm

Hello Eijo,

eijo wrote:Huseng spent three years in Japan as a student, I have been in Japan for thirty-two years now, eighteen of them as a Shingon priest in Koyasan. Perhaps Huseng saw only what he expected to see in Japan, or perhaps his experiences were unfortunate, but what he describes of Japanese Buddhism and what I know of it don't match up.


Your long years in Japan do not render my experiences as invalid.


He says he has "little experience in Shingon" but then goes on to make some extraordinary claims about it.


I said, "...it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well." How do you get an extraordinary claim from that? It is speculation on my part, not a claim.

I say that with the experience of having had dialogues with various Japanese priests (Shingon included) where although their school -officially- teaches rebirth and karma as real, you might still see more than half the priests openly denying the reality of said teachings or interpreting them as metaphors or whatever.

You should read what I wrote more carefully.



Shingon strongly emphasizes both literal rebirth and karma, from page one (literally, I'm referring to a new Shingon English manual that will appear next month). I know of not a single Shingon priest who denies either, including those in the "upper echelons and leadership" of both Koyasan Shingon Buddhism and Koyasan University. The widespread belief is also that Kukai (born 774) himself was Amoghavajra's reincarnation (died 774), and that Huiguo and Kukai alternated appearing in the world as teacher and master for many generations for the benefit of living beings. There are other stories of that type. And the depth of importance and repeated appearance in standard Shingon texts, classical and modern, for all levels of practitioners, of rebirth and karma is undeniable.


In Japan there is often what is "officially believed" and what people really think. The doctrine which everyone studies and learns by heart, and then what they really think about it. I discovered a lot of the time the two don't match up. Soto Zen officially teaches rebirth and karma, but that doesn't mean all the priests believe in either. The same seems to apply to a lot of other Japanese schools as well including, as I mentioned, Jodo Shinshu where revisionism and re-interpretation does exist on the ground level.


Huseng seemed to imply that Shingon does not teach these things, so I would like to make that record straight first. It does, in the traditional way. I don't know what Zen or anything else teaches, but Shingon is not Zen. Perhaps someone else will speak for Zen in Japan.


I implied no such thing. You should reread what I wrote with less emotion.


Huseng states "If you want to do Shingon you'll have to learn at least two new languages and live in Japan, or possibly Taiwan. To practise it also requires ordination." He doesn't recognize my own work over several years now to prepare a complete series of manuals and training materials for a full and formally recognized Shingon training program in English, some already published, the rest to be published within the next two years


I was unaware of this development. I'm happy to hear of this.



Huseng appreciates East Asian culture, but perhaps only when it suits him?


Is this some kind of faint charge of orientalism? What is your motivation for making such remarks?
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5558
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:21 pm

dnourie wrote:Interesting to read how people view those of us who are secular Buddhist practitioners. There are some incorrect assumptions about our views, and some very interesting attachments to views. Most of all I found it interesting how some of you have rules about who can and cannot call themselves a Buddhist, when we all know there really is no such thing, that Buddhism and Buddhist are modern day labels:-) Labels can be slippery to define, and I suspect Buddha would be quite amused by all of this:-)


You are mistaken. In the Buddha's time people distinguished themselves as disciples of the Buddha. There was a community identity from the start.


We simply have dropped "belief" in favor of the practice of mindfulness, meditation, compassion, and ethics. Our practices are very similar and often identical to traditional Buddhism. We just lack beliefs about metaphysics.


Really what you have done is projected Buddhism onto an already existent frame of materialism, i.e, the prevailing ideology of our day, and removed the undesirable elements.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5558
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:45 pm

Huseng wrote:
Jnana wrote:Indeed. There's also the people from the Secular Buddhist Association who are generally aligned with Stephen Batchelor's ideas. A few of their followers have posted on the Dhamma Wheel sister site. The gist of what they have to say seems to be much more in accord with Lokāyata materialist views and epistemology than any form of Buddhism that has ever existed. Thus it's a bit puzzling why they too would want to identify themselves as Buddhists. Being an ethical person who practices mindfulness meditation is fine, but that alone doesn't make one a Buddhist.


I think if someone accepts the truth of suffering while rejecting rebirth, then it logically follows that death would be the permanent cessation of suffering (and since all conditioned existence is suffering anything comforting in life is really just suffering). In that case blow your brains out and instant nirvana.


My belief in karma and rebirth is the only reason I haven't killed myself. When I talk to suicidal people, I always plant the seed, "what if you pull that trigger and you wake up in a torture chamber?" Works every time. Seriously.
deepbluehum
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:05 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:53 pm

eijo wrote:
Huseng states "If you want to do Shingon you'll have to learn at least two new languages and live in Japan, or possibly Taiwan. To practise it also requires ordination." He doesn't recognize my own work over several years now to prepare a complete series of manuals and training materials for a full and formally recognized Shingon training program in English, some already published, the rest to be published within the next two years. Some members here have seen the published material already. This publishing project is run by Kongobuji temple, the temple I work at and the head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism. Also Koyasan Shingon Buddhism's unstinting efforts to establish a new and directly operated training center in the US that will begin operation this year (formal announcement forthcoming), with additional new US centers opening afterwards. The training in these centers using these English materials will be formally recognized and recorded by Koyasan Shingon Buddhism.

Huseng appreciates East Asian culture, but perhaps only when it suits him? I refer to his statement that ordination is required to study Shingon formally. This is absolutely true. As he also well knows (and tells us so often), it is not a fully monastic ordination. It is essentially a fundamental commitment as a lay person (meaning a non-Vinaya holder) to the Shingon path. Is it wrong to ask for a serious and tangible commitment from people before undertaking the very demanding process (for all parties) of formal training? East Asian culture typically requires people to jump through hoops to make progress in any traditional field. You don't get anything worthwhile or authentic just by walking in off the street and asking for it, and particularly not by demanding it. On the other hand, if you are humble, patient, persevering, respectful and play by the rules Shingon Buddhism makes for its own training regimen, you will get everything that there is to offer according to a regular curriculum, nothing held back unless you create problems for yourself. And everything available in English very soon.


This is excellent news!
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4279
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby pueraeternus » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:21 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Sometimes my friends or relatives ask me about Buddhism and they say, "what do buddhists believe about..."
And I usually tell them, "there are millions of buddhists.
What Buddhism teaches,
and what buddhists believe
may not always be the same thing".


This forum shows that!
:tongue:


True. I was thinking that we could approach this from the other direction - instead of asking what basic tenets qualifies one to be a Buddhist, we ask what is that that disqualifies. Just as if a person does not believe that Jesus is the Savior, then that would disqualify him as a Christian, so if a person does not believe in karma and rebirth, he/she will be disqualified as a Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, etc.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 690
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:41 pm

nowheat wrote:[...]

The distinction is important. If you go back and look at the original post, you won't find the author *rejecting* or *denying* rebirth, but expressing what he has noticed for himself when studying, "...rebirth strikes many of us as a metaphor rather than a literal reality..." There is no mention of materialism here -- the suggestion that this is what's going on is being added by readers. But the difference between "not believing in rebirth" and "rejecting or denying rebirth" is important because one of the Buddha's key points seems to me to be paying attention to the difference between what we know and have seen for ourselves, and what is speculative, and also to paying attention to how tightly we hold onto the views we base on what we have seen, and what is speculative.

And, relevant to this conversation, y'all are talking at cross-purposes when one person is making statements based on "rejection" and the other is answering based on "lack of belief" (rather than rejection).

:namaste:

Hello,

There's some reasoning in your post that doesn't seem very clear.
You say not believing is not the same as rejecting. It is, actually. If I say I don't believe in what you are saying, it means I am rejecting it as being true.

Perhaps what you want to say is that people can start without having a definitive opinion. They neither believe nor disbelieve. They have a neutral stance. They don't say it is a metaphor, because it obviously wasn't taught as such, but are not also ready to claim it is true. So they are neutral.
Being neutral means recognizing our lack of knowledge. Disbelieving means we are superimposing our interpretation. We are assuming rebirth (and so on) is a metaphor, not a description of a process that actually happens. These are two different animals with very different consequences when it comes to practice.
You can start practicing while having a neutral stance and rip very good results. On the other hand, if you start practicing not believing (aka rejecting) some of main Buddhist tenets, Dharma will be just another form of distraction. If you care to read a previous post of mine, I tried to explain why is not the rejection of rebirth per se that is the problem, but what lies at the root of such position.

Best wishes.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:45 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
The other major problem with denying/questioning/not believing in rebirth is karma. How does one explain the variety of life circumstances experienced by (or into which are born) individual beings? Pure luck? What about beings that do not (or cannot, in the case of animals, to limit our discussion to beings with physical form) come into contact with Dharma? Condemned to suffering with no chance of ultimate liberation? What about dependent origination? How does one explain that without recourse to previous lives and karma.


None of those things actually requires an "explanation", except that not having an explanation for the 'why' of things tends to be unsettling for many people...but this is just a sign of clinging to a self.

"Pure luck" is as good an explanation as anything else. "Pure Luck" may not seem as plausible to you as karma, but karma does not seem as plausible to some people. There are plenty of causal reasons for why things appear as they do, for instance, why planets tend to be round. So one event does lead to another. It's not as if things just take whatever appearance for no reason.

As far as beings who do not come into contact with the dharma, beings do or do not, because of many factors. Saying it's because of a being's karma may be true, but it is really a moot point. It's like saying that it was my shadow's karma to appear when the sun came out. It makes "karma' into a kind of manipulating force on its own, like gravity. Yes, it is a being's karma, meaning the result of previous actions that brings one or does not bring one into contact wit the Dharma. But "karma" is not a cosmic manipulator or balancing scale of events.

I think that this is a view of karma that many who reject the idea of karma reject. But they are really rejecting a misunderstanding of karma, one that they take for a proper understanding. Same with rebirth.

Likewise, dependent origination, the assertion that all things arise and exist (appear) in complete relation to other things is a perfectly valid materialist viewpoint. One can hold that view without believing in rebirth.

One can hold the view that karma only refers to the causes and results associated with one's actions of body speech and mind in a single lifetime, and that a single lifetime is all that one gets. This is not my view, but it is an understandable view, because this lifetime is the only one a person directly experiences.

These are not the points where the rejecting of rebirth fails. In fact, one could argue, from a traditional buddhist viewpoint, that ultimately no rebirth occurs, that these realms are merely a projection of the mind.

And this, I think is the root of the division: Does the material body produce the experience of the mind, or does the mind produce the experience of the physical body? To the person who asserts that the experience of the mind only occurs in this lifetime, it must be likewise asserted that the experience of mind is produced by the activities of the physical body (the brain, central nervous system, etc.) but this, to me, is no different than saying rocks and trees have spirits (a notion that most materialists would reject).

It can be shown that when your finger touches fire, an electrical signal goes to the brain and a burning sensation is felt in your finger. This is all fine and well. It is not different from turning on an electric lamp. But who is experiencing this electrical charge, who interprets it as pain? This is the question that the materialist view does not answer. This is where the rejection of karma and rebirth starts to fail.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:25 pm

dnourie wrote:Interesting to read how people view those of us who are secular Buddhist practitioners. There are some incorrect assumptions about our views, and some very interesting attachments to views. Most of all I found it interesting how some of you have rules about who can and cannot call themselves a Buddhist, when we all know there really is no such thing, that Buddhism and Buddhist are modern day labels:-) Labels can be slippery to define, and I suspect Buddha would be quite amused by all of this:-)

I imagine Buddha would be quite amused to see people who devalue some of his main and most prevalent teachings calling themselves Buddhists.

At any rate, we are aware that our views differ from traditional Buddhism concerning Rebirth. We do have reasons for this, and you can read articles on the secularbuddhism.org web site to understand our point of view instead of just talking about us here. We'd even be happy to answer questions if you engaged us directly. Please understand that we do not feel traditional Buddhism should go away. We simply have dropped "belief" in favor of the practice of mindfulness, meditation, compassion, and ethics. Our practices are very similar and often identical to traditional Buddhism. We just lack beliefs about metaphysics.

The difference between what some people call traditional Buddhism and modern Buddhism is how it is communicated, how it is explained to a new audience. The meaning and purpose stays the same. Let me give you a crude but quick example. One of the explanations Dzongsar Khyentse gives about an example of pith instructions is more or less the following analogy: imagine two people will drive a car. To one who didn't sleep well he may suggest drinking a cup of coffee. To another who is agitated he may suggest a calming infusion. The purpose? Driving safe. The method suggested is different. If one takes the method as the purpose, then problems arise. By the way, here driving safe would be the Tantra and the pith instructions would be having a coffee or an infusion, according to the needs of the practitioner. This is a modern way of explaining things that can be presented in a traditional fashion. This is how Buddhism modernizes itself. Not, in this case, by forgetting what is the meaning of a particular Tantra or the value of pith instructions.

Right view is the first factor of the path. It's both the beginning and the end. You drop it in favor of factors that make Buddhism no different than any other belief system. There are non Buddhist schools that also practice mindfulness meditation, compassion and ethics (by the way, compassion is part of ethics). What exactly makes you Buddhist if not right view? Because that is what sets Buddhism apart. Is it you saying so?

You fellows deem unimportant fundamental teachings. In the above example that would be instead of explaining pith instructions correctly but according to our time, deeming them unnecessary. We don't need to believe in the value of pith instructions. Now pick a tenet and replace pith instructions.
It's theory that guides practice. At first, when meditating one doesn't need to know much, but there will be a point where all that apparently loft theory becomes indispensable so that you don't go astray. It's easy to take enlightenment for what it isn't.

All that said, one of our members wrote a really great article about what the early texts had to say about Rebirth, when the idea entered the text, and possibly how it entered the text. In fact, this article is not his opinion, but about a book he read on that very topic. I hope you'll read it, as well as our other articles, and if you have questions, please ask. All we ask of you is that you practice Right Speech.

A great article according to those who agree with it.
So Right Speech is important for you, but Right View can be forgotten? Right View is at the root of all other factors. Right Speech without Right View is a mere convention. How is that?
What you guys are spreading there is adharma, not Buddhadharma. But you are free to do so.
Just be ready when Buddhists don't agree with your ideas.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby nowheat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:41 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:There's some reasoning in your post that doesn't seem very clear.
You say not believing is not the same as rejecting. It is, actually. If I say I don't believe in what you are saying, it means I am rejecting it as being true.


Yes, but what is being rejected is the truth of a belief, not the possibility that something could be so. If you say you believe aliens live among us, and I say I don't have that same conviction (I don't believe it is true) this is not the same as me saying it is not possible. I am not saying there cannot be aliens, and they cannot live among us, I am just saying I don't have evidence that shows me that there are, and that they are here now.

Perhaps what you want to say is that people can start without having a definitive opinion. They neither believe nor disbelieve. They have a neutral stance. They don't say it is a metaphor, because it obviously wasn't taught as such, but are not also ready to claim it is true. So they are neutral.
Being neutral means recognizing our lack of knowledge. Disbelieving means we are superimposing our interpretation. We are assuming rebirth (and so on) is a metaphor, not a description of a process that actually happens. These are two different animals with very different consequences when it comes to practice.


Yes, exactly.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:43 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:None of those things actually requires an "explanation", except that not having an explanation for the 'why' of things tends to be unsettling for many people...but this is just a sign of clinging to a self.
So the Buddha taught karma so we can have a new method by which to cling to our sense of self?
"Pure luck" is as good an explanation as anything else. "Pure Luck" may not seem as plausible to you as karma, but karma does not seem as plausible to some people. There are plenty of causal reasons for why things appear as they do, for instance, why planets tend to be round. So one event does lead to another. It's not as if things just take whatever appearance for no reason.
I am not saying that "pure luck" is not plausible, the spaghetti monster is also plausible. I am saying that "pure luck" is not included anywhere in BuddhaDharma.
As far as beings who do not come into contact with the dharma, beings do or do not, because of many factors. Saying it's because of a being's karma may be true, but it is really a moot point. It's like saying that it was my shadow's karma to appear when the sun came out. It makes "karma' into a kind of manipulating force on its own, like gravity. Yes, it is a being's karma, meaning the result of previous actions that brings one or does not bring one into contact wit the Dharma. But "karma" is not a cosmic manipulator or balancing scale of events.
Nobody said it was. The outcomes of past karma cannot be manipulated though, we can alter the manner in which they ripen through our subsequent actions, sure, but...
I think that this is a view of karma that many who reject the idea of karma reject. But they are really rejecting a misunderstanding of karma, one that they take for a proper understanding. Same with rebirth.
So you were playing devils advocate with the last statement? Now I am confused. :shrug:
Likewise, dependent origination, the assertion that all things arise and exist (appear) in complete relation to other things is a perfectly valid materialist viewpoint. One can hold that view without believing in rebirth.
Really? So how does one explain the pre-existence of ignorance then? Why is there not a chain of dependent origination that begins with wisdom-go straight to enlightenment-do not pass samsara?
One can hold the view that karma only refers to the causes and results associated with one's actions of body speech and mind in a single lifetime, and that a single lifetime is all that one gets. This is not my view, but it is an understandable view, because this lifetime is the only one a person directly experiences.
No they don't. They direcly experience the outcomes of past actions too. Most people are not even aware of the outcomes from actions ripening in this lifetime let alone past lives. Ignorance of origin is not logical reasoning for the lack of their origin.
These are not the points where the rejecting of rebirth fails. In fact, one could argue, from a traditional buddhist viewpoint, that ultimately no rebirth occurs, that these realms are merely a projection of the mind.
Well it's a pretty bloody convincing projection wouldn't you say? So convincing that traditional buddhists may even say that it is real at a relative level.
It can be shown that when your finger touches fire, an electrical signal goes to the brain and a burning sensation is felt in your finger. This is all fine and well. It is not different from turning on an electric lamp. But who is experiencing this electrical charge, who interprets it as pain? This is the question that the materialist view does not answer. This is where the rejection of karma and rebirth starts to fail.
Actually they do try to answer it via neuropsychology. A pretty weak attempt thus far, but is slowly starting to become more refined.
:namaste:
"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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 7878
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:48 pm

nowheat wrote:Yes, but what is being rejected is the truth of a belief, not the possibility that something could be so. If you say you believe aliens live among us, and I say I don't have that same conviction (I don't believe it is true) this is not the same as me saying it is not possible. I am not saying there cannot be aliens, and they cannot live among us, I am just saying I don't have evidence that shows me that there are, and that they are here now.
Your mere existence (or the manner in which you exist) is proof of the veracity of the logic/theory of rebirth and karma. Why? Coz materialist explanations break down really quickly under the slightest of scrutiny.
:namaste:
"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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Former staff member
 
Posts: 7878
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:52 pm

nowheat wrote:Yes, but what is being rejected is the truth of a belief, not the possibility that something could be so. If you say you believe aliens live among us, and I say I don't have that same conviction (I don't believe it is true) this is not the same as me saying it is not possible. I am not saying there cannot be aliens, and they cannot live among us, I am just saying I don't have evidence that shows me that there are, and that they are here now.

:rolling: That's just a polite way to put it.
If I say aliens live among us and you say that you don't believe it, this means exactly that you reject the claim that aliens live among us. If you accept that such may be the case, accept at least the possibility, then you don't say "I don't believe". You say I don't KNOW if aliens live among us. These are different things. ;)
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby nowheat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:But to a buddhist who believes in rebirth, they would see that that person would sow very good seeds of karma.
The Buddha goes into this logic in detail in explaining the four assurances to the Kalamas viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5678&p=62550&hilit=assurance#p62550 BUT you will not find any mention of ultimate liberation in the four assurances. Just a carefree present life and the possibility of positive rebirth in the case that rebirth actually does exist after this life.


It seems to me that, while sowing the seeds of good karma is a fine thing, as is living a carefree present life, the point of the Buddha's teaching is to *end karma* and be liberated instead. The reason the Kalama sutta doesn't talk about liberation and right view is because it isn't addressing understanding the Buddha's teaching, but is instead just showing that good moral grounding brings the good effects desired by just about anyone.

The other major problem with denying/questioning/not believing in rebirth is karma. How does one explain the variety of life circumstances experienced by (or into which are born) individual beings? Pure luck?


Why offer luck as the first (and only, here offered) alternative? It is the easiest one to make light of, but isn't what a Buddhist -- secular or otherwise -- is most likely to choose.

Causes and conditions are the explanation of the variety of life circumstances. The sheer number of possible conditions that create life allows for a wide variety of circumstances that individuals encounter. Why was I born with a genetic disorder that pre-disposed me to end up with a wheat intolerance? Is it because some being in the past -- who is not me, not related to me in any way, and whose actions I have no way of seeing, knowing, or correcting, made bad ethical choices that mean I am saddled with this condition? Or is it that biology that can be trace backward passed on this gene that I can locate within my body?

What about beings that do not (or cannot, in the case of animals, to limit our discussion to beings with physical form) come into contact with Dharma? Condemned to suffering with no chance of ultimate liberation?


This question seems to originate in a misunderstanding of dukkha ("suffering") that is intrinsic to the traditional belief that rebirth is integral to the dharma. Let me see if I can make this distinction clear:

Traditional understanding: dukkha is suffering of all sorts -- it is psychological pain (anger, frustration, grief, jealousy, greed, hatred, etc) but it is also physical pain (bodily decay, aging, sickness, death) -- and this suffering only ends completely after liberation AND the breakup of the body post-liberation (we know it must be after death because the Buddha still felt physical pain after his enlightenment). Because dukkha includes both physical as well as psychological pain, even ants experience dukkha. Since dukkha includes physical suffering, it requires a previous life to explain why individuals come into the world in painful conditions.

Non-traditional* understanding: dukkha is psychological pain -- it is what we do to ourselves as a result of holding the belief that we have a self, and it is specifically beliefs that we are capable of becoming aware of and doing something about (we know this because the Buddha tells us that babies have the underlying tendencies, but are not capable of being liberated -- they don't have the capacity for understanding, yet, that is required to make choices -- see sutta quote below). Therefore, creatures that don't have a concept of self or the ability to be aware of their concepts aren't suffering dukkha and don't need exposure to the dharma. Since dukkha is (almost literally) self-created -- created by the sense that we have a self, and created in this very lifetime -- previous lives are not needed to explain it.

What we have here are two separate views of what's going on, and each has internal consistency, but they don't have cross-consistency. The question "How can creatures be liberated without rebirth -- they get no exposure to Dharma" makes perfect sense when asked within the traditional understanding of the way the world works, but the question makes no sense when asked of the non-traditional, where it would probably be answered by the Buddha as: "Invalid question."

* specifically, mine -- I will not say that all non-traditional Buddhists understand dukkha this way, but many do.

MN 78 wrote:A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion 'intention,' so how should he have evil intentions beyond mere sulking?


:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby nowheat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:13 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
nowheat wrote:Yes, but what is being rejected is the truth of a belief, not the possibility that something could be so. If you say you believe aliens live among us, and I say I don't have that same conviction (I don't believe it is true) this is not the same as me saying it is not possible. I am not saying there cannot be aliens, and they cannot live among us, I am just saying I don't have evidence that shows me that there are, and that they are here now.

:rolling: That's just a polite way to put it.
If I say aliens live among us and you say that you don't believe it, this means exactly that you reject the claim that aliens live among us. If you accept that such may be the case, accept at least the possibility, then you don't say "I don't believe". You say I don't KNOW if aliens live among us. These are different things. ;)


You are saying that you know how I use language. You're saying that if I explain that the way I use language is different from the way you interpret it, what you heard me say (because of the way you interpret the words) is what I actually meant (despite me saying that it isn't). So, what, with my explanation, I'm lying? There is no possibility in your mind that your understanding of the words is different from mine? This seems to leave us little room for communication.

I am trying to make a point about belief in rebirth amongst Buddhists: that one can refrain from holding a belief in something without completely denying its possibility. I think we were actually agreed on this a few posts back. Perhaps we should back up to that point of understanding and drop the point where you tell me how I speak and what I mean when I do?

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby nowheat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
nowheat wrote:Yes, but what is being rejected is the truth of a belief, not the possibility that something could be so. If you say you believe aliens live among us, and I say I don't have that same conviction (I don't believe it is true) this is not the same as me saying it is not possible. I am not saying there cannot be aliens, and they cannot live among us, I am just saying I don't have evidence that shows me that there are, and that they are here now.
Your mere existence (or the manner in which you exist) is proof of the veracity of the logic/theory of rebirth and karma. Why? Coz materialist explanations break down really quickly under the slightest of scrutiny.
:namaste:


So you say. I note you give no evidence for the statement, though. As it stands, this is just opinion, without any support.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:30 pm

nowheat wrote:It seems to me that, while sowing the seeds of good karma is a fine thing, as is living a carefree present life, the point of the Buddha's teaching is to *end karma* and be liberated instead. The reason the Kalama sutta doesn't talk about liberation and right view is because it isn't addressing understanding the Buddha's teaching, but is instead just showing that good moral grounding brings the good effects desired by just about anyone.
:


emphasis added in the quote above

The Kalama Sutta has the Buddha addressing a general audience: it's not the sangha he is speaking to, but to the public at large (as in the bolded text above). Hence, his message is oriented around a matter of public concern: how to live a good life among others. It is not about attaining liberation.

If you want instructions on liberation, you have to look elsewhere. If you're content to live a carefree life in the present, which amounts to taking a carefree attitude toward samsara and the suffering of beings bound to it, then don't bother.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4279
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Dependent Origination

Postby nowheat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:31 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:What about dependent origination? How does one explain that without recourse to previous lives and karma.


Dependent origination (DO) isn't about literal past lives or literal rebirth after the breakup of the body. I understand that it is interpreted that way, and that modern translations and commentaries make it seem that way, and make a pretty good case for that being what DO is about, but I'm pretty sure that's not what it's teaching; that's not the point. It is about "old karma" in the sense that we come into the world with certain underlying tendencies (see sutta quote below), and it is about the way we make "new karma" by acting on those tendencies when we are able to make other choices. But the actions we take are those we can observe, that are within our control if we are but educated to understand the issues (thereby ending ignorance), and the consequences of those actions are those we can see for ourselves quite clearly -- within this very lifetime. This is why the Buddha makes the point over and over and over that he preaches liberation here and now; he's not talking about something that may eventually happen after many lifetimes; he says you can work toward good rebirths if you wish, or you could be liberated in this lifetime -- and which do you suppose is the one he's suggesting you choose: taking a long time or doing it soon?

How do I explain DO without recourse to past lives or karma? In one sense I don't -- the lives that led to ours (our parents and theirs on back for generations to what once seemed like "beginningless time") give us the conditions we come into the world with -- those underlying tendencies that cause us to generate a sense of self -- those are critical to understanding what DO is saying. And karma in the sense of intentional actions that have consequences for us in the future -- those are critical, also. So "past lives" and "karma" play a part, but when I speak of them, they don't mean the same thing you might mean when you speak of them.

Past lives and karma aren't about things some person unrelated to me did in the life just previous to mine, the consequences of which I have to deal with without knowing what they did or which conditions I deal with that relate to them. So in that sense, I explain DO without recourse to karma as coming from past lives.

MN 64 wrote:For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion 'identity,' [433] so how could identity view arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to identity view lies with him.



But that's what happens when you start trying to pull out individual threads, the entire piece of material unravels.


The only thing that unravels is the traditional understanding; this isn't the same as the Dharma unraveling. The Buddha's dharma makes perfect sense without literal, after-death rebirth, and with karma being something we can see in action in this very life. This can be very hard to see, though, when one's understanding of Buddhism is entirely based on the traditional take.

The problem we have here is very similar to the problems we have in explaining some of Buddhism to newcomers. The questions they ask about self and souls and rebirth and karma are grounded in the worldview they were raised with, so the questions can be difficult to answer in a way they will understand because there is a big paradigm shift between their words and what they mean in their worldview, and what those words mean in the Buddhist worldview. We have the same problem here, between the traditional and non-traditional view. Questions that are logical in the traditional view are sometimes outside the logic of the non-traditional view.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:51 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 4 guests

>