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SuddenlySartre
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Greetings!

Post by SuddenlySartre » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:53 pm

Hello!

So I have been atheist/agnostic ever since I was 12, but I've been trying to work my way back to some sort of spirituality for the past couple years (currently mid-early 20s). I was unfortunately spiritually damaged by a very strict, Southern Baptist household and have had to work through a lot of hesitance and immediate dismissal toward the general topic of spirituality. I started with moderate, tentative exploration in psychedelics and moved from there; taking a direct shortcut to experiencing what spirituality and connection feels like eased a lot of my walls around it. Amateur philosophical inquiry continued from there, paying particular attention to existentialism (Neitzche, Camus, Sartre... the regular gambit).

I always felt some sort of pull toward Buddhism generally, as I'm sure many people in that oft trodded situation do. But it wasn't until I listened to a Very Bad Wizards interview with Robert Wright that I decided to read his book, Why Buddhism is True. The book struck a deep chord in me, and while I've always casually dipped in and out of looking at Buddhism, my main objection to studying it further (detachment as a concept didn't resonate with me until then - I had assumed that a Stoic neutrality and disassociation from humanity was implicit) was eradicated by actually taking the time to listen to some long form content on the practice. From there, I started to listen to any talk of Robert Wright I could get my hands on, finding speakers like Goldstein and Batchelor. I've just finished Batchelor's Buddhism without Belief and related talks.

So I'm at the point where I have a very, very general understanding of the concepts of Western, secularized Buddhism, and the general understanding has been enough to spur me to learning more. But as I try to broaden my research, I'm finding that it seems utterly daunting to figure out where to start unpacking this insanely deep spiritual and religious tradition.

I guess I'm hoping to have my curiosity guided and my research/exploration sharpened. Somewhere to articulate ideas I have and have them challenged. I'm looking for some in-person temples or centers as well, but as a millennial I am a denizen of the Internet and don't underestimate it as a resource. So... hi, I guess! We'll see what happens!

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Re: Greetings!

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:22 pm

Welcome to DharmaWheel!
:anjali:
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Greetings!

Post by Virgo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:42 pm

SuddenlySartre wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:53 pm
Hello!

So I have been atheist/agnostic ever since I was 12, but I've been trying to work my way back to some sort of spirituality for the past couple years (currently mid-early 20s). I was unfortunately spiritually damaged by a very strict, Southern Baptist household and have had to work through a lot of hesitance and immediate dismissal toward the general topic of spirituality. I started with moderate, tentative exploration in psychedelics and moved from there; taking a direct shortcut to experiencing what spirituality and connection feels like eased a lot of my walls around it. Amateur philosophical inquiry continued from there, paying particular attention to existentialism (Neitzche, Camus, Sartre... the regular gambit).

I always felt some sort of pull toward Buddhism generally, as I'm sure many people in that oft trodded situation do. But it wasn't until I listened to a Very Bad Wizards interview with Robert Wright that I decided to read his book, Why Buddhism is True. The book struck a deep chord in me, and while I've always casually dipped in and out of looking at Buddhism, my main objection to studying it further (detachment as a concept didn't resonate with me until then - I had assumed that a Stoic neutrality and disassociation from humanity was implicit) was eradicated by actually taking the time to listen to some long form content on the practice. From there, I started to listen to any talk of Robert Wright I could get my hands on, finding speakers like Goldstein and Batchelor. I've just finished Batchelor's Buddhism without Belief and related talks.

So I'm at the point where I have a very, very general understanding of the concepts of Western, secularized Buddhism, and the general understanding has been enough to spur me to learning more. But as I try to broaden my research, I'm finding that it seems utterly daunting to figure out where to start unpacking this insanely deep spiritual and religious tradition.

I guess I'm hoping to have my curiosity guided and my research/exploration sharpened. Somewhere to articulate ideas I have and have them challenged. I'm looking for some in-person temples or centers as well, but as a millennial I am a denizen of the Internet and don't underestimate it as a resource. So... hi, I guess! We'll see what happens!
Welcome.

kevin...

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Re: Greetings!

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:23 am

Very intelligent first post. My background is similar but different, in that I was brought up in a religiously indifferent culture and family. I came to Buddhism through well-known books about popular eastern mysticism, such as Autobiography of a Yogi [copies of which Incidentally Steve Jobs had distributed at his funeral, as a matter of interest] and various other titles. I’m a sixties person, probably a generation older. Anyway, also studied Western philosophy and comparative religion among other things. Sartre, didn’t get at all, although I’ve started to understand him a little better. I’ve never been a Nietszche enthusiast although never did a formal unit in him. I’ve always had a strong aversion to scientific or philosophical materialism but on the other hand am to all intents fully engaged in secular culture and way of living.

So, to address some of the points you raise. I have met and listened to Stephen Bachelor and also own Buddhism without Beliefs. But I’ve decided he’s just a little too near scientific naturalism for my liking. Now, when I say that, I don’t actually intend it at all in a pejorative sense, as many people nowadays instinctively assume that ‘the scientific worldview’ is authoritative and definitive and it does have many things going for it. But at the end of the day it’s a very recent arrival in terms of cultural maturity and has often thrown the baby of spiritual wisdom out with the bathwater of religious dogma. But having said that, Stephen Bachelor is a warm speaker and teacher and a very courteous and learned person, so I don’t at all wish to convey any sense of hostility - more a sense of critical evaluation. [I note, in his favour, that he will frequently include critical reviews of his books on his website.]

Now there’s a really good web article here which is posted on one of the sites Stephen Bachelor is associated with. Well worth reading.

The other point I will mention briefly, even though it’s quite an important matter, is the difficulty of conceptualising or framing the deeper aspects of spirituality. This is because so much of the post-Enlightenment mentality has been defined specifically to exclude ‘the religious’ that it has almost become like a psychic shadow, in a kind of ‘don’t mention the war’ kind of way. Something I learned from the Indian attitude to spirituality, is to take spirituality and religion in all of its hues and forms as a natural part of life, and the gods and deities as personifications - not ‘of nature’ [although they’re partially that] but on the level of archetypal psychology.

Anyway - they’re the kinds of thoughts that your post prompted in me, so again, welcome to DharmaWheel, hope you find it helpful in your search.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Greetings!

Post by DNS » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:09 am

Welcome to DW!


SuddenlySartre
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Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:01 pm

Re: Greetings!

Post by SuddenlySartre » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:08 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:23 am
Very intelligent first post. My background is similar but different, in that I was brought up in a religiously indifferent culture and family. I came to Buddhism through well-known books about popular eastern mysticism, such as Autobiography of a Yogi [copies of which Incidentally Steve Jobs had distributed at his funeral, as a matter of interest] and various other titles. I’m a sixties person, probably a generation older. Anyway, also studied Western philosophy and comparative religion among other things. Sartre, didn’t get at all, although I’ve started to understand him a little better. I’ve never been a Nietszche enthusiast although never did a formal unit in him. I’ve always had a strong aversion to scientific or philosophical materialism but on the other hand am to all intents fully engaged in secular culture and way of living.

So, to address some of the points you raise. I have met and listened to Stephen Bachelor and also own Buddhism without Beliefs. But I’ve decided he’s just a little too near scientific naturalism for my liking. Now, when I say that, I don’t actually intend it at all in a pejorative sense, as many people nowadays instinctively assume that ‘the scientific worldview’ is authoritative and definitive and it does have many things going for it. But at the end of the day it’s a very recent arrival in terms of cultural maturity and has often thrown the baby of spiritual wisdom out with the bathwater of religious dogma. But having said that, Stephen Bachelor is a warm speaker and teacher and a very courteous and learned person, so I don’t at all wish to convey any sense of hostility - more a sense of critical evaluation. [I note, in his favour, that he will frequently include critical reviews of his books on his website.]

Now there’s a really good web article here which is posted on one of the sites Stephen Bachelor is associated with. Well worth reading.

The other point I will mention briefly, even though it’s quite an important matter, is the difficulty of conceptualising or framing the deeper aspects of spirituality. This is because so much of the post-Enlightenment mentality has been defined specifically to exclude ‘the religious’ that it has almost become like a psychic shadow, in a kind of ‘don’t mention the war’ kind of way. Something I learned from the Indian attitude to spirituality, is to take spirituality and religion in all of its hues and forms as a natural part of life, and the gods and deities as personifications - not ‘of nature’ [although they’re partially that] but on the level of archetypal psychology.

Anyway - they’re the kinds of thoughts that your post prompted in me, so again, welcome to DharmaWheel, hope you find it helpful in your search.

:namaste:
Thank you, that gave me a decent amount to chew on. I sense that the secular angle is a narrow distillation of the underlying themes in Buddhism. The distillation made the idea click for me, as I have materialist leanings, but materialism doesn't feel like where I will ultimately end up.

Do you have any suggestions for material, lectures, books, people that I should look into to temper the Batchelor/Wright view? It's been very helpful to me but I do want a more rounded understanding. I can listen to audiobooks at work so I have at least a few hours a day to digest material.

I resonate very much with the idea of taking the deities to represent archetypal psychology. I have been dabbling in that area recently through Jung and a couple of his contemporaries, to the chagrin of my BS in psych (the acronym is so fitting... haha). It's why I do still want to look at the religious parts of Buddhism, because that is also going to have important commentary on the human psyche.

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Re: Greetings!

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:41 pm

Well, what comes to mind are some reviews and essays.

What Meditation can do for us, and what it can’t - Adam Gopnk reviews Robert Wright, New Yorker

David Loy reviews Stephen Bachelor’s Confessions of a Buddhist
Atheist. Another review by B. Alan Wallace.

Bhikkhu Bodhi reviews Bachelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs

Another essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi on the general subject of secularism in Buddhism, Facing the Great Divide

The OP I linked to in my first response by Akinko Weber, was written as a response to the Facing the Great Divide article. It presents what I consider a pretty decent middle path attitude:
If as secular Buddhists we are to be more than just secularists, we need to sift through Buddhist traditions with as little prejudgement as possible. This means actually trying to understand things like ethical conditionality (kamma-vipāka), renewed becoming (punabbhava), the status of the supramundane (lokuttara) and the role of absorptions (jhāna) – rather than just trying to write them off because they sit uncomfortably with Western values and current beliefs.
That’s the crux of the issue as far as I’m concerned. The issue is that, coming from a secular culture, there’s a kind of unstated taboo against what is considered ‘supernatural’ which covers a very wide sweep. Questioning that doesn’t mean abandoning scepticism or science, but being highly aware and critically reflective of the boundary between science and ‘scientism’.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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