Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

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Loving
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Loving » Mon May 06, 2019 8:35 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:13 pm
There's nothing wrong with the scientific method.
The problem lies in the metaphysical assumptions left unchecked that underlie scientific materialism. These run so deep and we adopted them from such an early age that they became invisible. This closes doors you won't imagine when it comes to insight.

One of the most problematic premises is the assumption that there is an universe out there that exists objectively on its own and a subject right here that is truly existent. Seems more or less inocuous, no? Yet, until you grow out of this belief you'll block your progress. So how do you do it? Some people find it easy as their minds are less prone to doubt and don't dwell too much on these subjects. Others, usually those who have enough intellectual skills to reason correctly, fortunately have literary support to make them question at an intellectual level those premises. When reasons are found, first intellectually, then through insight, to question these hidden assumptions, interesting things start to happen.

So, in a nutshell, the biggest problem of secularized buddhism is not so much that it tries to earn scientific validation, but that at his root lies hidden a metaphysical belief system that makes progress and the wisdom it entails impossible. It's like trying to grow a tree by planting it in poisoned soil. Even if it survives, it will be seriously crooked.
:good:

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon May 06, 2019 10:54 pm

Thomas Amundsen wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 3:50 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 5:23 am
But "traditional" Buddhism is not necessarily the best guide to what the Buddha actually taught. For better or for worse, it's the Buddha's teachings filtered through generations of monastics in several different societies and infused with folk traditions and superstitions of each society it has passed through.
It's true that the whole notion of "returning to the original teachings" is akin to Protestantism, but it's also true that our best approximation to the original teachings (according to the scholars) are the Pali/Sanskrit sutras and that they are more "rational and science-y" than traditional Buddhism.
To each his (her) own!
"According to the scholars" is kind of a big thing to bracket out, on a forum for Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.
All I wanted to achieve by bracketing out academic research into Buddhist history was to suggest that belief in it is a matter of choice - that anyone is free to accept it or reject it, just as they are free to accept or reject pretas, tantra, scriptures hidden in naga caves, "engaged Buddhism", etc, etc.
The thread started, after all, with -
Loving wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 9:38 am
Through discussion on my post about the secularisation of Buddhism through scientific discovery, I began to perceive that "Buddhism" is a somewhat broader concept than "accepting and obeying Gotama". ...

Now the question. If it is not historical evidence or metaphysical reasoning, what do all these Buddhists ground themselves in? Where is the "Buddhism" in Engaged Buddhism? How are you supposed to know what the dharma is?
- so everything is up for discussion.
Personally, I think there's a lot to be learned from Western-style academic research. But (to say it again) to each his (her) own!

:namaste:
Kim

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue May 07, 2019 1:18 am

There exists what are purported to be the teachings of the Buddha,
written down a hundred years after he is said to have spoken them,
in a language he did not use,
and some 5,000 miles away from where he is said to have spoken them.
Those teachings are referred to as the Buddha Dharma But of course, you already know that).
Buddh means "awake"
Buddh[iism[/i] then basically means, "awake-ism".
Buddha didn't make up "awake-ism". He didn't invent it. He merely revealed a truth.
Anybody might have revealed it, a year earlier or a day later, but they didn't.
Likewise, one day, someone realized that if you rub two dry sticks together to create friction,
it can produce fire.
Nobody knows who that was. maybe it was a prehistoric Buddha!
However, if you rub two dry sticks together to create friction,
it can produce fire which is just as authentic, which will produce heat and light exactly as it did in prehistoric times.
The test of the authenticity of the Buddha's teachings is to read them (or hear a teaching), study them, and meditate on them
...and then see if you get awakened?
no, but see if they are true for you and your life situation, your mind.
If they aren't true for you and your own situation, your own mind,
then it doesn't matter if they are authentic or not.
.
.
.
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muni
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by muni » Tue May 07, 2019 7:59 am

We need to use scriptures and all what is us given "from the past" with respect and gratitude. But to cling to it as authentic is not why we use it at all.
Because liberating Dharma is not historical, is timeless. The liberating Dharma is what we need to discover each for ourselves by all means we receive, and then there will be no doubt anymore, no arguing, no proving. Perhaps that is the sign of "right". Right without an opposing wrong. And by this sectarian or not sectarian is neither an existence.

Guru Rinpoche to Yeshe Tsogyal: you are not enlightened through fabricated dharmas, not through explained dharmas, not through indicated dharmas, not through cultivated dharmas. Since these are conditioned, are compounded, constructed. While all these temporary dharma is a help for us, but not to grasp them as then these impermanent compounded phenomena turn in " the truth". Each samsaric war starts with "such truth". That truth is not truth.

The path of awakening can be painful, is not a luxury walk, because of our habits and believes in our independent self.
Naropa for example, a respected scholar, went to look for his Master, since he wished to go beyond the understanding of all explained dharmas.
Naropa had to go through many hardships. There can as well be doubt whether these hardships were authentic in accordance with the historical Buddha or not.

Respect and gratitude for all guidance and all explained dharmas, helping us and pointing to what cannot be explained... _/\_

...making liberation of our doubts possible. _/\_
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Brunelleschi
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Brunelleschi » Tue May 07, 2019 8:54 am

muni wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 7:59 am
We need to use scriptures and all what is us given "from the past" with respect and gratitude. But to cling to it as authentic is not why we use it at all.
I see where you're coming from regarding "clinging" but I disagree on this point. Of course we as Mahayanists consider the Mahayna teachings as authentic and legitimate. Just as we consider the historical Buddha an authentic and legitimate teacher.

£$&^@
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by £$&^@ » Tue May 07, 2019 9:14 am

Loving wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 8:35 pm
Dechen Norbu wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:13 pm
There's nothing wrong with the scientific method.
The problem lies in the metaphysical assumptions left unchecked that underlie scientific materialism. These run so deep and we adopted them from such an early age that they became invisible. This closes doors you won't imagine when it comes to insight.

One of the most problematic premises is the assumption that there is an universe out there that exists objectively on its own and a subject right here that is truly existent. Seems more or less inocuous, no? Yet, until you grow out of this belief you'll block your progress. So how do you do it? Some people find it easy as their minds are less prone to doubt and don't dwell too much on these subjects. Others, usually those who have enough intellectual skills to reason correctly, fortunately have literary support to make them question at an intellectual level those premises. When reasons are found, first intellectually, then through insight, to question these hidden assumptions, interesting things start to happen.

So, in a nutshell, the biggest problem of secularized buddhism is not so much that it tries to earn scientific validation, but that at his root lies hidden a metaphysical belief system that makes progress and the wisdom it entails impossible. It's like trying to grow a tree by planting it in poisoned soil. Even if it survives, it will be seriously crooked.
:good:
Seconded..... :good:
My name is Simon John Ellis. Husband of a Buddhist wife. Father of a Buddhist son. And I will have Enlightenment in this life or the next.

( Or the next..or the next....)

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by mikenz66 » Tue May 07, 2019 10:25 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:45 am
You're probably thinking about Humanistic Buddhism if you're thinking about Taiwan. It's a movement which is more "engaged" with lay concerns than some others, true, but doesn't use the label as TNH does, and doesn't have any direct connection with "Engaged Buddhism" as such. Here's wikipedia's overview - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Buddhism.
I'm puzzled by this statement, unless you are simply talking about names...
The local Fo Guang Shan (who I know via Huifeng..) seem at least as engaged as any other Buddhists I've come across... They have real community involvement, for example providing food and shelter after our earthquakes, and the NZ Abbess likes to say that service is her practice (though she's obviously has a very thorough training in other aspects of Dharma...).

:heart:
Mike

Loving
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Loving » Tue May 07, 2019 10:30 am

I find the words in the posts by PadmaVonSamba and muni extremely nourishing, and I am very grateful to you both for offering them. :smile: As to the necessity of accepting Buddha or specific teachings as true and authentic... there is a sense in which that is completely accurate—see my earlier post on Ven. Walpola's ten points of Buddhism—but at the same time, there seems to be an aspect of the path that repudiates clinging to views, advancing creeds, as it is a barrier both to ethical conduct and to deeper insight free of dogma. For example, the aforementioned Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in Living Buddha, Living Christ:
The second precept of the Order of Interbeing, founded within the Zen Buddhist tradition during the war in Vietnam, is about letting go of views: “Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.” To me, this is the most essential practice of peace.
Not to mention the considerable social ramifications of this approach, I know in my own personal case as a natural sceptic that if Buddhism was presented to me as "first you accept a, b, c, d, ... l, m, and n, and then you may practice dharma", the whole enterprise would have been a non-starter, and I really would have opted for scholarship. Of course, what I am advocating here is that we are both correct, but there is also an aspect of pragmatism which is too important to overlook.

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by muni » Tue May 07, 2019 10:34 am

Brunelleschi wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:54 am
muni wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 7:59 am
We need to use scriptures and all what is us given "from the past" with respect and gratitude. But to cling to it as authentic is not why we use it at all.
I see where you're coming from regarding "clinging" but I disagree on this point. Of course we as Mahayanists consider the Mahayna teachings as authentic and legitimate. Just as we consider the historical Buddha an authentic and legitimate teacher.
Okay. Of course we follow the given dharma teachings as long as we recognize our grasping and craving ( rejecting-accepting) or 'our' Dharma risks to become poison instead of medicine, because we become victim of the dividing mind. Then: the Buddha said, the Buddha did not said….H H Dalai Lama made it clear that even the authentic Buddha Dharma can be used as poison instead of medicine when aversion attachment remains. It is even senseless then to call "oneself a follower of the Buddha".

We must have faith, trust very much, yes! But if we cling and so compare our teachings and practices, with so perceived others and we say theirs are not as good as mine, then we judge, lack any compassion by insight. Therefore we need teaching. We need to be free from the belief in a true right self and true less good other selves or whatever selves, which is not the teaching of the Buddha.
The teaching is to purify our perception and then there are no objects authentic or not.


Of course we study the authentic teachings, not to use to fight, and follow Compassionate Selfless Master, killing all samsaric habits.

Homage to all Buddhas, which are selfless nature. _/\_ _/\_ _/\_
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue May 07, 2019 11:38 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 10:25 am
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:45 am
You're probably thinking about Humanistic Buddhism if you're thinking about Taiwan. It's a movement which is more "engaged" with lay concerns than some others, true, but doesn't use the label as TNH does, and doesn't have any direct connection with "Engaged Buddhism" as such. Here's wikipedia's overview - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Buddhism.
I'm puzzled by this statement, unless you are simply talking about names...
The local Fo Guang Shan (who I know via Huifeng..) seem at least as engaged as any other Buddhists I've come across... They have real community involvement, for example providing food and shelter after our earthquakes, and the NZ Abbess likes to say that service is her practice (though she's obviously has a very thorough training in other aspects of Dharma...).

:heart:
Mike
I was simply (or mostly) talking about the names.
TNH and his group use the label "Engaged Buddhism", while Fo Guang Shan uses the label "Humanistic Buddhism."
Bhikkhu Bodhi and "Buddhist Global Relief" https://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/in ... nd-mission are also very clearly engaged Buddhists, while not having any formal connection to either of the other two groups or using the "Engaged Buddhism" label.
There are also many individual Buddhists who are not members of any formal "Engaged Buddhist" group but make engagement in community work a significant part of their practice.

I think that if we're talking about "Engaged Buddhism" as a formal group, it's TNH's group; but if we're talking about it as an approach to dharma, it's far bigger and it's fuzzy around the edges.

:namaste:
Kim

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Brunelleschi
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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Brunelleschi » Tue May 07, 2019 2:06 pm

muni wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 10:34 am
Brunelleschi wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:54 am
muni wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 7:59 am
We need to use scriptures and all what is us given "from the past" with respect and gratitude. But to cling to it as authentic is not why we use it at all.
I see where you're coming from regarding "clinging" but I disagree on this point. Of course we as Mahayanists consider the Mahayna teachings as authentic and legitimate. Just as we consider the historical Buddha an authentic and legitimate teacher.
Okay. Of course we follow the given dharma teachings as long as we recognize our grasping and craving ( rejecting-accepting) or 'our' Dharma risks to become poison instead of medicine, because we become victim of the dividing mind. Then: the Buddha said, the Buddha did not said….H H Dalai Lama made it clear that even the authentic Buddha Dharma can be used as poison instead of medicine when aversion attachment remains. It is even senseless then to call "oneself a follower of the Buddha".

We must have faith, trust very much, yes! But if we cling and so compare our teachings and practices, with so perceived others and we say theirs are not as good as mine, then we judge, lack any compassion by insight. Therefore we need teaching. We need to be free from the belief in a true right self and true less good other selves or whatever selves, which is not the teaching of the Buddha.
The teaching is to purify our perception and then there are no objects authentic or not.


Of course we study the authentic teachings, not to use to fight, and follow Compassionate Selfless Master, killing all samsaric habits.

Homage to all Buddhas, which are selfless nature. _/\_ _/\_ _/\_
Hi muni,

Thanks for your input. I think HH Dalai Lama is talking in terms of religious coexistence. Obviously there is an inherent danger in clinging too much to certain aspects of the tradition - as we see constantly e.g. in Syria, Myanmar, etcetera.

Well, what the Buddha said was important. Even the finer points of it. If the motivation is correct (i.e. identify the cause of suffering and its end), I see no problem with dwelling on it.

When you're talking about teachings and practices - do you mean within our outside the tradition? Inside the tradition I believe it's often pointless to debate the "efficacy" of one practice compared to another. Good things seldom come out of it. Outside the tradition it's a little different. Of course "we" (I), believe that Dharma is closer to truth than other traditions - otherwise I wouldn't follow it. :anjali:

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by muni » Tue May 07, 2019 4:18 pm

When you're talking about teachings and practices - do you mean within our outside the tradition? Inside the tradition I believe it's often pointless to debate the "efficacy" of one practice compared to another. Good things seldom come out of it. Outside the tradition it's a little different. Of course "we" (I), believe that Dharma is closer to truth than other traditions - otherwise I wouldn't follow it.
You mean with other traditions, other religions. Perhaps few fellows here have studied comparative religions. They would throw a light on these. This is possible without aversion or attachment.
I would say Dharma to see how fundamental ignorance and so suffering arises is enough for me and takes certainly already many lives. Then there is nothing outside *inseparable dependence-emptiness* :anjali:
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by boda » Tue May 07, 2019 11:31 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:13 pm
There's nothing wrong with the scientific method.
The problem lies in the metaphysical assumptions left unchecked that underlie scientific materialism. These run so deep and we adopted them from such an early age that they became invisible. This closes doors you won't imagine when it comes to insight.

One of the most problematic premises is the assumption that there is an universe out there that exists objectively on its own and a subject right here that is truly existent. Seems more or less inocuous, no? Yet, until you grow out of this belief you'll block your progress. So how do you do it? Some people find it easy as their minds are less prone to doubt and don't dwell too much on these subjects. Others, usually those who have enough intellectual skills to reason correctly, fortunately have literary support to make them question at an intellectual level those premises. When reasons are found, first intellectually, then through insight, to question these hidden assumptions, interesting things start to happen.

So, in a nutshell, the biggest problem of secularized buddhism is not so much that it tries to earn scientific validation, but that at his root lies hidden a metaphysical belief system that makes progress and the wisdom it entails impossible. It's like trying to grow a tree by planting it in poisoned soil. Even if it survives, it will be seriously crooked.
You may have noticed that many health trees are naturally crooked. Trees that grow in poisoned soil die. Anyway, I'm curious about how exactly people express this 'crookedness' in practice. Say we have a 'straight' practitioner and a 'crooked' practitioner. What's the difference in their actual practice? Simply that the former can progress and the latter cannot? Can you site any studies that can support this claim?

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 08, 2019 12:57 am

I feel like it is appropriate to say that Buddha is my guru. I'm not sure it's accurate to call him my "savior" however - even though Buddhism is highly soteriological in orientation. Does that mean my interpretation is secular? Or does it mean I don't divide the secular aspect from other aspects? I find the categorical thinking (science-ism, secularism, humanism, engaged) to be weird parallels to the same dilemmas that go by the same names in the Christian world, to feel comfortable with it. And I am loathe to judge a category, I think that's just silly. I do see a lot of smoke and mirrors around all these categories being pumped up by the Buddhist media outlets. My guess is, when the smoke settles what we will see, is those who act on hard evidence will have moved forward, while the other ones fade away. And mostly this will stem from funding lines of research agendas, whereas soap box pontificating has a way of becoming quirky historical oddities. As far as science goes, we may all have some total surprises in store for us.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 08, 2019 2:58 am

But in response to the video with Batchelor and Peacock, and their agreement on seeking out this "historical Buddha" or the message of "Early Buddhism" (pre-schism) - i think this discussion is lost due to the lack of understanding what created this schism in the first place, firstly, and secondly the glossing over what promulgated early Mahayana. In part this is the interest in extracting a clinical Pali view because of it's superficial resemblance, but its a resemblance that breaks down under critical analysis, to western modes of thinking. Donald Lopez comes right out and states that Buddhism is a religion, it involves miracles, secret teachings, yoga, and all kinds of things common to Eastern religion in general, even superstition, but also encompasses great diversity. I think this is a much better premise than trying to discover the "original" and "early" Buddha. Why? Because all of that is ALSO in the suttas, and then in the early Mahayana, in Vajrayana, even in Pure Land. Batchelor can't see the thread of continuity throughout all Buddhists, but I believe that such continuity does in fact exist. Buddhism today is contaminated with a Western logic-driven mentality that sadly, does not encompass the entirety of human existence. It can't even explain "mothers' intuition"

Sorry if I'm rambling and have said all this before. My power level went over 9000 today and I'm trying to calm back down.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by muni » Wed May 08, 2019 8:07 am

Now the question. If it is not historical evidence or metaphysical reasoning, what do all these Buddhists ground themselves in? Where is the "Buddhism" in Engaged Buddhism? How are you supposed to know what the dharma is?
I was yesterday too quick and was not carefully reading. Now I see this, engaged Buddhism. I think the teachings, studies and meditation, contemplation is not just in words or on our cushion, it must shine in daily life. But my delusions or carelessness, that should not shine.
I once was in Thailand, where the Theravada is taught. There amazing care for an injured one of our group, a stranger, but people closed their shop and invited us with tea and medical help, just as we were their own children. Therefore I think it is not just dependent on Mahayana or Theravada tradition but very much on the practitioners.
In Mahayana ( and Vajrayana as part of it) Bodhichitta is of great importance in the teachings of course. I guess none of us repeat Chenrezig mantra and wishes then to go to harm whatever fellows. And I guess none of us sit on their soft warm cushion reading precious texts and then wishes to neglect poor ones in the cold, sick or sad ones…( aware of Nihilism) And since we learn the four immeasurables, all beings are included, all in each direction. Or at least this is kind of aim, even we can fail time by time. Teachings of Bodhichitta say: we can experience the results of making others happy, helping; it releases our own sorrows.
"If you like so much to be selfish, do it good, care about others, this is the best way." ( H H Dalai Lama)

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.

Thich Nath Hanh, Loving mentioned. He is always in gently way encouraging practice, and courage most can use! (Discouraging-disrespecting fellows in whatever way, is actually destroying our practice.)The Vietnamese Master is giving the example together with HH Dalai Lama and many other in Engaded Buddhism. And indeed hanging on views can block us, we then are stuck in practice. The viewless view was once said, that cannot any longer stuck.

For me, the Historical Buddha was an emanation of Wisdom's Compassion.
Since I have been focusing on trying to understand pre-sectarian Buddhism
Could there be sectarian in Bodhichitta?
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Loving » Wed May 08, 2019 10:30 am

I wholeheartedly agree that it is not wise or understanding to create the divisive dichotomy "either secular or Buddhist, but not both". To the extent that we may have done this here, it does not come from bodhicitta. It instead comes from the desire to express a particular concern. This concern, in my case, is not with conscious beliefs: "I am Buddhist", "I am Christian", "I am Muslim", "I am secular". Such beliefs are no problem. The problem is with unconscious beliefs: "Reality is samsara and nirvana", "All goodness is God/Allah", "Everything that exists is physical". These unconscious beliefs are embedded into people by virtue of their cultural background. Because they are both highly abstract and conventional, it is difficult to inspire people to question them. The result is that once Buddhism is taken into a different cultural environment there will be these blind spots toward aspects of Buddhism that do not agree with theism or physicalism. It is clinging of an unconscious kind toward abstract beliefs, and this is a serious obstacle to the communication and understanding between cultures and traditions.

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Loving » Wed May 08, 2019 11:42 am

I want to clarify that I am absolutely not saying that Buddhists have a "correct" unconscious belief and this has to supplant the "incorrect" beliefs of other worldviews. I am saying that the whole idea of seeing the world in terms of belief keeps us divided.

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by muni » Wed May 08, 2019 11:59 am

The problem is with unconscious beliefs: "Reality is samsara and nirvana", "All goodness is God/Allah", "Everything that exists is physical". These unconscious beliefs are embedded into people by virtue of their cultural background. Because they are both highly abstract and conventional, it is difficult to inspire people to question them. The result is that once Buddhism is taken into a different cultural environment there will be these blind spots toward aspects of Buddhism that do not agree with theism or physicalism. It is clinging of an unconscious kind toward abstract beliefs, and this is a serious obstacle to the communication and understanding between cultures and traditions.
It is possible to communicate with all fellows, or at least a Moslim woman who became a friend taught me that by her behaviour. We were together walking in the mountains. Many yaks where passing us and she was really afraid of their huge horns on those narrow ways . Therefore a local chased them loudly away, while those poor animals were having it hard already, with heavy loads on their backs.

She said; don't do, let them peaceful pass!

She showed respect in the Buddhist monastery, greeted people in the way she was greeted, while it was not her habitual way to greet at all. I told her she could take her time and pray in the way she wanted during the time we were together. She answered: Thank you, I can do that in my mind.

I tell this because she gave an example how we can be harmonious, can respect each other and can live together without a division by religion.

And this means not we should accept all neither. At all!

But it is a problem by subtle grasping to views as being defined reality, to make harmonious living together possible. This makes Bodhichitta not possible. ( rejection-acceptation)
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Buddhism and the Historical Buddha

Post by Dechen Norbu » Wed May 08, 2019 5:02 pm

boda wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 11:31 pm
Dechen Norbu wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:13 pm
There's nothing wrong with the scientific method.
The problem lies in the metaphysical assumptions left unchecked that underlie scientific materialism. These run so deep and we adopted them from such an early age that they became invisible. This closes doors you won't imagine when it comes to insight.

One of the most problematic premises is the assumption that there is an universe out there that exists objectively on its own and a subject right here that is truly existent. Seems more or less inocuous, no? Yet, until you grow out of this belief you'll block your progress. So how do you do it? Some people find it easy as their minds are less prone to doubt and don't dwell too much on these subjects. Others, usually those who have enough intellectual skills to reason correctly, fortunately have literary support to make them question at an intellectual level those premises. When reasons are found, first intellectually, then through insight, to question these hidden assumptions, interesting things start to happen.

So, in a nutshell, the biggest problem of secularized buddhism is not so much that it tries to earn scientific validation, but that at his root lies hidden a metaphysical belief system that makes progress and the wisdom it entails impossible. It's like trying to grow a tree by planting it in poisoned soil. Even if it survives, it will be seriously crooked.
You may have noticed that many health trees are naturally crooked. Trees that grow in poisoned soil die. Anyway, I'm curious about how exactly people express this 'crookedness' in practice. Say we have a 'straight' practitioner and a 'crooked' practitioner. What's the difference in their actual practice? Simply that the former can progress and the latter cannot? Can you site any studies that can support this claim?
Those are very good questions. I'm not sure my answer will be as good, but I can try.

First, though, perhaps we shouldn't abuse the analogy I used. Maybe we can say that when a tree grows crooked, something went wrong. I used the poison analogy because it would affect negatively the growth of the tree from birth from a hidden place (similarly to the hidden metaphysical assumptions that would block the practitioner's progress). I think the gist of it isn't tottaly off the mark, but since I'm not a botanist I couldn't say for sure. If we were talking about keeping bad friends , maybe I would compare them to the wind. Anyway, I think it sufises, but maybe you can suggest a better one.

Now, about the questions themselves. They are very pertinent. If I say that practicing under the influence of a certain belief system other than the one on which Buddhadharma is laid harms progress, the obvious question is how the hell do I know? I mean, obvioisly I don't have a "buddhometer" to evaluate anyone else's realization. It would be great if such an instrument existed.

So, may we tackle this issue? I would say, ask the experts, right? And you could rightly ask, who's to say who's an expert and who isn't? I think it works similarly as with any field of knowledge. The peers know very well who's who in their comunity. For instance, if you ask an advanced mathematician who are the top dogs in his discipline, he'll point you a few. Likewise, if you top notch practitioners know who has real attainments and who only blows his own horn for mundane reasons. Then it's a matter of listening to their advice.

However, those of a more skeptical disposition may think that those supposed experts are but a bunch of religious dudes with vested interests. It's conceivable. With a more thorough look such person would discover that there are people considered very advanced whose mundane gain of upholding a certain interpretation of Dharma is not perceived. Or they are very good at hidding it and have tremendous patience to wait for a decade or more in retreat (some their entire life) so that they can enjoy those alleged mundane benefits or they are actually on to something.

The litmus test is, nevertheless, a DIY method. Try, persevere and find out. But do it as it's been done for many years. If you risk and decide to try one of those new forms of secularized Buddhism, it will be hard for you to draw any conclusions about the traditional stuff based on anything but baseless opinion.

Alright, this is getting long. Let me just try to express some ideas about the difference between a practitioner of the traditional Buddhadharma and of something else. The path starts and ends with right view. A positive feedback loop. View guides practice that refines the view and so on. There will come a point where wrong views will lead you astray and you'll hardly experience further progress. When you practice, there will be obstacles and challanges. There will be signs and certain experiences. When these happen, you'll have to know what to do to move further. Secularized buddhism has no answers for this that I know of.

OK, probably you can poke a lot of holes in my answer, and I invite you to do so. I'm a bit short on time now and if I continued I wouldn't be respecting you and my further comments would lack clarity. So, let's keep this going. I'm sorry if my answer isn't as good as you wished, but that will have to do for the time being.

Yours are good, important questions. Maybe someone more knowledgeable steps in and lends a hand.

See you soon!

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