Dharma Decline

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maybay
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by maybay » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:45 pm

anjali wrote:Just recently (Nov 5), there was a science news article with the title,Religious upbringing linked to less altruism, study of children suggests. Here is the conclusion:
The negative relation between religiosity and altruism grew stronger with age; children with a longer experience of religion in the household were the least likely to share.

Children from religious households favored stronger punishments for anti-social behavior and judged such behavior more harshly than non-religious children. These results support previous studies of adults, which have found religiousness is linked with punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offenses.

"Together, these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children's altruism. They challenge the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior, and call into question whether religion is vital for moral development -- suggesting the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact, it does just the opposite," Decety said.
I can imagine a similar study to determine the economic productivity gains of education. Can you guess how much more productive the uneducated 5-12 year olds in agrarian communities would be? 12 year olds are more concerned with obedience and fitting into their social structure than liberal altruism.

On the matter of punishments, its well known that people who advocate harsh punishments, once they step into the jury box, consider their rulings quite differently. And as far as I know 12 year olds are not considered morally mature enough for jury duty.

Another hyped up study with an agenda. :zzz:
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by anjali » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:11 am

maybay wrote:Another hyped up study with an agenda. :zzz:
Just to be clear. You are saying there is a overt bias in the experimental design of this study?
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by dharmagoat » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:13 am

YesheDronmar wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Buddhism defines 'the dharma'.
Not for me.
I'm with Malcolm on this one.
So where do you get your definition of 'the dharma' from? And how is it not influenced by Buddhism?

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by maybay » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:30 am

anjali wrote:
maybay wrote:Another hyped up study with an agenda. :zzz:
Just to be clear. You are saying there is a overt bias in the experimental design of this study?
This is the 2nd time today I hear of this study. The first tweeted by an atheist constitutional law expert I respect apart from his bullshit habit of taking pot shots at religions of every stripe. The dictator game is not full proof for determining altruism in any case. (See Nicholas Bardsley's paper.) There are other studies about the importance of norms in such situations. Expecting altruism toward anonymous players strikes me as bias against personable, charismatic religious folk. And what does prosocial mean for a religious person anyway? Muslims institutionalise their altruism. It's one of the pillars of Islam. Dyou think that can be replicated in an experiment with stickers and strangers?
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by tingdzin » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:38 am

Oh, rats, should have started a new thread. Moderators, is there ay way to separate the posts of those replying to the dharma decline in Jaoan thread from those replying to the "What is sacred?" issue, perhaps putting the latter in a different thread? If not, I'll start a new one, as both subthreads have interesting things going on. The posts in the "sacred" thread would be Wayfarer's, Kim O'Hara's, Jesse's, and Anjali's.

Now split: http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=21210
:namaste:
Last edited by tingdzin on Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

Arjan Dirkse
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by Arjan Dirkse » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:45 am

maybay wrote: With what reason and what faith would people have to investigate and practice a dead religion?
I don't mind all that much...Buddhism as it exists may disappear from our current human civilization eventually. Who cares, It's just another "ism".

If it contains anything worthwhile, and I think it does, then that will be rediscovered. Maybe it will be called differently, but dharma is dharma. What's real is real regardless of tradition or lineage. If anyone is really upset about the decline in offical members of the Buddha fanclub, then I am not sure they really took his teachings to heart.

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by YesheDronmar » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:55 am

We see the dharma through the lens of institutional Buddhism. [/quote]

[/quote]
Even the guru-disciple relationship is an institution.[/quote]

Maybay, can you say more about your sense of the guru-disciple relationship being an institution? I'd like to hear more about what you mean.

Thanks.

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by maybay » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:57 am

Go forth for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction. Teach the Dharma which is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Proclaim both the letter and the spirit of the holy life completely fulfilled and perfectly pure.

I shall not die until the monks, the nuns, the laymen and the laywomen have become deeply learned, wise and well-trained, remembering the teachings, proficient in the lesser and greater doctrines and virtuous; until, having learned the teachings themselves, they are able to tell it to others, teach it, make it known, establish it, open it up, explain it and make it clear; until they are able to refute false doctrines taught by others and are able to spread the convincing and liberating truth abroad. I shall not die until the holy life has become successful, prosperous, undespised and popular; until it has become well proclaimed among both gods and men.

Time to rediscover it Arjan.
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by YesheDronmar » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:02 am

maybay wrote:Go forth for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction. Teach the Dharma which is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Proclaim both the letter and the spirit of the holy life completely fulfilled and perfectly pure.

I shall not die until the monks, the nuns, the laymen and the laywomen have become deeply learned, wise and well-trained, remembering the teachings, proficient in the lesser and greater doctrines and virtuous; until, having learned the teachings themselves, they are able to tell it to others, teach it, make it known, establish it, open it up, explain it and make it clear; until they are able to refute false doctrines taught by others and are able to spread the convincing and liberating truth abroad. I shall not die until the holy life has become successful, prosperous, undespised and popular; until it has become well proclaimed among both gods and men.

Time to rediscover it Arjan.
this is sublime. thank you for posting this, mayday. what is the source?

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by maybay » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:38 am

YesheDronmar wrote:Maybay, can you say more about your sense of the guru-disciple relationship being an institution? I'd like to hear more about what you mean.
Yes of course. The guru-disciple relationship is a very special relationship. All guru-disciple relationships are lineages that originate from the primordial Buddha. They have their own power and momentum like a wheel that has been sent spinning or a vehicle in motion. Like the precepts for monks and nuns, the lineages were not taught at the outset of Buddha Shakyamuni's dispensation. They developed gradually as a flowering of the Dharma, and that's what makes them so precious. Such things cannot be revived from a library. Dharma texts only came later as an aid to memory of the monks and the living tradition of transmitting the Dharma. If the tradition of teaching the Dharma is lost it will take another Buddha to bring it back. Why let that happen? Support your Sangha.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... ples06.htm
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by YesheDronmar » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:03 am

maybay wrote:
YesheDronmar wrote:Maybay, can you say more about your sense of the guru-disciple relationship being an institution? I'd like to hear more about what you mean.
Yes of course. The guru-disciple relationship is a very special relationship. All guru-disciple relationships are lineages that originate from the primordial Buddha. They have their own power and momentum like a wheel that has been sent spinning or a vehicle in motion. Like the precepts for monks and nuns, the lineages were not taught at the outset of Buddha Shakyamuni's dispensation. They developed gradually as a flowering of the Dharma, and that's what makes them so precious. Such things cannot be revived from a library. Dharma texts only came later as an aid to memory of the monks and the living tradition of transmitting the Dharma. If the tradition of teaching the Dharma is lost it will take another Buddha to bring it back. Why let that happen? Support your Sangha.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... ples06.htm
I agree with you on this, maybay, yet I don't understand why you think this makes the guru-disciple relationship an institution? Can you say more about your views on that specifically?

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by anjali » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:17 am

maybay wrote:This is the 2nd time today I hear of this study. The first tweeted by an atheist constitutional law expert I respect apart from his bullshit habit of taking pot shots at religions of every stripe. The dictator game is not full proof for determining altruism in any case. (See Nicholas Bardsley's paper.) There are other studies about the importance of norms in such situations. Expecting altruism toward anonymous players strikes me as bias against personable, charismatic religious folk. And what does prosocial mean for a religious person anyway? Muslims institutionalise their altruism. It's one of the pillars of Islam. Dyou think that can be replicated in an experiment with stickers and strangers?
Looked into Bardsley's paper, Altruism or Artefact? A Note on Dictator Game Giving. A good paper with valid points. For me, the interesting experimental question is: would we expect secular people to be more, about the same, or less inclined toward giving behavior than religious people, within the context of a simple allocation game with no possibility of extrinsic reward. Most religious people have a bias that secular people are somehow inherently more selfish and less altruistic since they don't have religious moral training. Personally, I would have thought that results of the dictator game would have been about the same for both secular and religious groups, with neither group being more or less altruistic. It should be noted that the study is incomplete because the sample size was big enough to evaluate only Christians, Muslims and atheists. Buddhists, and other faiths, were not significantly represented.

The other part of the study involved moral sensitivity (passing judgement and punishment). The results there were no surprise to me.

The whole point of this, in a round-about way, is that a rise in secularism doesn't necessarily imply a decline in ethical (altruistic) behavior, or even spirituality (ala Solomon mentioned earlier). That is a very different situation than the relationship between the rise of secularism and the decline of dharma. There are clearly aspects of secularism antithetical to propagation of the Dharma. After all, the Dharma is more than just ethics.
Last edited by anjali on Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by DGA » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:33 am

Arjan Dirkse wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
Arjan Dirkse wrote:The dharma is the dharma. It is not the corrupt institution of Buddhism.
We see the dharma through the lens of institutional Buddhism. Buddhism defines 'the dharma'. How can they not go hand in hand?
Buddhism has its definition of the dharma. That doesn't mean institutional Buddhism always goes hand in hand with what the dharma is.

Lots of informed people are rightfully critical towards organized religion, including Buddhism. I understand why people turn away, and I think it isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think religion is mostly a bag of shit with a few pearls in it. And it's not as if those pearls are going away just because people look in a different direction. With all the books and translations in libraries and websites all over the world, Buddhism is accessible like never before, when people look for it it will still be there. And there may even be a few good teachers they can turn to.
How is the Dharma transmitted in the absence of social institutions committed to the systematic practice and transmission of Dharma?

Parenthetically, I don't think a critical position necessarily coincides with an antinomian or antiestablishmentarian or anti-institutional position. Buddhist institutions have a long history of honing very effective dialecticians and debaters; if you want critical thought (in the Kantian sense of self-reflexive thought), can you do much better than Madhyamaka?

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by boda » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:53 am

maybay wrote:
boda wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I wouldn't mind at all (well, hardly at all) except that in losing religion we are losing ethics and morality (admittedly imperfect ethics and morality) faster than we can replace them with a more rationally based version of them.
That's a common assumption, but the facts tell a different story.

http://pitweb.pitzer.edu/academics/wp-c ... ompass.pdf
This type of simplistic quantitative study doesn't impress me much. There are so many problems with their methods, and as for the intention, it is nothing more than an attempt to validate a zero (atheism) with a whole lot of numbers. From the beginning they start with relying on each person's self-evaluation. "I am a Christian." OK, so what does that mean, really? It would be much more meaningful to examine actual practices. Person says prayers for 10 minutes every day, person goes to church every week, person donates a tenth of their earning to the church. Those might be statistics to base a study on. There is one example of that though:
As for suicide, however, regular church-attending Americans clearly have lower rates than non-attenders
And sure enough it's the only example that puts "believers" in a positive light.
And at the societal level, with the important exception of suicide, states and nations with a higher proportion of secular people fare markedly better than those with a higher proportion of religious people.
Just browsing through, some examples of the tyranny of statistics:
Some studies report that nonreligious people have higher rates of divorce than religious people (Hood, et al., 1996; Lehrer and Chiswick, 1993; Heaton and Call, 1997), but a 1999 Barna study found that atheists and agnostics actually have lower divorce rates than religious Americans.
Have they considered that non-religious people are less likely to get married in the first place, whereas religious people generally feel obliged? They don't say.
One consistent assertion made by religious people is that if a society or country loses faith in God, or becomes secular, the results won’t be good. It is a theo-sociological claim: societies characterized by significant levels of belief in God are expected to fare much better than those without. And it is a claim that is easily testable.
There's nothing easy about testing people or societies or religions, and here they've left out the most important part: the afterlife, coincidently the one statistic atheists are more willing to join.

Ananda was chided by the Buddha for thinking he understood the workings of karma. It is near worthless to draw conclusions about something as vague as claims to religious belief.
Does that include the conclusion that "in losing religion we are losing ethics and morality"?

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by odysseus » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:30 am

dharmagoat wrote:
odysseus wrote:Yeah, we all know the prophecy about Buddhism declining one fifth a part over every 500 years. And then again it will take 30000 (?) years more before Buddhism is totally forgotten and there will appear a new Buddha. Even if we're already 2500 years after Shakyamuni, there are still a few thousand years to go before it's gone. Buddhists will do their best and keep it alive. No problem with strange teachings in modern days, even with groups like NKT and Lama Nydahl and SGI. Those who are Buddhists don't have to worry until a few thousand years.
Yes, let's put full trust in the scriptures and get on with the serious business of disappearing up our own arses.
That's a bit harsh, Mr. Goat. If I get your meaning, yes we should not take scriptures blindly and we must know for ourselves. But I think this famous prophecy is true, if you think about history and look on the timeline. Yes, it's declining but it's going very slowly, no need for us to hide in a cave and still look with joy to reach Nirvana, for those who are truly interested.

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by dharmagoat » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:19 am

odysseus wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Yes, let's put full trust in the scriptures and get on with the serious business of disappearing up our own arses.
That's a bit harsh, Mr. Goat.
It was a bit. I was feeling emphatic at the time. Such comments do nothing to promote intelligent conversation.
odysseus wrote:If I get your meaning, yes we should not take scriptures blindly and we must know for ourselves.
Indeed. I could elaborate on that, but I have already established myself as an agnostic bore on this forum. Live and let live.

I really need to take my frustrations elsewhere. My apologies to you, Odysseus.

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by odysseus » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:32 am

dharmagoat wrote: I really need to take my frustrations elsewhere. My apologies to you, Odysseus.
Hi, man. I'm not offended at all, but this is a family forum, isn't it. Anyway, I've heard Buddhists shouldn't be provoked or upset by strong comments whether directed personally or not. But encouraged to speak civilized, like Gyalwa Longchenpa says: "To speak gentle words is my advice from the heart." :-)

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by dharmagoat » Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:19 am

odysseus wrote:Hi, man. I'm not offended at all, but this is a family forum, isn't it. Anyway, I've heard Buddhists shouldn't be provoked or upset by strong comments whether directed personally or not. But encouraged to speak civilized, like Gyalwa Longchenpa says: "To speak gentle words is my advice from the heart."
:anjali:

It is funny how we forget sometimes.

It has occurred to me that the Dharma in decline that I am so painfully aware of is the decline of Dharma within myself. The faith that I upheld for so many years now seems irrevocably lost, dissolved in the solvent of reason. It is a miserable state that I wouldn't wish for anyone, yet I find myself promoting it.

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by Serenity509 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:15 am

Please forgive me if I am wrong, but Nichiren, Honen, and Shinran believed they were in an age of Dharma decline due to their specific historical context. Kamakura-period Japan was a truly apocalyptic age, and we would have felt the same if we were there too. As far as today literally being an age of Dharma decline:
But anyway, the notion of Dharma Decline is pretty subjective, and the major Mahayana sutras don’t state that after 2,000 years, no one will be able to practice Buddhism anymore. Also, when you look at modern examples like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, among others, it’s pretty hard to take Dharma Decline seriously. Yes, Buddhism has changed and evolved since the time of the Buddha, and maybe isn’t “pristine” anymore,3 but it’s hard to say no one can practice it anymore. Also, when I hear Buddhists say “I am too foolish to put the teachings into practice”, I disagree.
http://jkllr.net/2014/09/09/the-pure-la ... en-debate/

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Re: Dharma Decline

Post by Arjan Dirkse » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:14 pm

DGA wrote:
How is the Dharma transmitted in the absence of social institutions committed to the systematic practice and transmission of Dharma?

Parenthetically, I don't think a critical position necessarily coincides with an antinomian or antiestablishmentarian or anti-institutional position. Buddhist institutions have a long history of honing very effective dialecticians and debaters; if you want critical thought (in the Kantian sense of self-reflexive thought), can you do much better than Madhyamaka?

I don't think Buddhism will disappear completely from the Earth anytime soon. The ideas of Buddhism are spread more widely and I think are better understood than at any time in history. But again, what if it does disappear? Anicca and all that. If Buddhism has truth in it, then that truth will be rediscovered. I am not worried about a decline in the numbers of Buddhists.

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