Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

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The Cicada
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by The Cicada » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:50 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:27 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:03 pm
No Rabbi managed to ask God himself...
Coëmgenu imagines a rabbi.

Rabbi: [to God] So, how's the wife? Happy wife happy life.
Of course no Rabbi never managed to waltz into the realm of יהוה‬ and start asking questions. He'd have been smitten. Happy wife happy life, indeed.

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passel
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by passel » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:16 pm

Wasn't Ekhardt a bit of an atheist, St John, Ma Theresa?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:46 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:02 pm
As a general matter, atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism.
One of the things to be mindful of, is that many of the arguments deployed by atheism against Christianity also apply to Buddhism. It used to be said that karma was 'scientific' like 'the law of cause and effect' but it's clearly not, as it concerns intention, whereas the laws of motion only concern matter. And there's no more scientific ground for 'dharma' than there is for other religious ideas - not that it needs any kind of scientific justification.

The reason most folks can't handle the idea of devas is because our secular culture doesn't provide any space for them. We are very objectively-focussed, whatever is real is said to be 'out there somewhere'. But through dhyana, states of being are realised which are forever out of scope for science as such.
Akincano M. Weber wrote:There is a whole set of teachings [in Buddhism] pertaining to the topics of realization and the aspect of lokuttara, (a ‘transcendent’ dimension). These teachings emphatically insist on the possibility of an embodied, subjective and numinous experience through the practice of meditation. I see some secular Buddhists struggle to even acknowledge this aspect of the teachings. At the very least, I sense the question of and the quest for personal realization needs to be seen as legitimate. If we give up the possibility of realisation, we risk turning these teachings into just another brand of critical humanism, thus making secular Buddhism into one of the ‘near enemies’ of the Buddha’s message.
Beyond scientific materialism and religious belief
Coëmgenu wrote: AFAIK, the Buddha never polemicized against or for the Cārvāka.
Maybe not the Buddha, but:
Wikipedia wrote:Payasi was a Cārvāka (materialist) philosopher in ancient India and was possibly a contemporary of Buddha. He was possibly a prince, if early Buddhist and Jaina sources could be believed. The only source of information that exists today about this philosopher is the form of purvapaksa—a material available in the works of others, which are cited for refutation.

In Payasisuttanta

The Buddhist Payasisuttanta and the Jain Agama Rayapasenaijja (Sanksrit Rājapraśnīya) both were devoted to the refutation of Payasi's views. They both claim that he eventually converted to Buddhism or Jainism.
It has been noted elsewhere that the Cārvāka were mainly associated with the wealthy merchant class, and that allowing for the obvious differences in culture, they still share many recognisable beliefs with today's materialists.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:20 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:46 am
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:02 pm
As a general matter, atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism.
One of the things to be mindful of, is that many of the arguments deployed by atheism against Christianity also apply to Buddhism. It used to be said that karma was 'scientific' like 'the law of cause and effect' but it's clearly not, as it concerns intention, whereas the laws of motion only concern matter. And there's no more scientific ground for 'dharma' than there is for other religious ideas - not that it needs any kind of scientific justification.

The reason most folks can't handle the idea of devas is because our secular culture doesn't provide any space for them. We are very objectively-focussed, whatever is real is said to be 'out there somewhere'. But through dhyana, states of being are realised which are forever out of scope for science as such.
You're talking about arguments Atheists deploy against Christians (theists). Atheism itself doesn't mean anything but a denial of theism. I would say the arguments deployed by atheists against theists are always reactions to the arguments of theists. Again, atheism is nothing but a reaction to theism. To the extent the debate goes beyond the theism/atheism binary would be dependent on where theists try to go with their arguments and where atheists go chasing them. Strictly speaking, the theist-atheist conversation is limited to: "God is." "No."

To the extent that theists assert that God/gods transcend matter, atheists might deny the plausibility of anything transcending matter. In this we can infer the underlying stance of atheists - they're materialists. The only thing a materialist can assert is matter, and anything beyond, an honest materialist has nothing to say. If they do, it is just an article of faith, as much as the faith in God.

Similarly, a materialist critiquing Buddhism is just asserting what they already believe about reality.

In Buddhism we have not only karma, but we also have cause and effect itself as it pertains the formation and destruction of dharmas. But this is not quite the same as a scientific notion of cause and effect - because ultimately, the formation and destruction of dharmas Buddhists understand is a function of the mind. Buddhists don't posit something as naive as "objectivity."

Some Buddhists adamantly believe in gods. Some are indifferent to the proposition. All Buddhists, however, the consider the view that the self is annihilated at death is wrong. Buddhists don't quite assert the continuity of self, either, though. Wisdom is something beyond those extremes.

The arguments of materialists more or less fall flat in debate with Buddhists because materialists have a view... And as Nagarjuna remarked:

When an analysis is made through emptiness,
If someone were to offer a reply,
Their reply will faił, since it will presuppose
Exactly what is to be proven.

It doesn't matter if karma fails the materialist's standard. To paraphrase the Buddha, "I don't teach you about what's real and not real; I teach you how to end suffering." Here is an observable truth: if you cultivate craving, aversion, and nescience, you will perpetuate craving, aversion and nescience. Generally, people wracked by craving, aversions and nescience are miserable f*cks. I think that truth is self evident. If you cultivate compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity, wisdom, etc. you will perpetuate compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity, wisdom, etc. These factors of the mind will find expression in form (matter) because that's just how the mind and matter relate. That's all that karma says.

To the extent that Buddhists hold that this continuity transcends life and death - a materialist, as pointed out above, if they are being honest, reaches a limit beyond which their model has no view. A strict materialist who defines consciousness as a function of matter in the form of a vital corporeal body has nothing to say about consciousness once that vitality of the corporeal body ends. They can only deny the continuity of consciousness as they define it. Beyond that, their model offers no knowledge. They must fall silent. To go further is an act of faith in a particular reality defined by a denial of the continuity of consciousness and a one sided attempt to impose their model of reality. The Buddhist could offer a critique and point out the limitation of the materialists view, invite them to pursue an inquiry into the nature of the mind, or alternatively, simply let that go the way stray thoughts come and go while seated on the cushion.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:23 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:20 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:46 am
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:02 pm
As a general matter, atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism.
One of the things to be mindful of, is that many of the arguments deployed by atheism against Christianity also apply to Buddhism. It used to be said that karma was 'scientific' like 'the law of cause and effect' but it's clearly not, as it concerns intention, whereas the laws of motion only concern matter. And there's no more scientific ground for 'dharma' than there is for other religious ideas - not that it needs any kind of scientific justification.

The reason most folks can't handle the idea of devas is because our secular culture doesn't provide any space for them. We are very objectively-focussed, whatever is real is said to be 'out there somewhere'. But through dhyana, states of being are realised which are forever out of scope for science as such.
You're talking about arguments atheists deploy against Christians (theists). Atheism itself doesn't mean anything but a denial of theism. I would say the arguments deployed by atheists against theists are always reactions to the arguments of theists. Again, atheism is nothing but a reaction to theism. To the extent the debate goes beyond the theism/atheism binary would be dependent on where theists try to go with their arguments and where atheists go chasing them. Strictly speaking, the theist-atheist conversation is limited to: "God is." "No."
I think this is a slightly idealistic position, but you get into discussing and problematizing that later in your post when you address materialism. Atheism is not razor-sharp Madhyamaka. They have their own assumptions and worldviews they bring to the table:

The Sunday Assembly:


Also the "Reason Rally" IMO gets very conventionally religious.
如無為、如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Queequeg
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:46 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:23 pm
I think this is a slightly idealistic position, but you get into discussing and problematizing that later in your post when you address materialism. Atheism is not razor-sharp Madhyamaka. They have their own assumptions and worldviews they bring to the table:

The Sunday Assembly:

Also the "Reason Rally" IMO gets very conventionally religious.
Your point is well taken.

There's a line from the book Soul on Ice that I swear I read but have not been able to find since... to paraphrase:

When you try to abandon a certain way of thinking, it tends to just creep back in if you don't have something to fill that place.

I guess a lot of atheists want to get rid of God, but its hard to get out of that paradigm... and so you just end up looking like a Christian without God.

:shrug:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:52 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:23 pm
The Sunday Assembly:
Interesting that the guy offering the philosophical foundation for the Church is an Indian dude. Carrying on that long traditions of Panditas...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

illarraza
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by illarraza » Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:29 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:52 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:23 pm
The Sunday Assembly:
Interesting that the guy offering the philosophical foundation for the Church is an Indian dude. Carrying on that long traditions of Panditas...
I think the Christian main argument is teleological, all complex things like a watch or automobile has been created. The world and universe is complex, therefore it too must have been created. Their argument falls apart when it is pointed out that since God is complex who created God? They must resort to the argument that there is one exception to the rule. We can then assert, there are many exceptions to the rule, planets, stars, life, the universe, just as "God", have always been and always will be.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by dude » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:00 pm

AFAIK, the Buddha never polemicized against or for the Cārvāka. Do they postdate him?

Apparently not; I recall a passage in the Lotus Sutra admonishing disciples not to hang with them.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:31 pm

dude wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:00 pm
AFAIK, the Buddha never polemicized against or for the Cārvāka. Do they postdate him?

Apparently not; I recall a passage in the Lotus Sutra admonishing disciples not to hang with them.
And there we go, Sukhavihāraparivarta Ch 14:

admonishes to neither associate with 伽耶陀, Lokāyatikāḥ, nor 逆路伽耶陀, Vāmalokāyatikāḥ (Anti-lokayatins, very interesting distinction), to go with the rest of them.
如無為、如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

illarraza
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by illarraza » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:13 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:31 pm
dude wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:00 pm
AFAIK, the Buddha never polemicized against or for the Cārvāka. Do they postdate him?

Apparently not; I recall a passage in the Lotus Sutra admonishing disciples not to hang with them.
And there we go, Sukhavihāraparivarta Ch 14:

admonishes to neither associate with 伽耶陀, Lokāyatikāḥ, nor 逆路伽耶陀, Vāmalokāyatikāḥ (Anti-lokayatins, very interesting distinction), to go with the rest of them.
The Lotus Sutra, tientai, and Nichiren, as you know postulate the Three Truths. This is derived principally from the 2nd Chapter of the Lotus Sutra and the Ten Suchnesses, particularly, the first three: Appearance; Nature; and Entity. appearance also corresponds to Temporary Existence, Nature to Non-substantiality, and Entity to the Middle Way. Likewise, the Three Realms all have a material aspect (Appearance), non-substantial aspect (Nature), and synthesis of the two (Entity or Middle Way). "In these more than forty years I have not yet revealed the truth".

Mark

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