Author Topic: Questioning Buddhism  (Read 3002 times)

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2016, 10:30:40 pm »
As I see it, the fundamental, practical and useful goal which I interpret from the Buddhist teachings, and which I believe has been relevant for all societies and generations throughout history and will continue to be relevant into the future, is the achievement of self control.

By self control, I mean control over all of one's emotions and thoughts to a degree that enables one to be free of any compulsion to take any action or feel any emotion of anger or desire in response to any external stimuli or provocation. Having achieved such self control, one is then able to make decisions based upon rational considerations, and/or compassion, as to the benefits and consequences of any of one's actions and responses, with regard to oneself and others.

Monasteries and retreats can facilitate the achievement of such self-control because they create an environment which is relatively free of most of the demands of everyday life, which often includes doing all sorts of things we might rather not do but feel compelled to do in order to earn a living, and/or keep up appearances, as well as things which we enjoy so much that we become addicted.

Any degree of addiction represents a lack of self-control, whether it be the over-indulgence in food, alcohol or sex.
A good example is the basic act of eating. Obviously, we all have to eat to continue living, but why is obesity such a problem in many societies? I would say it's fundamentally because of a lack of self-control.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2016, 10:07:24 am »
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VincentRJ:  "As I see it, the fundamental, practical and useful goal which I interpret from the Buddhist teachings, and which I believe has been relevant for all societies and generations throughout history and will continue to be relevant into the future, is the achievement of self control."

I see it as ironic that one of Buddha's primary teachings regards the "emptiness" of any self  "Anatta", and the fact that any exhaustive attempt to find any permanent self would result in finding "no self", or no such thing as a permanent self.

Assuming these facts and teachings to be true (The Dhamma), then what would be the point in trying to control something that doesn't even exist?

Would it not be better to simply recognise the "fact" that clinging to and the desire for that, which is impermanent and dependently arisen will result in dukkha ( birth, aging, disease, pain, suffering, stress, dissatisfaction,  and death), what Buddha described as "This entire entangled ball of suffering."

Yet Buddha pointed out that Arahants were sufficiently wise enough to understand the difference between the self spoken of in the common vernacular, what Buddha referred to as "the mundane self" and made it clear that his anatta doctrine and his teachings regarding emptiness referred specifically to the delusion of the permanent self, that to which we cling in fear of death, that which we hope could pass on from one lifetime to the next:  no thoughts, no contents of the mind, no given individual  or collective body part(s), not even the DNA, which modern biological science has identified as the blueprint for our biological design and propensities.  None of these is in any way permanent:  no soul, no essence of any kind exists anywhere to be identified and/or to be found.

Therefore, the idea of self control is but an illusion.  The simple action of letting-go of that which causes our suffering, our lust, our desire, our clinging, is all there is for us to prevent our suffering once ignorance , the root cause of suffering is alleviated, and the cure as described in Buddha's Four Noble Truths has been understood, penetrated, and practiced as prescribed in The Noble Eight Fold Path outlined therein.   :r4wheel:
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 01:40:33 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2016, 02:27:47 am »
I think there is a difference between self-control (which every religion and society wants) and control over the self, which is more in line with what the Buddha wanted. Control over the self can mean letting go of the self so that you can make progress. Self-control means adhering to some set of rules, which you still have to let go of in order to make progress.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2016, 11:10:36 am »
Yes, I understood the point, but it was clear that VincentRJ did not understand the meaning of "the mundane self" as described in Buddha's teachings.  That is all I was trying to introduce and make clear.  Sorry for any confusion, or suggestion of derision with regard to the ordinary understanding of the concept of self control. :hug:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2016, 04:18:33 pm »
I think we're getting into the problem of the precision of definitions here. I have never had a belief in a permanent self or permanent soul, so I see no problem in that aspect of the 'self', for me personally, and see no distinction between a 'mundane self' and a so-called 'higher form of self'.

My understanding of basic science enables me to appreciate concepts about the fundamental impermanence of everything, the continual change that everything is subject to, the inter-dependence and connectedness of everything, and the general processes of cause and effect.

I don't see a distinction between self-control and control over the self. But I do see a distinction between self-control and self-regulation. Adhering to a set of rules, whether the rules be of a religious nature, such as those followed by Buddhist monks, or of a more practical nature, such as those followed by a soldier in the army, would more precisely be described as self-regulation.

The difference is that self regulation always requires some degree of self-control, but self-control does not necessarily, or does not always, require self-regulation.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questioning Buddhism
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2016, 09:15:57 am »
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VincentRJ:  "... self regulation always requires some degree of self-control, but self-control does not necessarily, or does not always, require self-regulation."

Interestingly, my wife and I watched a "Through The Wormhole Episode" yesterday that had to do with the psychology of terrorism and terrorists.  At the end of the episode the results of a study regarding who is susceptible to behavior modification, when it comes to influencing our mindsets to the degree that it would allow us to kill others or to perpetrate violent or high-risk behavior in violation of our morals, or cultural mores, had to do more with conditioning a person to think as part of a team, or group, rather than as an individual.  So, in regard to this I accept what you say as true only as it relates to our mindset.  Consider for example the mindset of a teenager, vs. that of an octogenarian.  Aside from maturity and the presence or absence of sexual hormones, there is the life-long influence of experience.  Given folks of the same age group, what seems to make the difference with regard to mindset is strong identity with the individual self, or strong identity with a group, such as ISIS / ISIL, or a Military Unit, such as you described.  When strongly associated with a group, the group mores seem to be the primary influence, and not self regulation, except to the extent that it is related to the mindset of the group.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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