Author Topic: Secular Buddhism  (Read 5720 times)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #60 on: March 31, 2017, 12:05:54 pm »
Quote
Idle Chater:  ""Secular Budhism" is already defined.  There's  no need for another, yet here we are."

OK.  So, let's see the definition of which you write.  Please provide the source, so that I might study it at my leisure.  Show me how these so-called experts of yours define morality.  Show me how they describe how karma is treated.  Show me their descriptions and on what basis they value all of the rest of Buddha's teachings.

Quote
I question Ron's motives.  Terms like "power trip" come to mind.  "Ronyana"  is actually fair comment and criticism.

Thank you for your usual concern for myself and others.





« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 06:51:08 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 Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #61 on: March 31, 2017, 06:56:14 pm »
Meditation

Two thread participants, zafrogzen, and Idle Chater have suggested that all it takes to become a Secular Buddhist practitioner is to "sit" in meditation.  The logic seems to be that if Buddha could reach attainment in this manner then even a secular practitioner could.

Yet I have not seen anyone, anywhere, or at anytime, who can verify if one has reached attainment.  Perhaps zafrogzen and Idle Chater can illustrate to the rest of us that they can in fact do that.

You are on, guys.  Let's see your stuff! :eek:
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 francis

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #62 on: March 31, 2017, 07:24:54 pm »
Ha, ha. I should have stayed out of this.

No "buts," -- no things, and not nihilism or eternalism either. "Just this."

Anyway, my point was that Buddhism, secular or otherwise, can be boiled down to meditation. Of course there are plenty of Buddhists who don't meditate. But the Buddha apparently did -- before he started shooting his mouth off. Plenty of fabrications have followed.

zafrogzen,

Care to elaborate on “before he started shooting his mouth off”?
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline francis

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #63 on: March 31, 2017, 07:29:32 pm »
Quote from: francis link=topic=7847.msg85919#msg85919 date=149094541

Welcome aboard.

[/quote


Thanks, but I'm  really not on board.

I think this discussion is about trying to reinvent the wheel without knowing what a wheel is.

"Secular Budhism" is already defined.  There's  no need for another, yet here we are.

I question Ron's motives.  Terms like "power trip" come to mind.  "Ronyana"  is actually fair comment and criticism.

Quote
I agree Buddhism is truly secular


I do not.  Any definition out there, confirms this, regardless of what you think to the contrary.

The term Secular Buddhism is an oxymoron.  Like "clean dirt".


Hi IdleChater,

Firstly, this topic is a discussion on Secular Buddhism. It is not an attempt to convert you or anyone else to Secular Buddhism. Which begs the question, why do you appear so threatened by “Secular Buddhism”?

Secondly, Secular Buddhism is more about getting back to basic practices rather than reinventing the wheel, for example see the Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha. That is, start the wheel moving again by removing all the fancy robes, rites, rituals and heterodox that have bogged it down over time. Or get back to the source, if you like. 

If I misunderstood your previous statement—as focus on the one thing that can be truly secular, the N8FP and enlightenment will naturally arise from practice—as secular, then please explain what you actually meant?   

To question Ron's motives with terms like "power trip" and "Ronyana" is ad-hom. It’s definitely not fair comment or criticism, and in imho is trolling.

I would also suggest “Secular Buddhism” is a more of a tautology, than an oxymoron.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #64 on: March 31, 2017, 08:39:41 pm »
Francis,

Quote
Quote from: zafrogzen on Today at 10:49:05 am

    Ha, ha. I should have stayed out of this.

    No "buts," -- no things, and not nihilism or eternalism either. "Just this."

    Anyway, my point was that Buddhism, secular or otherwise, can be boiled down to meditation. Of course there are plenty of Buddhists who don't meditate. But the Buddha apparently did -- before he started shooting his mouth off. Plenty of fabrications have followed.


zafrogzen,

Care to elaborate on “before he started shooting his mouth off”?

Seriously? He spent 49 years giving talks. If every sutta and sutra in which he is the speaker is included, he was a phenomenal blabbermouth.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #65 on: March 31, 2017, 09:28:57 pm »
Hi Ron,

Regarding your disbelief that someone "...can verify if one has reached attainment."

Earlier I wrote --
Quote
...it looks to me like the scientific method is not much more than that shared "experience" of something.

Then you wrote
Quote
…we cannot, any one of us, know for a certainty what the other is experiencing, except when we are experiencing it…"

There you have it!

I’ve never met anyone who could enter the mind of a person who has never had even a taste of enlightenment and cause them to see their original mind. However, a genuine zen teacher should be able to "see" into a student well enough to know where they're at and what they have realized. When both are one in their innermost hearts, then it's "like two arrow points meeting in midair."

Zen is unique in it's use of "interviews" where student and teacher meet sitting face to face, inches apart, eye to eye.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline francis

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #66 on: March 31, 2017, 10:18:44 pm »
Yes.  It was meditation that led the Buddha to enlightenment.  Nothing else.  Everything else is merely elaboration. 

It's the only truly secular thing in this discussion so far.


Hi IdleChater,

Why do you say such things?

Buddhism was founded on the Buddha’s teachings. Teachings based on his awakening and seeing the nature of things as they really are.

You might not know this, but initially the Buddha didn’t want to teach because he knew there would be much resistance to his teachings from people so overpowered by ignorance, greed and hatred that they could never recognise the path. However, Brahma Sahampati convinced him to teach because at least some people would understand, people with little dust in their eyes.

“Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses — born and growing in the water — might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water” (Ayacana Sutta, SN 6.1).

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline francis

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #67 on: March 31, 2017, 10:21:15 pm »
Francis,

Quote
Quote from: zafrogzen on Today at 10:49:05 am

    Ha, ha. I should have stayed out of this.

    No "buts," -- no things, and not nihilism or eternalism either. "Just this."

    Anyway, my point was that Buddhism, secular or otherwise, can be boiled down to meditation. Of course there are plenty of Buddhists who don't meditate. But the Buddha apparently did -- before he started shooting his mouth off. Plenty of fabrications have followed.


zafrogzen,

Care to elaborate on “before he started shooting his mouth off”?

Seriously? He spent 49 years giving talks. If every sutta and sutra in which he is the speaker is included, he was a phenomenal blabbermouth.

Seriously, I expected better.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #68 on: March 31, 2017, 10:58:33 pm »
Me too.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #69 on: April 01, 2017, 09:24:21 am »
Hi Solodaris,

Good to see you’ve still got your feet on the ground.

Yes, I think a truly secular meditation practice would entail taking the best from various traditions and methods, including psychology and neuroscience, with personal inclinations and needs in mind. That’s actually what takes place for folks who are able to experiment with different approaches. Buddhism obviously offers a variety of techniques, which unfortunately have formed into sects.

I haven’t read Stephen Bachelor’s book, “beyond Buddhism,” but I like the concept of the title. Some people get very attached to “the Buddha” and his teachings, to the point of turning him into some sort of  demigod and his teachings as holy writ. Zen is pretty iconoclastic, but they still get very involved in their lineages and hierarchies. I think such tendencies tend towards exclusivity and are not very “secular.”
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #70 on: April 01, 2017, 10:35:03 am »
Quote
zafrogzen:  "Some people get very attached to “the Buddha” and his teachings, to the point of turning him into some sort of  demigod and his teachings as holy writ. Zen is pretty iconoclastic, but they still get very involved in their lineages and hierarchies."


Yes.  In The Theravada this is called taking refuge in The Triple Gem:  The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha.

When my first wife died of metastatic colorectal cancer of the liver, lungs and brain, I was desperate for support and certainly needed a refuge.  I believed my Christian faith had failed me as my best friend since junior high-school, my wife, and the mother of my four children was dead.  God did nothing to prevent that. Modern medicine demonstrated that they could not cure her illness.  So, she died after a struggle of a little over one and a half years of attempted cures, which caused her more pain and suffering than the disease itself. 

 Death at that time in my mind was a tragedy, and I got angry as hell at (G)od for not helping her and abandoning us as a family. 

This is when I rediscoverd Buddhism.  Buddha's teachings, especially one told in The Dhamma Pada, which described a mother desperate for The Buddha to raise her son from the dead re-established in my mind, what according to my education in the sciences of biology and medicine, of course I already knew.  I had seen grandparents and parents die, but apparently the lesson wasn't close enough to home for it to really sink in to my brain. : "We all are going to eventually become diseased, and die."   The desperate mother in The Dhamma Pada story was sent on what Buddha knew to be a fool's errand: to retrieve a single mustard seed from a village family, whose house had never been visited by the Prince of Death.  Of course, no matter how many homes she visited, the mother could find no such family, realized the dhamma (the truth) of birth, aging, disease and death (dukkha) and as a result returned to  The Buddha, prostrating herself before him, thanking him for bringing her this most important of life's lessons and later herself, joined the sangha, completing her refuge in The Triple Gem.

So, as I see it, these are not lessons one can learn from meditation alone.  At least I could not.  All one can ultimately learn is how their individual mind works, eventually realizing that the mind is ridden with uncontrolable thoughts at first; impulses, feelings, and emotions equally difficult to control; capable of many illusions and delusions, imaginative experiences, some glorious and pleasant, others dreadful and fearful, and most desirable of all: the Jhanahs, one through four.  Buddha explained that these mental experiences are not nibbana / nirvana no matter how pleasant.  He explained that of all impermanent forms, these mental factors are the most impermanent.

Therefore,even the most zealous meditation in ignorance of Buddha's teachings is simply at best another attachment despite claims otherwise. 

So, those of you attached to meditation, no matter how good the experience makes you feel about yourself, no matter how pleasurable, may be just experiencing another attachment, which could in fact prevent your unbinding and release; attainment, enlightenment / nibbana / nirvannah.  In other words:  Even the Jhanas are not the goal , meditation no matter how persistent, no matter how zealous, is just another phase of mental experience, just another mental state as described by The Buddha in The 31 Planes of Existence;  not Nibbana / nirvahna.

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html

So, as my mother used to say before she died in her sleep at age sixty. :  " Don't put all your eggs in one basket."  The Theravada agrees:  Better to put your eggs in three baskets, The Tipi Taka  or Tripi Taka for the Mahayana folks (Three Baskets) ;  then study, practice meditation and mindfulness, then verify and validate what you have been taught.  Then you may have a shot at unbinding and release according to the stories told in The Suttas / Suttras.

So, if you think that "just sitting" is the answer to all life's problems, then I suggest you visit the mendicants on skid row in New York City and ask them for their version of "the truth".

 :r4wheel:

Again, from a secular perspective, meditation has medical and psychological benefit.  It cannot be demonstrated except through one's own experience that it ever resulted in unbinding and release:  nibbana / nivana other than in stories told in The Suttas and Sutras.

So, my question to all of you who say that "just sitting" is the solution:  Which of you have attained enlightenment?

« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 03:46:02 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 Chaz

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #71 on: April 01, 2017, 11:33:11 am »
Yes, I think a truly secular meditation practice would entail taking the best from various traditions and methods, including psychology and neuroscience, with personal inclinations and needs in mind. That’s actually what takes place for folks who are able to experiment with different approaches. Buddhism obviously offers a variety of techniques, which unfortunately have formed into sects.

I don't know that I'd call it sectarian.  These are often seen as lineage.  The Kagyu, for instance, has Mahamudra.  The Nyingma has Dzogchen.  And so on.  These are not guarded jealously - there is crossover all the time.  Teachers accept students from other lineages when the time is right. And my experience in both of those lineages is that the student's introduction and training in those methods is largely secular in nature.  There may be some ritual involved, but nothing inherently religious in that - I mean you shave your face the same way every time, right?  That's a ritual.  Nothing religious about shaving, right?

Anyway, the problem isn't the ;lineage being a sect, but rather that it's seen as a sect.

Quote
I haven’t read Stephen Bachelor’s book, “beyond Buddhism,” but I like the concept of the title. Some people get very attached to “the Buddha” and his teachings, to the point of turning him into some sort of  demigod and his teachings as holy writ.

Quite right. 

I used to belong to an evangelical group hippies-become-christians.  We used to joke about fundamentalists having such a hard-on for scripture that they believed the cover of the bible was leather because it said so on the inside.

People can be and sometime are the same way about Buddhism.  Take the N8FP for instance.  Some folks read that and read it like you start with the first in the list and end with the last.  It never occurs to them to try starting at the end of the list and working back up the list that way.  They have this view because there's nothing in sutra that says to do it that way so they go on thinking you go from one on on down to eight.  This is fundamentalism.  This is religion.

Quote
Zen is pretty iconoclastic, but they still get very involved in their lineages and hierarchies. I think such tendencies tend towards exclusivity and are not very “secular.”

People do that.  Even so-called secularists can be pretty religious in their thinking.  If I've seen it once, I've seen it a million times. It's inescapable.  Religion is so ingrained in both our individual and collective psyche that it's nearly impossible to avoid it.

To avoid religion in our practice, if that's the path we want to take, then we have to be mindful of what's actually going on in our practice, in our mind,  both on and off the cushion.  To accomplish this, all we need is practice.  Nothing else can get us to a truly secular approach.  Talking about and trying to establish what we believe is pointless.  It will only bring us back to religion.  Everything we need can come from practice.  We start with Right Meditation and everything will develop from that - ethic, morality, widom, all of it.

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #72 on: April 01, 2017, 11:38:52 am »
Yes.  It was meditation that led the Buddha to enlightenment.  Nothing else.  Everything else is merely elaboration. 

It's the only truly secular thing in this discussion so far.

Hi IdleChater,

Why do you say such things?

Because I believe it's true.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #73 on: April 01, 2017, 11:52:07 am »
 

 Right Mindfulness and Right concentration (meditation) are factors of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment.

This might be worth consideration also:

Quote

No one can attain Nibbana or salvation without developing the mind through meditation. Any amount of meritorious deeds alone will not lead a person to attain the final goal without the corresponding mental purification. Naturally, the untrained mind is very elusive and persuades people to commit evil and become slaves of the senses. Imagination and emotions always mislead man if his mind is not properly trained. One who knows how to practise meditation will be able to control one's mind when it is misled by the senses.

http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/200.htm



and from the same link:

Quote
Meditation strengthens the mind to control human emotion when it is disturbed by negative thoughts and feelings such as jealousy, anger, pride and envy.

If you practise meditation, you can learn to make the proper decision when you are at a cross-roads in life and are at a loss as to which way to turn. These qualities cannot be purchased from anywhere. No amount of money or property can buy these qualities, yet you attain them through meditation. And finally the ultimate object of Buddhist meditation is to eradicate all defilements from the mind and to attain the final goal -- Nibbana.

« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 12:03:33 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #74 on: April 01, 2017, 12:40:22 pm »
Quote from: Ron
So, my question to all of you who say that "just sitting" is the solution:  Which of you have attained enlightenment

i'm finding that question puzzling, because its highly unlikely that any of us here have attained enlightenment, whether we meditate or not.
 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 12:50:03 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

 


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