FreeSangha - Buddhist Forum

The Academy => Buddhism and Science => Topic started by: Ron-the-Elder on March 25, 2017, 06:05:41 am

Title: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 25, 2017, 06:05:41 am
Greetings to all visitors to this forum for the very first time, and to old friends and associates I have known of Free and Other Sanghas, some for years.

Having thought about the topic for many years, mostly due to concerns about the culturally derived fantasies, and beliefs to which I was exposed over my many years since beginning my path(s) exploring, studying and practicing Buddhism, I, just yesterday decided to drop all of the "names" associated with various Buddhist Traditions, both coming and going, identifications, tradtions, sects, isolating practices, which appeared (to me) to be creating islands of isolation within the larger of the Buddhist Community.

My first exposure to Buddhism was in 1963 in South-East Asia, while serving in The U.S. Intelligence Service in South Vietnam.  I was baptized, raised, confirmed, and married as a Roman Catholic, superficially explored various other Euro-Centric Christian religions, did some teaching in service to Catholic children and their parents regarding The Old Testament, went on to investigate Bahai,  Mormonism, Judeaism, and The Jehovah's Wittnesses.

Due to a wide variety of real life circumstances, a wife of over thirty-eight years dying of metastatic colorectal cancer, and having prayed to various versions of God for her rescue, I rediscovered and began exploring Buddhism in earnest, sticking my nose into Zen, Tibetan, and The Laotian Theravada, eventually settling with The Theravada, only with a Bhikkhu from Celon / Sri Lanka, where I resided from March of 2004 after my wifes early death due to cancer till yesterday, March 24, 2017;  thirteen years by my accounting.

My education, work / vocation and professional certifications were in the fields of mathematics, sciences, and technology, with an early substantial trip down the wrong lane in Experimental Psychology, which I eventually reconized as a life-choice error and as a departured from my real interest in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, and in later life, Physics.

After three years in Military Intelligence, I worked  for two large technical companies in my life-time:  A.T. & T. (Western Electric/ Bell Labs ) installing and testing newly developed telephonic systems, which eventually evolved into what is known now in the technical community as semi-conductor communications systems.  Later and for the next thirty-two years I worked for Xerox Corporation in various technical capacities, eventually settling in the Environmental Safety and Health Organization from which I retired in June of 1998.

After my retirement I occupied my time with online investing, long-distance sports (cycling, running), wilderness activites (exploring our magnificent national parks), and caring for my dying wife till her death with the assistance of our four wonderful children, now all adults with children of their own (five grandchildren, and one great grandchild).

So, even though it has taken me awhile, I eventually came to realize that, what has now become my avocation, Buddhism, is loaded with cultural baggage, which in my old age of 72 & 8/12  has become too burdensome to carry any longer, and I have decied to dump.  These include:  naggas, devas, gods, Gods, Bodhisattvahs, healing dieties, and all  other forms of magical manisfestations including Mara, Happi Hottei, and Santa Claus.

I must admit that I love these mythical ideas and totally embrace them as beneficial metaphors.

I do accept the idea of Bodhiness, and a Buddha, at least for now.  I see these as humans who have achieved a degree of wisdom beyond compare.  For now I will equate them with the idea of genius, and agree that they too can be flawed like the rest of us.

I am sticking with the other fundementals of Buddhism including The Four Noble Truths, kamma, impermanence, dependent origination, emptiness, pysical and psychological rebirth, and nibbana as a goal, because, with only minor modifications I can find no reason to reject these concepts at the present, and because they work in behalf of my personal benefit, the benefit of others, and so far as I can tell are scientifically valid.

It is in these aspects of Secular Buddhism that I intend to begin to document and share in this thread.  All are welcome to join me, to comment and to share without fear of criticism, argument, or rancor.  Please!  "No trolls allowed!" Please!!

My approach for now will be to explore each of Buddha's teachings from a secular perspective.  You are most welcome to join me and to do the same.  I will write to Hakan, the owner and developer of FreeSangha and ask him later to provide another forum if it appears to be warranted.  But, for now, Buddhism and Science seems to be the right forum for this beginning.

I consider this thread to be an experiment and as such should remain open to redirection, warranted correction, and beneficial change.

Please let me know what you think.   :listen:

_/\_Ron
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: lisehull on March 25, 2017, 08:45:27 am
Thank you for starting this. I have recently become interested in Secular Buddhism, mainly through the website SecularBuddhism.com and am hoping to learn more about how to apply it in my practice.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: stillpointdancer on March 26, 2017, 02:21:31 am
I'm in! I've been gradually rewriting Buddhist stuff into everyday English, leaving out the supernatural and cultural-specific, but leaving in the key ideas. It seems that when I do this it becomes secular anyway. Looking forward to discussions about translations of different words, phrases and ideas  :eek:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 26, 2017, 07:34:34 am
Great!  Looks like we have a core gathering.

I have been thinking about this issue for the last couple days and I would like to begin with a discussion of "morality" since it is fundamental to all religions.  Under this topic I see "kamma" / "karma" primarily and "non-violence".  Any disagreement, departures, suggestions, or adds? :listen:

But, before we go there, I suggest we discuss what stays and what goes:

Can we all agree that "magical" acts and beings must go, except for their value as metaphors?

Purely from a procedural standpoint, do we want to have seperate threads for each topic, or do we want to go with potpourri and see where it lands?   :listen:

 :lipsseald:  <-- Me shutting-up now.   :-P
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 26, 2017, 08:12:46 am
Two questions for Ron:  one is could you explain what you mean by a "secular perspective" and two,  why  is scientific validity important, seeing as the Buddha's teachings and science address entirely different concerns?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 26, 2017, 07:19:26 pm
Two questions for Ron:  one is could you explain what you mean by a "secular perspective" and two,  why  is scientific validity important, seeing as the Buddha's teachings and science address entirely different concerns?


Q1:  From "Secular Buddhism" website (  http://secularbuddhism.com/what-is-secular-buddhism/ (http://secularbuddhism.com/what-is-secular-buddhism/))  "a pragmatic approach to explaining and applying Buddhist teachings ... based on humanist values."

Q2:  Because my approach to Buddhism has always been based upon truth.  I see science as the modern, most effective method of determining truth
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on March 27, 2017, 12:43:06 am
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the starting the topic. I think it’s an excellent idea because much of what we see today portrayed as Buddhism is loaded with religion, beliefs and rituals.

I was brought up a Roman Catholic, but rites and rituals based on blind belief didn’t do it for me.  From there, it was a journey through the counterculture of the 1960s/70s, Age of Aquarius, Carlos Castaneda, New Age spirituality and self-development. Then one day, a friend asked me along to a Buddhist meditation class. I went, and spent a couple of years learning about Buddhism before moving on.

As a Westerner, who grew up with the hollowness of religious rites and rituals, I see Buddhism as a philosophy, a belief system that is not a religion and definitely non theist. After all, the Buddha was a human being, a gifted human being, who on awakening saw ‘things for what they really are’.  He didn’t pretend to be a God, and sidestepped the whole God thing. His goal was to end of suffering (dukkha).  However, what impressed me most about the Buddha was his insight into human nature.

Walpola Rahula expresses this insight in Chapter 6 The Doctrine of No Soul: Anatta (http://[url=https://sites.google.com/site/rahulawhatthebuddha/the-doctrine-of-no-soul) of his book What the Buddha Taught:

Quote
Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a Soul, Self, or Ātman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.

Two ideas are psychologically deep-rooted in man; self-protection and self-preservation. For self-protection man has created God, on whom he depends for his own protection, safety and security, just as a child depends on its parent. For self-preservation man has conceived the idea of an immortal Soul or Ātman, which will live eternally. In his ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, man needs these two things to console himself. Hence he clings to them deeply and fanatically.

The Buddha’s teaching does not support this ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, but aims at making man enlightened by removing and destroying them, striking at their very root. According to Buddhism, our ideas of God and Soul are false and empty. Though highly developed as theories, they are all the same extremely subtle mental projections, garbed in an intricate metaphysical and philosophical phraseology. These ideas are so deep-rooted in man, and so near and dear to him, that he does not wish to hear, nor does he want to understand, any teaching against them.


And, it doesn’t get more real than that. Well except for the Heart Sutra.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 27, 2017, 01:21:13 am
Deleted
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: stillpointdancer on March 27, 2017, 03:12:33 am
Great!  Looks like we have a core gathering.

I have been thinking about this issue for the last couple days and I would like to begin with a discussion of "morality" since it is fundamental to all religions.  Under this topic I see "kamma" / "karma" primarily and "non-violence".  Any disagreement, departures, suggestions, or adds? :listen:

So which definition of morality to go by: right/wrong behavior, good/bad behavior, system of values, principles of conduct, or what? I was always interested in whether following a set morality is essential for enlightenment, or essentially follows enlightenment. Did the Buddha set up morals to live by or did he ask us to decide for ourselves? Is secular morality the same as religious morality? Does morality have to be universal, part of the human condition, or is it culturally-based?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 27, 2017, 06:08:18 am
Quote
stillpointdancer:  "So which definition of morality to go by: right/wrong behavior, good/bad behavior, system of values, principles of conduct, or what? I was always interested in whether following a set morality is essential for enlightenment, or essentially follows enlightenment. Did the Buddha set up morals to live by or did he ask us to decide for ourselves? Is secular morality the same as religious morality? Does morality have to be universal, part of the human condition, or is it culturally-based?

After some thought, but so far not too much practice under the secular Buddhist banner, my thinking is "all the above", which will probably be unacceptable to the religiostic practitioners, but, such as these are the primary reason for Secular Buddhism arising in the first place:

Right to me means "what works" under the current circumstances.  For example:  Maple Syrup is "right" with pancakes, but not with .....???

You arrive at such conclusions based upon experience and experiment, which is where science comes into the picture, and taste, except that taste can be acquired through what is forced upon us by life circumstances.

My next consideration, since the whole idea is to prevent "non-beneficial" suffering and dissatisfaction is health.  But whose health?  Again, it depends on the circumstance.    For example:  In the case of The Love Canal Incident in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.A., where children were widely developing cancers from hazardous waste exposures,  it is both the general community health as well as the health of the individual that matters.  And, even though they protested at first, the corporation which was identified as partially to blame for the incident (Hooker Chemical), along with local politicians, who acted stupidly in building an elementary school over a hazardous waste dump despite warnings from Hooker Chemical, it ultimately improved the health of the corporation to learn that trusting greedy politicians was always going to result in harm.

So, The first precept I would call one of those Buddhist practices, which is a keeper.

The same for the other five as far as I am concerned, based upon my life experience, education and training.

But, what about The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eight Fold Path?  Any thoughts :listen:

My initial reflex is that they are pretty much keepers as well, since they are designed and selected to prevent harm, which is kind of the "prime directive" of Buddhism.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 27, 2017, 06:49:09 am
Quote
francis:  "And, it doesn’t get more real than that. Well except for the Heart Sutra.

Glad that you decided to join us, francis.

Buddha's insight into human nature struck me with awe as well.  The concept of "soul" was an imprisoning attachment , as was, most certainly, the belief in an all powerful, all seeing (G)od, an idea culturally induced having been raised and indoctrinated as a Roman Catholic like yourself.  These left me clinging and grasping foolishly as well and left me with a sense of resentment and betrayal when I realized their foolishness and gave them up.   

In my estimation that is why Buddha's teachings regarding emptiness and anatta are best retained, as you wisely stated, not because of any attachment to them, but, because they are  valuable and critical facts of life, which, if understood and embraced referentially, will lead to better life choices, directed towards preventing harm, wherever and whenever possible.

And, I believe this is where the idea of "ignorance" causing harm arises, I think.  For, if out of ignorance, we are unaware what harm we are causing, why would we ever be motivated to prevent harm?

I am not certain if this idea is profound, or just so fundamental that it is constantly overlooked, requiring the insight of a Buddha to point it out to us as in The Four Noble Truths, and his Dependent Origination.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 27, 2017, 07:55:17 am
As to process:

So, should we leave the topic of "Secular Morality" here, or move it to a separate thread for the sake of clarity?   :listen:

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 27, 2017, 10:11:26 am
As to process:

So, should we leave the topic of "Secular Morality" here, or move it to a separate thread for the sake of clarity?   :listen:

I don't want to get into this too much, but this question is interesting.

Most, if not all morality has it's basis in religion, so to find a truly "secular" morality would be difficult if not impossible, because any discussion would eventually, if not immediately, circle back to a non-secular source for the moral in question. 

Would you be satisfied with relative morality?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 27, 2017, 11:28:40 am
Religion and secularity is both a bond to free will and therefore a cause of suffering.


Not sure as  to your meaning.  Would you please expand this idea and give more detailed explantion?



Quote
How will the secularization of The Great Middle Way reduce suffering by destroying "half of the bridge" so to speak.

From my study, education, and experience, Buddha's teachings did not do this.  His approach to elimination of dukkha (rebirth, pain, suffering, aging, disease, and death) was all-inclusive, which includes Non-Violence, The Four Noble Truths, Anatta, Emptiness, Kamma, Impermanence, and Dependent Origination / Arising. It is my intuition, and my educated guess that traditions within the cultures in which his "experience" was disseminated that put lingering religious and cultural spins on what he taught.  It is difficult to eliminate these psychological filters through which any new learning or even first hand experience   As time passed, corruption and warping of Buddhism as he conceived it only worsened.  We see this happening today as what I will call "hairy-fairyness" and outright delusion arises within Buddhist communities.  Stories meant for children become dogma, and adults with brains in their heads come to realize the absurdity of it and are forced to move on to something more beneficial to human survival.

Quote
How do you teach buddhist psychology to non-secular individuals by alienating their beliefs?

I don't think it is that difficult.  All it takes is experience like the Buddha recommended to the mother of a dead son, who believed Buddha could tear her deceased son from the grasp of The Prince of Death:

Quote
Having admirable friends
has been praised by the Sage
with reference to the world.
Associating with an admirable friend
   even a fool
   becomes wise.
People of integrity
should be associated with.
In that way discernment grows.
Associating with people of integrity
one would be released from all suffering & stress,
would know stress,
the origination of stress,
cessation & the eightfold path:
   the four noble truths.

Stressful, painful, is the woman's state:
   so says the tamer of tamable people.
Being a co-wife is painful.
Some, on giving birth once,
slit their throats.
Others, of delicate constitution,
take poison.
In the midst of a breech-birth
both [mother & child] suffer destruction.

Going along, about to give birth,
I saw my husband   dead.
Giving birth in the road,
I hadn't reached my own home.
Two children deceased,
my husband dead in the road
   — miserable me!
My mother, father, & brother
were burning on a single pyre.

   "Your family all gone, miserable,
   you've suffered pain without measure.
   Your tears have flowed
   for many thousands of lives."[1]

Then I saw,
I the midst of the charnel ground,
the muscles of sons being chewed.
With family killed,
despised by all,
my husband dead,
      I reached the Deathless.
I've developed this path,
   noble, eightfold,
   going to the Deathless.
Having realized Unbinding,
I've gazed in the mirror of Dhamma.
I've cut out the arrow,
put down the burden,
done the task.
I, KisaGotami Theri,
my heart well-released,
have said this.
Notes

1.
According to the Commentary, this was the Buddha's message to Kisa Gotami. See SN 13.8 and Thag 3.5.


Quote
What you proclaim to be myth I have experienced to simply be psychological conditions.

Thanks,
Solodris

Yes.  No complaints here with that interpretation.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 27, 2017, 02:14:17 pm
Solodris, thank you for the more detailed explanation. 

Not sure about the inverse relationship between the number of life choices and happiness, but I get your general meaning.  I can see that less complexity , i.e. minimalism, reduces the number of issues to occupy and waste our life energies.

Quote
...wouldn't your inclination to agree be more useful in skillful practice concerning broadening the accessability to these teachings among others who might "complain" towards a purely Theravadan secular point of view?

No.  My attraction to The Theravada had to do more with the fact, and depth of documentation than anything else.  Skillfulness has more to do with honing one's expertise at any given task, than the beneficiality of that produced by the skill.  One can be an expert at killing for example.  Not much benefit to that skill, unless working for those who wish others eliminated for whatever nefarious reasons.

That is why my primary focus is upon causing no harm.  Traditions are irrelevant, so long as we all hold the prime directive of harmlessness to heart, mind, and focus.  Agreed? :listen:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 27, 2017, 03:31:58 pm
It is my intuition, and my educated guess that traditions within the cultures in which his "experience" was disseminated that put lingering religious and cultural spins on what he taught.

I think it goes farther than culture.  I think it's an entirely human trait to take ideas like what the Buddha taught, and frame it in a way that it becomes what we call a religion.  This includes devotion to a set of principals that have supreme importance or authority assigned to them, adhered to as a matter of faith.  This also has a cultural spin involved, religion being a consistent part of the structure of culture in general.  So, it's nearly impossible to separate the role of religion from the collective human experience.  There is bound to be cultural influence both from aond towards religion within a society.

"Tibetan" Buddhism is an excellent example.  Coming from both India and China and meeting a status quo represented by Bon,and being somewhat isolated,  Buddhism in Tibet took on a distinct character, not found in SE Asia for eample or in the areas that influenced it - India and China.  Given time in the west, a lot of time, and a degree of isolation for it's source, Buddhism will take on a distinct character of it's own, but that's likely to take centuries.




Quote
It is difficult to eliminate these psychological filters through which any new learning or even first hand experience   As time passed, corruption and warping of Buddhism as he conceived it only worsened. 

I don't know that we can say "worsend" in any fairness to the history of Buddhism.  It has certainly changed.  That much is certain and is inevitable.  It changed in the centuries between when the Buddha lived and taught and when his teachings were finally codified.  Because writing apparently existed as early as 3000 bce on the subcontinent, but the earliest Buddhist writing doesn't seem to exist prior to 1 ce.  It would appear that over 500 years passed before cononization.  This makes it impossible to say just what the Buddha actually "concieved" without a measure, and a large one, of faith.

This of course brings us back to religion.

Quote
We see this happening today as what I will call "hairy-fairyness" and outright delusion arises within Buddhist communities. 

That would mean that you think of what you think Buddhism should be, and is actually reasonable. Based on the near total lack of reliable historical data on which to base such an assertion, is hard to to accept as true.

Quote
Stories meant for children become dogma, and adults with brains in their heads come to realize the absurdity of it and are forced to move on to something more beneficial to human survival.

If you refer to the more mythological aspects of Buddhism, or religions in general, such stories, myths, weren't meant for children, because children are not experientially equipped to understand them.  They may have been told to children, but real understanding didn't come along till much later in life.

Have you read Joseph Campbell?

Yes, sometimes these myths become dogma, but maything in our experience become so and not only aspects of religion.  While in college, I encountered a number of time times where resistence to new science was met with resistance based soley on recalcitrant, dogmatic clinging to the staus quo.

We can be certain of one thing, and that is you do not accept the status quo in Buddhism.  That's ok - you can believe what you like and practice according to that.  However I would caution you.  There will be a point where you secularize your view of Buddhism to the point that your refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha will become meaningless, and what you espouse will be Buddhist in name only.  Anyone can "follow" the Buddha's teaching, Ron, but that doesn't make them Buddhist.  It doesn't make them something wrong either.  Being a nice guy is a good thing, has it's own rewards, but not the realization the Buddha pointed us to.

I applaud you spreading your view beyond the Theraveda.  I think it's healthy, but it has pitfalls.  Tread softly.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on March 28, 2017, 02:33:38 am
Quote
francis:  "And, it doesn’t get more real than that. Well except for the Heart Sutra.

Glad that you decided to join us, francis.

Buddha's insight into human nature struck me with awe as well.  The concept of "soul" was an imprisoning attachment , as was, most certainly, the belief in an all powerful, all seeing (G)od, an idea culturally induced having been raised and indoctrinated as a Roman Catholic like yourself.  These left me clinging and grasping foolishly as well and left me with a sense of resentment and betrayal when I realized their foolishness and gave them up.   

In my estimation that is why Buddha's teachings regarding emptiness and anatta are best retained, as you wisely stated, not because of any attachment to them, but, because they are  valuable and critical facts of life, which, if understood and embraced referentially, will lead to better life choices, directed towards preventing harm, wherever and whenever possible.

And, I believe this is where the idea of "ignorance" causing harm arises, I think.  For, if out of ignorance, we are unaware what harm we are causing, why would we ever be motivated to prevent harm?

I am not certain if this idea is profound, or just so fundamental that it is constantly overlooked, requiring the insight of a Buddha to point it out to us as in The Four Noble Truths, and his Dependent Origination.

Hi Ron,

It’s a good point that ignorance of the Four Noble Truths is the root of all suffering and understanding the Buddha’s teachings on human nature will lead to better life choices.  After all, ignorance in the nidana chain is portrayed as a blind man.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 07:53:55 am
Don't you think Buddhism can be both religious and secular depending on the practicioner, but holding the higher teachings personal? Maybe only disclosing them depending on the situation at hand?

I don't know.

Buddhism, by most broad definitions, is a religion.  How can a religion be non-religion?

As far a secularism, in this context, is concerned, a person can certainly form a path that suits them.  However if we look at what the purpose of Buddhism is, to achieve enlightenment/Buddhahood for the benefit of beings, what evidence is there that a secular approach will actually enable the practitioner to achieve it?  Extant lineages, all religious I might add, have charted histories of practitioners gaining enlightenment. and were founded on such people.  Secular practice has no such history.  You can certainly actively eliminate religion from your practice, but where will it lead?  We don't know.  Can the suffering of beings wait for the answer?

I guess what I'm leading up to is why would you want to be both religious and secular in your practice?  If you're just interest in practice and nothing else, a secular approach is fine.  You can meditate and follow the N8FP untill the cows come home and not even be  Buddhist.  Doing that won't make you one, either.  You don't need a religion to to be mindfull or a nice guy/gal and there's nothing wrong with that.

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 08:39:03 am
I think there has been a misunderstanding. I wasn't implying making it completely secular. But as a religion, disclosing it as being secular to those who are mainly anti-religion for their approval and eventual benefit!

Ok, fair enough....but there's  already something like that out there.  Shambhala.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: lisehull on March 28, 2017, 09:09:49 am
Interesting that you say Shambhala is secular. Why do you say that? I don't see it that way.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 28, 2017, 10:07:28 am
So,  for the first off-shoot of this "Secular Buddhism" thread: Secular Buddhism - Morality


Can we live with these five precepts as the lowest bar, feeling free to raise them for our personal preferences.:

1.  Cause no harm to living beings (except in self defence or in the defence of others).

2.  Abstain from mind altering (addictive) substances.

3. Abstain from sexual misconduct.  e.g. Rape, Incest, adultery, pedophilia, intentionally passing on sexually transmitted diseases.

4.  Abstain from taking that, which has not been freely given.  (stealing, cheating on taxes, etc.)

5.  Refrain from abusive speech.

Should we discuss each one from a secular perspective?  For example

1. "Cause no harm to living beings."

  a.  Antibiotics are allowed to prevent dying from blood borne, or air borne pathogens.
  b.  Returning fire is allowed when first fired upon.
  c. Use of lethal force is allowed to prevent rape or assassination.
  d.  etc.



5.  Refrain from abusive speech.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 10:23:55 am
Interesting that you say Shambhala is secular. Why do you say that? I don't see it that way.

Ok, you may not see it that way, but they sure do.

Trungpa's Shambhala teachings were sans religious viewpoint.  It took the concept of the warrior in the world and ran with it.  Shambhala Trainning makes very little mention of the Buddha, or Buddhism, and focuses on mindfullness practices derived from shamatha/vipassana and practical application in the world.

Shambhala, as an organization, has a more religious component as well, but the practitioner if free to go with one, the other or both.

I was always a little amazed at group practices where the "Buddhists" would begin with their opening chants, and then the "Shambalians" would come in and sit when we were done.  We even had a "ready room" of sorts, just off the shrine room where people would wait.  The really cool thing about it is that this was a sangha of like-minded practitioners - a sangha to take refuge in, and not some abstract idea of community.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 10:27:39 am
Ok, fair enough....but there's  already something like that out there.  Shambhala.

How coincidental, I was just about to read a book about Shambhala.

Cool!  Which book are you looking at reading?

Shambhala - The Sacred Path Of The Warrior is a good start.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 28, 2017, 11:16:17 am
If anyone is seriously interested in "Secular Buddhism" it might be worth reading  "After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age " by Stephen Batchelor.

https://www.amazon.com/After-Buddhism-Rethinking-Dharma-Secular/dp/030020518X (https://www.amazon.com/After-Buddhism-Rethinking-Dharma-Secular/dp/030020518X)

I think he also has some lectures about secular Buddhism on YouTube.







Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 06:29:28 pm
If anyone is seriously interested in "Secular Buddhism" it might be worth reading  "After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age " by Stephen Batchelor.

https://www.amazon.com/After-Buddhism-Rethinking-Dharma-Secular/dp/030020518X (https://www.amazon.com/After-Buddhism-Rethinking-Dharma-Secular/dp/030020518X)

I think he also has some lectures about secular Buddhism on YouTube.

Batchelor is a good source.  Looking up articles on Buddhism by Sam Harris would also be good.  He's into Dzogchen from a secular perspective.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 28, 2017, 07:59:54 pm

Should we discuss each one from a secular perspective?  For example

1. "Cause no harm to living beings."

  a.  Antibiotics are allowed to prevent dying from blood borne, or air borne pathogens.
  b.  Returning fire is allowed when first fired upon.
  c. Use of lethal force is allowed to prevent rape or assassination.
  d.  etc.
Unless you're willing to re-write the precept, it's "Cause no harm to living beings.".  Period.

It's not like you're breaking some rule that will leave you hell-bound.  There are karmic consequences, serious consequences, for taking life.  The Buddha didn't teach exceptions to this precept and perhaps you shouldn't either.  Following this course you set, you could say it's okay to take a life if your children are hungry.  Or your nieghbor's pet just dropped a deuce in your dichondra lawn.  When you start to rationalize exceptions, then there is no end to it.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 29, 2017, 02:51:47 am
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Unless you're willing to re-write the precept, it's "Cause no harm to living beings.".  Period."

Yes.  I agree. This is the very highest bar of morality, the prime directive.  But this would leave us allowing only our immune systems to deal with microbial life-forms, and we would have to limit our diets to what has already died, or if plants, has become dormant, or produced fruit for the taking.  "No nuts or seeds allowed, since it would destroy the next generation of plants.



Quote
"There are karmic consequences, serious consequences, for taking life. "

Yes.  And that is why I think kamma should be left as a part of morality.  A wise mindful and moral person must be aware of the potential consequences of their intentional actions, and potential errors ( unintended actions) during the process of implementing their intended actions.

e.g.  ( The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions!)

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 29, 2017, 05:08:00 am
By Master Sheng Yen; From the book The Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism, page 5:

Quote
In the sciences, innovation is usually achieved only at the expense of received traditions and perspectives. However, human history and culture are continuously built on the values of the past. It is a process of inheriting the past and inspiring the future. New paths are realized from the wisdom of our predecessors. This is especially true for Buddhists. If we were to disregard the wisdom of the Buddha and lineage masters to create a new form of Buddhism, then what we created would essentially not be Buddhism at all, but a new religion.

Maybe something to contemplate about.

Thank you for the quotation, Solodris.  I am not familiar with the contributions of Master Shen Yen.  It reminds me of a quotation constantly referenced in the sciences:  paraphrasing:    "Modern scientific discovery and understanding is/was built upon the backs of giants, referring to the precious generations of human scientists."

And yes, I have given this much contemplation when deciding to examine and explore the secular leg of the Buddhist path.

This leads me to something said by Idle Chater: 
Quote
As far a secularism, in this context, is concerned, a person can certainly form a path that suits them.  However if we look at what the purpose of Buddhism is, to achieve enlightenment/Buddhahood for the benefit of beings, what evidence is there that a secular approach will actually enable the practitioner to achieve it?  Extant lineages, all religious I might add, have charted histories of practitioners gaining enlightenment. and were founded on such people.  Secular practice has no such history.  You can certainly actively eliminate religion from your practice, but where will it lead?  We don't know.  Can the suffering of beings wait for the answer?

My personal answer to this is that truly I don't see any scientific evidence that "any" human beings have ever attained enlightenment, unbinding and release nibbana / nirvana, heaven, hell, realms of hungry ghosts, petas, goblins and etc.  So, why should an endeavor which chooses the secular path ever concern itself with such matters, things, etc.  These all seem to be human delusions as previously discussed.  I can say the same for Sainthood, gods,(G)ods, Buddhas and all the other magical beings including The Jinn, Trolls, Pixies, Fairies, Naggas, Bodhisattvas, and etc..

As for the reason or purpose in choosing such a path as secular Buddhism, my own personal reason is because it seems to help people, who truly embrace it, to work more effectively together, and to endure the travails of life with much less suffering.  But this remains to be proven.  At the least, it avoids the problem of constant debate over whose religion is the greatest guardian of "Truth".

How does that sound?   :listen:    Where am I going wrong?

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: VincentRJ on March 29, 2017, 06:31:16 am
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Unless you're willing to re-write the precept, it's "Cause no harm to living beings.".  Period."

Yes.  I agree. This is the very highest bar of morality, the prime directive.  But this would leave us allowing only our immune systems to deal with microbial life-forms, and we would have to limit our diets to what has already died, or if plants, has become dormant, or produced fruit for the taking.  "No nuts or seeds allowed, since it would destroy the next generation of plants.


That's a bit confusing, Ron. As I understand, the Buddhist position on 'causing no harm to living beings' refers only to sentient creatures who can experience suffering, not plants.

The issue always relates to suffering. If one is striving to transcend all suffering, then it is not morally correct to cause suffering to others. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As far as I understand, from our perspective of modern science, animals with simple nervous systems, like lobsters, snails and worms, do not have the ability to process emotional information and therefore probably do not experience suffering. However, vertebrates with spines have much more advanced nervous systems and can feel real pain and suffering.

An amusing scene in the book (and film), Seven Years in Tibet, occurred when Heinrich Harrer supervised the construction of a movie theatre for the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan labourers digging trenches for the foundations went on strike when they realised they were killing worms that they thought might have been reincarnations of their misbehaving, distant ancestors. The problem was resolved, as I recall, by encouraging the labourers to carefully remove, by hand, any worms they encountered during their digging, and place the worms in a secure plot of ground away from the construction.

One of the problems I see with traditional Buddhism is the prohibition against monks doing any work to support themselves. For this reason, I became quite interested in the slightly heretical Santi Asoke movement in Thailand which insists on growing its own food to support itself and all members in the community, and selling the very healthy, organically grown food they produce at bargain prices to the local community outside.

When I visited one of these Santi Asoke communities a few years ago in Thailand, I was expecting to see monks and nuns working together in the field, harvesting or planting the crops. However, I soon realised I'd received an incorrect impression from the articles I'd read on the internet, regarding the practices of the Santi Asoke group. Whilst the nuns and monks do work, they don't work in the fields in case they accidentally kill a few worms and insects.

Perhaps this is one of the practices of the Buddhist religion which could be modified in the light of the new knowledge of modern science, which the Buddha was not aware of (it's reasonable to presume).

We should also bear in mind (our illusory mind), that the various sects of Buddhism that exist today are not religions that were created by Gautama Buddha. The religions were created by others and gradually evolved to fit the traditions of other cultures where the religions were eventually established.

For example, as I understand, the Buddha did not want any statues made of himself. The practice of making statues of him came much later. The idea probably originated from a later influence due to the invasions of Alexander the Great who might have introduced the concept of making life-like or human-like statues of Greek deities.

It seems perfectly in order to me, to modify the Buddhist religion in the light of modern scientific knowledge, whilst still retaining the name, Buddhist. We can have Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Chan Buddhism, and so on, but also Modern Buddhism, or Western Buddhism. Why not?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: stillpointdancer on March 29, 2017, 06:49:55 am
That sounds very rational and pragmatic actually, Ron.

Previous Buddhist labels such as Buddhahood, Sainthood and Bodhisattva may simply be the product of psychological insights towards different experience's that modify behavior towards a more happy and moral conduct. I once read the definition of a God to be a moral person.

I personally believe there are transcendental experience's that make you realize and extensively reach a celestial plane as I have experienced it myself. But the labeling might need a change towards these experience's perhaps?
I've certainly had experiences which go beyond language, and which could be open to a certain degree of modification if I had bought into any particular definition at the time. Secular labeling might bring the same problems unless people share more about their experiences in plain language.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 29, 2017, 08:06:17 am
Quote
VincentRJ:  "That's a bit confusing, Ron. As I understand, the Buddhist position on 'causing no harm to living beings' refers only to sentient creatures who can experience suffering, not plants."

The issue always relates to suffering. If one is striving to transcend all suffering, then it is not morally correct to cause suffering to others. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As far as I understand, from our perspective of modern science, animals with simple nervous systems, like lobsters, snails and worms, do not have the ability to process emotional information and therefore probably do not experience suffering. However, vertebrates with spines have much more advanced nervous systems and can feel real pain and suffering.

Yes.   It is confusing and incomplete as it goes.  Yet, we still see these two different versions of The First Precept:  one which requires causing no harm to sentient beings, which by itself is still incomplete, because plants are much more sentient than was thought twenty-five hundred years ago, even by The Buddha.; and another which requires causing no harm to "living beings", which plants certainly are.

So, from a secular, modern scientific understanding, which would you choose?  My thinking is that if we stop thinking about all life, and only prefer animal species with complex nervous systems, then we are back to where we were in the 1950's causing collapse of the entire ecosystem, which is highly interconnected and highly dependent upon species both flora and fauna of which we weren't even aware.  We are free to ignore all lower life-forms like the bacteria in our intestinal pathways upon which we rely for our own personal health and even survival.

The issue is complex, as is the issue of morality in general.  As Solodris implied:  "An issue worthy of contemplation!"
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 29, 2017, 08:18:06 am
My personal answer to this is that truly I don't see any scientific evidence that "any" human beings have ever attained enlightenment, unbinding and release nibbana / nirvana, heaven, hell, realms of hungry ghosts, petas, goblins and etc.

But, this doesn't really offer proof  of anything.  The truth here is, that "science" hasn't investigated those things and untl they do, you are left to believe what you like.  That is, to faith.  And so we're back to religion, again.



Quote
So, why should an endeavor which chooses the secular path ever concern itself with such matters, things, etc.
 

To learn the truth, of course.

Quote
As for the reason or purpose in choosing such a path as secular Buddhism, my own personal reason is because it seems to help people, who truly embrace it, to work more effectively together, and to endure the travails of life with much less suffering.  But this remains to be proven.  At the least, it avoids the problem of constant debate over whose religion is the greatest guardian of "Truth".

It really doesn't.  You will, as a matter of course, treat the secular path as one superior to all others, just as you have over the years with Theraveda.  If it disappoints you'll go back to Theraveda, or Roman Catholicism, or something ..

Quote
How does that sound?
   

It sounds to me like your trying to establish a path, independant of recognized authority, where you can been een as an "elder".

Good luck!

Quote
Where am I going wrong?

Is it wrong?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 29, 2017, 10:22:49 am

It sounds to me like your trying to establish a path, independant of recognized authority, where you can been een as an "elder".


Umm...would that be called "Ron-the-Elder" Buddhism ?

 

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 29, 2017, 10:46:37 am

It sounds to me like your trying to establish a path, independant of recognized authority, where you can been een as an "elder".


Umm...would that be called "Ron-the-Elder" Buddhism ?

 

Well, I guess so.

Or maybe Ron-the-Elderism....  or Ronyana perhaps?

Whatever floats his boat.  Or is it raft?

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 29, 2017, 11:10:42 am
If I may be so bold to humbly suggest members of the Sangha not to engage in frivolous speech, as the exploration of idea's will be more practical to either be highly constructive or completely destroyed. Both an appealing end to either side of opinion to the matter at hand.

A little harmless humor in life isn't a form of evil, Solodris. Unless one never finds anything to smile about and all is gloom and doom and fundamentalism, of course.

See you later, maybe.   :hello:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 29, 2017, 11:26:26 am
If I may be so bold to humbly suggest members of the Sangha not to engage in frivolous speech, as the exploration of idea's will be more practical to either be highly constructive or completely destroyed. Both an appealing end to either side of opinion to the matter at hand.

Like Pixie said .....

Also, and humor aside, it's fair comment, as is my response (if I dare say so).

Ron seems to want to chart his own course, and seems to have no interest in what Batchelor and Harris have to say - leading lights in Secular Buddhism - even though both have been mentioned in this threadand are worth discussing.  It seems like Ron kind of wants it his way, (as in non-canon exceptions to the 1st Precept) and that's okay.   We can talk about that, too, and we don't have to be all serious about it.

Quashing speech on a forum like this isn't very nice.  I'd rather read some humor than someone telling others to shut up, okay?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 29, 2017, 11:34:52 am
FYI:

There's the Secular Buddhist Association site and they have a forum for discussions like this where those who care enough could take their questions and discuss it with other Secularists

http://secularbuddhism.org/forum/ (http://secularbuddhism.org/forum/)

It should be noted that the site appears to be really slow and the forum doesn't see a great deal of activity.  Just the same....
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 29, 2017, 11:59:35 am
Idle Chater, Unfortunately we're back to:  They can say it is so, and those of us who have never seen any evidence of it being so, say, we have never seen any evidence of it being so.

You are right, science has never spent any time studying beings, who claim "enlightenment", or "sainthood", or any other beliefs in delusions, except in the field of psychiatry.  But that is because there was never any motivation to.  Such is the case with all religions.  My wife, a clinical psychologist, often cites a story about her experience in North Dakota, U.S.A. where they had two Jesuses on the same psychiatric ward.  You can imagine the problems that creates.

As far a Ron-the-elder..ism is concerned, I am not looking to establish a new religion, but simply logically exploring if Buddhism can be practiced without all the "delusional" attachments, which have resulted in "yanas", Maha, or Hina.

 I have briefly explored Batchelor's website, and others regarding the topic, but currently choose to study and experiment on my own.

Unfortunately, the detractors (trolls) have smelled blood and are moving in on this thread.  So, I will cease here, and let them chew and tear at each other.  This tender morsel is moving on to other territories.  I have had enough.

Trolls, have fun with your personal attachments.  I wish you success with your chosen forms of entertainment.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 29, 2017, 02:16:29 pm
From Ron:
Quote
"Unfortunately, the detractors (trolls) have smelled blood and are moving in on this thread.  So, I will cease here, and let them chew and tear at each other."

Pixie and IdleChater; You have chosen to establish a schism in light of knowledge by offending the Sangha constitution of constructive knowledge. Beyond words I will delluminate your being by professing profound wisdom, completely unattainable by the path you hold as a sectarian attachment, alienating the very essence of your supposed religious conviction. Such is the path of the asuras, your nature is war, argument and perversion of the pure light that is our true path towards transcendental enlightenment.


 Oh don't be silly, this is all getting far too dramatic .

Here's a sincere wish for everyone near and far:

"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."


 :om:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 29, 2017, 02:24:48 pm
Idle Chater, Unfortunately we're back to:  They can say it is so, and those of us who have never seen any evidence of it being so, say, we have never seen any evidence of it being so.

You are right, science has never spent any time studying beings, who claim "enlightenment", or "sainthood", or any other beliefs in delusions, except in the field of psychiatry.  But that is because there was never any motivation to.  Such is the case with all religions.  My wife, a clinical psychologist, often cites a story about her experience in North Dakota, U.S.A. where they had two Jesuses on the same psychiatric ward.  You can imagine the problems that creates.

As far a Ron-the-elder..ism is concerned, I am not looking to establish a new religion, but simply logically exploring if Buddhism can be practiced without all the "delusional" attachments, which have resulted in "yanas", Maha, or Hina.

 I have briefly explored Batchelor's website, and others regarding the topic, but currently choose to study and experiment on my own.

Unfortunately, the detractors (trolls) have smelled blood and are moving in on this thread.  So, I will cease here, and let them chew and tear at each other.  This tender morsel is moving on to other territories.  I have had enough.

Trolls, have fun with your personal attachments.  I wish you success with your chosen forms of entertainment.

C'mon, Ron, nobody's trolling you.  If anything, your "logical exploring"  is being challenged.  I would expect you, coming from a "scientific" perspective on this, would welcome challenge, as this goes part-and-parcel with the scientific method.  But is seems you'd rather roll over and show us your belly, and this from someone who advocated meeting a threat with deadly force.  Ron, that's really disappointing.

Going on your own is fine, but don't be surprised if others suggest that you are trying to establish your own private Yana, or vehicle, and ignore the council of others.  That's ok too.  But you choose to put all this out in public for others consume and we can only surmise that you do this to bring others along.  Otherwise, there would be no reason to post it in a public forum.  If you want to your own thing without others, then wouldn't be better to simply keep it to yourself and leave others to seek their own way?

Buddhism, for 2500 years has worked just fine, the three Yana's providing a raft to the other shore, with generations of realized beings to show the way as valid and verifiable.  You can dismiss that, if you want, as delusion or falsehood, but in doing that you dismiss any proof that the Buddhadharma is in any way verifiable or valid.

The Buddha left the path he was on with his companions, to forge a new way, but didn't return to his companions until he found what he was after:  enlightenment.  Maybe you should go forth and find Enlightenment for the rest of us and return when you're finished.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 29, 2017, 08:40:15 pm
One last comment for the benefit of those who have a serious interest in this topic:



Quote
An Internet troll is a member of an online social community who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble within the community by posting certain comments, photos, videos, GIFs or some other form of online content.

You can find trolls all over the Internet -- on message boards, in your YouTube video comments, on Facebook, on dating sites, in blog comment sections and everywhere else that has an open area where people can freely post to express their thoughts and opinions. Controlling them can be difficult when there are a lot of community members, but the most common ways to get rid of them include either banning/blocking individual user accounts (and sometimes IP addresses altogether) or closing off comment sections entirely from a blog post, video page or topic thread.

Regardless of where you'll find Internet trolls lurking, they all tend to disrupt communities in very similar (and often predictable) ways. This isn't by any means a complete list of all the different types of trolls out there, but they're most certainly some of the most common types you'll often come across in active online communities.

1 The insult troll
Types of Internet Trolls
Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images
The insult troll is a pure hater, plain and simple. And they don't even really have to have a reason to hate or insult someone. These types of trolls will often pick on everyone and anyone -- calling them names, accusing them of certain things, doing anything they can to get a negative emotional response from them -- just because they can. In many cases, this type of trolling can become so severe that it can lead to or be considered a serious form of cyberbullying.


2 The persistent debate troll
This type of troll loves a good argument. They can take a great, thoroughly researched and fact-based piece of content, and come at it from all opposing discussion angles to challenge its message. They believe they're right, and everyone else is wrong. You'll often also find them leaving long threads or arguments with other commenters in community comment sections, and they're always determined to have the last word -- continuing to comment until that other user gives up.


3 The grammar and spellcheck troll
You know this type of troll. They're the people who always have to tell other users that they have misspelled words and grammar mistakes. Even when they do it by simply commenting with the corrected word behind an asterisk symbol, it's pretty much never a welcomed comment to any discussion. Some of them even use a commenter's spelling and grammar mistakes as an excuse to insult them.


4 The forever offended troll
When controversial topics are discussed online, they're bound to offend someone. That's normal. But then there are the types of trolls who can take a piece of content -- often times it's a joke, a parody or something sarcastic -- and turn on the digital waterworks. They're experts at taking humorous pieces of content and turning them into an argument by playing the victim. People really do get upset by some of the strangest things said and done online.

5 The show-off, know-it-all or blabbermouth troll
A close relative to the persistent debate troll, the show-off or blabbermouth troll is a person who doesn't necessarily like to participate in arguments but does love to share his opinion in extreme detail, even spreading rumors and secrets in some cases. Think of that one family member or friend you know who just loves to hear his own voice. That's the Internet equivalent of the show-off or know-it-all or blabbermouth troll. They love to have long discussions and write lots of paragraphs about whatever they know, whether anyone reads it or not.

6 The profanity and all-caps troll
Unlike some of the more intelligent trolls like the debate troll, the grammar troll and the blabbermouth troll, the profanity and all-caps troll is the guy who has nothing really of value to add to the discussion, spewing only F-bombs and other curse words with his caps lock button left on. In many cases, these types of trolls are just bored kids looking for something to do without needing to put too much thought or effort into anything. On the other side of the screen, they're often harmless.

7 The one word only troll
There's always that one contributor to a Facebook status update, a forum thread, and Instagram photo, a Tumblr post or any other form of social posting who just says "lol" or "what" or "k" or "yes" or "no." They're certainly far from the worst type of troll you meet online, but when a serious or detailed topic is being discussed, their one-word replies are just a nuisance to all who are trying add value and follow the discussion.

8 The exaggeration troll
Exaggeration trolls can sometimes be a combination of know-it-alls, the offended and even debate trolls. They know how to take any topic or problem and completely blow it out of proportion. Some of them actually try to do it to be funny, and sometimes they succeed, while others do it just to be annoying. They rarely ever contribute any real value to a discussion and often bring up problems and issues that may arguably be unrelated to what's being discussed.

9 The off topic troll
It's pretty hard not to hate that guy who posts something completely off topic in any type of social community discussion. It can be even worse when that person succeeds in shifting the topic and everyone ends up talking about whatever irrelevant thing that he posted. You see it all the time online -- in the comments of Facebook posts, in threaded YouTube comments, on Twitter and literally anywhere there're active discussions happening. 

10 The greedy spammer troll
Last but not least, there's the dreaded spammer troll. This it the troll who truly could not care less about your post or discussion and is only posting to benefit himself. He wants you to check out his page, buy from his link, use his coupon code or download his free ebook. These trolls also include all those users you see littering discussions on Twitter and Instagram and every other social network with "follow me!!!" posts.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on March 30, 2017, 12:07:41 am


You're giving the appearance of shouting at people with your use of huge font, Ron. Please try to relax a little. 

 Nothing terrible has happened here - and meawhile people of all ages are starving and dying in non-internet life in other parts of the world.

I'm not interested in being bullied by strange men and labelled as a troll, (which is quite bewildering because that's never been my intention), so I'll  depart to chat to others in friendlier, calmer places.

with metta,

Pixie


Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on March 30, 2017, 03:39:05 am

Should we discuss each one from a secular perspective?  For example

1. "Cause no harm to living beings."

  a.  Antibiotics are allowed to prevent dying from blood borne, or air borne pathogens.
  b.  Returning fire is allowed when first fired upon.
  c. Use of lethal force is allowed to prevent rape or assassination.
  d.  etc.
Unless you're willing to re-write the precept, it's "Cause no harm to living beings.".  Period.

It's not like you're breaking some rule that will leave you hell-bound.  There are karmic consequences, serious consequences, for taking life.  The Buddha didn't teach exceptions to this precept and perhaps you shouldn't either.  Following this course you set, you could say it's okay to take a life if your children are hungry.  Or your nieghbor's pet just dropped a deuce in your dichondra lawn.  When you start to rationalize exceptions, then there is no end to it.

I don’t think Ron is trying to re-write the precepts because Buddhism was always secular. All the religious moralising came later. People trying to force their own personal views onto Buddhism, under the disguise of religious faith due to ignorance (ducks for cover ;)

First, about the precepts (O'Brien, B. (https://www.thoughtco.com/the-first-buddhist-precept-450105)) — ‘ The Precepts of Buddhism are not the Buddhist Ten Commandments. They are more like training wheels. An enlightened being is said to always respond correctly to every situation.

But for those of us who have not yet realized enlightenment, keeping the precepts is a training discipline that helps us live harmoniously with others while we learn to actualize the Buddha's teaching.’

Let’s look at the canon.

‘In Pali, the first precept is Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami; "I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life." According to Theravadin teacher Bikkhu Bodhi, the word pana refers to breathing or any living being that has breath and consciousness. This includes people and all animal life, including insects, but not include plant life. The word atipata means "striking down." This refers to killing or destroying, but it can also mean injuring or torturing.’ 

1 a. Antibiotics are allowed to prevent dying from blood borne, or air borne pathogens because bacteria don’t technically breathe. 

1 b&c. The Buddhist teachings don’t forbid self-defence, it’s more about anger (ed. or intent). The Pali Vinaya, or monastic rules, allows a monk to strike back in self-defense, but never with anger or the intention to kill.

1 d. It’s also important to remember that Buddhists are not Jains (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_vegetarianism#Practice).

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 30, 2017, 05:40:40 am
Thanks for the useful additions and builds as always, Francis. :gawrsh:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 30, 2017, 10:11:22 am
Alright,  enough already with morality.  I am sorry that this topic resulted in adhominem attacks, personal insults, and what one board member referred to as shouting due to my large print selection.

So, let's move on to kamma / karma and karmic consequences.

From a secular perspective it is my thought that it is best to abandon reincarnation as  postulated by traditions that believe that the mind is some sort of an eternal being, which moves on from one form after death to another form after rebirth as there is no evidence of this.  Since there is no way to verify and validate even the most frequently reported occurrences, unless you have experienced it for yourself, this belief has no place in Secular Buddhism.

Rebirth, however, is another story as there are in fact many different forms of rebirth:

1. Death and replication of cells through the biological processes of meiosis and mitosis.

It is through these two biological processes that we experience birth, aging disease and death as described in dukkha, and human reproduction.  It is the reason that we look different now than we did when we were just born.

The Khan Academy has an excellent explanation of this process for those of you who fell asleep in first year biology:

https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/cellular-molecular-biology/meiosis/a/phases-of-meiosis (https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/cellular-molecular-biology/meiosis/a/phases-of-meiosis)

2.  The constant changing of mental factors (thoughts, feelings, and emotions).

3.  The passing on of ideas, from cultures, traditions and practices from teacher to student, and the same from generation to generation;

I am certain there are other examples.  These are all I can think of off the top of my head, but I am certain there are others.

Would anyone with constructive adds like to share their thoughts in this regard? :listen:

Note:  Please save the debates, ridicule, adhominem attacks, and wide excursions from the topic for the forum called "The Danger Zone". 

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/the-danger-zone/ (http://www.freesangha.com/forums/the-danger-zone/)

Also, please review the terms of service for FreeSangha.

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/faq-frequently-asked-questions/terms-of-service/ (http://www.freesangha.com/forums/faq-frequently-asked-questions/terms-of-service/)

 Thanks :hug:


Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 30, 2017, 04:43:20 pm
Kamma / Karma:  Intentional Actions and Resulting Consequences

It can be observed directly that there are often coincident consequences to every action, whether they are intentional or not.

One of Buddha's most famous and most accurate quotes is:  "Violence leads only to more violence."  Hence the First precept, and Buddha's advisory to flee any condition which may result in a violent confrontation.  Given that flight is not possible, the only appropriate (non-violent) response is to return violence with compassion, since the individual issuing the violence is going to inherit the hell realms in the next life (karmic consequences).

From a Secular Buddhist perspective, this resultant punishment in the next life for violent action cannot be demonstrated.  Therefore, it should not even be considered.  What can be demonstrated is that violence often does result in those being injured as a result of our violence returns violence, just as Buddha advised.  So, for the sake of keeping the peace, and avoiding retribution and escalation of violence  the first precept is certainly advised.

Question is, what should be done once violence has been committed and retribution and escallation is out of control.   :listen:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 30, 2017, 04:45:52 pm
Alright,  enough already with morality.  I am sorry that this topic resulted in adhominem attacks, personal insults, and what one board member referred to as shouting due to my large print selection.

So, let's move on to kamma / karma and karmic consequences.

From a secular perspective it is my thought that it is best to abandon reincarnation as  postulated by traditions that believe that the mind is some sort of an eternal being, which moves on from one form after death to another form after rebirth as there is no evidence of this.  Since there is no way to verify and validate even the most frequently reported occurrences, unless you have experienced it for yourself, this belief has no place in Secular Buddhism.

Why?


Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 30, 2017, 04:57:43 pm
Kamma / Karma:  Intentional Actions and Resulting Consequences

It can be observed directly that there are often coincident consequences to every action, whether they are intentional or not.

One of Buddha's most famous and most accurate quotes is:  "Violence leads only to more violence."  Hence the First precept, and Buddha's advisory to flee any condition which may result in a violent confrontation.  Given that flight is not possible, the only appropriate (non-violent) response is to return violence with compassion, since the individual issuing the violence is going to inherit the hell realms in the next life (karmic consequences).

From a Secular Buddhist perspective, this resultant punishment in the next life for violent action cannot be demonstrated.  Therefore, it should not even be considered.  What can be demonstrated is that violence often does result in those being injured as a result of our violence returns violence, just as Buddha advised.  So, for the sake of keeping the peace, and avoiding retribution and escalation of violence  the first precept is certainly advised.

Question is, what should be done once violence has been committed and retribution and escallation is out of control.   :listen:

That sort of depends. 

If you are the one committing the violence, you can choose to stop.  If it's  others, then you have a problem, which puts you in a matter of situational ethic.

Why not bypass all these hypotheticals and focus on the one thing that can be truly secular, and that all the "rights" of the N8FP, as well as supreme enlightentment will naturally arise from: practice
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 30, 2017, 07:03:23 pm
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Why?"

My personal reason was included in the statement.  Otherwise this secular practice would be nothing but another religion as you yourself previously stated.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 30, 2017, 07:49:50 pm
Quote
Idle Chater:  "If you are the one committing the violence, you can choose to stop.  If it's  others, then you have a problem, which puts you in a matter of situational ethic." 

Agreed!  Right out of the Angulimala Sutta.

Quote
  "Why not bypass all these hypotheticals and focus on the one thing that can be truly secular, and that all the "rights" of the N8FP, as well as supreme enlightentment will naturally arise from: practice".

From a secular perspective, the conundrum arises that without the rewards (karmic consequences) of a beneficial after-life, or a nibbana / nirvana, then there is no point in sacrificing one's only life for "rightness" or "harmoniousness".  In other words, there is no motivational reward or positive reinforcement to do right or to be harmonious.

Interesting!  This single fact alone eliminates any motivation for those, who want rebirth or reincarnation, or nibbana / nirvana from pursuing the secular path.

Seems a secularist of any sort therefore must also accept the fact, that after death there is nothing other than reassimilation of ones atoms into the matrix of the universe(s).  One could also argue that rebirth could in fact occur once our constituents were reabsorbed by another life-form at some future date.  Whether or not we would be aware of this fact is the  million dollar question.  (Probably should be The Billion Dollar Question, given that a million doesn't go that far anymore.) :-P

Sound right, or at least reasonable?   :listen:

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on March 30, 2017, 11:47:01 pm
Alright,  enough already with morality.  I am sorry that this topic resulted in adhominem attacks, personal insults, and what one board member referred to as shouting due to my large print selection.

So, let's move on to kamma / karma and karmic consequences.

From a secular perspective it is my thought that it is best to abandon reincarnation as  postulated by traditions that believe that the mind is some sort of an eternal being, which moves on from one form after death to another form after rebirth as there is no evidence of this.  Since there is no way to verify and validate even the most frequently reported occurrences, unless you have experienced it for yourself, this belief has no place in Secular Buddhism.

Why?

Because the Buddha did not teach reincarnation and reincarnation is not a Buddhist belief.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on March 31, 2017, 12:30:11 am

That sort of depends. 

If you are the one committing the violence, you can choose to stop.  If it's  others, then you have a problem, which puts you in a matter of situational ethic.

Why not bypass all these hypotheticals and focus on the one thing that can be truly secular, and that all the "rights" of the N8FP, as well as supreme enlightentment will naturally arise from: practice

Hi IdleChater,

Welcome aboard.

I agree Buddhism is truly secular and enlightenment is the result of practice on the N8FP.

However I would caution you, as you have cautioned others, you might want to start cultivating right speech, which is in the division of sila and an important step on the N8FP.

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 31, 2017, 04:48:52 am
Quote
Solodris:  "First, I think we should rely on sanskrit definitions rather than Pali one's, as this would further modernize Secular Buddhism as Pali is no longer a spoken language."

Yes.  Good input.  It is only fair to consider all translations of any given advisory, including translations from Sanskrit and Pali, which is cited by The Theravadans as being the original language of The Buddha.  After considering all of them, however, the only translation that counts is the one which works reliably and /or  consistently.  The difficulty is that meanings of words change over time, and twenty-five hundred years is a long time.

Quote
Second, I have this quote from the book After Buddhism by Stephen Batchelor that might address the problem of violence:  ...(re. story of the blind men and the elephant.)

Thanks!  I thought I had read every version of this parable, but you have presented yet another version.  What your version points out is the very reason why one meditation instructor pointed out to me that he and another Bhikkhu decided that the word "right" should be replaced with "harmonious".  And, I am certain if we worked on it we could come up with other reasons to replace the idea of rightness with other goals, such as that which shows the most beneficial resultant.

Wonderful contributions.

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 31, 2017, 08:02:50 am
Exactly! Solodris  :hug:

For me, this passage from The KS, when read, no matter how often read over and over again; each time; is the most freeing of any quotation provided by Sakyamuni Buddha.  If there is any hope for unbinding and release resulting from secular practice I have a notion it will emanate from these profound advisories.

 :r4wheel:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 31, 2017, 08:44:20 am
The next of Buddha's teachings with which I would like to review from a secular perspective is "dependent arising / dependent origination":

Quote
Dwelling at Savatthi... "Monks, I will describe & analyze dependent co-arising for you.

"And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now what is aging and death? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death.

"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.

"And what is becoming? These three are becomings: sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming. This is called becoming.

"And what is clinging/sustenance? These four are clingings: sensuality clinging, view clinging, precept & practice clinging, and doctrine of self clinging. This is called clinging.

"And what is craving? These six are classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for smells, craving for tastes, craving for tactile sensations, craving for ideas. This is called craving.

"And what is feeling? These six are classes of feeling: feeling born from eye-contact, feeling born from ear-contact, feeling born from nose-contact, feeling born from tongue-contact, feeling born from body-contact, feeling born from intellect-contact. This is called feeling.

"And what is contact? These six are classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, intellect-contact. This is called contact.

"And what are the six sense media? These six are sense media: the eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. These are called the six sense media.

"And what is name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form.

"And what is consciousness? These six are classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.

"And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.

"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

See also: SN 12.61; SN 22.5.

I think it best for us to take the analysis of each condition explained by Buddha one at a time:

Quote
"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.

This series of Buddha's sentences is a clear reference to The Four Noble Truths.  From my own personal experience in attempting to deal with stresses of all sorts it was my ignorance of their causes, which captured me, imprisoned me, and prolonged the suffering far longer than would have been, had I been aware of the causes.  I can't imagine anyone experiencing anything different, or at least no one with whom I have spoken over the years regarding this topic at any length has ever said otherwise.

Quote
"And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.

I can't tell you how many discussions in which I have participated where practitioners and even bhikkhus have argued that "fabrications" referred only to mental factors, where in this paragraph Buddha clearly points out that fabrications as he discovered and characterized them are both mental and physical.  From both a secular and scientific perspective it can be demonstrated that what Buddha is quoted as saying here is fact.  Fabrications are both mental and physical.  I find it curious that he found it necessary to also include spoken fabrications as well.  From the perspective of physics, the spoken word is a physical representation of one's thoughts which they wish to share with others. 

So, I guess this emphasizes the importance of the spoken word to The Buddha, since at that time all knowledge within the Buddhist community, within the original sangha was disseminated and taught using human speech.  This also would also explain why Buddha placed such importance upon the "rightness" of human speech as to reserve it a position of significance as to place it within The Noble Eight Fold Path as Francis recently pointed out in his response on this thread.

Does anyone see any of this differently as to what I have described?

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen on March 31, 2017, 10:06:25 am
Quote
Earlier Ron wrote -- From a secular perspective it is my thought that it is best to abandon reincarnation as  postulated by traditions that believe that the mind is some sort of an eternal being, which moves on from one form after death to another form after rebirth as there is no evidence of this.  Since there is no way to verify and validate even the most frequently reported occurrences, unless you have experienced it for yourself, this belief has no place in Secular Buddhism.

I was struck by the line "...traditions that believe that the mind is some sort of an eternal being, which moves on from one form after death to another form after rebirth as there is no evidence of this."

The essence of meditation is to turn around and look into that "mind," or self, to see exactly what it really is. Once that is realized, everything else falls into place. Reincarnation becomes meaningless.

Verification and validation is like tasting something -- if you've experienced even a tiny, momentary, little taste of it, you will understand what is referred to when it is spoken of. I'm not a scientist, but it looks to me like the scientific method is not much more than that shared "experience" of something. If you haven't had an actual experience, a taste, then reading, talking and thinking about it is not going to help.

Buddhism is founded on meditation, all the rest is superfluous. I'm all for getting rid of the subsequent embellishments such as sects ("Buddhism"), ceremonies and robes -- even suttas and precepts. It can be completely secular, but if you abandon that basic inner inquiry into the mind and the realization and liberation that can be found there, then you've thrown out the very reason for Buddhism in the first place.

As for the "elephant." Because that "mind" is also emptiness, it is almost like looking into a mirror -- folks see what they've brought to the experience.

In my not-so-humble-opinion, cessation of "fabrications" is emptiness and the consequence realization of "mind" that ensues -- samatha/vipassana.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen on March 31, 2017, 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on March 31, 2017, 11:01:46 am
Quote
zafrogzen:  "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."

Ha-ha, and Ah-ha, too!  You may be right as to meditation being the "practice" by which Buddha demonstrated all of his teachings.  After all it was through meditation that he attained enlightenment.  But, this is where the scientific method comes in:  Experimental results remain in the category of "theory" until the properly documented  process of the experiment can be independently reproduced by other experimenters.  And so, I think this is where secular buddhism leaves the pack.  Nowhere has it be demonstrated that anyone has attained enlightenment, or unbinding and release, nor is it even conceivably possible to do so, because attainment,"unbinding and release" is a purely personal experience.  In other words, you cannot look at someone else and say for a certainty, conclude that person has become a Buddha.  We can only come to a conclusion in that regard when we have personally become Buddhas.  We can report our experience to others.  We can also "believe" and even pronounce that another is a Buddha, or an Arahant, of a Bodhisattvah, or a Saint, but we cannot, any one of us, know for a certainty what the other is experiencing, except when we are experiencing it for (mundane) selves.

 :r4wheel:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 31, 2017, 11:14:18 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.

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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on March 31, 2017, 11:27:50 am
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".
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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.





Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis 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”?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis 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 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel017.html) 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis 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 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn06/sn06.001.than.html)).

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen on March 31, 2017, 10:58:33 pm
Me too.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen 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.”
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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 (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?

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz 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.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie 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.

[url]http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/200.htm[/url]  ([url]http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/200.htm[/url])



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.

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie 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.
 
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on April 01, 2017, 01:18:44 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.

Yes, and I dind that kind of recalcitrance kinda disturbing coming from a Buddhist.

We have the Buddha as a refuge, who sat down to meditate and when that meditation was finished he had attained supreme enlightenment.

We have the Dharma as a refuge that confirms that this was the the case.  After trying every other means to seek the end to birth, old age, sickness and death, it was meditation that brought the enlightening answer.

This is enough.

Now if we choose hold that the Buddha did not achieved supreme enlightenment and the Dharma cannot confirm this, then can we truly think of ourselves as Buddhists of any sort, secular or otherwise?

My teacher is as close to a fully enlightened being as I am likely to find in this lifetime.  He hold a lineage of practice with enlightened beings for generations.  Teaches practice, first and foremost, because that will lead to enlightenment and Buddhahood and not because of what we know or believe.

Good enough for me.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 01, 2017, 01:52:08 pm
Quote
Pixie:  "i'm finding that question puzzling, because its highly unlikely that any of us here have attained enlightenment, whether we meditate or not."

My point was that meditation alone has never been demonstrated to lead to enlightenment.  Buddha went through several phases before his marathon meditation led to his enlightenment.  He first noted the dukkha (birth, aging, diease, and death) which is part and parcel of this samsaric existence of ours ( "this great ball of suffering" as he labled it.)  As a bodhisatta he then studied under various "guru's" and holymen, who sent him down numeous non-productive paths.  He tried starving himself, nearly to death in his ascetic phase.  Then, through a combination of observations, mindfulness, and yes meditation he vowed to sit until he was unbound and released, fought against the armies of Mara, the great temptor, and etc.  ***Note:  All of this according to variations of his life story told in The Dhamma Pada and though popular Buddhist lore.

Before any of this happened to him as a human, as Francis mentioned, he was "Teacher of The Devas and The Gods", and was asked to take his next rebirth in the human realm of The 31 Planes of Existence, by The King of The Gods and Devas, a great creator Brahma.  In the human realm he eventually became the latest rebirth of The Buddha, first realizing The Four Noble Truths, which contain The Noble Eight Fold Path, which, as Idle Chater pointed out, can be practiced in any sequence, as circumstance requires.  These steps, like the precepts, are personal commitments, which are not like commandments, but are to first be discovered, then studied, then pentrated through practice and experience, then reflected upon,corrected, improved (progress not perfection), and then inculcated into one's personal processes and procedures until they become part and parcel of our personalities (habituated), so we don't have to think about them, but just do them reflexively.  All of this describes his path to enlightenment, meditation is but one leg of a many legged stool called Buddhist practice. 

So, as a student of Buddhism, first learning from Zen monastics, Sitting and studying the works of Tich Nhat Hahn (SP?), then briefly with Tibetan lay persons such as on this board with Yeshe' and most notabley Idle Chater, and at some length through online lectures with HHDL, Dr. Bob Thurman, and Pema Chondron, then The Laotian Theravada and The Southern, Forest Ministry Theravadans with Bhikkhu Samahita, Bhikkhu Damanando, and many, many others through their literature....all of this over the last nineteen years of my life, I have chosen to explore as Solodris and Zafrogzen pointed out, what they all have in common.  In this way, in my way, because it is my path of discovery and practice, I hope to come to understand the meaning of Secular Buddhism.  I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, or found another of many schisms in Buddhism, I am just trying to learn in the way that works for me.

So, sorry if I come across as harsh as you stated in a previous post.  My apologies to you.  This was not my intention.

As a kind friend pointed out to me just recently, I have been "thin skinned" with regard to what I took to be ridicule:  (Ron-A-Yana), and etc.  If there is one thing I learned from Buddha's teachings regarding "emptiness", is the danger of being attached to the delusion of self.  And so, when I take offence to ridicule and ad hominem attack by others, I know that I haven't truly understood Buddha's teachings regarding emptiness / Anatta.

And so, I would like to move on to Emptiness from a Secular Buddhist Perspective.

I hope this answers your question.  Thank you for tolerating my shortcomings. :hug:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 01, 2017, 02:05:53 pm
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Now if we choose hold that the Buddha did not achieved supreme enlightenment and the Dharma cannot confirm this, then can we truly think of ourselves as Buddhists of any sort, secular or otherwise?

My teacher is as close to a fully enlightened being as I am likely to find in this lifetime.  He hold a lineage of practice with enlightened beings for generations.  Teaches practice, first and foremost, because that will lead to enlightenment and Buddhahood and not because of what we know or believe."

My point and Francis's (see my previous post) was that there was much, much more preparation to Buddha's enlightenment than just sitting.  Nor can you know for a fact that Buddha was enlightened, nor that your Guru is going to become enlightened.  You can believe it.  You can have faith in it.  But, the only enlightenment you can yourself know for a fact is your own.  That is why I asked the question of you, "Have you become enlightened from just sitting?"

And your answer is? :listen:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 01, 2017, 02:12:08 pm
Emptiness from a Secular Buddhist Perspective.

There is nothing magic or mystical about Buddha's teachings regarding emptiness and Anatta:

It is a fact that we cannot identify any permanent, or unchanging self no matter where we look, nor how many times we subdivide our human forms.  Not in body.  Not in mind.  There is only dependently arisen,  impermanent, ever changing form and locus of energy, endlessly waxing, and waning in both body and mind.

Therefore, I have no problem accepting and embracing this teaching as a part of my personal secular practice.

Any thoughts or disagreement?   :listen:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on April 01, 2017, 03:34:27 pm
Quote from: IdleChater
My teacher is as close to a fully enlightened being as I am likely to find in this lifetime.  He hold a lineage of practice with enlightened beings for generations.  Teaches practice, first and foremost, because that will lead to enlightenment and Buddhahood and not because of what we know or believe.

Good enough for me.

My late (non internet) Tibetan Buddhist teacher always used to remind me to talk less and keep on practising. I think my (non internet) Theravada teacher would agree with that too.....so I'll say goodbye for now.

  _/\_

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on April 01, 2017, 03:37:38 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?

Because I believe it's true.


So you are a Secular Buddhist, if everything else apart from tn N8FP is an elaboration. The N8FP is the only path to enlightenment.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on April 01, 2017, 04:53:43 pm
My point was that meditation alone has never been demonstrated to lead to enlightenment.

Well, Ron, it has.  In the case of the Buddha, the Sidhas, Mahasiddhas and generations of others, meditation has be shown to lead to enlightenment.

You can't prove this scientifically.  It takes faith.

The Buddha taught 37 Factors of Enlightenment.  Faith appears twice in that list. Once as a Strength and once as a Faculty. (Anguttara Nikaya 7.67, Majjhima Nikaya 103, Digha Nikaya 16)

In the Mahayana we have the Vatamsaka Sutra where the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra states:

Faith is generous ...
Faith can joyfully enter the Buddha's teaching;
Faith can increase knowledge and virtue;
Faith can ensure arrival at enlightenment ...
Faith can go beyond the pathways of demons,
And reveal the unsurpassed road of liberation.

Faith is the unspoiled seed of virtue,
Faith can grow the seed of enlightenment.
Faith can increase supreme knowledge,
Faith can reveal all Buddhas ...
Faith is most powerful, very difficult to have;
It's like in all worlds having
the wondrous wish-fulfilling pearl.


As you can see, this has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with the Buddha's teaching, which as Francis points out are secular.

You can't even begin to understand what the Buddha taught let alone find or understand enlightenment without faith.  Waiting for "science" to prove it or some other factors is a fool's errand.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: zafrogzen on April 01, 2017, 07:21:10 pm
Dealing with a crisis, like the death of a loved one, will often cause folks to seek comfort in religion. I can certainly understand that impulse. The Christians have Christ, the bible and the church. In Islam it’s the prophet, the Koran and the Ummah. And of course the Buddhists have the Buddha, the dharma and the Sangha for refuge.

But a person who has applied themselves assiduously to meditation practice will have a place of refuge within, without reliance on externals -- a place where everything is resolved, which is beyond defilement and change, yet is not apart from this life or this present moment.

Someone who has not meditated much may not appreciate how meditation can open one up to insights that are very unlikely to occur otherwise. A person who has not meditated much is also likely to waste a lot of time reading and thinking and going down other less productive paths.

A person who has never meditated enough to have an insight is likely to think that it is too difficult for an ordinary person to master in this lifetime.

Someone who has never had an enlightenment experience is also likely to maintain that no one else has either. A person who has never had even a small experience of enlightenment is likely to think that it is an either/or proposition -- that when one is enlightened all bad habits and problems will suddenly cease and one will become some kind of special person, different from everyone else. That is an idealistic view and not what I’ve experienced, read or heard to be the case.

In zen, “kensho” is an initial experience of satori or enlightenment in which one sees the true nature of this life for the first time. It is not an uncommon experience for anyone who has sincerely applied themselves to meditation practice. Such experiences vary greatly in degree and depth. A few lucky individuals have one very deep experience. But even then it is only the beginning of real practice. Zhaozhou, one of the most famous of Chinese zen masters, was first enlightened at the age of 19 but trained hard with several different teachers until he finally begin to teach at the age of 60.

Many of us have numerous smaller experiences over the course of decades of meditation practice. Early experiences tend to be intense but after awhile the fireworks die down and the insights become more frequent and ordinary. One no longer needs to take comfort in faith or belief but knows for certain the truth about birth and death.

Eventually it is even possible to find peace right in the midst of the ups and downs of ordinary life.


Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: francis on April 01, 2017, 08:25:52 pm
My point was that meditation alone has never been demonstrated to lead to enlightenment.


I think what may be missing here is the value of following the Buddha’s N8FP and how that sets up the opportunity for right concentration (samma samadhi) (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-samadhi/), step eight. 

That is, right concentration would be almost impossible to achieve without following the rest of the path.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 01, 2017, 08:57:32 pm
Quote
Idle Chater:  "It takes faith."

Yes.  I have always looked at faith differently than religiostics.  For example:  I developed faith in The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha (The Triple Gem) because over time and with experience most of what was promised was delivered.  I liken this to why we return every so many years to buy the brand of vehicle in which we have grown to value, because of its reliability.  For the same reason I always return to the same stock broker / business advisor, who has consistently provided me with great returns on my investments.   In chemistry we call this "precision", reliability of results,  validated with contols called known quantities.

By the same token we should not have faith in those people, places and things, which promise one thing and deliver another, or promise  a thing and deliver nothing, but excuses as to why they haven't been delivered as promised.  Politicians,  used car salesmen, and evangelists of any "faith" are good examples of this type of individual.  A good friend and coworker on this very board once as a child had undue faith in his Buddhist spiritual director ( his term for him, not mine ).  My friend suffered serious medical consequences as a result of his undue faith, which ultimately took his life.

Faith is earned with a long term record of successes, not unfulfilled promises in this world, nor promised in the next, or at some other future date.

Faith is due The Buddha, only because what he recommends as documented in the suttas works.  You find that out, verify and validate this by first studying it, trying it and seeing if it works for yourself. 

Faith is earned by The Dhamma, because it essentially documents what works.  You cannot know what it says, unless you read it, study it, penetrate it and practice it for yourself.

Faith is earned by The Sangha in the same way as it is earnd by The Buddha.  Here I am talking about the members of Buddha's original sangha, those called The Elders, Arahants, and Saints, because of their accomplishments, their demeanor, and the long lines of those they provided beneficial assistance.  Buddha stated, (paraphrasing)  " He who knows The Dhamma knows me."  In this case, the dhamma is know to be truth.

Faith is both developed and earned. Faith is not like belief,and not synonymous with belief.  Blindly given faith is nothing but gullibility.

In this same context Christ stated, "We know the tree by its fruit."  If you see pears hanging on a tree, you can have faith in the fact that what you have before you is a pear tree.

My Father, an Insurance Broker during the final decade of his life trained me: "You can have faith in the fact that a check is good only when you take it to the bank, cash it and  have currency in hand."  He was of course talking about brick and mortar banks.  Today we transfer money via the internet, and open bank accounts when asked to do so by Nigerian Princes.  Not much faith due there.

And last, but not least: You can have absolute faith in the fact that "Ones, who claim they are attained, unbound and released, enlightened, or will be so shortly are usually not, and probably not ever going to be.  Why?  Because one of the telling characteristics of Attained Ones is "humility".  None of these seek attention or praise.  Such as these The true saints only seek to demonstrate and disseminate "The Dhamma" for the benefit of mankind.

 :r4wheel:
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on April 01, 2017, 09:16:33 pm
Quote
Idle Chater:  "It takes faith."

Yes.  I have always looked at faith differently than religiostics.  For example:  I developed faith in The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha (The Triple Gem) because over time and with experience most of what was promised was delivered.  I liken this to why we return every so many years to buy the brand of vehicle in which we have grown to value, because of its reliability.  For the same reason I always to to the stock broker / business advisor, who has consistently provided me with great returns on my investments.   In chemistry we call this "precision", validated with contols called known quantities.

We should not have faith in those people, places and things, which promise one thing and deliver another, or promise  a thing and deliver nothing but excuses as to why they haven't been delivered as promised.  Politicians,  used car salesmen and evangelists are good examples of this type of individual.  A good friend and coworker on this very board once as a child had undue faith in his Buddhist spiritual director ( his term for him, not mine ).  My friend suffered serious medical consequences as a result of his faith.

Faith is earned with a long term record of successes, not promises not yet fulfilled in this world, but promised in the next, or at some other future date.
Faith is due to The Buddha, because what he recommends works.  You find that out by trying it and seeing if it works for yourself.
Faith is earned by The Dhamma, because it also works.  You cannot know what it says, unless you read it, penetrate it and practice it for yourself.
Faith is earned by The Sangha.  Here I am talking about the members of Buddha original sangha, those called Arahants and Saints, because of their accomplishments, their demeanor, and the long lines of those they provided beneficial assistance.
We develop faith, it is not like belief, or exercises in gullibility.
Christ stated, "We know the tree by its fruit."  If you see pears hanging on a tree, you can have faith in the fact that what you have before you is a pear tree.
My Father, and Insurance Broker trained me:"You can have faith in the fact that a check is good only when you have cash in hand."
And last, but not least: You can have absolute faith in the fact that "Ones, who say they are attained, unbound and released: enlightened are usually not.

So what is the problem?   If you have faith, no further proof is needed.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Pixie on April 01, 2017, 11:37:16 pm
In my opinion one can spend all of one's spare time typing discussions and arguments with others on a screen, when its so much more beneficial to  make the effort to get out there and find a teacher (or spiritual friend), who doesn't want sex or a lot of money, to communicate with face to face. There are some mainstream teachers (and maybe some of the newer "Secular Buddhism" teachers) who are more relaxed in their approach and don't focus on all the superstitious and cultural beliefs which can be prominent for others.

 One can then know for oneself the results of his/ her instructions, and this creates confidence in the practice, rather than having blind faith in a person or an idea, or endless talking round in circles on the internet.

There are already established Secular Buddhism courses taking place, by the way. Here's one of them:

https://bodhi-college.org/programme#programme-chart (https://bodhi-college.org/programme#programme-chart)


Quote from: Zafrogzen

... a person who has applied themselves assiduously to meditation practice will have a place of refuge within, without reliance on externals -- a place where everything is resolved, which is beyond defilement and change, yet is not apart from this life or this present moment.

Someone who has not meditated much may not appreciate how meditation can open one up to insights that are very unlikely to occur otherwise. A person who has not meditated much is also likely to waste a lot of time reading and thinking and going down other less productive paths.


I agree, Zafrogzen.

May everyone find peace and happiness. _/\_

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 02, 2017, 08:05:22 am
Before proceding to the next topic, thank you all for your honest and very producive sharing.  Thank you for your constructive input.  Advice without having personal experience as an underpinning, a foundation is most often hollow, useless, and naive.  With that as a segue, I would like to move on to what I consider to be the last topic (for me) in this thread exploring Secular Buddhism. 

Some have already alluded to it.  Some, like Idle Chater, zafrogzen, and Pixie have insisted that it probably should have been first on the list:

The Practice.....Putting What You Have Studied and Learned to Work

This from here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Buddhism

Quote
Within the framework of secular Buddhism, Buddhist doctrine may be stripped of any unspecified combination of various traditional beliefs that could be considered superstitious, or that can't be tested through empirical research, namely: supernatural beings (such as devas, bodhisattvas, nāgas, pretas, Buddhas, etc.), merit and its transference, rebirth, Buddhist cosmology (including the existence of pure lands and hells), etc.

Traditional Buddhist ethics, such as conservative views regarding abortion, and human sexuality, may or may not be called into question as well. Some schools, especially Western Buddhist ones, take more progressive stances regarding social issues.

Secular Buddhism proposes that we leave behind the metaphysical beliefs and soteriology of Indian religious culture. This culture saw human life as an irredeemable realm of suffering, from which one should seek transcendence in an enduring beyond-human condition – a stance that virtually all Buddhist schools, as well as Hinduism and Jainism, perpetuate. Secular Buddhism, on the other hand, seeks to deploy the Buddha’s teaching as a guide to full human flourishing in this life and this world.

Secular Buddhism likewise rejects the authoritarian structures of power legitimated by the metaphysics of orthodox Buddhist belief. It questions notions of spiritual progress based on standardized prescriptions for meditation practice, as well as the widespread idea that Buddhist practice is essentially concerned with gaining proficiency in a set of meditative techniques endorsed by the authority of a traditional school or teacher.[7] Instead, secular Buddhism emphasizes a praxis that encourages autonomy and encompasses equally every aspect of one's humanity, as modeled by the noble eight-fold path (right vision, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration). Such an approach is open to generating a wide range of responses to specific individual and communal needs, rather than insisting on there being "one true way" to "enlightenment" valid for all times and places.

And so, since I am just pushing off from my side of the bank in this regard, I am open to learning from the experience of others.  As many a science professor has stated:  "Modern Science is built upon the shouders of those who have come before us." 

As Idle Chater has offered in a previous post:
Quote
"My teacher is as close to a fully enlightened being as I am likely to find in this lifetime.  He hold a lineage of practice with enlightened beings for generations.  Teaches practice, first and foremost, because that will lead to enlightenment and Buddhahood and not because of what we know or believe.

Good enough for me."

So, what has been your experience?  And, how has your experience translated into your current practice? 

Are you considering making a change in the way you practice?  If so, in what way?   :listen:

Again, thank you for your constructive contributions. :hug:



Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on April 02, 2017, 09:19:00 am

So, what has been your experience?  And, how has your experience translated into your current practice? 

He has, almost from the beginning, been a firend, a guide, and an inspiration.

Working with my Guru's direction, my practice has become stronger and deeper.

Quote
Are you considering making a change in the way you practice?

No.  There is no need.  I could always improve on the frequency, but not the way.

Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: stillpointdancer on April 03, 2017, 02:49:36 am
I think Secular Buddhism can be much more than a watered down version of Buddhism. It's a way of regaining control over ourselves as individuals, both in terms of how we see the world, and how we react within it. Too often religion has been used as a measure of control, socializing us into the prevailing culture, while holding out the promise of something good if things are done their way, as a carrot dangling before us. Secular Buddhism can do away with all of that by allowing each individual to develop as they can, not as they are told to be.
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 03, 2017, 06:50:02 am
I think Secular Buddhism can be much more than a watered down version of Buddhism. It's a way of regaining control over ourselves as individuals, both in terms of how we see the world, and how we react within it. Too often religion has been used as a measure of control, socializing us into the prevailing culture, while holding out the promise of something good if things are done their way, as a carrot dangling before us. Secular Buddhism can do away with all of that by allowing each individual to develop as they can, not as they are told to be.

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Stillpointdancer.

Would you like to share as to what your practice is today, how you got there, and what changes you are considering, or are currently taking?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Chaz on April 03, 2017, 08:07:54 am
I think Secular Buddhism can be much more than a watered down version of Buddhism. It's a way of regaining control over ourselves as individuals, both in terms of how we see the world, and how we react within it. Too often religion has been used as a measure of control, socializing us into the prevailing culture, while holding out the promise of something good if things are done their way, as a carrot dangling before us. Secular Buddhism can do away with all of that by allowing each individual to develop as they can, not as they are told to be.

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Stillpointdancer.

Would you like to share as to what your practice is today, how you got there, and what changes you are considering, or are currently taking?

Why is it important for you to know if we're changing our practice?

Are you?
Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 03, 2017, 09:12:44 am
Quote
Idle Chater  "Why is it important for you to know if we're changing our practice?

Just offering items for discussion and sharing, and because part of my practice is learning from the experience of others.  As my father used to say, "You can't learn anything with your mouth open and your ears shut!"

As new folks in the 12 Steps Programs are told:  " Take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in  your mouth."  Same point.

Since you are not known for doing any of those things, why do you care why I am asking? 

Quote
"Are you?"

Yes. That was the whole idea behind me starting this thread:  To learn from the experience and sharing of others and to openly share my practice with fellow board members for invited "constructive" comment and suggestions. 

Nothing nefarious intended if that is what you are worried about.  I promise not to sell your, or anyone else's board handle to Google, or Microsoft, despite the most recent bill passed in The U.S. Congress if that is what is worrying you.

However, as stated several times previously, trolling is not considered constructive.  That is why it is forbidden in Free Sangha's Terms of Service.  Same for innuendo, ad-hominems, and personally invasive comments.  If you would like to debate, or still can't control yourself in that respect, instead plying your trade here in the open forums, there is a forum called "The Danger Zone, just for that type of exercise that you seem to relish.  However, even there you are held to the TOS, and not allowed to hit bellow the belt, so to speak, or hone your skills at being as annoying as possible. 

So, take it to the personal message, where we can privately duke-it-out with no holds barred, at least not as far as I am concerned.  But, I think those kind of verbal fistacuffs are by invitation only, too.  As you have experienced I can get carried away and lose merit big time! Also, we could still be kicked off the board for such venomous crap if reported to the moderator or administrator. As far as I am concerned, just keep it off the threads for the sake of the other participants.  :spiderman:   :brick:

In these ways,hopefully, we can keep threads on track and the discussion friendly, non-adversarial, safe for free and open discussions.  The other issue to be considered is that we have kids on these boards, so we want to keep it civil for them, and to show them how civilized, sober adults behave in public.  In other words:  "Set a good example." :gawrsh:



Title: Re: Secular Buddhism
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on April 03, 2017, 02:15:53 pm
Since it appears that no one else wishes to share their experience, strength and hope as to their Buddhist path.  I will thank you all again, and see you @ the next topic.

This thread is now closed. :grouphug:
SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal