Author Topic: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism  (Read 2077 times)

Offline Spinoza

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Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« on: June 17, 2010, 12:32:33 am »
Haven't read any of it yet, but thought some of you might be interested in a special "issue" on Buddhism at The New Humanism, the online magazine from Harvard University's Humanist Chaplaincy.

Scientific Research on Meditation and Mindfulness
Digging into the Humanist Heart of Buddhism
A Humanist Appreciation of Buddhist Sources
Neuroscience and Practice

http://thenewhumanism.org/
The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak. - Spinoza

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2010, 02:08:10 am »
Thanks. I'll check it out.

Offline mindyourmind

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2010, 06:41:05 am »
Haven't read any of it yet, but thought some of you might be interested in a special "issue" on Buddhism at The New Humanism, the online magazine from Harvard University's Humanist Chaplaincy.

Scientific Research on Meditation and Mindfulness
Digging into the Humanist Heart of Buddhism
A Humanist Appreciation of Buddhist Sources
Neuroscience and Practice

http://thenewhumanism.org/


Yes, thank you, that looks interesting. Call me biased but I have often wondered why the secular West is not more attracted to (even "secular" Buddhism.


Offline Sunya

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2010, 10:01:52 am »
The above articles, in my opinion, provide an insightful perspective on the Buddha's teachings in light of the modern world, Western society, and the humanistic approach. One theme they share is their focus on secularism, which can appear very inviting to skeptics due to its non-authoritative, pragmatic, empirical emphasis. The neuroscience articles in particular contain a wealth of interesting information on the brain's response to meditation, in line with the research conducted by Drs. Richard Davidson and Antoine Lutz, among many others.

Though some of the articles present non-traditional, possibly controversial new takes on Buddhism, the comments tend to balance out the writer's perspective with an appropriate level of constructive criticism. Interpreting the Buddha's teachings differently does not necessarily mean creating conflicting viewpoints. On the contrary, different perspectives often seem to complement each other, regardless of where they may appear to contradict other perspectives, unless individual views are cherished and elevated above others. Each point of view, as long as it does not disparage others, adds to a better holistic understanding of the Dharma/Dhamma. Take, for example, this excerpt from the Tittha Sutta of the Pali Tipitaka, available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.6.04.than.html:

Quote
"Once, in this same Savatthi, there was a certain king who said to a certain man, 'Gather together all the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth.'"

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and, rounding up all the people in Savatthi who had been blind from birth, he went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth have been gathered together.'

"'Very well then, show the blind people an elephant.'

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and he showed the blind people an elephant. To some of the blind people he showed the head of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed an ear of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed a tusk... the trunk... the body... a foot... the hindquarters... the tail... the tuft at the end of the tail, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.'

"Then, having shown the blind people the elephant, the man went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the blind people have seen the elephant. May your majesty do what you think it is now time to do.'

"Then the king went to the blind people and on arrival asked them, 'Blind people, have you seen the elephant?'

"'Yes, your majesty. We have seen the elephant.'

"'Now tell me, blind people, what the elephant is like.'

"The blind people who had been shown the head of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.'

"Those who had been shown the ear of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.'

"Those who had been shown the tusk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like an iron rod.'

"Those who had been shown the trunk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like the pole of a plow.'

"Those who had been shown the body of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a granary.'

"Those who had been shown the foot of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a post.'

"Those who had been shown the hindquarters of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a mortar.'

"Those who had been shown the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a pestle.'

"Those who had been shown the tuft at the end of the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.'

"Saying, 'The elephant is like this, it's not like that. The elephant's not like that, it's like this,' they struck one another with their fists. That gratified the king.

"In the same way, monks, the wanderers of other sects are blind and eyeless. They don't know what is beneficial and what is harmful. They don't know what is the Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma. Not knowing what is beneficial and what is harmful, not knowing what is Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma, they live arguing, quarreling, and disputing, wounding one another with weapons of the mouth, saying, 'The Dhamma is like this, it's not like that. The Dhamma's not like that, it's like this.'"

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Some of these so-called
priests & contemplatives
   are attached.
They quarrel & fight —
   people seeing one side. (Tittha Sutta)


A humanistic approach to Buddhism may be another part of the elephant, which when overlooked or ignored will never reflect a complete understanding of the larger picture.

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2010, 10:33:37 am »
Is there non-Humanism?

We're mired in isms, even neologisms. :)

Buddha Dharma is of its very nature related to all sentient beings.

Humans don't need any more 'isms' than existed at the time of Buddha. ;)

Has any ism added a jot to Buddha Dharma?

Forget them. :)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010, 10:44:45 am »
The above articles, in my opinion, provide an insightful perspective on the Buddha's teachings in light of the modern world, Western society, and the humanistic approach. One theme they share is their focus on secularism, which can appear very inviting to skeptics due to its non-authoritative, pragmatic, empirical emphasis. The neuroscience articles in particular contain a wealth of interesting information on the brain's response to meditation, in line with the research conducted by Drs. Richard Davidson and Antoine
Thanks, Sunya.

I have been quoting/paraphrasing from this sutta for years, never exactly knowing its origins.

_/\_Ron


Lutz, among many others.

Though some of the articles present non-traditional, possibly controversial new takes on Buddhism, the comments tend to balance out the writer's perspective with an appropriate level of constructive criticism. Interpreting the Buddha's teachings differently does not necessarily mean creating conflicting viewpoints. On the contrary, different perspectives often seem to complement each other, regardless of where they may appear to contradict other perspectives, unless individual views are cherished and elevated above others. Each point of view, as long as it does not disparage others, adds to a better holistic understanding of the Dharma/Dhamma. Take, for example, this excerpt from the Tittha Sutta of the Pali Tipitaka, available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.6.04.than.html:

Quote
"Once, in this same Savatthi, there was a certain king who said to a certain man, 'Gather together all the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth.'"

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and, rounding up all the people in Savatthi who had been blind from birth, he went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth have been gathered together.'

"'Very well then, show the blind people an elephant.'

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and he showed the blind people an elephant. To some of the blind people he showed the head of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed an ear of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed a tusk... the trunk... the body... a foot... the hindquarters... the tail... the tuft at the end of the tail, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.'

"Then, having shown the blind people the elephant, the man went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the blind people have seen the elephant. May your majesty do what you think it is now time to do.'

"Then the king went to the blind people and on arrival asked them, 'Blind people, have you seen the elephant?'

"'Yes, your majesty. We have seen the elephant.'

"'Now tell me, blind people, what the elephant is like.'

"The blind people who had been shown the head of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.'

"Those who had been shown the ear of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.'

"Those who had been shown the tusk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like an iron rod.'

"Those who had been shown the trunk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like the pole of a plow.'

"Those who had been shown the body of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a granary.'

"Those who had been shown the foot of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a post.'

"Those who had been shown the hindquarters of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a mortar.'

"Those who had been shown the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a pestle.'

"Those who had been shown the tuft at the end of the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.'

"Saying, 'The elephant is like this, it's not like that. The elephant's not like that, it's like this,' they struck one another with their fists. That gratified the king.

"In the same way, monks, the wanderers of other sects are blind and eyeless. They don't know what is beneficial and what is harmful. They don't know what is the Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma. Not knowing what is beneficial and what is harmful, not knowing what is Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma, they live arguing, quarreling, and disputing, wounding one another with weapons of the mouth, saying, 'The Dhamma is like this, it's not like that. The Dhamma's not like that, it's like this.'"

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Some of these so-called
priests & contemplatives
   are attached.
They quarrel & fight —
   people seeing one side. (Tittha Sutta)


A humanistic approach to Buddhism may be another part of the elephant, which when overlooked or ignored will never reflect a complete understanding of the larger picture.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline catmoon

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2010, 07:23:44 pm »

Yes, thank you, that looks interesting. Call me biased but I have often wondered why the secular West is not more attracted to (even "secular" Buddhism.



I think it's just that Buddhism is seen here as just another religion with just another God.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 08:51:53 pm »
I have been quoting/paraphrasing from this sutta for years, never exactly knowing its origins.

_/\_Ron

The above articles, in my opinion, provide an insightful perspective on the Buddha's teachings in light of the modern world, Western society, and the humanistic approach. One theme they share is their focus on secularism, which can appear very inviting to skeptics due to its non-authoritative, pragmatic, empirical emphasis. The neuroscience articles in particular contain a wealth of interesting information on the brain's response to meditation, in line with the research conducted by Drs. Richard Davidson and Antoine
Thanks, Sunya.

I have been quoting/paraphrasing from this sutta for years, never exactly knowing its origins.

_/\_Ron


Lutz, among many others.

Though some of the articles present non-traditional, possibly controversial new takes on Buddhism, the comments tend to balance out the writer's perspective with an appropriate level of constructive criticism. Interpreting the Buddha's teachings differently does not necessarily mean creating conflicting viewpoints. On the contrary, different perspectives often seem to complement each other, regardless of where they may appear to contradict other perspectives, unless individual views are cherished and elevated above others. Each point of view, as long as it does not disparage others, adds to a better holistic understanding of the Dharma/Dhamma. Take, for example, this excerpt from the Tittha Sutta of the Pali Tipitaka, available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.6.04.than.html:

Quote
"Once, in this same Savatthi, there was a certain king who said to a certain man, 'Gather together all the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth.'"

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and, rounding up all the people in Savatthi who had been blind from birth, he went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the people in Savatthi who have been blind from birth have been gathered together.'

"'Very well then, show the blind people an elephant.'

"'As you say, your majesty,' the man replied and he showed the blind people an elephant. To some of the blind people he showed the head of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed an ear of the elephant, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.' To some of them he showed a tusk... the trunk... the body... a foot... the hindquarters... the tail... the tuft at the end of the tail, saying, 'This, blind people, is what an elephant is like.'

"Then, having shown the blind people the elephant, the man went to the king and on arrival said, 'Your majesty, the blind people have seen the elephant. May your majesty do what you think it is now time to do.'

"Then the king went to the blind people and on arrival asked them, 'Blind people, have you seen the elephant?'

"'Yes, your majesty. We have seen the elephant.'

"'Now tell me, blind people, what the elephant is like.'

"The blind people who had been shown the head of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.'

"Those who had been shown the ear of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.'

"Those who had been shown the tusk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like an iron rod.'

"Those who had been shown the trunk of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like the pole of a plow.'

"Those who had been shown the body of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a granary.'

"Those who had been shown the foot of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a post.'

"Those who had been shown the hindquarters of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a mortar.'

"Those who had been shown the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a pestle.'

"Those who had been shown the tuft at the end of the tail of the elephant replied, 'The elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.'

"Saying, 'The elephant is like this, it's not like that. The elephant's not like that, it's like this,' they struck one another with their fists. That gratified the king.

"In the same way, monks, the wanderers of other sects are blind and eyeless. They don't know what is beneficial and what is harmful. They don't know what is the Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma. Not knowing what is beneficial and what is harmful, not knowing what is Dhamma and what is non-Dhamma, they live arguing, quarreling, and disputing, wounding one another with weapons of the mouth, saying, 'The Dhamma is like this, it's not like that. The Dhamma's not like that, it's like this.'"

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Some of these so-called
priests & contemplatives
   are attached.
They quarrel & fight —
   people seeing one side. (Tittha Sutta)


A humanistic approach to Buddhism may be another part of the elephant, which when overlooked or ignored will never reflect a complete understanding of the larger picture.

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2010, 02:33:37 am »

Yes, thank you, that looks interesting. Call me biased but I have often wondered why the secular West is not more attracted to (even "secular" Buddhism.



I think it's just that Buddhism is seen here as just another religion with just another God.

I noticed this in the article:
The Dhammapada is generally free of theism. Its words, stripped of specific cultural and historical references, speak clearly to my modern atheist mind.

Given that humanism is closely associated with atheism, I would think a big attraction of Buddhism to a humanist is not having to believe in a creator god. 

Humanists, convert to Buddhism!  You know it makes sense. :teehee:

Spiny

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2010, 02:35:28 am »
I have been quoting/paraphrasing from this sutta for years, never exactly knowing its origins.


Ron, I'm not sure how this quote is relevant to our discussion. 

Spiny

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2010, 06:25:50 am »
Spiny, if you had read the rest of the quote you would find that I was thanking the poster for revealing the origins of the quote in the suttas:

"never exactly knowing its origins."  :namaste:

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Sunya

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2010, 08:57:40 am »
When I included the quote from the Tittha Sutta, I was hoping to illustrate the point that "Humanist Buddhism" is another part of a larger picture and can contribute to a holistic understanding of the Buddha's teachings. Limiting oneself to a narrower understanding by dismissing the humanist perspective on the Buddha's teachings is like thinking of an elephant lacking one of its numerous body parts, none of which taken alone represents the entire elephant. Even looking at the Buddha's teachings solely from the perspective of humanism represents only one piece of the puzzle. By incorporating the humanist perspective into one's outlook, we can potentially come closer to seeing the full image.



Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2010, 10:03:22 am »
I have been quoting/paraphrasing from this sutta for years, never exactly knowing its origins.
And I had been incorrectly attributing it to Rumi the Sufi/Muslim poet. Rumi does use it but obviously was a much later figure than the Buddha.
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Buddhism issue at The New Humanism
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2010, 03:23:14 am »
By incorporating the humanist perspective into one's outlook, we can potentially come closer to seeing the full image.

For me Buddhism naturally includes the humanist perspective.

Spiny

 


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