I don't get Buddhism

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby felix dakat » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:28 pm

iambiguous wrote:
felix dakat wrote:" Here is a piece of the superior wisdom of the East. The Yogin realizes that all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Devatas with which he has filled the heavens are Maya illusion just as the world itself is Maya. All this plurality is illusion." ~C. G. Jung, ETH Lecture XI, 3 Feb1939, Page 74.


We'll need a context of course.


Lol
The purpose of my life would seem to be to express the truth as I discover it, but in such a manner that it is completely devoid of authority. By having no authority, by being seen by all as utterly unreliable, I express the truth and put everyone in a contradictory position where they can only save themselves by making the truth their own.
Soren Kierkegaard– Journals, 432
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:34 pm

felix dakat wrote:
iambiguous wrote:
felix dakat wrote:" Here is a piece of the superior wisdom of the East. The Yogin realizes that all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Devatas with which he has filled the heavens are Maya illusion just as the world itself is Maya. All this plurality is illusion." ~C. G. Jung, ETH Lecture XI, 3 Feb1939, Page 74.


We'll need a context of course.


Lol


No, seriously! :lol:
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Dec 04, 2020 7:20 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

My search began with The Waste Land. Ever since its publication in 1922, this has been hailed as a definitive poem, capturing the broken rhythms and confused juxtapositions of the modern world. Memorably, and prophetically, The Waste Land ends with an ancient mantra: ‘ Shantih, shantih, shantih’. The words, Eliot explains, are taken from the Hindu scriptures the Upanishads. Eliot then offers a Western equivalent in the phrase of Saint Paul in the New Testament: ‘the peace which passeth understanding’. Yet those words could not have formed the same powerful ending to the poem. The concept of redemption or, perhaps, atonement (or personal reconciliation: at-one-ment) is explicitly there, but I think there is a certain irony here since the words actually chosen come not from the Bible, but from sacred Hindu texts. The most renowned lines of Modernist literature which offer peace of mind amidst the maelstrom thus come from the East, like the sound of a singing bowl. Nor is this sacred refrain tagged on at the end like an arbitrary improvisation: it is crucial to the whole intricate polyphony of the work.


Imagine then Eliot's reaction to our postmodern world. The "broken rhythms and confused juxtapositions" embedded in pop culture, mindless consumption and the endless pursuit of our own 15 minutes of fame. Even here in a philosophy venue the Waste Land threatens the extinction of all that those like Eliot perhaps imagined the opposite of a Waste Land to be.

Imagine that poem.

Still, my own reaction to "remedies" from either the West or the East merely reconfigures the wasted land into countless personal, subjective reactions to what that even means. Let alone to what can or should be done about it.

And "peace of mind" here is seen by me only to be someone's capacity to create, ironically enough, a subjective objectivism...an essential reality in their head which subsumes the maelstrom in what they are able to simply believe is true. About a soul, about religion, about God. And for most that is almost never challenged by someone like me. Instead, only in experiencing some truly traumatic calamity in their life might they find themselves questioning that belief. Yet, even here, what is the alternative to religion...East or West. Clearly, very, very few are likely to consider my own frame of mind.

At the beginning of the twentieth century The Waste Land may have been disturbingly original in its style, but in its Eastern spiritual orientation it was, in fact, becoming part of an emerging zeitgeist. In the very same year of its publication, Herman Hesse brought out his novella Siddhartha. What an extraordinary synchronicity and sign of a shifting inner landscape! For if in Eliot’s poem the key word is Shantih, in Hesse’s fable it is OM. This sound, sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, forms the title of the penultimate chapter, and when Siddhartha (not to be confused with Buddha) is on the edge of committing suicide, it is this primordial word that rises up through his body like an incantation. The sound heals and saves his stricken life.


Yes, I devoured Hesse back in "the Sixties". I had lost my own Christian foundation and many of the arguments he posed about human interactions seemed to take me to some place that made the surface of things so clearly superficial. It was more or less a "spiritual" complement to the materialism I was devouring as a Marxist. And they did complement each other in a way that back then I was never able to quite grasp.

Still, OM?

Right, as though a sound could effectively enable me to counter a philosophy of life that was "sinking" further and further into moral nihilism. Into a feeling of being "fractured and fragmented" in regard to all things moral and political and spiritual.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Sun Dec 13, 2020 7:49 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Schopenhauer the Buddhist

For T.S. Eliot the encounter had one root in the courses he took at Harvard, in lectures on Japanese religion and literature and in his study of Indic philology and the Upanishads. In contrast, Hesse’s knowledge of Eastern spirituality derived partly from his adolescent reading of the atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. A hundred years before The Waste Land and Siddhartha, Schopenhauer had announced that Sanskrit literature will be no less influential for our time than Greek literature was in the fifteenth century for the Renaissance. One might question his timing, but not the insight.


Okay, Eastern philosophies and spiritual paths being "influential" is one thing, being any more relevant in regard to my own interest in religion another thing altogether. Those from the East present us us with a different way in which to grasp human interactions...given as well a different understanding of the "big picture".

In the East, everything seems to be grappled with and apprehended more "holistically", more oriented toward the community in sync with certain universal truths. In the West, things are more fragmented and oriented toward the individual. A world where science and technology is likely to be more instrumental in regard to relationships. And, of course, the role that consumption plays in a marketplace that revolves considerably more around "show me the money". Even religion becomes just another manifestation of political economy in the West.

Born in 1788, Schopenhauer was the first great Western philosopher to extoll the wisdom of the Upanishads, and, later in his life, to identify his own ethical stance with that of the Buddha. He consistently praised ancient Indian literature and saw it as an essential corrective to the Western orientation. Schopenhauer certainly claimed that the Upanishads formed the most elevating reading and should be grasped as the greatest gift to his own disorientated epoch.


All I can do here is ask those who have thought through Schopenhauer's moral philosophy by way of the Upanishads, to imagine how he might have reacted to the points that I raise in regard to moral nihilism. Also, Upanishads or not, Schopenhauer is still no less known today as the "philosopher of pessimism". He might have seen compassion as the chief font for morality but that doesn't make dasein, conflicting goods or political economy go away. Compassion for who in what set of circumstances?

Bring the word "compassion" into a discussion among the liberals and the conservatives here and see how far it gets you.

On his desk were statues of two figures: one was Kant, the other Buddha. They must have represented two forms of Enlightenment: one rational, the other spiritual. He himself pointed out that the conclusions of his own philosophy had emerged from a critical tussle with Kant and other Western philosophers, but that they coincided perfectly with the conclusions of Hinduism and Buddhism, which, he felt, had been reached by their exponents largely through intuition. “The mystic,” Schopenhauer wrote aphoristically, “is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within; whereas the philosopher begins from without.”


Unfortunately, an assessment such as this is ever and always up in the clouds of abstraction. Begins from within? And how is that not a manifestation of dasein out in a particular world understood in a particular way? As though "intuition" is not an existential contraption manifested subjunctively in and of itself.

Same with all that is "without". Whatever we claim that to be we are still either able or not able to demonstrate to others that it is or is not the same for all of us.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Mon Dec 21, 2020 5:07 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Schopenhauer’s philosophy contains no God, no revealed dogmas, and no supernatural agencies. Some decades before Nietzsche, he wrote: “Mankind is growing out of religion as out of its childhood clothes… Christianity is dead and no longer exercises much influence.”


In some respects this is true. Just Google "more atheists than ever" and you get this: https://www.google.com/search?ei=-8bfX8 ... WwQ4dUDCA0

On the other hand, who is kidding whom? Religion is still embraced -- sometimes fanatically -- by millions and millions around the globe.

And the reason is not difficult to discern. When it comes to acquiring a font on this side of the grave for establishing objective morality and a font on the other side of the grave for assuring immortality and salvation, what's the alternative?

Are people going to flock to Nietzsche and Schopenhauer for "comfort and consolation" in regard to to that?

Buddhism merely puts a No God spin on the same results.

But his understanding, put forward most systematically in The World as Will and Representation (1818/19) does seem remarkably close to Buddhism. Schopenhauer says, for instance, that the meditator “best understands who methodically assumes the right posture, withdraws into himself all his senses, and forgets the entire world, himself included.” What is still left in his consciousness is primordial being.


But: However remarkably close any philosopher gets to any religious denomination doesn't appear to make my own objections go away. I merely note that any "spiritual" path found is better than having thought yourself into believing that human existence is essentially meaningless, only to topple over "in the end" in the obliteration of "I" for all the rest of eternity.

Gaining access to one's "primordial being" here is, to me, no less didactic than those on this thread -- https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=195805 -- attempting to gain access to an "omnipotent being"

And, sure, to the extent that particular Buddhists seek to "forget the entire world" by huddling together in "sanghas" and focusing on the embodiment of dhamma, they can act out their spiritual quest in a way that, for most of the rest of us, isn't a practical option.

On the other hand, like all the rest of us, they need access to food, water, clothing, shelter and all that actually sustains their existence from day to day. Bills to be paid to provide that things. Bills paid as with all other religions by the "faithful".

What stands out here is the resonant phrase ‘primordial being’. It is a crucial term which has become badly obscured in our culture and yet remains central to any understanding of the current fascination with mindfulness. With a kind of clairvoyance Schopenhauer saw that while the West would be preoccupied with objective knowledge and the control of external nature, the East would engage with inner wisdom and the power of being.


On the other hand, how could it not be obscure as soon as you make an attempt to reconfigure it from in a "world of words" intellectual contraption to an actual entity to be described given the interactions of those entities we know as "human beings".

What "inner wisdom" in regard to what concrete situation? And why not be preoccupied -- scientifically, phenomenologically, technologically -- with what actually is objective knowledge embedded in the either/or world. That's what has brought about -- for better or worse -- out modern industrial world.

Note for example instances of "inner wisdom" and "the power of being" in regard to smart phones or personal computers or the internet. What of the 'primordial being" being then?

Instead, it sounds more like the sort of stuff that fixed jacob and his ilk here would focus in on to prop up their own "metaphysical" "theories of everything".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby Ecmandu » Mon Dec 21, 2020 5:19 pm

The thing about sanghas is that they are an investment to society. They are spiritual think tanks.

To be in a spiritual think tank is an extremely difficult job. Sure, just like in every think tank, there are slackers, quacks etc...

But to dismiss spiritual patronage is one of our largest possible mistakes. We need to know this shit.
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:40 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Theosophy Then

There were further manifestations of a changing constellation of consciousness in the West. In 1879 a long narrative poem by Edwin Arnold on the life of the Buddha was published entitled The Light of Asia. It became an instant bestseller. But the book’s influence was soon surpassed by a much more powerful force, connected to an eccentric Russian aristocratic called Madam Blavatsky and her powerhouse the Theosophical Society, which was founded in 1875 to promote the noble aim of transforming consciousness. She set up her headquarters in India and converted to Buddhism. The Society, taken over by Annie Bessant, continued to expand, bringing into the West a whole new range of Eastern concepts and orientations.


Too bad they are no longer around to address the points that I raise about religion [East or West] here. Still, if there are any proponents of the ideas these folks embraced please feel free to discuss them with me given the arguments I subscribe to "here and now".

Theosophy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy

The part where "spirituality" meets the reasoning mind? And the "occult"? And the "cosmos" itself?

As for my main interest in religion...connecting the dots existentially between spiritual values and morality? Not much:

Theosophy does not express any formal ethical teaching, a situation that generated ambiguity. However, it has expressed and promoted certain values, such as brotherhood and social improvement.

Just vague enough to cover everything. Brotherhood in regard to what? Social improvement...when and where and how and why? Theosophy and...vaccinations? Abortion? Human sexuality?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy ... and_ethics

Then in 1929 everything changed. At an international congress in Holland, the chosen heir and messiah, a man called Krishnamurti, stood up before three thousand Theosophists and disowned the role they had given him. To a cult addicted to hyperbole, Krishnamurti gave a remarkably simple speech: “You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for your enlightenment on someone else,” he said, adding that inner peace could only come through self-knowledge, but obtaining that was an extremely difficult task.


Or, again, in regard to the points I raise about Buddhism has anything really changed at all? How could we derive our happiness and enlightenment other than through our interactions with others? The alternative would be to isolate yourself from "society" and derive your sense of self solely through interacting with nature or alone on the spiritual path itself.

In other words, how does thinking, like this...“You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for your enlightenment on someone else”...not manage in turn to be just vague enough to encompass everything.

And it certainly would "for all practical purposes" not have much relevance in regard to, say, the covid-19 vaccination wars. More like something someone would embody in a community that consisted solely of other likeminded religious adherents.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:26 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

There is a certain irony in the fact that just as the practice of mindfulness began to penetrate Western culture, so Buddhism began to decline in many of the countries where it had previously flourished. This was largely to do with the triumph of Communism, a movement which had scant regard for the individual and a contempt for all religions. For the Communists, the ‘opium of the masses’ had to be destroyed. During those decades of repression in the Communist states of Asia, a diaspora took place and the geographical shape of Buddhism changed. The religion crossed national boundaries and for the first time became an international force, a world-historical energy.


There is also the irony built into our increasingly secular post-modern world. Given a world in which Communism has been on the wane since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Religion as a whole often has to compete with the new Gods: pop culture, mass consumption and the worship of all things celebrity. The quest for our 15 minutes of fame. And in the sense that there are so many more outlets in which to achieve it. Call this the Youtube Syndrome. So many, many more can become "famous". Also, 15 minutes because our attention spans shrink year in and year out. Given this where on earth does a serious religious commitment fit in at all.

And yet, paradoxically, for some, the more fractured and fragmented our "lifestyle" world becomes, the greater the longing for one or another "spiritual path" to anchor all the pieces to. And here over the decades the religions of the East wax and wane in our part of the world.

Though clearly to the extent that secular, ideological regimes are still around -- brandishing doctrinaire narratives that become for all practical purposes religions in and of themselves -- the faithful can be pared down considerably.

As for the "diaspora" engendering a more global spiritual "energy", we're still dealing with this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schools_of_Buddhism

And this:

In the midst of this ideological turbulence a further mutation took place, in the Western experience of Buddhism.


Buddhism given the "Western experience" that has deep roots in, among other things, "show me the money". And the three new Gods above.

Consider Buddhism in the United States: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_ ... ted_States

Is there anything even remotely resembling a common path that all Buddhists agree on in regard to any number issues that religions in general concern themselves with. Like, for instance "morality here and now and immortality there and then"?

Instead there are various ethnic and national traditions which may or not overlap with, say, the 14th Dalai Lama.

It all seems to become a kind of cafeteria smorgasbord, where everyone gets to pick out the practices that cause them the least disruption in their lives.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:32 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Zen Then

Partly as a result of the Communist Revolution, and partly because of growing internationalism, it was not the original Theravada but the later Mahayana tradition of Buddhism that now entered the West, first inaudibly, and then with the intensity of revelation.


In other words, had there been no Communist Revolution and no growing internationalism, the original Theravada and not the later Mahayana tradition of Buddhism might have entered the West.

But that doesn't change my own reaction to Buddhism above. Whatever the "school of thought" on whatever "the spiritual path", those on it either will or will not take it to the arguments I make in regard to God and religion: how do they connect the dots existentially between morality/enlightenment/karma on this side of the grave and immortality/salvation/nirvana on the other side of of it.

Instead, based on my own experiences with religionists, including many on this thread, that is precisely the direction they refuse to pursue.

And here is yet another "historical" variable:

In 1927 an obscure Japanese scholar published his Essays on Zen Buddhism in English. On the Richter scale of cultural tremors there was barely a quiver; but it may have been this book more than any other which changed the cultural landscape. The transformation took two or three decades to become visible; but by the 1960s, Zen was ubiquitous. By that time, the author of that slim volume – an energetic and ageing monk named D.T. Suzuki – had become a visiting lecturer at major Western universities, a guide to artists from Gary Snyder to John Cage, a challenge to psychoanalysts, particularly Erich Fromm and Karen Horney, and a beacon attracting thousands of shipwrecked individuals.


Same thing:

This "ubiquitous Zen": given what particular context relating to what particular narrative/discipline bridging human behaviors here and now and the fate of "I" there and then. Go there, I tell them, or merely sustain your comfort and consolation in a "world of words". In meditation. In all of the earthly benefits of a more disciplined mind.

And I would note my own speculations in regard to all of this with those who embrace the thinking of Gary Synder and John Cage...or Karen Horney and Erich Fromm. In other words, art and/or psychoanalysis given whatever manner one feels "shipwrecked".

What particular "beacon" in bridging the gap between morality and immortality?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:05 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

The Compassionate Engineer

There’s at least one other branch of Mahayana Buddhism which exerted, and continues to exert, a powerful influence. It is linked indissolubly to the charismatic figure of the Dalai Lama. One of the most influential representatives of mindfulness in our time, his contribution to Western culture since his flight from Tibet in 1959 has been formidable.


Formidable.

In other words, for whatever reasons rooted in the historical trek of Buddhism to the West, he has come out on top. Here and now. As, say, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once was back in the Sixties when the four mop tops paid him a visit. He was all the "spiritual rage" back then.

So, the Dalai Lama has come to particular conclusions about Buddha that revolve around the my own interest in religion. Or around your interest in religion. But my interest in religion focuses almost entirely on the existential relationships between morality and immortality. And around the extent to which what the Dalai Lama believes, he is able to demonstrate as in fact a rational belief.

Anyone here a greater admirer of him? Let's discuss his frame of mind.

At the heart of the Dalai Lama’s teaching is an approach which prizes compassion above all other values. This has its historic source in the Mahayanan concept of the Bodhisattva – one who refuses nirvana and escapes from the wheel of resurrection to return, again and again, to save all sentient life until each individual has achieved enlightenment.


As though compassion, like all other mental, emotional and psychological "states of mind" doesn't need a context in order to explore it more fully. After all, one can feel compassion [or empathy] for anyone in any set of circumstances. One can feel compassion for a pregnant woman choosing an abortion or for the unborn baby about to be shredded. One can feel compassion for a fascist or for a Communist.

We can start a thread that examines attempts to pin down who one ought to feel compassion for and who does not deserve it.

As for the Bodhisattva, this sounds [to me] like something that ecmandu is ever and always coming back to. One cannot be free of all pain and suffering [and "saved"] until everyone is free of all pain and suffering.

Okay, but what does that have to do with actual human reality?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 04, 2021 5:16 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

For the Dalai Lama, compassion resides at the centre of morality. But the mindfulness that the Dalai Lama proclaims is no easy matter. The Tibetan tradition of Buddhism does not flirt with the moment of sudden illumination; it tends rather to talk about continual practice and relentless application.


Whether "flirted" with in the "moment of sudden illumination", or sustained over the long haul, compassion remains largely an intellectual contraption until those who choose to embody it describe the situation in which they feel that compassion is warranted. Compassion for whom in what situation construed from what set of moral and political prejudices. Compassion for the woman choosing an abortion or compassion for the shredded baby? Compassion for your fellow Nazi storm troopers or compassion for your fellow Communist comrades? Compassion for men and women of all colors or compassion for the white race only?

Only in regard to Buddhism and other religious paths this compassion is somehow connected in turn to the fate of "I" beyond the grave. Making one's understanding of it all the more fundamental.

In the Dalai Lama’s many speeches one finds two key words: transformation and training. The mind, he insists, has the capacity to change, but it needs to take up a repertoire of techniques which foster attention, generate insight, and culminate in an over-arching compassion. Transformation is made possible only through training.


Okay, let's try this...

For those here who think they understand what the author is getting at in regard to the Dalai Lama’s emphasis on "transformation and training", cite examples from your own life in order to flesh out the meaning here. What set of circumstances triggered what behaviors on your part that you construed to be examples of this?

And how on earth might his understanding of "transformation and training" be related to my own interest in them: connecting the dots between morality here and now and immortality there and then. How do you connect the dots here?

Yo, Gib. Haven't heard from you in a while. And this is your thread. Give it a go. 8)
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:16 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Since the mid-Eighties the Dalai Lama has sought an intellectual dialogue with the West, but one more related to science than philosophy.


What I would ask him of course is this: In regard to "morality here and now and immortality there and then", where does science end and philosophy begin.

And then in regard to what he argues here, where does that end and Buddhism begin?

Given a particular context of his own choosing.

Once asked what he would have liked to have been had he not become a monk, he replied that he would have been an engineer. He has argued that Buddhism shares with science a common investigative approach, using empirical methods and recognising the law of cause and effect.


Right, like here there is not a profound distinction to be made between engineering material, scientific, phenomenological relationships in the either/or world, and guiding spiritual relationships in regard to the discussion I would prefer to sustain with him. What empirical evidence enables him to establish his own leaps of faith to enlightenment, karma, reincarnation and Nirvana?

Indeed, the Dalai Lama said at an address given in Central Park in 1999, “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon these claims”. At the same time, he has cogently argued that ethical concerns must be brought to bear on scientific investigation, and that the two frameworks of the scientific and spiritual must recognise and retain their intrinsic differences.


So, is there anyone here [or anyone that anyone here knows] who can note particular examples of how science has failed to demonstrate claims of his about Buddhism? Has anyone in the scientific community taken him up on this?

What exactly is he talking about here? What sets of circumstances? And do these situations focus on my own reservations regarding this particular No God religious path?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:46 pm

Buddha Travels West
Peter Abbs follows Buddhism’s path towards becoming a Western humanism.

Buddhism as Therapy

A claim constantly reiterated by the Dalai Lama is that through meditation individuals can change the narratives which shape their lives. Scientific research seems to support the idea that sustained periods of meditation can alter neuronal patterns. The evidence is that following particular meditational regimes, people can begin to change.


Here I am less "confrontational" in regard Buddhism. To the extent that meditation and other practices/disciplines used by those who embrace Buddhism do in fact have a constructive, positive, therapeutic effect/impact in/on a person's life, more power to them. I have not myself attempted to engage them but for those who suggest that this is to my own disadvantage, I have no rebuttal. Let alone an effective rebuttal.

No, it is far more in regard to "changes" relating to "morality here and now, immortality there and then", that attracts me to discussions of religion. In other words, enlightenment, karma, reincarnation and Nirvana with respect to the manner in which I examine "conflicting goods" and "the abyss" given the components of my own philosophy --- identity, value judgments and political economy. That's the exchange I am drawn to.

Thus, this part...

Buddhism is beginning to enter not only the world of empirical research, but the world of therapy. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Jon Kabat-Zinn, who trained under the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and the Zen Master Seung Sahn, pioneered a health movement cumbersomely titled MBST: Mindfulness-Based Stress Therapy. The project was committed to using the many techniques of Buddhist meditation and mindfulness to alleviate and even cure depression and anxiety.


...is something that I would encourage anyone to pursue if "for all practical purposes" it allows them to make useful, productive, beneficial changes in their mental and emotional outlook on life.

The evidence certainly seems to confirm some rather extraordinary states of mind that can be achieved when one is more focused in on training the mind to go in a more disciplined direction. Reacting to the world based on whatever the unschooled mind misses.

I'm all for the practice of Buddhism in that regard.

But, again, that's not the "regard" that is of most interest to me.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby pinkladydragon » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:20 pm

gib wrote:As you can probably tell, I'm having a hard time trying to articulate what I want to say. I do have other things to say, but I don't feel like typing it all out here. I think I'll just start with this. In a nutshell, I'm sick and tired of Buddhism continually knocking at my door saying "I am the way." I keep wanting to tell it: "No, you're just another religion; why can't you be just another religion?" But it's persuasive in a way that no other religion or science is.


In the first instance, Buddhism was established by Siddhartha Gautama, someone who had very little experience of life. He was a rich, pampered young man who, when he ran away from home, almost immediately attached himself to ascetics. After only a few years, sitting under a banyan tree one day, he experienced some sort of epiphany or "enlightenment". I can't remember all the details but one outcome was a decision to not live life at the extremes of either wealth or denial (asceticism) but to chose the middle way. (Again, I have forgotten much of Buddhist nomenclature.) When under the banyan tree meditating, he saw visions. This is hardly surprising. Living as an ascetic, his mind and body had been put through extremes of stress, he was near to death. Under such circumstances anyone is liable to experience psychosis i.e. "visions" (many Christian saints did too). Gautama's story should, of itself, make one suspicious of his claims. For example, he had never lived moderately, had never experienced moderation, so how then, at the age of around 32, had he managed to acquire the wisdom that his insight to live moderately would require?

More fundamentally, however, all religions are based on belief, not Truth. None of the religions know what a human being is, nor what a mind is. Neither, for that matter, does philosophy or science. Therefore on what basis can the Buddhist way be said to be the way we should live?

One of the main aspects of Buddhism is meditation. One meditates to quieten the mind and eventually to attain enlightenment. This is not dealing with life. This practice is running away from life. It is escapism. Instead of dealing with the horrors of life, Buddhism preaches burying one's head in the sand. Its practices ensure death, the ultimate escape. (I used meditation as relaxation therapy. It does not teach one how to deal with life. The way to deal with life is to face up to it and change oneself. One changes oneself by letting go of one's past and being, as it were, reborn. this is a long and arduous process, but it works.)
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pinkladydragon
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