I don't get Buddhism

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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Apr 15, 2021 5:40 pm

Faith without God ― a Buddhist Perspective
Posted by Judie Sigdel
at the buddha groove blog

If you ask a random sampling of people to define faith, chances are that they will mention God (or another deity/ies) in their reply. Jews will say “God,” Muslims will say “Allah,” Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans may reply “God” and/or “Goddess,” and Christians will answer “God” and/or “Jesus.”

So, what, exactly, do Buddhists have faith in since Buddhism is a non-theistic religion?


In fact, this is surely one of the most perplexing reactions I have to Buddhism. How on earth can any religion not come back to a God/the God.

A No God religion seems beyond intelligible to me. With God you have a transcending font able to provide the faithful with a Scripture. And it covers both the here and the now and the there and the then. Live according to the will of God on this side of the grave and you gain both eternal life and salvation on the other side of it.

But No God? Buddha the mere mortal "thinking up" a spiritual path that intertwines enlightenment, karma, reincarnation and Nirvana with...the universe?

Buddhism is, indeed, non-theistic in that Buddha said that there is no creator deity, which is what most people are referring to when they say “God.” However, he confirmed that devas (gods and goddesses) do exist, though he said that they are subject to the same cycle of samsara (life, death and rebirth) as humans and other sentient beings.


Okay, so how did he go about demonstrating that they do exist? And how did he differentiate them from a God/the God in regard to judgments that must be made in regard to human souls on either side of the grave?

This part: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_deities

How does it work "for all practical purposes"? Do all of the gods and goddesses get together to pass judgments on the souls of mere mortals? Is there a vote? How are these deities different from "the Gods" appealed to by the ancient Greeks and Romans?

Where do they all reside? Is there the equivalent here of Heaven?

And how on earth would they react to, say, someone like me? Someone who has often approached life and death from a deeply introspective frame of mind and has honestly come to a conclusion "here and now" that is not in sync with with either a God or a No God religion.

Edit:

More about the part where a God/the God or the gods and the goddesses take into account the intellectual honesty and integrity of those who make a genuine and sincere effort to think though the life that they lived. And, given the reality of actual free will, they are simply not able to think themselves into believing in either a God or a No God spiritual part?

Does that count in Buddhism?
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 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:00 pm

Iambiguous,

Buddhism is a logical theology.

I make my sentences very clear most of the time, and I am enlightened.

I’ll tell you this:

1.) it takes 2 seconds to become enlightened. All you have to do is realize that win/lose and lose/lose realities don’t work

2.) sin is simply consent violation; some worse than others

3.) existence is sin itself because everyone is having their consent violated

4.) the purpose of our current state of being is to send everyone to their private heavens forever

5.) some enlightened beings have strong empowerments (this is what the Buddha called gods and devas). It’s not necessary to have strong empowerments to be enlightened

6.) I just made the new plan for every being in existence (forever). I actually teach gods and the Buddha’s at this point in my life —. Though I must admit, there’s TONS of shit they know that I don’t. It’s a reciprocal relationship of mastery and intellect between them and me
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Apr 24, 2021 6:25 pm

Faith without God ― a Buddhist Perspective
Posted by Judie Sigdel
at the buddha groove blog

Buddha instructed his followers not to worship him ― “Don’t follow the [pointing] finger, follow the way (path).” But it would be easy to believe that Buddhists do exactly that. After all, statues of the Buddha, complete with elaborate offerings, are the focal point of any Buddhist temple. The fact of the matter, however, is that Buddhists venerate the Buddha (and a host of other buddhas and bodhisattvas, beings aspiring to become enlightened for the benefit of others).


Come on, the path would not exist without the mind behind the finger that pointed to it.

Also: Did Buddha invent it? Did Buddha discover it? How is that distinction made?

Also, there will always be the part where somehow the dots have to be connected between Buddha and the path...and then to the places that the path can or can't, will or won't, do or don't take you "up there" or "out there" in the universe. Otherwise we are basically back to the Western path: the "mysterious ways" behind the whole truth.

Or, again, is it all more about my own unwillingness or inability to grasp the path "in good faith"?

St. Thomas Aquinas explained that worship “…[i]s the manifestation of submission, and acknowledgement of dependence, appropriately shown towards the excellence of an uncreated divine person and to his absolute Lordship.” Veneration, on the other hand, “…is the honor and reverence appropriately due to the excellence of a created person.” While St. Thomas Aquinas was a Christian, the distinction drawn in these definitions clearly explains how Buddhists venerate the Buddha: as a human who reached enlightenment and taught his followers how they could do the same.


Whether one worships Buddha or venerates him is largely irrelevant to me. At least given my own interest in religion. How does choosing one rather than another have any substantive impact on the behaviors that one embodies on this side of the grave in order to attain that which one would like their fate to be on the other side of it.

And how does this demonstrate that in fact Buddha did reach enlightenment? Here I go back to this: we'll need a context of course.
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 felix dakat » Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:07 am

The whole thing of Buddha consciousness means getting to know you are it. That takes a lot of work principally because society keeps telling you you are not it.
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 May 13, 2021 5:03 pm

Faith without God ― a Buddhist Perspective
Posted by Judie Sigdel
at the buddha groove blog

By venerating the Buddha, Buddhists place their faith in the path to enlightenment. By extension, they also place their faith in the dharma, Buddha’s teachings. Finally, they place their faith in the sangha, the Buddhist community of ordained and laypeople, both past and present, who carry and support the dharma.


But this path of enlightenment seems to emanate from but one more mere mortal who was "thrown" at birth into a particular historical and cultural context. And somehow he was able to "divine" this spiritual path that is then somehow connected to the universe that is then somehow flung back into the life of this mere mortal who "thinks up" components of this path said to revolve around enlightenment, karma, reincarnation and Nirvana. Placing his faith in all of this in the sangha inhabited by those who embody and sustain the dharma.

And then if someone like me shakes his head and says "huh?", those of this faith will be more or less successful in fleshing it all out?

In other words, it's not unlike narratives revolving around all of the hundreds of other religious paths down here. Except No God.

Buddhists “seek refuge” in these three tenets of faith, which are known as the Three Jewels. Seeking refuge simply means turning to the Three Jewels for protection from delusion, attachment and samsara. They “go for refuge” by saying some variation of the lines below, either during a ceremony at a temple or meditation center or in their own home as part of their daily meditation practice.

I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the dharma.
I take refuge in the sangha.


Okay, but what if the Three Jewels themselves are the delusion? After all, since there are the equivalent of "Jewels" in all of the other denominations as well aren't we then back to pinning down which path is the One True Path?

And need I remind you of what is at stake here if you choose the wrong path?

What if the whole point of attaching yourself to these Jewels is but one more manifestation of what I call the "psychology of objectivism"? How does the true believer go about establishing that, while this may be the case for all those on other religious paths, it's not the case for him. His really is the One True Path.

As for samsara -- "the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma" -- how is this to be understood more definitively in regard to enlightenment, reincarnation and Nirvana?

Though the part about taking refuge in the Three Jewels seems readily understood by me. Refuge being the day to day embodiment of "comfort and consolation" that all such religious paths provide.
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 May 23, 2021 6:48 pm

Faith without God ― a Buddhist Perspective
Posted by Judie Sigdel
at the buddha groove blog

The real test of faith, of course, is whether it works. Does Buddhism cause practitioners to speak and behave more compassionately towards all sentient beings? Does it give them the strength to deal with daily life as well as with inevitable crises? Does it provide comfort when they or a loved one are ill or dying?


Yes, for some that is the real test of their faith. But then are there not hundreds of religious and spiritual paths out there in which many will claim to have passed it. After all, as long as you believe that you have passed it, isn't that as far as you need go? And that can be as far as it need go in regard to human interactions of this side of the grave. Are you able "to speak and behave more compassionately towards all sentient beings?" Does it "give [you] the strength to deal with daily life as well as with inevitable crises?" And to "provide comfort when [you] or a loved one are ill or dying?"

Yes? Then, no doubt about it, stick with it.

But then comes the part where your faith is linked in turn with immortality. Or with one or another rendition of salvation. Or the part where your own chosen behaviors come to clash with the behaviors of those on a conflicting spiritual path. Then how is it determined that you pass the text? Again, in particular, with Buddhism where there is no God around to bring it all down to Judgment Day.

As a longtime Buddhist practitioner, I can attest that it does. My Buddhist practice taught me to be mindful that my words and actions have an impact on others. As a result, my interactions with people are kinder. I became a vegetarian over a year ago so my actions would be more closely aligned with my belief system. When my elderly father became seriously ill about six months ago, I turned to my faith ― in the Buddha, his teachings and in my teacher and friends who comprise my sangha― for support. And when he passed away, I drew strength and profound comfort from these keystones of my faith and from participating in a Powa puja (Transference of Consciousness at the Time of Death) at the temple to request that my father be reborn in the Pure Land.


Yes, this is more or less how I imagine any number of those who choose any number of religious paths, constructing a narrative in their head to make it all fit nicely into a foundation that they can embody comfort and consolation it. I was once one of them myself. And, sure, to the extent it prompts you to be more tolerant of others and to make this a kinder world...who can object to that?

But it really does not address the objections that I raise above in regard to conflicting goods among the various denominations and the part where the death of a loved one [and your own death] is not just subsumed in assumptions that can only be experienced in leaps of faith.

Nor does it address the questions raised on my Theodicy thread.
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 » Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:18 pm

Nirvana, Buddhism, and the Path Explained
at the One Mind Dharma website

The Cycle of Samsara

Samsara in Buddhism is the cycle of suffering and rebirth that we all experience. The cycle, at its most basic, consists of birth, living, death, and new life. The word is Sanskrit, and roughly means “wandering through.”


This is the sort of explanation that one would expect if it is derived solely from a world of words. You are interested in Samara and someone in the Buddhist community tells you what it is as a concept. If you were to probe further by noting a set of circumstances in your life that was deeply troubling you, and you wanted a more detailed understanding of your suffering and rebirth, you are not likely to get it.

And, in my view, that is because, as with all other religious denomominations, the "for all practical purpores" parts almost always involve only leaps of faith.

The Buddha taught that we wander through our cycles of life and death with ignorance. We don’t see this cycle clearly, and just continue to be subjected the living, suffering and rebirth brought about by samsara.


Here, of course, I have my own rendition of this. I believe that many who embrace one or another rendition of what I call "objectivism" are largely ignorant of the points I raise in my signature threads. They prefer to think of their own cycles of life and death as entirely comprehendible within the bounds of their own moral and political dogmas.

The Buddha taught that we wander through our cycles of life and death with ignorance. We don’t see this cycle clearly, and just continue to be subjected the living, suffering and rebirth brought about by samsara.


Of course the problem here is that this is the default frame of mind for all objectivists...God or No God. In other words, if you want to avoid being ignorant think like we do.

Samsara, like nirvana, is caused by karma. Karma is the Buddhist law of cause and effect, and teaches us that we reap what we sow. As we cultivate wholesome qualities, we move out of this cycle of suffering over lifetimes.


This prompts me to explore the question of free will itself: https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/budfree.htm

"While the issue of free-will does not arise in Buddhism, it is indisputable that it embraces a universal determinism: every effect, without exception, has a cause. The idea that the will is uncaused or is self-caused violates the Buddhist principle of interdependent coorigination (prattiyasumutpada): nothing in the universe can originate itself as substances allegedly do or the will is said to do. Buddhist causality, however, is seen as a cosmic web of causal conditions rather than linear and mechanical notions of push-pull causation. Furthermore, the Buddha claimed that we are morally responsible only for those actions that we intend. He took strong exception to the Jain theory that we suffer from accidental karma, such as stepping on a bug that we do not see. The Jains, another Indian religion contemporary with Buddhism, charged that the Buddha’s qualified determinism would lead to antinomianism and ethical subjectivism. Only their strict determinism, they claimed, would maintain objective ethical standards."

Anyone here willing to bring this down to earth by focusing in on particular sets of circumstances? Again, back to abortion. Given karma, who reaps and sows what given the conflicting goods embedded at both ends of the moral and political spectrum?
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 Jun 11, 2021 5:22 pm

Nirvana, Buddhism, and the Path Explained
at the One Mind Dharma website


What is Nirvana?

So this brings us to nirvana, or nibbana in Pali. As Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out, nirvana comes from the Pali word meaning “to be extinguished,” as we may do with a fire. Specifically, we are extinguishing the fire of suffering and samsara.


Come on, it's not what is extinguished in regard to "I" on this side of the grave that preoccupies most of us in regard to the reality of, among other things, Heaven and Nirvana. Instead, it is in anticipating what awaits whatever "I" becomes on the "other side". In other words, something, anything that allows us to imagine here and now that there is a there and then. Otherwise, from my frame of mind, religions exist in order to allow us to invent -- think up -- things like Heaven and Nirvana here and and in in order to attain and then sustain the psychologically comforting and consoling belief in immortality and paradise.

With Buddhism however it gets all the more ineffable:

It’s important to start by understanding that nirvana is not a place. Like freedom, it is a state. There was once a verb in Pali, nibbuti, to describe the act of extinguishing. This is just pointed out to help us understand that achieving nirvana is a process.


Not a place...a state. A process. So, is Heaven understood by most Western religionists to be a state as well? A process? Or a place "up there" where souls are intertwined in God for all of eternity?

And then of course this part:

The Buddha mentioned that nirvana is impossible to describe to somebody who has not achieved awakening themselves, but also pointed toward nirvana as freedom from suffering. This suggests we need not ponder what it feels like, but rather the way it is achieved.


On the other hand, is it even possible to be less intelligible about nirvana than this? And isn't the way that it is achieved embodied solely in the manner in which any particular individuals are able to convince themselves that they have achieved it? Without some demonstrable description or evidence of its actual existence how is it to be pinned down whether one has achieved it?
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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Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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