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

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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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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:51 pm

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

Buddhism as Western Secular Ethics

If Buddhism has influenced the consciousness of the West, it in turn has also been influenced, even transformed, by the host culture. Travelling West, Buddhism became Westernised.


Yes, that's how it works. You are a Buddhist given particular historical, cultural and circumstantial contexts. Then that shifts. You have new experiences in a community that in some respects is different from the one you left. What else is there but to continue on as the Buddhist you once were or, instead, to configure your beliefs and practices in order to accommodate the new situations that you encounter.

From my own perspective, however, that is less important than the fact that as "the old Buddhist" or the "new Buddhist", you are still confronted with connecting the dots existentially between morality here and now and immortality there and then. Thus, from my own vantage point as a moral nihilist, all religious paths -- old or new, orthodox or revisionist -- are interchangeable.

Here the only alternative is to become part of a religious community that makes every effort to distance itself from the larger "society". For Buddhists, the Sangha. Ethics can more readily revolve around that which the Buddha himself prescribed. Or, rather, in interpreting that which the Buddha himself prescribed.

The Dalai Lama himself provided the term to describe this mutation. In an address given in New York’s Central Park in 1999, he claimed: “Again, I must emphasize that we are the same…we have the same potential…Spiritual growth need not be based on religious faith. Let us speak of secular ethics.”


All I can note here again is how ludicrous this seems to me given what is at stake for "I" on the other side of the grave. Secular ethics? Spiritual growth? Okay, are there not countless moral narratives -- secular and spiritual -- swirling around any number of conflicting goods that bring about all those ominous headlines in the media day after day after day?

After all, clearly, one way or another, with immortality and salvation on the line, there has to be a distinction made between behaviors that do get you over to the other side as you want the other side to be and behaviors that don't.

Buddhism just muddles it all the more by taking God and Judgment Day out of the picture.
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 gib » Mon Mar 08, 2021 3:37 am

pinkladydragon wrote:
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?


pink lady dragon... if that is your real name...

I was with you up until this point. And my appreciation doesn't go unmentioned. It's a breath of fresh air to hear that the Buddha's images might have been fasting induced--anything that brings the mystical back down to earth is appreciated. But then you said:

pinkladydragon wrote: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.)


And I sensed some deep resentments about Buddhism--perhaps the kind that I feel, perhaps not--but lets try to be honest about Buddhism. I agree with what you say when it comes to monastic Buddhism--you know, hiding yourself away from society and being among people who all agree with you and have the same goal, and want to cooperate with each other to make the journey harmonious--but this is like a soldier boasting about his service even though he's never seen any action--on this, I am in total agreement with you.

But these aren't the only Buddhists. I've heard from many, and seen many, who practice meditation and Buddhism in general, to do things like run a business, heal their relationships with people, perfect their fighting skills in some martial art (this is how martial arts in general began--the ideas of bringing the focus, tranquility, and discipline of mind to the battle field in order to become a better soldier). So I don't think your charge can be leveled against all Buddhists, but certainly those who hide away from hardship in order to attain what Buddhists call "enlightenment" (whatever that means).
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby phyllo » Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:49 pm

Buddhism as Western Secular Ethics

If Buddhism has influenced the consciousness of the West, it in turn has also been influenced, even transformed, by the host culture. Travelling West, Buddhism became Westernised.
Of course, Buddhism became Easternised when it went into China, Tibet, Japan, etc.

So the 'authentic' Buddhism only really existed when Buddha was teaching it.

The same is true any religion or philosophy which has a specific founder.

As soon as Jesus dies, his teachings are Judeised, Greekised, Romanised, etc.
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby pinkladydragon » Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:51 pm

gib wrote:
And I sensed some deep resentments about Buddhism--perhaps the kind that I feel, perhaps not--but lets try to be honest about Buddhism. I agree with what you say when it comes to monastic Buddhism--you know, hiding yourself away from society and being among people who all agree with you and have the same goal, and want to cooperate with each other to make the journey harmonious--but this is like a soldier boasting about his service even though he's never seen any action--on this, I am in total agreement with you.

But these aren't the only Buddhists. I've heard from many, and seen many, who practice meditation and Buddhism in general, to do things like run a business, heal their relationships with people, perfect their fighting skills in some martial art (this is how martial arts in general began--the ideas of bringing the focus, tranquility, and discipline of mind to the battle field in order to become a better soldier). So I don't think your charge can be leveled against all Buddhists, but certainly those who hide away from hardship in order to attain what Buddhists call "enlightenment" (whatever that means).


Thank you for your positive comment. (Apologies for taking so long to reply, but my Reply Notifications were not going where anticipated in my email account and I only came across them today.)

First, my charge is against Buddhism, not Buddhists.

Buddhism does not, as I think I said, know what a mind is. (The Dalai Lama himself admits that the mind is complex.) Nor does Buddhism know what a human being is. Yet Buddhism offers advice on how to live or, perhaps more pertinently, on how to die. In effect, one escapes suffering by committing suicide many times over i.e. birth, death, rebirth, until one achieves enlightenment. At that point, one can stay on earth as a teacher (bodhisattva?) or one goes off to - where? – not an afterlife. But what if there is a soul? What happens to that? What if the soul is immortal?

Next, please imagine this potential, if rather sketchy, scenario about how life might work:

Suppose a human consists of soul, spirit, mind, thoughts and ideas and senses and emotions. Suppose that every experience a person has, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn. For example, one learns communication abilities, dexterity, reading ability, patience, stamina etc, etc. With sufficient experience, these abilities grow and develop. In other words, life experience provides the necessary nutrition which feeds the mind and allows the mind to grow and develop. Deny the mind life experience, then it becomes severely malnourished, weakens and dies. In death, the soul is “repaired” over time before the human is reborn, but in a weaker state than before. If, in each subsequent life, the mind becomes weaker and weaker, then the soul eventually slips into a profound depression from which it cannot be roused and it remains in this state for all eternity i.e. it does not die.


With specific respect to life experience. All religions advise their adherents to live according to certain rules. These rules limit life experience which, in my hypothetical account of how life works, will severely damage the mind and will lead to the soul descending into a profound depression followed by eternal “coma”. Thus it would be irrelevant whether the Buddhist is a monk or a private citizen since most, if not all, of the advise offered to adherents is ring-fenced by the need for caution in one respect or another. This is not living. A healthy human being must be a free agent to experience life and learn from life and to thrive.

As an aside, I know from personal experience, this damages one’s mental health. To advise that one be dependent for one’s self-esteem on what others think, is extremely naïve. For example, younger women especially are suffering low self-esteem from using the internet and being exposed to other women advertising their “perfect” bodies, boyfriends and lifestyles. People play similar games all the time, games which are highly competitive and designed to put others down. Had I taken seriously what others thought of me, I would have not learned to stand up for myself. In a nutshell, Buddhism advises behaviours which are damaging. Buddhism does not live in the real world, in other words.

To conclude, Buddhism does not know what a mind is. It has no grounds for offering the advice it offers. The aim of Buddhism, if the above scenario were true, would be to place the soul into some sort of irrecoverable coma. And with goodness knows what consequence…….
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby Great Again » Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:25 pm

Buddhism is a doctrine of salvation according to which everything in the world is impermanent, without self (persistent substance) and therefore suffering (unsatisfactory). Each individual being is a transient combination of factors of existence that spring up and disappear again according to eternal laws in functional dependence on each other (cf. Dharma). Since no good or bad action remains without effect, every stream of individual life finds its continuation according to the Kharma after death in a new existence. Moral action leads to gradual purification; realization and annihilation of thirst (will to live) to liberation, to nirvana.

Nirvana already played an important role for the Brahmins. It is the state that can already be reached during one's lifetime through the disappearance of the life drive, which makes rebirth impossible after dying. Nirvana is understood by the Brahmins as the absorption of the individual soul (Atman) into the absolute (Brahman), by the Buddhists as an incomprehensible state of bliss, in which all factors of existence that condition an individual existence are finally annulled, so that being in Nirvana is equivalent to nothingness.

Is that something to strive for?
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby phyllo » Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:33 pm

"May all beings have happy minds." - Buddha
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Mon Mar 15, 2021 5:48 pm

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

Evidently, the position of secular ethics is utterly inclusive and non-hierarchical. The dialogue is between individuals: a human being is talking to other human beings.


Right, like this discussion does not unfold out in a particular historical, cultural and circumstantial context in which, existentially, social, political and economic folkways, mores and laws don't gravitate around a set of memes that make "private language" talks all but impossible.

The key word is ‘secular’. It derives from the Latin saecularis, meaning generation, age, the world. First coined in English in 1846, it gave birth five years later to ‘secularism’. According to the OED, this is “the doctrine that morality should be based solely on regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God or in a future state.”


Again, back to each particular "generation, age and world" in which various No God moral and political agendas compete in much the same manner as the God world agendas. They clash. In other words, sooner or later all ethical proposals must come down to who has the actual power to enforce one rather than another set of behavioral prescriptions and proscriptions. And, here, Buddhism -- East or West -- is just one more spiritual path.

To me in particular. Okay, I suggest, bring on your ethical docket and let's see how it might unfold "for all practical purposes" given a "situation" in which goods come into conflict.

Instead, it's just more of this:

Many recent developments might further suggest that Buddhism in the West is now being welded to what Kabat-Zinn calls a moment to moment awareness. So could it be that Western Buddhism is becoming a species of philosophical humanism? Is it becoming less a religion and more an ethical orientation and existential path, where the aim is to achieve flourishing right here and now – ‘the well-being of humanity in the present life’?


A moment to moment awareness of what in particular? Our "flourishing" or theirs? This "general description spiritual contraption" approach to religion is precisely the sort of comforting and consoling frame of mind that those here like Ierrellus cling to.

You know, if I do say so myself.
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 Jakob » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:25 pm

Not wanting to impress a point on anyone, I neutrally (outcome-independently) offer these fragments from one of Nietzsche's most insightful books.
Ive copied the text wholesale and not re-added the emphases, click the link for proper format. Note: this does not perfectly reflect my own views of Buddhism but it does set it nicely in contrast to Christianity, which may offer the OP an additional way of approaching the doctrine.

In his The Antichrist", Nietzsche more or less wrote:
20.
In my condemnation of Christianity I surely hope I do no injustice to a related religion with an even larger number of believers: I allude to Buddhism. Both are to be reckoned among the nihilistic religions—they are both décadence religions—but they are separated from each other in a very remarkable way. For the fact that he is able to compare them at all the critic of Christianity is indebted to the scholars of India.—Buddhism is a hundred times as realistic as Christianity—it is part of its living heritage that it is able to face problems objectively and coolly; it is the product of long centuries of philosophical speculation. The concept, “god,” was already disposed of before it appeared. Buddhism is the only genuinely positive religion to be encountered in history, and this applies even to its epistemology (which is a strict phenomenalism). It does not speak of a “struggle with sin,” but, yielding to reality, of the “struggle with suffering.” Sharply differentiating itself from Christianity, it puts the self-deception that lies in moral concepts behind it; it is, in my phrase, beyond good and evil.—The two physiological facts upon which it grounds itself and upon which it bestows its chief attention are: first, an excessive sensitiveness to sensation, which manifests itself as a refined susceptibility to pain, and secondly, an extraordinary spirituality, a too protracted concern with concepts and logical procedures, under the influence of which the instinct of personality has yielded to a notion of the “impersonal.” (—Both of these states will be familiar to a few of my readers, the objectivists, by experience, as they are to me). These physiological states produced a depression, and Buddha tried to combat it by hygienic measures. Against it he prescribed a life in the open, a life of travel; moderation in eating and a careful selection of foods; caution in the use of intoxicants; the same caution in arousing any of the passions that foster a bilious habit and heat the blood; finally, no worry, either on one’s own account or on account of others. He encourages ideas that make for either quiet contentment or good cheer—he finds means to combat ideas of other sorts. He understands good, the state of goodness, as something which promotes health. Prayer is not included, and neither is asceticism. There is no categorical imperative nor any disciplines, even within the walls of a monastery (—it is always possible to leave—). These things would have been simply means of increasing the excessive sensitiveness above mentioned. For the same reason he does not advocate any conflict with unbelievers; his teaching is antagonistic to nothing so much as to revenge, aversion, ressentiment (—“enmity never brings an end to enmity”: the moving refrain of all Buddhism....) And in all this he was right, for it is precisely these passions which, in view of his main regiminal purpose, are unhealthful. The mental fatigue that he observes, already plainly displayed in too much “objectivity” (that is, in the individual’s loss of interest in himself, in loss of balance and of “egoism”), he combats by strong efforts to lead even the spiritual interests back to the ego. In Buddha’s teaching egoism is a duty. The “one thing needful,” the question “how can you be delivered from suffering,” regulates and determines the whole spiritual diet. (—Perhaps one will here recall that Athenian who also declared war upon pure “scientificality,” to wit, Socrates, who also elevated egoism to the estate of a morality).

21.
The things necessary to Buddhism are a very mild climate, customs of great gentleness and liberality, and no militarism; moreover, it must get its start among the higher and better edu cated classes. Cheerfulness, quiet and the absence of desire are the chief desiderata, and they are attained. Buddhism is not a religion in which perfection is merely an object of aspiration: perfection is actually normal.—
Under Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and the oppressed come to the fore: it is only those who are at the bottom who seek their salvation in it. Here the prevailing pastime, the favourite remedy for boredom is the discussion of sin, self-criticism, the inquisition of conscience; here the emotion produced by power (called “God”) is pumped up (by prayer); here the highest good is regarded as unattainable, as a gift, as “grace.” Here, too, open dealing is lacking; concealment and the darkened room are Christian. Here body is despised and hygiene is denounced as sensual; the church even ranges itself against cleanliness (—the first Christian order after the banishment of the Moors closed the public baths, of which there were 270 in Cordova alone). Christian, too, is a certain cruelty toward one’s self and toward others; hatred of unbelievers; the will to persecute. Sombre and disquieting ideas are in the foreground; the most esteemed states of mind, bearing the most respectable names, are epileptoid; the diet is so regulated as to engender morbid symptoms and over-stimulate the nerves. Christian, again, is all deadly enmity to the rulers of the earth, to the “aristocratic”—along with a sort of secret rivalry with them (—one resigns one’s “body” to them; one wants only one’s “soul”...). And Christian is all hatred of the intellect, of pride, of courage, of freedom, of intellectual libertinage; Christian is all hatred of the senses, of joy in the senses, of joy in general....

22.
When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest orders, the underworld of the ancient world, and began seeking power among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with exhausted men, but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture—in brief, strong men, but bungled men. Here, unlike in the case of the Buddhists, the cause of discontent with self, suffering through self, is not merely a general sensitiveness and susceptibility to pain, but, on the contrary, an inordinate thirst for inflicting pain on others, a tendency to obtain subjective satisfaction in hostile deeds and ideas. Christianity had to embrace barbaric concepts and valuations in order to obtain mastery over barbarians: of such sort, for example, are the sacrifices of the first-born, the drinking of blood as a sacrament, the disdain of the intellect and of culture; torture in all its forms, whether bodily or not; the whole pomp of the cult. Buddhism is a religion for peoples in a further state of development, for races that have become kind, gentle and over-spiritualized (—Europe is not yet ripe for it—): it is a summons that takes them back to peace and cheerfulness, to a careful rationing of the spirit, to a certain hardening of the body. Christianity aims at mastering beasts of prey; its modus operandi is to make them ill—to make feeble is the Christian recipe for taming, for “civilizing.” Buddhism is a religion for the closing, over-wearied stages of civilization. Christianity appears before civilization has so much as begun—under certain circumstances it lays the very foundations thereof.

23.
Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred times more austere, more honest, more objective. It no longer has to justify its pains, its susceptibility to suffering, by interpreting these things in terms of sin—it simply says, as it simply thinks, “I suffer.” To the barbarian, however, suffering in itself is scarcely understandable: what he needs, first of all, is an explanation as to why he suffers. (His mere instinct prompts him to deny his suffering altogether, or to endure it in silence.) Here the word “devil” was a blessing: man had to have an omnipotent and terrible enemy—there was no need to be ashamed of suffering at the hands of such an enemy.—
At the bottom of Christianity there are several subtleties that belong to the Orient. In the first place, it knows that it is of very little consequence whether a thing be true or not, so long as it is believed to be true. Truth and faith: here we have two wholly distinct worlds of ideas, almost two diametrically opposite worlds—the road to the one and the road to the other lie miles apart. To understand that fact thoroughly—this is almost enough, in the Orient, to make one a sage. The Brahmins knew it, Plato knew it, every student of the esoteric knows it. When, for example, a man gets any pleasure out of the notion that he has been saved from sin, it is not necessary for him to be actually sinful, but merely to feel sinful. But when faith is thus exalted above everything else, it necessarily follows that reason, knowledge and patient inquiry have to be discredited: the road to the truth becomes a forbidden road.—Hope, in its stronger forms, is a great deal more powerful stimulans to life than any sort of realized joy can ever be. Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict with actuality can dash it—so high, indeed, that no fulfilment can satisfy it: a hope reaching out beyond this world. (Precisely because of this power that hope has of making the suffering hold out, the Greeks regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most malign of evils; it remained behind at the source of all evil.)[3]—In order that love may be possible, God must become a person; in order that the lower instincts may take a hand in the matter God must be young. To satisfy the ardor of the woman a beautiful saint must appear on the scene, and to satisfy that of the men there must be a virgin. These things are necessary if Christianity is to assume lordship over a soil on which some aphrodisiacal or Adonis cult has already established a notion as to what a cult ought to be. To insist upon chastity greatly strengthens the vehemence and subjectivity of the religious instinct—it makes the cult warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.—Love is the state in which man sees things most decidedly as they are not. The force of illusion reaches its highest here, and so does the capacity for sweetening, for transfiguring. When a man is in love he endures more than at any other time; he submits to anything. The problem was to devise a religion which would allow one to love: by this means the worst that life has to offer is overcome—it is scarcely even noticed.—So much for the three Christian virtues: faith, hope and charity: I call them the three Christian ingenuities.—Buddhism is in too late a stage of development, too full of positivism, to be shrewd in any such way.—

[3] That is, in Pandora’s box.
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Re: I don't get Buddhism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:35 pm

Jakob wrote:Not wanting to impress a point on anyone, I neutrally (outcome-independently) offer these fragments from one of Nietzsche's most insightful books.
Ive copied the text wholesale and not re-added the emphases, click the link for proper format. Note: this does not perfectly reflect my own views of Buddhism but it does set it nicely in contrast to Christianity, which may offer the OP an additional way of approaching the doctrine.

In his The Antichrist", Nietzsche more or less wrote:
20.
In my condemnation of Christianity I surely hope I do no injustice to a related religion with an even larger number of believers: I allude to Buddhism. Both are to be reckoned among the nihilistic religions—they are both décadence religions—but they are separated from each other in a very remarkable way. For the fact that he is able to compare them at all the critic of Christianity is indebted to the scholars of India.—Buddhism is a hundred times as realistic as Christianity—it is part of its living heritage that it is able to face problems objectively and coolly; it is the product of long centuries of philosophical speculation. The concept, “god,” was already disposed of before it appeared. Buddhism is the only genuinely positive religion to be encountered in history, and this applies even to its epistemology (which is a strict phenomenalism). It does not speak of a “struggle with sin,” but, yielding to reality, of the “struggle with suffering.” Sharply differentiating itself from Christianity, it puts the self-deception that lies in moral concepts behind it; it is, in my phrase, beyond good and evil.—The two physiological facts upon which it grounds itself and upon which it bestows its chief attention are: first, an excessive sensitiveness to sensation, which manifests itself as a refined susceptibility to pain, and secondly, an extraordinary spirituality, a too protracted concern with concepts and logical procedures, under the influence of which the instinct of personality has yielded to a notion of the “impersonal.” (—Both of these states will be familiar to a few of my readers, the objectivists, by experience, as they are to me). These physiological states produced a depression, and Buddha tried to combat it by hygienic measures. Against it he prescribed a life in the open, a life of travel; moderation in eating and a careful selection of foods; caution in the use of intoxicants; the same caution in arousing any of the passions that foster a bilious habit and heat the blood; finally, no worry, either on one’s own account or on account of others. He encourages ideas that make for either quiet contentment or good cheer—he finds means to combat ideas of other sorts. He understands good, the state of goodness, as something which promotes health. Prayer is not included, and neither is asceticism. There is no categorical imperative nor any disciplines, even within the walls of a monastery (—it is always possible to leave—). These things would have been simply means of increasing the excessive sensitiveness above mentioned. For the same reason he does not advocate any conflict with unbelievers; his teaching is antagonistic to nothing so much as to revenge, aversion, ressentiment (—“enmity never brings an end to enmity”: the moving refrain of all Buddhism....) And in all this he was right, for it is precisely these passions which, in view of his main regiminal purpose, are unhealthful. The mental fatigue that he observes, already plainly displayed in too much “objectivity” (that is, in the individual’s loss of interest in himself, in loss of balance and of “egoism”), he combats by strong efforts to lead even the spiritual interests back to the ego. In Buddha’s teaching egoism is a duty. The “one thing needful,” the question “how can you be delivered from suffering,” regulates and determines the whole spiritual diet. (—Perhaps one will here recall that Athenian who also declared war upon pure “scientificality,” to wit, Socrates, who also elevated egoism to the estate of a morality).

21.
The things necessary to Buddhism are a very mild climate, customs of great gentleness and liberality, and no militarism; moreover, it must get its start among the higher and better edu cated classes. Cheerfulness, quiet and the absence of desire are the chief desiderata, and they are attained. Buddhism is not a religion in which perfection is merely an object of aspiration: perfection is actually normal.—
Under Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and the oppressed come to the fore: it is only those who are at the bottom who seek their salvation in it. Here the prevailing pastime, the favourite remedy for boredom is the discussion of sin, self-criticism, the inquisition of conscience; here the emotion produced by power (called “God”) is pumped up (by prayer); here the highest good is regarded as unattainable, as a gift, as “grace.” Here, too, open dealing is lacking; concealment and the darkened room are Christian. Here body is despised and hygiene is denounced as sensual; the church even ranges itself against cleanliness (—the first Christian order after the banishment of the Moors closed the public baths, of which there were 270 in Cordova alone). Christian, too, is a certain cruelty toward one’s self and toward others; hatred of unbelievers; the will to persecute. Sombre and disquieting ideas are in the foreground; the most esteemed states of mind, bearing the most respectable names, are epileptoid; the diet is so regulated as to engender morbid symptoms and over-stimulate the nerves. Christian, again, is all deadly enmity to the rulers of the earth, to the “aristocratic”—along with a sort of secret rivalry with them (—one resigns one’s “body” to them; one wants only one’s “soul”...). And Christian is all hatred of the intellect, of pride, of courage, of freedom, of intellectual libertinage; Christian is all hatred of the senses, of joy in the senses, of joy in general....

22.
When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest orders, the underworld of the ancient world, and began seeking power among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with exhausted men, but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture—in brief, strong men, but bungled men. Here, unlike in the case of the Buddhists, the cause of discontent with self, suffering through self, is not merely a general sensitiveness and susceptibility to pain, but, on the contrary, an inordinate thirst for inflicting pain on others, a tendency to obtain subjective satisfaction in hostile deeds and ideas. Christianity had to embrace barbaric concepts and valuations in order to obtain mastery over barbarians: of such sort, for example, are the sacrifices of the first-born, the drinking of blood as a sacrament, the disdain of the intellect and of culture; torture in all its forms, whether bodily or not; the whole pomp of the cult. Buddhism is a religion for peoples in a further state of development, for races that have become kind, gentle and over-spiritualized (—Europe is not yet ripe for it—): it is a summons that takes them back to peace and cheerfulness, to a careful rationing of the spirit, to a certain hardening of the body. Christianity aims at mastering beasts of prey; its modus operandi is to make them ill—to make feeble is the Christian recipe for taming, for “civilizing.” Buddhism is a religion for the closing, over-wearied stages of civilization. Christianity appears before civilization has so much as begun—under certain circumstances it lays the very foundations thereof.

23.
Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred times more austere, more honest, more objective. It no longer has to justify its pains, its susceptibility to suffering, by interpreting these things in terms of sin—it simply says, as it simply thinks, “I suffer.” To the barbarian, however, suffering in itself is scarcely understandable: what he needs, first of all, is an explanation as to why he suffers. (His mere instinct prompts him to deny his suffering altogether, or to endure it in silence.) Here the word “devil” was a blessing: man had to have an omnipotent and terrible enemy—there was no need to be ashamed of suffering at the hands of such an enemy.—
At the bottom of Christianity there are several subtleties that belong to the Orient. In the first place, it knows that it is of very little consequence whether a thing be true or not, so long as it is believed to be true. Truth and faith: here we have two wholly distinct worlds of ideas, almost two diametrically opposite worlds—the road to the one and the road to the other lie miles apart. To understand that fact thoroughly—this is almost enough, in the Orient, to make one a sage. The Brahmins knew it, Plato knew it, every student of the esoteric knows it. When, for example, a man gets any pleasure out of the notion that he has been saved from sin, it is not necessary for him to be actually sinful, but merely to feel sinful. But when faith is thus exalted above everything else, it necessarily follows that reason, knowledge and patient inquiry have to be discredited: the road to the truth becomes a forbidden road.—Hope, in its stronger forms, is a great deal more powerful stimulans to life than any sort of realized joy can ever be. Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict with actuality can dash it—so high, indeed, that no fulfilment can satisfy it: a hope reaching out beyond this world. (Precisely because of this power that hope has of making the suffering hold out, the Greeks regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most malign of evils; it remained behind at the source of all evil.)[3]—In order that love may be possible, God must become a person; in order that the lower instincts may take a hand in the matter God must be young. To satisfy the ardor of the woman a beautiful saint must appear on the scene, and to satisfy that of the men there must be a virgin. These things are necessary if Christianity is to assume lordship over a soil on which some aphrodisiacal or Adonis cult has already established a notion as to what a cult ought to be. To insist upon chastity greatly strengthens the vehemence and subjectivity of the religious instinct—it makes the cult warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.—Love is the state in which man sees things most decidedly as they are not. The force of illusion reaches its highest here, and so does the capacity for sweetening, for transfiguring. When a man is in love he endures more than at any other time; he submits to anything. The problem was to devise a religion which would allow one to love: by this means the worst that life has to offer is overcome—it is scarcely even noticed.—So much for the three Christian virtues: faith, hope and charity: I call them the three Christian ingenuities.—Buddhism is in too late a stage of development, too full of positivism, to be shrewd in any such way.—

[3] That is, in Pandora’s box.


Great, another "general description intellectual contraption". This one attempting to intertwine Buddhism, Christianity and nihilism?

And, coming from Fixed Jacob, it is all filtered through his own understanding of value-ontology, astrology and the old gods.

Okay, given my own interest in and understanding of religion and nihilism as revolving around moral and political value judgments in a No God world, perhaps Fixed Jacob would like to focus in here on a particular set of circumstances. Bringing his "own views of Buddhism" and Nietzsche into an exchange that examines the behaviors he chooses on this side of the grave as they have relevance for his own assumptions regarding the fate of "I" on the other side of the grave.

Morality here and now, immortality there and then.

Which, from my own frame of mind, is the heart and the soul of any truly fundamental discussion of God and religion and philosophy: how ought one to live?
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 Mar 25, 2021 7:12 pm

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

Since the Sixties counterculture, Buddhism has had a continuous influence on mainstream Western culture; sometimes directly, but more often in a diffuse and subliminal way.


"Diffuse and subliminal". That is precisely the opposite direction I would like advocates of Buddhism to go. If your behaviors result in consequences that are spread out or below the surface of consciousness itself, struggle instead to focus the beam in on why you choose one set of behaviors rather than another. Given the manner in which Buddha described one's spiritual path as enlightened engendering karma engendering a particular reincarnation engendering over time Nirvana itself.

What on earth does that mean to you when faced with that which we all come to deal with throughout our lifetimes: conflicting goods.

In other words, provided that you have not chosen the path that takes you beyond interactions with those who might challenge your behaviors. Sure, to the extent that you join, say, a Sangha, where everyone is "disciplined" to think exactly the same way about most aspects of human interaction, how hard can it be to "live your faith".

Then back up into the "spiritual clouds":

Generally, it has helped to foster a more reflexive disposition towards experience, a non-violent politics, and a compassionate relationship towards all sentient life. Its impact on education, therapy and medicine, is dramatic and overt. But there have also been changes inside Western Buddhism. For, as the Eastern religion has slowly adapted to the West, it has imbibed some of the ethical values which have characterised Western democratic and liberal societies since the French Revolution. There has, for instance, been the notion of liberty in relation to gender and sexuality. Some Buddhist groups now offer specific programmes for gays and lesbians. Would this have happened in Tibet before the exile of the Dalai Lama?

Here one begins to sense a broad mutation. If the first stage of Buddhism in the West mostly concerned Theravada Buddhism, and the second Mahayana Buddhism, then the third stage might be identified as Secular Buddhism. Each stage includes the one that went before and is more encompassing.


Got that?

Let me encompass it for you:

Eastern Buddhism travels West. As a result it encounters "new experiences, new relationships and access to new information, knowledge and ideas". Brand spanking new assortments of "contingency, chance and change". So, in some particular contexts, it is reconfigured so as to intertwine the East and the West into one or another hybrid Buddhism.

But...

The part that I am most interested in in regard to religion -- connecting the dots existentially between morality here and now and immortality there and than -- seems no less "diffuse and subliminal" for the Buddhists here in the West as in the East.

At least if my own personal experiences and this thread are any indication.
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 Apr 04, 2021 7:12 pm

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

The Present & Future Path of Buddhism

The current Buddhist secular reformation can certainly be seen as both more inclusive and more eclectic, putting its emphasis not on doctrine or hierarchy but on the exploration of the immediate moment and the place of being. Not reincarnation or karma, but presence and attention. Perhaps at the gleaming edge of the creative change Buddhism is now dissolving as specifically a formal religion (a category it never fitted very neatly) and instead incorporating daily therapy and an existential way of life: a path rather than a religion.


In other words, given my own interest in religion -- morality here and now, immortality there and then -- nothing really changes.

"Not reincarnation or karma, but presence and attention." Another general description intellectual/spiritual contraption that is still no less embedded in dasein, conflicting goods and political economy.

At least when you step outside the front door and start interacting with others.

One of the most incisive writers currently proposing a comparable conception is Stephen Bachelor, a scholar and ex-Buddhist monk. Over four decades he has published a stream of pellucid books examining the origin and development of Buddhism. His most recent volume is called After Buddhism (2017). Even the title has a postmodern resonance. It aims to deconstruct Buddhism by repositioning it inside our contemporary world. Towards the end, before codifying what he calls ‘The ten theses of secular Dharma’ [coming from a Sanskrit word difficult to translate, Dharma refers to the inexorable truth of things and our best way to meet them], Bachelor writes: “Only taking Buddhism off its romantic pedestal and bringing it down to earth gives us a chance to imagine what kind of culture the dharma might be capable of engendering in a secular world grown wary of charismatic priests and inflexible dogmas.” So, after the deconstruction of Christianity comes the deconstruction of Buddhism – or should we say, the birth of Secular Buddhism? Or perhaps a new form of philosophical humanism?


Again: call it whatever you want. With or without reincarnation and Nirvana. Only, in "bringing it down to Earth", note how you are able to become less fractured and fragmented than "I" am...given the components of my own moral philosophy.

Instead, it's just more of the same:

What matters most for Bachelor is the search for personal meaning. He links this to the historical Buddha, who always demoted large metaphysical questions and their dogmatic answers and promoted an open quest for understanding based on the mindful examination of experience, on meditation, and on work within the sangha – the community. What may be perennially significant in Buddhism is precisely this pilgrimage for wisdom within and solidarity without – a search which in the West has been darkly overshadowed by the blinkered pursuit of objective knowledge and technological mastery. We now need to place alongside science and technology the counterpart of wisdom and the courage to be. Or to express it more politically, we need to marry the political triad of liberty, equality and fraternity with the spiritual triad of being, reflecting and caring. For in our bewildered global age the marriage of two forms of enlightenment is now possible: of the rational and the spiritual. This is an awakening which Schopenhauer envisaged two hundred years ago. The two statues on his desk, of Kant and the Buddha, may strangely prefigure the union of our broken consciousness. And our very survival may well depend upon it.


If anyone here thinks that they understand what is being conveyed here...and is able to incorporate it into their own life...please, my all means, note how.

Note particular sets of circumstances and explain how all of the above allowed you to shift your frame of mind to a more constructive attitude when confronted precisely with the question that most preoccupies me: How ought one to live?
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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