short batchelor Critique

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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby shel » Mon May 13, 2013 4:31 pm

Nikolay wrote:
Tom wrote:Batchelor suggests that most Buddhists today are not practicing in accord with the Buddha's teaching.

Actually I don't quite understand why this matters for him. If there was nothing "mystical" about Buddha's awakening, and he was just a man like you or me who gave some advice on how to live your current life in a pleasant way, what makes his teaching more valid or valuable than any other teaching? Why are later additions regarded as invalid, if they were made by common people - just like Buddha? Why should we follow Buddha and not Dale Carnegie, for example?

It feel like secular Buddhists are relying on Buddha's authority, while simultaneously denying the very basis of such authority.


I recall watching a video some time ago where Batchelor, if I remember correctly, seemed to suggest something along the line that Dharma is the foundation of Buddhism. Dharma precedes Buddha???
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon May 13, 2013 5:17 pm

Simon E. wrote:As he says, its convenient.
A convenient sales pitch?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Simon E. » Mon May 13, 2013 6:10 pm

I would very surprised if he has much of a personal fortune Greg.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon May 13, 2013 6:17 pm

I personally doubt there is much chance of Batchelor-type Dharma replacing anything at all, most people who are attracted to it (at least initially) wouldn't set foot near the more "religious" varieties of Buddhism in the first place. I don't think actual Dharma centers, lineages etc. have anything to fear from "secular Dharma" because the latter is so weak in comparison in terms of even simple worldly benefits, all it will hold is the interest of dabblers for a short time..at which point they will either continue on the path and move on to something a bit more developed, or just give up altogether.

I'm glad there are people interested in refuting the secular Buddhism folks for sure, but personally I don't see them as any kind of threat to Buddhism.

From personal experience, I can say that generally the meditation instruction (and like I said, even just the worldly benefits of such) is so much less effective with "secular Dharma" people that once someone who is really interested feels the real deal, they won't bother.

Anyway, it seems to me the best refutation for these people is teachers from Dharma traditions who know how to communicate with the western mindset, and can teach through and with the materialism etc. that most of us were raised in, that will do more than anything else to refute the arguments of self-help Dharma. Compare what he expounds to someone like DPR..no comparison, and I think for people with genuine interest in and readiness for Buddhism that will shine through.

I say all this as having started my journey years ago very much as a 'secular Buddhist', for some of us that's the only door we would have ever entered through, so it's a double-edged sword. It's also good in a larger sense, while I don't like the nihilism that seems inherent in the secular Dharma approach, it does mean that things like teaching about rebirth and karma through inference rather than just repeating doctrine will become the norm, which has to be a good thing - after all we ARE supposed to be examining all this stuff, and not relying purely on doctrine, Batchelor is right on that - even if we conclude his reasoning is erroneous.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Mon May 13, 2013 6:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon May 13, 2013 6:24 pm

shel wrote: I recall watching a video some time ago where Batchelor, if I remember correctly, seemed to suggest something along the line that Dharma is the foundation of Buddhism. Dharma precedes Buddha???


Of course Dharma precedes Buddha. Dharma is the truth about how things really are.
Buddha didn't invent that truth or make it up, he merely pointed it out.

Likewise, gravity precedes Newton.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Simon E. » Mon May 13, 2013 6:27 pm

But that's precisely the point Johnny Dangerous. Batchelor's constituency is people who have an interest in Buddhist meditation but are not interested in traditional Buddhism per se.
No one cloaks or dissembles about that.
Batchelor doesn't and neither do his students.
And its a large constituency.
Again, would you prefer that it was all or nothing for them ?
They might not be getting from it what you would want, but in large-ish numbers they seem to be getting what they want.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Simon E. » Mon May 13, 2013 6:49 pm

Just to add, anyone who has met Batchelor's students in any numbers will know that they are collectively a very articulate bunch, who have reached their position after a good deal of research and exploration. The conditions for their embracing traditional Buddhism are not currently present.
I think we should be happy for them that they have found a way to practice which is possible for them.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon May 13, 2013 7:00 pm

Simon E. wrote:Just to add, anyone who has met Batchelor's students in any numbers will know that they are collectively a very articulate bunch, who have reached their position after a good deal of research and exploration. The conditions for their embracing traditional Buddhism are not currently present.
I think we should be happy for them that they have found a way to practice which is possible for them.



I totally agree with this. And again, I think if anyone is really concerned that what is perceived as "half Buddhism" is popular, then the best way to counter it is to publicize and help more traditional teachers who also understand how to speak to the more skeptical. Certainly for these people (again, I am/was one of these "types") simply quoting doctrine about what the Buddha believed is not sufficient.

The arguments for karma and rebirth that are based inference however, as well as pointing out the materialists positions shaky grasp on the ontology of consciousness, and their reductionism are places that for me were far, far, more interesting and eye-opening than just repetition of "This is what the Buddha believed" - that argument is really drab when it comes from either camp, which it does, all the time :(
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Jnana » Mon May 13, 2013 7:53 pm

jeeprs wrote:I think Bachelor has every right to do what he does, but the issue is that I think his view of what constitutes 'religion' and what is 'secular' is historically conditioned by Western attitudes to the meaning of religion.

Yes, this is one of the dichotomies that he and other Secular Buddhist authors rely on. Batchelor attempts to set up another arbitrary dichotomy by differentiating between "belief-based" Buddhism and "praxis-based" Buddhism. The assumption is that "belief-based" Buddhism is outdated and unable to clearly face up to the challenges of modernity or celebrate in the progress of modernity. This dichotomy implies that there's some sort of inherent tension or incompatibility between faith and practice. But this dichotomy is rather artificial. From a traditional perspective, faith and the various aspects of practice are all qualities which are to be developed as requisites of awakening.

Also, Buddhists have been engaging with and challenging the worldviews that underlie these kinds of assumptions going all the way back to the Nikāyas/Āgamas. And this engagement is still ongoing. One example is the Mind & Life Conferences for dialogue with cognitive scientists, psychologists, physicists, philosophers, ecologists, educators, etc. Another example is the research programs associated with the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. Yet another example, relating to social issues, is Buddhist Global Relief.

jeeprs wrote:My beef with Secular Buddhism generally is that Buddhist teaching *is* metaphysical. Deny that it has a metaphysical dimension, you deny the teaching. The 'ending of suffering' is not about being better adjusted and feeling good about yourself. It is about awakening to a completely different dimension of reality. And I think 'secular Buddhism' denies that there can be any other dimension. In that sense, which is the sense that Herbert Marcuse meant, secular Buddhism is 'one dimensional'.

And it only offers a worldly path (laukikamārga) without a supramundane path (lokottaramārga) that leads out of saṃsāra.

jeeprs wrote:Furthermore, it is quite possible that the awakening of the Buddha is not actually 'religious' in the sense of being 'defineable in terms of ceremonial and liturgical beliefs'. I think the Buddha knows reality in a way which is not available to the natural sciences, nor to 'religion' as generally understood. It's neither. And, he says it is something that can only by known by the 'awakened human'. That assertion is unique in history, as far as I am concerned, and insisting that it is something that must be amenable to scientific analysis sells it short. The Buddha said from the outset his awakening is 'beyond mere logic'. This is not to deprecate logic and reason, but to surpass it. Logic has to fall in line with it - it can't work it out.

The notion that if one doesn't personally have empirical direct perception of certain things then this is a sufficient reason for rejecting them, is classic materialist epistemology.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby wisdom » Thu May 16, 2013 8:54 pm

Hes not wrong, hes just not right either.
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Re: short batchelor Critique

Postby Namgyal » Thu May 16, 2013 10:00 pm

Hopefully the excellent merit he obtained as a monk and translator will counterbalence the demerit of talking rowlocks about karma.
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