Antinomianism

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Antinomianism

Postby matthewmartin » Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:05 am

Antinomianism is Christian an exercise in mental gymnastics that lead to the conclusion that ethics don't matter.

Now, I'm just an amateur, but I keep coming across spirited arguments in Zen & Tantra that imply ethics don't matter. In Zen's case, it's something about non-dualism and how right and wrong, moral and immoral are artificial distinctions & it is all the same. In Tantra, it's the bit about breaking conventional moral rules to ... something, something about using the power of forbidden things to achieve conventionally meritorious things.

Set me straight. What are the arguments, facts or what have you that Buddhist metaphysics doesn't ultimately lead to antinomianism. (And what is the word for antinomianism in the Buddhist traditions?)

Thanks
matthewmartin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:08 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:27 am

I can't give you technical terms or sutra numbers.
I have noticed what you wrote as well.
This idea that we're already enlightened, so somehow ethics don't matter. The occasional under-representation of the sila component, ethics, in American Zen isn't indicative of Zen as a whole, I believe.

The problem in my eyes is it totally lacks compassion for the majority of beings, whose existence is characterized by suffering and painful dualities.
For their sake, we have to behave as harmlessly as possible.

It reminds me of a child being afraid of the monster in their closet.
Clearly it's not real, and with the benefit of experience, you know better.
But the child is still scared. You might even open the closet, show them there's nothing, and they're still afraid.
Will you revel in your superior knowledge and leave the child to fend for himself?
No, you'll likely sit there until they fall asleep, taking part in their fantasy that you can protect them, out of compassion for the child's fear.
I think in this way, an enlightened person chooses to act in the most harmless way possible.

For me, the point of de-emphasizing ethics is that it's too easy to make specific behaviors into a way to stand out, be different, better, or as a shortcut to avoid facing tough questions about yourself.
Eating or not eating meat can become more important than bravely examining one's own anger or disappointment.
I don't think this should be taken to mean that ethics is a meaningless factor.

Hopefully someone else can give you a more philosophical or detailed response.
That's just my view.
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Antinomianism

Postby futerko » Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:33 am

I think that the idea of going beyond concepts such as good/bad is not the same as saying that "ethics don't matter."

I also think that because the argument for morality rests upon a generalised 3rd person plural perspective, then it tends towards defining oneself in relation to imaginary others, so the limit of oneself is defined in terms of a kind of "mediocrity."

I see the view in Tantra as being quite similar to your description of Zen, and the logic behind it is based upon an individual code of ethics, in terms of one's own karma, so it does not therefore follow that "anything goes," although in any particular situation anything might go, depending on the particular situation.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
User avatar
futerko
 
Posts: 993
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:58 am

Re: Antinomianism

Postby Lindama » Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:42 am

Zen and tantra have no such mental gymnastics happening. It is a misunderstanding of the absolute and nonduality to think that there is a license for bad behavior.

Sounds like this antinomianism thing is a reaction to believing that the commandments are set in stone when they are simply signs of living a harmonious life... call them commandments or precepts... all the same.
Lindama
 
Posts: 362
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby matthewmartin » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:52 pm

Lindama wrote:Sounds like this antinomianism thing is a reaction to believing that the commandments are set in stone when they are simply signs of living a harmonious life... call them commandments or precepts... all the same.


It's a Christian jargon word, which is why I was hoping a corresponding Indic or Buddhist one existed. The gist of it in the Christian tradition is that God in his infinite wisdom & power already chose who will go to heaven & hell, (i.e. he can't be all knowing unless he already knows if you're going to heaven/hell before you're even born), so since it's already decided, the guy slated for hell needn't try to follow the rules, there isn't any benefit to it, the guy slated for heaven likewise, will get to heaven regardless to any decision he might make. The broader community considered it heresy & the Protestants that kept things similar to it (predestination), tried to salvage it by say, "well, other people don't know what God knows, so people will act like their are slated to go to heaven to impress others" (i.e. one persons virtue is evidence that they were predestined for heaven). At least Max Weber thought so.

I don't think the antinomianists were explicitly looking for a reason to drink booze and renege on their contracts. They followed the logical consequences of of a religious belief to where ever it led, and poof, ethics didn't matter.
matthewmartin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:08 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:16 pm

Isn't that fatalism?
I sometimes see a misunderstanding of karma where people believe that since our past actions are somehow already "in the books" we have no possible influence over our current situation or development.
You'll find such an idea is rigorously refuted by people smarter than I.

Some threads of potential interest:
Does Zen have ethics? viewtopic.php?f=69&t=13767
Causality Transformed www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=14180
What is and isn't karma viewtopic.php?f=66&t=11501&p=148102&hilit=predetermined#p148102
The time of your death was determined before you were born viewtopic.php?f=77&t=7543
Potential viewtopic.php?f=40&t=3426&p=28458
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Antinomianism

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:19 pm

as to the OP, i dont know about zen, but it seems you have completely misunderstood what tantra is about especially if you wrote that from self centered point of view. me me me.

tantra can be only succesful on the basis of mahayana and bodhicitta.
KonchokZoepa
 
Posts: 1266
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:50 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby Lindama » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:22 pm

I'd say ditto for zen.
Lindama
 
Posts: 362
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby oushi » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:43 pm

Ethics? What are those? Who defines them, and on what basis?
How can something that changes from year to year, and place to place, matters outside of specific time and place? Ethics are conventional, changing, and they cause suffering in for of conscience. Moreover, they limit, which opposes liberation.
Look at animals, they do not have ethical systems. People have, and they also have a means to turn the earth into ash 26 times.. Just in case if someone else ethics do not align with theirs.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am
Location: Chrząszczyrzewoszyce

Re: Antinomianism

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:53 pm

you like to compare humans with animals? like we have something to learn from them from theyre '' no ethics '' behavior. ethics are a means to an end of suffering and negative karma. and that doesnt change one bit if you practice vajrayana. vajrayanist or for that matter zen buddhist who are not liberated or enlightened are not above the law of cause and effect, karma, that is.
KonchokZoepa
 
Posts: 1266
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:50 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:59 pm

Should an abstract set of mores dependent on time/culture as you point out be conflated with skillful/unskillful behavior?
It's laid out in pretty clear terms in the sutras what constitutes skillful and unskillful behavior.
I think that's what's at the heart of the issue, whether emptiness somehow means skillful/unskillful behavior, intentions behind karma, etc. are significant or not.

My opinion is that saying sila isn't important is a modern development driven by lay practitioners who want to shortcut the hard work of dharma and get straight to their idea of enlightenment.
The fact that such an idea doesn't appear to include compassionate behavior shows the idea is very flawed. :stirthepot:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Antinomianism

Postby oushi » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:04 pm

Do you need to learn morality to feel compassion? Hm...
If one feels the need for morality, then obviously he fears himself.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am
Location: Chrząszczyrzewoszyce

Re: Antinomianism

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:07 pm

Can deliberately harmful behavior come from a compassionate mind?

Let's not forget that a large component of the Noble Eightfold Path is development of sila, moral behavior.
This isn't the same thing as moralizing or mindlessly following a code.
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Antinomianism

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:13 pm

without morality you dont really even show compassion to yourself.
KonchokZoepa
 
Posts: 1266
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:50 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby oushi » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:22 pm

duckfiasco wrote:Can deliberately harmful behavior come from a compassionate mind?

The question is how can it come from compassionate mind. And the answer is... when you place morality above compassion. When my morality does not equal your morality, who is right, and who is wrong? And the fight begins... I am immoral for your, you are immoral for me. Look at Shariat. Extreme morality bringing extreme harm to those who do not accept it. Are those who do not accept morality, evil people? Are those who impose it, good people?
KonchokZoepa wrote:without morality you dont really even show compassion to yourself.

Then it must be true, that a person that never faced a civilization with moral code, cannot be compassionate to himself. He will go and harm himself because he does not know that he should be good to oneself.... nonsense :lol:
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am
Location: Chrząszczyrzewoszyce

Re: Antinomianism

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:26 pm

I'm still not sure we're talking about the same thing.
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Antinomianism

Postby oushi » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:35 pm

duckfiasco wrote:I'm still not sure we're talking about the same thing.

I am just pointing out, that it is not so simple. Society imposes morality upon an individual, which is not comfortable nor liberating for him. It just make life more acceptable, because when people share views and goals they do not fight, and can live together. This is precisely what society is. People sharing morality. If you do not accept their morality, you will go to jail, or they will beat you until you accept it. Morality has its dark sides too. Just wanted to point that out. Look at societies with high morality, how liberal they are. Look at the liberal societies, how moral they are.
User avatar
oushi
 
Posts: 1343
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am
Location: Chrząszczyrzewoszyce

Re: Antinomianism

Postby matthewmartin » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:53 am

duckfiasco wrote:You'll find such an idea is rigorously refuted by people smarter than I.


Thanks for the links, I've spent most of the evening reading them. Dharma Wheel is like reading a large book where all the pages have fallen out and were put back in a hurry, hence re-asking variations of questions that have already been asked.

:namaste:
matthewmartin
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:08 pm

Re: Antinomianism

Postby Nemo » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:50 am

Morality is like physiotherapy after an injury. We are spiritually injured. The Buddha left a moral code of discipline to allow us to renew ourselves and emulate enlightened behavior. Perhaps in the end love will be the only law, but in our present state speculating may be futile. Is not practicing virtuous actions and refraining from evil ones essential to cross to the far shore? No one is saying that after you cross you still need the boat.
User avatar
Nemo
 
Posts: 583
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:23 am
Location: Canada

Re: Antinomianism

Postby smcj » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:43 am

In Tantra, it's the bit about breaking conventional moral rules to ... something, something about using the power of forbidden things to achieve conventionally meritorious things.

What my teacher told me is that in tantra something that is karmically negative is not to be done ever. What can, and should be done, is taking something negative and turning it into something positive.

The analogy I use is; nobody wants to be bitten by a rattlesnake. But rattlesnake anti-venom is made from venom. If correctly transmuted it becomes medicine. But untransmuted venom is still poison. In Dharma, in order to take something negative/poisonous and correctly transmute it into something positive, you've got to have an enormous amount of positive aspiration such as refuge, renunciation, bodhicitta, at least a minimal understanding of emptiness, plus the specific training in whichever meditation is involved. This extraordinary skill is required for the transmutation to be real.

My teacher used the example of making a rule for somebody that they should not stab people, defined and "cutting someone with a knife." If you are trying to reform a thug, that type of rule needs to be made. But what if that thug then straightens out his life, goes to school and becomes a doctor? Is he then prohibited from performing a surgery? No. His extraordinary skill makes surgery something helpful. The next thug that needs to be reformed might see the surgery and object, saying, "He's still stabbing people, he's 'cutting them with a knife!'" That constraint is no longer applicable because of the greater skillfulness the doctor has acquired. But that is different than giving a doctor license to go out and revert to stabbing people, which is still prohibited.

In today's society this idea is widely abused. I personally believe that most of what is passed off as "crazy wisdom" and "skillful means" as such is simply a cover for bad conduct. But that isn't real Dharma. The way Vajrayana is taught is as if it is going to be properly and expertly practiced. That can and does happen, but it is not a given by any means. So, in my opinion, chances are that what appears to be vile behavior is simply vile--but sometimes it isn't.
smcj
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Next

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Johnny Dangerous and 31 guests

>