Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

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

Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby ground » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:43 pm

Namdrol wrote:
TMingyur wrote:To validly infer rebirth therefore would have as prerequisite the posibility to directly perceive re-birth at some places and times. But what can be directly perceived is just birth, but not re-birth.
So putting the "homogenity and material" stuff aside according to Dharmkirti's own logic inference of rebirth is utterly impossible.

kind regards



Nonsense, even commoners can directly perceive their own past lives and those of others. Proof of this can be found in Buddha's own liberation where he intuited the truth of dependent origination prior to full awakening by remembering his past lives.

N


Okay then let's put this debate aside until we can have this direct perception. Until then everything is speculation.

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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:45 pm

TMingyur wrote:Until then everything is speculation.


Not so, since you accept already the testimony of the Buddha as a pramana, as you state above. Based on this we can develop an inference. This gives us more confidence in the Buddha's teaching of rebirth. This leads to the development of the five faculties, five of the eight indriyas of nirvana, etc. Inferential pramana is extremely important in Buddha's teachings.

N
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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:57 pm

catmoon wrote:Hmmm. I grant that there are presuppostions, but I don't think they beg the question.

Let's see now what can we start with....


Brains exist.

Minds exist.

Are they different or the same?


They are different from a Buddhist POV. From a materialist POV brain function produces the mind and the brain is a sufficient biological machine for making decisions in any of the animals that it has evolved in. Decision making and apparently some kind of memory actually can take place in animals without brains (spiders for example) - "Animal Thinking", Griffen (the author, a zoologist, takes on the idea that animal behavior is solely instinctual although the book presents a series of examples rather than real data). Griffen wrote several books up to his death in 2003 arguing that animals could really think. His insect examples are challenging - without a brain how can a spider remember anything? It could be that the spider's nervous system functions as a distributed brain and that changes can be made at a cellular or structural level like in mammalian brains. Perhaps not all spiders remember anything. Perhaps they emit pheromones in their environment like ants and remember things based on those pheromones.

In actual brains, while deep studies still remain, we know that memories are stored, we can map many of those memories, etc. We also know that the brain changes structure in response to the environment and is an agent in reasoning (i.e. without a brain, not only is a higher mammal usually dead but it's can't communicate or reason).

This isn't the same thing as a mind in Buddhism. Minds use brains as a person uses a machine.

Mind seems to be dependent on brain, for where there is no brain there is no mind.


There is no higher communicative functioning or reasoning that we can perceive.


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Re: A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby mudra » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:15 am

Namdrol wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Until then everything is speculation.


Not so, since you accept already the testimony of the Buddha as a pramana, as you state above. Based on this we can develop an inference. This gives us more confidence in the Buddha's teaching of rebirth. This leads to the development of the five faculties, five of the eight indriyas of nirvana, etc. Inferential pramana is extremely important in Buddha's teachings.

N


Totally agree. without inferential cognition pramana we would be like a 10 year old in the 10th century trying to make his way from Norway to Australia on foot without a map.

Without the wisdom that arises from reflection (inferential pramana) all meditation we are doing is mere concentration, not meditation that will lead to liberation/enlightenment.
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Adamantine » Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:52 am

plwk wrote:Image


Are you kidding?
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Stewart » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:07 am

Adamantine wrote:
plwk wrote:Image


Are you kidding?


Why? Who is he?
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Fruitzilla » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:54 am

samdrup wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
plwk wrote:Image


Are you kidding?


Why? Who is he?


Stephen Batchelor. The personification of the Anti-Christ, errrrr, Anti-Buddhist for your average TB-practitioner.
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Stewart » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:14 am

Stephen Batchelor. The personification of the Anti-Christ, errrrr, Anti-Buddhist for your average TB-practitioner.



Ahhh, okay, thanks, I never knew what he looked like before....

......yeah so....are you kidding?!
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Fruitzilla » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:55 am

samdrup wrote:
......yeah so....are you kidding?!


Some people do find him inspiring you know, I for one like his style. Different strokes eh?
You won't ever see comments like this here when someone posts a picture of B. Alan Wallace for example (see a few pages back). Now, there's a guy I consider to be totally exasperating and almost impossible to listen to.

Funny (kind of) story in Mandala magazine about these two opposites:
http://www.mandalamagazine.org/archives/mandala-issues-for-2011/april/an-old-story-of-faith-and-doubt-reminiscences-of-alan-wallace-and-stephen-batchelor/
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:39 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:Stephen Batchelor. The personification of the Anti-Christ, errrrr, Anti-Buddhist for your average TB-practitioner.


In your context, not just Tibetan Buddhists, all Buddhist practitioners
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:41 pm

samdrup wrote:Why? Who is he?


He's a Buddhist modernist who doesn't think the belief in rebirth or karma is relevant to Buddhism.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Fruitzilla » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:42 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:Stephen Batchelor. The personification of the Anti-Christ, errrrr, Anti-Buddhist for your average TB-practitioner.


In your context, not just Tibetan Buddhists, all Buddhist practitioners


Hm, maybe conservative Buddhist practitioners would be even better?
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:43 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:Stephen Batchelor. The personification of the Anti-Christ, errrrr, Anti-Buddhist for your average TB-practitioner.


In your context, not just Tibetan Buddhists, all Buddhist practitioners


Hm, maybe conservative Buddhist practitioners would be even better?


No. Traditional Buddhists. If anything, just Buddhists.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Fruitzilla » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:50 pm

Mr. G wrote:
No. Traditional Buddhists. If anything, just Buddhists.


So, you're kind of insinuating that finding Stephen Batchelor inspirational makes you not a buddhist?
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:53 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
No. Traditional Buddhists. If anything, just Buddhists.


So, you're kind of insinuating that finding Stephen Batchelor inspirational makes you not a buddhist?


I'm not insinuating anything. I'm stating my opinion that a person who makes claims that rebirth and karma are irrelevant are Buddhist in name only.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:13 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
No. Traditional Buddhists. If anything, just Buddhists.


So, you're kind of insinuating that finding Stephen Batchelor inspirational makes you not a buddhist?


I'm not insinuating anything. I'm stating my opinion that a person who makes claims that rebirth and karma are irrelevant are Buddhist in name only.



There is a saying in Chinese "externalist wearing the dharma" (附法外道), which refers to someone who superficially appears to teach Buddhadharma or even identifies as a Buddhist, but in reality teaches false dharmas contrary to Buddhism.

Unfortunately, I suspect such teachers gain popularity partly due to the fact publishers print their material and it somehow vindicates their positions. To have it in a book or being discussed in a magazine makes it seem a lot more legitimate and worthy of consideration than just some yahoo on the internet posting their opinion for the world to hear.

If nobody published their writings, they would get almost no public attention. There would also be a lot of beginners less confused.

I'm not advocating censorship. Just identifying why these people get so much attention despite teaching outright false dharma.

I'm stating my opinion that a person who makes claims that rebirth and karma are irrelevant are Buddhist in name only.


Refuge in the Triple Gem makes you a Buddhist. If you have refuge in the Dharma, that means you accept the reality of rebirth and karma. If you reject either of the two or both, you don't really take refuge in the Dharma, hence you're not really a Buddhist.

Last night over tea I explained this situation of ours in the west to a Chinese monk and he lamented how sad it sounded.
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Re: Inspirational Westerner Practitioners

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:36 pm

Huseng wrote:
There is a saying in Chinese "externalist wearing the dharma" (附法外道), which refers to someone who superficially appears to teach Buddhadharma or even identifies as a Buddhist, but in reality teaches false dharmas contrary to Buddhism.


Ah, fascinating that the Chinese have a name for this Huseng.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Jikan » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:38 pm

Let's admit some nuance here and suggest it's possible to find Batchelor inspirational without having to agree with him on all points. I disagree with much of "Buddhism without Beliefs," starting with the title. I don't think it presents a clear, accurate, or interesting description of Buddhism... or of agnosticism actually.

However, I found Batchelor's translation of Nagarjuna to be lucid and helpful to a beginner. I can't remember the title now, but he had an insightful article a few years back on the history of sangha and the trajectory of "non-traditional" or student-led groups in the English-speaking world that I found of use.

There are ways in which Batchelor has made a real contribution here.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby tobes » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:26 pm

Jikan wrote:Let's admit some nuance here and suggest it's possible to find Batchelor inspirational without having to agree with him on all points. I disagree with much of "Buddhism without Beliefs," starting with the title. I don't think it presents a clear, accurate, or interesting description of Buddhism... or of agnosticism actually.

However, I found Batchelor's translation of Nagarjuna to be lucid and helpful to a beginner. I can't remember the title now, but he had an insightful article a few years back on the history of sangha and the trajectory of "non-traditional" or student-led groups in the English-speaking world that I found of use.

There are ways in which Batchelor has made a real contribution here.


Agree with this. The interesting question for me is: who gets to define what the dharma is? And on what basis are they claiming authority and authenticity?

It seems to me that a lot of people on this thread implicitly (or explicitly) speak from such a position. Batchelor at least, to his credit, does make such a claim, nor speak from such a position.

I think that in some respects, the claim for authority and authenticity is more dangerous and harmful then the work of sceptics, modernists and radicals.

:namaste:
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Acchantika » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:58 pm

tobes wrote:I think that in some respects, the claim for authority and authenticity is more dangerous and harmful then the work of sceptics, modernists and radicals.


Well said.
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