Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

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

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:04 am

tobes wrote:Batchelor at least, to his credit, does make such a claim, nor speak from such a position.



Don't be silly -- he certainly makes such claims, like everyone, putting them in the mouth of the Buddha.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby tobes » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:49 am

Namdrol wrote:
tobes wrote:Batchelor at least, to his credit, does make such a claim, nor speak from such a position.



Don't be silly -- he certainly makes such claims, like everyone, putting them in the mouth of the Buddha.


Actually you're right, that's kind of true. If I remember correctly, he was engaged in the task of reading (and presenting) the Pali canon as an expression of existentialism and pragmatism.

However, I think he was pretty explicit that this was his particular interpretation; he was not attempting to ground his interpretation in the authority of tradition or some other construction of an authentic ground.

Despite being unconvinced by his interpretation, I have no problems with such a methodology.

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

Postby minh-khong » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:10 am

Somebody has cited the critiques and answers between Dr. Allen Wallace and Stephen Batchelor.
Not sure if anybody has seen this comment from Bhikkhu Bodhi - http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha106.htm

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

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:21 am

tobes wrote:
However, I think he was pretty explicit that this was his particular interpretation;


No, his works present his POV as Buddha's POV.

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

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:33 am

tobes wrote: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?


The difference between dharma and adharma in a Buddhist context is to ask quite simply if what is being proposed really agrees with what the Buddha taught.

In the case of rebirth and karma, the Buddha included these teachings within his dharma. To reject these and to suggest otherwise qualifies your teaching as fundamentally adharma.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby tobes » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:14 pm

Huseng wrote:
tobes wrote: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?


The difference between dharma and adharma in a Buddhist context is to ask quite simply if what is being proposed really agrees with what the Buddha taught.

In the case of rebirth and karma, the Buddha included these teachings within his dharma. To reject these and to suggest otherwise qualifies your teaching as fundamentally adharma.


But surely you see the problem here Huseng? Both you and Batchelor are making an argument that what is being proposed really agrees with what the Buddha taught.

The charge of being "fundamentally adharma" - where does that come exactly? Who gets to decide and on what basis?

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

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:28 pm

tobes wrote:But surely you see the problem here Huseng? Both you and Batchelor are making an argument that what is being proposed really agrees with what the Buddha taught.


There is no problem, because I am correct in my assertion that the Buddha taught rebirth and karma, and defended these teachings against those who attempted to refute him. There's no scriptural support for Batchelor's views.


The charge of being "fundamentally adharma" - where does that come exactly? Who gets to decide and on what basis?


Everyone has their own opinion. I have decided based on scriptural evidence that he is teaching adharma. Feel free to disagree.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Mr. G » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:40 pm

Huseng wrote:based on scriptural evidence that he is teaching adharma.


Yes. How else would one judge whether a teaching is Buddhist or not? It only makes sense to reference the sutras.

There's no scriptural support for Batchelor's views.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:14 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Huseng wrote:based on scriptural evidence that he is teaching adharma.


Yes. How else would one judge whether a teaching is Buddhist or not? It only makes sense to reference the sutras.

There's no scriptural support for Batchelor's views.


This seems to be the main diverging point between camps...
Some people want assurance, other people are more inclined to ask questions and allow for the suspension of said assurance.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Mr. G » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:31 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:This seems to be the main diverging point between camps...
Some people want assurance, other people are more inclined to ask questions and allow for the suspension of said assurance.


Assurance? If one makes a statement and claims it is grounded in Buddhism, one can reference that statement to the sutras and commentaries to confirm, or deny it. It's simple.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Paul » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:38 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Huseng wrote:based on scriptural evidence that he is teaching adharma.


Yes. How else would one judge whether a teaching is Buddhist or not? It only makes sense to reference the sutras.

There's no scriptural support for Batchelor's views.


This seems to be the main diverging point between camps...
Some people want assurance, other people are more inclined to ask questions and allow for the suspension of said assurance.


Not really. The whole of the Buddhist path is framed within a context of karma and rebirth, such as the four kinds of liberation being defined by the number of lives that a being will have once they die. It's only by being very uninformed or willfully blind that a person can say the Buddha didn't teach karma and rebirth, which is what Batchelor states. Whether people believe the Buddha is another matter, but the centrality of karma and rebirth to Buddhist teachings throughout history is beyond obvious. It's nothing to do with 'questioning', more to do with superimposing one's own views on another for reasons of attachment.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:45 pm

I was actually engaging in some meta-speculation. Mostly I like this more than exchanging scriptural support. You can find scriptural support for a lot of things anyway. I've seen enough of it in my years on Buddhist fora to last me many lifetimes anyway... :rolleye:

All in all I really did observe ( in others as well as in myself) that the attitude you bring to studying Buddhism pretty much decides the way you'll interpret it. The sneaky thing about this attitude is that it's so fundamental that it's very very hard to be able to see it for yourself.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby daelm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:00 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Huseng wrote:based on scriptural evidence that he is teaching adharma.


Yes. How else would one judge whether a teaching is Buddhist or not? It only makes sense to reference the sutras.

There's no scriptural support for Batchelor's views.


This seems to be the main diverging point between camps...
Some people want assurance, other people are more inclined to ask questions and allow for the suspension of said assurance.


Requiring scriptural support doesn't obviate the need for questioning. The whole value of detailed questioning and investigation is that it allows the Buddha's contentions about reality to become experiential, which is the only time they can have any effect on you. Lip service to sutras doesn't get you enlightened.

The point though, is this: the Buddha made specific contentions about reality. He also said that the way to liberation was for you to experience the truth of those yourself, and that if you did so, you would be released from suffering. He specifically encouraged engagement with these contentions, and specifically encouraged questioning, not because he was worried about being perceived as authoritarian or because he was a proto-libertarian, but because even the Buddha is powerless to enlighten you - your enlightenment is experiential. Questioning, engagement and investigation, tested in meditation, are the path to personal experience.

And for engagement to be genuinely honest, you're going to be wrestling with the fact that, up front, you probably don't agree with many or all of them. That's not a problem. It's the path, and it's unavoidable. IF you accept that the Buddhism leads to enlightenment, AND you accept that you're not enlightened, THEN you accept that the view of Buddhism is not yours, at the core level where views shape the world. Since you don't actually have those views, you'll be wracked with doubt of varying degrees as you go, until you're not wracked with doubt (because you have developed conviction based on experience) or you're not a practitioner.

If your wrestling leads to abandoning the Buddha's contentions, then no matter how virtuous your behavior, you are no longer attempting to realise the truth of the Buddha's claims, because you've excluded them. You might be doing good things and you might be doing interesting things. You are just no longer teaching or practicing Buddhism.

There is nothing wrong with Stephen Batchelor deciding what he can and can't accept. We all have to do that. It's just that past a point, it's no longer an attempt to recreate the Buddha's experience - and therefore, not Buddhism, which while it has lots of social faces, should always be nothing more than recreating the Buddha's experience as your own.



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

Postby justsit » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:16 pm

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

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:36 pm

This^ :smile:
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby wisdom » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:00 pm

Remove Karma and Rebirth, everything thats known as "Buddhist" collapses. It would be *equally* valid for me to write a book called "Christianity without Christ" and then pretend that I was a Christian. Or "Science without proofs" and then pretend that I was a critical thinker. Or "Automechanics without engines" and pretend I could fix cars. The list of absurd and somewhat hilarious titles goes on...
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:25 pm

daelm wrote:[

There is nothing wrong with Stephen Batchelor deciding what he can and can't accept. We all have to do that. It's just that past a point, it's no longer an attempt to recreate the Buddha's experience - and therefore, not Buddhism, which while it has lots of social faces, should always be nothing more than recreating the Buddha's experience as your own.

d


I like your post, but I think here you get into a bit of muddy water...
I would hardly qualify doing what Batchelor does as anything other than putting a social face on Buddhism. Same old as 2000 year ago.
Further, you say Batchelor is not trying to recreate the Buddha's experience. I think he would disagree here also.

Now, I am speaking for Batchelor here, which is a rather ridiculous, as as I cannot read the man's mind. But just see it as making a point.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:49 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:Further, you say Batchelor is not trying to recreate the Buddha's experience. I think he would disagree here also.


If he were, he would be spending time trying to remember his past lives, rather than speculatively rejecting the notion and reintepreting karma to suit his phyisicalist views.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:52 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:Further, you say Batchelor is not trying to recreate the Buddha's experience. I think he would disagree here also.


If he were, he would be spending time trying to remember his past lives, rather than speculatively rejecting the notion and reintepreting karma to suit his phyisicalist views.


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

Postby Jikan » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:02 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.


Certainly, appeals to authority and authenticity are badly crippled if they reject out of hand the arguments of skeptics & critics. There's no learning going on that way, and it's no way to make a convincing appeal.
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