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

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:45 pm

Namdrol wrote:Our record of what the historical Buddha taught is therefore much better than what skeptics would have us believe. And as well, the content of the Pali canon is so homogenous, really, there is no doubt what the Buddha taught. And is was not what Batchelor is teachings as what the Buddha taught.


One problem that comes to mind, though, is the discrepancies between the various Nikaya and Agama canons that we have. In general the main teachings are the same, but there are discrepancies. For example comparing various Vinayas in Chinese translation I noticed that while the rule might be the same, the finer details of how and why the rule came about differ across multiple editions. For example in the prohibition against alcohol they all say Sugata got drunk and passed out after a party celebrating his placation of a naga, but the details of where he passed out and whether he kicked the Buddha or not are all different when looking at the different editions of the Vinaya.

It doesn't seem like scribal errors to me.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

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

Postby maybay » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:54 pm

What are beliefs? Would I find out by reading his book?
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

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

Postby Huifeng » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:08 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The date of when things were first written down is not the key element here. Moreover, while we our present earliest manuscripts are the Gandharin, their dates are not when writing was first used.

The issue is back tracking agama stemmas; and of the traditions, we can fairly confidently do that to the point of the so-called second council, via parallel traditions.

~~ Huifeng



Given the Gombrich-Cousins dates, then the second council would have been between 297 and 320 somewhere.


I am more inclined towards the northern tradition dates, with the second council a la Asoka.
And for arguments on this issue, definitely prefer those scholars who can access all the sources, not just the Pali (/ Indic).

But, it's a can o' worms, and even after all those decades, if Bechert couldn't decide on a clear answer, who the heck am I?

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1452
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

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

Postby maybay » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:32 pm

Actually this is sounding like the classic B-3 bomber media theory bullshitting from Wag the Dog. Buddhism without B-3 bombers. Khyentse Rinpoche did similar with NOT a Buddhist. Maybe this is a more subtle trick from a first language writer...
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

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

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:00 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Our record of what the historical Buddha taught is therefore much better than what skeptics would have us believe. And as well, the content of the Pali canon is so homogenous, really, there is no doubt what the Buddha taught. And is was not what Batchelor is teachings as what the Buddha taught.


One problem that comes to mind, though, is the discrepancies between the various Nikaya and Agama canons that we have. In general the main teachings are the same, but there are discrepancies. For example comparing various Vinayas in Chinese translation I noticed that while the rule might be the same, the finer details of how and why the rule came about differ across multiple editions. For example in the prohibition against alcohol they all say Sugata got drunk and passed out after a party celebrating his placation of a naga, but the details of where he passed out and whether he kicked the Buddha or not are all different when looking at the different editions of the Vinaya.

It doesn't seem like scribal errors to me.



Who cares about Vinaya (except monks)? The various Vinayas were redacted separately. This is common knowledge even to traditional scholars.

But the sutras, this is a different stories. My point is that there is an internal consistency in early Buddhist teachings of the sutras which is very homgenous and so the intent of the Buddha cannot be doubted.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:03 pm

Namdrol wrote:Who cares about Vinaya (except monks)? The various Vinayas were redacted separately. This is common knowledge even to traditional scholars.


Well, the Vinaya does record what the Buddha said and provides his judgement on various matters. Don't you think that is important?

But the sutras, this is a different stories. My point is that there is an internal consistency in early Buddhist teachings of the sutras which is very homgenous and so the intent of the Buddha cannot be doubted.


I agree that we have the general teachings and there is no doubt of that (especially in the case of rebirth, karma, dependent origination, etc...), but the finer details vary too much for us to say for sure exactly what was taught.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

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

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:06 pm

Huseng wrote:
Well, the Vinaya does record what the Buddha said and provides his judgement on various matters. Don't you think that is important?


The Vinayas record what the Buddha said to different groups of monks in different parts of India. But also, they report differing accounts since these Sanghas were widespread.


I agree that we have the general teachings and there is no doubt of that (especially in the case of rebirth, karma, dependent origination, etc...), but the finer details vary too much for us to say for sure exactly what was taught.


General principles are the point in this discussion, no?
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:25 pm

Namdrol wrote:General principles are the point in this discussion, no?


But that's just it ... the finer details of what the Buddha is recorded as having said can direct how one interprets the general principles and main ideas. You said,

"And as well, the content of the Pali canon is so homogenous, really, there is no doubt what the Buddha taught. And is was not what Batchelor is teachings as what the Buddha taught."


I'm just specifying that due to the differing accounts we can't be so sure about what the Buddha taught.

It comes down to Whose Buddhism is Truest?

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=5114

Is the Pali canon completely homogenous with the Ghandari one?
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

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

Postby Paul » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:30 pm

Namdrol wrote:
catmoon wrote:It would be interesting the see how many centuries passed before the sangha started calling themselves Buddhists.


Almost right away -- they termed themselves "sakyaputtiyā", sons of Shakya.


Is this the origin of the term "child of noble family" that appears in some sutras?
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
User avatar
Paul
 
Posts: 753
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

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

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:33 pm

Huseng wrote:I'm just specifying that due to the differing accounts we can't be so sure about what the Buddha taught.


I guess I simply do not agree with this perspective. I think we can be very, very, very sure.

Btw, yoru statement above really harms claims you made earlier in this thread citing scriptural authority.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:39 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:I'm just specifying that due to the differing accounts we can't be so sure about what the Buddha taught.


I guess I simply do not agree with this perspective. I think we can be very, very, very sure.

Btw, yoru statement above really harms claims you made earlier in this thread citing scriptural authority.


Not really. I said we're sure about the core principle teachings like rebirth and so on. No doubt.

Just the finer details of precisely how it was described and taught we are unsure of.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

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

Postby Malcolm » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:42 pm

Huseng wrote:
Just the finer details of precisely how it was described and taught we are unsure of.


This is unimportant for the present conversation.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Postby catmoon » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:48 pm

An interesting and most uncomfortable thought has crossed the vast empty echoing spaces inside my vacant skull.

Homogeneity of the scriptures is widely taken as evidence of veracity. The model runs something like:

The Buddha taught the Dharma. This was passed on to his students, among whom there were sufficient numbers of people with perfect memories and morals to transmit it to the next generation of students completely unaltered. Those students committed the Dharma to writing, again unaltered, and this process continued for some fifteen generations in which no one involved in the transmission of dharma was corrupt, had an axe to grind, or tried to modify the Dharma in any way.

The scriptures themselves describe a rather different situation, one in which in the Buddha's own lifetime Devadetta was trying to modify the Dharma and was willing to go so far as to attempt to kill the Buddha to get his way and take charge. Anyone with even the most passing familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism cannot help but be aware of the appalling conduct of the lamas down the centuries as they tried to control the religious institutions and the estates that went with them. And it was just a few years ago that once again the blood of lamas was spilled in Dharamsala. One can cite almost the entirety of human history as evidence that there are always people willing do just about anything, abuse any office, break any vow, violate any principle or betray friends and family in the pursuit of wealth, power and Being Right.

So if one assumes that people are people and always have been, an alternate possibility arises, one that also ends in the homogeneity of scripture. It is possible the homogeneity points to a single source, and that source is not the Buddha, but an intermediate writer. Something like this occurred in Christianity at the Council of Nicea, where many competing and conflicting ideas about Christianity were simply thrown overboard, and the natural diversity of opinions was artificially repressed, resulting in a pleasing state of affairs to those in charge. Homogeneity did not arise naturally, it was imposed.

It is possible that, in the four or five centuries that separate the Buddha from the historical record, this sort of thing occurred not once but several times, each one incorporating radical alterations in doctrine. But I really don't think this is what happened.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 2916
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

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

Postby catmoon » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:58 pm

(cont'd)

The reason is, that I don't take homogeneity as evidence of perfect transmission, is see it as evidence of tampering. Ask any judge in a court of law and he'll tell you that when all eyewitness accounts are in perfect accord, the witnesses have been rehearsed. But hey, good news! The Buddhist scriptures are not homogenized! They are the largest, most diverse and breathtakingly contradictory body of scripture in existence - just what one would expect if people are just people, as they always have been, flawed, of poor memory, prone to unintentional errors of every kind AND also just what one would expect if no one had come along and imposed a major rewrite on it all.

And that is the disturbing thought that has crossed me empty bean today.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 2916
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

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

Postby Will » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:33 pm

'Homogeneity' may not have been the purpose of the arhats of vast memory, but focus. The heart of Buddha's mission; his keynotes, were what was the intent of their recording and transmission to posterity. If the Dhamma-Vinaya looks homogeneous it is because the essentials were well-known and agreed upon.
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
User avatar
Will
 
Posts: 1731
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am

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

Postby Huifeng » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:29 am

Paul wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
catmoon wrote:It would be interesting the see how many centuries passed before the sangha started calling themselves Buddhists.


Almost right away -- they termed themselves "sakyaputtiyā", sons of Shakya.


Is this the origin of the term "child of noble family" that appears in some sutras?


By this, do you mean "kula-putra" / "kula-duhitra"? If so, some scholars consider that this phrase belonged to the Dharmaguptas, and was not found in other non-Mahayana schools. So, the relationship is not that clear, and not a necessary one, at least.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1452
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

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

Postby maybay » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:27 am

catmoon wrote:They are the largest, most diverse and breathtakingly contradictory body of scripture in existence - just what one would expect if people are just people, as they always have been, flawed, of poor memory, prone to unintentional errors of every kind AND also just what one would expect if no one had come along and imposed a major rewrite on it all.

Contradictions appear when you try to simplify. It shows you haven't understood the context of your sources.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

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

Postby catmoon » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:13 am

maybay wrote:
catmoon wrote:They are the largest, most diverse and breathtakingly contradictory body of scripture in existence - just what one would expect if people are just people, as they always have been, flawed, of poor memory, prone to unintentional errors of every kind AND also just what one would expect if no one had come along and imposed a major rewrite on it all.

Contradictions appear when you try to simplify. It shows you haven't understood the context of your sources.



Perhaps, but the contradictions are so many and so pointed that lamas have quite literally gone to war over them, and not just once. Surely if it were just a matter of context, such elevated teachers would have found peaceful solutions?
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 2916
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

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

Postby maybay » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:42 am

All very confusing isn't it.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

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

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:21 pm

Seem to me that this thread has lost its focus.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
Malcolm
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alfredo, asunthatneversets, LolCat, Simon E., yan kong and 25 guests

>