How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Matylda » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:58 pm

Ikkyu wrote:How can a person prove that enlightenment exists, or that Bodhisattvas or Buddhas exist? What empirical evidence is there that any of the sutras, suttas, tantras and whatnot are true? I mean, most Buddhists are non-theistic. I too am a skeptic and was lead to believe that there isn't a personal god/sky-daddy watching over us, as the idea isn't supported by scientific fact. What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either? Outside of philosophical conjecture is it really possible to prove this? And if can't be proven, why become a monk and give your life to something that might not be true?

I'm not saying that these things aren't true, but before I take precepts I would like some evidence that Buddhism is actually something more than a dried up philosophy. I mean, claiming that you're a supremely enlightened individual is a pretty big deal, amirite? I'm considering the precepts but I'm still a skeptic. So prove me wrong.


:namaste: :toilet:


What for to prove you wrong? Just do not take precepts and you are free from the doubt. If it is not for you why to question it? It is futile..
Matylda
 
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby oldbob » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:05 pm

Ikkyu wrote:How can a person prove that enlightenment exists, or that Bodhisattvas or Buddhas exist? What empirical evidence is there that any of the sutras, suttas, tantras and whatnot are true? I mean, most Buddhists are non-theistic. I too am a skeptic and was lead to believe that there isn't a personal god/sky-daddy watching over us, as the idea isn't supported by scientific fact. What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either? Outside of philosophical conjecture is it really possible to prove this? And if can't be proven, why become a monk and give your life to something that might not be true?

I'm not saying that these things aren't true, but before I take precepts I would like some evidence that Buddhism is actually something more than a dried up philosophy. I mean, claiming that you're a supremely enlightened individual is a pretty big deal, am i right? I'm considering the precepts but I'm still a skeptic. So prove me wrong.


:namaste: :toilet:


:namaste: : :namaste:

Sometimes I feel like the stone Buddha, sometimes like the bird and sometimes like the waving hands.
Thank you for sharing this echoing image. I like Zen too.

Many people are giving you many, many excellent answers. Not just intellectual answers but friendly sharing from the heart. If you think about their answers and try to imagine a kindly old person in front of you saying these answers to you in a gentle voice, I think it will help. If you have been keeping all these strong questions inside you, then it is very natural for you to have them all come out at once when you find friendly ears on Dharma Wheel. I am an old guy and retired, so I have time to add my 2 cents to the other answers.

It is truly difficult to figure things out and so I am hoping that my figuring things out for me, may make things easier for you. In order to be a careful listener I am going to repeat what you have said and then answer one at a time.

How can a person prove that enlightenment exists, or that Bodhisattvas or Buddhas exist?


Let's say that you and your friend have never tasted chocolate, and then one day your friend gets some chocolate in the mail and he texts you and say hey Ikkyu, someone just sent me some chocolate in the mail and I ate some, and it really tastes incredibly good. You really have to try some - It has a wonderful taste - nothing like rice and tofu. Then you go to your friends house and try some and it is really good. Did you have to prove scientifically that the chocolate would taste good before you went and tried some? No, you trusted your friend's advice and then got the benefit of tasting chocolate yourself. This is called direct experience. Until you taste chocolate yourself it is only an idea.

If another friend calls you up and says, hey Ikkyu, I heard that you have some chocolate and that it tastes good, but I am happy with my rice and tofu and further says, I am not going to drive 40 Km over to visit you to try some, unless you can prove to me that it will taste good. Do you start explaining how chocolate is made or how taste works, how nerve receptors work, how sensation is transmitted to the brain, how the brain works with neurons and ganglia to process the sensation of the taste into a smile of enjoyment. No - you tell your friend to come and have some chocolate. Then they come to visit, try some chocolate and get a big grin on their face.

So Buddhist chocolate is called experiance, and the people who want to share it with you might be called Bodhisattva's. In English, we have a saying "the proof is in the pudding." This means that when you taste the pudding all your needs for a reasoned proof are answered. When you sit in your Zen hall, and meditate, this is a taste of Buddhist pudding. The more you practice, the more you taste the pudding.

You also might reason that if so many people are spending so much time, money and effort to find enlightenment, then don't you think that maybe there might be something to this? Do yo think all these people are just fools following other fools.

No, you look at what works for the people you think are happy and then you try to do the same for yourself, so you can be happy.

There also is an argument that if you believe that enlightenment, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas exist, then you will be much happier, than if you do not believe this, and that this could be true whether or not they actually exist. So if you get the benefit if you believe, who cares whether enlightenment, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas actually exist or not. It doesn't matter. Getting the benefit is what matters. Happiness is better than unhappiness.

This is explained in a wonderful book about happiness, by an ex Buddhist scientist, Matthieu Ricard:

http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Guide-D ... 891&sr=1-1

Amazon describes this book as "A molecular biologist turned Buddhist monk, described by scientists as "the happiest man alive," demonstrates how to develop the inner conditions for true happiness."

I think you might really like this book because it is a first person account by a real scientist as to why Buddhism makes him and others happy: no blind faith here.


What empirical evidence is there that any of the sutras, suttas, tantras and whatnot are true? I mean, most Buddhists are non-theistic.


I too am a skeptic and was lead to believe that there isn't a personal god/sky-daddy watching over us, as the idea isn't supported by scientific fact.


If I can get useful information that allows me to be happier (have less suffering) out of any book, then that book contains a useful truth for me. If I can see that by following some advice in a book that my life is made better then that book has empiric proof that there is some truth in it. If the sutras, suttas, tantras and whatnot give you some useful information, then run with that truth. If they are not useful, don't read them. I have several hundred books on Buddhism but I don't read any of them any more. I keep them around in case I have to look something up for someone. I would much rather have a piece of pudding / chocolate - actual experience.

As far as God goes, (in America we believe she is black and has a very bad attitude problem (JUST A JOKE :smile: )) I believe, from direct experience that if I pray to the universe, I feel good and can get a feeling that the universe echoes me. Maybe this is just my projection - but guess what - it doesn't matter if God exists. If I pray, and it gets me some benefit, I do it, and the same with enlightenment, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If I provisionally try on these beliefs (without any scientific proof whatever) and I find some benefit in my life, then I use that belief for my benefit. Does it really exist? Is it really true? Who cares! I get to enjoy my chocolate. This works for me.

You can call this belief system, "the tasty hard evidence empirical reward of provisional non-empirical no-evidence faith; tasty reward of provisional faith, TRPF, in abbreviation"

Now can I have some chocolate (direct experience?)


What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either?


Outside of philosophical conjecture is it really possible to prove this?


I gave an answer to the first two above (it doesn't matter, if TRPF works) and as to rebirths, there are many stories of Tibetan Tulkus recognizing people and things from past lives. Whether these results can be duplicated in double blind scientific studies, would be interesting.


And if can't be proven, why become a monk and give your life to something that might not be true?


Maybe because the TRPF of becoming a Buddhist monk could make you much happier than the alternatives. I spent some time living in a Burmese monastery and I only met one sourpuss unhappy monk. When I asked him the simplest questions about Buddhism, he could not answer any, so maybe he was a free-food monk and not a Buddhist monk. I think most monks are really happy. It is not the path I have chosen, but I can understand, respect and support their choice. Being a monk or a nun resolves many issues in life and gives more time for practice.

I'm not saying that these things aren't true, but before I take precepts I would like some evidence that Buddhism is actually something more than a dried up philosophy.


Dried up philosophical Buddhism exists and works for some people, and juicy experiential Buddhism exists and works for some people. Lord Buddha taught 84,000 (means a lot of) different teachings so there would be something for everybody. Personally I like the Tibetan Dzogchen juicy school which is based on direct experience and need not be based on Buddhism. When people discuss about Dzogchen (and there is a lot of this on Dharma Wheel, it is more like a free for all than a genteel philosophical debate. For me it works because it includes all the other systems and I like it because it makes me smile a lot :smile: . The question of whether it is true or if any part of it can be proven scientifically, never comes up as an issue. If it helps me to be happier and explains things to me so I do not have to think or worry about them, this works for me.

I mean, claiming that you're a supremely enlightened individual is a pretty big deal, am i right?


WHO IS SAYING THAT??? HOW CAN THERE BE TWO OF US??? :guns: --- just a joke :smile: :smile: :smile: .

I have never met anyone, Buddhist or otherwise, who claimed to be a supremely enlightened individual.

Whether I am enlightened is not a question that I have ever thought about, even for a moment.

I also never have thought about trying to become enlightened, or whether Buddhas or Bodhisattvas exist, even for a moment.

I'm considering the precepts but I'm still a skeptic. So prove me wrong.


It is completely up to you if you take precepts or not. I am not omniscient to say if this will help you or not. Only you can say this. Maybe a Teacher whom you have respect for can give you good advice as to what would help your spiritual journey.These are not important questions to me. I am really happy if I don't burn things on the stove. I am really happy if I can have some peace of mind.

These things matter to me.

What matters to you is up to you!

I belong to the fundamentalist Buddha-Seed-low-seat school (which doesn't exist.)

I carry a big umbrella for the birds. :smile:

May this be of use to someone!

The happy stone Buddha,

ob
oldbob
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 8:19 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:42 pm

I also wanted to add this...

When I first started studying Buddhism, I had so many doubts and questions and skepticism about everything. Everything had to make sense and be intellectually tidy. A huge part of the path for me so far has been to realize that 95% of that is, to put it bluntly, mental masturbation... it simply does not matter. We're not trying to add new data to our framework of how we are and how the world is. It's the framework itself we're interested in :twothumbsup:
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 558
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby oldbob » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:57 am

duckfiasco wrote:I also wanted to add this...

When I first started studying Buddhism, I had so many doubts and questions and skepticism about everything. Everything had to make sense and be intellectually tidy. A huge part of the path for me so far has been to realize that 95% of that is, to put it bluntly, mental masturbation... it simply does not matter. We're not trying to add new data to our framework of how we are and how the world is. It's the framework itself we're interested in :twothumbsup:


100% :smile:
oldbob
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 8:19 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:14 am

A good way to end up unsure of yourself is to join a web forum! LOL :)

Seriosuly, though, it is good to discover that there are challenges to your comfort and to accept or reject the guidance and experiences others offer.

It also helps modify any herd behaviour you may have fallen into with a particular sect where it is easy to fall into 'saviour' mentality with regard to a teacher, rather than realise that the only way to be 'sure of your self' is to recognise that you are on your own when it comes to finding the most beneficail path. I don't necessarily mean cult behaviour; just being in a comfortable state of mind which trusust that the Guru will be the saviour and the disciple doesn't need to do much except follow him.

I don't come across many Buddhists who are 'sure of themselves', and teachings on clinging to the 'self' and on 'emptiness' etc. can sometimes make that insecurity worse.

Some really will settle into a path which gives them great confidence and security, to the extent that they may ordain or become a teacher, and my hope is that forums play their part in helping people find that match.
Left
Blue Garuda
 
Posts: 2000
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:23 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Luke » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:48 pm

Which man is more foolish?

Man 1 believes in and practices the Buddhist religion and is deeply happy and still enjoys many things about science.

Man 2 automatically rejects Buddhist ideas because he can't prove them in a way which will satisfy his scientifically-minded friends and remains unhappy.

Most people who have been conditioned by modern culture will say that Man 1 is the more foolish one, but what you have to ask yourself is "Is he really?"

Ikkyu wrote:If consciousness is destroyed upon the moment of death, as we know it is, how do some "aggregates" recreate it from non-existence?

Where is this non-existence you speak of??

Ikkyu wrote:We know why consciousness exists: it's called brain function. When the brain and the network of neurons in it die so does consciousness.

The first thing you should realize is that scientists have great trouble defining the word "consciousness." Often scientists just define "consciousness" to be whatever they can currently explain based on neurobiology because they don't like to leave big unknowns in their theories.
I heard the Dalai Lama say in the a video that lower, simpler brain functions are more based in the body, but the higher, more refined states of consciousness are mostly based on the part of the mind which is more independent from the body.
I also heard him say that neuroscientists can't prove that there AREN'T some mental events which precede neurological events. He said that the assumption of neuroscientists that neurological events always precede mental events sounds more like superstition or a prejudice to him.

Malcolm wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:[b]What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either?


None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

This is why Buddhism is a religion.

Malcolm gave the direct answer.

As much as I like scientists, if one scientist said to me, "I am looking for a religion which doesn't contradict modern science in any way whatsoever and which only makes assertions which can be observably proven by modern science. So tell me, does Buddhism meet these criteria?", then I would clearly have to answer, "No," and let him keep going on his way. One of the most important things for a Buddhist is to be honest. A dishonest answer to this question would disgrace both Buddhism and science. Buddhism and science overlap in some areas and have some interesting similarities, but they'll never fit together perfectly, no matter how many people enjoy saying that Buddhism is "very scientific" and is "more of a philosophy than a religion." If someone had patented those phrases, they would be rich by now! Lol

Good luck with your spiritual search, Ikkyu! Like many have already said, finding a great Buddhist teacher to learn from will help you more than any of our replies. Every sangha is a little bit different. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right one for you.

Here's a religion which should be acceptable to scientists: scientific equipment worship!
Group leader (holding a microscope overhead): "Praises to the microscope, master of lenses and light, for it shows us what the eye cannot see alone!"
Group replies: "Praises to the microscope!"

You could also have shamanistic dances around particle accelerators, etc. Lol
User avatar
Luke
 
Posts: 1669
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:04 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Challenge23 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:07 am

Luke wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:[b]What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either?


None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

This is why Buddhism is a religion.

Malcolm gave the direct answer.

As much as I like scientists, if one scientist said to me, "I am looking for a religion which doesn't contradict modern science in any way whatsoever and which only makes assertions which can be observably proven by modern science. So tell me, does Buddhism meet these criteria?", then I would clearly have to answer, "No," and let him keep going on his way. One of the most important things for a Buddhist is to be honest. A dishonest answer to this question would disgrace both Buddhism and science. Buddhism and science overlap in some areas and have some interesting similarities, but they'll never fit together perfectly, no matter how many people enjoy saying that Buddhism is "very scientific" and is "more of a philosophy than a religion." If someone had patented those phrases, they would be rich by now! Lol



I've been thinking about this very topic quite a bit and agree but there is something more that I think needs to be added. Not only is Buddhism not a perfect fit with science but no religion is and I would go so far to say that no religion can.

Think of it like a big circle that represents human experience. In the beginning almost all of that circle involved things that we had no way to explain. If you look at the very earliest forms of religion that we know about it was believed that the gods caused everything and could stop causing it at any time. Not even the rising and setting was thought of as acting according to laws.

As time passed and we discovered more about the world in which we lived more of human experience was moved out of the realm of religion. We don't think of storms and disease coming from Zeus and Apollo, respectively. We have figured out ways to measure those effects and learn the things that cause them. Because of this religion isn't really used to explain a whole lot of things. But there are some things that we still require religion for, things that we can't measure. That's the big shortcoming of the scientific method. It requires something measurable. The further away you get from something measurable the less "true" it becomes.

At the end of the day we don't really know if there are alternate realms where Bodhisattvas and Buddhas live one way or another. What we do know is that if you practice as if there were then you will get certain results. However, what is also true is that if you practice as if there is a spherical heaven with a hierarchy of angels singing praises to God(or Allah or YHVH or whatever other name you want to use for him), that there is a mother Goddess, or that Odin lives in some far away place brooding over Ragnarok you will get certain results as well. These experiences will serve to confirm whatever premise you used to begin with. Which one is Really Really True? I don't have a clue, to be honest. For all I know the Primitive Baptists could have it right and all of us are done for.

But don't take my word for it. Talk to various schools of true believers yourself.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
User avatar
Challenge23
 
Posts: 127
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:36 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:26 am

Challenge23 wrote:These experiences will serve to confirm whatever premise you used to begin with. Which one is Really Really True?

None of them? All of them? 'One' seems to be an arbitrary number. From what you describe, it doesn't really matter. This is my point of view too.
May all beings be happy
dharmagoat
 
Posts: 1201
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby DetachedWatcher » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:37 am

Ikkyu wrote: So prove me wrong.



Why not try to prove it wrong yourself, so that you are not going on a stranger's word? That's blind faith and trying to throw the responsibility off on someone else. Far less satisfying too.

Do some hard meditation work and you will be able to know for yourself what is true without blind faith. Good Buddhism abhors blind faith.

You should not believe anything until you see it and prove it for yourself. Too many charlatans to do anything else.

[Edit] At the very least you will be able to reap the benefits of meditation.
DetachedWatcher
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:20 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:57 am

I think underlying this post is the hereditary attitude towards 'what religion means' which dies very hard in the West. There is an implicit idea that if it has anything to do with 'religion', then it must demand allegiance to 'beliefs that cannot be rationally proven'.

Now it is true that this element exists within Buddhism too, but it is not predominant. The aspect of 'religion' which is needed in relation to Buddhism is, IMO, dedication, devotion, selfless commitment. That is very similar to other religions. But all the time you are working with a principle which is observable, namely, the truth of dependent origination, which leads to the insight into śunyata, or emptiness of own-being in all manifest things. This is not a question of belief at all. When you see that, you see it.

Now, can this be proven? Certainly, it can be supported by argument and dialectic. But at the end of the day, it is a realization, and one that each 'sadhaka' has to seek out for him or herself. In this case, the only question of belief is whether it is worth pursuing that, or not.

Is that being 'sure of oneself'? Not sure! :shrug:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:24 am

Have you seen this scrripture? Most people have seen some version of it.

Translator's note: Although this discourse is often cited as the Buddha's carte blanche for following one's own sense of right and wrong, it actually says something much more rigorous than that. Traditions are not to be followed simply because they are traditions. Reports (such as historical accounts or news) are not to be followed simply because the source seems reliable. One's own preferences are not to be followed simply because they seem logical or resonate with one's feelings. Instead, any view or belief must be tested by the results it yields when put into practice; and — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one's understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise. The ability to question and test one's beliefs in an appropriate way is called appropriate attention.

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

As they sat there, the Kalamas of Kesaputta said to the Blessed One, "Lord, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. And then other brahmans & contemplatives come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. They leave us absolutely uncertain & in doubt: Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?"

"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.


So essentially he is saying, you have to find these things out for yourself. No one can prove it to you because in order to do so, they would have to go inside your mind and change it to show you the proof that it can be changed like this, which obviously isn't possible. That can only be done by oneself through one's own effort. Buddhists can be so sure of themselves because they have personally tested a lot of these things and found them to be empirically true. So the only way to get this proof is to "test the theory" to see if it holds up.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
User avatar
seeker242
 
Posts: 698
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby safron » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:56 am

I have been given actual proof since the time that I started practicing. It's nothing scientific, nor something easy.


Nichikan Shonin stated: “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the finest of all varieties of medicine. In other words, through our faith, each of us can individually exceed the limitations of all conventional and contemporary medicine and through the battle against any illness, we can grow as human beings overcome this illness and strive in body and mind for a transformation in our personal lives.
safron
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri May 11, 2012 1:15 am
Location: unknown Country

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:50 am

the placebo effect is proven, also. But placebos contain no medicine, by definition. So I for one am very skeptical about any dharma that insists on a particular saying, recitation, formula, mantra, or anything of the kind. To those who believe in such things, go ahead, believe in them, but that is where I would draw the line between believing and direct perception.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:47 am

jeeprs wrote:the placebo effect is proven, also. But placebos contain no medicine, by definition. So I for one am very skeptical about any dharma that insists on a particular saying, recitation, formula, mantra, or anything of the kind. To those who believe in such things, go ahead, believe in them, but that is where I would draw the line between believing and direct perception.
Thing is that the placebo effect works only if the pateint believes they are taking medicine. I personally was sceptical of the efficacy of a practice and did it anyway for lack of alternatives and found that it works. This is what leads to true faith and confidence in the practices.
:namaste:
"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
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 9627
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:56 am

The other problem of comparing placebos to Buddhist practices is much more fundamental. In medicine, one is talking about physical causes and results, whereas placebos are mental causes leading to physical results. Buddhist practice is just seeking mental results, largely using mental causes.

Thus, if a placebo is entirely "in the mind", and thus rejected in the physical sciences, that is irrelevant to the Buddhist pov, because Buddhist practice is largely "in the mind", too.

It's a kind of argument appropriate in physical sciences of "we are only concerned with physical things", appropriate in that case, but when applied to Buddhism, and humanities in general, largely just the wrong basic position in the first place.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Dexing » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:13 am

Ikkyu wrote:What real, hard evidence is there that bodhisattvas exist, that enlightenment is possibility or that rebirth can happen either?


In my experience, many skeptical doubts I've had concerning the very things of bodhisattvas, rebirth etc., were erased when I studied these things and realized they weren't actually what I presupposed them to be. There was no hard evidence because my preconceived definitions were erroneous.

So without even needing to give you the excuse that you must "practice more and find out", which I would find almost akin to and as condescending as the theist remark that if you haven't had a personal revelation of god you just weren't sincere enough, I can suggest you simply study and discover as much as you can about these topics. Perhaps similarly, as your knowledge, familiarity and understanding grow, many of these skeptical doubts will disappear of their own simply because they were misapprehensions to start with and the verity of scriptures will be revealed as you continue to both study and practice.
nopalabhyate...
User avatar
Dexing
 
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:41 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:36 am

Huifeng wrote:The other problem of comparing placebos to Buddhist practices is much more fundamental. In medicine, one is talking about physical causes and results, whereas placebos are mental causes leading to physical results. Buddhist practice is just seeking mental results, largely using mental causes.

Thus, if a placebo is entirely "in the mind", and thus rejected in the physical sciences, that is irrelevant to the Buddhist pov, because Buddhist practice is largely "in the mind", too.


I don't think there is such a thing as mental 'placebo'.

I mean... "I did this mental practise and it made me happy, but now it turns out it was just a placebo and it was just my own mind that made me happy."

I don't know how you'd even go about formulating the concept of a mental placebo to begin with.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 737
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:16 am

Anders wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The other problem of comparing placebos to Buddhist practices is much more fundamental. In medicine, one is talking about physical causes and results, whereas placebos are mental causes leading to physical results. Buddhist practice is just seeking mental results, largely using mental causes.

Thus, if a placebo is entirely "in the mind", and thus rejected in the physical sciences, that is irrelevant to the Buddhist pov, because Buddhist practice is largely "in the mind", too.


I don't think there is such a thing as mental 'placebo'.

I mean... "I did this mental practise and it made me happy, but now it turns out it was just a placebo and it was just my own mind that made me happy."

I don't know how you'd even go about formulating the concept of a mental placebo to begin with.


Exactly.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby kirtu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:35 am

jeeprs wrote:I think underlying this post is the hereditary attitude towards 'what religion means' which dies very hard in the West. There is an implicit idea that if it has anything to do with 'religion', then it must demand allegiance to 'beliefs that cannot be rationally proven'.


But that attitude is not actually a component, or at least not a core component, of religious belief even though religions will have statements that can't be proven rationally. What you are describing with this attitude is blind belief. Blind belief is a characteristic of immature people.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4458
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: How can Buddhists be so sure of themselves?

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:54 am

kirtu wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I think underlying this post is the hereditary attitude towards 'what religion means' which dies very hard in the West. There is an implicit idea that if it has anything to do with 'religion', then it must demand allegiance to 'beliefs that cannot be rationally proven'.


But that attitude is not actually a component, or at least not a core component, of religious belief even though religions will have statements that can't be proven rationally. What you are describing with this attitude is blind belief. Blind belief is a characteristic of immature people.

Kirt


It's a core component of a lot of theistic, particularly monotheistic, religion, where faith is held up as a virtue and source of knowledge in and of itself and frequently put in opposition to empirical knowledge. The way Christianity talks about having one's faith tested shows a commitment to a faith that isn't just without proof, but is meant to endure in face of strong evidence or argument to the contrary. And the more capable one is of maintaining such faith, the more pious a believer you are.

Which is why a lot of people struggle with the concept of belief in Buddhism and would rather it had none. But it takes a bit of exposure before it becomes apparent that belief in Buddhism is not a virtue in and of itself but rather a pragmatic means to end - the end in this case being actual empirical knowledge.

And we don't expect our beliefs to defy evidence to the contrary. The usual attitude in Buddhism when one encounters claims that seem implausible is basically just to 'set it to one side' for a later time in case it might prove useful later. It's not exactly sceptical rejection, but certainly also a far cry from the attitudes of monotheistic religions.

Basically, it reflect the pragmatic role of belief in Buddhism: You don't have to believe this stuff, but take care not to be too rejecting either. The reason someone said this was probably that it is meant to be useful in some sort of context and maybe it could be of use to you to some day. And if not, no biggie.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 737
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests

>