Lhug-Pa wrote: ...
However if "atheists" want to be perceived as holding no position at all, then they ought to just admit that they don't know, and refer to themselves as Agnostics instead (or perhaps as Gnostics, that is if they fully embrace the Madhyamaka view and are actually on the Path).
I agree. While I am extremely doubtful of certain aspects of Buddhist Teachings without regard to whether or not
the historical Buddha actually taught them as such (for example, I tend to doubt and not cling to very detailed descriptions of the workings of rebirth, and believe that the Buddha as a man of his day and society may have been mistaken in such a claim even if he said it
) and do not find such aspects of the Buddhist Teachings either necessary or relevant to my Practice, nonetheless I remain not completely closed off to the possibility that such may be so, could be true (and honor the right of anyone else to believe so) ... an open minded skeptic though thinking such things unlikely ... and therefor would term myself an "agnostic" on such issues. I would also describe myself as agnostic on many other things that people claim in the world, from space aliens having built the pyramids to that other holy man having actually walked on water and turned loaves into fishes (Each might be, could have been true, so let's not completely close off the possibility of the space aliens as ancient Egyptians, although I believe there is little evidence besides peoples' claims
). This is certainly neither "nihilism" nor "eternalism" as I see it, for one is not bound by such philosophical views and each is tossed into the wonderful flowing dance of Emptiness. I feel that I am Practicing at the Heart of the Teachings, without regard to particular claimed doctrines.
On the other hand, since perhaps EVERYONE here at the Mahayana-Vajrayana Dharma Wheel, in some way, may be practicing flavors of Buddhism very VERY different in key ways from what the historical Buddha taught (though each may believe that they are practicing in a way at the Heart of the Teachings without regard to whether or not
particular claimed doctrines that the Buddha may have said where actually said by him or not, and given the great evidence of change over time in Buddhism, maybe nobody here at Dharma Wheel really limits their practice dependent on whether the historical Buddha taught the exact way they Practice or not) ...
... and since perhaps EVERYONE here at Dharma Wheel does not find certain aspects of the Buddhist Teachings either necessary or relevant to their Practice "at the Heart of the Teachings" without regard to whether the historical Buddha actually instructed so or not ... and may doubt or reject certain Teachings and Practices which other Buddhists find to be in line with "what the Buddha taught" (perhaps, in fact, actually taught
) ... EVERYONE
here at Dharma Wheel, whether they care to admit it or not, is either a "Buddhist Agnostic" or "Buddhist Atheist" in their own way, with regard to some of the Buddha's Teachings.
Oh, Stephen Batchelor and folks like him could do things the "old fashioned way", namely, write a new "Sutra" under religious inspiration and "channeling" the Buddha wherein, for example, the Buddha is heard to actually reject his earlier teachings on literal rebirth and such as "just expedient means for the folks who needed to hear such tales" (in fact, Sutras making such point do exist!
) ... then claim to discover the "Sutra" under a tree where Manjushri left it ...
... but instead, perhaps (just perhaps) Stephen Batchelor and folks like him are being more honest about it when simply saying "I doubt that old doctrine, don't believe it even if the Buddha actually said it or is claimed to have said it in some older book, and I don't feel it necessary to Practice in such way
Looking at things that way, perhaps we should change the name of this place to: "DHARMA WHEEL, a Buddhist discussion forum for Buddhist Atheists and Agnostics of many flavors"