Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby shel » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:14 am

You say the Buddha may be the last word but also say he may have had superstitious beliefs or even possible sometime quaint views or outright mistakes. You are confused, Jundo.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:27 am

Challenge23, yeah I think that "nihilist" and "materialist" would both work there.

Malcolm, my source for that is within the first few pages of The Precious Vase. Or maybe it's rather that a Barhaspatya (Phur Bu Ba) is only one type of Murthugpa? I'll have to read it again more carefully. *Edit* Okay, it's not so simple because there are also Chalpas and Gyangphenpas, and all of the above seem to be similar to one another; with the exception of Mutegpas, the latter of whom are "eternalists" ("Tirthikas").

Jundo Cohen, yes I'm certainly more Agnostic (Avidya) than Gnostic (Vidya). And I think that every sentient being is a mixture of both to varying degrees.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby jundo cohen » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:38 am

jeeprs wrote:I suppose ethical relativism is a hard thing to avoid in the current situation, but I detect a certain irony insofar as you are the one representing a lineage and wearing the vestements and accoutrements of the tradition, yet at the same time the one saying the Buddha 'makes mistakes'.


Maybe, perhaps, could have perhaps made some mistakes and preached some narrow or erroneous views as a man of his culture and times. Fortunately, the other aspects of this Practice are worth the whole price of admission! Where to draw the line between the two, well, let us each find out in this life or some next life (whatever that entails).

And, of course, there is that Teaching beyond and through-and-through human views of "truth" and "mistake", "boundless" or "narrow", culture or place and time.

I am very comfortable in these Buddhist robes.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:08 am

"a man of his culture and times". I don't know how far I would agree with that.

I do understand there are many things we have discovered about the natural world that the ancients had no way of knowing. (The Dalai Lama has wrestled with many of these questions, too.) But the problem is, what criteria are being used to assess what ought to be retained and what discarded? I don't see how you can remove the notion of re-birth from Buddhism without eviscerating it. That's why I said I would rather see Bachelor present an argument for a secular philosophy, based on Buddhist ideas, than saying that re-birth is not 'the real Buddhism', and that what he is presenting, is.

There is a difference between scepticism as 'the suspension of judgement', and scepticism as an essentially naturalistic view of life, that rules certain things out on the basis that our culture does not have an explanatory model which accomodates them. And I don't think that it's enough to say that it is all simply a matter of opinion, and that everyone has a right to their opinion.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:59 am

I don't really know what the fuss is about. The Buddha ideal - obviously false. The ideal of perfect enlightenment - obviously false. The savior of humanity ideal - obviously false. The transcendent experience of wisdom - obviously false.
Why obviously false? They are just concepts. Unreal ideals. We hold on to these concepts because we hold on to hope or an idea about future reward - future enlargement. When buddhists talk about enlightenment they are always talking about their own enlargement - getting bigger rather than smaller - becoming more significant.
The simple fact of perception is strange and absurd. The dharma is simply the recognition of the nature of this absurd simple fact of perception. Whichever science or philosophy leads to an understanding of the nature of experience without clouding the experience with concepts is genuine dharma. Right here is where you'll always be. Right here is where you've never been. Thanks Mr. Batchelor.
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"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby jundo cohen » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:44 am

Andrew108 wrote:I don't really know what the fuss is about. The Buddha ideal - obviously false. The ideal of perfect enlightenment - obviously false. The savior of humanity ideal - obviously false. The transcendent experience of wisdom - obviously false.
Why obviously false? They are just concepts. Unreal ideals.


And thus, in a Wondrous Way that nonetheless makes crazy-sense to Buddhist folks ... thus the Buddha ideal is True as True, beyond and right through-and-through all small human ideas of ideal or not, true and false ...

...Perfect Buddhas and Perfect Enlightenment are Real ... beyond and right through-and-through all small human ideas of perfection and imperfection, buddhas and sentient beings, delusion and enlightenment .. .

Sentient Beings are thus Saved! ... beyond and right through-and-through all small human ideas of sentient beings in need of saving ... etc. etc. etc.

Lovely how that works. :namaste:

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:43 pm

Saved, according to who? From what? What does it even mean?

Andrew108 wrote:The ideal of perfect enlightenment - obviously false


What about a lesser enlightenment? The plain vanilla kind? The kind nobody got famous for, that didn't come with being a Universally Revered Teacher? How about that? Also obviously false?
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:07 pm

Andrew108 wrote:When buddhists talk about enlightenment they are always talking about their own enlargement - getting bigger rather than smaller - becoming more significant.

Always?
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Jnana wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:When buddhists talk about enlightenment they are always talking about their own enlargement - getting bigger rather than smaller - becoming more significant.

Always?

Actually yes. See if you don't notice it yourself.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:08 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Jnana wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:When buddhists talk about enlightenment they are always talking about their own enlargement - getting bigger rather than smaller - becoming more significant.

Always?

Actually yes. See if you don't notice it yourself.

Actually, I think your statement is an inaccurate over-generalization. It doesn't accord with many dharma talks I've heard or discussions I've had with other Buddhists. A couple of examples:

    The Buddha’s teaching is a very direct teaching. Our practice is not ‘to become enlightened’, but to be in the knowing, now. -- Ajahn Sumedho

    Do not be a bodhisatta; do not be an arahant; do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisatta, you will suffer; if you are an arahant, you will suffer; if you are anything at all, you will suffer. -- Ajahn Chah

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:13 pm

Jnana wrote:
Image



Nice. So fear-mongering though! :tongue:
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:24 pm

Ad Hom removed
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:12 pm

Hi Jnana - yes there you can see that they are not talking about becoming enlightened. Thanks.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Wesley1982 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:29 pm

I tend be somewhat 'Agnostic' . . .because I don't know everything. :)
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby odysseus » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:32 am

Thanks for this video, I will watch it later. The subject interests me because so many Westerners are interested in Buddhism but their experience seem somewhat confused (including my own). It has taken me 10 years of on-and-off investigation to get to terms with basic ideas like karma and rebirth, but they seem clear to me now. Even sunyata and dependent origination are perfectly sensible.

I cannot understand why Batchelor is opposed to these doctrines but that´s another discussion. Since Vajrayana took 600 years to develop, we in the west just have to be patient I guess.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:37 am

odysseus wrote:I cannot understand why Batchelor is opposed to these doctrines but that´s another discussion. Since Vajrayana took 600 years to develop, we in the west just have to patient I guess.


In a few decades vast amounts of the Tibetan, Chinese and Indic canons will have been translated into English (much of it being by academics, so hopefully quality). There will also be a lot of mature Buddhist communities.

At that point we'll have to see what emerges in the western world.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:45 pm

Huseng wrote:In a few decades vast amounts of the Tibetan, Chinese and Indic canons will have been translated into English (much of it being by academics, so hopefully quality). There will also be a lot of mature Buddhist communities.

At that point we'll have to see what emerges in the western world.

And ironically, this period may coincide with the ascendancy of China and India and the decline of English as a dominant international language.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:55 pm

Jnana wrote:
Huseng wrote:In a few decades vast amounts of the Tibetan, Chinese and Indic canons will have been translated into English (much of it being by academics, so hopefully quality). There will also be a lot of mature Buddhist communities.

At that point we'll have to see what emerges in the western world.

And ironically, this period may coincide with the ascendancy of China and India and the decline of English as a dominant international language.


I've thought about this as well.

On one hand, there already are more Chinese speakers in the world than English, but much of the rest of the world does not seem inclined to learn Chinese. My friends in the Middle East, Africa and South America, even Korea and Japan, don't take any interest in Chinese. Some even remark they think they couldn't due to the script and pronunciation. In India English is the language used by the upper classes and generally higher education in the high ranked universities is carried out in English as well.

That could all change of course. History shows dominant languages come and go. Arabic used to be studied widely from Spain to India. Classical Chinese used to studied extensively throughout all of East Asia. Latin in Europe and the New World for a time.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby odysseus » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:38 pm

Huseng wrote:In a few decades vast amounts of the Tibetan, Chinese and Indic canons will have been translated into English (much of it being by academics, so hopefully quality). There will also be a lot of mature Buddhist communities.


I certainly hope you are right. Your comment makes me think of the prophecy that Buddhism will decline over the centuries. But we don´t really know if this prophecy came directly from Shakyamuni or if it was a "future-telling" made by someone else. We have no empirical evidence, but we still have enough material to make us able to reach realisation I believe. The local lama said it is possible to become enlightened in my European country; what a positive motivation. As for that prophecy about Buddhism declining if women enter the Sangha, that´s just an idea made by a misogynist patriarchal boss that is not Buddha and the sentiment is not compatible with Buddhism.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:03 am

odysseus wrote:I certainly hope you are right. Your comment makes me think of the prophecy that Buddhism will decline over the centuries. But we don´t really know if this prophecy came directly from Shakyamuni or if it was a "future-telling" made by someone else. We have no empirical evidence, but we still have enough material to make us able to reach realisation I believe.


The Buddha was clear that eventually his dharma would cease to exist in the world. The previous buddha in our world was called Kāśyapa and his dharma was all but lost when Śākyamuni rediscovered the buddhadharma and "turned the Wheel of Dharma".


As for that prophecy about Buddhism declining if women enter the Sangha, that´s just an idea made by a misogynist patriarchal boss that is not Buddha and the sentiment is not compatible with Buddhism.


Said teaching is found in the canons of the Sarvāstivādin, Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka, Theravādin and Haimavātas schools (early Indian Buddhist schools), all of which belong to the Sthaviravāda (in Pali Theravada) branch of early Buddhism, though it is not found in the known canon of any school belonging to the Mahāsāṃghika branch. This is significant because it may, as Jan Nattier pointed out, indicate that the story was added after the schism of the sangha which occurred at the “second second Buddhist council” in 340 BCE at Pāṭaliputra in India. In other words, the idea of blaming nuns for the premature demise of the dharma was possibly introduced after the emergence of sectarian divisions within the sangha community. The Mahāsāṃghika Nikāya tradition did not have such a teaching as far as we know.


Buddhism has actually been in decline for awhile. In the last century hundreds of millions of Buddhists were effectively wiped off the global population by communist regimes in Asia. Mongolia, China, Cambodia, North Korea, Tibet, etc... many communists in Asia saw Buddhism as a parasite and went about systematically destroying it for a time. Hundreds of millions of Buddhists were effectively severed from their religion with the temples and sangha being decimated. Christian missionaries also scooped up many around Asia.

Presently secularism and Christianity continues to appeal to a lot of youth in economically developed nations like Singapore and South Korea (it is trendy because it is western and a social networking tool, rather than Buddhism which is seen as old and something your grandmother does).

Buddhism used to exist from Persia to Japan and most places in-between down to modern day Indonesia. Nowadays it is considerably smaller and even then rapidly losing influence and people as time goes on. People nowadays want iPhones, McDonalds and Gucci, not Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

However, there could be a resurgent interest in Buddhism in the coming decades in Asia as environmental problems coupled with peak oil cripple economies and suddenly people find themselves living like their great great grandparents did without much money or luxuries at hand. In such circumstances people will take an interest in religion again.
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