All Buddhists Are Atheists

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jnana wrote:Your criteria for what qualifies as a god is too narrow, which is likely why you mistakenly equate Buddhism with Atheism.
No matter how much one broadens ones criteria as to what qualifies as a god this does not change the fac that gods are samsaric beings.

Buddhism offers one of the most dynamic, multi-faceted cosmologies of any world religion. "Atheism" is an inadequate label. Atheism isn't just a disbelief or denial of monotheism or a creator God. It is also a denial of gods, god realms, and entails denial of any form of post-mortem existence. The American Heritage Dictionary:

    atheism

    1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
    2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

Collins English Dictionary:

    atheism

    Rejection of belief in God or gods.

Rowe, William L. "Atheism". In Edward Craig. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    [A]n atheist, in the broader sense of the term, is someone who disbelieves in every form of deity, not just the God of traditional Western theology.

The Buddha affirmed the existence of gods and higher realms. He was the teacher of gods and men. The Āgamas and Nikāyas contain many assertions regarding the existence of gods, higher realms, past lives, and rebirth in the next world. Contrary to the opinions of some modern revisionists, the Buddha was neither an atheist, an apatheist, nor an agnostic.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Indrajala » Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:52 pm

Matt J wrote:The other side is that there are a lot of cultural additions that are unnecessary to Buddhist practice. No one needs to believe in gods, spirits, and magic in order to practice the dharma. A modern person does not need to suppress their modern knowledge in order to practice.


Modern knowledge does not preclude the existence of gods, spirits and magic. Almost every known human culture in history can expressed very similar ideas about all three. It is less of a belief if you consider the widespread testimonies for such phenomena across all cultures. Spirits and the like are almost universal. Moreover, science never refuted such things, or even the old occult arts like magic. To quote John Michael Greer:

It may come as a surprise to learn that the Scientific Revolution's rejection of magic, alchemy, and the like was based on rhetoric, not experiment. In all arguments over the reality of these things, no one on the scientific side of the debate claimed to have done experiments proving that magic, alchemy, and other kinds of 'rejected knowledge' were false. (This point can be looked up quite readily in contemporary sources, or in the very large modern historical literature on the period.) The early scientists assumed that these things were false because they didn't fit the new scientific and materialist image of the universe, not because anyone disproved them.

John Michael Greer, Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings (Llewellyn Wordwide, 2001), 5.


As to the Buddhadharma, you would be hard pressed to find any Buddhist author until a few decades ago outright dismissing the traditional cosmology.

Generally speaking to our pre-modern Buddhist ancestors the existence of devas, pretas and so on was axiomatic. Modern self-identifying rationalists might claim to know better nowadays, though their scepticism still does not refute the widespread testimonies for the aforementioned phenomena. We still have demonic possessions, ghost experiences, mystics communing with deities and plenty of skilled magicians, western and eastern, who testify to the efficacy of their respective crafts. You may choose to deny all of it, but people who experience these things have their own grounds for taking them seriously.

It might be unpopular at present, but knowledge and understanding of the greater cosmology is important if you are to grasp Buddhadharma and moreover the nature of saṃsāra. It is through understanding and personally experiencing the three realms via yogic insight that you cultivate great compassion, for without such experience you have no point of reference to understand the sufferings that the higher realms entail.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:57 pm

Huseng wrote:But if you accept their existence you are a polytheist.
Hmmmm... depends on which definition you take.

The Mirriam Webster definition of polytheism is: " belief in or worship of more than one god."
Wikipedia says: "Polytheism is the worship or belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.
Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God. Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but can be henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times."
Whereas the encyclopaedia Britannica says: "Polytheism, the belief in many gods."

Now Wikipedia goeson to say that "Polytheism is a type of theism". And defines theism in the following way:
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists. In a more specific sense, theism is a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe. Theism, in this specific sense, conceives of God as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe. As such theism describes the classical conception of God that is found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and some forms of Hinduism. The use of the word theism to indicate this classical form of monotheism began during the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century in order to distinguish it from the then-emerging deism which contended that God, though transcendent and supreme, did not intervene in the natural world and could be known rationally but not via revelation.

The term theism derives from the Greek theos meaning "god". The term theism was first used by Ralph Cudworth (1617–88). In Cudworth's definition, they are "strictly and properly called Theists, who affirm, that a perfectly conscious understanding being, or mind, existing of itself from eternity, was the cause of all other things". Atheism is rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism; i.e. the rejection of belief that there is even one deity. Rejection of the narrower sense of theism can take forms such as deism, pantheism, and polytheism. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism. The positive assertion of knowledge, either of the existence of gods or the absence of gods, can also be attributed to some theists and some atheists. Put simply theism and atheism deal with belief, and agnosticism deals with (absence of) rational claims to asserting knowledge.


So let's take it one step at a time.

Accoring to Cudworths definition of theism, Buddhists are not theists since they reject that all things arise from a single infinite cause. Some may make a distinction and say that those Buddhists that take the Tantra of the All Creating King as scriptural (which all Buddhists do not) are actually theists. But from my brief glance at the text it seems that the All Creating King is merely a personification of ones enlightened state of mind and not a distinct being.

Now if we take theism in its broadest sense we find that Buddhists do fit the category of theists.

Now if we look at the defintions of polytheism again we see that some forms of Buddhism do fit the mould. There are defintiely instances of worship (propitiation) of samsaric deities within Vajrayana Buddhism. Worldly protectors for example. Naga kings. etc... But again, even this does not put the practitioners squarely into the realm of theism because of the lack of the idea of an eternal cause of all existence.

I think we can alll agree that Yidam deity practices definitely do not fall into the category of theism.

So what about atheism? Wikipedia says: "Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists."

Well, it seems that Buddhists are defintiely not atheists.

So Buddhists are definitely not atheists, they are definitely not monotheists, they are not strictly speaking theists and they are a kind of polytheist.

What about pantheism? Again Wiki: "Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the Universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but differ in exact interpretation of the term."

I would say that there are definitely elements of pantheism in Buddhism, the Kulayarāja Tantra seems to move in this direction though it fails when it gives a human form to this all encompassing divinity.

In closing I would say that Buddhism can be considered atheist when compared to Abrahamic monotheism or to "Hindu" polytheism. Mainly on the basis that the gods in Buddhism are not creators BUT it can be considered a sub-category of polytheism if the creator aspect was dropped. Unfortunately all these definitions tend to revolve around the existence of a creator god(s) - the non existence of a creator god(s) axis and Buddhism does not fit anywhere along this continuim.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:08 am

catmoon wrote:Ok, the subject title is a bit out there, acknowledged. But I thought it might be fun to kick the ideas around a bit. So here goes.

Buddha is not God. He did not create the universe or you or me. Since it is a well established Buddhist principle that your karma is your own, Buddha cannot interfere in that and thus cannot save you, you have to do that for yourself.

God is said to reside on a celestial throne, attended by angels, ruling the world which is dependent on him for it's very existence.

Buddha on the other hand, was a disenchanted rich kid who left home to live in a swamp with five of his buddies, attained a meditational breakthrough, wandered around India for fifty years or so and eventually died in the middle of nowhere from eating a bad pork sandwich.

So you can see there's a bit of a difference there.

So it seems to me that any reliance on gods in any form is counter-Buddhist. To do so is to deny karma, to try to find a way around it, and to cast responsibility for one's welfare on others. Buddha spent most of his life teaching the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination and Eightfold Path. None of these is in the least concerned gods great or small.

So Buddhists are atheists. Opinions?


No,atheism is the belief that there are no gods.Buddhism has gods,just not all-powerful,all-knowing,immortal gods.Look at Shingon and Tibetan Buddhsim which contains large and complex pantheons of Buddhas and Bodhisattva as well as some worldly deities.That isn't atheistic or nontheistic.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherlock » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:10 am

The Kunjed Gyalpo is not really talking about a Creator as understood by many religions.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:40 am

The thing I find strange about Buddhist deities is that they seem to sit somewhere above Buddha. They are credited with abilities even Buddha did not have, like the ability to intervene on a supplicant's behalf and alter their karma. But Buddha's last words were to advise us to get to work on it ourselves. The later writings even have devas and Buddhas effectively creating entire worlds.

Given the universal tendency of religions to aggrandize their central figures over time, I have to wonder why Buddhism should consider itself immune to this.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Matt J » Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:15 pm

The teachings, in my mind, evolve organically. No one "decides", it is an organic process. Different teachers will take different approaches. These approaches will or will not be adopted. Over time, the dharma teachings will change as they always do.

Jnana wrote:And how are you going to differentiate between what you consider to be cultural additions and what are essential practices? For example, the common preliminaries taught in Tibetan Buddhism place considerable emphasis on contemplating rebirth and the suffering of the saṃsāric realms. This isn't "cultural baggage," it's foundational to the Buddhadharma.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Matt J » Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:30 pm

For thousands of years, people have had direct, powerful, and personal experiences of God, Jesus Christ, heaven, hell, etc. More people profess belief in the Judeo-Christian God than in any other. Does this mean that the Judeo-Christian God exists? On the other hand, does it mean that these are not valid experiences?

My question is: why is it okay to reject Medieval European worldviews, or modern Western worldviews, but not Medieval Asian worldviews? This is simply exchanging one cage of views for another, or placing a head on top of a head. One can waste a lifetime exploring the vast and infinite range of the human mind, whether exploring material objects, philosophies and metaphysics, or mystical arts and be no closer to the end of suffering.

Huseng wrote:
Generally speaking to our pre-modern Buddhist ancestors the existence of devas, pretas and so on was axiomatic. Modern self-identifying rationalists might claim to know better nowadays, though their scepticism still does not refute the widespread testimonies for the aforementioned phenomena. We still have demonic possessions, ghost experiences, mystics communing with deities and plenty of skilled magicians, western and eastern, who testify to the efficacy of their respective crafts. You may choose to deny all of it, but people who experience these things have their own grounds for taking them seriously.

It might be unpopular at present, but knowledge and understanding of the greater cosmology is important if you are to grasp Buddhadharma and moreover the nature of saṃsāra. It is through understanding and personally experiencing the three realms via yogic insight that you cultivate great compassion, for without such experience you have no point of reference to understand the sufferings that the higher realms entail.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:27 pm

Matt J wrote:The teachings, in my mind, evolve organically. No one "decides", it is an organic process. Different teachers will take different approaches. These approaches will or will not be adopted. Over time, the dharma teachings will change as they always do.

Foundational teachings like conditioned arising, karma, and rebirth haven't changed, nor will they. Anyone who doesn't accept these teachings would likely feel more affinity with a Cārvāka worldview than with the Buddha's dharma. As Alan Wallace says in his paper, Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist:

    To ignore the most compelling evidence of what the Buddha taught and to replace that by assertions that run counter to such evidence is indefensible. And when those secular, atheistic assertions just happen to correspond to the materialistic assumptions of modernity, it is simply ridiculous to attribute them to the historical Buddha.

Matt J wrote:My question is: why is it okay to reject Medieval European worldviews, or modern Western worldviews, but not Medieval Asian worldviews? This is simply exchanging one cage of views for another, or placing a head on top of a head.

According to statements attributed to the Buddha himself, by practicing the Buddhist teachings one can realize direct knowledge of past existences, the passing away and reappearance of other beings, etc. And according to the teachings regarding the Mahāyāna path these knowledges are an essential part of a bodhisattva's development. But to reject these authorities in favor of one's own current perceptions inhibits any potential path of development. From a Yogācāra or Madhyamaka perspective, this tyranny of empirical cognition is itself a major part of the problem.

Matt J wrote:One can waste a lifetime exploring the vast and infinite range of the human mind, whether exploring material objects, philosophies and metaphysics, or mystical arts and be no closer to the end of suffering.

The bodhisattva vehicle involves more development than just the elimination of suffering for oneself.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:00 pm

pueraeternus wrote:Actually, the Brahmajala Sutta would be the key sutta to quote, since in it, the Buddha describes the belief in a Creator God to be the first wrong view of Ekaccasassatavāda (partial eternalism):

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
38. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are eternalists in regard to some things and non-eternalists in regard to other things, and who on four grounds proclaim the self and the world to be partly eternal and partly non-eternal. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

39. "There comes a time, bhikkhus, when after the lapse of a long period this world contracts (disintegrates). While the world is contracting, beings for the most part are reborn in the Ābhassara Brahma-world.[7] There they dwell, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And they continue thus for a long, long period of time.

40. "But sooner or later, bhikkhus, after the lapse of a long period, there comes a time when this world begins to expand once again. While the world is expanding, an empty palace of Brahmā appears. Then a certain being, due to the exhaustion of his life-span or the exhaustion of his merit, passes away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arises in the empty palace of Brahmā. There he dwells, mind made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long period of time.

41. "Then, as a result of dwelling there all alone for so long a time, there arises in him dissatisfaction and agitation, (and he yearns): 'Oh, that other beings might come to this place!' Just at that moment, due to the exhaustion of their life-span or the exhaustion of their merit, certain other beings pass away from the Ābhassara plane and re-arise in the palace of Brahmā, in companionship with him. There they dwell, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And they continue thus for a long, long period of time.

42. "Thereupon the being who re-arose there first thinks to himself: 'I am Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And these beings have been created by me. What is the reason? Because first I made the wish: "Oh, that other beings might come to this place!" And after I made this resolution, now these beings have come.'

"And the beings who re-arose there after him also think: 'This must be Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And we have been created by him. What is the reason? Because we see that he was here first, and we appeared here after him.'

43. "Herein, bhikkhus, the being who re-arose there first possesses longer life, greater beauty, and greater authority than the beings who re-arose there after him.

44. "Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects his immediately preceding life, but none previous to that. He speaks thus: 'We were created by him, by Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. He is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and he will remain the same just like eternity itself. But we, who have been created by him and have come to this world, are impermanent, unstable, short-lived, doomed to perish.'


Good call.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby futerko » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:01 pm

Jnana wrote:
Matt J wrote:The teachings, in my mind, evolve organically. No one "decides", it is an organic process. Different teachers will take different approaches. These approaches will or will not be adopted. Over time, the dharma teachings will change as they always do.

Foundational teachings like conditioned arising, karma, and rebirth haven't changed, nor will they. Anyone who doesn't accept these teachings would likely feel more affinity with a Cārvāka worldview than with the Buddha's dharma. As Alan Wallace says in his paper, Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist:

    To ignore the most compelling evidence of what the Buddha taught and to replace that by assertions that run counter to such evidence is indefensible. And when those secular, atheistic assertions just happen to correspond to the materialistic assumptions of modernity, it is simply ridiculous to attribute them to the historical Buddha.

Matt J wrote:My question is: why is it okay to reject Medieval European worldviews, or modern Western worldviews, but not Medieval Asian worldviews? This is simply exchanging one cage of views for another, or placing a head on top of a head.

According to statements attributed to the Buddha himself, by practicing the Buddhist teachings one can realize direct knowledge of past existences, the passing away and reappearance of other beings, etc. And according to the teachings regarding the Mahāyāna path these knowledges are an essential part of a bodhisattva's development. But to reject these authorities in favor of one's own current perceptions inhibits any potential path of development. From a Yogācāra or Madhyamaka perspective, this tyranny of empirical cognition is itself a major part of the problem.

Matt J wrote:One can waste a lifetime exploring the vast and infinite range of the human mind, whether exploring material objects, philosophies and metaphysics, or mystical arts and be no closer to the end of suffering.

The bodhisattva vehicle involves more development than just the elimination of suffering for oneself.


Given the unreality of the three times; past, present, and future, claiming "direct knowledge of past existences" would seem to have the same truth value as remembering what you had for lunch yesterday. Surely the point of such a view is to gain a perspective rather than as a basis for making claims to truth?
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:18 pm

futerko wrote:Given the unreality of the three times; past, present, and future, claiming "direct knowledge of past existences" would seem to have the same truth value as remembering what you had for lunch yesterday.

The former would likely have significantly greater soteriological value than the latter. The former is also essential for the realization of buddhahood. Atiśa mentions the importance of developing these higher knowledges in his Bodhipathapradīpa:

    All Buddhas say the cause for the completion
    Of the collections, whose nature is
    Merit and exalted wisdom,
    Is the development of higher perceptions.

    Just as a bird with undeveloped
    Wings cannot fly in the sky,
    Those without the power of higher perception
    Cannot work for the good of living beings.

His auto-commentary explains that this section of the text refers to the development of the six higher knowledges (ṣaḍabhijñā).

futerko wrote:Surely the point of such a view is to gain a perspective rather than as a basis for making claims to truth?

This knowledge was an integral aspect of the Buddha's awakening, and informed his realization of the four noble truths.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:20 am

Matt J wrote:For thousands of years, people have had direct, powerful, and personal experiences of God, Jesus Christ, heaven, hell, etc. More people profess belief in the Judeo-Christian God than in any other. Does this mean that the Judeo-Christian God exists? On the other hand, does it mean that these are not valid experiences?


It isn't a zero sum / all-or-nothing game.

I don't accept the existence of a creator god, but I cannot deny how many people have such mystical experiences with a "god". How they interpret them is up to them to decide, not me. There is more than one way of knowing things or experiencing time and space.

In any case, claims of god existing are not entirely an issue in Buddhism because such a deity could be classed as Brahma -- under the mistaken notion they've created the universe and having retainers who likewise believe this to be the case.

My question is: why is it okay to reject Medieval European worldviews, or modern Western worldviews, but not Medieval Asian worldviews?


It really isn't so clean cut as you propose. As I said, it isn't a zero sum game. Some aspects of medieval European worldviews (for example astrology) are not rejected by a lot of people, but geocentricism is rejected.

This is simply exchanging one cage of views for another, or placing a head on top of a head. One can waste a lifetime exploring the vast and infinite range of the human mind, whether exploring material objects, philosophies and metaphysics, or mystical arts and be no closer to the end of suffering.


Sure, but we can have fruitful discussions.

In the context of the Buddhadharma we need to focus on what the founder of our tradition had to say about things. What Christians in the Middle Ages believed and how they modelled the cosmos isn't really a pressing question for Buddhadharma. We don't even need to accept or reject their experiences and ideas. It is irrelevant to our project. We can keep things in a stable and proper temporal-cultural context.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby sinweiy » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:36 am

added info :smile: :

Beliefs that are contrary to the law of kamma
There are three philosophies which are considered by Buddhism to be wrong view and which must be carefully distinguished from the teaching of kamma:

1. Pubbekatahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering arise from previous kamma (Past-action determinism).

2. Issaranimmanahetuvada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are caused by the directives of a Supreme Being (Theistic determinism).

3. Ahetu-apaccayavada: The belief that all happiness and suffering are random, having no cause (Indeterminism or Accidentalism).

Concerning this, we have the Buddha's words:

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/kamma6.htm
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Indrajala » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:44 am

That doesn't preclude the existence of mortal devas, hence Buddhism is not atheism.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Matt J » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:09 am

Jnana wrote:Foundational teachings like conditioned arising, karma, and rebirth haven't changed, nor will they. Anyone who doesn't accept these teachings would likely feel more affinity with a Cārvāka worldview than with the Buddha's dharma.


How do we separate foundational teachings from non-foundational teachings? :smile:

For me, it isn't that we accept the teachings directly from another culture without change or end up with Buddhist atheism. The dharma has no name or form, which is why it is able to be expounded to all beings through space and time. If it only had name and form, then it would live and die like everything else.

The bodhisattva vehicle involves more development than just the elimination of suffering for oneself.


Why separate the one from the other? By ending our suffering, we help others. By helping others, we end our own suffering.

futerko wrote:Given the unreality of the three times; past, present, and future, claiming "direct knowledge of past existences" would seem to have the same truth value as remembering what you had for lunch yesterday. Surely the point of such a view is to gain a perspective rather than as a basis for making claims to truth?


Better yet, what is the difference between a true memory or a false memory? Or the difference between a dream of a past life and a memory of a past life?
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby futerko » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:31 am

Jnana wrote:
futerko wrote:Surely the point of such a view is to gain a perspective rather than as a basis for making claims to truth?

This knowledge was an integral aspect of the Buddha's awakening, and informed his realization of the four noble truths.


This is exactly my point. Equally, the six higher knowledges (ṣaḍabhijñā) are not referred to as "the six graspings".

There is no doubt that all previous experiencing was willed by us, including the experience of now having a human body and the karma that enabled this to be realised.
To use that perception to make claims to truth and cling to a view on it would seem to severely miss the whole point of the teachings.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:54 am

futerko wrote:To use that perception to make claims to truth and cling to a view on it would seem to severely miss the whole point of the teachings.


But when it comes to the divyacaksus, there is neither making claims to truth nor clinging to a view - it is just seeing things are they are. In the earlier analogy raised:

Jnana wrote:
futerko wrote:futerko wrote:
Given the unreality of the three times; past, present, and future, claiming "direct knowledge of past existences" would seem to have the same truth value as remembering what you had for lunch yesterday.


The former would likely have significantly greater soteriological value than the latter. The former is also essential for the realization of buddhahood.


I would say that for sentient beings without the higher knowledges, they don't remember at all the lunch they had yesterday, and claim they never ate. Hence they keep eating until they suffer, regurgitate, and it starts again (since they don't remember anything). Thus in extending the analog, by knowing what kind of food sentient beings like to gorge themselves with, the Buddhas of the three times can prescribe the necessary medicine or remedial advice to change one's habits, so that one would suffer less from indigestion and gradually recover from their amnesia. :smile:
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:14 am

Matt J wrote:How do we separate foundational teachings from non-foundational teachings? :smile:

By going for refuge to the three jewels and then following the advice of a knowledgeable spiritual friend, taking the five precepts and the bodhisattva vow, and learning to meditate and develop prajñā.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:22 am

futerko wrote:
Jnana wrote:
futerko wrote:Surely the point of such a view is to gain a perspective rather than as a basis for making claims to truth?

This knowledge was an integral aspect of the Buddha's awakening, and informed his realization of the four noble truths.


This is exactly my point. Equally, the six higher knowledges (ṣaḍabhijñā) are not referred to as "the six graspings".

There is no doubt that all previous experiencing was willed by us, including the experience of now having a human body and the karma that enabled this to be realised.
To use that perception to make claims to truth and cling to a view on it would seem to severely miss the whole point of the teachings.

Yes, of course. I don't see anyone here maintaining that you should cling to a view.
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