songhill wrote: catmoon wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Almost all my friends and family are militant Atheists or agnostics...I was in this category once myself. A few are interested in Dharma but find belief in things like rebirth insane..though they seem fine with "energy" stuff lol - go figure. My wife doesn't get it as she is Jewish, but is very respectful and interested.
it's kind of amazing how far you can go with the Dharma while holding a militant atheist position. It doesn't really interfere until you reach a point where any absolute views become a problem.
I am coming to the conclusion that atheism and agnosticism are just materialism a little disguised. The Buddha was dead set against the materialists of his day. For example, Ajita Kesakambali taught a form materialism which the Buddha rejected. There is no future life or repeated rebirth. Mankind is composed of earth, water, fire, and air which return to their original state after death (obviously there is no self or soul). There is no merit in good actions or demerit in evil actions.
I think Catmoon is absolutely right, you can go fairly far with Dharma as an Agnostic or Atheist in a "day to day" way, you can certainly get enormous benefits from meditation. In fact, if you want to get technical in the larger sense many very religious Buddhists are still Atheist in the sense we normally use the word - not believing in a conscious creator deity or first cause. Where people have a decision to make is whether they will let go of naive realism or materialist worldview somewhat, Theism or not is not as big a thing. Atheism in this sense is actually more tenable to Buddhism than agnosticism is..since part of what you are trying to do with Buddhism is end agnosticism lol.
I don't think that highly of the revisionist-Buddhist self-help thing, but I have to say I think it is a foot in the door for some people, when talking to friends I have who are basically this bent of naive-realist Buddhist, I am careful to not get preachy and to focus on what is held in common, better that someone practices "incompletely" if that's even such a thing, then that they ditch Dharma entirely due to their annoyance with being pestered to believe this or that..best to let people come to their own beliefs authentically I think, even if we don't like the results.
I know it sounds terribly cliche, but i'd way rather that behavior be seen as an inspiring thing from Buddhists (not that mine ever is) to non-Buddhist than belief, someone who is kind and open-hearted is a better advertisement for their religion than a listing of their beliefs will ever be.