Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:24 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:40 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby manas » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:42 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:55 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:47 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:58 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:07 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:10 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:30 am

What is the everyday sense? When it comes to religion, having faith stands (as I said in an earlier post) in opposition to knowledge so having faith would be to assent to a proposition for which you didn't have good grounds of belief; you have faith in a proposition precisely because you don't and/or can't know it. As a product of the cultural history of the English-speaking nations, (religious) faith is conceived in this way - it's all about believing unknowable propositions. What you're talking about is not faith in this sense. The Buddha (though as far as I see, it could just as easily have been the cashier at the local 7-11) makes a series of assertions about the world which one evaluates. Finding that there are good grounds for assenting to them, one then pursues a certain course of action/behavioural modification in the expectation that this will have a desired outcome. Where's the faith in that? I can't see it. And it's a complete mystery to me why anybody would want to bring to up faith when one didn't need to.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:10 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:39 am

Right. As I said, I'm using faith in it's normal sense and you're using it in a special sense (though perhaps on this forum yours is the normal use and I'm the odd one out); we're having two different conversations and whilst I can't comment on the appropriacy of your usage, I don't see anything wrong with what I've written.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:01 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:33 am

Yes and no. I should probably have been clearer but I'm talking about 'religious faith' (as I said here: "As a product of the cultural history of the English-speaking nations, (religious) faith is conceived in this way - it's all about believing unknowable propositions") and you can't substitute anything for faith in that phrase: 'religious trust', 'religious allegiance', 'religious fidelity', 'religious confidence' - none of them make any sense. And since you said you're using 'faith' as a stand in for a Pali word which doesn't map well onto its English counterpart, it seems we're both in agreement that our uses differ.
---
Also, by saying that faith is opposed to knowledge it should be clear that confidence, trust, allegiance, etc. are not acceptable synonyms for the sense that I was highlighting (and, I'm pretty confident, the sense which most native speakers have in mind when 'faith' is used with reference to a religion or religiously-tinged propositions). After all, if I say "My mother is a faithful Christian" and "Fido is a faithful dog", I'm obviously using the word in pretty different ways.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:28 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:39 am

:goodpost:

Very nicely put.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:03 am

sadhu

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Lampang » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:32 am


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby dhamma follower » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:20 pm


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:01 pm


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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Viscid » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:04 pm

With regard to faith, I think we're confused of its meaning partly because we're committing Ken Wilber's (please don't groan) pre/trans fallacy-- if I understand it correctly:

As westerners, we have a wholly different experience of Buddhism from those who were born into a Buddhist culture, we did not come to Buddhist practice due to social pressure from those around us, and yet much of our outward practice is indistinguishable from theirs. When a westerner bows to a Buddhist statue, or says they have faith in the Buddha, it may be an expression of something altogether different from when a native Buddhist does so. Westerners have had tremendous exposure to a plethora of religious and philosophical beliefs, and have made a very conscious decision to practice [Theravada] Buddhism. Yet, if both Western Buddhists and Native Buddhists are practicing according to the texts and to teachers, you cannot distinguish this difference in either word or action. When a Native Buddhist says he has 'faith' in the Buddha, it is not equal to the 'faith' that someone who actually 'gets it' has, but being the same word we mistake it as such.

Our humility, perhaps, prevents us from making the distinguishment between a "pre-rational" Buddhist from a "trans-rational" Buddhist.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James


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