Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:49 pm

Agree.
This is common especially in the UK, it seems. People without real expertise in a certain area do exercises of "debunking" without having the proper qualifications to access the particular matter they are trying to debunk. SB is seen by many as the inside "debunker" of Buddhism, the guy who is a Buddhist without the "woo", similar to Susan Blackmore and others. Curious enough they both claim to have become Zen Buddhists at a certain point in their lives and this speaks a lot about the quality- or lack of it- of some schools of Zen Buddhism in the West, which is saddening. These guys always share ideological similarities when it comes to their metaphysical system of preference and ethnocentric approach to epistemology. Reading them also shows they share a deep lack of insight about Buddhadharma, fact that hints the lack of consistent and well informed practice.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Stephie » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:16 pm

Is Mr Batchelor a Buddhist?........news to me.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:20 pm

Well he's clearly a Buddhist by some people's definitions and not by other's. It all comes down to what you define as Buddhism, or what you are willing to accept as Buddhism. Arguments arise when people demand that others accept their definitions.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Jikan » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:33 pm

catmoon wrote:Well he's clearly a Buddhist by some people's definitions and not by other's. It all comes down to what you define as Buddhism, or what you are willing to accept as Buddhism. Arguments arise when people demand that others accept their definitions.


Yes: and that is a precondition of any kind of public discourse. If I state that colorless green ideas sleep furiously, I can reasonably expect people who understand English to understand the meaning of each of those words and to be able to parse them (tell the verb from the nouns &c)... even though it's a nonsense phrase, as Chomsky made famous.

No one makes a public claim without the reasonable expectation that his or her definitions square with those of others. Poop is poop. Cake is cake. Things become problematic when one is serves others the poopoo platter but calls it a birthday cake. Even when it lacks the most straightforward characteristics of the thing nominated.

Let's not get solipsistic about this. Unless you'd like to try a slice of cake...?
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Josef » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:34 pm

Stephie wrote:Is Mr Batchelor a Buddhist?........news to me.

Mr. Batchelor is a provocateur.
Selling books and getting paid for events is how he makes his living.
What he actually believes is of no consequence.
In my opinion he makes his living by providing a great disservice to the dharma and those who are interested in it.
His books are absolute trash.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:40 pm

Jikan wrote:
catmoon wrote:Well he's clearly a Buddhist by some people's definitions and not by other's. It all comes down to what you define as Buddhism, or what you are willing to accept as Buddhism. Arguments arise when people demand that others accept their definitions.


Yes: and that is a precondition of any kind of public discourse. If I state that colorless green ideas sleep furiously, I can reasonably expect people who understand English to understand the meaning of each of those words and to be able to parse them (tell the verb from the nouns &c)... even though it's a nonsense phrase, as Chomsky made famous.

No one makes a public claim without the reasonable expectation that his or her definitions square with those of others. Poop is poop. Cake is cake. Things become problematic when one is serves others the poopoo platter but calls it a birthday cake. Even when it lacks the most straightforward characteristics of the thing nominated.

Let's not get solipsistic about this. Unless you'd like to try a slice of cake...?


Depends how you define "cake".
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Stephie » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:45 pm

IMO He's not a Buddhist - he's an academic up for a bit of stirring, proud of his "chip on the shoulder" stance. Whether his writings and views are useful or not is a different question.....

Karma and Rebirth are not just some superfluous extras added on for cultural reasons!!

In Buddhism there is something called the 4 seals.

All compounded things are impermanent.
All emotions are pain.
All things have no inherent existence.
Nirvana is beyond concepts.

According to Dzongsar Khytense:
The concept of karma, the undeniable trademark of Buddhism, also falls within these four truths/Seals. When causes and conditions come together and there are no obstacles, conse- quences arise. Consequence is karma. This karma is gathered by consciousness— the mind, or the self.

That this conversation is even happening could be taken as a sign that we are indeed in the Kali Yuga
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:46 pm

I think Mr Batchelor is rather like us. He is poking along through life trying to be happy and avoid suffering. The paths people take in this endeavour are circuitous and are often a matter of two steps forward and one step back. But the worst thing we can do as Buddhists is get angry at him for the path he is on, and decide he is a bad person because of it.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Stephie » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:50 pm

Dear Catamoon (nice picture - I'm also a cat owner and lover!)

I'm not angry at Mr Batchelor for treading his own path - all beings are indeed free to do this and there are a myriad of paths beings can take.

What irks me is that he is selling his path as some form of genuine dharma and therefore impacting others possibly in a negative way. He is selling his path as something it is not - as the words of the Buddha - that is what is irksome - not the fact that he's chosen this as his path.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Mr. G » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:03 pm

catmoon wrote:I think Mr Batchelor is rather like us. He is poking along through life trying to be happy and avoid suffering.


I don't think he's like the majority of Buddhists because Batchelor advocates that rebirth and karma are not crucial to the core teaching of Buddhism.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:23 pm

Desmond Tutu probably thinks the whole of Buddhism is dispensable, but strangely, the Dalai Lama spends a lot of time hanging out with him. Now, the Archbishop isn't selling his philosophy as Buddhism, but on the other hand he's advocating a system that varies from Buddhism far more than Mr Batchelor ever will.

It's worth thinking about. Archbishop Tutu is running a sizable chunk of an organization whose stated aims, if realized, would result in the complete elimination of every other religion on the planet. Yet the Dalai Lama thinks he's a wonderful guy, and rightly so, hm?
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Mr. G » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:31 pm

catmoon wrote:Desmond Tutu probably thinks the whole of Buddhism is dispensable, but strangely, the Dalai Lama spends a lot of time hanging out with him. Now, the Archbishop isn't selling his philosophy as Buddhism, but on the other hand he's advocating a system that varies from Buddhism far more than Mr Batchelor ever will.

It's worth thinking about. Archbishop Tutu is running a sizable chunk of an organization whose stated aims, if realized, would result in the complete elimination of every other religion on the planet. Yet the Dalai Lama thinks he's a wonderful guy, and rightly so, hm?


Religious tolerance has no relation to the fact that Batchelor advocates positions that are completely alien to Buddhism, and yet claims to be a Buddhist.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Greg » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:40 pm

Stephie wrote:IMO He's not a Buddhist - he's an academic up for a bit of stirring


Except that he's actually not an academic . . .

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=1548&start=400#p84434

he's just a guy who's been bouncing around a long time and now has students who pay him money. And Tricycle editors who treat him as if he was some kind of authority.

Sometimes he's listed as affiliated with "Sharpham College," which seems to be an unaccredited fake school that he himself founded despite having no academic credentials himself.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Malcolm » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:13 pm

Greg wrote:
Stephie wrote:IMO He's not a Buddhist - he's an academic up for a bit of stirring


Except that he's actually not an academic . . .

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=1548&start=400#p84434

he's just a guy who's been bouncing around a long time and now has students who pay him money. And Tricycle editors who treat him as if he was some kind of authority.

Sometimes he's listed as affiliated with "Sharpham College," which seems to be an unaccredited fake school that he himself founded despite having no academic credentials himself.



That is defunct.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Will » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:47 am

catmoon wrote:Desmond Tutu probably thinks the whole of Buddhism is dispensable, but strangely, the Dalai Lama spends a lot of time hanging out with him. Now, the Archbishop isn't selling his philosophy as Buddhism, but on the other hand he's advocating a system that varies from Buddhism far more than Mr Batchelor ever will.

It's worth thinking about. Archbishop Tutu is running a sizable chunk of an organization whose stated aims, if realized, would result in the complete elimination of every other religion on the planet. Yet the Dalai Lama thinks he's a wonderful guy, and rightly so, hm?


DL's thinking is expressed in his recent book:

viewtopic.php?f=97&t=4708
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby daelm » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:32 am

catmoon wrote:
It's worth thinking about. Archbishop Tutu is running a sizable chunk of an organization whose stated aims, if realized, would result in the complete elimination of every other religion on the planet.



"Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid."





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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:29 am

daelm wrote:
"Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid."


That's a weird one... they were just running videos of his visit to see the Dalai Lama on youtube and he was wearing the robes. Hmmm maybe I should check the dates on those videos.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby catmoon » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:43 am

Mr. G wrote:Religious tolerance has no relation to the fact that Batchelor advocates positions that are completely alien to Buddhism, and yet claims to be a Buddhist.



He can claim to be a piece of broccoli if he wants. What's in a name? No one could follow his teachings for more than a week before discovering there are big differences from the mainstream, and at that point they'd have to make a decision. Those who find reincarnation and karma just too mystical would never have joined the mainstream in any event, but at least they will get some exposure to the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Besides, he's not fighting against karma and reincarnation, he's just an agnostic.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby Tewi » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:34 am

As far as I know, Mr. Batchelor is a sincere Buddhist who has had the courage to honestly critique the central assumptions of his own faith. It is true that most Buddhist authorities are more conservative, doctrinaire types (who would not otherwise have risen to become authorities). At the same time, Buddhism has not customarily been a religion centered around articles of faith, as Christianity is, and it would be unusual for a Buddhist group to judge its members according to conformity with a list of credal articles. In fact, this mindset may represent as much of a Western influence as the postmodern, critical turn which Batchelor represents.
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Re: Stephen Batchelor - A Critique of "Buddhism Without Beliefs"

Postby daelm » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:42 am

catmoon wrote:
daelm wrote:
"Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid."


That's a weird one... they were just running videos of his visit to see the Dalai Lama on youtube and he was wearing the robes. Hmmm maybe I should check the dates on those videos.



i think you get to keep the robes. i saw him on a flight on his birthday a while back, post-retirement and he was in robes then too.

also, if you were planning on making the case that Stephen Batchelor is the better of two proposed evils, as far as Buddhism is concerned i should point out that Desmond Tutu has the following to his name, a list that Batchelor cannot even start to match.


"Tutu has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He has campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, homophobia, transphobia, poverty and racism. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987, the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005[1] and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009....

On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Tutu convened The Elders, a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, kindness, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. Mandela announced its formation in a speech on his 89th birthday. Tutu is serving as its Chair. Other founding members include Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, Jonathan Park, Muhammad Yunus and Aung San Suu Kyi, whose chair was left symbolically empty due to her confinement as a political prisoner in Burma....

Tutu has focused on drawing awareness to issues such as poverty, AIDS and non-democratic governments in the Third World. In particular he has focused on issues in Zimbabwe and Palestine. Tutu also led The Elders' first mission to travel to Sudan in September–October 2007 to foster peace in the Darfur crisis. "Our hope is that we can keep Darfur in the spotlight and spur on governments to help keep peace in the region," said Tutu....

In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He was named a member of the UN advisory panel on genocide prevention in 2006. However, Tutu has also criticised the UN, particularly on the issue of West Papua. Tutu expressed support for the West Papuan independence movement, criticising the UN' role in the takeover of West Papua by Indonesia. Tutu said: "For many years the people of South Africa suffered under the yoke of oppression and apartheid. Many people continue to suffer brutal oppression, where their fundamental dignity as human beings is denied. One such people is the people of West Papua...

In the debate about Anglican views of homosexuality, he has opposed Christian discrimination against homosexuals...

On 16 October 1984, the then Bishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee cited his "role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa".[108] This was seen as a gesture of support for him and The South African Council of Churches which he led at that time. In 1987 Tutu was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award.[109] It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. In 1992, he was awarded the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award...."



etc, etc, etc

there are an infinity of other achievements to point to. he's also openly in favor of religious tolerance and regularly argues against conversion - just like the Dalai Lama. so i'm not sure your implication that he'd heading some totalitarian organization dedicated to world domination would hold. as in the Buddhist community, there's a broad range of often divergent opinions under the heading of organised Christianity, and the case you make against him could (and has) been made in return against the Dalai Lama, on the grounds of the Kalachakra Tantra, in terms of which everyone becomes Buddhist.

glass house, stone, etc.

in terms of the harm that could be wrought on the transmission of Buddhism to the west, Batchelor is the winner hands down and that really should be the focus of the discussion.




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