Navayana Buddhism

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

Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:45 pm

I'd like to hear thoughts on Navayana Buddhism. Is this something you identify with? Disagree with? Are there other lineages of Buddhism that already reflect this kind of practice?

Since there are two groups of people who identify themselves as such, I'm referring to this definition:

Many of us, easterners and westerners, have been profoundly influenced by our study of Buddhism, and yet do not find ourselves attached to any one particular sect or interpretation of Buddhism. Further, many of us, especially westerners, find the fundamental ideas of Buddhism deeply meaningful, but cannot, without being dishonest with ourselves, accept certain other ideas usually associated with Buddhism. This leaves us with a somewhat ambiguous sense of who and what we are.

For example, many of us are unable, or do not desire, to attach ourselves to one or another of the monastic traditions. And we are often unable and unwilling to take certain beliefs literally. The many gods and demons, heavens and hells, that some traditional Buddhists accept as real, are things that strain our credibility. And rebirth strikes many of us as a metaphor rather than a literal reality. Because of these things, to some traditional Buddhists we are just not Buddhists at all.

We are heartened by the fact that Buddha himself seems to have considered arguments about cosmology and gods and the reality of life after death as irrelevant to the more immediate concern, which is the practice of the eight-fold path. It is, of course, a little presumptuous to say which of the many sutras are the ones we should pay attention to, and which should be considered some kind of later addition or modification. We will never know exactly what the Buddha said and did not say. We can only be "lights unto ourselves" and do the best we can.

This by no means suggests that we look down upon other Buddhist orientations or that we have a better or purer understanding of Buddhist life. We only want to acknowledge our debt to the teachings of the Buddha. For this reason, I would like to recommend the term Navayana Buddhism ("new vehicle of awakening") to all those who wish to so identify themselves.

In Peace,

George Boeree
May 1, 2002
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
User avatar
LightSeed
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:59 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:03 pm

LightSeed wrote:
George Boeree wrote:We are heartened by the fact that Buddha himself seems to have considered arguments about cosmology and gods and the reality of life after death as irrelevant to the more immediate concern, which is the practice of the eight-fold path. It is, of course, a little presumptuous to say which of the many sutras are the ones we should pay attention to, and which should be considered some kind of later addition or modification.



They are heartened by their misunderstanding of what the Buddha taught.

George Boeree wrote:We will never know exactly what the Buddha said and did not say. We can only be "lights unto ourselves" and do the best we can.


We have the sutric records of many traditions, and the basic fundamentals such as rebirth, etc, are all consistent across all schools. This idea of "we will never know exactly what the Buddha said and did not say" when it comes to these fundamentals is really the worst sort of intellectual dishonesty.
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
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:14 pm

I don't know why these guys don't call themselves Buddhism sympathizers or Buddhism inspired group instead of Buddhists. It's not the traditional Buddhists that don't consider them Buddhists. It's anyone who knows what Buddhism is and isn't about. There can be different interpretations of Buddha's teachings while remaining Buddhist. But if we strip Buddhism of its main tenets, what have we left worth of the Buddhist label? Better not calling it Buddhism at all. Perhaps it would be better to consider their ideas inspired by Buddhism, not Buddhist.
Of course we could then argue that what inspired them is a deviant interpretation of Buddhism, so at the end of the day they are inspired by their own fantasies about Buddhism and one ends up wondering what Buddhism has to do with it beyond a superficial resemblance... perhaps nothing.
If these guys are so sure about the teachings they spread, why do they use Buddhism as a crutch instead of going solo? To gain some borrowed credibility?
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:19 pm

I should clarify here. The man quoted is not teaching Buddhism in this way, there is no sangha calling themselves this so far as I know. It's a proposition of his own opinion.
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
User avatar
LightSeed
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:59 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:31 pm

OK, let me explain myself a little better.
The big problem here is not that a Buddhist must believe prima facie the claims of Buddhism. The main problem is what leads one to disregard rebirth, other realms and all that while choosing to accept the information provided by his senses and the paradigm of a different belief system. What I've been seeing along the years is that what makes some people doubt of rebirth, karma, other realms and so on is the proclivity to accept an incompatible metaphysical system that gives illusion more reality than it actually has. Generally it's a form of materialism.
In a way it's like accepting the illusion as true and trying to adapt Dharma to it instead of seeing the value of Dharma when it comes to cutting through that illusion. It renders Dharma useless, not because of rejecting other realms, literal karma and rebirth per se, but because the main point of Dharma is lost.
The deep meaning of Dharma is not easy to understand. If it was, Buddha would never had doubts about teaching it. This is very important. The watered down version of Buddhism these guys (the one you talk about and many others out there) present is quite easy to understand. There's not much to it, really. However, the realization brought about by authentic Dharma is not easy to comprehend at all because it changes completely the way we see reality, ourselves included. It causes a change so deep that without insight coming from consistent and dedicated practice/ guided by theory it is forever beyond our grasp. We don't even lift a tip of the veil.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby plwk » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:35 pm

As long as they don't wake up my cats on a bad hair day....
plwk
 
Posts: 2455
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:41 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:The big problem here is not that a Buddhist must believe prima facie the claims of Buddhism.


I think we can leave aside the topic of Buddhist practitioners - lets say a person is utterly disinterested in practicing any religion, he comes to study the textual history of Buddhism, and based on study of the canonical scriptures, he will say "yes, all the extant canons did record that the Buddha did teach about rebirth, gods and other worlds". It is that simple - we don't even need to consider the bias of people who wants to actually practice some form of Buddhism.
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
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:43 pm

Feel free to ask your questions LightSeed. Don't feel shunned for liking the way those fellows present Buddhism. It's easy to like because it seems more in accordance with our experience. We've also been somehow conditioned to see reality under such prism, both in school, by other religions, other ways of thinking and what have you.
I just want to make sure you don't feel discouraged to make your questions. Raise your points, explain your disagreements try to understand. It is important that you understand where are the shortcomings of their position. This is not a mere doctrinal matter. You don't need to accept what I'm saying or what other Buddhists that share my perspective say. What is important is that you understand, to best of your abilities, why we say it. It may not be that easy, it may even be a little frightening if you don't build solid bases, but if my word has any value, I assure you that it pays off. :thumbsup:
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby justsit » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:48 pm

The Kalama Sutra is frequently cited completely out of context in order to justify any number of mistaken views -

"...Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired..."

More here.
User avatar
justsit
 
Posts: 641
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:50 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:The big problem here is not that a Buddhist must believe prima facie the claims of Buddhism.


I think we can leave aside the topic of Buddhist practitioners - lets say a person is utterly disinterested in practicing any religion, he comes to study the textual history of Buddhism, and based on study of the canonical scriptures, he will say "yes, all the extant canons did record that the Buddha did teach about rebirth, gods and other worlds". It is that simple - we don't even need to consider the bias of people who wants to actually practice some form of Buddhism.

Indeed. But I consider such study rather arid and uninteresting (for my personal tastes, obviously). Nevertheless, if we go through that route, it's quite obvious that Buddha taught about rebirth, gods and all that! :lol: If we look at it as just another mythology, then it's blatantly obvious. I don't have any problem admitting that in religion X people worshiped deity Y. Their beliefs bear no weight in my worldview, so it's easy for me to acknowledge that the founder(s) of their religion taught about this and that, even if it clashes with my worldview.
If, OTOH we want to accept the soteriological value of the Buddhist teachings, then there's the chance of our previous metaphysical predilections get in the way of what Buddha taught. We either accept to revise the metaphysics of our worldview or we filter Buddhist teachings so that they fit under them. These guys chose the later. I don't know if I'm making myself clear...
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:55 pm

Thank you Dechen Norbu, I really appreciate that. I certainly didn't want to offend or propose anyone or anything. I don't disagree with you, or agree with George Boeree. Then again, I'm not a Buddhist. I DID want to see the flaws in his definition because I find it is easy to identify with something like this, as from my standpoint very early on in my discovery of Buddhism, I find it hard to accept these things such as devas as literal interpretations (though I agree that the Buddha did teach such things). Maybe that will come with more study and practice, maybe it won't. Then again, it doesn't' need to, because ultimately I will practice whatever I believe in my own way. For now, I'm a nothing. :)
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
User avatar
LightSeed
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:59 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:11 pm

LightSeed wrote:Thank you Dechen Norbu, I really appreciate that.

You're welcome.
I certainly didn't want to offend or propose anyone or anything. I don't disagree with you, or agree with George Boeree.

If I may say, you did it the right way. You presented your opinion instead of shoving it down our throats as if it was the truth about Buddhism.
More than being entitled to having one, everyone is encouraged to present them so that they can be explored.

Then again, I'm not a Buddhist. I DID want to see the flaws in his definition because I find it is easy to identify with something like this, as from my standpoint very early on in my discovery of Buddhism, I find it hard to accept these things such as devas as literal interpretations (though I agree that the Buddha did teach such things).

It would be really strange if you were immediately inclined to believe claims that are alien to your culture and experience. It's very natural that you identify with the way these guys present Buddhism, by many reasons. Some people are more permeable to these ideas, sometimes for the wrong reasons, some for the right ones. But it's natural that you doubt them. However, more than doctrine, it will be practice that will make you question your current perspective. What now you naturally assume as being real, nearly unquestionable, will be seen at a very different light in the future.

Maybe that will come with more study and practice, maybe it won't. Then again, it doesn't' need to, because ultimately I will practice whatever I believe in my own way. For now, I'm a nothing. :)

You are starting and being honest. That's a good way to start. Just keep in mind that Dharma is very profound. What those guys present is appealing, conforming with our experience (before practice), but is no more than a cheap psychotherapy with little value. There's no depth there at all. If that was Buddhadharma I can assure you I wouldn't be a Buddhist. We've devised much better in Psychology already.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:24 pm

LightSeed wrote:I'd like to hear thoughts on Navayana Buddhism. Is this something you identify with? Disagree with? Are there other lineages of Buddhism that already reflect this kind of practice?


Truth be told in Japan most self-identifying Buddhists would agree with what is proposed here. Japanese intellectuals are predominately materialist and more or less ape western models of thought, most of which are materialist.

I lived in Japan for three years and often discussed Buddhism with Buddhist priests, most of whom rejected rebirth and karma. A few only hesitantly admitted they "believed" in it. In the Buddhist university I attended the materialist worldview was predominate and the subject of Buddhist Studies was largely treated as a form of literary studies, not something to be practised or implemented.

In Japan Buddhism underwent a great deal of westernisation in the 19th and 20th centuries. This was not simply introducing marriage rites in emulation of European Christianity, but absorbing the predominately materialistic view of reality and rejecting much of what is characteristically Buddhadharma.

In the west there was the Death of God and in Japan there was the Death of the Buddha. The rituals, facilities, institutions, hierarchies and traditions all remained, but the core ideas and practices of Buddhadharma were largely gutted and almost nobody believes in them anymore. The idea of liberation from samsara is largely an alien concept in modern Japanese Buddhism. The hereditary priesthood carries out archaic rites for their livelihood and "Buddhist" intellectuals study the subject as a merely academic pursuit or as a form of literature. Those few that see some value in Buddhism as a transformative experience for the better still, at least in my experience, find it difficult to accept rebirth, karma and the cosmology as taught by the Buddha.

In Japan the atmosphere is one of coercion to conform to the status quo, and that status quo is more or less what George Boeree here is cited as having proposed.
Last edited by Indrajala on Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5553
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:26 pm

In the zen poem "On believing In Mind" is the line,
"To set up what you like against what you dislike,
this is the disease of the mind".

You don't have to subscribe to dogma in Buddhism.
But there is no point in starting up yet another sect.
Sometimes you have to see beyond 'literal vs. metaphorical' to really understand things.
If a person doesn't think that all these celestial beings and fantastic realms are as real as what we experience right now,
then why believe in the solidity of the appearances of the human realm?

Buddhist malas have 108 beads.
There was once a guy who decided to improve the mala
so he invented one with 109 beads.
Which number of beads is best?
.
.
.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2790
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:27 pm

Thank you, again Dechen Norbu! I'd like to think that I'm approaching Buddhism from an open point of view. It there's truth in all of it, then I can't help but to discover it. So far I've found nothing but peace in it, which is better than I can say for any other religion I've come across. It'll be a long journey though, I can see that.

Dechen Norbu wrote: What those guys present is appealing, conforming with our experience (before practice), but is no more than a cheap psychotherapy with little value. There's no depth there at all. If that was Buddhadharma I can assure you I wouldn't be a Buddhist. We've devised much better in Psychology already.


:twothumbsup: It's interesting that you put it this way. George Boeree is actually a teacher of "Buddhist Psychology" at a university somewhere in the U.S. but does not identify himself as a Buddhist.
The footnote of his website:
*The pages of this web site were written for the students of my class on Buddhist Psychology. Although the religious aspects of Buddhism are discussed, I am far more interested in presenting Buddhism's philosophical and psychological side. It is not necessary to believe in heavens or hells, in gods, demons, or ghosts, or even in rebirth or reincarnation in order to benefit from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. I myself believe in none of these things, and yet have learned a great deal from the sutras -- far more than from any other source. I encourage all of you to become familiar with Buddhism, and I humbly suggest that these pages are a good place to begin!


http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/buddhaintro.html
Last edited by LightSeed on Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

— AN 5.198
User avatar
LightSeed
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:59 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:27 pm

Good analysis of the situation, Huseng.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:28 pm

I kind of figured Lightseed. :lol:
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:37 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:I don't know why these guys don't call themselves Buddhism sympathizers or Buddhism inspired group instead of Buddhists. It's not the traditional Buddhists that don't consider them Buddhists. It's anyone who knows what Buddhism is and isn't about. There can be different interpretations of Buddha's teachings while remaining Buddhist. But if we strip Buddhism of its main tenets, what have we left worth of the Buddhist label? Better not calling it Buddhism at all. Perhaps it would be better to consider their ideas inspired by Buddhism, not Buddhist.

Indeed. There's also the people from the Secular Buddhist Association who are generally aligned with Stephen Batchelor's ideas. A few of their followers have posted on the Dhamma Wheel sister site. The gist of what they have to say seems to be much more in accord with Lokāyata materialist views and epistemology than any form of Buddhism that has ever existed. Thus it's a bit puzzling why they too would want to identify themselves as Buddhists. Being an ethical person who practices mindfulness meditation is fine, but that alone doesn't make one a Buddhist.
Jnana
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:48 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Indeed. But I consider such study rather arid and uninteresting (for my personal tastes, obviously). Nevertheless, if we go through that route, it's quite obvious that Buddha taught about rebirth, gods and all that! :lol: If we look at it as just another mythology, then it's blatantly obvious. I don't have any problem admitting that in religion X people worshiped deity Y. Their beliefs bear no weight in my worldview, so it's easy for me to acknowledge that the founder(s) of their religion taught about this and that, even if it clashes with my worldview.
If, OTOH we want to accept the soteriological value of the Buddhist teachings, then there's the chance of our previous metaphysical predilections get in the way of what Buddha taught. We either accept to revise the metaphysics of our worldview or we filter Buddhist teachings so that they fit under them. These guys chose the later. I don't know if I'm making myself clear...


Agreed. My pet peeve is exactly that people did the latter, and then claim that the "traditionalists" are being intolerant and myopic!
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
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:49 pm

Jnana wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:I don't know why these guys don't call themselves Buddhism sympathizers or Buddhism inspired group instead of Buddhists. It's not the traditional Buddhists that don't consider them Buddhists. It's anyone who knows what Buddhism is and isn't about. There can be different interpretations of Buddha's teachings while remaining Buddhist. But if we strip Buddhism of its main tenets, what have we left worth of the Buddhist label? Better not calling it Buddhism at all. Perhaps it would be better to consider their ideas inspired by Buddhism, not Buddhist.

Indeed. There's also the people from the Secular Buddhist Association who are generally aligned with Stephen Batchelor's ideas. A few of their followers have posted on the Dhamma Wheel sister site. The gist of what they have to say seems to be much more in accord with Lokāyata materialist views and epistemology than any form of Buddhism that has ever existed. Thus it's a bit puzzling why they too would want to identify themselves as Buddhists. Being an ethical person who practices mindfulness meditation is fine, but that alone doesn't make one a Buddhist.

Exactly. I'm still to figure their motivation...
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Next

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: yorkieman and 8 guests

>