I’ve been reading your posts from the start and my initial opinion remains. I thought I would read something new, something different than other "secular" versions of Buddhadharma I've seen before. I didn't.
What you present here is not Buddhism. It’s a sterile and degenerate version of it, built to fit a materialist paradigm and conform to the state of affairs of scientific knowledge of this day. It’s no better than any other shoddy self-help system. Nothing of what you said made me change my mind, and apparently you weren't successful when changing the minds of others. I haven't seen a single member agreeing with your opinion with the exception of that other one who comes from the same place as you, the secular buddhist association.
After pages and pages of posts, you shown nothing to prove my initial assertion wrong.
Let’s look at a comment you made recently in response to Padma’s statement that you are now talking to yourself:
It isn't for lack of trying, Padma. I ask questions because I am trying to understand. But I wish you peace.
You see, this is a case where apparently your words go one way and your actions go in its opposite direction.
You are approaching 40 posts where you do nothing more than pushing your twisted understanding of Dharma upon others and acknowledge not simple facts as rebirth being a fundamental teaching of the Buddhadharma as a whole. Here and there you try to cloak your intentions and making this look like a dialogue, when what we have is an exercise of proselytism filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. I’ll show a few and put this to rest.
I'll just give a few examples. Let’s start here:
But the difference between "not believing in rebirth" and "rejecting or denying rebirth" is important because one of the Buddha's key points seems to me to be paying attention to the difference between what we know and have seen for ourselves, and what is speculative, and also to paying attention to how tightly we hold onto the views we base on what we have seen, and what is speculative.
While it is important that we pay attention to what we know and have seen for ourselves, Buddha never limited such observations to what we know prior
to engage practice, prior to gaining insight.
So there are many things that although can’t be verified by ourselves before entering the path, can later be experienced and concluded as truthful.
As is stated in the Brahmajāla Sutta:"There are, bhikkhus, other dhammas, deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, having realized for himself with direct knowledge, propounds to others; and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with reality would speak.”
That alone is enough to demolish your whole attempt to explain Buddhadharma in a purely rationalist way. In your watered down presentation of the Dharma there’s not a single thing “difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise”.
By wise Budda refers himself to those who have wisdom relating to insight. Dharma has nothing to do with the secular knowledge possessed by world philosophers, religious leaders, writers or great scientists or mavericks who try to revise it in their own fashion.
One first approaches the Dharma by testing the teachings of the Buddha inside the range of one's experience. If they stand up under scrutiny, then to proceed it becomes necessary to have a certain degree of confidence in the teacher and accepts on trust the points of his teaching that we can’t validate just yet. Then, when one's practice matures, one goes beyond mere confidence to personal realization based on insight. Instead, your proposal derails one's practice from the start. It’s like starting a journey to somewhere we’ve never seen and because we can’t know if the map we were handled is indeed correct, we just throw it away even before setting a foot on the path.
That agnostic imperative of yours is nothing but a dead end. Buddhist most outlandish claims are said to be verifiable through direct experience as long as we move along through the Path set by Buddha. Your materialist, secular, whatever you want to call it, approach to Dharma will keep its underlying metaphysics, not assumed by you but definitively present in your reasoning, beyond grasp.
Moving on, here we have a yet another example where your speech points one direction, but your actions move in the opposite. This is becoming a pattern...
And, relevant to this conversation, y'all are talking at cross-purposes when one person is making statements based on "rejection" and the other is answering based on "lack of belief" (rather than rejection).
While you claim not to reject rebirth, all I see in your presentation is hermeneutical gymnastics based on a selective reading of the teachings with the objective of stripping Buddhism of rebirth and literal karma. While at it, you simply make no case of the huge amount of other teachings that don’t fit your agenda. This is sleazy sophistry.
Your deceptive approach becomes obvious here:
There is belief in rebirth, there is belief that there is no such thing as rebirth, and then there is the middle way, which is to neither believe nor disbelieve in something one has no experience with, nor good evidence for.
What is evidence according to you and who doesn’t have good evidence for rebirth? Your fellow secular Buddhists, proponents of materialism, armchair skeptics, you?
In the Tibetan tradition there's plenty of evidence favoring rebirth!
There are also scientific studies that suggest it as a good hypothesis. Of course organized militias of self appointed vigilantes of science (former csicop being one), that pretty much share your missionary style, act as pressure groups to undermine these studies in mainstream science. But that’s a different matter that isn’t inside the scope of this topic. Besides, let me remind you this is a Mahayana and Vajrayana board. You can’t come here with a revisionist approach mainly designed to counter Theravada and ask us to forget all the teachings we consider valid outside such tradition. We have a tremendous amount of teachings about rebirth and karma going beyond what the Theravadins accept.
More, let me say to you that if we discovered that the historical Buddha was just a fictional character, that wouldn’t upset our practice.
The historical Buddha is just one Buddha among many.
There is literal rebirth after death" because I don't know that either. If there were very strong evidence for either one -- perhaps just about everyone I know experienced it, or I have experienced it in a very convincing way, as have many others -- then I would have something to go on, but I don't, so I don't invest in views about these things -- I await further evidence.
Again, you show an ethnocentric mentality. Just because in your culture and preferred system of investigation of reality there’s not a consensus about the possibility of rebirth, this doesn’t mean in other civilizations and under different ways of tackling epistemology the same applies. Worse, you keep deceiving people with your sophistry when you say you wait for further evidence. You don’t. You build a revisionist form of Buddhist that fits your biases instead. You build it resorting to selective citation, oversimplification, and rationalization, not honest inquiry.
Another case were you deceive people is this:
The Buddha says there is rebirth? I'll look out for it, I'll keep it in mind. If it is a fact, and I keep an open mind, it will become clear to me in time, right?
Your whole proposal is the exact opposite of having an open mind. You swallowed hook, line and sinker when it comes to materialism and your solution, instead of having an open mind, was designing a version of Buddhism that fits your metaphysical predilections. That’s the exact opposite of keeping an open mind. You just don't admit it openly as you know this wouldn't fare well for your case.
More rethoric ahead:
My response is that you seem to think you know enough about me to know what I think, and how I practice -- well enough to read my mind -- but I'm pretty sure you don't. When you assume that a stranger is bending evidence to fit a preconception, might it be because you are bending evidence to fit your preconception of them?
A tree shall be known by its fruit, as they say. Your speech goes in one direction while your actions follow the opposite.
Then you go about Karma stating it doesn’t imply rebirth and all that jazz. Greg asked you about how would you explain the conditions of birth and your best answer was luck. Then you simply avoided the issue.
In the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta is the answer you’re looking for:
"Master Gotama, what is the reason, what is the condition, why inferiority and superiority are met with among human beings, among mankind? For one meets with short-lived and long-lived people, sick and healthy people, ugly and beautiful people, insignificant and influential people, poor and rich people, low-born and high-born people, stupid and wise people. What is the reason, what is the condition, why superiority and inferiority are met with among human beings, among mankind?"
3. "Student, beings are owners of kammas, heirs of kammas, they have kammas as their progenitor, kammas as their kin, kammas as their homing-place. It is kammas that differentiate beings according to inferiority and superiority."
5. "Here, student, some woman or man is a killer of living beings, murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell. If, on the dissolution of the body, after death, instead of his reappearing in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell, he comes to the human state, he is short-lived wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to short life, that is to say, to be a killer of living beings, murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings.
Of course your selective picking of teachings made you ignore this particular one, among piles of others where literal karma and rebirth are taught as such.
Initially I thought about countering your posts, one by one, but then it occurred me why on earth would you deserve such an amount of attention especially when I’m so short on time?
You are not addressing the main criticisms of your views properly, simply pushing your version of Buddhism upon others without the slightest consideration for the board you’re in, and insisting in matters of detail.
If in a Theravada forum you may more or less pursue your line of reasoning, in a Mahayana and Vajrayana board such endeavor is completely futile.
Remember the Pure Land schools, the extensive corpus of teachings existent in the Tibetan schools about the bardo, the transference of consciousness among many, many others.
Coming here and claiming that Buddha didn’t teach rebirth or karma literally nearly amounts to calling liars to the generations of sages that confirm such teachings. You might as well spit in the face of Padmasambhava himself and call him a fool by going through the trouble of teaching extensively about the six bardos.
So I’ll just end with a generic criticism to yours and other similar secular Buddhist proposals- or whatever name you call to that stuff- by David Lowry:"Almost every religious reformer tries to return to the original teachings of the founder, only to end up projecting his or her own understanding back onto those origins. Batchelor’s Buddha too seems too modern: humanistic and agnostic, skeptical and empirical—by no coincidence, a superior version of us, or at least of Stephen Batchelor."
It fits you like a glove.
Now, to the OP, I assume you got a pretty good idea about what happens when people start changing Dharma to suit their views. We know how it starts and know how it ends. It becomes useless.
So time to put this charade to rest. You were given enough space, nowheat. You failed to prove your version of the Dharma is Buddhist from our perspective, unless we totally redefine the meaning of Buddhism to suit you. I believe we are not ready to do that.
In a Mahayana and Vajrayana board your presentation of Dharma doesn't fall short an offensive aberration that can be discarded without losing anything of value, if we are to trust our teachers and, in some cases, own experience.
The main criticisms- selective citation, oversimplification, rationalization so that Buddhism fits under an alien paradigm and so on and so forth- remain valid. You couldn't refute them properly, nowheat although you had plenty of time.
If someone wants to add something that isn't just rehashing the same old arguments, please PM and I'll consider reopening the topic. If I considered a real debate was going on, it would remain open. Such, unfortunately, isn't the case. For the time being, I'll close it as it has been completely hijacked and is now being used as stage for the presentation of false Dharma by means of sophistry.