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Aloka
02 Jul 15, 18:37
Bhikkhu Bodhi discusses classical Buddhism and secular Buddhism in " Facing the Great Divide".

http://secularbuddhism.org.nz/resources/documents/facing-the-great-divide/

Any thoughts ?

:hands:

daverupa
03 Jul 15, 15:35
Both sides of that divide have wrongheaded approaches:

Secular: dispensing with rebirth altogether and implicitly assuming one-life-only is simply hilarious; the fact that agnostic approaches are required, given their epistemological commitments, is virtually always overlooked. Then of course, there is the simple lack of data with respect to consciousness, as well as the fact that modern science defines it differently than the Buddha seems to have.

Classical: playing with merit like it's currency, seeking rebirth, and being convinced of the structure & peoples of the transcendent cosmos is simply to be expected, given history; extrapolating specific kamma-effects, thinking that merit can be transferred, and that traditional cultural practices count as efficacious Buddhist rites & rituals are all strictly fruitless endeavors according to the early texts, all while they set the foundation for these later things (DN II & III offer prime examples here). But, that this process was only begun back then means it was even less developed in the Buddha's day - therefore, modern versions are simply beyond the pale, unnecessary and baroque structures no new Buddhist need have any truck with.

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To the Classical approaches, before baking I would remove the culturo-spiritual convictions that were simply not contemporary with early Magadha (plus just about all that were!), the idea of merit-as-currency (and merit-piling-up goals generally), "Ordain for a rains" -style ritual behaviors, etc. A lot of Buddhist tradition isn't Dhamma practice, and it's somewhat sinister to claim that any of it is.

To the Secular approaches, I would double up on agnosticism as a function of epistemological consistency, especially as pertains to problems of consciousness, and recognize that while it's not necessary - perhaps not even possible - to take on the various cultural views of ancient or modern S/SE Asia, it's nevertheless the case that there could be a certain continuity that we could call samsara & which might extend past our current epistemological limits; science knows about all kinds of things like this already. Here, the Wager is much stronger than modern convictions based on loud consensus.

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But, they are all roads to the Dhamma; let's all just keep remembering to kick the dirt off as we walk, eh?

clw_uk
04 Jul 15, 20:03
Related to this topic, I wonder how teachings such as this :

“This is how he attends unwisely: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I become in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where will it go?’


...


“He attends wisely: ‘This is suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ When he attends wisely in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: personality view, doubt, and adherence to rules and observances. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by seeing.

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn2

Should be understood in relation to rebirth?

daverupa
05 Jul 15, 02:32
Indeed. Consider the three knowledges:

"Remember one's former abodes" (pubbe-nivāsanussati);
"Divine eye" (dibba-cakkhu); and,
"Extinction of mental intoxicants" (āsavakkhaya)

The first one seems to be inappropriate attention. The second one seems to involve specific claims about an unconjecturable - the specifics of kamma-vipaka.

The third one is in fact the only one stated to be essential...

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In the absence of nibbana there will yet remain nutriment for dukkha, a state called samsara.

That's it. Further pursuits are inappropriate attention, piecemeal & shrouded conceptions of inconceivable matters.

Lazy Eye
20 Oct 15, 15:08
Having been away for some time, I've been reading through some threads and found this interesting discussion. I have a small follow-up comment on this point made earlier:


Both sides of that divide have wrongheaded approaches:
Classical: playing with merit like it's currency, seeking rebirth, and being convinced of the structure & peoples of the transcendent cosmos is simply to be expected, given history; extrapolating specific kamma-effects, thinking that merit can be transferred, and that traditional cultural practices count as efficacious Buddhist rites & rituals are all strictly fruitless endeavors according to the early texts, all while they set the foundation for these later things (DN II & III offer prime examples here).

To the Classical approaches, before baking I would remove the culturo-spiritual convictions that were simply not contemporary with early Magadha (plus just about all that were!), the idea of merit-as-currency (and merit-piling-up goals generally), "Ordain for a rains" -style ritual behaviors, etc. A lot of Buddhist tradition isn't Dhamma practice, and it's somewhat sinister to claim that any of it is.

The issue I see here is that much of the above constitutes the traditional Buddhist framework for lay practice. It was understood that laity could only aspire to so much, especially in societies where relatively few people have the free time to meditate or even embark on serious study of the Dhamma. Obviously the situation is quite different in the affluent West, which is why it is no surprise to see increased laicization of those facets of Buddhism that formerly were assigned to the monastic clergy.

But in the traditionally Buddhist countries, it can be difficult and problematic to remove such practices as merit-making and the aspiration for a better rebirth, because then you are left without a framework for laypeople and the sangha loses its support structure. My own opinion is that the Western models of laicized Buddhism can be helpful in resolving this problem; meanwhile, Western Buddhism would benefit from incorporating the monastic sangha to a greater degree than is currently the case. Amaravati in the UK strikes me as providing a fruitful model for others to work from.

daverupa
20 Oct 15, 23:01
But in the traditionally Buddhist countries, it can be difficult and problematic to remove such practices as merit-making and the aspiration for a better rebirth, because then you are left without a framework for laypeople and the sangha loses its support structure.

Other lay frameworks proper to their contexts should come to the fore as necessary; this is not a problem solved by recourse to outmoded models committed to baroque, speculative cosmologies (see below*).


...meanwhile, Western Buddhism would benefit from incorporating the monastic sangha to a greater degree than is currently the case.

It will be best if this happens along with another lay model than a traditional one, a model more aligned with modernity. Things that come to mind involve the ethics of sustenance living, the value of a lived philosophy a la the Greeks... a foundation is there, as is the idea of Sunday donations, etc.

There are ethical issues centered around almsfood in a world riddled with starvation, and there are ethics of "providing bodies" in a world troubled with overpopulation, and the integrated ethics of modernity simply demands a different approach.


(*For what it's worth, the modern "traditional" ones were not even around back in Iron Age Magadha, so to think of them as somehow essential is prima facie off the mark.)

daverupa
20 Oct 15, 23:07
...there are issues around the fact that the Sangha is no longer the sole source of the Dhamma via oral discussion; this changes the dynamic quite a bit.

The list goes on and on, Lazy Eye.

Look at the Thai government; this recent movie, so many other examples... look at Sri Lankan nationalist violence... goodness! Such Tradition! I quake at the sight of it.

I know nothing of Amaravati. May all ardent Buddhist monastics find succor.

Lazy Eye
27 Oct 15, 13:50
Look at the Thai government; this recent movie, so many other examples... look at Sri Lankan nationalist violence... goodness! Such Tradition! I quake at the sight of it.


Yes, I agree entirely, although I might add that much of this has to do with Buddhism being intertwined with regressive state structures, rather than with doctrines and practices per se. Of course, it could be argued that said doctrines and practices exist precisely in order to support these institutional structures. One of the interesting things that the West has to offer is the example of how Buddhism may fare in an environment where it is delinked from the state.

It seems to me we're in somewhat uncharted territory here, as the Buddha taught within a sociopolitical context that is greatly different from ours. (I have read, though, that droughts, famines and other turbulent events may have contributed to the rise of Iron Age sramaṇa movements in general). "What would Buddha do" in a liberal market society engaged in perpetual warfare and grappling with widening inequity, resource depletion and environmental degradation? Do the suttas offer any clues?

daverupa
28 Oct 15, 22:59
I don't think there's any precedent; we would have to extrapolate the whole of it.

The only way I see it thriving is spliced into some sort of para-/monastic structure of one sort or another, which is to say spliced into a structured, communal way of life that's held to be culturally important. Surely the Sangha would look a bit different if, instead of Brahmins & Samanas, the Buddha had had to contend with Druids & Shamans, and I think this is why the Vinaya is something that's held to be a rather trifling concern when compared with the importance of sustaining the Dhamma.

It seems to me that ideally, a proper 'vinaya' appears as an expression of a livelihood integrated with the Dhamma, and not as an accurate mimicry of the past; in this sense I think that the Dhamma supports anti-natalism & sustenance living, and combined with holding reflection & meaningful discussion above entertainments & chit-chat... it suggests that the Dhamma really is against the whole flow of the natural human inclination. Building a lifestyle in that sort of environment is always going to be a challenge... the modern context just amplifies the trouble...