Thread: Clinging to Views and Opinions

  1. #1

    Clinging to Views and Opinions

    Doug Smith of the Secular Buddhisr Association discusses "What did the Buddha teach about beliefs?" (Approx.10 minutes.)






    * Please only comment if you've watched all of the 10 minute video, thanks.*




  2. #2
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    I first thought of MN 95 and its discussion of flawed reasoning alongside what it means to preserve truth, as well as to discover it. With this foundation, though, a slightly deeper epistemological examination of the Sutta reveals some issues which are discussed in a Secular Buddhist article Doug wrote about 5 (!) years ago.

    The basic gist is that we cannot legitimately have certainty about views, so the action of not clinging to views is, at least in part, the action of leaving oneself open to ongoing learning rather than settling down into one or another dogmatic stance.

    From the article:

    We need to broaden the Buddha’s own investigative techniques to encompass the methods of modern science, and to embrace scientific consensus in our search for what is justified to believe. This does not mean we must restrict our beliefs simply to what is accepted by scientific consensus: nobody can live that way. It is no matter of science that I can find my way to the grocery store and back. But it does mean that teachings must be weighed against science, to see if they stand or fall.

    ...Since for the novice — or the experienced practitioner with ‘beginner’s mind’ — the methodology outlined by the Buddha in the Cankī Sutta does not guarantee to preserve truth, the correct attitude of the practitioner must remain one of open skepticism. This is not to say one cannot accept much of the dhamma with a high level of confidence. What it means is that one must always weigh the dhamma against the sciences, since the sciences are a more epistemically secure foundation for knowledge: they do not involve faith in a single teacher, nor the assumption that a teacher who is well-behaved is thereby in possession of the truth, nor the worry that we as imperfect judges may not be prepared to determine the worthiness of our teacher.
    Fantastic approaches to learning & being reasonable about views, I think. (A more Traditional-minded Buddhist would probably have a conniption because of the underlined aspects, though).

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    About 30 seconds in, Doug said "... Buddhism as a religion and as a philosophy as well" and "... the point of our work here, in Doug's Secular Dharma, is to help promote wisdom, and kindness toward others...."

    This provides an example of one way views can form. Unwatched, the mind may form erroneous views when associating something liked, such as wisdom, and kindness toward others, with a perspective, such as religion, philosophy or Secular Dharma. The perspective becomes liked and clung to. The perspective divides, here between secular and nonsecular, i.e. religious. Now, secular is liked; religious, disliked; or visa versa. There begins the tit-for-tat between secular and religious or as Doug put it “disputes between people arise because people cling to particular ideas.” But no perspective has a monopoly on wisdom and kindness. Those may be found through many perspectives.

    As Doug points out, not clinging to a perspective doesn’t mean no perspective. Practice requires some kind of perspective on it. Sorting it out is like panning for gold. A sifter and a handful of dirt is needed. When the dirt (clinging to a perspective) runs through the sifter (practice supported by a perspective), some gold (wisdom and kindness) may be found. Without the sifter, there’s just clinging to a handful of dirt. Eventually, it will be thrown in someone’s eyes. But with practice wisdom grows and drops the dirt. With nothing to throw, there’s plenty of room for kindness.

    Sound good? It’s dirt. But it’s sifter too. And those two are also views, clung to. Or as Doug opined, “This is one of the most, I think, deep and profound teachings we can find in Buddhism.” Indeed.

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