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  1. #61
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmanyo View Post
    One thing I've always had problems with in Buddhism is the eight-fold path. I've always seen Buddhism as more of a philosophy than a religion. The first three noble truths are very interesting philosophically: life is suffering, suffering is caused by desire, ending desire can end suffering. It is an interesting existential concept. But then you hit the eight-fold path, which is just a bunch of rules. Seriously, what?

    I think it goes to show another truth about humans, that is that they can't seem to adopt anything without clearly outlined rules to follow, which essentially just lead back to what all religions seem to be: follow the rules and you will get rewarded. It's also gotten even worse, since popular (Mahayana) Buddhism is absolutely nothing like original (Theravada) Buddhism. I wouldn't be surprised if there were philosophers other than Buddha with the same philosophical ideas that didn't gain as much popularity because they didn't have a set of rules to follow.
    Excellent book called "confessions of an atheist Buddhist". It's by a European guy who studied as a monk for like 30 years. First Tibet. Then a Satellite in europe, also some zen variety. Basically he says, like you, that it's actually like an orthodox religion with pointless rules. He then explores whether a gotama of today would ever have agreed with this. He very much breaks Buddhism down into some visceral Understandings rather than "beliefs" in such a way that you still get all the psychological effects, but without having to believe in a hinduistic eschatology or renounce material enjoyment.

    For example, the Hindu world view (karma, gods etc) that he grew up was more like "natural science" than religion to him. It just "was". It'd be like how we view physics today. Also, he relied on some powerful patrons and benefactors. It's likely he worked his core beliefs around some of the more "nonnegotiable" hinduistic stuff because of this. It's likely that a modern gotama would have been less mystical about the whole eschatology. The noble truths and eightfold paths can all be simplified once the Hindu stuff is gone. Life is impermanent. You can't enjoy good stuff because it never lasts. Therefore the solution is to let go of attaching to these things which won't last, but be enjoy the experience while it's here: ie involved detachment. There. A lot less rules now, right? Also a lot less like a religion
    Last edited by Venom; 01-16-2012 at 06:51 AM.

  2. #62
    Sniffles
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    Just study Stoicism people.

  3. #63
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Most of the Buddhist reading I've done is Thich Naht Hanh and some writing by the Dalai Lama. I appreciate that they present the importance of continual questioning and not to take a dogmatic view of the teachings. The truths are deeper than the words which are only a temporary vehicle that attempts to convey it. I also appreciate the compassion based meditation in which you begin by focusing on someone you love and focus on wanting good things for them and understanding that they wish to be happy. Then you focus on someone you feel neutral towards and repeat those thoughts, and finally someone with whom you have animosity and then send the good thoughts.

    Overall I keep it at arm's length because I want to keep a rationalistic view and there are elements of Buddhism which takes speculation for conclusion to some extent, although not as intensely as other beliefs I've encountered. The Dalai Lama is actually quite involved in neuroscience and has a focus to create a more secular moral position that is not dependent on the premises of Buddhism.

    I like aspects of the Buddhist approach that are founded with a non-judgmental approach towards others. An entire new understanding of compassion opened up for me when i understood more deeply that people are subject to their environment, and that the individual does not have an unlimited will. Letting go of those assumptions has helped me to understand people a little better, feel peace in not judging or punishing people, and to have fewer preconceived notions that can be blinding. Things like the compassion meditation has helped me not feel bitterness towards people who have hurt me in the past, it has helped me increase understanding and let go of negativity. This does not result in an excitable happiness, but a peaceful and sustained one towards which I am still working.

    While it is just as difficult to generalize about Buddhism as it is about any religion because it is a complex and diverse system, there is a sense of consequence that runs through most of it. I think someone mentioned people being drawn towards it because it doesn't have consequences, but the concept of Karma and related ideas is pretty strong throughout many schools of thought in Buddhism. It can increase a sense of responsibility towards all living creatures. The Dalai Lama mentioned in a book I've been reading that Tibetan children would be shocked to see the killing of an insect because they have a gentler relationship to the world. I contrast that with an experience I had driving on a busy interstate in Minnesota when someone passed me with a dead black bear strapped to the roof. It was so deeply upsetting to glimpse into the ignorance of the perpetrator and the child-like mind of the bear. It broke my heart at 75mph and made me wish more people could feel that heightened sense of consequence and responsibility towards all life.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  4. #64
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Just study Stoicism people.
    Because the catholic church says so? kidding kidding kidding...

    No but actually... There are a lot of similarities, and when you go to Gotama's words himself rather than the occult Tibetans or Confucian Koreans etc etc there's probably an even stronger overlap with stoicism. Like gotama, stoicism has (in it's language use) been somewhat corrupted into "sit still and feel no emotion", which I don't think was really at the heart of either.

  5. #65
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    Because the catholic church says so?
    That's Neostoicism.

  6. #66
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think buddhism is much more sinister than a lot of people suspect, it tells people to live in the present and have no thought for the future, there's no God, no hell, no personal salvation or personal afterlife, all of which I think makes it highly compatible with contemporary secularism but I dont believe will deliver happiness here or here after.
    I agree. My mom's a Buddhist, and completely merciless. She'll kick your ass like no one else. Menace to society, for sure.

    On a serious note, I find all criticism of secularism funny myself. I like some spiritual discussion, but when it comes to that, I don't know what to say. It's extremist. We can believe all we want about the metaphysical and spiritual, but the fact is, you have no reference on what life is except the one you experience on earth, among earth based cultures and attitudes, and with other human beings. You have to coexist with it somehow.

  7. #67
    Senior Member wildflower's Avatar
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    i'm still hoping someone will answer my previous questions. is buddhism teaching lack of all desire and emotion or just lack of selfish desire? i think there is a big difference between the two. are desire and emotions/pleasure considered the same thing? also, how does the whole non-attachment stance square with alleviating the suffering of others? how do you know when to get involved and when not to? is it more non-attached but not uninvolved? aka involved but non-attached? what about the fact that it is when we really care for others we are motivated to help them rather than just a general, impersonal sort of caring?

  8. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    I agree. My mom's a Buddhist, and completely merciless. She'll kick your ass like no one else. Menace to society, for sure.

    On a serious note, I find all criticism of secularism funny myself. I like some spiritual discussion, but when it comes to that, I don't know what to say. It's extremist. We can believe all we want about the metaphysical and spiritual, but the fact is, you have no reference on what life is except the one you experience on earth, among earth based cultures and attitudes, and with other human beings. You have to coexist with it somehow.
    Sorry from what you've written here I dont know how you define secularism or find it defensible, other than you seem to think that religion precludes co-existence with, persumably, other religions or ways of thinking. It doesnt. There's a lot of history to say so.

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by wildflower View Post
    i'm still hoping someone will answer my previous questions. is buddhism teaching lack of all desire and emotion or just lack of selfish desire? i think there is a big difference between the two. are desire and emotions/pleasure considered the same thing? also, how does the whole non-attachment stance square with alleviating the suffering of others? how do you know when to get involved and when not to? is it more non-attached but not uninvolved? aka involved but non-attached? what about the fact that it is when we really care for others we are motivated to help them rather than just a general, impersonal sort of caring?
    Seriously Peguy was right, check out stoicism.

    I really dont know what the RCC has to do with the recommendation to study stoicism, besides, so what? Because it has been associated with the RCC it is some how tainted? I would have thought association with that much heritage and time tested values and norms would have had precisedly the opposite effect.

  10. #70
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Sorry from what you've written here I dont know how you define secularism or find it defensible, other than you seem to think that religion precludes co-existence with, persumably, other religions or ways of thinking. It doesnt. There's a lot of history to say so.
    I'm not talking about merely coexistence with other religions. I'm talking about coexistence in general.

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