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Forums > Social Discussion > Buddhism - Religion or Way of Life?

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LilBBoy
SILVER Member since May 2006

LilBBoy

Discoverer of Rainbow Cheese
Location: Inverness, Scotland.

Total posts: 143
Posted:Yet another thing I'd like to gather views on. For all you Buddhists out there, do you think Buddhism is a religion or more a way of life?

As a Thervadan Buddhist, I believe it is both. biggrin


Time does not exist. In theory, everything with a beginning has an end. Therefore, only things with an end can have a beginning. As time has no end, it has no beginning, therefore does not exist. GO PHILOSOPHY!!!
Brittle Week was the shizz!!!

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Shortly after writing my 'top tips' I realised that I'd missed out a really important one-

7. Build a relationship with silence.

Having come into contact with a lot of religious/spiritual groups and seeing the aforementioned distinction between the 'inward focused' ones- which generally seem to be of value, and, the 'outward focused' fundamentalist ones, which are generally useless- it becomes apparent that the beneficial ones tend to have some kind of practice involving silence.

This is very apparent in buddhism of course, as most groups have various forms of meditation as a core practice.

But it doesn't have to be meditation- in christianity, for example, 'Quakers' often come across as being particularly well-balanced, especially in comparison to some other christian groups which can tend to either be spiritually empty, or, worse, fundamentlst.

Quakers have a practice which is essentially group silent sitting- not with any formal posture as you'd get in buddhist meditation, but just literally sitting in silence.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Wow that's almost to much to catch up with... not necessarily in "number of posts" but in terms of "issues addressed" and "content". You will have to grant me pardon if I'm not moving ahead as fast.

I thought I knew it all. I thought: there are no more possible moves, got 'em ALL down... redface Reality speaks for itself now - all a question of time wink

The key is to not take all so gddmn serious, least our selves... Funny how I have forgotten to be a kid ubblol

OWD you make a lot of sense (again). I will have to reread, one at a time.

Devotion, Karma Yoga, Vipassana - beautiful approaches to life. No question. But what's wrong with ppl walking their own path as long as they are not tripping over others?

Trust me I do my Personal development program, my Vipassana, my Karma Yoga, my Meditation, still I don't join groups or Ashrams for my own reasons.

Thanks for recommending books, but I am busy living. Only very few books make it into my shelf and I hardly get to read them. I don't make much time for reading books - maybe I should read less posts wink

 Written by: Stone

Im talking from own experience, when I say I honestly cant imagine how anyone can tackle the ego on their own. With out help or guidance, this task seems impossible. I know some people must have done this on their own, so there must be some amazing people out there.



thankx

 Written by: Stone

I had an enlightening experience once, it wore off after a couple of days, and seems more like a drug now.



Mind you ubbloco tongue

weavesmiley


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Fire Tom, if we have moved on then its because Dave has a gift for mediation.



No one has said your were less than amazing.



I dont think Im ready to go solo. When I return home in a few months, I think Ill rejoin the Melbourne Buddhist Centre. Ive had some issues with the FWBO, mainly because of their leader Sangharakshita. However, I think the FWBO have redressed this problem, and what he has created seems to outgrown past indiscretion on his part. Though, I think if he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized, then the process of healing would be greatly enhanced.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Just right, but you called for moving on first.

Back to topic: To me, there are philosophies that got turned into religions. Buddhism is one of them.

It happened with Judaism, Christianity, Islam too, chances are
the original teachings may even got corrupted since then.

No need to get solo, hence the desire to make others join "the path" makes me question whether this person really believes in it. If confidence kicks in, there is no need to get assurance or support from others - but you become a living example through practice.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Besides I do my personal development programme and devotional service every day.

Toshibaba and Samsunguru are my witnesses ubbangel


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted: Written by: FireTom


Just right, but you called for moving on first.

Back to topic: To me, there are philosophies that got turned into religions. Buddhism is one of them.




Whether buddhism is a religion or not is controversial- depends on the definition of 'religion' (for example, if 'religion' requires a deity (God/Goddess) then buddhism clearly is not a religion).

Those who do call buddhism a religion, tend to be those who have little knowledge of buddhism.

Personally I would not call buddhism a religion, I'd say it was a spiritual system.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:I admit, it's not the most brilliant article of Wikipedia:

 Written by: Wiki

Animism (from Latin anima, "soul".) is the belief that souls inhabit all or most objects. Animism attributes personalized souls to animals, vegetables, and minerals wherein the material object isto some degreegoverned by the qualities which compose its particular soul. Animistic religions generally do not accept a sharp distinction between spirit and matter, and they generally assume that this unification of matter and spirit plays a role in daily life.

Animism may also be understood as the belief that "the world is a sacred place and humans belong in such a world". From this point of view, animism may be considered diametrically opposed to the viewpoint of most major religions. All of the long standing, "major" historical civilized religions describe the earth as either a place of inevitable suffering (Buddhist) or sin (Christian), and as something to escape or transcend. This is overly simplified but nevertheless highlights the difference from the view that the world is sacred and humans belong here.



Religion does not necessarily require a deity. One reason I regard Buddhism as a religion.

This is not about evaluating whether Thai-Buddhism actually IS Buddhism in it's intended form or whether Buddhist monks in Thailand have enough knowledge of it. This is about whether or not Buddhism is to be regarded a religion or a philosophy.

I'm certain Jesus would not have approved the catholic church to represent him either - Buddhism is a religion.

Living in a certain way, without a clear avowal to any religion - that is a way of life.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:OWD...well done on the top tips post.

That reads more like a common sense discourse on how to deal with spirituality than anything else and you identify THE key factor when it comes to living with spirituality....the matter of degree.

There's a "scale" of commitment to belief, with most people being on the 'workable' end of that scale. That is to say, their belief systems are tolerable to atheists like me...funny, but tolerable.

I'd also like to raise the issue of the meaning of the word spirituality. It's one of those words that's been kicked around that it's pretty much meaningless unless translated to directly mean belief in something other than what we experience in the material world. For instance, what id someone describes themselves as being spiritual, yet not religious ? How would you interpret a statement like that ?

It might mean that they have an inkling that "there's something out there", not God, per se, but something that maybe through some kind of dogma that can be accessed for "guidance" either in this world or the next. Or, it might mean that someone is afraid to admit, or even consider the idea that "this is it" what you see is what you get...Or it just might be a social thing, a want for respect by displaying the trappings of esoteric knowledge.

Or...something I haven't thought of.

So where's the "spiritual" component of Buddhism ? I've been looking for it for years. Sure Buddhists have temples, and neato costumes, and incense, and dogma. But where's the "higher powers" ?

Sometimes, in passing reference, I hear people refer to Buddhist "deities" like Goddesses, ( eg. Taras ) but any research I do on the topic paints these deities more as symbols for Buddhist ideals rather than the stereotypical otherworldly being that we usually identify as a God.

It's the lack of "real" Gods, along with the assertions of practicing Buddhists that Buddhism is not a religion that cause me to classify Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion and value it's teachings as such.


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Tom...do you figure Judaism started without a God ?

Seriously. I don't know the answer to this, but I was under the impression that it was always about a God.


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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted: Written by: Stout


OWD...well done on the top tips post.

That reads more like a common sense discourse on how to deal with spirituality than anything else and you identify THE key factor when it comes to living with spirituality....the matter of degree.

There's a "scale" of commitment to belief, with most people being on the 'workable' end of that scale. That is to say, their belief systems are tolerable to atheists like me...funny, but tolerable.

I'd also like to raise the issue of the meaning of the word spirituality. It's one of those words that's been kicked around that it's pretty much meaningless unless translated to directly mean belief in something other than what we experience in the material world. For instance, what id someone describes themselves as being spiritual, yet not religious ? How would you interpret a statement like that ?

It might mean that they have an inkling that "there's something out there", not God, per se, but something that maybe through some kind of dogma that can be accessed for "guidance" either in this world or the next. Or, it might mean that someone is afraid to admit, or even consider the idea that "this is it" what you see is what you get...Or it just might be a social thing, a want for respect by displaying the trappings of esoteric knowledge.

Or...something I haven't thought of.

So where's the "spiritual" component of Buddhism ? I've been looking for it for years. Sure Buddhists have temples, and neato costumes, and incense, and dogma. But where's the "higher powers" ?

Sometimes, in passing reference, I hear people refer to Buddhist "deities" like Goddesses, ( eg. Taras ) but any research I do on the topic paints these deities more as symbols for Buddhist ideals rather than the stereotypical otherworldly being that we usually identify as a God.

It's the lack of "real" Gods, along with the assertions of practicing Buddhists that Buddhism is not a religion that cause me to classify Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion and value it's teachings as such.



To me 'spirtiual' does not depend on the existence of 'higher powers' or gods etc.

So, for buddhism to be spiritual, there's no need for buddhist deities or Taras (in fact, I'd say there's a real danger that pre-occupation with such things could detract from the true message of budhism).

The message of buddhism is that humans (and any other beings capeable of productive self-reflection) can, if they are suffering, achieve an ease or diminishing of that suffering, with the focus being on understanding the causes for that suffering that come from 'within'.

And that, for me, is what I call spirituality- by looking honestly at the self and its place in the world, working to increase the 'ease of being', freeing onself from the constraints of self-fueled/self-caused habitual ways of being/acting/thinking that cause much of the suffering one otherwise tends to encounter.

And, on that view, like the buddha said, when it comes to whether or not there exists gods/goddesses/deities/'higher powers'- they are simply irrelevant (to the cause of addressing suffering via spiritual means).

They may exist- they may not- it doesn't matter.

The fact that buddhism, in its pure form, specifically avoids getting distracted with dwelling on gods/higher powers, is, to me, one of the reasons why it is a spiritual system.




Many people seem to associate 'spirituality' with, basically, 'strange' stuff- hence it gets lumped together with ghosts/spontaneous human combustion/UFO's/corn circles etc.

The media encourages this.

Maybe 'spirituality' is also confused with 'spiritualism' (belief that the dead continue to exist and can be communicated with)- they're actually completely different.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted: Written by: OWD

Then again, we all have encountered people following the solo path, who, despite being convinced that they are making great spiritual progress, are clearly misguided.



How would you define "clearly (misguided)"?

1) "Habit modification/ drug dependency"

What criteria would you apply to those, whose lives depend on the intake of "drugs" like insulin? [disclaimer: there is another multitude of mind altering drugs too, who the individual could depend on].

Are you merely referring to "recreational drug abuse"?

Are you condoning "ascetism" being the essential path of Buddhism, when Buddha has clearly determined this NOT to be the path (even though it has been part of his own).

1a) Would you agree that the primary focus should be on the impacts, rather on the circumstances under which insights are conducted?

2) "Enlightenment"

What is this term to your definition?

5) "be aware (..) that the impetuous to spirituality is (..) simply a facing-up-to the fact that you have some issues."

What you mean by that?

6) "When 'spirituality' is directed outwards (..) things can go very wrong"

Which is why I generally oppose organized groups.

Now would you generally agree that there is a lot of "renaming" going on in "current spirituality"?

Like claiming that "Buddhism is a way of life" rather than a religion? (and in context referring to "religions generally being in need of a deity or higher being" to worship and pretending that Buddha is not acting as such a deity (to the general public, which is then claimed not to have profound knowledge of Buddhism)

I guess we're straight on topic with all this... smile


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:How can a system, that clearly denounces "deities" or "higher beings" or "reincarnation" so successfully 'corrupted' (by Thai and Tibetan) practical Buddhism?

How can you know the "pure form" of Buddhism, if you're not reincarnated?

Whether or not reincarnations, past lives, deities are relevant to the path or not IMHO could be objected.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Ok OWD..I see where you're coming from. Spirituality, like racism, is one of those words that needs a working definition in order to be useful.

Sometimes people trot out statements like " Buddhist philosophy says all life is suffering" to which my reply is usually along the lines of " wow, the world really must have sucked when the Buddha walked the earth" trite, I know, It's just that I've never really seen myself as suffering from much of anything.

Sure I've been in situations where I've caused myself unhappiness, and was ignorant...nay, in retrospect willfully ignorant when I was putting myself in those positions, but they were situations I learned that I had to fix myself because nobody else was going to do it for me. Sure there was sacrifice involved, but I got over it.

Is the view that it doesn't matter if higher powers exist or not unique to Buddhism ? I'd tend to disagree here simply because it's saying that belief doesn't matter..and although I can deal with that sentiment personally, there's many, many people who cannot.

As we all know, it's belief, not money or anything else that's responsible for so much of the conflict in the world today. Back in you younger, more idealistic days, I hoped that I might see belief eliminated in my lifetime...I know better now.

I guess I could say I've followed the solo path. I won't be so bold to suggest I've arrived anywhere except to say that I've got things pretty much as I want them.


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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Fire Tom. I think you missed the point if you think I was only joining a group just to get assurance or support from others. For me, it also has a lot to do with undertaking training, receiving guidance, and accepting coaching (especially in the area of the ego).

You seem to be saying that you have had a great victory over your ego by doing everything your own way. Id suggest if you think about what you have said, you might find the opposite is true.

You keep insisting Buddhism is a religion, thats fine. Just accept that other people see it differently. For me it has more to do with self realization; the true knowledge of self, rather than spirituality.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted: Written by: FireTom


 Written by: OWD

Then again, we all have encountered people following the solo path, who, despite being convinced that they are making great spiritual progress, are clearly misguided.



How would you define "clearly (misguided)"?

1) "Habit modification/ drug dependency"

What criteria would you apply to those, whose lives depend on the intake of "drugs" like insulin? [disclaimer: there is another multitude of mind altering drugs too, who the individual could depend on].

Are you merely referring to "recreational drug abuse"?

Are you condoning "ascetism" being the essential path of Buddhism, when Buddha has clearly determined this NOT to be the path (even though it has been part of his own).

1a) Would you agree that the primary focus should be on the impacts, rather on the circumstances under which insights are conducted?

2) "Enlightenment"

What is this term to your definition?

5) "be aware (..) that the impetuous to spirituality is (..) simply a facing-up-to the fact that you have some issues."

What you mean by that?

6) "When 'spirituality' is directed outwards (..) things can go very wrong"

Which is why I generally oppose organized groups.

Now would you generally agree that there is a lot of "renaming" going on in "current spirituality"?

Like claiming that "Buddhism is a way of life" rather than a religion? (and in context referring to "religions generally being in need of a deity or higher being" to worship and pretending that Buddha is not acting as such a deity (to the general public, which is then claimed not to have profound knowledge of Buddhism)

I guess we're straight on topic with all this... smile



I'm not going to get too much into this Firetom, because, with much of what you write, both in past threads and in the stuff above, I find it very difficult to understand what you're saying and, to me, it sometimes comes across as you possibly looking for an argument.

Given that that's what I feel when reading your stuff, it'sprobably safe to assume that you probably feel the same when reading what I write? (ie that you find it difficult to understand and possibly see it as being hostile).

Why is this, do you think? It could be worth trying to get to the bottom of it, as we aften contribute to the same threads.



Briefly addressing some of your points/questions above-

Enlightenment- I'm not going to define it or talk about it, because I really meant what I said before- 99% of the time, the term 'enlightenment' simply creates confusion where there needn't be confusion.

Increasingly, in the western forms of buddhism/zen, the concept of enlightenment is being seriously downplayed, because it doesn't help and it's not particularly relevant to the type of spirituality they're following.

I'm not getting into the drugs thing, other than to say insulin is nothing to do with what I was talking about, neither is overcoming habitual drug use a form of "ascetism" smile

As for buddhism being a religion- if you really want to call it that, feel free- I choose not to, because, generally, 'religion' is defined in reference to God/gods/goddesses (which are 'irrelevant' where buddhism is concerend).

Additionally, pure buddhism (that based on the core teachings of buddha, specifically the '4 noble truths' & 'eightfold path') has a real focus on the practical, useful and beneficial aspect of spirituality that the majority of religions lack (unless you go very deeply into them).

So, IMO, it's simply confusing to refer to it as a religion, cos then people start to see it in similar ways they see other religions.

This is evident when people talk about buddhism- often it is clear that they see it in religious terms and have little,or no, understanding of its practical spiritual aspects which are about the self and self-change.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:What do you know? I Google the "four noble truths"...and what do get ?

Life is suffering

Right there...on the top of the page, on the first link I clicked on.

Now i didn't have time to read this thoroughly ( I have a 2 year old ) but is this an accurate description, or one I should spend time reading , of pure Buddhism ?

Is it the whole multiple lifetimes that cause Buddhism to be thought of as a religion ? Otherwise, it reads as philosophy.


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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:'life is suffering' has tended to be heavily associated with buddhism- however, a lot (possibly the majority) of writings on buddhism meant to explain it to the general public, has been written by people who have no real understanding of buddhism.



Academic writings are great for understanding the history of buddhism, but greatly lacking in understanding the essence of it, which,by its nature, is spiritual and not best described by academic, rationalistic language.



When academics in the past translated old buddhist texts, they'd come up with the likes of 'life is suffering'- it's a mistranslation of 'dukka'- which can, in some contexts, be appropriately translated as 'suffering'.



But, in the context of the buddist 'existence is dukka', 'suffering' is not the best translation.



Neither is 'multiple lives'/reincarnation an essential aspect of buddhism- it just happens that,in the cultures where buddhism originally developed, reincarnation was integral to those cultures.



As with 'enlightenment', reincarnation is tending to be downplayed in many of the developing western buddhist traditions.



Maybe reincarnation is the case, maybe it isn't- it matters not one jot when it comes to the integration of basic buddhist practices (the 4 noble truths/eightfold path) into ones life.



The big problem with buddhism and the lay public, is that,for whatever reason, people tend to read a few snibbets and either misunderstand or misinterpret them, until they get to something which they feel is untrue or ridiculous, so they can then reject buddhism out of hand.



Examples are 'life is suffering' which has got nothing to do with buddhism, or, 'buddhism is about eliminating all desires' which, again, it isn't.



Buddhism, in its essential, pure form, is actually a very well balanced, non-extreme, non-dogmatic, non-dependant-on-the-existence-of-gods/higher-powers/wierd energies etc; spiritual system/philosophy.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Stout, if you are interested and have the time. Then check out Wildmind Buddhist Meditation.

Its written for Westerner, and its explore the benefits of meditation. You dont have to be a Buddhist to take advantage of meditation. Its practical, helps reduce stress and is mainly common sense.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Unfortunately...I neglected to post the link to the site I was reading

The one I was wondering whether it was an accurate translation.

There's things in there that I wholly agree with, and things that I don't and it does look like a path that one could follow without guidance however, I'm just saying that from a perspective of ignorance, really.

But if it's not accurate, then I'll discard it. Like most lay people, I have had those snippets of Buddhist translation, with no explanation from the person giving the snippet. They're usually qualified by something like..."I think it means....."

Not best described by academic, rationalistic language. Could be a problem, but it may explain why my buddy who used to spend a month every year in an Ashram, in India, won't talk about Buddhism. Actually, this year he no longer considers himself a Buddhist, calling Buddhism just a label.


Stone...I'll get to the link you posted tonight. thx


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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Stout, the author is reviewing The Four Noble Truths. To my mind, its just another article that lacks the insight and understanding that goes along with the words.

The best book Ive read on Buddhism is a Guide to the Buddhist Path. I posted the link so you could read the extract, but jeez, I think they could have picked a better piece. The book is actually quite humorous in places.

Anyhow, this is the review by an Amazon reviewer from Wales:

This was one of the first books on Buddhism I read. The thing that really struck me was that it de-mystifies and explains Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy in plain English. None of your complex brain rattlingly long sentences here. It's all in a well written, comprehensible style that stands out with its practicality and wisdom.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:OWD, there is no hostility intended. At times you simply put out a very strong thesis and I'm having questions. I'm certain that the same applies to me (in this and other topics).



I regard some of my questions as fundamental and ask you to kindly provide answers. It is completely up to you, but let me assure you that this is not about dragging you into arguments. This is a discussion and pool for information to others (and myself), therefore I try to get to the bottom.



As to our past encounters, it most certainly depends on the way of communication, the wording and the individuals reflection on them. Please do take into account that English is my second lingo and acknowledge that I do not intend to provoke, insult or offend you beyond repair.



This is a discussion, all of us have the right to speak up and voice their opinions. I highly respect your opinions, they did and do still make sense to me most of the time. Hence I found - at some times - your approach to be kind of indeterminable for me and that's when I come to address questions. These however seem to trigger something with you, that keeps you from going into them or to provide answers.



That is your right. You don't have to respond or to answer. In fact you can fully ignore me either - as everything, it is a choice you take for your own reasons.



"So let's move on"... and let me try another approach - excuse for gaining length.



Buddhism as a philosophy and in it's "pure form"



In my brief understanding of Buddhism, the teachings are more than 2.500 years old. Chances are that in the meantime it's original texts have been modified. If not, Buddhism would be the only philosophy that remained untouched. I - for my part - strongly doubt that.



Every religion on the planet has an underlying philosophy, which - practised - becomes a religion.



"Religion" in this (and every) context means nothing but "devotional practice" and (in it's definition) "to tie back" (to reality, to the Universe, to human society, to god... whatever that means to you). Only if you overlay "religion" with "fundamentalism", the term becomes ugly. So if you renounce "Buddhism to be a religion", then (IMO) you are having issues with religion, nothing more, nothing less.



You can live anything as a philosophy and "way of life", only if you turn this (your) philosophy into a dogma, regard your path as "the (only) one", your (practising) self as "more evolved" or "more skilled" than those who don't, you lean more towards fundamentalism.



Personally I have no problems with (anybodies) fundamentalism, as long as it doesn't affect me.



Buddhism as a religion



I can't talk in numbers, but you will have to accept that a high number of individuals refer to Buddhism as a religion. Some of them have no knowledge at all, some of them have been studying it all their lives, some of them practise it all their lives.



They have every right to do so for their own reasons and you will have to accommodate to the fact, or renounce it for your own reasons.



Claiming that those, who regard Buddhism as a religion, have no (sufficient) understanding and knowledge of it - now you will have to excuse my wording - appears incredibly arrogant.



Buddhism and 'higher beings'



A religion is not necessarily depending on the presence of "higher beings" - as I proved in my reference to Animism - but even if it would, Buddhism does have these higher beings. To start with the first one, the Gautama Buddha, he is worshipped as "the one". According to what I (don't) know, Jesus himself either did not claim to be a "god", maybe not even a "prophet", still he is worshipped as 'god's worldly incarnation'.



Buddhism has devotional figures, Buddhism has temples, Buddhism has priests, Buddhism has dogmas and rituals, Buddhism has "higher beings" that are subject to devotional practise - all of that classifies it as a religion to your own definition.



You may dismiss all of it and claim to be the only one who has deeper understanding of the philosophy - that still doesn't diminish the facts.



Conclusive I would say that Buddhism can be lived (and regarded) as a philosophy and way of life just as much as it can be referred to as a religion.



Now to my questions:



"Drug dependency"/ "(Recreational) drug abuse" as a hindrance to spirituality:



Some individuals depend their lives on medication. Some of this medication is mind altering in it's effects, certainly all of it is 'mind altering' by acknowledging the fact that without it one might die, or face 'serious' dysfunctionality. I know you don't suggest them to get off these medications in order to obtain 'true spirituality' but there are some who do. Not an approach I would support.



The border between "drug use" and "drug ABuse" IMO are fluent. In Shamanism the use of mind altering substances often is an essential part of the ritual and again there is nothing wrong with it. I guess I understand what you mean with "habitual" - but does that include my morning tea?



To me, "drugs" simply are substances that do have some (desired) effect. They act as medications, just as everything else you take into your body. Some intake is to perpetuate itself, some is only the cherry on the cream.



In some cultures/ at some times the intake of mind altering substances and the resulting states of mind are regarded highly spiritual. Some of these rituals are happening frequently or regularly. I would not go as far as to deny them access to the spiritual world or to discredit them.



"Clearly misguided individuals or cults"



I was asking what and who you refer to... Are you referring to ppl like Baghwan (Osho, Sanyassin), or to ppl like David Koresh (Davidians, Waco cult), R. L. Hubbard (Scientology) or A. Crowley (Order of the Golden Dawn)?



How can you determine a "clearly misguided" person or cult?



I for my part can take a decision for me and my life (not) to follow certain teachings and (not) to join their movements and I can warn or encourage others from my POV but ultimately I do have *no idea* where other ppl find their salvation. Which is why I get increasingly wary of (giving) unsolicited advices.



"Enlightenment"



 Written by: Wiki

in Hinduism - "Moksha": liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth and all of the suffering and limitation of worldly existence (...) liberation is experienced in this very life as a dissolution of the sense of self as an egoistic personality by which the underlying, eternal, pure spirit is uncovered (...) Liberation is achieved by (and accompanied with) the complete stilling of all passions a state of being known as Nirvana. Buddhist thought differs slightly from the Advaita Vedantist reading of liberation.

*

in Buddhism - "Nirvana": a word used by the Buddha to describe the perfect peace of the mind that is free from craving, anger and other afflictive states (kilesa). This peace, which is in reality the fundamental nature of the mind, is revealed when the root causes of the afflictive states are dissolved. The causes themselves (see sankhara) lie deep within the mind (that part of the mind that Western psychology calls the unconscious) but their undoing is gradually achieved by living a disciplined life (see eightfold path). (...) Buddhist scholar, Prof. Herbert Guenther, states of Nirvana: "The notion of Nirvana is a transcendental postulate, which can only be proven psychologically/subjectively, not scientifically. Yet all highest and final goals lead towards it; indeed, it appears even to constitute the very commencement of the entire spiritual life (...) With the reaching of Nirvana the Path has come to its end and reached its goal. The Self-realisation which was striven after and which here becomes Reality, signifies the ideal personality, the true human being." The Buddha in the Dhammapada says of nirvana that it is "the highest happiness". This happiness is rather an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment or bodhi, than the happiness of blindful entertainment. In Jainism, it means final release from the karmic bondage.

*

in Jainism - "Moksa": means liberation, salvation or emancipation of soul. It is a blissful state of existence of a soul, completely free from the karmic bondage, free from samsara, the cycle of birth and death. A liberated soul is said to have attained its true and pristine nature of infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite perception. Such a soul is called siddha or paramatman and considered as supreme soul or God. In Jainism, it is the highest and the noblest objective that a soul should strive to achieve. In fact, it is the only objective that a person should have; other objectives are contrary to the true nature of soul. With right faith, knowledge and efforts all souls can attain this state. That is why, Jainism is also known as mokṣamārga or the path to liberation.





You see how closely these three are related to each other - reason for that being is obvious: they come from the same cultural background. Having said this, I (personally) would suggest to study (or at least experience) the cultural background as to gain (deeper) understanding of the philosophy (and it's corruption).



"Buddhism in western culture"



The western Buddhist "tradition" is quite young and partly depends on those who were travelling to India since the 60s and 70s, spent their time in Ashrams and devoted time of their life. Osho has been one of the first and majors who helped to "translate" Asian spirituality to westerners and helped to tailor practices for them to access meditation and "spirituality" (that may/not be true and derives from my brief knowledge of western tradition).



Be it as it may, a lot of "western Buddhism" I find coloured with (financial) aspects, that are diametrical to what Buddhism originally means.



Buddhism in "western tradition" (I use "" because most of this "tradition" is not much older than 50years - IMHO quite young - but I am a European) is shaped to westerners, in order to make them more receptive to the philosophy and qualify it to devotional practice.



"Cultural differences in appearance of (religious) philosophies"



"Life is suffering" - certainly this HAS to be an essential element of any (ancient) philosophy, whose subject is life. In my personal view this is highly erroneous, as life is just as much joy as it is suffering, as much pleasure as it is pain (but this is off topic).



How susceptible would a comparatively small, struggling farming and hunting society, within a mostly harsh and hostile environment and high rate of infant mortality be to a god that indulges in life, plays the flute and seduces women? Krishna would not be to your appeal, not your identification - but then again, they were not living amongst coconut and banana trees.



Due to our climate, Westerners (as in Europeans) can much more relate to a suffering (son of) god, than to one indulging. Jesus - nailed to the cross - much more reflects the European struggle. "Be fertile and reproduce", "conquer the world" is exactly what Europeans had to do in order to survive their climate.



As a sidenote: The consumption of meat (it's high volume we face today is only recently however) has been necessary in central and northern Europe due to their climate...



In the face of an indulging (western) society, which greatly depends on the exploitation of natural resources worldwide, enslaves it's population by material dependency, neglects all ethics and morality in order to acquire their wealth - Buddhism (which essential part is to abstain from all this) is to be the only logical pick of spirituality for an increasingly saturated (and by that crippled) individual.



To conclude: There is nothing wrong to refer to Buddhism as a religion - if only their devotees mature enough to fully accept that there are others who don't choose it to govern their lives (how sound and reasonable it may (not) appear).



The emphasis here lies on "fully accept", because subtle psycho-pokes are just that: sublime intolerance.


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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Fire Tom,



I think you will find the answers to many of your questions in this:



Buddhism FAQ



Good Question, Good Answer.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Ok- then we both realise there is a communication issue.

This is unavoidable- our first languages are different and, there is no problem there- but, a consequence is going to be that there's a definite limit to how much I can try to answer your questions.

I do answer your questions, however, due to the communication issue, or due to my lack of ability to phrase anwers in a way that resonates with you, I think that it can be inneffective (the feeling for me is that I answer a question and then, have to restate the same thing in many different ways, in the hope that one of them resonates with you). That's not your fault of course, but hopefully it explains why I sometimes just stop.

========================

Judgement- you seem to be asking how I can determine when religious practitioners are on the wrong path, or when an individuals drug use crosses the line from necessity to abuse.

Let me be very clear here- I judge those things, based on rationality and experience.

If a sect of 'buddhist' worship higher beings as a central practice of their belief, at the expense of not prioritising the basics like the 4 noble truths/meditation, then I will say they are not following the buddhas teachings (ie I will judge that they do not understand the core principles of buddhism).

If a person spends most of their income on a drug which has wrecked their health and their relationships, then I will judge that as being drug-abuse.

It's not cool these days to admit that you judge another, but everyone does it.

If someone says I am wrong to put myself in the position of judge, then they are, in that instance, making a judgement.

In my experience, it is those who cry 'it's wrong to ever judge' who are themselves, some of the most indiscriminatoriy judgemental people in the world (the 'hippy' world, for example, is rife with that type).

Being judgemental is, IMO,only an issue when that judgement is not based on reason, sense and experience.

Whatever the case though, the point is that judgement is unavoidable- no-one gets through life without making judgements.

I have a lot of faith in my judgements- I base them on 40 years life-experience and a great deal of honest thought- and, I tend to speak and judge only those things that I feel I had put a lot of work into understanding.

If that makes me, in your eyes, 'arrogant' then so be it- that's a judgement you make smile

'Osho' was, IMO, an extremely charismatic individual with deep, deep, personality issues, who neither practiced, nor understood, buddhism.

If he had had a sincere interest in practising some of the true core principles of buddhism, he may well have avoided many of the problems that plagued him throughout his life and particulalry, his last years.

(though he would have been a great deal less famous smile)


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--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Hey Stone...thanks for the link to the book. I googled around and all the reviews I could find were positive and I found the book in Canada ( amazon ) I'll call around tomorrow morning to see if I can source a copy locally as I'd rather just go out and buy it rather than order it.



I'm hoping to get to that meditation link today, I haven't made it a priority because it's not really the meditation aspect I'm interested in right now. I'm more interested in establishing a basic framework as to what Buddhism is all about , and where the idea of meditation fits into this framework. Is that I posted to the four noble truths ( which links to the eightfold path at the bottom of the page ) at least even remotely on the right track. I can accept that the nuances of Buddhism, the understanding, if you will, isn't expressed in that document...But is there anything seriously "wrong" with it ?



I accept that "suffering" might not be the best translation. Any suggestions as to what a better one might be?



The more I read that document, and the more I keep the idea, of following "the path" as a possibility to do as a solo effort, the more questions come up, leading me to believe that, were one trying to fol;low the path, one would, and should seek guidance. For instance, the idea of abolishing desire ( yes..I know, it's not really about that, but...) makes sense were I to submit to my desire and make a luxury purchase, on credit, that I could ill afford....But...were Buddhism telling me that my desire for a warm coat on a cold winter day was philosophically "wrong" than I'd question the validity of the philosophy, of course.



What I'm interested in, is not only the core philosophy of Buddhism, and if, western Buddhists are downplaying the idea of rebirth, nirvana, karma ( in the Buddhist sense, not the hippy, throw a dollar in my tip jar, and good things will happen to you in this life sense) then I see Buddhism moving away from being a religion, and marketing itself as philosophy/ Obviously, practicing Buddhists can't deny these ideas, after all they are written down, but they sure can deny their significance in the grand scheme of things.



Tom...I think your definition of religion is flawed. As far as I can tell, religion involves having faith in the "supernatural" like God...etc. I know Buddhism has temples, and there appears to be a religious component to it ( depending on who you talk to ) but if that religious component isn't the focus of practicing Buddhism, then IMO philosophy fits as a better descriptor.



And your definition of spirituality ? Does it involve faith in higher beings ?



Tom, your idea of where the root of the idea that life is suffering is pretty much the same as my own, you just used more words to express it, but we'll see what comes out of the search for a better translation of dukka.



Fundamentalism, like all belief, is really a matter of degree with the fundy being really close to the batshit crazy end of the devoted to their beliefs scale.



ETA



I'm getting recommendations for this book too. What do you think ?



http://www.amazon.com/Dhammapada-Classic...2781&sr=1-2

EDITED_BY: Stout (1203874164)


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:OWD...I "found" this, which has a significantly different interpretation of the first noble truth than the link I previously posted. well, in the sense that it doesn't state all life is suffering.

It this a "better" translation of dukkah ?


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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

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Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Stout, there is nothing wrong the information in the link you posted. Its quite good actually. I havent read The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran, but it looks like an excellent translation. If you check the Table of Contents, in the link you posted, there is also a translation of The Dhammapada.

I think you will find excellent explanations of suffering/craving etc. in a Guide to the Buddhist Path, or as its know locally, the desert island book (one book, desert island). He discusses the path of irregular steps (going it alone) verses the path of regular steps (group) early on in the book. Interestingly enough, it was not written a book as such. It is really a collection of talks. This doesnt detract from the flow as one might expect. I think it adds to the book as each section was written independently, and is complete.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Dave, that completely fine with me. Everyone has their own reasons for everything. But you're right: What you have been providing doesn't resonate much with me.

I never put it that "these Buddhists are worshipping higher beings as a central practice of their belief, at the expense of not prioritising the basics like the 4 noble truths/meditation". Dunno where you extracted this from - but definitely not out of my posts.

Most Buddhists (East or Western) do have devotional figures, these figures represent "the (Gautama) Buddha" and are subject of worship. Period. Claiming otherwise is denial. Whether or not this worship is the central practice, I did not elaborate and it doesn't make much of a difference. A philosophy does not need "higher beings" or deities to be classified a religion.

Stout - If western Buddhists are downplaying the significance (or existence) of Karma, Reincarnation and Nirvana then it is actually that: downplaying - and by that the adjustment of Buddhism to suit a western audience. When the same "western Buddhists" then claim to follow the "pure form of Buddhism", and by that dismissing and discrediting the form 'others' devote themselves to - well what to say... ?

Dave - "everyone does it" (judging) is not a rational or valid justification for any practice. Many ppl claim(ed) to have sound, rational and experienced judgement... You will have to excuse my cynicism, but Roland Freisler has been one of them. The world is full of ppl who claim the right to judge. It surprises me, that you - as a Buddhist - justify it with "everyone does it"...

See - in my world there is no ultimate "right and wrong" and there is no conclusive "judgement" on an individual. I observe my mind to quickly classify, but that only is it's purpose. I did ask you once on your stance towards death penalty, but you failed to provide a response. I asked on other occasions where - as a person and a Buddhist - you derive your (strong) judgements from, now I receive an answer. Apart from other things that you say (and which make sense to me), these are the moments where I can't *feel* you...

Same applies when you start twisting what I have said, rip it out of context and reassemble it:

 Written by: OWD

I have a lot of faith in my judgements- I base them on 40 years life-experience and a great deal of honest thought- and, I tend to speak and judge only those things that I feel I had put a lot of work into understanding.

If that makes me, in your eyes, 'arrogant' then so be it- that's a judgement you make



vs.

 Written by: me

Claiming that those, who regard Buddhism as a religion, have no (sufficient) understanding and knowledge of it - now you will have to excuse my wording - appears incredibly arrogant.



umm shrug

Maybe I have not grasped what you were trying to say, but you seem to place your experience in and knowledge of Buddhism way over that of those who studied and lived it all their lives. Maybe you will have to undertake a great deal of more meditation, but maybe I only say that because I'm not 40 yet and because I have not studied Buddhism... And that just because you renounce Buddhism to be a religion...

Thanks for your answers, Dave - maybe not quite as challenging as I expected... To me this is not an argument, just an evaluation of your (valued) opinion and what it is based upon. I can still agree on other things you've said.

 Written by: dictionary.com

religion

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7. religions, Archaic. religious rites.
8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.



 Written by: Wikipedia

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.



 Written by: Reference.com

religion, a system of thought, feeling, and action that is shared by a group and that gives the members an object of devotion; a code of behaviour by which individuals may judge the personal and social consequences of their actions; and a frame of reference by which individuals may relate to their group and their universe. Usually, religion concerns itself with that which transcends the known, the natural, or the expected; it is an acknowledgement of the extraordinary, the mysterious, and the supernatural. The religious consciousness generally recognizes a transcendent, sacred order and elaborates a technique to deal with the inexplicable or unpredictable elements of human experience in the world or beyond it.



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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

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Total posts: 2830
Posted:Fire Tom, if things arent resonating with you, then perhaps you should look at how you could improve your communication, like as in giving up an opinion or a judgment.

By your own admission you have said that you know nothing about Buddhism. To be precise, you have not studied Buddhism. So, perhaps if you actually took the time to listen to what the Buddhists are saying, as in reading the Buddhist FAQ I posted, then you wouldnt be making so many ridiculous third hand statements about Buddhism.

It is not true to say Most Buddhists (East or Western) do have devotional figures, these figures represent "the (Gautama) Buddha" and are subject of worship. It is only your opinion. An opinion that shows all you are trying do is to fit Buddhism into the religion you think it should be.

There is nothing wrong withadapting Buddhism to Western culture. In fact, I think its an excellent idea. Again, if you have an issue with this its because you lack a basic understanding of Buddhism.

As you say, you live in your world, which is not the real world. If you observe your mind to quickly classify, and thats is its only purpose. Then, Id say you spend most of you time in a kind of prison, judging other people. Which as Einstein said, is an optical delusion of the consciousness.

 Written by:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security (Albert Einstein).



All Buddhism is really about is awakening, striving and freeing oneself from the prison of the ego/mind.

To be honest, I dont see how you can grasp, even the faintest idea of what the Buddhists are saying, until you put down you preconceived opinions and judgments of Buddhism, and move on.


devil


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted: Written by: FireTom




Dave - "everyone does it" (judging) is not a rational or valid justification for any practice. Many ppl claim(ed) to have sound, rational and experienced judgement... You will have to excuse my cynicism, but Roland Freisler has been one of them. The world is full of ppl who claim the right to judge. It surprises me, that you - as a Buddhist - justify it with "everyone does it"...

See - in my world there is no ultimate "right and wrong" and there is no conclusive "judgement" on an individual. I observe my mind to quickly classify, but that only is it's purpose. I did ask you once on your stance towards death penalty, but you failed to provide a response. I asked on other occasions where - as a person and a Buddhist - you derive your (strong) judgements from, now I receive an answer. Apart from other things that you say (and which make sense to me), these are the moments where I can't *feel* you...




'Everyone does it' is,of course, not a justifiaction for anything.

But, I wasn't using it as a justification- I was simply pointing out that everyone does judge- it is totally impossible to function as a human being and never make a judgement.

So, I'm not justifying it- that would be as futile as justifying breathing.

What I am saying is that anyone who takes the line that 'to judge is wrong (or arrogant)' are contradicting themselves- they are themselves judging (as wrong or arrogant) people who make judgements (which is everyone, as a life without judgeing does not happen amongst humans.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Firetom, every one of the 3 quotes you posted in your last post, make reference to 'supernatural' aspects in their definitions of religion.

And I agree, one of the defining characteristics of religion is that it tends to postulate supernatural entities (gods, mircles, spirits (in the case of animism)).

Pure buddhism does not postulate supernatural entities- in the buddhas own words, the existence/non-existence of gods and other supernatural entities, is 'irrelevant'.

Any group 'worshipping' gods or supernatural beings, if they want to insist that they are following buddhism, will have to square that claim with the fact the it seems to go against the words of the buddha.

Sometimes, what seems to be worship,isn't. For example many Zen schools have large buddha-statues- they say it is not for worship, but to focus the mind and intention to the buddha-path.

Also, as buddhism is adept at merging into new cultures, any gods/supernatural entitites that are important to that culture, may get 'merged'in with the buddhist schools.

This is not necessarily fatal- Tibetan buddhism, on the whole seems to retain a buddhist focus, despite the extra cosmology tagged on to it.

Sometimes it goes wrong- thailand,for example, where what they call 'buddhism' is, in many cases, not buddhism, but a religion and, as such,open to corruption.

The buddha said that gods and supernatural beings are 'irrelevant'- that's not my opinion, that's what he's on record as having said.

'Buddhism' that has a focus on gods, or worship and says little or nothing of the practical 4 noble truths/eightfold path, is not true buddhism: not cos I say it isn't, but because it goes against what the buddha himself said.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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