• Tom Storm
    2.5k
    Buddhism appears to be especially vulnerable to this type of exploitation, probably largely due to its foundational scriptures being unknown and not readily available for a long time.baker

    I have no doubt of this. And I've noticed that for many Westerns who are rebelling against the religious culture of their parents and grandparents, Eastern faiths, particularly Buddhism, give them an opportunity for retaining a sense of the numinous whist virtue signalling their penchant for cultural diversity.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    Did I say it was all that matters? I said that interpretation is significantly involved in areas other than in directly observed events where, it could be argued, interpretation is of no significant significance. I have no idea where this conversation is going.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    Apples are just fruit. Fruit is just apples. Que? Son lo mismo?
  • I like sushi
    3k
    virtue signallingTom Storm

    To accuse someone (or groups) of virtue signaling must make said person a virtue signaler.

    I am aware that this is virtue signaling too. I don't have an issue with putting myself on a moral pedestal though. I'm not apologetic about it.
  • I like sushi
    3k
    I mean, there really isn't anything being sold here in Buddhism apart for a way of living...Shawn

    I way of living by denying what many consider to be life - ie. no sex, no pain, no desire. It's just a warped nihilism.
  • baker
    3.3k
    I have no doubt of this. And I've noticed that for many Westerns who are rebelling against the religious culture of their parents and grandparents, Eastern faiths, particularly Buddhism, give them an opportunity for retaining a sense of the numinous whist virtue signalling their penchant for cultural diversity.Tom Storm

    Pffft. Westerners, a sense of the numinous? When an aged Western celebrity chants some Eastern mantra, and does so for "inner peace", that isn't "a sense of the numinous", that's just commercialisation, consumerification of religion. She might as well pray Our Father, but, oh, those words she understands!

    Unless, of course, having no clue what one is doing should pass for "a sense of the numinous". Yes, Westerners are very good at that when it comes to Eastern religions.
  • baker
    3.3k
    Did I say it was all that matters? I said that interpretation is significantly involved in areas other than in directly observed events where, it could be argued, interpretation is of no significant significance. I have no idea where this conversation is going.Janus

    I am anticipating some usual courses of discussion of this topic, and addressing them early on to avoid dead ends.


    Regarding experience there may be an 'as it is', but as soon as it is spoken about interpretation enters. Ideas are always open to interpretation.Janus

    I'd love to see you take this up with a Hare Krishna devotee!
  • baker
    3.3k
    I way of living by denying what many consider to be life - ie. no sex, no pain, no desire. It's just a warped nihilism.I like sushi

    Denying?

    How did you get to the point where you hold that Buddhists deny "what many consider to be life"?
  • Tom Storm
    2.5k
    Pffft. Westerners, a sense of the numinous? When an aged Western celebrity chants some Eastern mantra, and does so for "inner peace", that isn't "a sense of the numinous", that's just commercialisation, consumerification of religion. She might as well pray Our Father, but, oh, those words she understands!

    Unless, of course, having no clue what one is doing should pass for "a sense of the numinous". Yes, Westerners are very good at that when it comes to Eastern religions.
    baker

    I didn't mention Richard Gere... :gasp:

    When I say 'numinous' I simply mean people's sense of mystery, awe or majesty when out in nature, say, or listening to some music. I meant nothing philosophically or spiritually intricate. I'm pretty sure this feeling of wonder is hard-wired in humans. Even in crass Westerners who buy books written by Herman Hesse or Jack Kornfield.
  • baker
    3.3k
    I meant the other now elderly lady. Not mentioning any names.

    When I say 'numinous' I simply mean people's sense of mystery, awe or majesty when out in nature, say, or listening to some music. I meant nothing philosophically or spiritually intricate.

    I'm pretty sure this feeling of wonder is hard-wired in humans.
    Tom Storm

    I'm not sure about that at all.


    What I am sure is that people tend to love to zone out, and then call that "bliss", or "a sense of the numinous" or some such.
  • Tom Storm
    2.5k
    What I am sure is that people tend to love to zone out, and then call that "bliss", or "a sense of the numinous" or some such.baker

    Yes. People I have known have called this meditation.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    I'd love to see you take this up with a Hare Krishna devotee!baker

    If they are mired in dogma I wouldn't bother. If they are open to other ideas then they must acknowledge the role of interpretation.
  • baker
    3.3k
    If they are mired in dogma I wouldn't bother. If they are open to other ideas then they must acknowledge the role of interpretation.Janus

    But what if they actually know, and are above and beyond interpretation?
  • Janus
    11.3k
    But what if they actually know, and are above and beyond interpretation?baker

    That possibility (even if it is a possibility) cannot mean anything to me. I think enlightenment is possible, but I don't see how it could consist in knowing (in the absolute sense you seem to be pointing to) any propositional thing, since any proposition entails the possibility of its falsity, any propositional "knowing" entails the possibility of being mistaken.

    I acknowledge that an enlightened person could know ("know" in the biblical sense of "familiarity") an enlightened disposition, a presence, openness and freedom from attachment that I don't, just as a great pianist knows a presence, openness and freedom I, as a pianist, cannot.
  • Bylaw
    128
    Well, Buddhism does separate emotion from expression Instead of a natural feeling----> expression with sound, facial expression, posture we have a witnessing process. A disidentification. Expression of emotion is a part of life. Now, of course, Buddhists do express emotions, but in practical terms it is frowned upon more than in many other subcultures (judgements of emotions and their expression is pretty common) and at the practice level one is disconnection emotion from expression. So, there's a facet of life that is cut off.
  • baker
    3.3k
    Well, Buddhism does separate emotion from expression Instead of a natural feeling----> expression with sound, facial expression, posture we have a witnessing process. A disidentification. Expression of emotion is a part of life. Now, of course, Buddhists do express emotions, but in practical terms it is frowned upon more than in many other subcultures (judgements of emotions and their expression is pretty common) and at the practice level one is disconnection emotion from expression. So, there's a facet of life that is cut off.Bylaw

    Not sure what you're talking about. Controlling the expression of one's emotions is common in traditional cultures, as well as in modern times ("emotional intelligence").
  • Bylaw
    128
    Not sure what you're talking about. Controlling the expression of one's emotions is common in traditional cultures, as well as in modern times ("emotional intelligence").baker
    Sure, all cultures have limits and taboos and encourage suppression of emotions. But in Buddhism you have a complete disidentification with them. You train to disconnect the emotion-> bodily expression/voice expression natural process. This is qualitatively different. IOW there are per se judgments of emotions which can be contrasted with judgments of what is outside the person. One is discouraged from judging what is outside, but implicitly encouraged to see the natural expression and identification with emotions (and desire) as something to be stopped. If we consider the meditation practice as training, this is, amongst other things, what it is training one to do.

    Which is different from being wise about what situations and relations it is better to set limits on emotional expression (emotional intelligence). And this EI is also not some objective category but is itself a cultural product - a set of heuristics that seem to work in certain cultures that themselves have judgments of emotions.

    I focused on disidentification, but it could also be described as blocking a natural flow in the body. I have sympathy for why Buddhists thought this had to be done, but it includes judgments that are treated as objective when they are not.
  • baker
    3.3k
    Sure, all cultures have limits and taboos and encourage suppression of emotions. But in Buddhism you have a complete disidentification with them.Bylaw

    Could you reference a Buddhist source that teaches this? What you're describing sounds like what could be found in some modern secular Buddhist teachings (my knowledge of them is not very good), but I think it would be too much of a stretch to read the Pali canon that way. And I'm not saying this out of sympathy with the Pali canon or trying to defend it or present it as "normal". At best, the practice you're describing is skipping several important steps.
  • Bylaw
    128
    If you can give me a link to a searchable Pali Canon, I can see what's there. It's been decades since I've read that. I am going by Buddhist practice in any of the major traditions. What that practice is doing. Coupling that with the statements of masters in several traditions, both in the East and West and what the social pressures are like in temples both East and West, modern and traditional. From my memory what i am talking about is often not explicit. No one says emotions are bad, though some are view as per se destructive. But the practice cut off the natural feeling to expression. Emotions are passing phenomena to be observed. Officially they are not judged. They are passing forms. But the practice itself judges the flow from feeling to expression. Desire is often more openly blamed.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    Regarding the idea that sages can, "above and beyond interpretation" directly and infallibly see "the ultimate truth", consider the following from Stephen Batchelor. After Buddhism Yale University Press. Kindle Edition, where he is discussing the "two truths" idea:

    "The Theravāda tradition, whose teachings are based on the Pali Canon, sets forth a similar view. The late British scholar Maurice Walshe declares, in the introduction to his translation of the Long Discourses (Dīgha Nikāya):

    An important and often overlooked aspect of the Buddhist teaching concerns the levels of truth, failure to appreciate which has led to many errors. Very often the Buddha talks in the Suttas in terms of conventional or relative truth (sammuti- or vohāra-sacca), according to which people and things exist just as they appear to the naïve understanding. Elsewhere, however, when addressing an audience capable of appreciating his meaning, he speaks in terms of ultimate truth (paramattha-sacca).23

    In reading Walshe’s text, we could easily get the impression that the Buddha himself spoke of these two truths in his discourses. Yet nowhere, not even once, will we find a mention of either sammuti-sacca or paramattha-sacca in any of the hundreds of discourses attributed to Gotama in the Pali Canon. It is not just that Gotama failed to use that particular terminology; he simply did not think along such lines. As soon as “truth” is parsed in this twofold manner, it becomes difficult to resist slipping into an ontological mindset. “Ultimate truth” becomes a signifier of what really is, whereas “conventional truth” signifies merely what people agree upon as true and useful. What may be the earliest mention of the two truths is found in Points of Controversy (Kathāvatthu), a polemical Buddhist treatise compiled in the centuries after Gotama’s death. The Buddha, the author declares:

    spoke two truths, conventional and ultimate—one does not come across a third; a conventional statement is true because of convention and an ultimate statement is true because (it discloses) the real characteristics of things.24

    To claim that “ultimate statements” describe the way things really are as opposed to how they conventionally appear is ontology. Yet the Buddha to whom I am drawn in the early discourses is not an ontologist. He has no interest in providing an accurate and final description of the nature of “truth” or “reality.” He warns repeatedly of the dangers of getting sidetracked by metaphysical speculation of any kind, of being caught in what he calls “thickets of opinion.”

    As for what Gotama thinks of those who talk about the “supreme” (parama), we only have to turn to the Chapter of Eights, the text cited earlier as an example of a skeptical voice in the early canon:

    The priest without borders doesn’t seize on what he’s known or beheld. Not passionate, not dispassionate, he doesn’t posit anything as supreme. One who dwells in “supreme” views and presents them as final will declare all other views “inferior”— he has not overcome disputes."

    You mentioned you are unfamiliar with secular Buddhism; Batchelor is one of its chief proponents.
  • baker
    3.3k
    If you can give me a link to a searchable Pali CanonBylaw

    Most complete available online:
    https://suttacentral.net/pitaka/sutta

    A selection:
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/
    https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/index.html


    I am going by Buddhist practice in any of the major traditions. What that practice is doing. Coupling that with the statements of masters in several traditions, both in the East and West and what the social pressures are like in temples both East and West, modern and traditional. From my memory what i am talking about is often not explicit. No one says emotions are bad, though some are view as per se destructive. But the practice cut off the natural feeling to expression. Emotions are passing phenomena to be observed. Officially they are not judged. They are passing forms. But the practice itself judges the flow from feeling to expression. Desire is often more openly blamed.

    I know. But when it's formulated like that, it's like being thrown in at the deep end.
    There is quite a bit that is supposed to happen for a person and that a person must decide on before they even go near a temple or meditation hall where they could hear such instructions as you mention. And those things that are supposed to happen before then adequately contextualize the instructions the person is given there.
  • baker
    3.3k
    Regarding the idea that sages can directly see the ultimate truth, consider the following from Stephen Batchelor. After Buddhism Yale University Press. Kindle Edition, where he is discussing the "two truths" idea:Janus

    In Buddhism, there is fierce intersectarian fighting going on about this issue.

    As for what Gotama thinks of those who talk about the “supreme” (parama), we only have to turn to the Chapter of Eights, the text cited earlier as an example of a skeptical voice in the early canon:

    The priest without borders doesn’t seize on what he’s known or beheld. Not passionate, not dispassionate, he doesn’t posit anything as supreme. One who dwells in “supreme” views and presents them as final will declare all other views “inferior”— he has not overcome disputes.

    Read another translation of this:
    https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/StNp/StNp4_11.html


    Batchelor's translation is suspicious from the onset. The Buddha of the Pali Canon has no qualms about praising himself or the Dhamma he discovered.

    You mentioned you are unfamiliar with secular Buddhism; Batchelor is one of its chief proponents.

    He lost me at hello.
  • Janus
    11.3k

    That is not even recognizable as the same text and nor is it titled "Chapter of Eights".

    Batchelor's translation is suspicious from the onset. The Buddha of the Pali Canon has no qualms about praising himself or the Dhamma he discovered.baker

    The issue was not about whther the Gotama of the Pali Canon praises himself or the Dhamma. Try to focus: perhpos provide me with some quotations which contradict Batchelo'rs claim that

    Yet nowhere, not even once, will we find a mention of either sammuti-sacca or paramattha-sacca in any of the hundreds of discourses attributed to Gotama in the Pali Canon.Janus

    He lost me at hello.baker

    Says a lot about your open-mindedness, and nothing about Batchelor. I doubt you have even read his works.
  • Bylaw
    128
    I know. But when it's formulated like that, it's like being thrown in at the deep end.
    There is quite a bit that is supposed to happen for a person and that a person must decide on before they even go near a temple or meditation hall where they could hear such instructions as you mention. And those things that are supposed to happen before then adequately contextualize the instructions the person is given there.
    baker

    Sure, But I am not arguing they do this quickly. And the effects on one's relation to emotions would take many years. But that is the goal. The practices sever the natural flow of emotion to expression. Which is fine, to me at least, if that is what you want. Many do. In the beginning the severing will happen, to the degree that it does, during the meditation and perhaps other facets of Buddhist communal life if one has gone that far as to join such a community or to the degree one does. But you are training to change that natural process. And it seems, in my experience, to be effective. It's not my goal, but those for whom it is, I do think it can deliver.

    Thanks for the links, I will check them out..
  • baker
    3.3k
    And the effects on one's relation to emotions would take many years. But that is the goal. The practices sever the natural flow of emotion to expression.Bylaw

    I think it depends on the context in which one sees this practice.

    For a relatively wealthy and healthy person who doesn't have a problem with getting their work done, earning a living, and their regular practical and social obligations, such severing as you speak of surely feels unnatural, perverse even.

    But someone fighting a chronic illness, living in relative poverty or under social stigma, or facing such prospects, can be inclined to find ways not to be ruled by emotions. For such a person, developing equanimity can be a matter of necessity. When one is ill, poor, or has fallen from grace, or is facing such prospects, indulging in emotions in simply counterpoductive.
  • baker
    3.3k
    That is not even recognizable as the same text and nor is it titled "Chapter of Eights".Janus

    Look it up yourself then. It's from the Sn.
    And welcome to the wonderful world of free translations.

    Batchelor's translation is suspicious from the onset. The Buddha of the Pali Canon has no qualms about praising himself or the Dhamma he discovered.
    — baker

    The issue was not about whther the Gotama of the Pali Canon praises himself or the Dhamma.

    The point is that the Buddha would not say the sort of politically correct things that Batchelor and so many other modernists ascribe to the Buddha.

    Try to focus: perhpos provide me with some quotations which contradict Batchelo'rs claim that

    Yet nowhere, not even once, will we find a mention of either sammuti-sacca or paramattha-sacca in any of the hundreds of discourses attributed to Gotama in the Pali Canon.
    — Janus

    I told you already, there is an old dispute about the two truths doctrine in Buddhism:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

    Different Buddhists, depending on their school/lineage, will take a different approach to this matter. Where the difference becomes relevant is in the practical implications that holding a particular view on this will have for oneself, for one's own approach to the teachings, and the way one relates to others.

    (So that, for example, those who do believe in the two truths will expect that newcomers should take a lot more on faith.)


    Says a lot about your open-mindedness, and nothing about Batchelor. I doubt you have even read his works.

    Sometimes, a few words from someone are enough to get a pretty good picture of where he's coming from.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    And welcome to the wonderful world of free translations.baker

    Right and what were we disagreeing over earlier regarding interpretation?

    The point is that the Buddha would not say the sort of politically correct things that Batchelor and so many other modernists ascribe to the Buddha.baker

    If the most reliable testament we have as to what Gotama actually said is the Pali Canon, and translator's interpret that freely, according to their own prejudices, then the only way you could possibly assess the accuracy of Batchelor's translations would be to be able to read Pali (and even then how would you free yourself from your own prejudices)?

    I told you already, there is an old dispute about the two truths doctrine in Buddhismbaker

    So what? I haven't said that Batchelor's position is entirely novel or original.

    Sometimes, a few words from someone are enough to get a pretty good picture of where he's coming from.baker

    You might get a sense of where he's coming from from "a few words" but you won't know anything of his arguments for holding the position he's coming from.

    Even if, due to your own entrenched commitments, you are bound to disagree with someone's position, and you know that from "a few words" it pays to familiarize yourself with the arguments of those whose positions do not agree with yours, even if only to have a coherent understanding of just why you disagree with them.
  • Janus
    11.3k
    From the Wikipedia article you cited:

    In the Pali canon, the distinction is not made between a lower truth and a higher truth, but rather between two kinds of expressions of the same truth, which must be interpreted differently. Thus a phrase or passage, or a whole sutta, might be classed as neyyattha or samuti or vohāra, but it is not regarded at this stage as expressing or conveying a different level of truth.

    This is in accordance with what Batchelor says.

    Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā provides a logical defense for the claim that all things are empty (sunyata) of an inherently-existing self-nature.[14] Sunyata, however, is also shown to be "empty", and Nagarjuna's assertion of "the emptiness of emptiness" prevents sunyata from constituting a higher or ultimate reality.[24][25][note 4][note 5] Nagarjuna's view is that "the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth".[25] According to Siderits, Nagarjuna is a "semantic anti-dualist" who posits that there are only conventional truths.[25] Jay L. Garfield explains:

    Suppose that we take a conventional entity, such as a table. We analyze it to demonstrate its emptiness, finding that there is no table apart from its parts [...] So we conclude that it is empty. But now let us analyze that emptiness […]. What do we find? Nothing at all but the table’s lack of inherent existence [...] To see the table as empty [...] is to see the table as conventional, as dependent.[24]

    In Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā the two truths doctrine is used to defend the identification of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) with emptiness (śūnyatā):

    The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha's profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved.[27]


    This is also in accordance with Batchelor's position, as I read it.
  • Bylaw
    128
    For a relatively wealthy and healthy person who doesn't have a problem with getting their work done, earning a living, and their regular practical and social obligations, such severing as you speak of surely feels unnatural, perverse even.baker
    I actually don't think this is true. I see parallels in the corporate world, where Buddhism fits nicely with a kind of stoicism. The popularity of mindfullness (don't worry I am not confusing this with a dedicated Buddhist practice in most cases) shows that people from all walks of life are craving, to varying degrees, more detachment and disidentification from emotions, something corporations are often happy to support.
    But someone fighting a chronic illness, living in relative poverty or under social stigma, or facing such prospects, can be inclined to find ways not to be ruled by emotions. For such a person, developing equanimity can be a matter of necessity. When one is ill, poor, or has fallen from grace, or is facing such prospects, indulging in emotions in simply counterpoductive.baker
    I highlighted the perjorative terms. And I think this has been scene as the dichotomy, both in the West and East. Indulge and be ruled by emotions or disidentify, control, suppress and/or keep from expression emotions. I think it is a false dichotomy. That accepting emotions including their expression leads to being ruled by them, etc.

    This is a huge subject, but even if you are correct, that maintaining the natural identification with and expression of emotions is being ruled by them and indulging
    it is still Buddhism going against a natural process.

    And I do know how it looked. We live in societies that suppress and judge emotional expression. So, expressing them publically at the very least leads to problems. Unless they are expressed in the approved channels. From my perspective the widespread problematic assumptions out there do not justify themselves, but mean that one must use caution as one explores emotions, again, and gets past all these judgments. Further I also see that Buddhism goes way beyond these judgments into a systematic process. Again, if someone wants to have this as a goal, they I am all for them pursuing it. But it is not objective and it's not for me.
  • baker
    3.3k
    For a relatively wealthy and healthy person who doesn't have a problem with getting their work done, earning a living, and their regular practical and social obligations, such severing as you speak of surely feels unnatural, perverse even.
    — baker
    I actually don't think this is true.
    Bylaw

    Actually, I was thinking of the French people who live in the fancy homes pictured in magazines about interior design.

    I see parallels in the corporate world, where Buddhism fits nicely with a kind of stoicism. The popularity of mindfullness (don't worry I am not confusing this with a dedicated Buddhist practice in most cases) shows that people from all walks of life are craving, to varying degrees, more detachment and disidentification from emotions, something corporations are often happy to support.

    Such corporate mindfulness is practiced with entirely different intentions than in a Buddhist setting, or at least some of them. Some Buddhists are very critical of corporate mindfulness.

    But someone fighting a chronic illness, living in relative poverty or under social stigma, or facing such prospects, can be inclined to find ways not to be ruled by emotions. For such a person, developing equanimity can be a matter of necessity. When one is ill, poor, or has fallen from grace, or is facing such prospects, indulging in emotions in simply counterpoductive.
    — baker
    I highlighted the perjorative terms. And I think this has been scene as the dichotomy, both in the West and East. Indulge and be ruled by emotions or disidentify, control, suppress and/or keep from expression emotions. I think it is a false dichotomy. That accepting emotions including their expression leads to being ruled by them, etc.

    You focused on what you consider the pejorative terms, but did you read the paragraph I wrote?

    This is a huge subject, but even if you are correct, that maintaining the natural identification with and expression of emotions is being ruled by them and indulging
    it is still Buddhism going against a natural process.

    Is being poor a "natural process"?
    Is being chronically ill a "natural process"?
    Is falling from grace a "natural process"?

    We live in societies that suppress and judge emotional expression.

    Not universally, though.
    Emotional expression is regulated by socioeconomic class membership, by the power differential between the persons involved, by consdieration of prospective abuse, endangerment.

    There are times when you are supposed to express (certain) emotions, and times you're not.

    Express your emotions to the wrong people, at the wrong time, and chances are, you will find yourself in trouble. As a victim of ridicule, bullying, or helping create an image of yourself as a weak or otherwise inappropriate person. Again, the issue isn't the expressing of emotions per se, it's that you do it in front of the wrong people, at the wrong time.

    Again, if someone wants to have this as a goal, they I am all for them pursuing it. But it is not objective and it's not for me.

    If you think it's so wrong, so not objective, then how can you support pursuing it?

    But it is not objective

    And we have to believe you're the arbiter of what is objective and what isn't?
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