Buddhism and Atheism
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18-01-2011, 05:26 AM
RE: Buddhism and Atheism
(17-01-2011 09:08 PM)The Doctor Wrote:  Yes, there are some who are extreme. I read there are monks who are so afraid of killing living things. They filter all their water, so hopefully they don't drink any microbes.

There are Janists who wear a mask so they don't inhale insects by mistake - same principle.

Also , could you recommend a few resources for meditation 101 ? Something you found to be reliable and easy to get through a thick skull like mine Tongue
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16-05-2011, 04:24 AM
RE: Buddhism and Atheism
I realize this thread is a bit old now, but felt I had to jump in. I sat with a Tibetan Buddhist group here in Seattle, and at first I felt as The Doctor did, however I was from the start troubled by the enforced/required celibacy in some branches of Buddhism for the monks and nuns, and by a general feeling of conservatism reminiscent of the theistic religions, of which buddhism is notably not one. Then there were all the talks on "right" living, and I would say, right by whose decision? Also, especially in the Tibetan circles, lots and lots of "woo", as in reincarnation, karma, rebirth, psychic healing and so forth.

The more I really delved into it the more unappealing it became. One teacher, well respected on the national circuit and someone who has spent time with the dali lama, spoke of the buddhist "hell" realms, where you can be trapped for eternity if your "karma" is not clean upon leaving this life, whatever the hell, excuse the pun, that means. And the d.l. proclaiming in 1997 that "all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal are prohibited for buddhists" and that homosexuality was to be considered sexual misconduct (this is taken from religionfacts.com). I believe that I read recently that he has now softened this stance to say that homosexuality is acceptable, as long as there was no anal, manual or oral sexual contact involved. WTF!!! Then there is, from a page on Christopher Hitchens's critiques of public figures on Wikipedia, "the Dalai Lama's specified sexual norms, which ban masturbation, oral and anal sex, and explain the proper way to pay for prostitution". My, my. Of course, he represents only a minute portion of practicing buddhists, but is highly symbolic of the religion, especially here in the west.

Then there is the question of buddhist treatment of women. In buddha's supposed lifetime he originally ruled that women could not become enlightened or join orders. After the pleading of his former wife and others he relented (interesting that these holy, awakened teachers are always male, eh?) but any ordained nun, no matter how exalted her achievements or advanced her practice, must always walk five steps behind the lowliest male monk. Wow, now there's an enlightened attitude for you. And please don't throw in the cultural context, this is a person who was overthrowing many cultural norms of the day, so why not that one? And then we have the question, as with the zombie god, of if there ever really was a buddha, as there were poor to no records kept in that period of India's history. (This from Stephen Batchelor's excellent book, Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist). As to the no Buddhist wars, look to Sri Lanka and the buddhist repression of the native Tamil population, which has been quite brutal.

There are some good teachings and it's fun to meditate in group, but in the end the religiosity creeps in to most practices and sanghas, or such was my experience over the three years or so I practiced. What threw me over the edge was looking into, since they are the only other religion with celibate monks and nuns, whether there were allegations of child abuse in buddhism as in catholicism. There were, not to the same degree, but it was thought by one commenter that this could be because of the exalted position of the "master" or teachers in that traditon, (read Pema Chodron on her absolute trust in her teacher, who was a known alcoholic along with other problematic behavior) and that there was a high degree of suicides in some of the various schools or branches.

It was however leaving the idea of having a buddhist practice that finally got me to declare as an atheist, and I must say I have never felt more free of relieved. I like theories and ideas that can be tested and challenged, as the buddha supposedly advised. Of course these are just my ideas on the subject.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx
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16-05-2011, 06:09 PM
RE: Buddhism and Atheism
Have you gone looked into non-Tibetan Buddhism?

Theravada Buddhism is not really supernatural or very religious than the Tibetan. Also the Dalai Lama is NOT the pope of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has no claim on what a Buddhist can do or not. The only person who can say what is good in Buddhism IS the Gautama Buddha! Unlike Jesus and other religions. Buddhism can accept gays, women and etc.

Western Buddhism has grown to different reaches to get of problems from the past.

Here is some great stuff you can enjoy and learn:
Buddhism & Autonomy
http://youtu.be/cayVaYJK9ww

Women in Buddhism
http://www.buddhanet.net/mag_nuns.htm
http://www.buddhanet.net/mag_nuns.htm

[Image: buddhasig.png]
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” ~ Gautama Buddha
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16-05-2011, 09:41 PM
RE: Buddhism and Atheism
(16-05-2011 06:09 PM)The Doctor Wrote:  Theravada Buddhism is not really supernatural or very religious than the Tibetan. Also the Dalai Lama is NOT the pope of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has no claim on what a Buddhist can do or not. The only person who can say what is good in Buddhism IS the Gautama Buddha! Unlike Jesus and other religions. Buddhism can accept gays, women and etc.

Seattle has a very large organization, SIM (Seattle Insight Meditation), whose main teacher is Rodney Smith, is Theravada in its practice and was my first exposure to Buddhist meditation. I found the teaching, both of SIM and Theravada Buddhism in general, to be very conservative. It is the Theravada orders for the most part that have enforced celibacy of monks and nuns, a practice that I abhor. I found many elements of super-naturalism and superstition in those orders as well, but admittedly did not sample them all. I find that for myself these were still religious in nature and not necessary for my own personal development.

There are enough schisms and contradictions between the various schools that I view them as not substantially better than Christianity.

I do realize that the d. l. is not the pope, but he is a recognized voice of buddhism for much of the U S. and is the recognized head of his lineage of Tibetan Buddhists, and he is the head of his government in exile, so for many he does speak for the collective beliefs, whether or not this is true in actuality.

The decision to follow a practice or not is deeply personal, and it was as difficult for me leaving my sangha as it was leaving the church, but the degree of dogma was too great for me to accept. I realize that many respected voices in the freethinking community actively support buddhist practice. Sam Harris is one, and although I deeply admire Sam in many areas I choose to disagree with him on this point, as I do on his support for torture of suspected terrorists. We all must find our own way, which, if there was a buddha, is also what he advocated.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx
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