Mod+ This Atheist has revolutionized Buddhism. Does the latest consciousness science agree with his belie

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. To understand the rules of Buddhism you have to understand them in context and what their purpose is. The purpose of the rules is to help you awaken. If you follow the rules you are more likely to awaken. That's all. The rules are more like laws of psychology (or laws of nature) than laws of a legal system. There is no judgment - it's your choice. If you don't follow the rules, it is not a "sin". You won't be excommunicated from Buddhism. You won't be condemned to hell because you broke a rule. Many Buddhists, like many non Buddhists, believe you could have bad karma if you don't follow some of the rules, eg. if you murder. But the karma is from the murder not because you are disregarding a warning from Buddha that murder would make your mind turbulent and could prevent awakening. Some people who want to awaken agree to follow certain rules and form a group for like minded people. If you don't like their rules, find a different group or start your own group or practice by yourself. There is no pope of Buddhism. Anyone who believes the teachings of Buddha can claim to be a Buddhist whether they follow the rules or not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
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  2. 20:15 People's pursuit of material things in life,
    20:19 the concept that only physical things are real,
    20:25 has really impacted and damaged traditional culture and martial arts.
    20:31 People have not paid enough attention to Eastern philosophies, traditional concepts, and theories.
    20:37 They have forgotten them.
     
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  3. Alex

    Alex New

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    cool. Jim do you know much about the connection between Zen and the Samurai tradition?
     
  4. http://education.asianart.org/explore-resources/background-information/religious-practices-samurai
    "With its emphasis on discipline and self-reliant effort, Zen was temperamentally suited to warriors, who on the battlefield required skill and courage. The ultimate goal of Zen is, of course, spiritual awakening and the attainment of Buddhahood, but the concentration and equanimity fostered by the practice of meditation and the directness of mind and expression called for in koan encounters were of great practical use to even the most unenlightened samurai."


    The martial artist in the video practices a form of kung fu developed by Shaolin monks in China. The Shaolin Monastery is a Chan temple. Chan is the Chinese form of Buddism that became Zen when it was introduced into Japan. Chan and Zen are written with the same character which means "dhyana" (meditation). The form of kung fu he practices is an "internal" martial art:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_martial_arts
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    excellent. thx.

    my take-away (would welcome your opinion) is that Zen has been influenced by the Samurai warrior tradition in ways that most Zen practitioners don't fully appreciate.
     
  6. Why do you think that?

    The strict discipline is due to the need to keep young monks in line. Wealthy parents would often send younger sons to the monasteries to become monks to get good karma for themselves, but the sons didn't always want to be there.

    One of the traditions in Zen group meditation sessions is to whack a meditator with a keisaku which is stick that looks something like a cricket bat. Now-a-days they say they use it to stimulate a acupressure site on the back next to the spine where it doesn't hurt to be hit. Some people ask for a whack when they come around with the keisaku because it breaks up the boredom of long hours of meditation during retreats. But originally it was used to hit monks on the shoulder (where it does hurt) who were sleeping during group meditation sessions. Some sects have a ceremony at the end of a retreat where they use the keisaku lightly on the shoulder to symbolically "awaken" you in the Buddhist sense of "awaken".

    The development of Zen can be traced in the writings of Chan and Zen masters. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think most of the influential writers were monks and abbots in monasteries rather than samurai.


    http://zen-buddhism.net/martial-arts/zen-and-martial-arts.html
    Zen influenced warriors, but I'm not sure if there was any influence the other way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  7. Alex

    Alex New

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    it just strikes me that many Zen practitioners see their tradition as a stripping away of ritual/dogma when what they have really done is replace one for another. is the Samurai level of discipline and control a virtue, or another trap?... obviously both. what is well-suited for warriors (I'm thinking Navy Seals) may not be a good fit for the spiritual seeker. helps to understand roots.

    I see same in hatha yoga tradition when "purists" have a hard time accepting that Krishnamacharya borrowed from British gymnastics, but it's clear that he did.
     
  8. I agree. But I see this as something introduced by westerners trying to secularize meditation.

    Even Theravadan Buddhism involves a lot of discipline compared to what most Westerners are used to.
    I think the discipline has more to do with Asian cultural differences than Samurai influence. Compare the tea ceremony to British tea time. Is that due to warrior influence?



    http://www.yantrayoga.net/about

    Here is an excerpt from a quote from a student of Krishnamarcharya that gives a different explanation of the simlarities between Yoga and gymnastics. Read the whole thing at the link for the full discussion.
    http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2010/09/krishnamarcharya-and-those-british.html
    "Further, yoga as a physical culture is very old. We may not have records because in ancient times most of instructions were oral and the transmission of knowledge was from teacher to student and the only way to learn was to go to a teacher and learn, practice and internalize. Later on a few texts were written as scripts were developed but they were written in easily perishable palm leaves -- like the Yoga Kuranta -- and barely one manuscript, no xerox copies, no electronic books were available. So in these matters we have to rely upon authorities/tradition or as the Vedas would call it “aitihya” or firmly held belief.

    Even from the available texts like the Puranas one can glean a lot of reference to yoga practice including asana practice. The Brahma Sutras mention that a seated asana is a necessity for meditation. Works written hundreds or even a thousand years back contain sections on Yoga including asanas. Thirumular, a yogi said to have lived 3000 years back wrote about several asanas in his Tamil classic Thirumandiram. Puranas, smritis and several later day Upanishads have sections on asana practice.
    ...
    He had also mentioned that almost all the physical systems of the world, including gymnastics, had borrowed heavily from Yoga, because the asana portion of Yoga was the most ancient and developed physical culture system. Therefore it could be that there were a few similarities between asanas and some obscure gymnastic systems in different parts of the world at different times. Then one has to investigate the origin of those obscure systems, whether they were older than Yoga, or if they themselves borrowed from ancient yoga practices."
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  9. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    That is true. It's also true for almost all methodologies/practices. The stuff about the Samurai isn't accurate though. As Jim Smith explained, Bushido had little influence on Zen although Zen did have an influence on Bushido.

    One point - in many Eastern practices - is that the state of mind/spirit that is effective for a "spiritual seeker" is also effective for a warrior. An accurate perspective. As I keep restating - the physical is an expression of the physical.

    I don't know anything about Krishnamacharya but Hatha is many centuries older than gymnastics
    -
     
  10. I suppose this could be interpreted as a martial arts influence on Zen:

    http://selfdefinition.org/zen/Philip-Kapleau-Three-Pillars-of-Zen.pdf
    THE THREE PILLARS OF ZEN
    ...
    by PHILIP KAPLEAU
    ...
    This lecture will deal with shikan-taza. Shikan means "nothing
    but " or "just," while ta means "to hit" and za "to sit." Hence shikan-taza
    is a practice in which the mind is intensely involved in just sitting.
    In this type of zazen it is all too easy for the mind, which is not supported
    by such aids as counting the breath or by a koan, to become
    distracted. The correct temper of mind therefore becomes doubly
    important. Now, in shikan-taza the mind must be unhurried yet at
    the same time firmly planted or massively composed, like Mount Fuji
    let us say. But it must also be alert, stretched, like a taut bowstring.
    So shikan-taza is a heightened state of concentrated awareness wherein
    one is neither tense nor hurried, and certainly never stack. It is the
    mind of somebody facing death. Let us imagine that you are engaged
    in a duel of swordsmanship of the kind that used to take place in
    ancient Japan. As you face your opponent you are unceasingly watchful,
    set, ready. Were you to relax your vigilance even momentarily,
    you would be cut down instantly.
    A crowd gathers to see the fight.
    Since you are not blind you see them from the comer of your eye,
    and since you are not deaf you hear them. But not for an instant is
    your mind captured by these sense impressions.​
     
  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    facinating... many thx for sharing this.
    at the end of the day I think we're wrestling with the orthodox versus gnosis thing. i.e. there are many paths to many truths so don't get too hung up on the right-ness of your path.
     
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  12. north

    north Member

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    I would agree that holding of a fixed belief does not have the same value as as the lived experience of a truth. To outsiders, many dogmas seem absurd. It is difficult to understand the orthodox rabbis criticizing Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Similarly claims within Scientism that the exercise of consciousness outside of the brain is impossible.

    With Batchelor it seems his lack of gnosis leads him to reject Buddha's teaching on karma and reincarnation. He seems similar to many protestant schismatics who happily discard teachings they haven't realized. Or western Yoga teachers that disdain God. I have met Theravadan monks who are equally atheistic to Batchelor, and possibly even more nihilistic, but they do accept the doctrine of karma and transmigration.

    Materialist orthodoxy may be blocking access to insights from Buddhism. Naropa's teaching on dream yoga where considered impossible by most scientists until the 1970s. While current western teachings on lucid dreaming remain more superficial.

    According to Idries Shah, Sufis recognize that in time mystical insights and teachings will degrade into sterile cargo cults requiring new expressions of the teaching. You can't put new wine into old wine skins. Hindus state that when teachings are degraded new Avatar comes to renew the teachings.

    On his Buddhist journey, Batchelor changed paths several times. The rightness of his current path is important.
     
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  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    nice :)
     
  14. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    I enjoyed this interview Alex; and I was impressed by Stephen Batchelor.
    Various forms of stripped-down secularised Buddhism are very popular among western materialists.
    They especially like Zen derivatives.
    I think it is a good thing there are forms of 'spiritual practice' which materialists can embrace.
     
  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    yeah... I used to be mad at Batchelor. the preparation for this interview helped me connect with the great service he's done. and even though he's wrong, he's not all that wrong :)
     
  16. Luke Perkins

    Luke Perkins New

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    I think Batchelor is exhibiting the fundamental blindness of materialism to extended consciousness science. This blindness is behind his questioning the inductive method with regard to investigating reincarnation. Induction is the basis of the scientific method- gathering specific data that support a more general hypothesis. He seems to think this method is not valid.
     
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