Author Topic: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.  (Read 10266 times)

ravalbapu

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2009, 11:08:17 AM »
Sirs alex and pimpoum,
my salutations,

Are we not digressing?
The issue is faith in buddhist context.
It is one of the five ingredients(effort,mindfulness,absorption and wisdom being other) required for a man to pursue and realise liberation.
May you attain nibbana,
ravalbapu



pimpoum

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #26 on: March 30, 2009, 12:00:17 PM »
The issue is faith in buddhist context.

well, from the very first post, "other religions" are in the discussion, as a point of comparison in order to know what faith means in a Buddhist context. I don't think we're digressing at all. I was trying to provide a different definition of faith, in order to allow the debate to evolve...

allow change and impermanence to affect this forum my friend! ;D

ravalbapu

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #27 on: March 30, 2009, 12:52:13 PM »
Oh! I thought it was agreed that all organised religeons are cesspools of different sizes and depths.
They deserve the respect that a cesspool deserves.
Faith played a major role in their degeneration.
Any way, all conceptual gestalts have to be viewed with radical discretion.
May you be happy,
raval

Matthew

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2009, 10:16:10 AM »
well, from the very first post, "other religions" are in the discussion, as a point of comparison in order to know what faith means in a Buddhist context. I don't think we're digressing at all. I was trying to provide a different definition of faith, in order to allow the debate to evolve...

But that definition of faith has been defined already: faith has two meanings in the context of this debate:

1) Belief in something that can not be proven or experienced. Calling God, "the unknown" is, firstly, anthropomorphism on the grandest scale, and secondly, a self-contradiction - which itself points out that God demands blind faith: belief. If God is the unknown then how can you know it is God? You can't - you must "believe". It is a chosen belief amongst many unprovable beliefs.

2) Confidence: Having tried something for yourself you know it to be true.

Very simple difference explained in the first post.

Matthew
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Matthew

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2009, 10:26:56 AM »
Oh! I thought it was agreed that all organised religeons are cesspools of different sizes and depths.
They deserve the respect that a cesspool deserves.
Faith played a major role in their degeneration.
Any way, all conceptual gestalts have to be viewed with radical discretion.
May you be happy,
raval

They do indeed tend to degenerate into exactly that. Which is why this place is anarchy and not religious :) No one in charge ... just like the Buddha ordered on his deathbed .... raval .. like me I am sure you know exactly why he did this: So the entropy of organised religion would not reduce his teachings to the lowest common denominator.

Let's examine the phenomenon of "Christianity" for some contradictions that have arisen from this degrading entropy that is "organised religion":

1. On Christmas day 1/3 of the world who call themselves Christian eat and drink until they vomit or close to it and give each other valuable natural resources wrapped in throw away pretty paper - and quite often these gifts are not appreciated.

Meanwhile in the parts of the planet the Christians decided to call "The Third World"  - after they stole the people and everything valuable and destroyed pre-existing civilisations - just like any other day, around 30,000 kids will die of starvation or lack of basic medical supplies.

2. On September 11th 2001, some 4,500 mostly Christian Americans died in a terrorist attack (though we still do not know the real terrorists).

As a result the good Christians of America have killed over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens, raped Afghanistan, bankrupted the world, caused political destabilisation through the middle east and Pakistan - and stolen the rights to the Iraqi oil.

And they think they are going to heaven when they die? This religion has some very large flaws. One of it's ten founding commandments is "Though shalt not kill".

Judge me not by my words but by my actions.

Matthew



FROM: http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 10:48:24 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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pimpoum

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2009, 10:48:15 AM »
But that definition of faith has been defined already

Well, on the contrary, I believe my post bring something more to these 2 definitions. Both of these definitions are the two sides of the same coin, or the two side of the same operating principle or concept that you use to distinguish between religions: "experiential proof". One faith has it (confidence), the other doesn't (blind faith). I've already explained why this distinction could not really stand in effect, but here I'm offering something on a different plane, with a different operating operating principle.

Blind faith is not simply negatively defined as the absence of proof, but positively defined as an essential experience of the unknown, godliness, humility etc...well it is explaine in my preceding post
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 10:54:34 AM by pimpoum »

Matthew

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2009, 11:41:59 AM »
How can something be "unknown" and experientially verified?

It can't.

Matthew
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pimpoum

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2009, 11:58:55 AM »
I never said experientially verified. Again, this comes from the scientistic framework from which you operate your distinction.

What I'm saying is that "blind faith" itself is an experience, an experience of the unknown as unknown. Let's say you look at a work of art, that is you experience it, but you can't explain/verify/prove it. It is actually totally irrelevant to the work - you don't prove a work of art, and the explainations a critic can give are never satisfying. Why? because the work of art shows itself as unknown/mysterious. Being unknown and mysterious is a positive quality of the work - unknowability is experienced as unknowable by the spectator.

the "blind faith" you're talking about could be just that, a positive experience of the unknown, no just an absence of proof for a "mere belief".
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 12:00:54 PM by pimpoum »

alex

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2009, 06:40:49 PM »
Quote
2) Confidence: Having tried something for yourself you know it to be true.
I've met many people from Britain (especially Scotland). All of them had white skin and were Protestants. It's an repeatable experience, I've done it many times. I believe all British are white Protestants. And I have proven this, so I can have confidence in it. Experience is always true.

Quote
1) Belief in something that can not be proven or experienced. Calling God, "the unknown" is, firstly, anthropomorphism on the grandest scale, and secondly, a self-contradiction - which itself points out that God demands blind faith: belief. If God is the unknown then how can you know it is God? You can't - you must "believe". It is a chosen belief amongst many unprovable beliefs.
Buddha himself has talked to gods, and gods are mentioned many times in the scriptures. It is said that in former lives Buddha himself was reborn four times as Brahma, the Hindu god.

Conclusion: God exists, probably the gods of many religions. What exists, can be experienced.
(Edit: that is, if one believes that everything the Buddhist scriptures say is true - which is another topic)

The difference between Buddhism and other religions is that Buddha did not teach to worship any god - but he never condemned anyone doing so.

Conclusion: Buddha considered worshiping god neither helpful nor harmful. It is left to anyone to decide for himself.


 Judging religions
Quote
(...cut out some terrible things Christians did...)
Judge me not by my words but by my actions.

Yes yes yes ... we all know that in the name of religion horrible things have been done. I see no benefit in repeating this over and over. But is this the true religion? Can a religion be judged by the doings of its followers? Can I learn about the true nature of Buddhism when I observe the uneducated Thai farmer, who sacrifices in front of a Buddha statue for a rich harvest, thinking he follows a real religious practice? People who are Buddhists have committed murders, and there is death penalty in many Buddhist countries. What does this tell us about Buddhism?


Conclusion: To learn about the true nature of any religion, one has to study the teachings of its founder.


greetings,
Alex
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 07:02:11 PM by alex »

alex

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2009, 07:39:37 PM »
for the nature of scientific inquiry is to never rule out the possiblitily of the pink elephant (that Popper's falsifiability).

So should it be. But yet even science often behaves just like religion. Have you read Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions"? Basically it tells us it is common that even the scientist, after being falsified, denies the truth and clings to his paradigm as long as possible, defending it with all, including unfair, means. Misunderstand and misuse - that's just what humans will make of any pure teaching (here: Popper).

Greetings,
Alex
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 07:47:27 PM by alex »

pimpoum

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2009, 09:12:00 PM »
So should it be. But yet even science often behaves just like religion.

Oh yeah agreed. (Haven't read Kuhn's book - thanks  :))

But, in a way, even Popper's principle itself is not falsifiable...but we cling to this paradigm as the main operative principle, just like a scientist clings to his own paradigm over and against Popper's. The whole problem is that we don't have "pure teaching" or reliable conceptual foundations on which found anything. And our search for these ideal foundations are, I believe, the problem. Let me expend a bit:


In your previous post, you seem also to mention the "pure teachings" of the founders of religions, as the ones which we should study in order to know about religions. But not only the corpus of texts that we inherited from them is itself an interpretation (in that some texts are chosen and some are rejected as apocryphal), but also I doubt you can separate the founder from the believers. In a way, religions don't exist outside of the people who practice them and the founder becomes a founder only after the fact...just like nations don't exist outside the nationals.

Here we touch on something which might be the key to the whole matter: the tendency for humans to find purity -pure religion, pure nation, pure ethnicity...and pure Buddhism. In a way, a group of humans constitute themsevles as a group from the moment they believe that there is more to them than the sum of their members: they also have an identity whose purity they have to defend.

have a look at this quote by Maurice Blanchot:
Quote
"Revolutionary action demands purity, and the certainty that everything it does has absolute value, that it is not just any action performed to bring about some desirable and respectable goal, but that it itself is the ultimate goal. The Last Act. This last act is freedom, and the only choice left is between freedom and nothing. This is why, at that point, the only tolerable slogan is: FREEDOM OR DEATH. Thus the Reign of Terror comes into being.
[...].
Death in the Reign of Terror is not simply a way of punishing seditionaries; rather, since it becomes the unavoidable, in some sense the desired lot of everyone, it appears as the very operation of freedom in free men. When the blade falls on Robespierre, it executes no one. Robespierre's virtue is simply his existence already suppressed, the anticipated presence of his death, the decision to allow freedom to assert itself completely in him and through its universality negate the particular reality of his life...The terror they personify does not come from the death they inflict on others but from the death they inflict on themselves. They bear its features, they do their thinking and make their decisions with death sitting on their shoulders, and this is why their thinking is cold, implacable; it has the freedom of a decapitated head. The terrorists are those who desire absolute freedom and are fully conscious that this constitutes a desire for their own death, they are conscious of the freedom they affirm as they are conscious of their death which they realize, and consequently they behave not like people living among other living people, but like beings deprived of being, like universal thoughts, pure abstractions beyond history, judging and deciding in the name of all history."

I love this text! Basically, humans a lead to revolutionary actions (good or bad) by their tendency to replace their head by the purity of an ideal - and I don't think that this is the privilege of religion AT ALL, and therefore, "blind faith" might not be the cause...


alex

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #36 on: April 02, 2009, 11:11:07 AM »

I doubt you can separate the founder from the believers.
I did not say it is easy ;), and I myself have made this mistake in this discussion. Maybe you noticed that I mentioned different blind faiths that Buddhists have, Nirvana, Karma, rebirth (and there are lots more). I was also tempted to enumerate horrible acts Buddhists have done - but what's the benefit of that? It is not fair to blame the bad things and blind beliefs of Buddhists on Buddhism. Just by being a Buddhist, a bad person will not suddenly turn into a saint. This is true for any religion. Teaching and followers must be distinguished for a fair argument, so the original teachings can be the only way to judge a religion.

I wish to leave out the apocryphal debate, because things are already complicated enough. So I assume a good-enough degree of authenticity to the original scriptures of the religions.

Quote
Here we touch on something which might be the key to the whole matter: the tendency for humans to find purity -pure religion, pure nation, pure ethnicity...and pure Buddhism
Oh, yes. Let me continue that thought. Humans have such a strong desire for the perfect teaching, for the flawless jewel, that they find it everywhere. How often has a human being believed to have found the ultimate truth, in religion, in science, in politics, in philosophy, in revolutions. So far so good: I believe humans must strive for ideals to extend their humanity. To do so, they need strength, which they find in confidence.

But: When these humans doubt sometimes - and everyone has doubts, at least from time to time - they fear that they will never reach their ideals. Doubts, as any feeling, come and go by themselves. If one absolutely wants to have confidence, maybe he cannot accept his doubts, and they become dangerous: The doubts will then look for other ways. This can lead to pride and intolerance: Elevating one's own beliefs by depreciating others, to strengthen the own confidence, is a harmful compensation.

So this is my idea of the bigger picture how ideals take a life of their own. It is strongly influenced by my own experiences in meditation, and less intellectual and radical than Blanchot ;).

By the way, pimpoum, have you been to your retreat already? I will be going next week.

Greetings,
Alex

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #37 on: April 02, 2009, 12:40:43 PM »
Dear Pimpoum,

I never said experientially verified. Again, this comes from the scientistic framework from which you operate your distinction.

What I'm saying is that "blind faith" itself is an experience, an experience of the unknown as unknown. Let's say you look at a work of art, that is you experience it, but you can't explain/verify/prove it. It is actually totally irrelevant to the work - you don't prove a work of art, and the explainations a critic can give are never satisfying. Why? because the work of art shows itself as unknown/mysterious. Being unknown and mysterious is a positive quality of the work - unknowability is experienced as unknowable by the spectator.

the "blind faith" you're talking about could be just that, a positive experience of the unknown, no just an absence of proof for a "mere belief".

This does not come from the scientists' perspective. The model of Science does not allow for inner experience as any kind of measurable or reliable thing that can be scientifically studied.

What you seem to be saying is that some people experience things they do not understand (i.e "the unknown") and maybe get an emotional high during this and label it as a spiritual experience.

Within Buddhist methods and practice in meditation and particularly with strong equanimity, this experience is examined thoroughly, it will not remain unknown.

Prematurely labelling experience before examining the phenomena thoroughly leads to this kind of confusion.

Matthew

PS I thoroughly recommend anyone read Kuhn's "Structure of scientific revolutions". The theory of human behaviour he outlines is applicable across any field of human experience and is particularly relevant to global geopolitics at this point in time. It also mirrors in some ways the nature of the path, if you extrapolate down form his global model of scientific revolutions to the revolutionary act of meditation and removing unwholesome habits from your life. You are yourself undergoing a revolution and there are moments of "sea-change" just as Kuhn describes in his book where your perception of the world and your being and life alters irreversibly and suddenly.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 12:46:13 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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pimpoum

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #38 on: April 03, 2009, 11:15:31 AM »

By the way, pimpoum, have you been to your retreat already? I will be going next week.

No not yet, I'm going this wednesday. Is it the one you're  going to as well?

alex

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Re: "Faith" in a Budddhist context.
« Reply #39 on: April 03, 2009, 09:21:26 PM »

By the way, pimpoum, have you been to your retreat already? I will be going next week.

No not yet, I'm going this wednesday. Is it the one you're  going to as well?
No, I'm leaving earlier with a strange mixture in my mind: Lookup forward with excitement, fearing the downsides of it, anxious that nothing might happen, but trying to be open and expect nothing. Weird.  :D

Best wishes for your retreat!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 09:25:44 PM by alex »