are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by _Z_, May 27, 2007.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Ardenz,

    How true! In addition, what is sad is, many Christians are creating bad karma without even knowing they are doing it. Karma never forgets.

    Here is another fascinating aspect of Buddhism. In some parts of Asia, Buddhism is seen as old-fashioned, overly-dogmatic, and right-wing. Here in the west, however, Buddhism is seem as forward-thinking, open-minded, and left-wing. What a difference!
     
  2. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Nick,

    Sanatana Dharma does not ask anyone to pray to the Gods for money or for entrance into college, any more than any other theistic system of belief. In fact, prayer for material gain is generally discouraged. It was, however, considered by some schools of the Vedic thought during the time of the Buddha and even afterwards that gain, material or spiritual, was to be had only through Vedic rituals. This is no longer the case, and hasn't been for many centuries.

    Namaste Francis,

    I would agree with the above. “Hinduism” did exist before the Buddha. It will, however, depend on what one means by “Hinduism” as to whether it existed or not at the time. If by “Hinduism” one means to say the non-dualistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, often taken mistakenly to be the philosophy of Hinduism, it probably did not exist as we know it now. If by "Hinduism", one means Puranic Hinduism, which is largely mythological in nature, that most likely did not exist, at least in written form.

    Many times we come across the idea that “Hinduism” is the religion that came to be during the Gupta Era (4th to 7th century CE) as a combination of Buddhism and Brahmanism. There may be some truth in that because many new ideas were incorporated into Sanatana Dharma at that time, as the old religion did experience a revival. Most of the Puranic literature also came to be written during that time. However, during the time of the Buddha, Vedism did exist, and most likely representative image worship existed as well.

    As for the dating of the texts, there are various schools of thought. Some schools push back the texts as much as possible into the past, others push the texts as much as possible into the common era. It may be worth mentioning that the earliest decipherable concrete written material found are the rock edicts of Emperor Asoka, to my knowledge. Truthfully speaking, there is very little is known about Indian history before that time.

    OM Shanti,
    A.
     
  3. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick
    actually i do, i think we are humans eternally and didn’t exist on this earth until evolution reached humanity and in the corresponding form to the one we exist in now. this is a strange adam and eve metaphor idea of mine eh! :p by seeing animals as like different shaped people, i am seeing the universality. however a dog is a dog even if it has similar attributes.
    indeed :)
    perhaps, interesting idea. you and others may disagree with this, but i feel humanity can communicate with the highest, because we are the highest manifest 'form'! - i think the absolute is touched in great works of poetry, philosophy and in historical figures. may i just highlight the ‘touch’ aspect! we can touch god and divinity in many ways as it is amongst everything as itself and is everything as not itself.
    generally speaking reality must be entire - there must only be one reality whatever god is he is in reality as everything else is.
    this analogy can explain the connection metaphorically, but what then is the candle? the whole argument seams to be circular. secondly let us say for point of discussion, that the candle is the reality between the two flames, we may still ask why is it that two flames are thought of as one being the continuance of the other. imagine if you will all flames across the universe all belonging to one candle! how does it make sense that we can pull out one flame and its apparent next incarnation from the zillions of others? there must remain a given factor by which the two are one. this is what viewing things universally achieves, so for me i will stick [at least until someone can show me why not] to the acorn and the oak analogy i.e. the seed and its matured/evolved form.

    ardenz
    good point! as someone brought up in an atheist family i can see that is certainly a major factor.
    perhaps atheists need to step back from this and view the whole think from an unattached perspective. it seams to me that there is so much emotion when ever atheists and theists confront each other these days. recently i was on a thread at another forum about the dawkins book, and people i had previously had a good rappor with suddenly changed as if a strong magnet had pulled everyone to one side or the other. fortunately we have all gone back to normal now, but there is definitely a strong dualistic in the sheer scale of the confrontation.

    ...more later, some posts i have yet to read.
     
  4. ardenz

    ardenz New Member

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    I have abandoned a forum that was getting like that. The spaghetti monster and purple leprechauns kept on getting thrown out into the argument. I think that Dawkins is getting a certain following, which seems to be verging on idolatry.
     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Agnideva,

    Thanks for that information. It does seem like a lot of what Gautama taught was in reaction to the religion he saw around him in India.

    Z, you said,
    "...i think we are humans eternally and didn’t exist on this earth until evolution reached humanity and in the corresponding form to the one we exist in now."
    --> If I remember correctly, you believe in a soul. Which do you think came first, the body or the soul?

    I am glad you like the idea of a group-soul, which is an important part of my belief system. When I watch schools of little fish swim, it seems they are of one mind and soul. Indeed, with the idea that one school of fish is one soul, it makes sense to me.
    "...i feel humanity can communicate with the highest...."
    --> I would think the highest would communicate with us when they want to, not the other way around.
    "... because we are the highest manifest 'form'!"
    --> Oh, I think there are forms higher than us (and formless entities even higher).
    "...generally speaking reality must be entire - there must only be one reality whatever god is he is in reality as everything else is."
    --> Wow, that is cool, that is exactly how I have it in my belief system (except for the words "god" and "He"). There is only one reality, and all of this is just an illusion.
    "...what then is the candle?"
    --> It is the thing from which the multiple flames emanate. I believe in a "soul" from which each different personality in each reincarnation emerges. But I guess that is not a part of your belief system?
    "...we may still ask why is it that two flames are thought of as one being the continuance of the other."
    --> I see it that way. You do not?
    "... imagine if you will all flames across the universe all belonging to one candle!"
    --> I do. Do you?
    "... how does it make sense that we can pull out one flame and its apparent next incarnation from the zillions of others?"
    --> Because an artificial sense of separateness is used, to make each flame think it is unique. Once sufficient strength of character is achieved, the artifical sense of separateness is no longer necessary, and it is discarded.
    "there must remain a given factor by which the two are one."
    --> The way I see it, there is such a factor.
    "this is what viewing things universally achieves...."
    --> I see it the same way — every separate "object" is merely an emanation from a single universal singularity.
    "it seams to me that there is so much emotion when ever atheists and theists confront each other these days."
    --> I think this Forum is dedicated to removing such animosity. Developing such friendship and communication is the most important thing we can do. Many of us stand for the idea of bringing religions together, not driving them apart.
     
  6. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Exactly... Some, may even have a lil feeling or something in their stomach or whatever telling them there might be a god.... Or they know, or whatever but to simply call themselves an atheist, they feel like they are getting at him? Maybe it is just me... I can't in my head identify say atheism to Judaism or Islam or whatever.. Maybe because I have a lack of experience with these religions or because I come from a nation which majority is christianity........ But atheism to me = attack on the christian god.. I dunno, Just trying to give some input, never of much use but hey! I try... and that is all baby jesus asks of us...
     
  7. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Hello Z - I was wondering, in your understanding that we are humans eternally would you differentiate at all between the body and the soul, or do you believe our consciousness to be a product of our current body only?

    Also if we are eternal, do you think we had any existance before that of human beings?

    Regards,

    Neemai :)
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    17th,

    I agree with you, which brings us back to the topic of this thread — atheists in Buddhism. There is room for atheists in Buddhism, while there is no room for atheists in Christianity. I see it as Christianity's loss and Buddhism's gain, which is OK by me.
     
  9. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    Nick.... atheists in Buddhism is a gain? How so?
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Yes, one can only react against the prevailing culture that one has been brought up in, whatever that is, Christian, Buddhist...

    s.
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Equally as sad, Buddhists are going to Hell but they deny it!

    I do wonder sometimes about how "Westerners" are perceived in this respect by people in Asia. Obviously it's impossible to generalise, but I will anyway :D ...no doubt there are Japanese people who worship at the shrine of Sony who see Buddhism as an old fashioned irrelevancy but then I have heard of Chinese people turning to Christianity in the face of government opposition...

    As the dharma has migrated it has always transformed in symbiosis with the indigenous culture and as the "West" is its "final" geographical port of call it's only to be expected that it will be "reinterpreted" by people in the West. If zen has effectively atrophied in Japan for instance, maybe the dharma may come to be re-imported there in its new Westernised form in the future...who knows...I am just rambling here...:)

    s.
     
  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Aye, I was possibly on the same one!:p


    The word is "religion". :rolleyes:

    s.
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    I understand (incorrectly?) that Hinduism is a bit of a catch-all term but I thought that whatever it was, it was the world’s oldest extant religion? Is not the Rig-Veda dated at around 1500 BCE, well pre-dating the Buddha’s lifetime at around 500 BCE?

    s.
     
  14. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    17th, you asked,
    "...atheists in Buddhism is a gain? How so?"
    --> There is no room for atheists in Chrisitianity, but there is room for them in Buddhism. Therefore, each atheist who joins Buddhism is a gain in membership for Buddhism, and is a loss in membership for Christianity.
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Snoopy, you said,
    "...Buddhists are going to Hell but they deny it!"

    --> I cannot tell if you are being serious or making a joke, so I will treat it as a joke.
    "...I have heard of Chinese people turning to Christianity in the face of government opposition..."

    --> I do not think the appeal of Christianity to people in China is a cultural thing. I think it is more (1) the offer of a personal relationship with a deity and (2) the simplicity of the Christian message. However, I still see large numbers of people in China still strongly devoted to their Buddhism. The membership in Christian churches would have to hit a certain number to show a significant change in the religious aspirations of people in China, and I do not think they have reached that number yet.
    "As the dharma has migrated it has always transformed in symbiosis with the indigenous culture and as the "West" is its "final" geographical port of call it's only to be expected that it will be "reinterpreted" by people in the West."

    --> As a matter of fact, the westernization of Buddhism is a big topic in Buddhism, and there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. It is a complicated and serious issue, which I feel does not have an easy solution.
    "If zen has effectively atrophied in Japan for instance, maybe the dharma may come to be re-imported there in its new Westernised form in the future..."
    --> If you mean Zen being re-introduced to Japan as a western philosophy (thereby re-invigorating it in Japan), I do not think that could ever happen.
     
  16. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Generally the safer bet with me!:)

    "Ever" is a very long time; or were you limiting your time frame to a certain number of kappas?;)

    s.
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Snoopy,

    Oh, I think Japan will disappear beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean long before this kalpa has run its course.
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    That's it, ever the optimist!!:D

    s.
     
  19. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick
    the soul as it is the body of the/from the seed [atom-self], the mind is in essence non physical and hence is both timeless [in base form] and not when encapsulated in form.
    absolutely, how else can it be understood properly but for a connecting mind. fish are quite individual too, so here perhaps we can see levels of the idea, ranging from non-individualistic then in degrees to very individual as with humans. not only are we individuals but we are all very much more different than any animal.
    hmm i meant on this earth we are the highest, equally so the human form i believe to be the most dextrous. a blob could be more so but it would loose out on its integrity of being as would formless entities. ‘god made us in his form’ to me is what i am saying here i.e. that we are perfectly dextrous and integral as he would be in his ‘shape’ [i am sure you know i am not talking about any given structure here].
    not quite what i meant, i think the universe and we are real, then ‘god’ shares the one reality that all things belong to.
    But I guess that is not a part of your belief system?
    i think it is, the difference is in how we see the flaming candle -so to say. a flame is a good reductionist visualisation as it is simple, we however are not. so for an amoeba it may be correct that there is virtually nothing that transmigrates its bodily forms, however for us there is the entire holistic being which composes the soul.
    when i imagine all flames across the universe [which i only do to keep the perspective simple] all being connected to a single candle, i can see no reason why there is more i.e. why one flame somehow hops from the candle to erm the candle again - it makes no sense whatsoever to me!?
    all things can be seen in the linear, the all, the empty and the universal.
    absolutely, generally speaking - outside of this forum - don’t you find that there is a bit of a duel going on and that it drags people to one side or another as duels do?
    neemai, hello
    i think much of our consciousness corresponds to the physical human form, which in turn corresponds to their eternal form. all i know is that when out of body i seam not much different irrespective of the fact that i no longer have form, although going back into the body is a bit like putting your old clothes back on after having a bath.
    as above it is all in the way we usually see things in the linear context, where we could marry the soul and the form.
    no, but the human ‘soul’ would be eternal and hence there would be no before or after.
    there are two ways i think of this:
    a, that the human soul is what we are both in and out of the physical body, and does not terminate when the physical does.
    b, the the human soul and the ‘god’ soul are in essence the same entity. thence the intermediate zone is a place where we transform from a to b, form human souls to the human soul.
     
  20. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hi Snoopy,
    Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is the collective term used today to describe the systems of beliefs and practices that come from the Vedas and Agamas. Some, however, claim that Hinduism did not exist until 200 years ago because the term ‘Hinduism’ was not in vogue before then. Others claim Hinduism did not exist before the Gupta Era because certain texts were not written until then. So, my point was to say that Hinduism did exist at all these periods, even during Buddha’s lifetime, although what name it went by, what books and philosophies were present, etc., may not have been the same as today.

    As for dating the Vedic texts, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. Generally, 1500 BCE onwards is accepted as a default by most history books. Some now believe the oldest parts may be much older than 1500 BCE. The 1500 BCE date is arrived at by assuming the so-called “Aryan Invasion”, which I am sure you’re familiar with. This theory is strongly questioned, if not rejected outright by many scholars these days. In any case, many of the texts of the Vedas were present during the Buddha’s lifetime (ca. 500 BCE), as has been noted already.

    Regards,
    A.
     

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