Buddhism

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Shamus, Jun 4, 2006.

  1. Shamus macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

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    #1
    Greetings to all.

    Now before I start, I would just like to say that I don't mean this thread to become a debate over superior religions or beliefs. :)

    I am an atheist, but lately I have been looking at the Buddhist belief as something that I believe in. Personally, I dont regard Buddhism as a religion, because of the absence of a God. I more look on it as a lifestyle, a quest to enlightenment.

    I have researched some of the basic pages the net has to offer about what the Buddhist belief is about, and so far have found it to be accurate to what I would like to achieve in my life, and the morals that I would like to live by. I also meditate, which is another practice that the Buddhists advocate.

    So,
    Are there any buddhists in MR that could offer some advice, or more detailed knowledge of what buddhism is all about? Are there some things about Buddhism that I should know about, considering I am an athiest, and dont believe in a God?

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated. :) :)
     
  2. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #2
    You might start with Ken Wilber. Very good author.
     
  3. Shamus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

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    #3
    Thanks for the quick response. Ill definitely check Ken Wilber out at the library tomorrow.

    EDIT: fixed type as pointed out by netdog.
     
  4. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #4
    I think that's Wilber
     
  5. goodnbr macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Right track


    It appears that you have the idea correctly fixed in your mind. Since god does not exist, then religion is a term that strictly applies to belief systems. Thus, the essence of what is deemed religion today is extremism at best.

    I lived in Korea for a year and Japan for 5 years (not military) and found that the buddhist beliefs can vary a great deal there. Please do not be gullible enough to think that there is not rampant corruption in this system as well, though. A monk driving a Ferrari should suffice as proof.

    At any rate, my point is to take the belief system for your own, keep it to yourself, and only share ONLY it if someone asks. Do not construct altars or idolize a figurehead, yet believe that the system is something you enjoy living with.

    Many may disagree with this approach, but I view anyone who spreads a belief system to others without being asked as a zealot. If it is a strong belief you need or want, it should belong only to you. Another person cannot share your spirituality as it is the most personal thing that exists, and it is what makes you unique.

    Of course, the zealots will disagree and make a spectacle of doing so.
     
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #6
    Someone told me that in order to be a true Buddhist, you cannot "want" things. I'm not talking about food when you're hungry, or water when you're thirsty. I'm talking about.....oh......things that tempt you. We can call give these things a generic name......oh......maybe "apples." We can't desire "apples." :eek:

    Oh, and it's not good enough to TRY and not desire them, because it means that you do desire material things. You actually need to genuinely not care at all.....like, don't even give these material objects a second thought.

    After this moment, as hard as I thought I could be a Buddhist, I knew I couldn't do that. I like "apples." :eek:

    I'm not sure if what I was told was accurate, but someone else told me something similar (although less extreme).
     
  7. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    #7
    When I was an undergraduate, I spent about six months studying and "practicing" Buddhism. I didn't have a teacher other than myself, and I found that, at 20, I didn't have the dedication necessary to engage what would have been a significant shift in lifestyle.

    I shy away from Buddhism today because of the third noble truth. Having been raised Catholic I have no problem accepting that "all is suffering," but I'm not sure I want to transcend that suffering. As ridiculous as that sounds, suffering has really been ground into my identity.

    I guess that probably doesn't help you. If Buddhism seems both tangible and liveable -- if you can make that commitment -- well, I envy you for being able to explore ways of thinking and being that I can't explore in myself. My friend's younger brother -- who went to an excellent university with a very job-focused major and who is really a brilliant kid -- just gave up everything that composes the "comfortable American life" to become a Buddhist monk in Germany.

    What's more beautiful than tossing off the shackles of conformity and commiting yourself to what you've come to believe?

    Isn't it just falling in love?
     
  8. amateurmacfreak macrumors 6502a

    amateurmacfreak

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    #8
    Some Buddhist philosophies are amazing, and the ideas for the path to enlightenment is, imo, great.
    Maybe to be a strict Buddhist you shouldn't want things, but it's obviously okay to still study Buddhism and to take a part in the enlightenment. :)
     
  9. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #9
    Buddhism is ok, but the belief that suffering is caused by desire is kind of limiting. I mean, maybe life is suppose to have suffering . Builds character. And without desire, what point is there to life? Enlightenment's overrated anyway IMO. Try Taoism. Start with the Tao of Pooh (yeah, that's right, that Winnie The Pooh) and go from there. Sounds like it might be more of what you're looking for.

    There's an old Taoist saying: 3 holy men were making vinegar. The Buddhist tasted and it and winced, saying it was too sweet. The Confucian tasted it and also winced, saying it was too bitter. The Taoist tasted it and thought it was just right. Think about it.
     
  10. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #10

    There's also some reference in various buddhist texts to the idea that you don't need to give up your life or your position in the world to be a buddhist...if you can do good in the position you are in, then you should stay there. I forget which text I read it in, but it references a conversation between Buddha and a wealthy man who asks if he should give up his fortune.

    I am also a novice student of Buddhism; I find it to be a useful guide in the world, and a philosophy far richer than "life is suffering, to overcome suffering give up desire." It depends on which sect of buddhism, and which buddhists, etc you read but you can study and try to follow the precepts of buddhism even if you can't/don't believe enough to achieve enlightenment. For me, as I said, I find it to be a multi-layered philosophy, and one that I am sufficiently interested in to want to read more. And if that leads me to identifying and practicing as a Buddhist, so be it. if it leads me to other eastern religions/philosophies and/or to amalgating my own, then it still serves me well.

    Finally, I recommend "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Suzuki...it is a great read about zen buddhism, meditation, etc.
     
  11. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #11
    Good luck with your Buddhist quest. It won't help you find "enlightenment". What will help is to inquire into what is "I". and what is the relationship of "I" to "the World".

    You won't get anywhere until you discern what exacategly is the fundamental human problem. Understand this if nothing else...there is nothing to do, only something to know. The solution to the human problem is one of knowledge not action.
     
  12. Shamus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

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    #12
    Thank you SO much for the comments. They have helped clarify things to a great extent. REALLY appreciated. :cool:

    I can relate to every post so far, which is helping me identify what buddhism is about. I will definitely research into the topic further, and read the literature suggested. (reading about Taoism now). :)

    I have a question though. What is enlightenment? dogbone, you said that Buddhism will help we find the relationship between 'I' and "the World". Isnt that what enlightenment is anyway? At least, thats all I really expected to get out of practicing Buddhism anyway.

    As many people have pointed out, some of the Buddhist beliefs are amazing, and some of them 'not so clear'. Such as "suffering is derived from desire". It does seem odd at first, but when you think about it, it does make sense (to me partially at least). Wether you desire something or not, if you make correct decisions, it will happen anyway. But if you desire it, it can cause you to make different decisions, affecting the eventual outcome, thus causing suffering. Does that make sense to anyone?

    Thanks again for all the reply's, it is helpful to get everyones perspective. :)
     
  13. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #13
    "enlightenment" is a very crap word but I would say 'enlightenment' is simply knowing what is. I can say for certain though that enlightenment will never be about a belief. I did not say that Buddhism will help we (sic) find the relationship between 'I' and "the World", if you think that is what I said after reading my post then how are you going to understand anything?. Not understanding is far better than misunderstanding. At least if you don't understand something you can inquire further, but if you think you've understood and you haven't then...

    Buddhism is just another 'enlightenment trip' that will just waste your life.
    I would say that a journey of (grimaces) "enlightenment", begins with an analysis of what one wishes to achieve. That is, what is it that one wants. This can be worked out by simply analysing the things one does. And analysis of 'means' and 'ends'. In fact everyone want the same thing if you analyse it. Everyone wants to be free from the feeling that they are a 'wanting' person.

    What is all this obsession with 'beliefs' I'll never understand it. Who in their right mind would want to 'believe' anything? I want to understand not believe.
    For fracks sake, this business of 'not desiring' is such a load of malarky. It only takes the most cursory of analysis to show what a load of codswallop it is and one can extrapolate that anyone who pushes this absurd line hasn't got a fracking clue what they are talking about. It's no wonder it is confusing. There is nothing like clarity.
     
  14. amateurmacfreak macrumors 6502a

    amateurmacfreak

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    #14
    To me, enlightenment does have to do with telling me my relationship to the world. I think enlightment is all about understanding certain beliefs that I hold, and understanding my relationship to the world helps me solidify my place.
    The Buddhist teaching I've found to be most enlightening about my relationship to the world is that there is no "self." The idea of only existing in our relationships, while also perhaps scary, also seems to me to be awesome and beautiful, showing the interconnectedness of everything. Let it be understood that I don't think we only exist in our relationships with humans: I believe we also exist in our relationships with absolutely any of our surrounding, and I believe that the stronger a relationship is the more that one exists in it.
     
  15. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #15
    Understanding beliefs, is an oxymoron. If you understand there is no need to believe. Conversely if you believe then you do not understand or you wouldn't need to believe.
     
  16. cait-sith macrumors regular

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    #16
    Well said. That was a beautiful moment of truth.

    I think you're just bored. Why don't you go do something worthwhile and leave the circular answers of life to the lunatics? It's possible that we are all going to be miserable some times and happy other times. That's life. Your only real decision is whether you will spend a lot of time troubled by the very fact that you exist, or if you will spend that time doing enjoyable things.

    Maybe you just want a credo, or set of principals to live by? Those are hard to come by.
     
  17. unfaded macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Bull. Understanding does not equal belief. You can understand another's beliefs without them being applicable to yourself.

    You can't believe everything you understand, and if you can only understand your own beliefs, you are a very poor excuse for a human.
     
  18. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #18
    I was going to point out that I was not refering to 'understanding' as in 'having empathy for' but rather 'comprehending a fact', but I really didn't think it was necessary as it seemed fairly obvious from the context I quoted from. But clearly I did need to point this out.


    Let's take relativity theory. It says that the speed of light is absolute and that time and space is bendy. That we could both witness two events and I see A happen before B and you see B happen before A. Now even Newton would not accept this. If you go to study it at university imagine if after the lecture you said to the professor. "Yes I believe you now"

    He would say, "idiot", I don't want you to believe me, I want you to understand me. You see if there is something to understand then there is nothing to believe. You can only speak of 'understanding a belief', in the sense that you may understand how the Ancient Egyptian beleifs shaped their society. That sort of thing. But you don't actually 'understand' the belief per se because it's a belief. Meaning there is only something to believe, not understand. Sorry to labour this point but one needs to be clear.
     
  19. thevessels macrumors regular

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    #19
    i dont think life is ever understandable when you get down to it . at the end of the road you'll always be faced to make a decision in your heart as to what you believe based on virtually no hard facts whatsoever . just my random 2cents
     
  20. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

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    #20
    But there is one hard fact. In fact it is the only thing that you know for certain. You don't need to be taught it, either. You exist. What this you is that exists you may not be sure of at all, but that you exist, is the single undeniable universal Truth. You cannot deny you exist, not seriously anyway.
     
  21. thevessels macrumors regular

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    #21
    your right i totally agree , which then ( to me ) i ask the most obvious question , which is , why ? which i suppose fuels a lot of for the ( sometimes lifelong ) answer , being found in religion , or whatever you choose . i think thats another "key" truth to remember we have . we have a choice in life :)
     
  22. Shamus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

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    #22
    You make excellent points dogbone. It sounds as if you are scientific/logical at heart, much like me.

    I have been thinking the exact same things as what you are putting forward, but intend to look at 'belief' and 'buddhism' through other perspectives, before making a decision to follow these beliefs or not.

    But at the same time, I would also like to learn about other ways of looking at life, which is why I have been looking at Buddhism. You can never truly understand, unless you have looked at something from different views. And understanding is my main goal through experimenting with different beliefs or understandings or whatever you want to call it.

    Sorry if you took my response to your initial post out of context, because I was not saying that I was right, merely questioning - trying to understand what you were saying.

    Regardless, thanks for your perspective.
     
  23. thevessels macrumors regular

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    #23
    one thing we can agree on is that there is no way the earth was formed by chance right ? like , cammon , thats crazy ... ( can of worms slooowly opening )
     
  24. Shamus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

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    #24
    I think it could certainly be by chance if there are indeed other life-harbouring planets/worlds out there, in either our own universe or some other universe in a network of multiverses. :)
     
  25. dogbone macrumors 68020

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    #25
    The "why" is irrelevant. Unless one needs to ask it in the context of finding purpose, to life. In this respect (of purpose) I think it is relevent to look at human beings. If there is a purpose for a human being then it must have something to do with being a human being. Further since there is really only a single fundamental difference between human and non human animals, that purpose must revolve around this peculiar difference. This difference is the very same thing that leads one to ask the question in the first place.

    Human beings differ from other animals in that they have a fully developed sense of the self. Meaning, they are not only aware but they are conscious of their own awareness as an awareful presence. This causes some problems that are unique to human beings. One of them being an insecurity that can be projected way off into the future. In fact this fundamental insecurity if what is behind all the man made suffering and inhumanity in the world.

    But the solution to this fundamental problem caused by our sense of the self is also solved by the ability of this sense of self to inquire into the fundamental problem and discover the Truth of who we really are. It is very clear what we appear to be, but are we what we appear to be? It was obvious to Newton that the speed of light is relative. It's so obvious in fact that you do not need any scientific training to know it. But it's wrong. Quite often in fact what is obvious is wrong.

    When you come to understand that a table, while appearing solid is in fact at a fundamental level mostly empty space, you still see it as solid but you understand it's relative reality.

    So the purpose in life is to solve the fundamental human problem. But it is a peculiar problem in that our normal ways of solving problems is to use Perception and Inference. But that won't work in this case because the subject is the object. This is usually from my observations an insurmountable problem to grasp. A bit like a video camera being unable to view itself. The self cannot be objectified. But it need not be because it is self evident. Unlike everything else. There are ways of peering into this enigma and the way is with words. Words have a peculiar ability to reveal things that can only be conceptualised, without being objectified.

    If the peculiar nature of the human problem is not grasped then one is doomed to for ever being a 'seeker', looking for 'enlightenment' and if one does not go for the religious option whose solution is an unsatisfactory "beleive me", one ends up with the cute sounding but laughably meaningless aphorisms of Buddhism.

    If you buy a mirror from a shop you will look at the mirror. Notice if it has any scratches or other marks, if it has a tint or perhaps a bevelled edge. But once you buy the mirror and put it on your wall you don't look at the mirror any longer. When you look at the mirror you look at yourself. Or rather a reflection of yourself. Words can be like that. A word mirror if you like. The words are not you but they can reveal something of what you really are. If they are wielded properly. The person wielding the words that supposedly reveal the truth of your true nature needs to be very clear and unambiguous. They need to know what they are talking about. Fuzzy words like 'divine', 'supreme' etc really have no place here.

    The real joke in all this is that all anyone really want's is to be not wanting. And we do have those moments occasionally in life. It is perhaps because we have occassionally and accidentally tasted our heights that no one will happily settle for less. I'll let you in on a little secret. You already are what you want to be, you just don't know it. This is why the problem is one of knowledge not of actions. If anyone ever tells you that you need to do anything, they you can be sure they are talking rubbish.
     

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