Author Topic: Secular Buddhism  (Read 639 times)

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Offline Billzbub

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Secular Buddhism
« on: March 28, 2017, 11:45:39 AM »
A post in another thread made me curious, so I looked up Secular Buddhism on wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Buddhism

Do any of you have any experience or anecdotes about this concept?  Does it seem like a legit thing, or is it pointless trying to take the supernatural out of something largely based on it?  It seems similar to me to Chiropractic where one could wonder how useful it would be if all the woo was removed.  At what point do you just chuck the whole idea and start from the ground floor with a new approach?

I'm not really interested in it as something I want to do, but rather as something I'm curious about.

Online Andrew Clunn

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 11:59:09 AM »
Do they still ascribe to the Sutras or Suttas?  If you drop the "holy text" thing, then feel free to do whatever you want.  Of course why you then need to keep the label is beyond me.  It's odd, but my issue with this is largely based on people creating obfuscating language.  There's a label, it means something, why are you making it confusing by trying to redefine it?  It feels like something between false advertisement and PC terminology.
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Online daniel1948

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 12:39:36 PM »
I like the Buddhists I've met. They seem to be nice people who subscribe to the notion of trying not to hurt other people. But my limited and flawed understanding of Buddhism is the philosophy that life is suffering and nothing is permanent (both of which I agree with) and that we are reborn multiple times and the objective of life is to end the cycle, achieve enlightenment, and not be reborn anymore, none of which I agree with.

If you remove the whole reincarnation and enlightenment thing, can you really call it Buddhism any more? What is meant by "spirituality" if not an assertion that there's something outside the material world of physics?

If a person thinks that Jesus was a cool dude, and agrees with his ethical teachings, but does not believe in God and does not believe that Jesus died for our sins or that he was resurrected after three days, can that person reasonably call himself a "secular Christian"? Well, he can if he wants to, but I would disagree with the label. (Caveat: The Marcionites believed that Jesus didn't actually die, since they reject the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ. But they do believe that he was God and the Savior and that he absolved us of our sins. But the Pauline Trinitarians wiped them out, as they wiped out all other competing Christianities. In any case, they certainly were not secular.)

I like "secular" Buddhists just as I like regular Buddhists (and Wiccans, for the same reasons) but I think they're all nuts, as far as their rejection of science goes. I suppose a skeptic who believes in being nice to people and trying not to cause harm to others might choose to call himself a secular Buddhist, and I would not disagree with him about anything other than the odd choice to use a term that is ambiguous if not actually contradictory.
Daniel
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Online Ah.hell

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 12:42:37 PM »
Most Asian Buddhists I've known are basically secular Buddhist in the same way that a lot of European Christians are secular christians.  They celebrate a few holidays and pretty much ignore it otherwise.

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2017, 01:15:22 PM »
I would say that if I subscribed to any religion I would be a secular Buddhist. Many westerners understand intrinsically the differences and variations in Christianity, but tend to view other world religions as monolithic. I would say Buddhism is just as well misunderstood as Islam, though without the disastrous consequences.
There was quite a long period where my skepticism and Buddhism overlapped, and I find them to be wholly compatible. Even the Buddha is famous for saying don't take my word for it, go out and find it for yourself. So much of the nature worship and reincarnation are cultural additions, though there are plenty of "original" teachings that border on mysticism. But not all Buddhists believe in spirits or even reincarnation, and karma does not have to be understood as a mystical force, but as a very real way to view actions in the material world.

I don't belong to a Secular Buddhist group or anything, but I understand it well enough and to a degree even practice it still to this day. If you have a specific question I can try to answer it.  ;D
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Online Mr. Beagle

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2017, 01:16:59 PM »
A secular Buddhist friend compared this to ancient literature, which he also taught. You are using ancient texts to draw yourself into a known psychological state of bliss.

Love is the same way. The bliss of intimacy masks the bad breath and farts of reality.
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Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2017, 01:27:06 PM »
A secular Buddhist friend compared this to ancient literature, which he also taught. You are using ancient texts to draw yourself into a known psychological state of bliss.

Love is the same way. The bliss of intimacy masks the bad breath and farts of reality.
As a fundamentalist nutjob on a plane once told me "Buddhism is a 'do' religion, but Christianity is a 'done' religion." In that all the hard work of self improvement has already been done before you by Christ and all that you have to do is open your heart to him. Buddhism requires you to struggle all your life to achieve enlightenment.  ::) I nodded politely and put on my headphones after that. Fucking wanker.  :laugh:
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Online Desert Fox

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2017, 01:42:41 PM »
I like "secular" Buddhists just as I like regular Buddhists (and Wiccans, for the same reasons) but I think they're all nuts, as far as their rejection of science goes. I suppose a skeptic who believes in being nice to people and trying not to cause harm to others might choose to call himself a secular Buddhist, and I would not disagree with him about anything other than the odd choice to use a term that is ambiguous if not actually contradictory.

As a former Wiccan, I cannot see being a Secular Wiccan. . . . .The trappings would be great to piss off Christians however  ;D
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2017, 01:46:03 PM »
Does secular Buddhism involve being able to bend swords with your throat?
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Online Ah.hell

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2017, 01:49:32 PM »
A secular Buddhist friend compared this to ancient literature, which he also taught. You are using ancient texts to draw yourself into a known psychological state of bliss.

Love is the same way. The bliss of intimacy masks the bad breath and farts of reality.
As a fundamentalist nutjob on a plane once told me "Buddhism is a 'do' religion, but Christianity is a 'done' religion." In that all the hard work of self improvement has already been done before you by Christ and all that you have to do is open your heart to him. Buddhism requires you to struggle all your life to achieve enlightenment.  ::) I nodded politely and put on my headphones after that. Fucking wanker.  :laugh:
Obviously a protestant, Catholicism is still a do religion. 

My understanding is that Buddha was fairly ambivalent towards gods.   His attitude seemed to be something like gods probably exist but are irrelevant to humanities well being.

Bending swards is more secular Daoism.  All the qi stuff. 

Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2017, 02:37:22 PM »
Meditation's real.  They're mental exercises. I did mindfulness meditation for a brief while and it made me about 10% happier/calmer, in a nutshell.

Here's a write-up I made in another thread:

Quote
I recommend it.  It's an attentional-control exercise. 

On reflex, your brain gives attention to stimulus.  Since attention fuels reaction, negative stimulus can elicit negative reactions: anger, anxiety, stress, etc.  This is the problem that Mindful Meditation addresses.

The protocol entails continually redirecting attention from distractions to breath.  There's important nuance here.  When you experience a distraction, which you will (constantly), you just non-judgmentally acknowledge the distraction and calmly point attention back at breath.  That's the only action you perform.  You're not trying to keep a stranglehold on the full breadth of attention, you're not trying to keep it all forced on breath or anything else.  Those are all separate actions.  You're not thinking about the past or future, about boredom or bodily sensations.  You're just calmly, peacefully co-existing with the present moment and making your attentional-control faculty do push-ups.

Ideally, you get to the point where you're equipped to peacefully co-exist with anything.

I'll add two comments:
  • It relaxes the hell out of my mind every time I do it, and stuff from my subconscious pops up all the time. I'm convinced the subconscious isn't terribly different from the conscious, that it's just a question of prominence. Are these particular ideas and memories and emotions prominent enough, or fully formed enough, to garner attention and therefore be noticed? As your brain relaxes, the threshold between 'will be noticed' and 'will not be noticed' drops. Your default state is [Only notice the loud and fully-formed]. Meditate and you may get weird shit popping up.
  • Everything is a distraction for the purposes of this meditation.  Even automatic comprehension of what people are saying around you.  Iirc, this is where the, "Ohmmm is the sound the universe makes," thing comes in.  Everything you perceive is created by mind.  Without mind's interpretation, it's all transient noise.  Attention fuels reaction, including the mind's interpretation.  Without attention, it's all *ohmmmmm*. 
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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2017, 03:58:06 PM »
...
I don't belong to a Secular Buddhist group or anything, but I understand it well enough and to a degree even practice it still to this day. If you have a specific question I can try to answer it.  ;D

Question: What does "practicing" secular Buddhism entail?
Daniel
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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2017, 04:23:44 PM »
...
I don't belong to a Secular Buddhist group or anything, but I understand it well enough and to a degree even practice it still to this day. If you have a specific question I can try to answer it.  ;D

Question: What does "practicing" secular Buddhism entail?

There are "practicing" secular Jews who do not believe there is a god but follow the rituals. I imagine this would be the same, going to Buddhist temples, ringing gongs, etc just because it feels good to them.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2017, 05:31:48 PM »
...
I don't belong to a Secular Buddhist group or anything, but I understand it well enough and to a degree even practice it still to this day. If you have a specific question I can try to answer it.  ;D

Question: What does "practicing" secular Buddhism entail?
Basically meditation, mindfulness and compassion.
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Online daniel1948

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Re: Secular Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2017, 05:38:36 PM »
...
I don't belong to a Secular Buddhist group or anything, but I understand it well enough and to a degree even practice it still to this day. If you have a specific question I can try to answer it.  ;D

Question: What does "practicing" secular Buddhism entail?

There are "practicing" secular Jews who do not believe there is a god but follow the rituals. I imagine this would be the same, going to Buddhist temples, ringing gongs, etc just because it feels good to them.

Other than using the holidays as an excuse to have a party or stay home from school, I've never known a secular jew who followed the rituals. 2 or 3 years when I was in my early teens I insisted we have a menorah and I lit the candles, but I definitely did not follow the ritual because I didn't say the prayers (which I didn't know anyway) and I'm sure I lit them wrong. And I was a kid who didn't know any better. And we always had a Christmas tree and presents even though we were atheist Jews, because we were in the U.S. and the U.S. has Christmas. We also had chocolate rabbits on Easter, a tradition I still maintain, because any excuse to eat chocolate.
Daniel
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