Stephen Batchelor talks about Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.
According to Batchelor, the outlook of the Buddha was far removed from the religiosity that has come to define much of Buddhism as we know it today. He argues that the Buddha was a man more focused on life in this world than the afterlife.
Stephen Batchelor is an author and Buddhist scholar whose works include Living with the Devil and Meditation for Life.
Major world religion and philosophy founded in northeastern India between the 6th and the 4th centuries BCE. Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha, Buddhism takes as its goal the escape from suffering and from the cycle of rebirth: the attainment of nirvana. It emphasizes meditation and the observance of certain moral precepts. The Buddha's teachings were transmitted orally by his disciples; during his lifetime he established the Buddhist monastic order (sangha). He adopted some ideas from the Hinduism of his time, notably the doctrine of karma, but also rejected many of its doctrines and all of its gods. In India, the emperor Ashoka promoted Buddhism during the 3rd century BCE, but it declined in succeeding centuries and was nearly extinct there by the 13th century. It spread south and flourished in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and it moved through Central Asia and China (including Tibet; seeTibetan Buddhism), Korea, and Japan (seePure Land Buddhism; Zen). In the 19th century, Buddhism spread to Europe and the United States, and it became increasingly popular in the West in the second half of the 20th century. Buddhism's main teachings are summarized in the Four Noble Truths, of which the fourth is the Eightfold Path. Buddhism's two major branches, Mahayana and Theravada, have developed distinctive practices and unique collections of canonical texts. In the early 21st century, the various traditions of Buddhism together had more than 375 million followers.
In Hinduism, the religious and moral law governing individual and group conduct. It is treated in the dharmasutras, the oldest collection of Hindu laws, and in the compilations of law and custom called the dharmashastras. In Buddhism, dharma is the universal truth common to all individuals at all times, and it is regarded as one of the primary sources of Buddhist doctrine and practice. In Jainism, dharma signifies moral virtue as well as the eternal life force.
"Atheists dislike/hate people who are stupid enough to believe in God."
I find this humorously ironic coming from a college dropout and (former?) drug user who makes decisions by blindly placing his finger on a map. No wonder the Tibetan monks were so hesitant to formally indoctrinate him.
One is compelled to pity the blind man who walks about in perpetual darkness even while the sun shines upon his face. His ignorance does not discredit the validity of sight.
Many of us are concerned with morality, and still fight against the other in order to impose our views. Is Theism or Atheism the problem? Or people is the problem, and people creates problems with these concepts.
How can one recognise, identify what is right or wrong in a religion if one doesn't know already what is right and wrong? I still can't overcome this question.
Mr Sullivan it seems you are in dire need of an edifying exposure to the speeches and debates and writings of Christopher hitchens and Sam Harris. I recommend them both highly to you. Of course, what you get out of them is purely dependent on how blindly committed (or not) you are to the system of belief that you call 'Christian'.......or to put it more broadly (and I think, even more appropriately) to how committed you are to unquestioning Belief itself, as a system by which you intend to light your way in this world. If reason and reasonableness and rationality carried any weight with you, I'd say (with quite a bit of confidence) that you couldn't maintain your respect for Christianity (or any other Theistic belief) for very long after you have heard these gentlemen. Not because they are saying something which shouldn't have occurred to us anyway during our reading of the Christian Texts (if we were honest), but because they say these things in ways which simply cannot fail to appeal to our sense of logic - if we had any.
I'm guessing the
bits of moral insight
that you are referring to are not the bits (vast chunks actually) that recommend enslavement of others (so-called 'enemies'), ritual sacrifice, genocide and ethnic cleansing, sexual slavery and rape, the murder of children and kidnapping' - recommended by whom we might ask? By none other than the God of the Old Testament! - that is the same God that Christians worship.
If you do mean these bits together with anything else that might occur in the Bible, then I must say it would be impossible for me to find anything in your thinking worth respecting.
The Old Testament should by rights be consigned to the flames, and put on some list of proscribed texts in the register of some international humanitarian organ - perhaps the UN is the closest we can come to such a body. What a pity it is that this monstrous, evil set of books influenced for so long the practices and thought of so many generations of Christians. The world would almost certainly have been a better place for its omission or destruction had it been accomplished by some truly moral cleric. But then Christianity has been supremely lacking in such personages....with possibly one or two exceptions of the stamp of Francis of Assisi. The sayings of Christ too could do with some expurgating. Had some of his sayings been replaced by those of the Buddha or some of the sayings of Confucius, we could have had a far kinder and saner world.
Stephen Batchelor seems to seriously misunderstand the "issues" vocal proponents of atheism have with "God". Turns out, these people have absolutely no issues with God. How could they? They know, beyond any doubt that ever crosses their minds that God does not exist. What they have issue with, though, are the practical consequences of having too many fundamentalist believers in God, for which there are innumerable violent examples from history and last weeks newspaper.
One should think that somebody who has spent so much time on the teachings of the Buddha could spend a couple hours listening to 21st century atheists before making these kinds of naive comments which could easily have come from the pulpit of any average atheist hater. But one would obviously be wrong to assume so.
He also seems to believe that spirituality without some pre-fab religious framework is just not possible and that, if we have to throw out the monotheist religions, so be it, but then, please, let's at least replace them with Buddhism of one sort, or another.
Again, if he took the time to actually listen to any one of the most vocal people in the modern atheistic school of thought, he would find that they have more true spirituality in their little finger than can be found in the whole crowd of any evangelical megachurch.
So what is the problem here? Could it be that he realizes that atheists need Buddha about as much as they need Jesus?
Buddhism is just mysticism which is know nothingness and mumbo jumbo. Atheists are best served by adopting secular humanism. Forget Buddhism or even Toaism, btw Richard Carrier would tell you that Toaism is more compatible with modern atheism than Buddhism but still not enough, Carrier dropped the Toa and went secular humanist long ago.
God does not need our understanding of reality.
Our understanding is made in a very limited way.
It is not important what we grasp from the Universe.
We are part of it... but the Universe or Multi-Verse, is just a part of God.
Atheism must rely on the law. The same as Moses did. We have always had laws and it is those laws that are neither about property or Social discourse but such laws that are altruistic. So laws that determine equality between the sexes and protect children and generally protect the human community are profound and transcendant. Did God give us the law. No. The Judeo - Christian precepts are archetypal brought down through oral tradition. What practitioners of religions fear most is chaos. But I submit .. we do live in chaos. Controlled Chaos. It may take a generation or two or perhaps several hundred years but we all dance around the communal fire. Meditate on this ... The Bush administration created Chaos in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
I must admit I was somewhat challenged by the "karma consideration" in part because I have to reluctantly agree with Batchelor that it has "consoling value" when dealing with here-and-now suffering. However, as Ken Wilber makes clear in his article "A Spirituality that Transforms...": one of the primary functions of (exoteric) religion is to "translate reality" and to give human beings a means to function in a world that might otherwise be quite overwhelming for them (individually and/or collectively).
In addition, I have for a long time been aware that most people a) believe what they WANT to believe and b) believe certain ways because it has some benefit for them; like helping them cope with life, one way or another. Where they are sometimes very clear about their beliefs, they are not always as aware of how their beliefs serve them in this way. Furthermore, it doesn't really matter whether you are an Atheist or a Fundamentalist Christian, whatever it is you are choosing to believe is part of your "coping strategy" and such beliefs can be more or less effective in helping people cope with life.
What I will adamantly disagree with, however, is that the "fundamental condition" of incarnate life is "suffering". I have learned from Western-born Spiritual Master Adi Da Samraj that in fact, the underlying and "prior condition" of Reality Itself is Love-Bliss-Happiness. Furthermore, it is not an "absolute" state that exists apart from conditional reality, instead conditional reality arises in and is coincident with It. Consequently, what we experience as "suffering" is actually our reaction to incarnate existence, it is an active "contraction" of the psyche, a tendency to turn inward and avoid relationship with others and with reality itself. Adi Da Characterizes this activity as similar to the clenching of the fist, where the open hand is at ease and "one with" the body, the clenched fist is in pain and takes on a "self nature" that is seemingly "different" from the body.
The Buddhist Dharma, the Hindu Dharma, and the Christian Dharma are all teachings that address the life of human experience from the point of view of a problem or dilemma; the already clenched fist. Respectively, they attempt to solve the problem of suffering (from unfulfilled desires or illusory attachments), the problem of limited mind, and the problem of selfishness. However, as great as any of these teachings might be, they all originate from the point of view of life as a problem. What happens when one manages to transcend the limit of that most fundamental point of view ? What happens when one realizes that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with being human or the World and, therefore, no "method" or dharma is needed to solve such a presumed "problem"? What happens when one stops "clenching" in the first place?
There is another common understanding in all of these Great Traditions and Adi Da has reinforced that in His Communications as well: We Become What We Meditate On. Therefore, if we persist in meditating on "life as suffering" or "life as a problem" or human beings as being fundamentally flawed and in dilemma, then that is what we will continue to manifest and experience.
Therefore, with respect to my own inclusion of a belief in karma and reincarnation as part of my overall coping strategy it really is secondary to this broader "point of view"; i.e. whatever my suffering, as long as my most persistent meditation, my "counter egoic effort" is focused on Love-Bliss-Happiness - on identifying with That as an Always Already Prior state, even in the midst of "whatever arises," then That will be my experience now and ultimately, whether "I" am "in" or "out" of "this World".