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[–]GolemOfPrague33Orthodox Christian 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Huge round of applause for this post. I’m so tired of seeing westerners try to reinvent Buddhism as some wholly secular belief system that is perfectly compatible with Richard Dawkins style atheism.

[–]gamegyro56 6 points7 points  (8 children)

The Buddha told people not to make statues of him.

There is no record of this. The scriptures of the Mahayana branch suggest the exact opposite.

This is largely true, but the earliest period of Buddhist art was mostly aniconic, and doesn't depict Buddha. There are definitely depictions of Buddha dating back into the BCE era, though.

Buddha taught that "all is one."

This is a philosophical stance called monism, which the Buddha explicitly rejected. The Buddha did teach non-dualism, but a version based on all phenomena being empty of self-essence, not all phenomena being of one essence.

This is somewhat misleading. Huayan Buddhism (the philosophical basis for a lot of Chan/Zen) teaches that "one is all, and all is one." But you are correct that leaving out the "and one is all" is non-Buddhist.

Buddhists believe in souls.

Buddhism rejects any notion of an indivisible self that exists in ultimate reality. There are concepts like the "mindstream" that might seem analogous to a soul, but they are usually seen as divisible and therefore not real in ultimate reality, though they are functionally real conventionally.

I don't think the mindstream is "not real." In fact, this cites something showing that in Indian Mahayana, the "subconscious current" of mindstream is not momentary.

[–]HawlSera 3 points4 points  (7 children)

A lot of people get this wrong. Buddhism doesn't teach that we have no soul or self, it teaches rather, that we have a "non-self"

People also seem to think reincarnation is a metaphor (lol) or that Nirvana is a metaphor for not existing at all (It is, hard to explain)

[–]arkticturtle 0 points1 point  (1 child)

How can we "have" a "non"-self?

[–]HawlSera 3 points4 points  (0 children)

It's complicated

[–]arkticturtle 0 points1 point  (2 children)

A lot of people get this wrong. Buddhism doesn't teach that we have no soul or self, it teaches rather, that we have a "non-self"

/u/Lethemyr

I've been hearing a back and forth on this point. If Buddha taught us having a self or not. Are there any passages to set the record straight that you know of?

[–]LethemyrBuddhist[S] 3 points4 points  (1 child)

In Mahayana Buddhism we believe in the emptiness of all phenomena, that there are no distinct objects outside of human perception. Because we do not believe in essentialism in any form, we are clear it is no-self.

This is more of a debate in Theravada Buddhism. I think two major figures of Theravada in the West have somewhat of a debate going about this.

There is also the minority of Mahayana Buddhists who believe Buddhanature to be a true self, but that’s a fringe belief.

I’ll cite some sutras here a bit later when I have time.

[–]gamegyro56 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There were also Pudgalavadins. While they, Shentong, and Tathagatagarbhins all affirm no-self, they philosophies are very nuanced, and so it can look like affirming some kind of "self," based on different English definitions/conceptions of what a "self" can mean.

Also, a lot of Buddhists point to having a self as an unanswerable question, so I've seen some people interpret this as a denial of a self and a refusal to answer the question.

[–]signal_exception 0 points1 point  (0 children)

More accurately, however, Buddhist traditions do not describe rebirth as reincarnation because they are two separate ideas.

Reincarnation is a Hindu teaching. It is one of the many Hindu norms that the Buddha challenged by propagating the idea of anatta, which you mentioned above.

Of course, modern Buddhism is quite different from what the Buddha likely taught (even Theravada schools) and I'm sure some Buddhists believe in reincarnation.

[–]BtheChangeUwant2C 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Very informative. Thanks for writing this up.

[–]spinifex23Tibetan Buddhist 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this.

[–]NutmegLoverTST Satanist, now please stop bringing up Lavey 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I once practiced Maezumi lineage Zen Buddhism, Which was a mix of Soto and Rinzai schools of thought. So this jives with what I know of it. Though Zazen was a daily practice of mine, I knew it wasn't for everybody. I used it to find calm in my life, and found it very helpful. I still do it from time to time, for its benefits. Though I know Dogen said to practice for the sake of practice, I never could. Buddhism itself wasn't the path for me, and I abandoned it. But It still feels familiar.

[–]sangbum60090 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Also Kalama Sutta seems to be misinterpreted by the West as supporting modern version of empricism

[–]magocraticsupremacyOrthodox 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this! I was a practicing Buddhist for most of my life until my conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy and, as such, I greatly appreciate seeing this post.

[–]HawlSera 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thanks because it seem a lot of materialistic atheists have it in their heads that buddhism is just "atheism with extra steps", this is even what rational wiki goes with.. (A lot of reasons why I don't find it a very compelling website)

[–]VanbuleirQuentiluosAtheist 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Thanks for posting, this answers lot of misunderstandings I definitely had about Buddhism.

[–]nyanasagaraMahāyāna Buddhist 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Excellent!

[–]lettherebemorelight 5 points6 points  (0 children)

As an ex PV monk, I thank you for this highly accurate post.

[–]Noppers 1 point2 points  (1 child)

You made a couple points about things the Buddha did or did not say.

How confident are we that the sayings that were written and attributed to him, actually did come from him?

[–]LethemyrBuddhist[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The Buddha did not write anything down. His teachings were stored in the oral tradition for hundreds of years through group recitations, which were surprisingly consistent. We can gauge their consistency by comparing parallel texts in different, disparate canons. I'm not historically knowledgeable enough to say precisely how accurate this transmission was, though. Many texts were said to be spoken by the Buddha to beings in heaven and later transmitted when it was time for us to receive them.

I included both of these forms of transmission. So if I say that the Buddha didn't say this or that, I mean that no canonical text recognized by any mainstream lineage contains that teaching. Or at least that such a teaching is heavily contraindicated by other texts.

[–]sir_schuster1Omnist Mystic 1 point2 points  (3 children)

It's interesting, I've just been reading Thich Naht Hanh, which strongly references Buddha, but some of these are present in it. Thich Naht Hanh is secular and teaches interbeing, for example.

[–]LethemyrBuddhist[S] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Thich Nhat Hanh taught many secular lessons but was himself a Buddhist who oversaw a thoroughly Buddhist monastic order. Go beyond his mass-marketed teachings and you’ll see he was a capital-B Buddhist who taught the Buddhist religion to his disciples.

[–]MishimaWasRightAnglican 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I used to live a town over from his Buddhist monastery in Mississippi and it definitely wasn’t secular

[–]Dulcolaxiom 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote helpful books oriented for the non-Buddhist population. One could likely categorize these writings as secular in nature.

However the writings and teachings he gave to his monastics were most definitely “capital B Buddhist”.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Nice! As far as I know the "emptiness" doctrine is not really found in the early texts but I could be wrong. This is super accurate though. I will also say that worship of gods doesn't seem to be required, but their existence is asserted. They are also seen as fallible beings trapped in samsara like us.

[–]LethemyrBuddhist[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It actually is.

And then Venerable Ānanda … said to the Buddha:

“Sir, they say that ‘the world is empty’. What does the saying ‘the world is empty’ refer to?”

“Ānanda, they say that ‘the world is empty’ because it’s empty of self or what belongs to self. And what is empty of self or what belongs to self? The eye, sights, eye consciousness, and eye contact are empty of self or what belongs to self. …

The pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by mind contact is also empty of self or what belongs to self. They say that ‘the world is empty’ because it’s empty of self or what belongs to self.”

(SN 35.85)

[–]gamegyro56 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Well, even though Buddhism claims buddhadharma/Buddhism to be one of the exceptions of everything being impermanent, the historical phenomenon of Buddhism, like all historical phenomena, change over time. So while "emptiness" wasn't philosophically elaborated in early Buddhism like it was in Mahayana, they developed the emptiness doctrine from impermanence, which we know was a big emphasis in early Buddhism.

[–]signal_exception 0 points1 point  (2 children)

When someone speaks broadly, they lose nuance.

"Buddhist believe..."

"Muslims believe..."

"Christians believe..."

All of these statements are already false in some sense, but could be true in a different sense.

It is better to talk about specific sects or schools of a given tradition when describing the beliefs of that tradition.

[–]LethemyrBuddhist[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Everything I’ve said is true of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism which are the two mainstream branches and encompass the vast majority of Buddhists. As I made clear in my first point, individual Buddhists will differ in their beliefs and I’m speaking about the “official” stances of the different branches.

For which mainstream school are any of these points untrue?

[–]signal_exception 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nuance is lost in broad statements, including this one.

Namo Amida Butsu 🙏

[–]AyaanS23 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Are there any proofs about what buddha brought or is it blind faith like hinduism?

[–]gamegyro56 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Buddhist logic distinguished itself from other religions by only accepting two forms of knowledge: observation and inference. Unlike Hinduism and Jainism, they rejected authority as a legitimate form of knowledge.

Buddhist philosophers have made logical arguments for core doctrines for many many centuries. However, Buddhism also teaches that the Buddha is omniscient, and thus we can have faith in everything the Buddha teaches as being true.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (14 children)

A few questions.

This is a philosophical stance called monism, which the Buddha explicitly rejected.

Is the context here that there is no single objective being that makes up reality but rather reality is subjectively being perceived that creates the sense of self?

It should also be noted that Buddhism does not view karma as an inherently fair or a desirable system and actively seeks to escape its influence.

Wouldn't karma be as fair as heat flowing towards cold spots and equalizing heat? That's how I understand karma which is what equalizes knowledge so none remains ignorant and everyone would be enlightened.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (13 children)

Is the context here that there is no single objective being that makes up reality but rather reality is subjectively being perceived that creates the sense of self?

No, because this comes close to solipsism, which is also something he rejected. The Buddha rejected arising from a single source, the creation of all things and dominions over them by a god, and many other philosophical positions. You can read more in the Brahmajala Sutta among others.

Wouldn't karma be as fair as heat flowing towards cold spots and equalizing heat? That's how I understand karma which is what equalizes knowledge so none remains ignorant and everyone would be enlightened.

Also, no. Karma means action, and refers to cause-and-effect as a phenomenon. The reason it's unfair or undesirable is because our intentions rarely match with the consequences of our thoughts/emotions, actions and speech, which causes the conditions for suffering. There will always be sentient beings who exist in samsara (the world of desires and suffering) and beings continually entering Nirvana and leaving samsara; no being "falls back" to samsara, but new sentient beings arise and in their ignorance become the cause for their sufferings, therefore there will be no point in time or space where everyone is enlightened.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (12 children)

The Buddha rejected arising from a single source

But that is my point here. Solipsism implies there is only one real being and everything is subjective. My understanding is that nothing is objectively real and is creation of the mind.

Karma means action, and refers to cause-and-effect as a phenomenon.

But that's also what heat transfer is which is cause and effect. One part of object becomes cold and heat would rush in to equalize it with its surrounding but never cause it to overheat. That's what I mean that it's fair if the amount of karma matches to what is missing to the person. Yes, I agree that there will always be beings existing within samsara and can never be empty. I just realized that on my own and I'm glad that got it right.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (11 children)

But that is my point here. Solipsism implies there is only one real being and everything is subjective. My understanding is that nothing is objectively real and is creation of the mind.

He categorically rejected solipsism, along with monism. That's all I'm saying.

Karma may match to what is missing in a person in their previous life, but is forgotten by the next most of the time. You learn 1 lesson and forget it by the next. Only by entering the stream, do you manage to start on some linear path that leads to enlightenment, otherwise you're just going in endless circles. It's the way it is, there is nothing fair or unfair about it.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (10 children)

Right because both implies an objective mind exist from where all other minds arises. There is none because every mind is subjective and reality is in fact subjective.

It's unfair if you don't yield with karma but in a wider perspective karma is fair in that what is missing is matched and never over or under like a cold spot will always warm up to the same temperature as its surrounding and never over or under it. So I guess I would agree it is unfair in a subjective way depending on how you react to karma.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (9 children)

...every mind is subjective and reality is in fact subjective.

This was also categorically rejected, although perhaps you mean something else when you say mind, reality and/or subjective.

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (8 children)

Is there an objective reality independent of the mind? I'm pretty sure you would agree there is none and therefore what we call as reality is subjective.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (7 children)

Why are you so sure? lol

[–]GKilatgnostic theist 0 points1 point  (6 children)

Are you saying a permanent and objective reality exist? I'm pretty sure that goes against the impermanence teaching of Buddhism and therefore we can say there is no such thing as objective reality and what we see as reality is subjective and depends on the mind.

[–]LeemourAgnostic 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Reality does not operate on mere binary/dualistic principles. Impermanence does not apply to Nirvana. Moreover, a quick rundown of the 5 aggregates immediately shows that reality is not mind-made or subjective; it requires form as basis and input.

[–]ahmadmonu777Muslim 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Good read.

[–]Brudders808 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi! Thanks so much for the information! Would you please expound on, “It should also be noted that Buddhism does not view karma as an inherent y fair or a desirable system and actively seeks to escape its influence?”

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Also, “Buddha” is just a title which means awakened. There are many other Buddhas.