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More on ‘secular buddhism’

May 24th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Richard comments on ‘a secular buddhist’:

Richard Submitted on 2011/05/24 at 6:46 am
“Secular Buddhism is about a practice of getting a better handle on one’s mind, not unverifiable supernatural claims of rebirth.”

The problem with contemporary “secularists” is that they think they’ve reached the pinnacle of sophistication in human thought when they’re really quite primitive in their thinking and represent decline (read Nemo’s post to read about the declines that occur after the eonic transitions). Nemo has pointed out the decline from Kant/Schopenhauer, but one could also point to J.G. Bennett. As Nemo has pointed out, you have to take most of what he wrote as science fiction, but at the same time you can see echoes of some type of future science that is currently lightyears beyond our understanding. The point is that current definitions of “supernatural/natural” are quite primitive and impoverished compared to the thinking that emerges from the thought of Kant, Schopenhauer, Samkhya, Bennett, etc.

What passes for “secularism” in the public arena is really just the mirror image of Christianity: a pre-packaged set of simplistic metanarratives for the masses. There is nothing wrong with that, but lets be honest: this is not a form of thought that is spawned by men with “higher consciousness.” If I were you, I wouldn’t get too comfortable…current “secularists” might represent a type that is an evolutionary dead end.

Good comment: I think that the term ‘secular’ has been kidnapped by the cult of scientism, and that anything that doesn’t conform is not ‘secular’. But that is nonsense. If we look at the rise of the modern, and the enlightenment we see great diversity, a shotgun dialectic.
Who could be more ‘secular’ than Schopenhauer, who unwittingly produced a perspective that might help those conditioned by science to get a handle on questions of self in space and time, and/or beyond.
Bennett and the sufis are of course different from the Buddhists, but a close look at, say, Gurdjieff’s book shows the theme of Beelzebub’s ‘reincarnations’, although Gurdjieff like many sufis evades the use of the term.

The sufist tend to speak of ‘soul’ and the creation of souls. But their hidden world is hard to figure, and wrecked by endless disinformation.
Best to consider the Indic tradition: it is more open and direct, and always speaks of rebirth. The framework of Schopenhauer shows at once how simple the reality might be.
I also think that physics is just on the borderline of showing the dimension beyond the space-time framework.

To attempt to turn Buddhism into a sanitized product along the lines of the New Atheism won’t work, and the result will be a religion that doesn’t work any more. In fact, this has always happened as Buddhism transits out of India. With the exception of the South Indian zone of Hinayana, exported Buddhism always gets rewritten out of existence, and produces no Buddhas. The legacy of Zen, I don’t know, but it is probably a brief exception.
It is hard to say how to proceed here, since this kind of wiseacring of Buddhism is really a strategy to coopt and destroy it: it is a considerable threat to the realm of scientism. The disastrous reaction could be a Buddhist fundamentalism trying to preserve still another corrupted version as the ‘tradition’.
But I think that these shenannigans won’t work.
I think that beliefs about rebirth are instrinsic to Buddhism, but if you are not privy to real knowledge here, you can certainly still be a Buddhist. But I would suggest that one take the issue of rebirth as a ‘rumor’ that won’t go away. Those who have verified that reality are rare, even in buddhism, but their testimony should be a caution to the confusions now spread by Steve Batchelor. Be wary of his formulation. He is innocently trying to reconcile science reductionism and buddhism, but it won’t work.

As to Hinduism and Buddhism, Richard is right. The emergence of Buddhism is more like a resurfacing of Jainism, and in fact the tale goes that many disciples of Buddha and Mahavir interacted and visited each others’ assemblies. Buddhism is thus more of a brand of the classic Jain/Shaivite tradition of yoga/tantra, which was not invented by ‘Hinduism’.
The best term here might be the one Indians often invoke: Santana dharma, which stands beyond all the manifestations of Indian religion.

The confusion here is compounded by the fact that, as noted, exported Buddhism, tends to get dead batteries, while the native tradition in India, falsely labelled Hinduism, often produces exemplars in spite of itself, generation after generation. The reality is very complex and opaque for outside students.

I sometimes wonder if a genetic change hasn’t occured here in the very long legacy of Indian relgion, faciliatating the states of samadhi that token the realm of the enlightened.

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