Overwhelmed by Hindu thought
#11
In his Handbook of Christian Apologetics Peter Kreeft lists something like ten reasons reincarnation doesn't make sense but in my opinion his fatal flaw is that Buddhists do NOT believe in reincarnation. Yes that's right, they do NOT believe in reincarnation because at bottom they do not believe in an immortal soul that can actually get born in another body. At least that is the official line that some Buddhists use. How one can have to suffer another life if there is no soul to get born is beyond me but you will not reach certain Buddhists, especially those that are serious Theravada adherents if you don't try to understand that they see some sort of distinction between "rebirth" and "reincarnation" I direct you to the www.accesstoinsight.org website where you can search about "rebirth" and see if you can make sense of this. I have often seen non Buddhists treating Hindu reincarnation as the same thing as Buddhist "rebirth" but at least as far as it goes in the eyes of some Buddhists this will not fly.
Reply
#12
FB,

I have not studied sufficiently on the topic, but the understanding I have is that the main stream of Buddhism holds that the ultimate deliverance, so to speak, is to escape existence at least to the extent of self-awareness.  Is this an accurate depiction of its philosophy?
Reply
#13
(01-19-2012, 09:13 PM)kingtheoden Wrote: FB,

I have not studied sufficiently on the topic, but the understanding I have is that the main stream of Buddhism holds that the ultimate deliverance, so to speak, is to escape existence at least to the extent of self-awareness.  Is this an accurate depiction of its philosophy?

I would say that you are right about this. The goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, the "deathless", "extinction."  Buddhists believe that ignorance and craving drive the wheel of existence and once you cut it off through seeing that, in the words of the late Thai monk Ajahn Buddhadasa "nothing is worth wanting, nothing worth being or becoming" somehow you enter into this state of nothingness that is supposed to be perfect stillness and peace. The means to this extinction are self denial and meditation. One thing Buddhists reflect on is what are known as "The Dhamma Summaries" which are pretty much summed up here:

The world is swept away
it does not endure
there is no protector, no shelter,
there is no one in charge
the world is insufficuent, a slave to craving.


When you reflect on everything, including life in general as being ultimately swept away by aging, illness and death you reach a state that is called in the Pali language "samvega" which means something like "disgust" or "dispassion". When you reach this state you just want to esacpe and are willing to do anything to do it. Because traditional Buddhist posits a hell (it's not eternal of course) for suicides the only way out is to practice Buddhism and meditate and try to "escape" while you still have the chance in this life. To really reflect on the Buddha's teachings of having to undergo aging, illness, death and separation for eons and eons for not entering extinction in this life is truly a horrific enterprise.

Of course the modern Western Buddhism cuts out the force of the Buddhas vision by denying that heaven and hell are anything but mental states in there here and now and that nirvana is nothing more than some sort of sense of peace and acceptance of things in this life. This however was never the Buddhas teaching. In fact, as one forest monk once said, if you drop out the Buddhas teachings about the limitless eons of possible suffering and death for not reaching enlightenment there is really no reason to give your whole life to the rigorous life of renunciation that a Buddhist forest monk undertakes.
Reply
#14
(01-19-2012, 08:53 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: In his Handbook of Christian Apologetics Peter Kreeft lists something like ten reasons reincarnation doesn't make sense but in my opinion his fatal flaw is that Buddhists do NOT believe in reincarnation. Yes that's right, they do NOT believe in reincarnation because at bottom they do not believe in an immortal soul that can actually get born in another body. At least that is the official line that some Buddhists use. How one can have to suffer another life if there is no soul to get born is beyond me but you will not reach certain Buddhists, especially those that are serious Theravada adherents if you don't try to understand that they see some sort of distinction between "rebirth" and "reincarnation" I direct you to the www.accesstoinsight.org website where you can search about "rebirth" and see if you can make sense of this. I have often seen non Buddhists treating Hindu reincarnation as the same thing as Buddhist "rebirth" but at least as far as it goes in the eyes of some Buddhists this will not fly.

Buddhists believe the sould is basically destroyed.  I would think any argument for the immortality of the soul should work against this.  But then you would also have to cover why God would not eliminate a soul.
Reply
#15
(01-19-2012, 08:22 PM)spes Wrote: I will have to find my Kreeft book.
I found it interesting in this book  Darsan, the idea of whether Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. The author was shying away from calling it polytheistic, but moreover  "kathenotheism". I found this interesting because I had never came across this term before. The idea is that each god is worshipped one at a time, each exalted in his own turn as to not diminish the significance of any one of them. I thought this was a bizarre way to tiptoe around polytheism.

Newyorkcatholic: Wasn't sure what you thought of this seeing you were raised Hindu.

My experience in Hinduism taught me that that there is no consistent teaching on God.  Some Hindus clearly fit the defintion of pagans / polytheists.  Some literally even believe certain gods must live up somewhere in the sky.  Others say these gods are all symbolic manifestations of One True God, some say this God is personal, others deny this.  Others say there is no separate God, but only one essence and any duality or difference is illusory.

Hindus are much more consistent in their beliefs on other things.  For example, nearly all Hindus believe in reincarnation at some level.  How reincarnation can possibly describe reality if reality at the same time allows no distinctions -- I never understood that (if you are a nondualist you cannot admit there are different bodies and different souls, and so reincarnation must be as illusory as everything else).  But even the non-dualists believe in reincarnation.

Also acceptance of the caste system was nearly universal once.  Not as much anymore.

So arguing against Hinduism as if it had defined beliefs and clear concepts is not likely to work.

I'd suggest either: argue against any one particular Hindu's beliefs.

Or argue against indifferentism and universalism, force a Hindu person or group to really identify their key beliefs, and then discuss those beliefs.
Reply
#16
Mother India in PDF format. Many of the claims in this book where described as falsehoods at the time and US state dept propaganda but the fact remains that the problems illustrated with Hinduism in this book are still problems in India today, 70 years later.

http://www.hudsoncress.net/hudsoncress.o...0India.pdf
Reply
#17
(01-18-2012, 11:40 PM)spes Wrote: Hello,

I had a question as to any book recommendations. I am taking a course on Asian Art History and am overwhelmed with readings on Hinduism and Buddhism. Is there any books that would be a good way to freshen up my semester? Something poking more into the flaws of their religion, philosophy, or any apologetical material, etc.

Thanks!

It's not a scholarly critique but Chesterton's The Everlasting Man touches on Hinduism and Buddhism in several places in a sort of broad way that is nonetheless powerful and edifying. If you just want to shake up your reading give it a read.
Reply
#18
Hinduism is easy. They believe in monism, which means all things are one, which is Brahman, the ultimate being. Just say, if we are all God, then why do we need to discover ourselves. And why have a moral code, all we do is kill people, and fiat it is good. My will be done. Hinduism luckily has already been refuted by another religion called Buddhism.

As for Buddhism, I was a Buddhist with the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition. 99.9% of Buddhists don't follow the Buddha's teachings completely. Even formerbuddhist got it wrong in regard to the ORTHODOX teaching, but he shouldn't be blamed for it since almost every teacher espouses what they call wrong view. The Buddha taught a way to freedom from suffering, which is a state of complete peace and happiness, completely absent from desire. It takes some discussion to unpack such a statement, but just be assured that it is equivalent in many ways to Christian perfection, but taught through the perspective of 5th century BC Indian without Christ or Judaism, and with nothing to go on but his attainments through meditation, which are very impressive. Many of the states he taught (jhana) are expressed by the mystic saints of Catholicism, like St Teresa. He taught that the ultimate state (nirvana) was INEFFABLE, i.e., you cannot talk about God, soul, you, me, or anything in regard to this state, because the state was beyond all imagination and all verbal systems. He also taught that all we experience through the senses is not worthy of being called self, which is his teaching called not-self (anatta), because anything we experience passes away. How can any of those things be our self. If they were, then we would pass away. So he taught that nothing within sense experience is worthy of being called "self". Lastly, he did not teach anything about God, and positively spoke against the notion of Brahma as God. This should not be taken as atheistic, though. At the end of the day, he sides with ineffability, and his spiritual path is apophetic, which means it places a lot of emphasis on direct experience and coming to truth through negation (as opposed to analogy). As we can see, the teaching is deficient because it lacks the revelation of Christ. He was connecting the dots in his circumstances. I believe he is one of the greatest humans who ever lived, and many of the stereotypes about his teachings come from perversions of the teachings. For instance, annihilationism was positively taught against by him, but then Buddhists have since about the 1st century BC taught that he teaches that we have no soul. The main errors of Buddhism are exterior to their own teaching, so they can refute themselves. A good teacher in this regard is Thanissaro Bhikkhu who has great talks where he points out that "Buddhism" is filled with things expressly not taught by the Buddha, or condemned as not his positions. So in all those matters, you can show that the early teachings did not support the later teachings. And as regard the fundamental teachings, show how they lack the revelation of Christ. Show how Christ was a superior human because he could heal, and he could rise from the dead. The Buddha had great powers, but he could not see the beginning of time, he could not heal, nor could he rise from the dead.  You can also show that rebirth ultimately is not a supportable doctrine, which honest Buddhists acknowledge. The Buddha's teachings are actually 98% great, and we could use them when recrafted in line with the teachings of the Church, like St Thomas did with Aristotle. But since it still a religion, and a muddle of views within it, it is very difficult to extract the Buddha's teachings from Buddhism the religion. Don't even try to debate a Buddhist. It will be a mess. They'll either not engage in the debate, because the Buddha discouraged debate of philosophical views (right and wrong view), or you will get the quicksand of idealism, i.e., all things exist in the mind.

Feel free to ask me any questions about Buddhism. I still practice meditation, and study Buddhism intently. Don't get me wrong. I am not a Buddhist. I read him like I would Aristotle. And meditation is squarely in line with Catholic mystical tradition. Good luck!

ADD: Part of the misunderstanding of Buddhism is that people want ontological statements where the Buddha is not giving one. The Buddha focused only on process. He said, we want lasting happiness, we don 't have it, we have free will, how do we get there. He never answered the ontological questions. He taught karma (process), but never said what undergoes karma (entity). He thought the idea of WHO was not as important as HOW. He then said that once you get to the goal, you don't even care about the WHO anymore.
Reply
#19
Scriptorium-

How long where you into the Thai Forest Tradition and what got you out of it? Very interesting, as I was involved with it too. I know about Thanissaro Bhikkhu and am familiar with his writings. I've even spoken with him on the phone a few times when I was a Buddhist. By the way, some very interesting perspective on Buddhism coming from you. You seem to have a better grasp of some of the philosophical aspects of Buddhism then I did. One reason I mentioned the atheism thing is because today a lot of what has come to be known as Western Buddhism is more secular humanism/atheism with meditation and a Buddha statue thrown in rather then what the Buddha actually taught. It used to drive me nuts back when I was a Buddhist to see so many people out perverting the Buddhas teachings and trying to change them to fit in line with western secular preconceptions. I
Reply
#20
(01-20-2012, 07:25 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: How long where you into the Thai Forest Tradition and what got you out of it? Very interesting, as I was involved with it too. I know about Thanissaro Bhikkhu and am familiar with his writings. I've even spoken with him on the phone a few times when I was a Buddhist. By the way, some very interesting perspective on Buddhism coming from you. You seem to have a better grasp of some of the philosophical aspects of Buddhism then I did. One reason I mentioned the atheism thing is because today a lot of what has come to be known as Western Buddhism is more secular humanism/atheism with meditation and a Buddha statue thrown in rather then what the Buddha actually taught. It used to drive me nuts back when I was a Buddhist to see so many people out perverting the Buddhas teachings and trying to change them to fit in line with western secular preconceptions. I

Not very long actually, but intense. About four or five years in total. I actually went to be a monk at Wat Metta with Thanissaro Bhikkhu. I left quickly after coming. Not because of anything bad there. It is a very peaceful place, and there was no feeling like I had to stay, but I felt the "hound of heaven". The days are very long there and open --  a lot of free time. You are stuck with yourself, and it is startling when you're left with yourself what you see. I was immature at the time, but I just "felt" I needed to leave. I couldn't describe it then, but soon after leaving there I discovered traditional Catholicism and really learned about my faith, which up to then I knew only misconceptions and bias about. Ever since then I have tried to refute Buddhism, but I realize in almost every instance it was not Buddhism that was actually the culprit. I am not saying that there aren't Buddhist teachings which are in error and worthy of refutation, but in most cases you are listening to Westerners who found a religion in which they can be "spiritual" without God on their back, or an Easterner who has a lot of cultural baggage on top of the Buddha's teaching. Most Western Buddhists are atheists and fall into one of the errors the Buddha taught against. The biggest are that we have no soul, and that all things are merely ideas in our mind (nothing really exists in itself). I do have a pretty good grasp of the orthodox teaching, I think, but I am not by any stretch an expert. I recommend Thanissaro Bhikkhu (with reserve, i.e., for those strong in faith already) mostly because he really tries to adhere to those early teachings. He has his biases, but he has a lot of integrity in this field. I heard in a talk once he has a soft spot for Thomas Aquinas ... never too late to convert! Buddhism is just a mess, and its decentralized structure lends itself to the mess. Everyone is doing their own thing. I am not very concerned about the current trends. The void is created by the Church. I came to Buddhism because the monks were holy and serious about virtue. I didn't see any of that in the Church at the time. Usually Catholics don't know about their own treasures and their own contemplative traditions. We need to reassert that we have a strong and ancient contemplative tradition, and any layman can engage in it. It isn't "weird" or "heretical" to meditate. (With that said, we need to not follow every teacher. An example is Centering Prayer, which I think is not very useful.) There is also a bit of cultural difference when coming to Buddhism. The guy was in India in the 5th century BC! Some people don't even know clearly what he meant by some words! A good example is Nirvana itself. As Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out, it means "unbinding", in the sense that Indians at the time thought that a fire clinged to its fuel, and when it was put out, it was "released" from its fuel. (Clinging (upadana) means to take up food or sustenance.) So the image of a fire going out is not annihilation, but of being released from clinging, and a symbol of spiritual freedom. That is also to say, that we no longer need any "fuel" for our happiness, we don't need to feed on anything to be happy. It is completely self-sustaining. But more often then not you'll see it described as "extinction". Another thing greatly misinterpreted is a negation of an entity. Not-self is one example. Another was when Buddha was question whether someone who attains nirvana exists after death. He wouldn't answer the questions. That's because he taught the ineffability of this state, completely outside of time and space. This seemed to be very important to him because in his time everyone was coming up with this view and that. He was working against the panopoly of views at that time, some of which were very bad, and are evident in Hinduism and Jainism. He also did not have respect for theistic teachings which took man's complete free action out of his responsibility (i.e., God did it, not me). His biggest grip with the theists was that they taught a fatalism/determinism, and that none of the people who postulated the teaching could say they saw God. The blind leading the blind, he would say. And indeed he was right. They had no revelation, and they had no great mystic saints who have indeed have had visions of God and taught about it.

I can go on, but I let it be for now.  :)
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)