Buddhism - ' non-religion' religion & reality check on spoiled kid.

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Sheldon's picture
"Most people learn their

"Most people learn their moral codes through religion."
You mean like ISIS and the Taliban, or the Nazis, or the Rwandan Catholics complicit in genocide, or the ultra conservative Serbian orthodox Christians...etc etc.

Perhaps it's best to form one's morals through reason and empathy, then one can question one's actions and allegiances. Otherwise how would we determine what is moral anyway?

Edit: apologies for typos, smart phone.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
reason and empathy, - You

reason and empathy, - You have a high opinion of humanity then.

This has to start young. I get hammered for using the word "magic" here, but that seems to be a very common viewport in the very young and some never grow out of it.

One of the harder tasks is trying to teach empathy to a self centered 2 year old. Again, a lot of people don't grow out of that either.

One of the most effective teaching tools is the narrative. Most religions are smart enough to use the teaching story to teach morals.

I don't see this as much in the secular area.

Do you work in education and have any concrete suggestions? i.e. a Humanist guide to teaching reason & empathy?

CyberLN's picture
“Venerating the concept of

“Venerating the concept of self sacrifice for good of the group and rejoicing in the sanctity of all humanity is immoral?”
I’d say that depends on the definitions.

“Most people learn their moral codes through religion.”
No. Most people learn their morals from their families.

“Then all you atheist would be 'saints’'
You mean like all theists?

“I have not gotten the feel from this forum that this group has a monopoly on morals.”
Neither do the religious.

“If you can't do a better job, you have no right to complain.”
Where is that rule written?

“Exactly how are you providing a moral compass to anyone?”
Is that a requirement?

“All I see from the recreational use of drugs is violence and the destruction of health.”
And you see it all?

“I sponsor a little girl in El Salvador whose mother was raped at 12.”
Good.

You think humanity is flawless with no room for improvement and are a firm believer in I've got mine - Screw You? You are more delusional than I am.”
Straw man.

“You don't believe in support groups either? What about friends? And I thought my autistic spectrum children were anti social.”
Straw man.

“You are right, though. I am starting find this forum disappointing.”
Oh.

“I will probably go back to the story of the Engineer in Hell and move elsewhere.”
Oh

Tin-Man's picture
@MPO Re: "You are right,

@MPO Re: "You are right, though. I am starting find this forum disappointing. I will probably go back to the story of the Engineer in Hell and move elsewhere."

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Sapporo's picture
@Mrs. Paul Owczarek

@Mrs. Paul Owczarek

Venerating the concept of self sacrifice for good of the group and rejoicing in the sanctity of all humanity is immoral?

But that is not what is at the core of every religion - it isn't an essential part of the definition of religion, unlike the supernatural or at least superhuman element.

I would say it is wrong to venerate a concept in itself - you should not confuse the idea with the thing it represents. I think also "venerating" and "sanctifying" implies blind acts of faith - an action should ideally be exactly proportionate to the object of value.

Most people learn their moral codes through religion.

I think this is certainly false. Our sense of morals comes from our ability to understand that others experience pain - this notion comes earlier than our knowledge of ideology.

If I had seen a better moral compass outside of religion, I would have joined. If you can't do a better job, you have no right to complain. Exactly how are you providing a moral compass to anyone?

I believe that individuals should aim to minimize the suffering of others as far as possible, and their moral sense should come from rational judgement rather than being founded on pure superstition for example. The Christians have had a belief for two millennia that poverty is an inherent property of humanity, and further, they have tended to see it as desirable for keeping people in the faith in which they were born.

The global life expectancy throughout history hasn't been much far off 30 years for most of history, as it was in 1900. It is now 71.5 years.

In 1820, the proportion of people in poverty worldwide was 94.4%. In 1910, it was 84.4%. In 1970 it was 60.1%. To cut a long story short, in 2015, it was 9.6%. The United Nations intends to eradicate poverty entirely by 2030. What good has the church's nonchalant attitude towards poverty had over the last 2000 years?

Most religions treat individuals as inherently flawed and/or expect adherents to shun earthly pleasures. You think humanity is flawless with no room for improvement and are a firm believer in I've got mine - Screw You? You are more delusional than I am.

I never said that humans are flawless. I think they are however inherently good, and that this attitude is far more positive and productive than the attitude that religions typically have.

It is a nonsense to say that being part of such a religion halves any burden. - You don't believe in support groups either? What about friends? And I thought my autistic spectrum children were anti social.

I said that humanity should be united as one...that is rather the opposite of what you accuse me of. I also specifically said that religions do not have burdens because they are divisive (they set themselves against groups), and tend to treat people as inherently flawed and sinful.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
The Christians have had a

The Christians have had a belief for two millennia that poverty is an inherent property of humanity,(Not really, only certain groups - mostly the ones in power trying to maintain power)

and further, they have tended to see it as desirable for keeping people in the faith in which they were born. (It usually does provide stability.

The global life expectancy throughout history hasn't been much far of 30 years for most of history, as it was in 1900. It is now 71.5 years.

In 1820, the proportion of people in poverty worldwide was 94.4%. In 1910, it was 84.4%. In 1970 it was 60.1%. To cut a long story short, in 2015, it was 9.6%. The United Nations intends to eradicate poverty entirely by 2030.

A large part of that is Christianity and the other major religions. - The base value of Christianity is to provide for the good of the group.

My mantra is - Engineering is easy. It is getting people to play nice together that is the hard part. The core base of Christianity and the other religions provide a base for bringing people together to work together in a group for the good of all.

Have there been abuses, certainly. But religion is one of the tools that has allowed us by fits and starts to progress. I am here looking to see if anyone here has any better ideas that they are putting into practice.

I'll go back to the clergy & police officers banded together as Monroe County United to promote social progress.

LogicFTW's picture
Could be seen a different way

Could be seen a different way, from dawn of organized religion to 1820 94.4% poverty, in 1910 84.4 etc etc. What has seen a sharp rise from 1840 to 2015? No not religion. But secularism.

While I would love to use those stats to paint the greatness of secularism, I think most of us can agree neither religion nor secularism can really take very much credit. Advancement of human knowledge and science however, can. Our food production capabilities have grown to all time highs (all though more recently, food production is on the decline and may continue to decline.) We can ship food all over the world at very little cost. We can create better shelter, provide clean water sources etc with much greater ease then we could in the past. We have gone from a 99% agrarian society to about a 1% agrarian society in much of the world because with the aid of modern tools and machinery a per farmer productivity has increased so greatly.

Even by many counts a grim future for the whole of humanity can be possibly be averted thanks to more progress in science. Genetically modified organisms,(the good kind.) May allow us to continue to feed the world even as water scarcity grows to be an ever greater issue. If science can ever crack the nut of deuterium based fusion, we could see poverty nearly completely done away with, even lesser forms of poverty like people living on the equivalent of $2.50 a day. Of course all this has negative side effects too, we can also nuke ourselves to oblivion, with the few survivors wishing they had not survived.

Religion may have played a small role in all this, but it could also be easily argued that it has slowed or impeded this progress as well. Certainly cannot deny for a long period of time, much of knowledge and education was centered around religion as religious entities were one of the few that could actually afford vellum or paper, books, etc. But, but I also think if we had a non religious entity that had such wealth that was focused on knowledge, like libraries and universities we may have been able to fast forward our progress.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Sapporo - Religion invokes

Sapporo - Religion invokes the supernatural, that which is outside nature, and thus unobservable. To belief in something you are incapable of observing is pure superstition.

Owczarek - You just blasted the start of quantum physics, gravity, germ theory, and many other sciences. They started with the belief or at least concept of the existence of something not immediately seen and by the very nature of science subject to change based on new data.

You might notice: if you have data (new or otherwise), you have seen something.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
That's why I have been asking

That's why I have been asking for psychological studies. I've seen a couple documentaries on primate studies and a couple references from editorials that I had checked into.

Algebe's picture
Buddhism has its own shameful

Buddhism has its own shameful history of violence and oppression. Examples include Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka. Oppression of the Tamil minority, who are mostly Hindu and Christian, resulted in a bloody uprising by the Tamil Tigers.

The Dalai Lama seems like a gentle, enlightened old guy with a great sense of humor. I'm not sure that was the experience of ordinary Tibetans when the Lamas were absolute God-Kings.

In Japan, the Buddhist sects aligned themselves with State Shinto during Japan's imperialist period. They justified aggression with the phrase issatsu tasho, which means literally "one kill, many live." In other words, it's ok to kill a few people to make things better for the majority.

In postwar Japan, a branch of Nichiren Buddhism called Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Learning Society) recruited large numbers of families through force and intimidation. They also formed their own conservative political party called Komeito (Clean Government Party).

My impression of Japanese Buddhist temples was that they were powerful money-making machines. One of their biggest money makers is the funeral business. In addition to the initial funeral, the Japanese also commemorate the dead with ceremonies every few years. I don't think anyone really believes it, but they do believe that if they fail to follow the rituals their relatives and neighbors might look down on them. The Buddhists exploit that.

I had a friend who drove a taxi in Yokohama. He told me he used to see a line of Buddhist monks filing out of their temple and down the street to the local brothel, which had a special happy night for the enlightened. Buddhism has a reputation for ascetism and self-denial, but there's also a lot of venality and lasciviousness in the mix.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
Buddhism has its own shameful

Buddhism has its own shameful history of violence and oppression. Examples include Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka. Oppression of the Tamil minority, who are mostly Hindu and Christian, resulted in a bloody uprising by the Tamil Tigers.

( What I was saying - Those who believe in the religion itself or those who believe in - I belong to the magic group that means I get to kill you. Usually two opposing forces. Sounds human - Ruler - I think I can manipulate this as status/ranking - I am better than you - to take over the country. SOP. Has anyone tried to quantify the history of Buddhism vs the other religions for this nonsense? US concept is mostly the 60's protest vision designed to freak parents out and involves sitting around chanting with some drugs thrown in. Not much reference to violence)

The Dalai Lama seems like a gentle, enlightened old guy with a great sense of humor. I'm not sure that was the experience of ordinary Tibetans when the Lamas were absolute God-Kings. ditto

In Japan, the Buddhist sects aligned themselves with State Shinto during Japan's imperialist period. They justified aggression with the phrase issatsu tasho, which means literally "one kill, many live." In other words, it's ok to kill a few people to make things better for the majority. (That is SOP - some homicidal maniacs are too dangerous to be safely contained. very small minority. - The only way to contain leprosy was to isolate the sufferers outside the group. Not really a lot of choice in the need for a quarantine. The rest is as you say justification for a power grab. Doesn't necessarily have to involve religion, usually just greed.)

In postwar Japan, a branch of Nichiren Buddhism called Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Learning Society) recruited large numbers of families through force and intimidation. They also formed their own conservative political party called Komeito (Clean Government Party). ( Again sounds SOP after the trauma of war - religion optional and again often used as a tool by those wanting power.)

My impression of Japanese Buddhist temples was that they were powerful money-making machines. One of their biggest money makers is the funeral business. In addition to the initial funeral, the Japanese also commemorate the dead with ceremonies every few years. I don't think anyone really believes it, but they do believe that if they fail to follow the rituals their relatives and neighbors might look down on them. The Buddhists exploit that.(That also really sounds familiar - Do you want to borrow Martin Luther?)

I had a friend who drove a taxi in Yokohama. He told me he used to see a line of Buddhist monks filing out of their temple and down the street to the local brothel, which had a special happy night for the enlightened. Buddhism has a reputation for ascetism and self-denial, but there's also a lot of venality and lasciviousness in the mix. (Not so much the 60's American version of Buddism. I think your example might fit the weird 60's American sub culture version. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll or at least the best way to freak your parents out - but this also describes a LOT of politicians and others, usually male, on a power trip. Correct me if I am wrong. The Buddist monks have a LOT of power in the brothel region to the point that they don't care if they get caught. I really wouldn't call that religious. I think a lot of other non-printable terms would be more appropriate.)

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
I was into a form of Buddhism

I was into a form of Buddhism for many years. It went hand in hand with the japanese martial arts I was practising.

If you want to understand the basics of Buddhism then look up the Four Pillars of Wisdom and the Eightfold path. That's buddhism 101.

Although Buddhism has all the trappings of religion Lord Gauthamha ( First Buddha) didn't approve of it but realised that it was an inevitable part of the expansion of his ideas for the 'common people' to find comfort and some of his message..

He didn't like monks much either. He didn't starve to death - According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body. After this, the Buddha ate his last meal, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith named Cunda.

I rather like the apocryphal story of Buddha having been an ascetic for 30 odd years woke up one day in his mid 50's, announced he was hungry and thirsty and that the whole starving thing was unnecessary and boring. He than proceeded to become rather portly in his middle age (as we all do). The change in portrayals is obvious.

Most of the Buddhist traditions (monks and temples) we see today originated in Jainism (Lord Buddhas born into religion) and merely transferred (like so many parallels in Abrahamic religions) to the newcomer.

Buddha never claimed to be anything but a man. One of the important tenets of buddhism is that gods are irrelevant to the core practice of self improvement and awareness.

Another important thing to remember is that Lord Gauthama undoubtedly existed unlike any of the Abrahamic Prophets except Muhammed. Gauthama's ideas and practises changed many aspects of society in their day and continue to exert influence in most nations of the world.

Like most visionary philosophers Buddha was a child of his time and heritage when studying buddhism. it is, as with all early texts, important to winnow the actual attritable parts of the sutras from the Hindu/Jain/Animist influences that permeated the time and added as later edits.

The buddhist philosophy of self awareness, self improvement to become the best person you can be in this life was revolutionary in its day and region with the widespread belief in permanent life with ancestors, gods, and rebirth. Buddhas principles still hold good today: Qualities of practising; introspection, education and self awareness.

Regarding other religions:

You can accept and practice buddha's teachings in any religion as the god is irrelevant to your voyage of self discovery/improvement.
e.g you can be a buddhist christian, a buddhist muslim, a buddhist Mormon whatever

you cannot be a muslim buddhist, christian buddhist, mormon buddhist they will kill you.

Happy to answer any questions you may have. My study and practise if buddhism was limited to zen and Therevardan schools so dont ask about the forest buddhists (Thai) or animists, I have no idea!

(Edited for punctuation and clarity)

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
self improvement and

self improvement and awareness. - The post above from the commentator seem to think that unnecessary (?) I can't scroll up from here to read the name.

Your post would contradict the post from the other Buddhist about the miracles of Buddha.

Your post was very helpful. Your interest in Buddhism was solely based on the martial arts? Did that correlate to the concept of Might makes right? Or was the Buddhism supposed to be a brake on violence?

Right now, I am reading the Quran that the engineer in the next cubicle gave me. If I get around to it, I'll read the 4 pillars.

RANJEET's picture
well the miracles of Buddha

well the miracles of Buddha are not true incidents. Those are Parable stories made by people . Another reason for such stuff is that Hindus tried to hijack Buddhism they even claim Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. and that's the reason they spread such stories and superstitious things. But there are lots of original documents are available from Buddha's and King Ashoks times. The main and important source of real teachings of Buddha are Tripitaka . Tripitaka is in pali language (ancient Indian common mans language) and only small portion of Tripitaka is translated into English. Western people don't know much and core about Buddhism but still want to use their prejudice to tell how Buddhism is same as other religions. even they don't know the difference between Buddha's Dhamma and western concept of Religion. Read the Bertrand Russell's views about Buddhism.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@MPO

@MPO
There is no evidence for an 'miracles of buddha'. Much of the Forest buddhist tradition is of later origin. Gauthama himself predicted the rise of religion and the fanciful stories that would surround it. He accepted as an inevitable part of acceptance and the need for people to have hope.

"Your interest in Buddhism was solely based on the martial arts? Did that correlate to the concept of Might makes right? Or was the Buddhism supposed to be a brake on violence?"

Neither, zen buddhism is based on an understanding of self and how that self fits in with the world. Realising that the concept of self is a construct to deal with the world and can be disregarded.
In Zen, what we have is the fleeting instant of now floating in an immense void of indifference.
It fits with the martial arts I practised as the practice of zen requires meditation, the focus on the 'now' through the void and the disregard for personal satisfaction.
It s a very simplistic paragraph but unless you understand the basic precepts of buddhism and the zen tradition I cant get closer. Intense self discipline will have to suffice for you.

When you have read Buddhism 101 (it will take about 10 minutes) and have questions about the zen tradition in Japan please ask away.

RANJEET's picture
well I know other buddhist

well I know other buddhist countries are following buddhism in traditional way and they have mixed local cultural things in Buddha's teachings. But here in India majority of Buddhist are following Navyana . And there are not superstitions in it.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navayana

And question raise by Algebe about bloody history of Buddhism is totally incorrect The tamil tiger incident was more political than religious. Well Buddha was born in India and Indian Buddhist only follow his real teachings. In ancient time when it was spread in other countries those countries mixed local cultural stuff, superstitions , concepts of more than 1 buddha , misinterpretation of his rebirths theory . So before criticising it read Navyana Buddhism. cause there is a great difference between Religion and Buddha's Dhamma . And further more Buddha himself have told his followers that ," don't believe anything just because I am saying it. check it by yourself logically."
He never claimed infallibility for his message. The only claim he made was that his message was the only true way to salvation as he understood it. It was based on universal human experience of life in the world. He said that it was open to anyone to question it, test it, and find what truth it contained. No founder has so fully thrown open his religion to such a challenge.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
I agree and the religious

I agree and the religious study researches also seem to agree that a lot of the violence of 'religion' is really political.

So are you a Buddhist atheist or did you check it yourself and find nothing of value?

RANJEET's picture
I'm only Atheist my parents

I'm only Atheist my parents follow Navyana Buddhism but I'm not interested in it although I follow some of Buddha's teachings.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ RANJEET

@ RANJEET

"But here in India majority of Buddhist are following Navyana"

Well, I didn't know that! A whole new 'buddhist' train of followers invented in 1935...bloody amazing!

Buddha was an economical thinker and despised monks and religionists. Much of the later rituals and core precepts of buddhism were tinkered with by monks leading to the schisms we know today.

As I said I practised the japanese martial form of zen which is very sparse on ritual and theology but big on self development and self control.

Much like this form you have introduced to me. I shall be reading more!

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
That would go along with the

That would go along with the history of the world religion book I read. Each county/ sub group tends to pick out the parts of the religion that it likes for its own purposes and merge it into its culture.

Works the same with language - 2 different language groups thrown together - Children will take parts of both and merge into a 3rd language in 1 generation. (Pre-worldwide communication anyway)

Voltaire I think - God, created man in his own image and God Being a Gentleman returned the favor. You learn more about a person by finding out what they think of their religion than you find out about the religion.

The Trump evangelicals are TRULY scary.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@MPO

@MPO
All religious are scary.
They can turn nasty and murderous at the drop of a hat. All in the name of their god/prophet/vampire unicorn/crazy sky master/black jedi...whatever,

I prefer rational people. I can deal with them.

RANJEET's picture
you are right but we can't

you are right but we can't just make theist an Atheist in one night or religious can't be ireligious in one night it's long term and continues process so every time when some scatty people be rational there is new lot of scatty people waiting to take their position. And I think it's infinite process.

LogicFTW's picture
As I have said before, at

As I have said before, at least this process is underway, religion on a whole is in serious decline in the last century or two. It just not as obvious.

Its not large percentages announcing they are atheist, it is more lack of interest and participation in religion. The "seats filled on sundays" numbers compared to total population that has seen serious decline in the last century.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
I wouldn't mind the decline

I wouldn't mind the decline in religion, if I thought the world was becoming more just and civil.

Mrs. Paul Owczarek's picture
Do you include the NRA?

Do you include the NRA? Their guns are their religion.

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