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Switch to Forum Live View A few questions about Buddhism -- please help!!
3 years ago  ::  Aug 14, 2011 - 10:01PM #11
Tjampel
Posts: 1

Just one thing I'd like to note. It would be a grave error to believe in heaven or hell realms or ghosts or malicious beings, etc. if that belief is based on hearsay, without any logical analysis or meditative realization, or person experience.


For example, if I were to say "There are ghosts in this room" as a declarative statement, unless I had personally experienced this phenomena or my trusty paranormal dectection outfit had, or unless I was able to rationally conclude that there must indeed be ghosts, without the slightlest reliance on dogmatic assertions, I'd be making a false assertion. This is not to say that these places or beings don't exist. Many Buddhist texts speak of these beings and places; however understanding the main teachings don't depend on accepting these views as fact merely because of the source, and even the primary teachings should never be accepted unless they make perfect sense to you, after extensive reflection and meditation. It's perfectly acceptable to have a healthy kind of agnosticism while you examine the teachings and you should not be afraid to do so with a critical eye; with the mind of someone who is more interested in proving to themselves how things really are than by someone looking for a way to accept a system of beliefs that don't quite make sense.


One of the main features of Buddhism is the doctrine of karma. Now a belief in Karma IS a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, requiring faith if one is to progress far on this particular spiritual path. However, even here the Buddha was very clear. He told his disciples and others that he spoke to (he also spoke to a range of householders, skeptics, opponents, royalty, and the like) that none of them should ever accept anything he said "out of respect" for him; rather they should only accept it after first testing it as one would test refined gold---by cutting it, rubbing it, and burning it.


I've been practicing for some time now, and it's taken me years to "cook" certain important doctrinal issues put forth by the Buddha to the point where they became a part of my own belief system.


So don't feel that you have to accept even one word of the damma/dharma unless and until you've had a chance to examine it and find that it accurately describes the condition of sentient beings, the causes for that condition, the possibility of removing those causes, and the method for doing so. Start with suffering and examine that (do we all have it) and work from there. Naturally we are generally drawn to the Buddha's teachings because something he said resonates with is, makes us take stock of our life, makes us think about alternate possibilities for how our life might unfold, makes us question how we represent the self and phenomena in our mind, etc. Whatever you have read and heard this far, if it has even a tiny capacity to generate some real faith, then hold onto that and use that as your starting point; then examine what the Buddha said and look to expand that faith by developing conviction about other core teachings.


 


 


 


 

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2011 - 12:30AM #12
Hatshepsut
Posts: 11

Absolutely, Tjampel.


 


This is exactly why I came to the forum in the first place.  And now, upon hearing the responses of other Buddhists and upon more thought and meditation, I can accept the heaven/hell/six realms idea, so long as these are states of mind rather than literal realms.  Which, I suppose, is me "cooking" the Buddha's message. :)


 


As far as demigods and hell beings, I shall have to think about and meditate on it.  Perhaps I simply don't understand what these terms really mean, just as I didn't understand heaven and hell.


 


I think that I will call myself a Buddhist.  I had a conversation about it with my mum today, and she gave me a very humbling piece of advice: "There will always be more to learn."  If I study Buddhism for twenty years I will still have more to learn, just as I have more to learn right at this very moment.  Buddhism feels right to me and I love it.  I've been looking in to it for about four years, feeling anxious to label myself.  But now I think I've found my foundation faith in Buddhism. 

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2011 - 11:07PM #13
JGL57
Posts: 526

Keep in mind there are many different types of Buddhism with contrasting understandings.


I consider myself a Buddhist in the way outlined by Stephen Batchelor in his book "Buddhism Without Beliefs".  That is pretty much it for me.


Others may be happier with other more mystical viewpoints.  That is fine with me.  Buddhism in any form is way better than many other religions, for obvious reasons.

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 16, 2011 - 8:02PM #14
Hatshepsut
Posts: 11

Aug 15, 2011 -- 11:07PM, JGL57 wrote:


Keep in mind there are many different types of Buddhism with contrasting understandings.


I consider myself a Buddhist in the way outlined by Stephen Batchelor in his book "Buddhism Without Beliefs".  That is pretty much it for me.


Others may be happier with other more mystical viewpoints.  That is fine with me.  Buddhism in any form is way better than many other religions, for obvious reasons.





This is exactly what I was hoping to hear.

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