Notices
Results 1 to 57 of 57

Thread: Empirical Buddhism?

  1. #1 Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    In an attempt to live up to the sub-forum ethos, i thought it'd be interesting to put Buddhism to the empirical sword. Many Westerners like buddhism or are more tolerant of it due to its perceived rationality.

    The Buddha's first teaching after his enlightenment was the 4 noble truths. These are considered by most Buddhists to be the central teachings of Buddhism, and are usually the first thing taught. There are many interpretations of Buddhism, including my own, so in an attempt to be a bit objective i've used this site for definitions/interpretations.

    http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble.htm

    Very briefly, the Buddha was a bloke, claimed no special powers himself, who wanted to find a way to stop himself suffering.


    The first noble truth is that of suffering.

    What is the Noble Truth of Suffering? Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering: in short the five categories affected by clinging are suffering.
    Some Buddhists take this to mean that to live is to suffer. However, most interpret it as suffering has been observed to be ubiquitous in man. I would say this is an easily verifiable statement. The prediction is that if you are human (sentient in Buddhist parlance) you have or will suffer. We can measure and verify this, given we suitably define suffering. Not sure if it has been measured, but i would have thought this to be true based on my own observations.

    The second noble truth explores the origin of suffering.

    The Second Noble Truth with its three aspects is: ĎThere is the origin of suffering, which is attachment to desire. Desire should be let go of. Desire has been let go of.í
    The the cause of suffering is attachment to desire. Therefore if one is not attached to desire they will not suffer. This is theoretically testable, but the practicalities a little more difficult. We would need a stardardised definition of attachment and desire. We would then need a metric for desire which would involve something like a likert scale i'd imagine, with its inherent measurement error. But the hypothesis is testable: those with less desires suffer less.

    The third noble truth is the cessation of suffering.

    What is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the remainderless fading and cessation of that same craving; the rejecting, relinquishing, leaving and renouncing of it. But whereon is this craving abandoned and made to cease? Wherever there is what seems lovable and gratifying, thereon it is abandoned and made to cease.
    This seems to me to be an extension of the second noble truth and could be tested at the same time. Suffering is not an inevitable consequence of life, there are methods by which we can reduce suffering. Those methods are, essentially, the fourth noble truth and so could be tested by applying these methods. I can't ever imagine someone doing a randomised controlled trial, and blinding would be impossible. Epidemiological data, though, should show buddhists to experience less suffering than other populations.

    The fourth noble truth is the method of reducing suffering.

    What is the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering? It is the Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
    This could be tested as above. Not sure if it has ever been tested formerly. From what i see, though a nice and generally happy bunch, not sure if it is true that they experience less suffering. Compared to a random sample they may experience less suffering, but compared to other religious groups, i'm not so sure.

    However, the point is this central teaching of the Buddha are, i think, verifiable.


    Now i realise there is lots of things in buddhism which may not be empirical or obviously wrong if they were tested, and i hope to get round to them if there's interest - but for now it'd be good just to stick to these 4 noble truths.


    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Many Westerners like buddhism or are more tolerant of it due to its perceived rationality.
    The first noble truth is that of suffering.
    The second noble truth explores the origin of suffering.
    The third noble truth is the cessation of suffering.
    The fourth noble truth is the method of reducing suffering.
    Which buddha declared all this? There have been many buddhas. They are like American Presidents. A long line of them. This is nothing but redundant theology. Take the first two 'noble truths'. Suffering is based on the idea that if you weren't a good guy in your previous life you will get reincarnated as a lesser creature in this life. This could mean as a human, an animal, or even a plant. Even the gods are on this great wheel of birth, death and rebirth. So what chance do we have?
    The last two 'noble truths' imply that suffering can only be overcome through some strange supernatural state of 'enlightenment', not that anybody can explain exactly what that is. Go on, try giving up everything. Give up possessions, family, friends, interests and aspirations in favour of this pernicious dogma.
    We are all going to die, but had it not been for natural selection we wouldn't be here in the first place. Natural selection cannot continue unless organisms die within the species, and all life forms are therefore destined to wither and die. We, as individuals are not even favoured by the process of natural selection, rather the gene as the unit of natural selection is favoured.
    So there is no way of reducing suffering. We are destined to suffer in the end. Just get some life while you can. Understand the true nature of reality and forget about people and their ancient beliefs that tell you that it can be overcome.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    You might check out some articles like this, and the references within:



    https://ssl.sbinstitute.com/mentalbalance.pdf
    The possibilities for mutual enrichment between Buddhist teachings and Western psychology are numerous. The intention of this article is to present an innovative model in an attempt to bridge the ancient Buddhist system of mental development and contemporary scientific approaches to mental health and well-being. Specifically, we introduce a theory of well-being and the means of achieving it through the systematic cultivation of four types of mental balance: conative, attentional, cognitive, and affective.

    A few more here....
    http://www.alanwallace.org/wellbeing.pdf
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Which buddha declared all this?
    Siddhartha Gautama

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Take the first two 'noble truths'. Suffering is based on the idea that if you weren't a good guy in your previous life you will get reincarnated as a lesser creature in this life.
    Buddhists don't believe in reincarnation but rebirth, the difference being no soul/self exists in rebirth. Please get your facts right or cite where you're getting your informartion from so people who don't know much about buddhism can seperate buddhism from what you describe as buddhism. Anyway, belief in rebirth, or indeed reincarnation, is irrelevant to verifying the 4 noble truths. Suffering, in buddhists terms, is not based on previous lives whatsoever. If you want to talk about rebirth later i'll be happy to do so, but for now could we keep the discussion on the 4 noble truths?

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The last two 'noble truths' imply that suffering can only be overcome through some strange supernatural state of 'enlightenment', not that anybody can explain exactly what that is. Go on, try giving up everything. Give up possessions, family, friends, interests and aspirations in favour of this pernicious dogma.
    So it is not verifiable? I didn't ask whether the method works, i asked if it's verifiable. You're disliking of the method is irrelevant to its efficacy. If you actually have some studies to verify your position then do share, it is exactly the sort of thing i'm looking for. As for the supernatural state; there is increased alpha wave activity in meditators - again irrelevant to testing its efficacy but i'd be happy to talk about it after if you like.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    We are all going to die, but had it not been for natural selection we wouldn't be here in the first place. Natural selection cannot continue unless organisms die within the species, and all life forms are therefore destined to wither and die. We, as individuals are not even favoured by the process of natural selection, rather the gene as the unit of natural selection is favoured .
    This paragraph serves no function in this context. Buddhism generally and the 4 noble truths specifically make no claims about natural selection either way. They are not mutually exclusive.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    So there is no way of reducing suffering.We are destined to suffer in the end.
    You are claiming that in the whole of humanity no-one has ever reduced their or another's suffering? Suffering is some kind of universal constant, which cannot ever be changed? Sounds more supernatural than the stuff you're arguing against, but i'd be happy to engage in a discussion regarding the nature of suffering; it would be relevant to this thread. Are you a pessimist by any chance?

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Just get some life while you can.
    Why does following Buddhism, or any religion or belief, stop you from getting some life while you can?

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    You might check out some articles like this, and the references within:
    I can't get the links to work. I've come across the idea before but never actually seen any studies. What do you think regarding whether the 4 noble truths are verifiable or not?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    I've come across the idea before but never actually seen any studies. What do you think regarding whether the 4 noble truths are verifiable or not?
    I would say it this way... As a whole, they leave the possibility of making specific claims which can be tested. The challenges are that 1) it's difficult to ensure that the participant/subject actually is "letting go of frustration" or actually is "acting compassionately," and 2) the results are based on self-report (questionnaire) and will often be impacted by confounding variables (like events in life, economy, weather, etc.)... That second can be largely controlled for with a large enough sample size, though.

    Another way to test might be to compare neuroimaging scans of various sorts in the pleasure and well being centers of the brain... between buddhists and non-buddhists, and perhaps from those who are new to practicing buddhism against those who have been practicing for long periods of time.

    Not sure why the links didn't work for you.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    inow wrote
    Another way to test might be to compare neuroimaging scans of various sorts in the pleasure and well being centers of the brain...
    Something similar has been done. And they find that the happiest man in the world is a Buddhist. And it is the result of long-time meditation. see
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...ld-433063.html
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Why does following Buddhism, or any religion or belief, stop you from getting some life while you can?
    If you want religion to put you in a staightjacket then fair enough. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you are a Muslim. If you were born in Thailand you are a Buddhist.
    In most cases the country of your birth determines your religion. People that are the most free have distanced themselves from religion.
    Beware of generalisations. The happiest people in the world according to studies made in the last few years live in countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nigeria.
    If you want to follow Buddhism that is your choice. Maybe you should become a monk and cut yourself off from reality. Maybe a smoking Thai monk. 50% of them are heavy smokers and it isn't always tobacco. Anything to cut off the sexual urge.
    If you cut off outside influences and live like an animal then you can become happy like an animal. Become blissfully ignorant of science because most religions either discourage science or want nothing to do with it. Personally I would prefer to know the real facts of life rather than live within the fantasy cult of religion. Then I can live with the knowledge of real scientific truth and not the ignorance of fabled or allegorical religious 'truth'.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    inow wrote
    Another way to test might be to compare neuroimaging scans of various sorts in the pleasure and well being centers of the brain...
    Something similar has been done. And they find that the happiest man in the world is a Buddhist. And it is the result of long-time meditation.
    While it's an interesting story reminding people that we do have the capacity to change our style of thinking, reduce our suffering, and ultimately increase our happiness... and that the process of meditation can assist with this... it's not quite a study about "the happiest man in the world," despite the implication to the contrary.

    That's merely an journalistic turn of phrase to grab the readers attention. After all, I know they did not do an exhaustive study of every man and their level of happiness and religious predilection since they never called me.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    4,546
    Buddhism is kind of catch 22. On one hand you can remove all suffering and that is the objective of Buddhism, yet for that to be true you have to rid of what we would call 'pleasures'. Basically being in the middle ground.
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    ox wrote
    In most cases the country of your birth determines your religion.
    That is true.
    People that are the most free have distanced themselves from religion.
    It depends on how you define 'free people'. Are the American free people? Most of them are Christians.
    Maybe you should become a monk and cut yourself off from reality.
    You are implying that a monk cut himself off from reality. That is not a fact.
    Maybe a smoking Thai monk. 50% of them are heavy smokers and it isn't always tobacco. Anything to cut off the sexual urge.
    You are implying that half of all Thai monks smoke heavily in order to cut off the sexual urge. That is not a fact.
    If you cut off outside influences and live like an animal then you can become happy like an animal.
    You are implying that if a man cut off outside influences he will live like an animal, and animal is happy, and he will be happy like an animal because of that. That is not a fact.
    most religions either discourage science or want nothing to do with it.
    Buddhism is not against science. It just has different focus. For example, in science the way to reduce stress may be a tranquilizer pill, but in Buddhism it is meditation. ZAlso note that there are more to Buddhism than meditation. Meditation is only one of the tools.)

    Quantime wrote:
    yet for that to be true you have to rid of what we would call 'pleasures'
    Buddhism does not view pleasures as happiness. Peace is more closer to its definition of Happiness.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Buddhism is not against science. It just has different focus. For example, in science the way to reduce stress may be a tranquilizer pill, but in Buddhism it is meditation. Also note that there are more to Buddhism than meditation. Meditation is only one of the tools.
    What exactly do you mean by meditation? I went to a buddhist centre a couple of times for the 'meditation'. I was required to sit cross-legged on the floor. At the sound of a gong I was asked to think of someone I liked. Then I was asked to think of someone I didn't like. The second time I was required to mentally count up to 10, then backwards down to 1. Both occasions were subject to this kind of repetition, and it did nothing for me, even though I was told that this 'definitely works'.
    Now I admit that there is some point in this, but I leave you to judge if this is an effective way of cutting off the constant current of thought which invades your mind.
    Scientifically these thoughts are memes, and an alternative non-mystical method is this:
    Get comfortable. Switch off all distractions. When thoughts come into your head, note them mentally and let them go. At the end of 10 minutes, cease the practice. Do you feel refreshed or not? As a more advanced practice try and make do without phones, books, TV, and music for a day, and note how you feel then.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    ox wrote:
    What exactly do you mean by meditation?
    I think meditation is a kind of practice to harness your mind. Keep it still, so that it will stay in focus when it is used. The practice to achieve this may vary, and it is not only done in Buddhism, but also in Hinduism, Yoga etc.

    What I have read about meditation practice in Buddhism is more like your suggestion, i.e.
    Get comfortable. Switch off all distractions. When thoughts come into your head, note them mentally and let them go
    than what you have got from that Buddhist center.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    The challenges are that 1) it's difficult to ensure that the participant/subject actually is "letting go of frustration" or actually is "acting compassionately," and 2) the results are based on self-report (questionnaire) and will often be impacted by confounding variables (like events in life, economy, weather, etc.)... That second can be largely controlled for with a large enough sample size, though.
    Thanks for engaging in the spirit of this thread. These are genuine methodological concerns, probably find loads more getting down to the nuts and bolts of it too. These concerns are no worse than most epidemiological studies and could be overcome to provide a reasonably accurate reflection of the true state, i feel.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Another way to test might be to compare neuroimaging scans of various sorts in the pleasure and well being centers of the brain... between buddhists and non-buddhists, and perhaps from those who are new to practicing buddhism against those who have been practicing for long periods of time.
    Introduce surrogate end-points? Interesting; you'd have to prove the correlation of neuro-imaging outcome with the actual end-point of interest (happiness) first. Still leave you the problem of whether participants have followed the intervention (letting go of frustration...).

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Not sure why the links didn't work for you.
    They work at home but not at uni. Read the first one. It's an interesting model derived from buddhism with testable hypotheses.

    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Something similar has been done. And they find that the happiest man in the world is a Buddhist.
    Do know where to find the study itself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quantime
    Buddhism is kind of catch 22. On one hand you can remove all suffering and that is the objective of Buddhism, yet for that to be true you have to rid of what we would call 'pleasures'. Basically being in the middle ground.
    Not so much getting rid of pleasures but getting rid of attachment to pleasures. Still, i get your point. It's important in this context because we need to define the outcome - what is meant by end of suffering and happiness? Pleasures are often associated with happiness but buddhism holds they are not the same thing. Happiness is possible without pleasures because happiness is an intrinsic mind state while pleasures are external factors temporarily making for a happy mind set. The key word is temporarily - i assume had the Buddha found a way to always be happy via external stimuli he would have advocated this.





    Come on Ox, get into the spirit of things. I appreciate you have a deep set dislike for religion, that's not a problem. If buddhism is so obviously wrong then you should be able to empirically verify it, which is exactly what this thread is about. Which of the 4 noble truths do you find either false (if so give referenced evidence) or unprovable (if so give structured deductive reasoning).

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    . 50% of them are heavy smokers and it isn't always tobacco. Anything to cut off the sexual urge.
    This is a very specific claim. You should be able to back it up with some kind of source document, preferably from a peer-reviewed journal or statistics archive. You can't just make the claim then carry on as if you're right on another issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Scientifically these thoughts are memes...
    Not really. The memetic hypothesis is scientific in that it is verifiable but this does not mean that it has been verified by science.

    For someone who professes such a love for science you seem to lack an understanding of its processes.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Come on Ox, get into the spirit of things. I appreciate you have a deep set dislike for religion, that's not a problem. If buddhism is so obviously wrong then you should be able to empirically verify it, which is exactly what this thread is about. Which of the 4 noble truths do you find either false (if so give referenced evidence) or unprovable (if so give structured deductive reasoning).
    Religious people do like to judge others, in common with their god. I don't, because I love the truth and nothing else. I dislike hypocrisy, however. I note that buddha (whichever one) abandoned his wife and child to go and live in the forest. He eventually emerged to preach a new 'truth', and unfortunately the world has been plagued by it ever since, along with Jesus and Mohammed who also cut themselves off from reality in order to re-emerge and preach their own version of the truth. Just think of the trouble that that has caused. Somewhere along the line someone labels life's problem as the senses as being the cause of all suffering. One enlightened soul declared that it would have been better to have been born blind in the first place (and no doubt deaf and dumb also). Well, try telling that to some poor person with impaired vision that it would have been better for them to have been born blind.
    There is no evidence to suggest that westerners who convert to buddhism are advantaged by it at all. It is an eastern doctrine which even Carl Jung suggested westerners should avoid, even though he was a fan of buddhism, but that's all. I have been to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Scotland, presided over by a real life lama. People pay a lot of money to go into retreat there, but it is little more than a tradition being kept alive far from its source. Local people are amused by it all.
    If you want to know the real truth then consider the memepool for 2500 years ago. The only way teaching could be passed on was by word of mouth. Chinese whispers. I mean, come on, are you really going to say goodbye to the world forever in order to cut off a few thoughts, when exposure to the memepool again will plunge you straight back into it. I think you should ask yourself if the world was better off without TV, rock music, commercials, newspapers, magazines. These things are easy enough to avoid if you want to. Maybe confine yourself in a monastery or Amish type community; that is your choice.
    Personally I prefer to go out for a solitary long hike in the country away from trappings, and feel the sunshine, wind, rain, and whatever my thoughts throw at me. Then I am happy to re-engage with the world in the period in which I live with its associated memepool.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    There is no evidence to suggest that westerners who convert to buddhism are advantaged by it at all.
    This is the only sentence in your whole rebuttal that even begins to counter the specific points i put forward. You don't seem to understand how dialogue works. For instance you denounce buddhism for having no evidence (fair enough) but have provided no evidence of your own claims; particularly with reference to 50% of buddhists monks being heavy smokers - such a precise figure surely has a source.

    If you have studies showing buddhism does not benefit westerners who attempt the religion then please share it.

    Do you at least agree or disagree that the question can be empirically answered. Please answer just this one specific question which is the raison d'Ítre for this thread, and not skip over it like so many other specific points put to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Religious people do like to judge others, in common with their god. I don't, because I love the truth and nothing else.
    Judging is not unique to religion and you and me are not exempt. You seem to have decided what the truth is and confirm it selectively. I feel you are dogmatic in your view of science. For instance you seem to have accepted memes as scientific truth with no evidence yet denounce buddhism for having no evidence.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    Ox wrote:
    Somewhere along the line someone labels life's problem as the senses as being the cause of all suffering. One enlightened soul declared that it would have been better to have been born blind in the first place (and no doubt deaf and dumb also). Well, try telling that to some poor person with impaired vision that it would have been better for them to have been born blind.
    If that encapsulates the Buddha's teaching, then all Buddhists must be very stupid and should already pull their eyes out, pierce their ears and cut their tongues. The Alternative, which is you totally misunderstand the concept, is more likely.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    For instance you denounce buddhism for having no evidence (fair enough) but have provided no evidence of your own claims; particularly with reference to 50% of buddhists monks being heavy smokers - such a precise figure surely has a source.
    Try here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/1905371.stm
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    If you have studies showing buddhism does not benefit westerners who attempt the religion then please share it.
    Carl Jung went into great detail about this in his many books which touched on Buddhism. I read these some time ago. I would have to dig them out again but I may not have the time, so check it out for yourself. Jung came and went before the theory of memetics. He was vaguely close with his theory of the universal unconscious.
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Do you at least agree or disagree that the question can be empirically answered. Please answer just this one specific question which is the raison d'Ítre for this thread, and not skip over it like so many other specific points put to you.
    Not really, because when it comes to the 4 NT's, one they aint noble and two they aint true. Buddhism is rooted in Hinduism, which is rooted in Brahmaism, which is rooted in paganism which in turn is rooted shamanism and animism. So you would have to go a very long way back. I think you need to look at the true cause of suffering which is based upon genetic evolution by natural selection. Genes don't care what happens to us, their temporary vehicles.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Ox wrote:
    Somewhere along the line someone labels life's problem as the senses as being the cause of all suffering. One enlightened soul declared that it would have been better to have been born blind in the first place (and no doubt deaf and dumb also). Well, try telling that to some poor person with impaired vision that it would have been better for them to have been born blind.
    If that encapsulates the Buddha's teaching, then all Buddhists must be very stupid and should already pull their eyes out, pierce their ears and cut their tongues. The Alternative, which is you totally misunderstand the concept, is more likely.
    They probably have tried but found it too painful. There was a story about a beautiful young woman who wanted to become a nun, but they rejected her because of her beauty, so she deliberately scarred herself.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    For instance you denounce buddhism for having no evidence (fair enough) but have provided no evidence of your own claims; particularly with reference to 50% of buddhists monks being heavy smokers - such a precise figure surely has a source.
    Try here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/1905371.stm
    Yay. Slightly concerned you use media outlets for your factual information, but that was like drawing blood from a stone getting a source from you so i won't complain too much. So from a media source, which itself states 50% of thai monks smoke, you extrapolate to all buddhist monks?


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Carl Jung went into great detail about this in his many books which touched on Buddhism. I read these some time ago. I would have to dig them out again but I may not have the time, so check it out for yourself. Jung came and went before the theory of memetics. He was vaguely close with his theory of the universal unconscious.
    Not a fan of Jung, only slightly better than his contemporary, Freud. I won't be looking up his proofs against buddhism - unless any of them that you remember were empirical?

    This is why i don't like jung, and why i doubt very much he had any empirical data:
    Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throughout the world
    .


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Do you at least agree or disagree that the question can be empirically answered. Please answer just this one specific question which is the raison d'Ítre for this thread, and not skip over it like so many other specific points put to you.
    Not really, because when it comes to the 4 NT's, one they aint noble and two they aint true. Buddhism is rooted in Hinduism, which is rooted in Brahmaism, which is rooted in paganism which in turn is rooted shamanism and animism. So you would have to go a very long way back. I think you need to look at the true cause of suffering which is based upon genetic evolution by natural selection. Genes don't care what happens to us, their temporary vehicles.
    Thanks for answering, i do appreciate it. However, i disagree.

    Do people suffer or not? This can be empirically answered. What element do you believe can't?

    The cause of suffering is desire. I care less about whether you agree with it, but whether the hypothesis can be tested. I believe it can, though there are many methodological issues. Your hypothesis regarding evolution and natural selection too is reducible to empirical testing but would also be difficult at present. The point is if suffering has a cause we should be able to find it.

    Suffering can be relieved. You don't seem to believe it can. However, do you at least concede it can be tested? If i have a method i believe reduces suffering - i then implement it to some people, not to others and see the results (simplified). What is so difficult about that?

    If you have epistemological concerns about these questions then state them. Not liking something is not a reason, and neither was your next, strange, point.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Buddhism is rooted in Hinduism, which is rooted in Brahmaism, which is rooted in paganism which in turn is rooted shamanism and animism. So you would have to go a very long way back.
    A caricature; and i'm not sure what your point is. Science has roots in natural philosophy, which harkens back to greek philosophy the rational element of which was made in reaction to greek mythology by the likes of Thales. Therefore all science is based on Greek mythology, according to your reasoning. And why would buddhisms roots preclude it from empirical scrutiny anyway?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Just a nod toward Prometheus for the calm rational responses. It's appreciated. Carry on.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Do people suffer or not? This can be empirically answered. What element do you believe can't?
    The cause of suffering is desire. I care less about whether you agree with it, but whether the hypothesis can be tested. I believe it can, though there are many methodological issues. Your hypothesis regarding evolution and natural selection too is reducible to empirical testing but would also be difficult at present. The point is if suffering has a cause we should be able to find it.
    Suffering can be relieved. You don't seem to believe it can. However, do you at least concede it can be tested? If i have a method i believe reduces suffering - i then implement it to some people, not to others and see the results (simplified). What is so difficult about that?
    When it comes to 'The Buddha' we should always remember that there was more than one buddha. The term is a reference to the collected works of more than one. (A common literary trick in the old days). 'Buddha' would have had to have spoken for approx. 100 years day and night for all the sayings attributed to him.
    Okay, now where were we? I take off my glasses. Silly me, I don't wear them. Must be some good karma there! Oh yes. 'Buddha' was reported to have said:
    'All buildings end in destruction. All births end in death. All meetings end in separation. All acquisitions end in dispersal'. The first of these can be attributed to entropy; the second to natural selection; the third and fourth to a combination of entropy and natural selection.
    Now each of these can be put down to a desire of some kind, which is perfectly natural because we are all subject to the law of evolution by natural selection. If desire is completely extinguished then we wouldn't have made it out of the stone age. That's how 'Buddha' lived. A stone age man brimming with phoney wisdom, to inform the world that they should stop desiring. Have you experienced the traffic in Bangkok lately? There's the living proof it doesn't work in reality, as you can't stop progress even with the cessation of desire.
    The extinction of desire will result in good karma, so says the scripture. A buddhist centre I once attended informed me after I reached for my inhaler to relieve my asthma, that this was the result of bad karma from a previous life. In fact any affliction apparently is the result of bad karma. The bigger the affliction the worse your sins were in a previous life. I find this type of statement utterly distasteful.
    Even worse if you are reincarnated a woman. It is bad karma to be born a woman. Not only that, you are also the cause of every man's suffering (Milarepa in his '100,000 Songs').
    (Personally, I think I am the reincarnation of the English mystic Aleister Crowley. We were born only 20 miles apart. We were bullied at school. We suffered with asthma. We both like Loch Ness. We both failed in our quest for magical powers).
    But somehow, the 4NT's will overcome all this. Right action, right thought, right meditation will triumph to turn you into a Jina. Not only that you can attain the Siddhis or magical powers to give you power to fly through the air unaided, render you invisible, drink acid like you would consume water, and broadcast your 'gift waves' around the world to all sentient beings.
    Much of Buddhism is simply home-spun philosophy:
    'From pleasure comes grief'. (ie. common withdrawal symptoms).
    'Overcome anger with love'. (both natural temporary states of mind).
    'Cut out desire, and have no desire for desire'. (silly to resist progress).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    And that whole rant is completely irrelevant to the question posed in the thread, which is "can it be tested." The answer is, yes... but with some limitations which one would need to be careful to control for.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23 Re: Empirical Buddhism? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    When it comes to 'The Buddha' we should always remember that there was more than one buddha. The term is a reference to the collected works of more than one. (A common literary trick in the old days). 'Buddha' would have had to have spoken for approx. 100 years day and night for all the sayings attributed to him.
    I don't care if coco the clown contributed, the source is irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    'All buildings end in destruction. All births end in death. All meetings end in separation. All acquisitions end in dispersal'. The first of these can be attributed to entropy; the second to natural selection; the third and fourth to a combination of entropy and natural selection.
    Now each of these can be put down to a desire of some kind, which is perfectly natural because we are all subject to the law of evolution by natural selection.
    These are the teachings of impermanence. Natural selection and entropy are natural phenomenon outside of the human condition, devoid of desire - ours or anything/anyone elses.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If desire is completely extinguished then we wouldn't have made it out of the stone age.
    This is the closest you have come to answering though it still misses the explicit question of whether the 4 points are verifiable. It does, however, raise an interesting question as to whether, if the 4NTs do reduce suffering, it is desirable to do so.

    Elliot Smith (an anthropologist) said:
    Gorilla and Chimpanzee gave up the struggle for mental supremacy because they were satisfied with their circumstances...
    I think there is a genuine debate regarding the role of suffering as a catalyst in human progress. Even if suffering has catalysed human progress it begs the question of whether the suffering is worth it. Worth analysing on its own grounds, maybe we could start another thread on the topic as this thread is specific to those empirically reducible aspects.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Have you experienced the traffic in Bangkok lately? There's the living proof it doesn't work in reality, as you can't stop progress even with the cessation of desire.
    However, Bangkok's traffic does not serve as an example of the inevitability of human progress or the cessation of desire as impossible. This is because your example is no more than anecdote; while proving useful in hypothesis generation you'd still need to design an experiment to prove it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The extinction of desire will result in good karma, so says the scripture. A buddhist centre I once attended informed me after I reached for my inhaler to relieve my asthma, that this was the result of bad karma from a previous life. In fact any affliction apparently is the result of bad karma. The bigger the affliction the worse your sins were in a previous life.
    Either you have misunderstood the buddhist law of karma, or it was taught incorrectly to you. Perhaps, if you have nothing to proffer regarding the empirical validity of the 4NTs, we can move onto karma?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    And that whole rant is completely irrelevant to the question posed in the thread, which is "can it be tested." The answer is, yes... but with some limitations which one would need to be careful to control for.
    When it comes to rants, I can't compete with buddhist rants about the world, and about women in particular.
    However in the last few days I decided to try empirical buddhism for myself. The favoured sites for meditation are graveyards or wilderness. I plumped for a cave in the Scottish Highlands.
    Here is my diary:
    Day 1.
    I allow myself a few comforts in order to conform with the 'middle way', rather than a totally ascetic existence. I have a mat, a sleeping bag and a stove and a pot to boil nettles and water. Only joking.
    I meditate on the causes of suffering - selfish craving, eye consciousness etc. I try to dam the troublesome current of thought inside my head by rhythmic breathing and other techniques. I also meditate on a few thoughts, such as Thomas Hobbes' classic quote that the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. This helps with my enforced isolation. I close my eyes to blot out the landscape (scenery is reviled by Buddhists). This is not easy as the mountains are very beautiful, and I cannot cut off my thoughts for more than a few minutes.
    In moments of extreme boredom I look back on my life and my ancestry. How my ancestors would love to have lived in the age in which I have lived. Theirs was a battle for survival. No welfare when needed. No horseless carriages, airplanes, entertainment systems. Instead a grinding hand to mouth existence. And their life expectancy may only have been half of what we have today. I wish I could thank them for their sacrifices in making the world what it has become.
    Day 2.
    I am starting to think more deeply about the reasons why it was necessary to invent the 4NT's. The social conditions of 2.5 millenia ago must have been very different to today. No law and order like we know it. In a world where barbarism was rife, few people travelled very far. You risked being robbed or even murdered.
    Add to that the short life expectancy and the world must have felt like all was suffering. To protect yourself it would be wise to shave your head (robbers can't grab you by the hair). Go barefoot, wear a thin robe and carry a begging bowl (robbers are more likely to leave you alone). In other words, knowledge of the 4NT's improve your chances of staying alive, as desire and craving can be your downfall, and the lack of can be your salvation!
    Day 3.
    I am thinking about the social injustices of religion. Like the girl children, abandoned as babies simply because they are female, reared by surrogates and then sold into prostitution. A practice which continues in the Buddhist 'Mecca' of Thailand even today. Or the French monks who bought young boys, castrated them and sold them on as eunuch-slaves to Moorish traders. Or the fact that religions never condemned slavery or serfdom, because such practice is not condemned by their 'holy scripture'. Or the vile Hindu caste system which still today effectively makes slaves of the 'Untouchables'. If Buddhism has one redeeming feature in its homeland of India, it did at least rebel against this practice.
    I am also thinking about the Buddhas, and who were they exactly? Well, they were shamans of course, with their love of fire (hence the ridiculous Fire Sermon); their love of trees (hence the enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, and no doubt accompanied by fire); and their preposterous 'magical powers', which today nobody can replicate and we can assume never existed.

    I am back home now, putting my feet up and watching the world on TV, and do you know what? The world is not such a bad place after all. We as a race have worked hard to eliminate suffering and the causes of suffering. We can never completely succeed I'm sure, but who knows? Only the generations to come can really answer that.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Ox.

    Before i let you continue to chase your own tail i just want to check a few things.

    What do understand by the term 'empiricism'?

    What do you think is involved in the scientific method?

    What do you understand of the term 'straw man'?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Before i let you continue to chase your own tail i just want to check a few things.
    What do understand by the term 'empiricism'?
    Chuck the book, and try before you buy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    What do you think is involved in the scientific method?
    The bigger the rigour the better.
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    What do you understand of the term 'straw man'?
    But if you can destroy the whole, then you destroy the parts. Anyone can agree with Buddhism by randomly opening the sort of carefully chosen fragments of text which are available to buy in the West. Instead read your way through the Buddhacarita and the Dharmapada. Why should one piece of wisdom be true, but some unlikely event not be true? All religions then put up their defences to describe what is unlikely as 'apocryphal' or 'allegorical'.
    In the case of the 4 NT's, Buddhism touches on common ground. We all suffer sooner or later. Better to trust modern medicine, and get some life while you can.
    Now I ask you, what does Buddhism additionally have in common with other religions? Is it:
    a) they are after your money
    b) they are after your money
    or c) they are after your money.
    Yes, from shamans to present present day priests, it is simply a way of making a living. There are also plenty of fakes. Take the case of Lobsang Rampa, a man who claimed to have lived in Tibet for several years and was the author of such best selling books of 'wisdom' as Living with the Lama and You Forever. It was revealed that he was an Irishman who had never been to Tibet, but he was clever enough to have realised that there was a market in the West for this sort of thing.
    The point I am trying to make is that Buddhism has no real place in the West. It makes sense only to people brought up in its tradition, and there is a big difference even between Buddhism and Buddhists.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    But if you can destroy the whole, then you destroy the parts.
    So you don't know what a strawman argument entails? Strange, you are doing a good job of creating your own version of buddhism, unrecognisable to anyone else on this forum, and arguing against it; not actual buddhism.

    Also, you are wrong. Evolution is far from a complete theory, and many parts will be falsified. But we can only take the whole. Therefore, by your reasoning, we should abandon evolutionary theory.

    After sifting through the detritus of your posts it is obvious you have little understanding of either buddhism or the scientific method.


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    The point I am trying to make is that Buddhism has no real place in the West. It makes sense only to people brought up in its tradition, and there is a big difference even between Buddhism and Buddhists.
    A fair enough point, but i disagree. These things are not static. Cultures merge, change and, dare i say, evolve. If elements of buddhism work while others don't what is stopping us from taking what works?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28 Karma/kamma 
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Let us turn to the concept of karma, and whether it has any scientific basis. First, definitions.

    From:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/...m/nshell06.htm

    According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyamas) which operate in the physical and mental realms:

    i. Kamma niyama, order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.
    ii. Utu niyama, physical (inorganic) order, e.g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains.
    iii. Bija niyama, order of germs or seeds (physical organic order); e.g., rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar cane or honey, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.
    iv. Citta niyama, order of mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness (citta vithi), power of mind, etc.
    v. Dhamma niyama, order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisatta in his last birth, gravitation, etc.

    Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Kamma is, therefore, only one of the five orders that prevail in the universe. It is a law in itself, but it does not thereby follow that there should be a law-giver. Ordinary laws of nature, like gravitation, need no law-giver. It operates in its own field without the intervention of an external independent ruling agency.
    Strictly translated karma means action, to do, which alludes to its meaning. It is based on a belief in causality - nothing occurs by chance alone, everything has a cause. Karma is said to be the law of moral causation. This seems to mean those causes which are attributable to the agency of an individual, i.e effects with causes from free-will.

    Therefore, karma is based on two assumptions; causation and free-will. Both these could be challenged on philosophical grounds, and perhaps the latter on empirical grounds soon. If free-will is found to be true we could explore the possibility of whether karma is true. Such testing would be contingent upon being able to separate effects of free-will from physical effects.

    Theoretically this should be easy test, the law of karma is stating that there are effects which have causes. However, the nature of those effects are vague - often being subjective states of mind. Some effects are said to be material, such as disease, but this compounds with buddhist beliefs of a physical organic order. How to separate such causality? A smoker may have a genetic propensity towards developing COPD, but his smoking habit will also contribute. The former would be considered a physical organic order, the latter karma; but can we ever disentangle the two?

    As it exists the concept of karma seems only to state that our actions have causes. Few would argue with that, but it is questionable what use such a truism has, other than reinforcing a general life-lesson. But should that not be whole point of religion?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Most people don't believe in karma because they have common sense enough to realise that sooner or later something bad really will happen to you, and is not your sins from a previous life, or this life. Do something bad and you are likely to be punished by your own conscience, and possibly by the law. But you will always be punished by the karmic blackening of your soul, which apparently resides in the heart and not the head. At the end of your life your soul is examined. If it is too heavy you are destined for an unfavourable rebirth. All this belief arrives from the meeting of animism (the soul) and shamanism (the fire), and is needed to square its dogma.
    So what happens to children lost in infancy? Are they the biggest sinners of all? And what about martyrs? Do they have good karma or bad karma? And how about the murdered? Were they murderers themselves in a previous life? This has also been suggested. And does karma extend to nations? In WW1 millions were sacrificed, whose average age was about 20, in order to burn up the karma (apparently) of the greedy empires of Europe.
    Yes, burning up our karma, no matter how unpleasant, will help us on the road to righteousness! To serve as a light to the world Buddha made the transition from sinner to saint by moving from a life of luxury to life of poverty. A thousand years later St. Augustine made a similar transition by repeatedly going down on his catholic knees. A few hundred years later the sinner Milarepa repeatedly built and then demolished a tower in order to satisfy his guru, before the latter would impart the secrets of the tummo fire, which would allow the burning up of his karma.
    But I think you can see that all of this is redundant today in the light of science, and in particular the theories of evolution by natural selection and the selfish gene theory.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    All this belief arrives from the meeting of animism (the soul) and shamanism (the fire), and is needed to square its dogma.
    So, let me take this particular utterance to demonstrate that you have put forward a strawman argument. Buddhism has no belief in a soul. It is not just agnostic on the issue, it quite specifically denies its existence.

    I don't know what you are talking about, but it's quite evidently not Buddhism. Please learn more about that which you wish to criticise. I would dearly like to have an intelligent discussion on this subject instead of just repeating your lack of understanding every other post. There are many valid criticisms you could use, but building your own version of buddhism and criticising it is far from valid.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Buddhism has no belief in a soul. It is not just agnostic on the issue, it quite specifically denies its existence.
    That is one of the points of Buddhist doctrine that I have found confusing.
    If there is no soul, then what reincarnates?

    Physical causation is obvious, steering wheels, automobiles, and games of snooker.
    The Buddhist concept of karma might however not be empirically testable, as there can be a temporal separation of one or more lifetimes between cause and effect.
    I can't remember the source, but a Buddhist anecdote is that Siddhartha had a headache, and stated the cause as having killed and eaten some fish during a former lifetime.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    That is one of the points of Buddhist doctrine that I have found confusing. If there is no soul, then what reincarnates?
    Yeah, its weird. Apparently, when asked, the Buddha replied 'I have taught you, o bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things'. If you understand that, please explain it to me. When i've asked, and i've asked a lot, i been told to consider an analogy of a candle flame. One candle is used to light another candle, the first then being extinguished. Is it the same flame? An inability to define the flame suggests the question is nonsensical. Hopefully someone may explain it better.

    I can understand the view that once we die, our actions from life continue to have an impact on the world. Thus, i would say that karma continues beyond the grave. But then to say that one is then reborn (not reincarnated, which requires a soul) and recieves this previuous karma... i don't understand it.


    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    The Buddhist concept of karma might however not be empirically testable, as there can be a temporal separation of one or more lifetimes between cause and effect. I can't remember the source, but a Buddhist anecdote is that Siddhartha had a headache, and stated the cause as having killed and eaten some fish during a former lifetime.
    Rebirth does throw a spanner in the works. However, karma is said to operate within people's lifetimes too. Do you think these, at least, could be tested (theoretically if not practically)?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    Prometheus wrote:
    But then to say that one is then reborn (not reincarnated, which requires a soul) and recieves this previuous karma... i don't understand it.
    That is the difficulty of embracing Buddhism. As it is not faith-based, you cannot be enlightened just by believing the teaching, you have to understand it. And the concept is not easy to grasp. Also there are many sects within Buddhism, each has significant difference. From my study, reincarnation is not a right question, as there is nothing to reincarnate.

    To believe that 'I' exists after death is wrong.
    To believe that 'I' don't exist after death is also wrong.
    Because there is no 'I' in the first place.
    (Anatta, one of the universal characteristics of everything)
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    In physics there is the principle of symmetry which gives rise to the conservation laws.
    If we consider anthropic consciousness as a physical phenomena then karma would be the application of symmetry to consciousness.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symmetry_(physics)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_law
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmy_Noether
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    All this belief arrives from the meeting of animism (the soul) and shamanism (the fire), and is needed to square its dogma.
    So, let me take this particular utterance to demonstrate that you have put forward a strawman argument. Buddhism has no belief in a soul. It is not just agnostic on the issue, it quite specifically denies its existence.
    I don't know what you are talking about, but it's quite evidently not Buddhism. Please learn more about that which you wish to criticise. I would dearly like to have an intelligent discussion on this subject instead of just repeating your lack of understanding every other post. There are many valid criticisms you could use, but building your own version of buddhism and criticising it is far from valid
    But karma is found in Hinduism, which Buddhism is a branch of. Instead, Buddhism believes in 'last thought moments' and this is its version of the soul. The belief that the last thought you have before dying is the first thought you have when rebirthing. Just to be on the safe side, when you die, make sure you think of Buddha. Then you could be up there with the gods. No doubt this is the Buddhist form of Pascal's Wager. This crazy notion was also transferred to Christianity. If you fall off your horse and it feels like it's going to be fatal, then repent in the moment that you have left. Then you will go to heaven.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    ox wrote:
    But karma is found in Hinduism, which Buddhism is a branch of. Instead, Buddhism believes in 'last thought moments' and this is its version of the soul.
    The Buddhism as you understand is quite different from the Buddhism I have studied. 'My' Buddhism is not a branch of Hinduism. Buddha was not an avatart of any Hindu God. 'My' Buddhism does not give importance to the 'last thought moments'.
    May be we should focus on the Buddhism as explained by Prometheus instead of referring to various beliefs of Buddhism.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Okay, in future I will bind myself to Prometheus's version of Buddhism. I will spread the meme. I will even sacramentally eat liver on Friday. I promise to respect the Prometheus Institute, whose revealing insights into the life of Buddha include:
    The first Buddhist was of course, the Buddha, although this isnít a proper name.
    And suffering can be eliminated by the removal of desire. 'Desire, desire, have no desire for desire'. Strange that Thailand should be a developing nation. Isn't that proof enough that Buddhism is a failed dogma? My experience of buddhist nations is that Buddhism is purely cultural. It seems that nations do need some form of religion to promote their separate culture. If Buddhism isn't a religion then why do they need to build temples, have holy days, invent mantras, and practice monasticism?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Okay, in future I will bind myself to Prometheus's version of Buddhism. I will spread the meme. I will even sacramentally eat liver on Friday. I promise to respect the Prometheus Institute, whose revealing insights into the life of Buddha include:
    Grow up.

    The first Buddhist was of course, the Buddha, although this isnít a proper name.
    I said this? Would you care to find where i said this for all to see, because all i can find is a statement i made in response to your question, 'which Buddha?' I said Siddhartha Gautama. It is really not difficult to grasp. Buddha is a title. Like the Pope. The Pope has a name too you know, though he's referred to as 'the Pope'.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Strange that Thailand should be a developing nation. Isn't that proof enough that Buddhism is a failed dogma?
    So... Christianity must be right then?

    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If Buddhism isn't a religion then why do they need to build temples, have holy days, invent mantras, and practice monasticism?
    Who said it wasn't? You will notice i started the thread in the religion sub-forum. Are you not getting dizzy chasing you're own tail?

    Listen Ox, i have given you ample opportunity to refine your arguments, but you continue to post immature, ill-conceived and just plain illogical ramblings. There are plenty of criticisms one could make of Buddhism, but you have failed to articulate any. Please read up on Buddhism, using the links i have provided, think about exactly what it is you find wrong and articulate your thoughts in a coherent manner. I would really welcome some scathing criticism, if it were intelligent. If, however, you have nothing to offer but your own incessant ramblings against an imaginary foe, then please refrain from posting on this thread again.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    In physics there is the principle of symmetry which gives rise to the conservation laws.
    If we consider anthropic consciousness as a physical phenomena then karma would be the application of symmetry to consciousness.
    I looked up the links, but most of it went over my head. Could you dumb them down for me and explain your thoughts?
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    The first Buddhist was of course, the Buddha, although this isnít a proper name.
    I said this? Would you care to find where i said this for all to see, because all i can find is a statement i made in response to your question, 'which Buddha?' I said Siddhartha Gautama. It is really not difficult to grasp. Buddha is a title. Like the Pope. The Pope has a name too you know, though he's referred to as 'the Pope'.
    Is this coincidence then?
    http://theprometheusinstitute.org/in...ls-of-buddhism

    Yes, the Pope does have a name, but that's only to uniquely identify him from the long line of saints and sinners which have occupied the papal throne going back to St. Peter, and which today thank goodness we can assume that through media scrutinization they are more likely to be saints than sinners.
    I think you are wrong about the historical identity of 'the Buddha', and by this knowledge we can effectively rule out Buddhism as a serious contender for the solution to the world's problems. As I have argued elsewhere on the Forum, the original buddhas were no more than black shamans who later, in order to promote their legends, had the myths of Krishna woven into their life stories.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Yes. I'm not Justin Hartfield. I've never heard of this politically motivated network group. Prometheus is a powerful myth, and a popular pseudonym. It's a reasonable representation of Buddhism, with an obvious Zen bias. Buddhism is a religion by most definitions of the word. People describing it as a 'philosophy' are trying to allude to its unprescriptive nature compared to other religions, but end up confusing both what religion is and what philosophy is.


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    I think you are wrong about the historical identity of 'the Buddha', and by this knowledge we can effectively rule out Buddhism as a serious contender for the solution to the world's problems. As I have argued elsewhere on the Forum, the original buddhas were no more than black shamans who later, in order to promote their legends, had the myths of Krishna woven into their life stories.
    It will require far more than 'i think' to disprove what Buddhists' teach is based on the teachings of Siddartha Guatama. If you have evidence, present it. Not that it even matters; if coco the clown came up with buddhism it doesn't disprove buddhism.
    Put up or shut up.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    In physics there is the principle of symmetry which gives rise to the conservation laws.
    If we consider anthropic consciousness as a physical phenomena then karma would be the application of symmetry to consciousness.
    I looked up the links, but most of it went over my head. Could you dumb them down for me and explain your thoughts?
    The symmetry part is padding, we can ignore that for now.
    The important part is conservation, as in conservation of mass, conservation of energy, conservation of charge, etcetera.
    There are certain physical measurements that can be made on a system, and those quantities never change, even with the evolution of the system.

    If we consider consciousness as a physical phenomena, then there might be measurable aspects of consciousness where the quantity remains consistent throughout the evolution of the system.

    The above is just my own poor attempt at a non mystical explanation of karma.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    So... we're talking about a closed system in which in which an entity never fluctuates in terms of overall quantity, but simply changes the expression of that quantity?

    I think karma is too vague a concept, and definitely too difficult to quantify, to be considered a closed system.

    If one includes the 'five orders or processes' (niyamas) we have all the natural orders of the universe (i.e. all the physical laws - assuming consciousness is a product of those physical laws ), so these might be considered a closed system.

    But karma itself is cause and effect exclusively attributable to human free-will; that part of us which is conscious and acts upon the world (assuming one accepts free-will/human agency). But then our conscious actions (karma) may impact upon physical processes too - global warming for instance. So the divide gets too messy, i think.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    But karma itself is cause and effect exclusively attributable to human free-will; that part of us which is conscious and acts upon the world (assuming one accepts free-will/human agency). But then our conscious actions (karma) may impact upon physical processes too - global warming for instance. So the divide gets too messy, i think.
    Now you've really hit on what religion really is. It is the attempted removal of an individual's free will, and in most cases it succeeds. If you are religious you are effectively in a straight-jacket. If you rebel you are ostracized and even punished by your community. Children become the biggest victims of this evil empire. Even St. Augustine had his doubts and was moved to say 'Love and do what you will', which I think could be interpreted as go and spread Christian love, but leave it at that.
    Global warming has nothing to do with karma, but Gaia theory might.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Give a man enough rope...


    Anyway, i don't think there has to be anything mystical about karma. If we accept free-will to be true (self-evident for most people) and we accept the causal principle (most people do, science is built on it) then we could simply define karma as those effects that have causes rooted in free-will. This is consistent both with Buddhist doctrine and science (as it's largely a question of definition).

    It starts turning mystical, to my mind, when we add the Buddhist concept of rebirth, to which, if anyone is still with me, i will now turn.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    It starts turning mystical, to my mind, when we add the Buddhist concept of rebirth, to which, if anyone is still with me, i will now turn.
    Without some basis model of consciousness, can we even begin to discuss rebirth?

    P.S. The first person is always capitalized, even in the middle and at the end of sentences. O.C.D. Sorry.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    http://www.buddhanet.net/funbud10.htm

    The last paragraph is most telling; the rest just waffle. It suggests that the effects our conscious actions have had in the world still reverberate post mortem. I can accept this. However, quite how this accumulates into a new person doesn't make any sense. Hopefully prasit might be able to shed some light on this issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    Without some basis model of consciousness, can we even begin to discuss rebirth?
    At the moment no. The link above suggests evidence from psychology in the form of hypnotherapy and so forth. However, without even being able to define the terms of rebirth i'm happy to put this down entirely to faith (of which i have none in this matter).

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    P.S. The first person is always capitalized, even in the middle and at the end of sentences. O.C.D. Sorry.
    I know, i know. :wink:

    It's quite deliberate. I started doing it as an act of humbleness when i first started studying Buddhism. However, now attention's been drawn to it, it will probably seem quite pretentious. But old habits...
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    But old habits...
    Are easily released as one practices non-attachment.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  50. #49  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    Prometheus wrote:
    Hopefully prasit might be able to shed some light on this issue.
    Not sure whether I can help much here, as I am still at the lowest rung of the ladder to enlightenment.
    About rebirth, I can only agree in one sentence of your reference site:
    In Buddhism, rebirth is part of the continuous process of change. In fact, we are not only reborn at the time of death, we are born and reborn at every moment
    This is in line with the teaching of Anijung: Nothing is permenent. Everything keeps on changing. So a 'rebirth' is really a 'new birth' of something, while the old thing 'diissolve', as various elements flow back and forth, forming and disintegrating.
    It suggests that the effects our conscious actions have had in the world still reverberate post mortem. I can accept this. However, quite how this accumulates into a new person doesn't make any sense.
    If you make the concious action to procreate, its effect may cause a new person to be born even if you are already dead (within 9 months, of course). Or your heroic actions may create followers that perform the same actions. In the future, it is even possible that you are cloned.
    But is that you reborn? No it is not. Because there is no 'you' in the first place.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  51. #50  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    I just picked up a complete translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with an introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Should be interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    It's quite deliberate. I started doing it as an act of humbleness when i first started studying Buddhism. However, now attention's been drawn to it, it will probably seem quite pretentious. But old habits...
    In your case, it being neither sloth nor ignorance, I say carry on.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  52. #51  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    But old habits...
    Are easily released as one practices non-attachment.
    Ha. Never said i was a good Buddhist.

    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    If you make the concious action to procreate, its effect may cause a new person to be born even if you are already dead (within 9 months, of course). Or your heroic actions may create followers that perform the same actions. In the future, it is even possible that you are cloned.
    But is that you reborn? No it is not. Because there is no 'you' in the first place.
    I can accept this, but it's not all Buddhism teaches. It also includes the hell and heaven realms (along with 4 other realms, making for 6) which are taught to be literal realms. Can this claim be substantiated? I doubt it.


    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    I just picked up a complete translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with an introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Should be interesting.
    Cool. Its a hard read. The Dalai Lama is on record to say that if rebirth is scientifically disproved he would stop believing it...
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  53. #52  
    ox
    ox is offline
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,516
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    I just picked up a complete translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with an introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Should be interesting.
    Interesting maybe, but nonsense it is. In order to justify its credibility, Tibetan yogis had to die and then remain conscious through the 49 day bardo period between death and rebirth and report back to the living what had happened to them. Their flight through the demonic world is then written down as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Note that this work is completely different to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was one of the foundations of western religion.
    I hope you will see sense, and maybe as an antidote to this nasty dogma, read Carl Sagan's brilliant essay 'The Demon Haunted World'.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  54. #53  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    2,280
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil
    I just picked up a complete translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with an introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Should be interesting.
    Interesting maybe, but nonsense it is. In order to justify its credibility, Tibetan yogis had to die and then remain conscious through the 49 day bardo period between death and rebirth and report back to the living what had happened to them. Their flight through the demonic world is then written down as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Note that this work is completely different to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was one of the foundations of western religion.
    I hope you will see sense, and maybe as an antidote to this nasty dogma, read Carl Sagan's brilliant essay 'The Demon Haunted World'.
    Already read The Demon Haunted World. When I'm done with The Tibetan Book of the Dead, I will come back and tell you just how chicken hockey your erroneous assumptions are.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  55. #54  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    716
    Prometheus wrote:
    I can accept this, but it's not all Buddhism teaches. It also includes the hell and heaven realms (along with 4 other realms, making for 6) which are taught to be literal realms. Can this claim be substantiated? I doubt it.
    I ignore it. I focus only on the present life.
    If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism
    -Albert Einstein
    Reply With Quote  
     

  56. #55  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    I thought I'd awaken this thread with the link below (if for nothing else other than to share with those interested):


    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/201..._day_2011.html
    Commonly called "Budda's birthday," Vesak Day is a time for Buddhists worldwide to come together and celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. The commemorations range from meditations and quiet prayers to alms giving events to long colorful processions. In Indonesia, such events take place at the Borobudur Mahayana Buddhist monument, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the country. Vesak is observed every year during the full moon occurring in May or June. -- Lloyd Young(27 photos total)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  57. #56  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    482
    Cheers. Some good pictures, esp. the 3rd one down.
    The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

    Fancy a game of chess?
    http://www.itsyourturn.com/
    Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  58. #57  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,499
    I think #s 5 & 18 spoke most to me.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •