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Superfluous doctrines?
Chordal
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Post: #1
Superfluous doctrines?
A thought came to me recently:

That the difficulties I've been experiencing with Buddhism in recent history have to do with my having come to see through certain levels of "skilled means" (*upaya*). This popped into my mind the other night; I'm attributing it currently to someone who I think was my closest spirit friend.

Upaya is basically, as termed in my World Religions course, a doctrine that says that something doesn't have to be true to be helpful. I was writing a term paper the other night which in part critiqued *metta* ("lovingkindness") as based on faulty information and in practicality, infeasible. I've gone over the argument here that *metta* advocates not hurting or killing any "sentient beings"; however in reality, the "sentient beings" caveat is based entirely on ignorance and assumption (as though thought is necessary for something to have a wish to live -- though I'm not talking about the brain-dead here), and it is impossible to survive without ever hurting or killing anything. That doesn't mean that pain is meaningless or desirable, but it does mean to honor the deaths of those who one does not identify with as well as those in whom we see ourselves.

So I got the message that maybe this difficulty arises because "lovingkindness" is a tool to achieve an end, which may work for many people (especially within popular Buddhism), but which I've come to see is so flawed as to be unrealistic.

There was something else which qualified, in my mind, as *upaya* that was also a bit of information I severely questioned which had drawn me away from the religion as a whole -- that's right, *anatta*, or the doctrine of not having a true self (besides "buddha-nature", at least, though I think that the buddha-nature caveat is a bit confused and confusing). The further I get into interacting with my environment, the more who I am is shown. It's as though I'm something transparent but solid, that can't see itself until something else bumps into it. Things bumping into it don't happen as much, if I stay in one (not literal) place for too long. But *anatta* may be an extreme view taken to get people to examine themselves, like *metta* is a view taken to get people to try and avoid harming others. If I'm already avoiding harming others and I'm already examining myself, the two doctrines may be ineffectual and superfluous, in my case.

I thought I'd record and post this, in some form. Have others here had run-ins with untrue doctrines that led them to question their "faith"? EDIT: Was it resolved, and if so, how?
2012-12-14 5:11
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Chordal
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Post: #2
Re: Superfluous doctrines?
All right then,

I've just gotten through reading about that meltdown that occurred between Ges and I about a year ago. Given what I was questioning there, and what I have been questioning here, it seems apparent that I'd probably not want to be Buddhist, even if I do choose to learn from Buddhism. That is, if I'm questioning karma, metta, and anatta, and I'm potentially sexually liberated and do not hold to nonviolence, that right there would run aground as regards the foundations of the religion. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->

It's not like I can't get into a state of mind where it makes sense, but it's distinctively a religious state of mind, and I'm not an essentially religious person. My personal definition of religion (in a negative sense), as it applies to myself, is a state where I'm holding onto beliefs that I don't adhere to normally (usually, benevolent beliefs that make no sense); or giving reverence to something or someone who cannot be proven to exist (like my fetishes, or Bell). So in a way I am religious, at least when I'm utilizing my stones and fetishes (fetishes represent spiritual beings who, given a strong enough harmony, are effectually real), or when I'm caring for plants, or utilizing plant spirits and bodies to help me...or being creative, for that matter (as terrifying as that is -- talk about a journey through the underworld)...but that is more on a borderline between spirituality and religion, being more freeform.

There is a solid undergirding network as regards my own spiritual state, that I get more than a glimpse of -- more like an aerial view -- in my backposts. The harder task than being religious, in this case, is trying to get a greater view of my own network of thought. Given what I've said before, this may not be possible without bumping into a lot of things, to reveal my own shape. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

I think the draw to religion, in myself, is the ability to have a network of people for support. Plus there's the whole "ooh shiny" thing that goes on, for instance with myself and wanting to purchase a bell, or finding double dorjes really beautiful, things like this. Artistic type things, I guess...
2012-12-17 6:49
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Wolfsnake
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Post: #3
Re: Superfluous doctrines?
This is interesting to read, and outlines a lot of the reasons I never delved very deeply into Buddhism (and part of why I left the Catholic Church). If someone tells me I need to do something, I like to know why. If the only answer is "because you should," that really isn't very motivational. I also have trouble with the lack of true self. I believe very firmly in a true self. The thought that everyone is merely a collection of impulses or memories, or that everyone has some universal fundamental nature, and we are lost until we realize it, ignores the beauty, variation, uniqueness, and depth of personality in everyone. I don't think consciousness is an obstacle course with the exact same prize at the end for every person. Everyone is a little bit different. Everyone has something unique that they alone can bring into this world. That is what I believe.

I was a fairly devout Catholic in my late teens and early twenties--I had a brief bout of doubt and atheism prior to that, which made me really sit down and think about things, and return with a stronger faith than the sort of wishy-washy "this is what we do" I'd grown up with. I was working towards becoming a Secular Franciscan (basically one step below holy orders), considered joining a convent, and honestly thought if I'd been born male, I would have gravitated towards the priesthood. I idolized St. Francis of Assissi (still do, to be honest) and went to church every Sunday and holy day. This was before I realized that I was queer (FtM/N and gay), and would not have been able to remain a Catholic in good standing anyway.

Being fairly involved in my faith meant it was on my mind a lot. But other things were, too. Like the fact that my two best friends (both women) could not get married even though they loved each other just as dearly as any straight couple I'd met, if not more so. Like the fact that someone quite close to me had to have an abortion for an ectopic pregnancy--forced to choose to end the life of her unborn child so that she could live to take care of her older son, and would have been excommunicated for it. Like the fact that the population of the planet is growing beyond our capacity to feed and clothe and maintain humane standards for everyone, yet the Church still condemns contraception. There were so many choices and sacrifices and beauties and natural ways of being that the Church called "wrong" that I could see nothing wrong with. I had to maintain such a high degree of cognitive dissonance between my conscience and my religion that I started to worry my personality would fracture.

Long story short, I left the Church and became a neo-pagan priest. In my new religion, still have that sense of community and social justice ("Catholic Action") that I loved in the Church, but it does not come at the price of my conscience or at the cost of anyone else's fundamental rights. I work through a multinational organization (CoG) and through a local coven, and feel much happier in a religion where what I see to be right, logical, and kind is not viewed as sinful. I still admire Christ and still think his life was worth emulating. He was an original peace-and-love hippy, a grass-roots bleeding-heart liberal. I just don't believe his dad is the only god out there.

Speaking of religion, I think spirituality and religion get mixed up so often that it's hard to say which is which, or where a dividing line might be. The dictionary definitions and popular-knowledge definitions are awfully ambiguous. Ask 10 people what the difference and similarities are and you'll get a dozen answers, some of them quite prejudiced against "religion" because of that word's association with certain organized groups, and some of them perjorative towards "spirituality" due to its treatment in popular media.

I refer to myself as religious, because I work within an organized group. However, nearly all of what I do could also easily be called spiritual. So go figure, I guess?
2012-12-20 0:20
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Chordal
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Post: #4
Re: Superfluous doctrines?
Hello!

Sorry for the time lag -- I was trying to formulate an effective response to what you wrote, and your response was so deep that I had to think about it for a while. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I even have it all printed out and everything. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I'll try to respond here...

Wolfsnake Wrote:This is interesting to read, and outlines a lot of the reasons I never delved very deeply into Buddhism (and part of why I left the Catholic Church). If someone tells me I need to do something, I like to know why. If the only answer is "because you should," that really isn't very motivational.

I actually haven't been to many Buddhist organizations in person, when the focus has been expressly on Buddhism. There are things like festivals which celebrate the turning of the seasons, but these are more cultural in nature, not religious. Though living where I do, it isn't unusual to run across monks on the street (and actually when I was initially questioning Buddhism and speaking about it to an acquaintance for the first time in public, I was passed by two of them...which was odd), I haven't actually gone out of my way to know any.

I did initiate contact with a temple at one time, but was told later by family that that one temple was known for trying to get people to abandon their family and friends, which is not a good tactic if one wants to avoid being labeled as a harmful cult. I've also taken a class in Mindfulness meditation and yoga through my health plan, during which the question of the lack of female Buddhist authors was brought up (I avoided being scathing there by not commenting -- or rather accepting the fact that I was being talked over), and where I got the message that "thinking too much" is looked down upon. These two things are indicative of a greater pattern that has led me to distance myself from the religion. I'm not sure if I need to explain that much more here, except I'll note that the "thinking too much" thing is probably a retort to people questioning Buddhist doctrines, and the lack of female Buddhist authors is probably because women have a tendency to be relegated to lower status within Buddhism...so it's like why devote oneself to a system that sees one as inferior?

Wolfsnake Wrote:I also have trouble with the lack of true self. I believe very firmly in a true self. The thought that everyone is merely a collection of impulses or memories, or that everyone has some universal fundamental nature, and we are lost until we realize it, ignores the beauty, variation, uniqueness, and depth of personality in everyone. I don't think consciousness is an obstacle course with the exact same prize at the end for every person. Everyone is a little bit different. Everyone has something unique that they alone can bring into this world. That is what I believe.

The "true self" thing is interesting for me because for the last 12 years I've been devoted to finding out who I actually am. When I graduated from high school, I had no idea who I was, though I think that this was likely because I'd not had experiences to bounce off of while there (I was pretty much an outcast for the first two or so years of high school, and for the latter two I was either marginally accepted, or accepted by people older than myself). What I've found is that it's difficult for one to know who one is when one is denied opportunities to "bump into" ideas or people whom one is different from or disagrees with, or who know more about specific things than one. From that perspective, meditating all the time (as advocated in Zen) isn't necessarily the best way to find out who one is, because that isn't really interacting with anyone else. It would be hard to know who one is, when one isn't actually dealing with others -- so of course a doctrine that says that there is no true self would make sense to someone in isolation.

Again that metaphor comes up about being some kind of transparent substance that can't see itself until it runs up against something else, or something else runs into it. If what one is doing is isolating oneself and being only among people who have the same views as oneself, of course it would be hard to be able to see any uniqueness there, because one is staying still and being around other people who are also staying still, or moving with one in a way so as not to collide (like a school of fish). This would make it hard for anyone to run into anyone else (though as I've said before, I have not been party to temple activities which expressly deal with religion, so I am not sure how often conflict comes up and is acknowledged as real [and not just a growing pain], at temple).

Wolfsnake Wrote:I was a fairly devout Catholic in my late teens and early twenties--I had a brief bout of doubt and atheism prior to that, which made me really sit down and think about things, and return with a stronger faith than the sort of wishy-washy "this is what we do" I'd grown up with. I was working towards becoming a Secular Franciscan (basically one step below holy orders), considered joining a convent, and honestly thought if I'd been born male, I would have gravitated towards the priesthood. I idolized St. Francis of Assissi (still do, to be honest) and went to church every Sunday and holy day. This was before I realized that I was queer (FtM/N and gay), and would not have been able to remain a Catholic in good standing anyway.

Yeah, I also considered joining a convent. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> Being on medication which drops my libido way down helps with this (as one isn't supposed to have sexual pleasure when one is a Buddhist monk or nun). I think I'm too fiery and independent-minded to do well in that position, though -- I'd likely end up leaving or dying of cancer (bottled-up stresses and malcontentments and undermined serious issues aren't good for the body). I like the term FtM/N. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

Wolfsnake Wrote:There were so many choices and sacrifices and beauties and natural ways of being that the Church called "wrong" that I could see nothing wrong with. I had to maintain such a high degree of cognitive dissonance between my conscience and my religion that I started to worry my personality would fracture.

Yeah, that's a reason to stay out... <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Wolfsnake Wrote:I still admire Christ and still think his life was worth emulating. He was an original peace-and-love hippy, a grass-roots bleeding-heart liberal. I just don't believe his dad is the only god out there.

I have no idea about anything Christian, but I've heard that Christ was kind of not as peaceful as people have said (with tearing up the marketplace and things). I see no reason to believe that God/desses don't exist, but at the same time, they don't presently figure all that strongly into my life. It actually took a while and a bit of deliberate thought to try and figure out what other people meant when they talked about "God"; and what I meant when I talked about "God." I called it my "God Project:" that is, what was "God" to me? The end result that I came up with is the Spirit field -- a point existing outside of 4-dimensional reality (3 dimensions plus time), which is seen to pervade all points and instances when viewed from within space-time (and which, incidentally, grants the reality of self-awareness to living beings [EDIT: by which I mean beings which are designed to tap Spirit] existing within space-time). Of course, though, that's just a projection; I could be terribly wrong, but it's fun to think about. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> The major problem that I have with this model is that in it, I am invariably a symbiote while living; that is, the "I" that experiences itself as [insert birth name here], is partially formed by the experiences and responses to that experience, of this life ("birth name"), and possibly partially inherited from the experiences of other prior lives (Bell [plus, possibly, "birth name"]). "Spirit" is that which enables any of this deliberation to go on at all; which enables any *thing* to look out from these eyes while writing a post to you, instead of simply existing as a mechanical being which goes about all of these activities with no consciousness. So in addition to being a symbiote on the level of containing Bell, this life also qualifies as symbiotic by being a combined phenomena of matter (which is transient in form) and spirit (which is all-pervasive). I still haven't figured out what the final implications of this are, however.

Wolfsnake Wrote:Speaking of religion, I think spirituality and religion get mixed up so often that it's hard to say which is which, or where a dividing line might be. The dictionary definitions and popular-knowledge definitions are awfully ambiguous. Ask 10 people what the difference and similarities are and you'll get a dozen answers, some of them quite prejudiced against "religion" because of that word's association with certain organized groups, and some of them perjorative towards "spirituality" due to its treatment in popular media.

What, you mean "Charmed"? <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> Yeah, I've seen a lot of this pejorative stuff being doled out by people who consider themselves to be religious, against people who, they say, "pick and choose" what to believe in. (As though one should find a preconceived set of beliefs and hold rigidly to it, because any personal intimations as to what the universe is or how it works, is bound to be false.) I have a really hard time believing that anyone can "pick and choose" their beliefs, however. A person's core beliefs are their core beliefs; any "picking and choosing" that actually occurred on a deep level, would have to do with trying to find the nearest external belief that approximates those core beliefs.

It's like how I use the term Spirit instead of "God"; I realize that this could parallel "Holy Spirit," (though I don't think I know anything concretely about the "Holy Spirit") but there is no other term that expresses an encompassment of small spirits, or of an all-pervasive spirit which enacts itself within individual lives so that we project and believe in other spirits as existing. These small "spirits" also act as though they too exist, even though we as living beings who contain Spirit, generate them from within ourselves: all beings who contain any point of Spirit by necessity contain all information that is in all of Spirit at any point in space-time. Therefore any spirit who we can imagine to exist externally also can be generated from within ourselves (although normally, this is limited by our personal bodily [matter-based] experience and our creativity, and self-imposed creative limits).

Okay, automatic writing over? <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Wolfsnake Wrote:I refer to myself as religious, because I work within an organized group. However, nearly all of what I do could also easily be called spiritual. So go figure, I guess?

Yes; I work with my family, and some family friends on an informal level...I also deal with spirit contact, which is also a bit social. However I wouldn't consider myself religious, because usually when I see the term it mostly refers to people who accept a worldview that they did not create, themselves, and who then hold to that worldview. I find myself in the "spirituality" camp because my beliefs are up for revision at any time. If I tried to codify my beliefs so that others could accept them as their own, the project would likely fail, because my beliefs would likely change once I got started. So I find myself in the, "spiritual, not religious," camp, even though my commitment to my spirituality is at least as strong as others' religious beliefs. I'm just a lot more fluid than most people I know...
2012-12-28 2:15
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Chordal
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Post: #5
Re: Superfluous doctrines?
Just re-reading some stuff here, and came across something I may have deeper information on now:

Chordal Wrote:I've also taken a class in Mindfulness meditation and yoga through my health plan, during which the question of the lack of female Buddhist authors was brought up (I avoided being scathing there by not commenting -- or rather accepting the fact that I was being talked over), and where I got the message that "thinking too much" is looked down upon. These two things are indicative of a greater pattern that has led me to distance myself from the religion. I'm not sure if I need to explain that much more here, except I'll note that the "thinking too much" thing is probably a retort to people questioning Buddhist doctrines (...)
After having dealt with certain people who really very certainly "thought too much," I've come to the idea that the injunction against "thinking too much" was rather a shock tactic to get people who lived entirely within the Logos to confront a reality in which the Logos was taken away from them or otherwise invalid.

I was just thinking on my response to Klandagi and realizing that it is unrealistic to be able to read something and actually take it in without judgment. What I was wanting to get across was rather to try to use the waking discursive mind (or Logos) less and use gut feelings/intuition more. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it came out that way...
2013-08-05 23:27
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