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Atheist Buddhists

A place for those who consider themselves Atheist Buddhists, or those who simply don't see this as a contradiction in terms.

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What is different in your life's perspective because of Buddhism.

Started by Philip Jackson Armstrong. Last reply by Philip Jackson Armstrong Aug 15, 2013. 7 Replies

The Teachings of Ethical Culture

Started by Dave Salyers. Last reply by Napoleon Bonaparte Jul 11, 2013. 1 Reply

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Comment by Rodney Turner on June 19, 2010 at 7:13am
Hey Michael,

Brad goes into a little more detail with his thoughts on "God" in his second book "Sit Down and Shut Up" (I think it's chapter 16).

To the incessant debate on literal or metaphorical rebirth, I find that the "Four Solaces" section of the Kalama Sutta settles it for me.

17. "The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom four solaces are found here and now.

"'Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.' This is the first solace found by him.

"'Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?' This is the third solace found by him.

"'Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace found by him.


~from: "Kalama Sutta: The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry", translated from the Pali by Soma Thera. Access to Insight, June 7, 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wheel008.html.

In my thinking, this makes the argument moot since both positions essentially boil down to eliminating greed, hatred and ignorance through the practice of ethical discipline.
Comment by Tony G.III on June 19, 2010 at 1:04am
How cool. I had only heard the term "Atheist Buddhist" from the book title, not long ago.
Having left Christianity (which I was given a choice to participate in from a very young age...and I CHOSE to) at about 13, I considered myself nothing. Then I defined myself as agnostic. Then Atheist....but then I found meditation to help me ease my mind and body during some rough times. Buddhist teachings came with them. I became very involved in my little Buddhist center because of an understanding that "definitive" Buddhists don't judge others' beliefs, believe in a creator god, feel mind and perception "create" our world.
Many Buddhists I know believe in deities. And I use them in my practice of getting to know my mind. They are symbols related to certain thought processes in my head at this point. It took some time...2 years or so...to understand Buddhism enough to realize I CAN be Atheist and Buddhist by definition. And just reading ONE sentence in the below post now makes me feel...."not so alone"...LOL

Thanks Michael Hutchinson for unwittingly make me feel welcome here with your comment
"Rebirth is much more accurate, because it can be applied to naturalistic explanations."
That simple comment is something I've discusses that has lead to my further belief that science will someday define nature and it will all fall close to Buddhist philosophy.
I only found this site yesterday and was concerned that they would count "Atheist Buddhist" as theistic and "not let me in". I'm glad I'm here!
Comment by Michael Hutchinson on June 14, 2010 at 8:05pm
James, let us use some sense here. If there is no self being reborn, then what does it take for a characteristic to be reborn? It has a quite natural explanation... If we do not extinguish certain negative characteristics, and spread them to others, it passes on to the next generation because they LEARN it. "Reincarnation" is a mistranslation. Rebirth is much more accurate, because it can be applied to naturalistic explanations.

Lisa, Batchelor also wrote a book before Confessions of the Buddhist Atheist called Buddhism Without Beliefs. You don't have to confine the books you buy to proclaimed naturalists either. I have found that books on Zen Buddhism contain a lot of gems of wisdom in them. Some of the authors will try to inject some supernatural nonsense. Just ignore it and utilize what is useful. A lot of what I learned came from people trying to push a little bit of supernatural nonsense, because the rest of their work was sound enough to have wisdom embedded in the pages. One such author that I'd recommend (but with a little caution) is Brad Warner. His book is called Hardcore Zen. He uses the term "God" a lot. I think he means this in a Naturalistic Pantheist sense, but he doesn't make that too clear.

I've got a few more that I'd recommend if you're interested, Lisa.
Comment by James M. Martin on June 14, 2010 at 5:30pm
I don't mean to be pedantic either, Colin, but Buddhists *do* believe in a form of reincarnation: the *skandas.* These are personality "aggregates." No eternal soul comes back, but some elements of the personalities of former lives. I think I've got that right.
Comment by John Loq on June 14, 2010 at 11:32am
Pleas pleas don't think I am trying to cover people to Buddhism. I am only discussing what it has done for me. Confucius said that humans need "Music & Ritual" in their life and I really believe this is true.
Comment by James M. Martin on May 28, 2010 at 7:37pm
@Colin Walker. I think I was a devotee of Aleister Crowley long enough to feel that you are bound up in Buddhist dogma at the sake of human experience. When l learned about the many kinds of yoga there are, including the yoga of works and the walking meditation of Thich Nat, I saw the many ways things can be done, but I dabbled both personally and by armchair with tantra, which mocks your disdain for certain substances. I have most of my insights on one substance or another and especially, when I can get it, ganja. I have experienced union with all humanity at times. OOBE'S and so forth. Much more important to avoid than the hindrances are the "Kleshas." Particular that mutually dependent two of them: desire and aversion.
Comment by John Loq on May 28, 2010 at 2:46pm
I am pleased to see there are at least a 107 others like my self.
Comment by Colin Walker on March 24, 2010 at 5:08am
James mentions that Buddhist ethics are founded in the concepts of kamma and reincarnation. (Just to be pedantic, Buddhists don't believe in reincarnation, which is the returning of the atman (the Hindu concept of a soul or essential essence) as there is nothing that is permanent that could return). But my real point was that although their are many concepts within Buddhism that support an ethical system what I have always been attracted to are the pragmatic reasons for following the 5 precepts ie. it is impossible to overcome the 5 hindrances and make any progress towards nibbana if the mind is distracted by the consequences of having killed living beings, stolen, gossiped about people or used harsh language, become intoxicated on drink or drugs or misbehaved sexually etc. Personally I have experienced many times the difference between meditating when I have broken one or more of the precepts and when I have managed to follow them to the best of my ability. If we follow the precepts and make progress in meditation (through the vipassana and samatha jhanas) our direct, empirical understanding and experience of concepts like kamma and rebirth naturally deepen and develop with no need of faith or belief.
Comment by Joshua D. Jones on March 23, 2010 at 11:19pm
So glad to find this group. I have practiced Vipassana meditation since leaving Christianity for good, and I've found Buddhist non-theist "spirituality" to be the most practical, rational system for living I can imagine. I don't know if I'll ever call myself a "Buddhist," but I'm pretty much sold on the ancient wisdom of Theravada. It's beautiful and doesn't require a belief in god, ancient mythology, or nonsensical supernatural explanations for anything.
Comment by James M. Martin on March 12, 2010 at 8:17pm
@T.A.: Buddhism is as much a system of ethics as a faith or religion. And it has no cop out revolving doors like sin and redemption, by which one simply does all manner of horrid things, apologizes to a cleric, and goes out to do worse things. As long as one may be forgiven, one should never steal anything small. Yes, I know, Buddhist ethics are grounded in the concepts of karma and reincarnation, but you don't have to believe in them to practice Buddhist ethics. :-)
 

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