Can buddhism and science work together?

146


Discussion by: CrisTanzi

I've been a buddhist for 12 years ( sgi-uk  Buddhist) and though not an intellectual at all, I've started to think that like other form of religions the chanting ( we chant nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo)  which makes me feel better and has drastically improved my life for the past 12 years could be the dreaded "placebo" effect. I have given myself 1 year to find out.

As a buddhist i don't believe in GOD but Buddhists believe that we all have have Buddhahood ei. potential for enlightenment to the sanctity of life.

My questions are: 1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the "common" person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

Question 2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain? 

Question 3) can Buddhism and Science  work together? One for the well being of society and the other for the search of the truth?

any feedback is welcome, i'm open to anything useful to my search for the truth.

 

146 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Hope,

    I consider myself a Zen Buddhist. Well, the effects of chanting improving your life could very well be placebo effect, but I ask you, does it matter? It works, and doesn’t hurt anyone. But be careful since there is a reversed placebo: when you believe something that works does not work, possibly it will not.

    About your questions:
    1) We don’t need religion to be happy, and intellectuals and scientists are happy without religion because they are very intelligent, and know what true happyness is. But the common person just can’t understand it, let alone think about it – scientists and intellectuals love to think – so they find somebody to do this for them, priests, pastors, etc. Happyness is also something personal; I’m happy when I learn something new, but I know other people who can only be happy when they go to parties and get drunk.

    2) I don’t believe the brain can evolve, not on darwinian sense. I believe it is training. For me buddhists don’t pray, they practice. Heck, Buddha Sakyamuni himself told that “only you can save yourself, nobody else can and nobody else will”. Buddhahood is just a level of training.

    3) Of course they can, most buddhist sects leave science to scientists, that’s good enough. Buddhism also had outdated models of universe (note: much silly ones than the judeo-christian flat earth), but abandoned it in favor of the modern and much more accurate models. These things are irrelevant to buddhism, even if god exists or not is irrelevant, according to the historical buddha. Buddhism only care about suffering, karma and reach nirvana, things that are outside the scope of science for the most part. No wonder that buddhism is popular among scientists.

    Take a look in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_science

    Remember, this is only my opinion.

    • In reply to #1 by muriloc:

      2) I don’t believe the brain can evolve, not on darwinian sense. I believe it is training. For me buddhists don’t pray, they practice. Heck, Buddha Sakyamuni himself told that “only you can save yourself, nobody else can and nobody else will”. Buddhahood is just a level of training.

      although the brain of an individual cannot evolve in the true sense of darwinian evolution.. it is an enigmatic organ which is pliable and can learn new things and can in that sense evolve during a life.. the brain as organ has definately evolved over the past millions of years, as have our legs and hands… and the question is if the brain has evolved over the generations to be able reach this state of boddhisatva (learnt during the lifetime painstaking achievement of a given person) or if booddhahood (boddhisatva) is an attribute of the brain which has developed (evolved) and is a given property, like language is, over the generations.
      I´m not quite sure what CrisTanzi meant with his question..

  2. My questions are: 1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    I think that is an interesting question. Be prepared you will get a fair amount of comments that just scoff at the idea. I certainly don’t feel the need for religion but at the same time I can see how at various times in my life it might have come in handy when things seemed really hopeless, and I’ve had a pretty decent life. I can understand how some people may need it. I think it’s possible that there may be different personality types and that various people need social acceptance, group support, more than others.

    My intuition though is that ultimately the scoffers are probably mostly right. I think you can divide the perceived need for religion into two categories: 1) Legitimate philosophical questions and 2) Cultural programming

    I’ll start with 2. Most of us come from western culture. Even those of us reared in atheists households (which I wasn’t btw) get indoctrinated to think that a death is tragic but that we should take comfort in stories about the after life. We are conditioned from childhood to believe in an after life of perfect happiness so it’s not a surprise that it might be traumatic for us to give that up.

    As for the first question there are legitimate philosophical questions that religion tries (and fails miserably) to answer but that still do need some answer, even if the answer sometimes turns out to be “that question doesn’t make sense”. Questions about the foundation for morality for example. Morality is ultimately emotional and while you can make rational judgements about how consistent a set of moral statements are you can’t find an ultimate first moral principle solely on reason. Religion used to play that role, it’s not completely clear what if anything should take it’s place.

    The same with rituals, songs, etc. Again some people (not me) find this kind of thing really appealing and you can have rituals and shared group experiences without religion, based on shared social values such as justice for example.

    As for Buddhism, if it has prayers, temples, and rituals it’s a religion in my book.

  3. During my teens when I was questioning religion and dabbling in philosophy, I looked into Buddhism a bit myself, specifically the popular form of Zen Buddhism that became exported over here. I found it to be the most promising of all the religions I’d heard or read about at the time, and still is, or what I can remember of it at least. (I’m not familiar with the sgi-uk you mention mind you)

    However, what I found out about myself is that Buddhism to me was not a way of life, or a path to enlightenment, it was simply something that was quenching my thirst to belong, to have a spiritual identity, it was in essence a club I felt welcomed to join. Buddhism is chock full of brilliant teachings but you don’t have to sign up to reap the benefits, especially when you realise there is no one religion that has it all and can give you everything. If what you want is good teachings to guide you through life, intellectually or emotionally, then that’s all you need to take away from any religion. Even Christianity and to an extent Islam have good teachings buried underneath all the steaming dung, but why just accept a handful of dung when you can pick out the good bits yourself? Why should this idea be applied any differently to Buddhism even if the good bits are far more plentiful than the dung?

    So to answer your first question, what religion really provides to people common or otherwise, is a sense of belonging, a sense of community you feel welcome in. Whether it’s physically around you in the form of a Sunday church service, or in the form of a spiritual identity that makes you feel connect to others who call themselves Buddhists. If this is what makes you happy, then yes, religion in this case will make you happy. (I say “in this case” because with other religions, such as Evangelical Christianity or Mormonism, the happiness one might gain is usually greatly outweighed by the negative effects of the religion, but I don’t believe this is the case with Buddhism.) Of course this doesn’t make religion the only way to be happy, and if you take the best bits of Buddhism and find another avenue that will make you happy then why stick to being a Buddhist?

    As for question 3, Buddhism being a source of well-being for society, with science on the other hand searching for the truth. If any religion could do it I’d say Buddhism could, but that would still require a degree of compartmentalization.

    You will always find people who claim religion and science are compatible, that they ask different questions, as evidence by the many religious scientists there are in the world. However what is really going on here is compartmentalization. The scientists are able to separate their religious beliefs from their scientific studies. Usually the specific branch of science they study doesn’t directly conflict with their specific religious beliefs, or they pretend they don’t conflict. But they usually do conflict. For example the catholic church now officially accepts evolution, but claim that it was “guided by God”. However an adequate understanding of evolution will show you that it cannot be guided by a deity, as natural selection would not work as an explanation for evolution if a god could come down at any point and intervene, it would then be deity selection. What use would it be in understanding sexual selection pressures or evolutionary arms races or competition over scarce resources if god selected these creatures for any other reasons? If god wanted Lions and Antelopes to run as fast as they do, they needn’t be predator and prey, god could just make sure only the fastest of them were able to breed, through any other means. “Theistic Evolution” still contradicts science entirely, it still ultimately reverts to “gods will” and condescendingly undermines any explanatory power of natural selection.

    With Buddhism however, the absence of a deity does drastically reduce the number of instances where it conflicts with science. In fact many virtues in Buddhism not only don’t contradict with science but compliment it, such as the virtue of Equanimity, which teaches you not to view people as friend or foe, to accept both praise and shame, success and failure, and to reject delusion. This couldn’t be closer to what science is about, finding out the truth regardless of your own expectations or ideas, accepting when your findings indicate something you didn’t expect or when they find nothing at all.
    However there is still plenty of baggage in Buddhism that cannot be reconciled with science, such as reincarnation or the different realms or planes of existence.
    Metaphysically, no religion can be compatible with science because they subvert physics or rely on fantasy, but religious teachings can occasionally compliment it. If you want to keep Buddhism and still stick to accepting science, it will require some compartmentalization, however if you simply takes the best bits of Buddhism and regard the rest as unsubstantiated fantasy, then no compartmentalization is necessary.

    I’m out of time so I’ll skip your second questions for now. Have a good day.

  4. There is a growing movement among scientists, particularly in areas that deal with brain studies that are investigating what is akin to Buddhist meditation – the Science of Mindfulness. Here in the UK psychology departments in some universities hold courses on mindfulness and they are also introducing it, where invited, to schools and businesses. There are secular meditation or mindfulness groups around that are communities – but not religious.

    The secular courses at the moment are geared toward helping to deal with stress, but are suitable for anyone who is interested in the processes that are our minds and such practices are perhaps akin to what you refer to as the ‘attainment of Buddhahood’. I see no problem with attending Buddhist groups (Zen in particular) where the emphasis is on meditation, usually along the theme of ‘Who Am I’ where the mind and self is the object of study. Stephen Batchelor, Sam Harris and Susan Blackmore are among those who practice meditation with a Buddhist background but who do not (I understand) consider themselves Buddhists.

    Some Buddhist groups though are saturated with the cultures they have emerged from with superstitious beliefs and rituals. Some people may need or prefer such an approach but I would say that where there is no opportunity to question or discuss such practices they slip into the category of Religion – a belief system.

    I would hope to see in the future, studies in mindfulness and responsible meditation communities fill the gap that faith and belief systems leave for many of us. The question is, are we at this time mature enough and able to be intellectual honest with ourselves? Otherwise it may just be wishful thinking as without understanding the processes that make us who/what we are many well-intentioned movements end up as another hierarchical belief system.

  5. An interesting topic. I’ll respond as much as my experience will allow, but my knowledge of Buddhism is not as strong as it is of many of the other religions.

    1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? People of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    I think the first hurdle the first question runs into is the parenthesized ‘the right one’. It’s the same issue you run into when you start making these assumptions: what is the right one? How would anyone arrive at the right one and is that even something worth seeking as the ideas in religion are so subjective at their base?

    But overall no, one does not need religion to be happy. I would go so far as to say the ‘common person’ does not need it regardless of background. Each person makes the decision on what makes them happy (or unhappy) in so many ways that religion or non religion don’t really address. Pursuing one’s ambitions can make one happy without religion or non religion coming into play. And my idea of happy is quite likely to be different than someone else’s, albeit with at least some common ground on many occasions.

    2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

    It might help to have some elaboration on what this actually means. Does it represent simply being a Buddhist and attempting to adhere to it’s ideas and tenets as best as possible? To perhaps achieve some state of consciousness perhaps?

    In either case I’m going to say no. If anything the search for different states of consciousness and deeper meanings represent what we’ve been many have been seeking for centuries but have not appreciably improved or changed the species overall.

    But once again, I’m not certain I completely understand the question.

    3) can Buddhism and Science work together? One for the well being of society and the other for the search of the truth?

    Work together seems highly tenuous here. They clearly wouldn’t be working in tandem, as the methodologies are entirely different regarding many things including the search for ‘truth’.

    Can they coexist? Well, like science and all other religions they can certainly do that and probably with less turmoil than with many other faiths likely. But ‘work together’ seems quite misleading.

    Overall I suspect it would be relative to how an individual sees both Buddhism and Science but they don’t truly work together, per se.

    • In response to what is buddhahood :As Nichiren Daishonin’ Buddhist we believe that by chanting Nammyohorengekyo we can bring forth our buddhahood which is our enlightened state, ie. we are still as we are but see things more clearly and we become less selfish. We have monthly meetings to discuss various topics and we are part of the lay organisation no priests so we don’t go to temples but houses and we have cultural centres for big meetings. Our practice goal is to achieve world peace through dialogues. Daiasku ikdea who is the main president has engaged in dialogues with many world leaders and is his sole mission before he dies is to abolish nuclear weapons. It’s not a wishy washy buddhism at all…but of course it’s based on “faith”.
      In reply to #5 by achromat666:*

      An interesting topic. I’ll respond as much as my experience will allow, but my knowledge of Buddhism is not as strong as it is of many of the other religions.

      1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? People of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life bu…

  6. 1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    No, we don’t. A sense of purpose in life and peace of mind regarding death is entirely possible and a reality for many, many atheists.
    Science isn’t a philosophy/religion and the need for such is questionable. One might argue that religion is in danger of becoming obsolete due to scientific advance/accumulated knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that science ( a very broad and somewhat diffuse term btw ) is trying to develop philosophical ideals to live your life by. That is something for every individual to decide. Whether you choose to base it according to reality as it presents itself, or as to some unobtainable ideal of man, is entirely up to you.

    2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

    Depends on what you mean by Buddhahood and exactly what you mean by evolution of the brain?

    Are you imagining a brain evolving distinct patterns that are limited to those individuals obtaining Buddhahood?

    3) can Buddhism and Science work together? One for the well being of society and the other for the search of the truth?

    For the well-being of society, sure. For the search of truth, not likely unless budhhists are prepared to change their views and philosophy based on the best available evidence. The majority of scientists and science-minded people adjust their opinions on different
    subjects based on the evidence, not on their feelings and on what intuitively makes sense.

    If budhhism is ready to adjust and to put more confidence in the scientific method than in their respective budhhas, then there shouldn’t be a problem. At least not as a starting point.

    • My buddhism does not belong to the priesthood and as such we don’t believe in retreats, don’t have temples and do not hide or renounce secular life,we are integrated in society as lay people with jobs, families ect. It’s called SGI-UK but i’m truly sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad experience with what seems to be another form of buddhism.In reply to #8 by Timothy McNamara:

      My father has been a Buddhist monk in Thailand for a decade or two. Since he left his wife and children. Trust me, you don’t want my feedback.

  7. To avoid confusion my buddhism is not a “meditation” buddhism, we chant a mantra NamMyoHoRengeKyo.
    SGI-UK is the UK branch of Soka Gakkai International, a socially engaged Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist teacher Nichiren.
    At the heart of the philosophy is a concept known as ‘human revolution’, whereby the inner change sparked by Buddhist practice leads to courage, compassion and wisdom, fostering fulfilled individuals with a wish to contribute to creating a better world.
    Throughout the UK there are local discussion meeting groups where people can find out about how to practise and apply Buddhism in their daily lives.

    • In reply to #10 by CrisTanzi:

      To avoid confusion my buddhism is not a “meditation” buddhism, we chant a mantra NamMyoHoRengeKyo. SGI-UK is the UK branch of Soka Gakkai International, a socially engaged Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist teacher Nichiren. At the heart of the philosophy is a concept known as ‘human revolution’, whereby the inner change sparked by Buddhist practice leads to courage, compassion and wisdom, fostering fulfilled individuals with a wish to contribute to creating a better world. Throughout the UK there are local discussion meeting groups where people can find out about how to practise and apply Buddhism in their daily lives.

      I’m a bit confused now. Should we replace the word “Budhhism” with “Nichiren’s teachings” in your questions?

      • I don’t think so it’s a brach of Buddhism…so yea it’s still Buddhism …i’m just explaining that we chant and do not meditate and as we are part of the lay organisation we don’t have temples but rather cultural centres.Subtle differences I suppose.
        In reply to #11 by DHudson:

        In reply to #10 by CrisTanzi:

        To avoid confusion my buddhism is not a “meditation” buddhism, we chant a mantra NamMyoHoRengeKyo. SGI-UK is the UK branch of Soka Gakkai International, a socially engaged Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist teacher Nichiren. At the he…

        • In reply to #12 by CrisTanzi:

          I don’t think so it’s a brach of Buddhism…so yea it’s still Buddhism …i’m just explaining that we chant and do not meditate and as we are part of the lay organisation we don’t have temples but rather cultural centres.Subtle differences I suppose.

          Alright.

          Did any of our posts enlighten you, then?

          • yea i did i really liked this one “There is a growing movement among scientists, particularly in areas that deal with brain studies that are investigating what is akin to Buddhist meditation ” I wonder if my chanting works or not? it does to me but it could be the placebo.
            .In reply to #13 by DHudson:

            In reply to #12 by CrisTanzi:

            I don’t think so it’s a brach of Buddhism…so yea it’s still Buddhism …i’m just explaining that we chant and do not meditate and as we are part of the lay organisation we don’t have temples but rather cultural centres.Subtle differences I suppose.

            Alright.

            Did any…

          • In reply to #14 by CrisTanzi:

            yea i did i really liked this one “There is a growing movement among scientists, particularly in areas that deal with brain studies that are investigating what is akin to Buddhist meditation ” I wonder if my chanting works or not? it does to me but it could be the placebo.

            The question then might be whether this is due to specific buddhist meditational techniques or if other forms of meditation works just as well.

            Do you think it would stop working for you if it was proven that it is in fact a placebo effect?

          • I don’t know,I wish there was a way to test it,it seems to work in the way that it makes me happier, stronger and more hopeful but I can’t be sure it’s not a placebo.In reply to #15 by DHudson:

            In reply to #14 by CrisTanzi:

            yea i did i really liked this one “There is a growing movement among scientists, particularly in areas that deal with brain studies that are investigating what is akin to Buddhist meditation ” I wonder if my chanting works or not? it does to me but it could be the pla…

          • In reply to #16 by CrisTanzi:

            I don’t know,I wish there was a way to test it,it seems to work in the way that it makes me happier, stronger and more hopeful but I can’t be sure it’s not a placebo.

            Well, the beauty about placebo’s is that they work no matter the drug, if you catch my drift.

            In other words, there may be a million things that will make you feel better, and doing your chanting could simply be a small part of a bigger picture.

          • yea maybe hence while i’m searching for the truth…though it’s not only the chanting that makes me feel better is the concept of our organisation which is peace through dialogue and inner revolution. I think that is what has kept me going for over 12 years.Thanks for taking the time to reply.In reply to #17 by DHudson:

            In reply to #16 by CrisTanzi:

            I don’t know,I wish there was a way to test it,it seems to work in the way that it makes me happier, stronger and more hopeful but I can’t be sure it’s not a placebo.

            Well, the beauty about placebo’s is that they work no matter the drug, if you catch my drift.

            In oth…

          • In reply to #18 by CrisTanzi:

            yea maybe hence while i’m searching for the truth…though it’s not only the chanting that makes me feel better is the concept of our organisation which is peace through dialogue and inner revolution. I think that is what has kept me going for over 12 years.

            Whatever works, works. I’d just be careful not to get your hopes up for one all-defining encompassing truth. To me it sounds a bit like you want it to be true, but fear it is not.

            The scientific approach might be a bit more neutral, so to speak.

            Thanks for taking the time to reply.

            No problem, thanks for engaging in the comments. :-)

    1. No.

    The feeling of happiness is a result of the release brain chemicals (dopamine, endorphins etc), which can be triggered by events liked by the person. Cuddling your grandson. Going for a jog induces feeling of well being. How can happiness arise out of a false belief. Self delusion as to mystical unknowable figures. I am happier because I have been liberated from the suffocating yoke or religion.

    1. No.

    Research into brain plasticity has show that the brain, far from being frozen, can grow and atrophy neurons depending on usage. A person who goes blind will suffer atrophy of the area of the brain to do with sight, and will grow new neural networks in the area responsible for hearing. In short, if you practice anything, the brain will respond by growing more neural connections in the area under continual use. If you chant and meditate, it will grow connections in that area, which can show a vague increase in the feelings of happiness. In other words, an dose of dopamine or similar. Evolution however, takes a very long time, unless you’re E Coli.

    1. No.

    The search for truth is a rationale activity that has been refined by time to become the scientific method. Using anything else, is less than optimal.

    • Thanks for in depth reply, as buddhists we are more focused on ” absolute happiness” which does not depend on anything or anyone, rather than rapture or feeling of ease. Would the dopamine and endorphins work the same way?In reply to #20 by David R Allen:

      No.

      The feeling of happiness is a result of the release brain chemicals (dopamine, endorphins etc), which can be triggered by events liked by the person. Cuddling your grandson. Going for a jog induces feeling of well being. How can happiness arise out of a false belief. Self delusion as to m…

      • In reply to #27 by CrisTanzi:

        Thanks for in depth reply, as buddhists we are more focused on ” absolute happiness” which does not depend on anything or anyone, rather than rapture or feeling of ease. Would the dopamine and endorphins work the same way?In reply to #20 by David R Allen:

        No.

        The feeling of happiness is a result o…

        Chris. Every emotion you feel is the result of a chemical reaction. There is no magic. There is no mystery or mysticism. Your brain is full of slots and key holes that exactly match the shape of chemicals that are released in your body.

        If you feel sad and depressed, it is because your serotonin and nor-adrenalin levels are out of balance. They are being reabsorbed too quickly. The prescriptions to help depression prevent the too rapid re-uptake of these too chemicals making you happy. Endorphins give you a feeling of well being. Adrenalin prepares you for fight or flight, by directing blood to muscles, heightening your hearing and sight, Oxytoxin gives you feelings of love, warm and cuddly.

        So anything you are doing with Buddhism is not changing your moods. If you chant, or meditate, you may alter your brains chemistry and feel something, but that is caused by chemistry, not the Buddhism.

        Fundamentalist churches have learn to tap the brains chemistry by providing musical concert like services with rousing music and hymms, (Not Onward Christian Soldiers) The congregation gets a warm and cuddly feeling from experiencing a happy event. The preacher lies to the congregation telling them the feeling is the spirit of god moving through them. Scammers. If you go to a Crowded House concert, you get the same feelings.

        If also explains all of the effects of illicit drugs. The heroin molecule happens, by accident to slot into the brains endorphin receptor, producing a feeling of relaxed well being. Amphetamines hit the adrenalin receptors. Ecstasy tablets hit the oxytocin receptor. Ambulance officers when they come across a heroin overdose, use Narcad, which flushes the heroin out of the brains receptors.

        Buddhism, while not having a god, has all of the same paraphernalia, history, books and customs as a religion. Its “Religion Lite”. Can I sincerely recommend you take up exercise, eat a healthy diet, and read New Scientist web page everyday, and as many credible science books as you can lay your hands on, and learn the “Scientific Method”. You will look back on your Buddhist days as time wasted. Good luck.

        • Again thanks for the reply. Without sounding preaching when we chant we don’t only feel better but start to transform negative tendencies into more positive ones in our everyday life so it’s a bit more than going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 times a week i work out.( I knew all the stuff u told me by the way my friend who has been taking pills to fight her bipolarism told me how they work )Have a great day and thanks for taking the time to explain and wanting to help.xIn reply to #86 by David R Allen:*

          In reply to #27 by CrisTanzi:

          Thanks for in depth reply, as buddhists we are more focused on ” absolute happiness” which does not depend on anything or anyone, rather than rapture or feeling of ease. Would the dopamine and endorphins work the same way?In reply to #20 by David R Allen:

          No.

          The fee…

          • In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            Again thanks for the reply. Without sounding preaching when we chant we don’t only feel better but start to transform negative tendencies into more positive ones in our everyday life so it’s a bit more than going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 times a week i work out.( I knew al…

            Do you get paid doing this CrisTanzi? Get out of that cult now, because it’s not worth you spending the better part of your life in it. Go find better Buddhist organisation if you will, SGI is a cult.

          • Is that a genuine question? If so no I don’t get paid, … But I think you are implying something else and I don’t have time for you anymore.Life is too short and precious to be spent debating with someone who doesn’t know me or the sgi well enough and still tells me to get out of it now as it’s a cult ! I think your intentions are anything but pure and u seem to think you know it all. Also we r going off topic I think we best leave it. I have to work so have a good day . reply to #88 by adiroth:*

            In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            Again thanks for the reply. Without sounding preaching when we chant we don’t only feel better but start to transform negative tendencies into more positive ones in our everyday life so it’s a bit more than going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 time…

          • In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            Again thanks for the reply. Without sounding preaching when we chant we don’t only feel better but start to transform negative tendencies into more positive ones in our everyday life so it’s a bit more than going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 times a week i work out.( I knew al…

            Look up Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Wikipedia. What you are doing by chanting and meditating is the same as this treatment. Repetition rewires our brain. Also research brain plasticity. It is the science behind Cog Beh Therapy. No mysteries. Just science.

          • Yea I have the book cause my friend gave it to me. I’ve read some of it and it’s rather interesting not as inspiring but yea so I guess I’m a science lover after all not a Buddhist :) I never said that the chanting is not a mechanical tool to be happier I think it is and I’m the proof, I do think there is more to it cause we strive to create value with the practice but either point of view makes think …” Why is that bad?” It’s not ! It’s the reincarnation stuff I don’t like , the chanting and the meetings are good I think! I might start a revolution in the Buddhist community about the things I don’t think make sense. In reply to #90 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            Again thanks for the reply. Without sounding preaching when we chant we don’t only feel better but start to transform negative tendencies into more positive ones in our everyday life so it’s a bit more than going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 time…

          • In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 times a week i work out

            That probably explains why you feel better. The Buddhist chanting is some additional physical exercise but not necessarily the best. Have you tried Pilates?

            The answer to the question as to whether Buddhism and science are compatible is, in part, the same as whether jogging and science are compatible. There’s no conflict. When it comes to supernatural beliefs, such as the power of chanting to bring about world peace, it’s incompatible with common sense, never mind science.

          • yes i do Pilates too…i’m quite into my fitness thanks for caring ;) I don’t think that Science and Buddhism are totally incompatible, weather the truth is that we are just a bunch of atoms with no free will which i’m pretty certain we are the fact remains that the chanting helps me in many ways so if something is good why not do it?i’ve never been more open-minded about life than these past few weeks i’m questioning everything…i could be indeed only a brain in jar!!! but the chanting works nevertheless even if i keep on questioning it’s merits..so i carry on.Thanks for taking the time to debate with me. Cris In reply to #114 by aldous:

            In reply to #87 by CrisTanzi:

            going for a jog,which I do 3 times a week already plus 5 times a week i work out

            That probably explains why you feel better. The Buddhist chanting is some additional physical exercise but not necessarily the best. Have you tried Pilates?

            The answer to the question a…

          • In reply to #115 by CrisTanzi:

            the chanting works nevertheless even if i keep on questioning it’s merits..so i carry on.

            It works in the same way as jogging and working out in the gym. Do you need to chant as well? That’s for you to decide but you seem to have a rather heavy schedule of exercise.

            Being ‘just a bunch of atoms with no free will’ is a philosophical question. Does it make any difference whether you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

          • Being ‘just a bunch of atoms with no free will’ is a philosophical question. Does it make any difference whether you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’? I think it does, Richard Dawkins said in a debate ” …who cares how yo u feel, all it matter is the truth” but the truth makes me feel something weather I like it or not and it doesn’t make me feel great to know that i’m stardust and when I die it’s the end for me and none of my actions have been determined by my free will but rather my experiences in life so far and the present is a mystery and i simply cannot control my next thought ! why? i don’t know but it doesn’t, whilst the chanting does, so I can accept i’m stardust so long as I chant….i think it’s a fair compromise.
            In reply to #116 by aldous:

            In reply to #115 by CrisTanzi:

            the chanting works nevertheless even if i keep on questioning it’s merits..so i carry on.

            It works in the same way as jogging and working out in the gym. Do you need to chant as well? That’s for you to decide but you seem to have a rather heavy schedule of exercise….

          • In reply to #117 by CrisTanzi:

            it doesn’t make me feel great to know that i’m stardust and when I die it’s the end for me and none of my actions have been determined by my free will

            I don’t think you have to worry about the free-will/determinism question. It’s something philosophers have argued about but no definite answer has been found. The atomic structure of the universe and the limited life-span of animals, including humans, appear to be facts of life.

            It may be that ‘religion gives comfort’ but there are inconveniences to wearing a blindfold to shut out reality. You might enjoy life more if you took it off. It doesn’t seem to be helping you all that much anyway.

          • I have a few questions for you :In what way Buddhism doesn’t seem to be helping me? Do you think or believe the ‘self’ is an illusion and that we are the product of our causes and effects?To me is seems pretty obvious and logical that we are by the way.In reply to #118 by aldous:

            In reply to #117 by CrisTanzi:

            it doesn’t make me feel great to know that i’m stardust and when I die it’s the end for me and none of my actions have been determined by my free will

            I don’t think you have to worry about the free-will/determinism question. It’s something philosophers have argued a…

  8. Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    I don’t think a belief in religion or lack thereof, or being ‘people of science or intellectual’ has the power to make a person happy or unhappy. Being happy is a transitory state, and can never be achieved on a permanent basis. It comes, it lasts for some time, then it disappears. My answer is, nothing can make us happy, unless for very short periods of time.

    • thanks for your reply….without preaching….i can say that the happiness we seek in our buddhism is fundamental not transient….we practice so that we can be happy no matter what every day not depending on circumstances. However it’s not easy to achieve nor maintain that’s why we chant. Even then it’s not always easy to sustain, so we study and go to meetings….there is a full package to help us be strong in daily life.In reply to #21 by rizvoid:

      Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

      I don’t think a belief in religion or lack thereof, or being ‘people of…

  9. I’m not sure if I would class chanting as a placebo. This would be like enjoying singing and calling that a placebo. There is just something soothing about doing repetitive things, like rocking backwards and forwards (you will see this behaviour in mental homes) and chanting the same thing over and over again. The repetition makes you feel secure and unhurried (no one in a hurry does pointless, repetitive things). However, if your question is ‘Do the specific words I chant open up a doorway to enlightenment to the sanctity of life?’ then the answer is no, of course not.

    When you talk about ‘enlightenment to the sanctity of life’ I actually don’t really know what you mean. If you think life is holy then good for you. I think life is what you make it. We all have different ways of looking at life but I’m damned if I see any sanctity in it. But your question is a little like asking if chocolate tastes good. If you like chocolate then the answers is ‘yes’. However, chocolate doesn’t come with a ‘tasty’ tag attached and life doesn’t come labelled with the word ‘sacred’. I think these are just words you have picked up from your fellow Buddhists and are determined to find ‘out there’ rather than create for yourself.

    I think Sam Harris has the best outlook on this. Being pleasantly conscious is all about how you use your attention. Buddhist practices are probably better for this than sitting in front of your TV all day but there is nothing mystical about them. They are just tricks developed over many centuries for slowing down and concentrating. The chanting is one of these tricks. However, if you can achieve the same level of pleasant consciousness doing something else e.g. walking, reading, watching TV etc. then you have no need to spend your days chanting.

    • In reply to #22 by keith:

      I’m not sure if I would class chanting as a placebo. This would be like enjoying singing and calling that a placebo. There is just something soothing about doing repetitive things, like rocking backwards and forwards (you will see this behaviour in mental homes) and chanting the same thing over and…

      this rocking backwards and forwards is often a sign of cerebral deprivation, that´s why you mainly see it in mental homes and not at home (I sincerely hope in any way)

  10. When you use the term “happiness’ I’m wondering if you actually mean ‘free from anxiety’. I can see how repetitive activities and mindfulness would lessen the experience of anxiety and foster a sense of calm in the individual.

    IMO anxiety is a much under-reported phenonema, and most people suffer from it in one way or another. The symptoms manifest themselves in many and varied forms; they’re often not even recognised as being anxiety at all, but as eating disorders, menopause, insomnia, psychosomatic ailments, addictions, irrational fears and so on. The list is endless.

    I suspect people living in modern, industrial countries are more prone to anxiety disorders, at least in comparison to those living stress-free rural communities ( if such places even exist).

    • Thanks for your reply.Actually we aim for indestructible or absolute happiness which means being strong in the face of adversities no merely cheerful.It’s having a sense of hope no matter what but combining faith with daily life and modern progress.
      In reply to #23 by Nitya:

      When you use the term “happiness’ I’m wondering if you actually mean ‘free from anxiety’. I can see how repetitive activities and mindfulness would lessen the experience of anxiety and foster a sense of calm in the individual.

      IMO anxiety is a much under-reported phenonema, and most people suffer f…

  11. Hello CrisTanzi,

    I don’t know a lot about Buddhism and it seems there are many here who do so I won’t go into any specifics, however I have a couple of comments I’d like you to consider.

    1. If meditation helps and none of the mystical qualities of Buddhism are true then yes it could be the placebo effect or something else, if it is not your Buddha nature then it is still something in you can you not try your chants and meditation without the belief? It strikes me about the benefits of all religion (and believe there are some) that the real benefits in the absence of supernatural powers are things people are doing for other people. If we can except that there is probably no supernatural element in the universe then we can start working on enhancing the good we do for each other or ourselves for good reasons. This I think would lead to us really getting somewhere because whatever the religion is at some point it always seems to result in limited thinking and other more negative side effects.

    2. Can science and Buddhism work together. No, in that while ever Buddhism holds to any dogma about the nature of the universe and that conflicts with the actual universe at some point either Buddhism must let go of its claims (and therefore cease to exist in anything but name) or science has to refuse to examine these areas, as this is against the nature of science anyone who works under that restriction to my mind is at least in that case not practising science. This does not mean Buddhists cannot be scientists even good ones but it does restrict their thinking and therefore potential.

    2a.

    One for the well being of society and the other for the search of the truth?

    Which is which? From my point of view society can only benefit if it knows the truth. If hamstrung to superstition it is limited in which truths it can reveal. Or if people who believe superstition refuse to see the truth when presented to them society suffers. If the claims of Buddhism are true then will be discoverable through science.

    1. Don’t knock the placebo effect, clearly the body can rally itself if it believes it is being treated successfully. Seems to me if we could tap into that potential we could improve performance of many drugs. I work on the assumption when I get medication from the doctor that it will work. I question the doctor about what he is giving me, how it will work, what other alternatives are there. When I get the script I am fairly confident I will start to improve. If placebo effect is part of me starting to feel better I’m grateful.
    • Thanks for the rely,weather a placebo or not i think the intention of the leaders of my Buddhism is still good as all they care about s world peace and we are all lay people and no priesthood is controlling us. However now that I’m willing to see the truth i need to establish if the placebo effect is really useful to me or not now that i’m a lot clearer about it. Just to give you more insights :Central to the Buddhist teachings is the law of cause and effect, which states that every cause we make (in thought, word or deed) creates an effect in our own life and in our environment. Through their Buddhist faith and practice, members of SGI-UK transform their inner lives and develop the qualities needed to bring about personal fulfilment and contribute to the positive development of society. (this is from http://www.sgi-uk.org/)
      In reply to #24 by Reckless Monkey:

      Hello CrisTanzi,

      I don’t know a lot about Buddhism and it seems there are many here who do so I won’t go into any specifics, however I have a couple of comments I’d like you to consider.

      If meditation helps and none of the mystical qualities of Buddhism are true then yes it could be the placebo…

      • In reply to #29 by CrisTanzi:

        Thanks for the reply,weather a placebo or not i think the intention of the leaders of my Buddhism is still good as all they care about s world peace and we are all lay people and no priesthood is controlling us. However now that I’m willing to see the truth i need to establish if the placebo effect i…

  12. I seem to have inherited my Grandmothers tendency to hum. She hummed the same few sounds for my entire life. Unlike, her, I change it up and even create my own little tunes. It could be a TV show, music, or random rhythmic sounds. I find it calming and an expression of my current state of being. Repetition, can be calming. Some people like to knit because it focuses the mind and creates a calming effect. Others paint, create clay pots… Repetition like sitting in a rocking chair or spinning can also be calming. I read somewhere that reading aloud helps focus the mind because it is difficult for your mind to wander onto another topic. If you live alone and cannot sleep, try reading aloud and see what happens.

    Question 1: No – I think we need to have some sense of purpose, something that gets us out of bed, preferably of our own making.
    Question 2: No – Buddhahood is an illusion. It is an impermanent state and Buddhism acknowledges this. We cannot maintain certain forms of thinking all the time. We may gain an awareness, but not necessarily act on it consistently. Also, some people are the way they are due to their physical brain, social upbringing, parental and educational influences…. This is random and not the result of reincarnation. The concept of achieving a higher state is an elaborate game we play to trick ourselves into thinking we are special and therefore more than our human existence. It is also frequently used as a way to compare our perceived “achievements” to others who we view as “beneath” ourselves.
    As atheists, most of us do not accept the view that there is Consciousness outside of the physical. Buddhism does. Question 3: Science is doing a good job finding reality on its own. Quality of life is personal in nature, comparing it to facts is conflating your idea of what role religion plays in society.

  13. Moderators’ message

    A few comments here are verging on preaching, which is not permitted on the site. Please keep all comments focused on the subject of the OP.

    Thank you.

    The moderators

    • I’m not preaching merely explaining what my Buddhism is about as there are severals. In reply to #32 by Moderator:

      Moderators’ message

      A few comments here are verging on preaching, which is not permitted on the site. Please keep all comments focused on the subject of the OP.

      Thank you.

      The moderators

  14. With or without God, Buddhism is at best a psuedoscience. But honestly, it’s not even science when it claims that reincarnation exists without any proof. Also, the whole enlightenment and and ending the cycle of pain thing is really another flavour of salvation theology.

    Buddhism cannot work with science as long as it takes unsubstantiated claims as fact.

    Some defenders of Buddhism may want to reconcile the two by invoking Gould’s NOMA, but reincarnation is a claim that overlaps into the natural realm. Thus, it is challengable by the scientific community.

    • yea the reincarnation part has always bothered me a bit but i ignored it also cause in the sgi we don’t focus on it much, we tlak about daily life and what we can do now not after we die ect. But yes i agree that claim is quite silly as we don’t know.In reply to #34 by adiroth:

      With or without God, Buddhism is at best a psuedoscience. But honestly, it’s not even science when it claims that reincarnation exists without any proof. Also, the whole enlightenment and and ending the cycle of pain thing is really another flavour of salvation theology.

      Buddhism cannot work with s…

    • In reply to #34 by adiroth:

      With or without God, Buddhism is at best a psuedoscience. But honestly, it’s not even science when it claims that reincarnation exists without any proof. Also, the whole enlightenment and and ending the cycle of pain thing is really another flavour of salvation theology.

      Buddhism cannot work with s…

      Yes, I agree, Karma is the problem. It is blatant pseudoscience. It is unsupported dogma, preached and believed all over the world every day.
      >

      • Karma is none other than cause and effect and is not pseudoscience at all. In my Buddishm ( could be different in others) which is Nichiren Daishonin’ buddhism karma is the one thing that reincarnates nothing else does…I find that hard to believe that’s why I’ve joined this post, but the karma aspect of life is pretty much what Sam Harris talks about in his Free Will book, the consequences of our actions are not an illusion though free will is. In reply to #105 by skiptic:

        In reply to #34 by adiroth:

        With or without God, Buddhism is at best a psuedoscience. But honestly, it’s not even science when it claims that reincarnation exists without any proof. Also, the whole enlightenment and and ending the cycle of pain thing is really another flavour of salvation theology….

        • In reply to #106 by CrisTanzi:

          Karma is none other than cause and effect and is not pseudoscience at all. In my Buddishm ( could be different in others) which is Nichiren Daishonin’ buddhism karma is the one thing that reincarnates nothing else does…I find that hard to believe that’s why I’ve joined this post, but the karma a…

          Uh oh, Christopher Hitchens’ friendly snipe at Sam Harris for being “a bit of a Buddhist” acquires extra posthumous credit here, where someone indeed references the neuroscientist as a propagator of the validity of “karma”. I see the moderators call for cessation of preaching was futile.

          • ?… I think the moderator should have not allowed my post then since it’s about Buddhism ?I am not preaching just explaining my point as I have noticed most people in this discussion have a very superficial view of Buddhism and know nothing of mine.If you think I am preaching, you don’t have to read my comments or replies and it won’t effect you.In reply to #111 by Timothy McNamara:

            In reply to #106 by CrisTanzi:

            Karma is none other than cause and effect and is not pseudoscience at all. In my Buddishm ( could be different in others) which is Nichiren Daishonin’ buddhism karma is the one thing that reincarnates nothing else does…I find that hard to believe that’s why I’ve j…

  15. I’ve been going to a local Buddhist centre on and off but have been unsure as to if I could see myself as Buddhist. The key reason for my going has been to try and develop and sustain some regular meditation practice. There do not seem to be secular local meditation groups that do not involve paying quite a lot of money and other Buddhist groups are far more into mysticism than the Leeds Centre I go to from time to time (Triratna, formerly Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). Buddhist ethics also make a lot of sense to me – though I have problems with some Buddhist practices eg renunciation – leaving families – which the Buddha did, and many others besides, as mentioned on this forum.

    But – there are large chunks of Buddhism teaching I can’t accept at all, basically the mystic aspects such as reincarnation, multiple heavens and hells, deities, ghosts, etc etc. Maybe since I don’t accept literal reincarnation I’d not be seen as a Buddhist by most mainstream groups (though Buddhism is extremely diverse).

    (Literal reincarnation: I understand this to be that in some real sense current consciousness will not cease upon death but reemerge in another life. This I find utterly implausible, for though I suppose the scientist in me should not rule it out in principle, in practice I cannot envisage any good proof for reincarnation emerging now after so many opportunities for such proofs. However, metaphorical ‘reincarnation’ (linked to the idea that a continuing self is an illusion, perhaps of memory) seems true, in that my consciousness is continually ‘reincarnated’ along with my proneness to lack of mindfulness and my various worries are continually reconstructed and re-run. Enlightenment in this life, to be free of the ‘reincarnation’ in this life of my hang ups etc seems highly desirable – but a long way off!).

    Does this rejection of literal reincarnation (and other mysticisms) matter? I don’t think so, and the leaders at the centre I go to doesn’t seem to either. I seem to gain some calm and balance by meditation, but need some ‘peer support’ and ‘retraining’ and some structure through chanting. Every few weeks or so seems to be enough. Will I renounce my scientific atheism? Doesn’t look likely. For me, Buddhism is a technique, a guide to living that may work in parts. I don’t feel I need to accept any mysticism, or that any of the words ascribed to the Buddha were from him – or even that the Buddha (Siddartha) was in any sense a historical figure (though on balance it seems more plausible that he was).

    • In reply to #35 by steve_hopker:

      I’ve been going to a local Buddhist centre on and off but have been unsure as to if I could see myself as Buddhist. The key reason for my going has been to try and develop and sustain some regular meditation practice. There do not seem to be secular local meditation groups that do not involve paying…

      So basically you’re doing it for the meditation and the guidance you get from instructors, but not for religious purposes?

      • In reply to #36 by DHudson:

        In reply to #35 by steve_hopker:
        So basically you’re doing it for the meditation and the guidance you get from instructors, but not for religious purposes?

        [Sorry for delay - haven't visited this site recently) Yes, unless one takes a very broad view of 'religion' to exclude ay kind of supernaturalism, maybe as being 'a way to better living'. But maybe in that case philosophy, maybe science might count as religions as being 'ways to better living. On the whole then its probably better to say that a 'secular buddhism' might borrow something from religion (eg ritual, meditation) without being a religion as such.

        It’s a controversial line – perhaps a remote parallel of ‘atheist churches’ debated on other threads here.

    • yea i like this “Buddhism is a technique, a guide to living that may work in parts” However in the sgi ( moderator please don’t tell me off i need to explain what my buddhism entails since this is a debate!!!) we don’t pay unless we go to a residential course and we have to pay for accommodation and food or when we offer voluntary contribution for the running of the cultural centres like you would in a museum which has free entry but u can choose to contribute any amount.Also we do not renounce secular life as we are a lay origination, we have jobs and families and live a normal life.We also chant and do not meditate and have monthly meetings at people’s houses. But the reincarnation part it’s till there though we seldom discuss it, our main aim is world peace and what can we do now not when we die.
      In reply to #35 by steve_hopker:

      I’ve been going to a local Buddhist centre on and off but have been unsure as to if I could see myself as Buddhist. The key reason for my going has been to try and develop and sustain some regular meditation practice. There do not seem to be secular local meditation groups that do not involve paying…

  16. BTW, CrisTanzi

    Sokka Gakkai is a CULT! It has:

    1. Cult of personality centered around its president Daisaku Ikeda.
    2. Committed money laundry (thus becoming a target of anonymous)
    3. Control of a political party in Japan

    Just to give you a quick start, look at the wikipedia entry of [SGI]
    (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soka_Gakkai)

    I have visited one of their sites. Their operations are quite smooth, but the us vs them undertone is so strong, it reeks of cultist propaganda from a mile away. Get out NOW, if you’re not already under their control!

    • That could be bad propaganda against Daisaku Ikeda, he has lots of enemies…the lay organisation was excommunicated in the 90′s by the priesthood cause they were afraid of losing control and money. The priesthood wanted followers to pay them for prayers which goes against ND buddhism principles. Our current president Daisaku Ikeda knew about the corruption but wanted to work with the priest to create peace till they plotted against him and finally excommunicated us and lost many members who followed D Ikeda instead.He’s a remarkable man, might be deluded like me in believing in Buddhahood but he’s done lots of good indeed! Look him up, i’m not allowed to give links as the moderator said i might be preaching :( which I’m not! But i can’t just agree with everyone who has partial and uniformed views.
      In reply to #37 by adiroth:

      BTW, CrisTanzi

      Sokka Gakkai is a CULT! It has:

      Cult of personality centered around its president Daisaku Ikeda.
      Committed money laundry (thus becoming a target of anonymous)
      Control of a political party in Japan

      Just to give you a quick start, look at the wikipedia entry of [SGI]
      (en.wikipedia…

      • In reply to #52 by CrisTanzi:

        That could be bad propaganda against Daisaku Ikeda, he has lots of enemies…the lay organisation was excommunicated in the 90′s by the priesthood cause they were afraid of losing control and money. The priesthood wanted followers to pay them for prayers which goes against ND buddhism principles. Ou…

        Spoken like a true cultist.

        • fair enough but maybe in 12 years of practice i might know about sgi a bit more than you and to be fair you don’t even know me to tell me what I am.In reply to #54 by adiroth:

          In reply to #52 by CrisTanzi:

          That could be bad propaganda against Daisaku Ikeda, he has lots of enemies…the lay organisation was excommunicated in the 90′s by the priesthood cause they were afraid of losing control and money. The priesthood wanted followers to pay them for prayers which goes aga…

  17. Hi,

    1) in order to be able to tell whether we need a religion to be happy, we’d need to define and understand “happy”; seeing how many people have tried and failed, it may be tricky at least. My impression is that, if you define happiness as intrinsically transcendent, or tied to transcendency, your conclusion will be yes; if you define it immanently, your conclusion will be no.

    2) to me is obviously no, as there is not such a thing, in my opinion, as Buddhahood. Enlightenment (in the buddhist sense, not the Kantian one) is to me a delusion. One could argue that it’s well worth striving to reach it even if it were not possible to actually achieve it, but my problem with Buddhism is that it’s all about non enlightened people telling other non enlightened people how to reach enlightenment.

    3) the question entails that Buddhism is or ought to be for the well being of society, though it doesn’t clearly state that it can and does succeed. I could accept that Buddhism aims to well being, but I’ll need some convincing to believe that it actually brings well being.

    • Happiness for me is strength and unflagging hope in the face of adversitiesreply to #38 by NoneOfTheAbove:*

      Hi,

      1) in order to be able to tell whether we need a religion to be happy, we’d need to define and understand “happy”; seeing how many people have tried and failed, it may be tricky at least. My impression is that, if you define happiness as intrinsically transcendent, or tied to transcendency, you…

      • In reply to #55 by CrisTanzi:

        Hi Cris.

        Would you mind elaborating a bit on your second question: 2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

        What exactly do you mean by “evolution”?

        • As human beings evolved to have consciousness and as i’m aware we are the only ones in the animal kingdom, animals have instincts but not self awareness, what if buddhahood is a form of consciousness ?I’m not sure i believe this either to be honest but…i’m just asking… In reply to #56 by DHudson:

          In reply to #55 by CrisTanzi:

          Hi Cris.

          Would you mind elaborating a bit on your second question: 2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

          What exactly do you mean by “evolution”?

          • In reply to #67 by CrisTanzi:

            As human beings evolved to have consciousness and as i’m aware we are the only ones in the animal kingdom, animals have instincts but not self awareness, what if buddhahood is a form of consciousness ?I’m not sure i believe this either to be honest but…i’m just asking…

            Depending on how you define self-awareness, there is plenty of research indicating that other species also at least has self-recognition and to some extent self-awareness. GIYF.

            Of course buddhahood ( again depending on definition ) is a form of consciousness. All human thinking is.

          • I think our consciousness is such that we want to know where we come from and what are we doing here? ect. I don’t think animals have that …yet. Buddhahood’s qualities are Wisdom, compassion and courage and that’s what we call forth when we chant the mantra and my question is if my buddhism can help society and if it can work with science as it does not deny it’s value at all. In reply to #70 by DHudson:*

            In reply to #67 by CrisTanzi:

            As human beings evolved to have consciousness and as i’m aware we are the only ones in the animal kingdom, animals have instincts but not self awareness, what if buddhahood is a form of consciousness ?I’m not sure i believe this either to be honest but…i’m just askin…

          • In reply to #71 by CrisTanzi:

            I think our consciousness is such that we want to know where we come from and what are we doing here?

            Where we come from is a question that is within our grasp and hopefully close to being resolved, but as is often the case with the most exciting answers is that new questions probably will arise.

            What we’re doing here is not something science has a single definitive answer to, because there’s 7 billion different answers.

  18. Going by the additional information you’ve posted about your chanting, and touching on what Turan said about meditation, I would have to say that the chanting is probably placebo, or at least, the chant itself is the placebo, with other circumstances attributing to your rewards.

    Meditation is beneficial for a healthy, happy mind.
    Some of the teachings of Buddhism are beneficial to a logical, ethical and humble outlook on life. I would even say these together could aid in finding courage, compassion and wisdom. But you don’t need to put up with the mumbo jumbo to benefit from these aspects of Buddhism.

    Taking the teachings of Buddhism to their logical conclusion should, I believe, cause the individual to cease calling themselves a Buddhist. It is a title, an identity and an absolute. How do you let go of the “I” if you’re preoccupied with what you are called and identified by?
    Once you start calling yourself a Buddhist you will find yourself open to the fallacy of accepting things simply because it’s what a Buddhist “should” believe, rather than believing in things on their own merits.

    You say you do not meditate but chant instead. While I can’t claim that the act of chanting something like this couldn’t bring on some of the effects of meditation, what is it specifically about ” nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo” that you think will bring you enlightenment? And as keith alluded to, what is it you’re expecting from this enlightenment?

    This sounds to me like the baggage I mentioned in my earlier post. A magic word, a mystical mechanism, fantasy. Something that defies science and eludes it by being unfalsifiable.

    Take a moment to forget about being a Buddhist and ask yourself, do you believe those words have any magical properties? Are there other ways to spark courage, compassion and wisdom? Then consider, not if Buddhism is “the path” for you, but if you need “a path” at all. If you do, then Buddhism could be that path, but be aware that it comes with mystical baggage that defies science. If not, then take the best bits from Buddhism and leave the rest behind.

    I’m not saying leave the SGI-UK, they sound like a good political pressure group despite any superfluous beliefs, but that doesn’t mean you have to believe it as well.

    • In reply to #41 by Seraphor:

      Meditation is beneficial for a healthy, happy mind.

      It can be, but it doesn’t follow. How it works and for whom it works is still an unresolved matter.

      A question for the Buddhists: Do you think your meditation/chanting would work if you didn’t have various teachings from authority figures?

    • this is a beautiful reply thank you, we chant ” nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo” cause it means to devote oneself to the law of cause and effect, myo has lots of meanings such as to open, to revive and it means life and death so by repeating those words we believe that we can bring forth our enlightened state. I don’t know if i believe it anymore…i always had my doubts to be honest but i did see some improvements in my life in the past 12 years ( i’m less selfish and way more confident and a lot less scared of life ) i’m pretty sure i will decide what to do with regards to the chanting very soon as i’m getting clearer and clearer.In reply to #41 by Seraphor:

      Going by the additional information you’ve posted about your chanting, and touching on what Turan said about meditation, I would have to say that the chanting is probably placebo, or at least, the chant itself is the placebo, with other circumstances attributing to your rewards.

      Meditation is benef…

    • In reply to #41 by Seraphor:

      Once you start calling yourself a Buddhist you will find yourself open to the fallacy of accepting things simply because it’s what a Buddhist “should” believe, rather than believing in things on their own merits.

      And once you start calling yourself an atheist you also risk accepting things because a scientist said it was true. Arguably this acceptance is based on the credentials of the scientist in question but which of us can honestly say they have seen proof that the big bang theory is true, or even that matter cannot travel faster than light, or even that we evolved. We all accept what the scientists tell us and a small handful of us have ever really examined the evidence for what we accept to be true.

      In short it seems that a lot of us atheists belittle theists because they trust in the word of their religious leader while at the same time do not have the real capacity to question the scientists on whose work we base our beliefs.

      • In reply to #45 by naskew:

        In reply to #41 by Seraphor:

        And once you start calling yourself an atheist you also risk accepting things because a scientist said it was true.

        Atheism and pro-science outlooks are two different things. Buddhists are technically atheists. You also seem to confuse “atheist” with “anti-theist” or “critic of religion” near the end of your post, when they’re not synonymous.

        • In reply to #46 by Zeuglodon:

          Buddhists are technically atheists.

          They might not believe in a deity, that is something to their credit, but they do appear to go on the believe in rebirth or reincarnation. That is perhaps the problem with the word atheism in that people can believe in fairies but not god and call themselves atheists. Wasn’t the term teapot agnostic coined for just this reason?

          You went on to say that I confuse atheism with anti-theism. Well, no, I do not believe in a god or fairies or the wee folk but am quite happy to live and let live making me an atheist. The only proviso is that the other party has to also live and let live. I am not about trying to convert people from their religion if that gives them comfort, but I do not want to hear that I will go to hell because I lump the tooth fairy, Santa, and God in the same bag. The point I was making is that there are those atheists who call theists gullible because they believe their priests and yet most atheists are prepared to take science at face value. How is that any different?

          • In reply to #60 by naskew:

            In reply to #46 by Zeuglodon:

            Buddhists are technically atheists.

            They might not believe in a deity, that is something to their credit, but they do appear to go on the believe in rebirth or reincarnation. That is perhaps the problem with the word atheism in that people can believe in fairies but n…

            It’s not a problem with atheism; it’s a problem with a stereotype of atheism. There’s no commitment to avoiding supernatural beliefs in the concept itself because the term “atheism” simply refers to a theological position. I’m not saying there isn’t an issue with the supernatural tenets of atheistic religions, but let’s at least make the categories clear.

            Wasn’t the term teapot agnostic coined for just this reason?

            An atheist might invoke the teapot as a reason for not being confident that a deity exists, but it helps to be mindful of alternative scenarios before you assume that atheism is bound to the principle in some way. Atheists having other reasons for being atheists – including not very good ones – are cases in point.

            You went on to say that I confuse atheism with anti-theism. Well, no, I do not believe in a god or fairies or the wee folk but am quite happy to live and let live making me an atheist. The only proviso is that the other party has to also live and let live. I am not about trying to convert people from their religion if that gives them comfort, but I do not want to hear that I will go to hell because I lump the tooth fairy, Santa, and God in the same bag. The point I was making is that there are those atheists who call theists gullible because they believe their priests and yet most atheists are prepared to take science at face value. How is that any different?

            Why distinguish “atheists”, though, rather than “anti-theists”? You already can distinguish “people who do not think a god or gods are real” from “people who think theists are idiots”, but it’s a peculiar choice of words nonetheless to distinguish the latter with reference to the former, as though it’s especially reprehensible when people who are atheists are hypocrites. Logically, the same argument could apply to agnostics of different stripes, or even to deists.

            I appreciate with hindsight that you were talking about anti-theists specifically, but describing them using the word choice of “atheists” seemed at the time like lumping in people based on a stereotype about “angry atheists”, and I think this is a sloppy way to categorize people when more precise terms are available.

            The point I was making is that there are those atheists who call theists gullible because they believe their priests and yet most atheists are prepared to take science at face value. How is that any different?

            See my previous comment, but this is, when you get down to it, not so clear cut. The reasons for trusting particular individuals over others vary, the level of rational justification for each authority’s claim to, well, authority vary, and the limits for any particular individual’s gullibility vary. But while I’ve seen people talk about scientific news with way more confidence than they should, I don’t think I’ve seen them claim that scientists can do no wrong.

      • In reply to #45 by naskew:

        And once you start calling yourself an atheist you also risk accepting things because a scientist said it was true.

        Peer review is one mechanism that is supposed to counter that even though it doesn’t always succeed.

        No matter what you call yourself there’s always the risk of accepting unsubstantiated “truths” based on argument from authority.

      • In reply to #45 by naskew:

        In reply to #41 by Seraphor:

        Once you start calling yourself a Buddhist you will find yourself open to the fallacy of accepting things simply because it’s what a Buddhist “should” believe, rather than believing in things on their own merits.

        And once you start calling yourself an atheist you also risk accepting things because a scientist said it was true. Arguably this acceptance is based on the credentials of the scientist in question but which of us can honestly say they have seen proof that the big bang theory is true, or even that matter cannot travel faster than light, or even that we evolved. We all accept what the scientists tell us and a small handful of us have ever really examined the evidence for what we accept to be true.

        In short it seems that a lot of us atheists belittle theists because they trust in the word of their religious leader while at the same time do not have the real capacity to question the scientists on whose work we base our beliefs.

        There are plenty of people who wear the name ‘Atheist’ as a badge of pseudo-intellectual honour, but it doesn’t follow that all atheists do this. Given the first half of the paragraph of mine that you failed to quote, what makes you think I’m one of them?
        Of course I’m not perfect, but I try to take everything I hear with a pinch of salt, no matter who says it, scientist or otherwise. I feel I have enough scientific knowledge to make somewhat reliable judgements on many things that science says it has discovered. And that’s the key. You could just accept whatever a ‘scientist’ says, but the information is available to everyone even if it takes a great deal of effort to learn, and that alone bolsters confidence in the system. Religious leaders don’t provide that information or if they do, it is worthless, nebulous information that leads nowhere.

        Of course atheists can be just as intellectually lazy as theists, but this avenue of learning the science for yourself is not available for the religious alternatives.

        In reply to #43 by DHudson:

        It can be, but it doesn’t follow.

        I’m sorry, I meant ‘can be’ and not ‘is’, of course.

        • In reply to #49 by Seraphor:

          You could just accept whatever a ‘scientist’ says, but the information is available to everyone even if it takes a great deal of effort to learn, and that alone bolsters confidence in the system.

          The point is that most people do just accept whatever a scientist says. You can argue that the information is there, and I will not argue against that, but becoming one of the elite that says that the big bang theory is true because you too have seen the evidence does not make you any more plausible to a theist than some convert to Christianity who also says they have heard the voice of the Lord.

          I personally have no doubt that scientists are not lying when they talk of all these theories that disprove the message of the Bible. Nor do I doubt that we atheists are right in our beliefs. What I am arguing is that if you stand back and compare the two one is a system of believing the incomprehensible because someone says its true and wrote it in a book and the other is religion.

          • In reply to #58 by naskew:

            Nor do I doubt that we atheists are right in our beliefs. What I am arguing is that if you stand back and compare the two one is a system of believing the incomprehensible because someone says its true and wrote it in a book and the other is religion.

            What beliefs?

            If your idea of science is that it simply is incomprehensible theories in books then I urge you to go outside and have a look around.

          • In reply to #59 by DHudson:

            What beliefs?

            Careful, you are sounding like one of those inflexible theists :-) My position is that I am right to believe there is no deity but I do not have a proof that would be accepted. As such my theory that there is no god is nothing more than my own belief. We can more or less prove the Bible wrong in many areas but that does not completely negate the possibility that a deity does exist.

            Many years ago I posed a question to a Christian. Suppose this world we live in is actually a computer simulation. What would you call the programmer?

          • In reply to #68 by naskew:

            Careful, you are sounding like one of those inflexible theists :-)

            Really? I was under the impression that you were trying to ascribe atheists certain beliefs, you know, like theists have.
            I’m not aware of any atheists tenets I’m supposed to follow. ;-)

            My position is that I am right to believe there is no deity but I do not have a proof that would be accepted. As such my theory that there is no god is nothing more than my own belief. We can more or less prove the Bible wrong in many areas but that does not completely negate the possibility that a deity does exist.

            Well, yes it does. If a deity is supposed to be omnipotent and infallible then one false claim is all it takes. That’s a simple logical conclusion.

            Any conceivable deity? Sure that’s a tall order to disprove, but the christian one in particular is already well and done for if we count the bible as a source of the divine. It’s claims doesn’t hold water and their deity is nowhere to be found.

            Many years ago I posed a question to a Christian. Suppose this world we live in is actually a computer simulation. What would you call the programmer?

            I’d call it nothing, and conclude that she/he/it’s got some explaining to do. But what makes you think there is only one programmer?

          • In reply to #73 by DHudson:

            But what makes you think there is only one programmer?

            Yes of course, the possibility of a gaggle of programmers a little like the Greek gods. Let’s hope nobody spills a cup of coffee over the keyboard. It might explain reincarnation, I mean instead of creating a new variable to hold the new living entity you just re-use the old variable and wipe it clean. Those people that claim to remember being around before probably were not wiped properly. It all makes sense now.

          • In reply to #58 by naskew:

            In reply to #49 by Seraphor:

            You could just accept whatever a ‘scientist’ says, but the information is available to everyone even if it takes a great deal of effort to learn, and that alone bolsters confidence in the system.

            The point is that most people do just accept whatever a scientist says. Y…

            I think you have a good point here, but I can’t tell if your last sentence is made as a “this is how it looks to someone who doesn’t agree with it” point, or is intended as a potshot at people simply for assuming scientists mostly know what they’re talking about. If the latter, then you seem way too dismissive of the difference. I think the key difference would be that scientific credence at least aspires to a kind of “don’t trust the messenger; trust the message” style, such that anyone willing to do so can look beyond the experts and go straight to the arguments and evidence themselves, whereas this is less likely in a religious context (depending on how authoritarian the religion in question is).

            I’m not saying people who support science won’t be unjustifiably swayed by credentials – a historical counterexample would be Fred Hoyle’s dismissal of evolution, which is trotted out as a “scientific” challenge to evolution by creationists – but unless the discussion is bringing into question a field, I think it’s at least provisionally safe to assume that appealing to the appropriate experts is acceptable.

          • I want to believe scientists cause i don’t think i can devote my life to science the way they do…so i have to believe in what they say. In the same way i have believed Daiskau Ikeda for the past 12 years cause my head was telling me…”believe him he’s allright” Right now what I can honestly say is that ” I don’t know” but I want to know more and i want to trust people like Richard Dawkins cause he seems to make a lot of sense and he’s not deluded or driven by ego.In reply to #61 by Zeuglodon:

            In reply to #58 by naskew:

            In reply to #49 by Seraphor:

            You could just accept whatever a ‘scientist’ says, but the information is available to everyone even if it takes a great deal of effort to learn, and that alone bolsters confidence in the system.

            The point is that most people do just accept…

          • In reply to #63 by CrisTanzi:

            to me it’s not the latter
            I want to believe scientists cause i don’t think i can devote my life to science the way they do…so i have to believe in what they say. In the same way i have believed Daiskau Ikeda for the past 12 years cause my head was telling me…”believe him he’s allright” Right now…

            I don’t think Dawkins or other scientists want you to trust them. You’re trying to measure things with your dogmatic ruler. Scientists are trained to present information with the best evidence they have in order to persuade their audience. No blind faith is needed. If you disagree, just rebut with your own argument. Of course, you’ll need to present convincing evidence with your argument. Also, scientists are not infallible. They are subject to corruption and faults, as they’re just mere mortal. If you have the training, then it’s up to you to test the claims, eliminating flawed data and contribute to the body of knowledge.

            So, do you prefer to be told what to believe in and think by a cult leader or do you want to actually contribute to society? That’s the difference between a cult member and scientists.

  19. I remember looking at budhisim as an option , and i rejected it , because it has so many rules on how i should lead my life. Essentially i want to take actions because they make sense rather than following a course because some dogma tells me to.

    • I totally agree with you on that cause lots of religions and forms of buddhism have lots of rules, but in the sgi we don’t have any other that taking responsibility for our life and not begrudge it we call that “human revolution” that’s why i’m questioning if i should leave it or not, sgi makes a lot of sense exempt some parts of course.n reply to #48 by Pauly01:*

      I remember looking at budhisim as an option , and i rejected it , because it has so many rules on how i should lead my life. Essentially i want to take actions because they make sense rather than following a course because some dogma tells me to.

      • apologies for bad spelling….i’m italian!In reply to #50 by CrisTanzi:

        I totally agree with you on that cause lots of religions and forms of buddhism have lots of rules, but in the sgi we don’t have any other that taking responsibility for our life and not begrudge it we call that “human revolution” that’s why i’m questioning if i should leave it or not, sgi makes a lo…

  20. As for the OP, I don’t think I can add much other than repetition of what other people have already said. There are a couple of things that interest me about your post, and I’ll take a crack at the questions just in case.

    My questions are: 1) Do we need a religion ( the right one) to be happy? Poeple of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non religion approach to life but the “common” person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    I think the distinction between “intellectuals” and “common people” is, at the very least, way too simplistic and almost certainly the wrong way to look at this. We’re not from different planets. Everyone dabbles in philosophical issues like how to distinguish truth from non-truth, what ethics is (and what’s ethical), and what consciousness is, even though few people explicitly talk about philosophy or draw upon its academia much. With the exception of people with unfortunate disorders, we can all feel similar emotions such as awe and wonder; the difference seems to me to be one of degree rather than kind, as well as how keenly one manages the issues and feelings in daily life. From this angle, the question is making an assumption that hasn’t been justified.

    As for science providing comfort, see my last para.

    Question 2) Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

    I don’t know what you mean here. I think I get the gist, but the wording is jarring to me. Do you mean something like “Is religious experience a means of progressing into a more valuable state of existence, one worth striving for”?

    Question 3) can Buddhism and Science work together? One for the well being of society and the other for the search of the truth?

    I think this is very much a case of “It depends on what you mean.” If you are asking whether the tenets of Buddhism can coexist with scientific pursuit, then I don’t see why not. If you are asking whether the tenets of Buddhism are compatible with the methods of science, then given its hard-to-prove claims about consciousness, I doubt it.

    However, it is worth pointing out that the comparison is not very good if you’re talking about things like techniques in meditation and guidelines for how to live one’s life. Scientific pursuits don’t themselves come with such guidelines, though they can be allied to broader philosophical positions such as empiricism and skepticism. I think a more interesting move would be to compare Buddhism to other philosophies on consciousness and ethics: an example of the latter would be secular humanism or personism. One could see to what extent one can inform and complement/conflict with the other, since secular humanism has a focus on ethics and guidelines.

  21. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR REPLIES!!
    I think that nearly everyone “believes”in something or someone to an extent.
    Mathematicians don’t always understand their conclusion with their heads but they trust their calculations, and i trust them cause i’m not a physicist or mathematician!
    I also know that in quantum physics everything is “counter intuitive” yet again i must believe the scientists that are devoting their lives to it, cause i’m not definitely going to!
    I’ve read “Why evolution is true””The magic of reality” and i’m about to read “The God delusion” and the “Selfish gene” and i’ve watched documentaries with Brian Cox, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins and since I’m not a scientist and I don’t have time to check if they are telling me the truth nor the brain to be honest to understand everything, I want to believe their words whole heart-idly. As well as I have chosen to believe Daisaku Ikeda when he lectures on the Lotus Sutra ( which is older than the Bible and the Qur’an) cause though I have the book i simply don’t have time to read it nor the will as it’s written in old language. So …my belief is that I am a humanist, I believe that we have in us both good and evil and that good can prevail if we have a sound philosophy in life which helps us promote respect and dignity for life. Please carry on with your answers and debate i am very much inspired!

  22. In reply to #63 by CrisTanzi:

    to me it’s not the latter
    I want to believe scientists cause i don’t think i can devote my life to science the way they do…so i have to believe in what they say. In the same way i have believed Daiskau Ikeda for the past 12 years cause my head was telling me…”believe him he’s allright” Right now…

    I don’t want to sound like I’m pontificating – goodness knows I’m certainly not as intelligent as I sometimes think I am – but at the same time, I want to at least respond to this point, since I think it’s worth bearing: scientists are fallible. They make mistakes, they fake things, they conduct poor experiments and cling to old ideas, they let pride get in the way, and they are not always immune to politics and ideologies. Even science itself is not always something to take for granted: at its heart is the philosophical conundrum of the problem of induction, a real twister of an idea for some people. I don’t like “trusting” it, and lament only that I’m not smart enough or patient enough to dissect everything it offers myself. I say that, and I’m a real enthusiast for science.

    Not all of the scientists are bad all of the time, by any means; that would be unfair to the honest and competent ones. However, you have to take a lot of things with a pinch of salt and at least look into philosophy to understand both your own personal limits in verifying what they say and in science itself.

    I don’t think it’s appropriate to want to believe what they say, but at the same time, you can at least get by provisionally on it – ready and with an open mind so that you can either accept it or question it – even if only for pragmatic reasons. I imagine you could call it a balance of practicality versus truth, so to speak.

  23. could be the dreaded “placebo” effect.

    don’t be so hard on the placebo effect, all we know is we don’t know for sure how it works. it happens and that’s it. the way I look at things is to “feel better” a number of chemical chain reactions must happen, various activities or substances or exposure to certain environments can set the right chain in action. so drug or meditation, the end result is what you’re trying to achieve. I believe some are more susceptable than others to non-chemical influences like this which is exactly why anecdotal evidence must be taken cautiously, it might be 100% true, but only for 1 person.

    regarding questions

    1. No relgion is not required. enlightenment should be available to all, religion is a substitute for enlightenment. I do recommend some sort of pastime though
    2. Not sure what you mean here. as far as evolution goes, if it’s not heritable it’s not evolving any more than cough mixture is evolution of the lungs. However, because brains deal in ideas that can be shared in the population, there is possibly of some positive feedback happening. enlightenment can be shared and if it reaches a critical mass in the population, become self-sustaning
    3. Yes but I would not accept one is for society and the other for truth. science is fine for both. buddhism has to be for the benefit of the individual practitioner only. If science can’t provide the answer, it’s not an objective question. I don’t think either has anything to offer the other, only that a scientist can practice buddhism without diminishing their science, just so long as you accept that if there ever is a conflict, buddhism must change not science.

    If you feel better doing something then it’s compatible with science but in itself doesn’t add anything to it. I practice music, it doesn’t make me more clever, but it makes me more happy. the same could be said for sport, it might make your brain work better because you’re more healthy, in which case, scientists should get excercise but just because you have a eureka moment on the track, doesn’t mean scintists need to go for a run every time they have a question

    • In reply to #69 by SaganTheCat:

      No relgion is not required. enlightenment should be available to all, religion is a substitute for enlightenment. I do recommend some sort of pastime though

      Much as I’ve described religion in the past as being “reduced to a personal hobby”, at least in most of the UK, since then I’ve come to think that it isn’t just that. I think I’d add to this point that, if people “need” anything, they need social bonding, their own solutions to daily life problems, perhaps some kind of subculture identity and community “home base”, philosophy, art, and stories, things which religions provide. That said, I think, more accurately, that such needs are those which most religions exploit under the pretence of providing the real things, but I won’t belabour the point.

  24. I am convinced that most people who are searching for enlightenment are labouring under the misleading influence of either the biblical story of Eden or Jean Jacques Rousseau’s ideas of how we are born good but become twisted by our culture. I feel that meditators are trying to get back to some kind of ‘original state’ that never actually existed.

    We are risen animals rather than fallen angels and there is no heavenly state to which we can find our way back. Our culture has evolved quicker than our bodies and the modern world sometimes plays havoc with our old-fashioned nervous systems. This can lead some people into believing that they can return to some pre-industrial, natural enlightened state which we have now lost. Yet my guess is that nowhere in our past, not even when we all lived in Africa did we know this state. Over millions of years, some people no doubt managed to grab a few hours peace and quiet while sitting cross-legged in their caves or in posh Californian homes, but this is the exception and not our natural state, and certainly not a permanent state. The desire for enlightenment is the desire for a time when all striving is done and we can finally rest. The reality is that such a time doesn’t come this side of the grave.

    • In reply to #76 by keith:

      I am convinced that most people who are searching for enlightenment are labouring under the misleading influence of either the biblical story of Eden or Jean Jacques Rousseau’s ideas of how we are born good but become twisted by our culture. I feel that meditators are trying to get back to some kind…

      Brilliant. Risen animals not fallen angels. Who says science can’t inspire poetry?

      As for enlightenment, whatever it may mean, I don’t think it makes all that much difference whether you take the ‘risen animal’ or the ‘fallen angel’ angle on it, both are still striving for progress and improvement. Albeit one may come to superfluous conclusions based on an impossible goal that doesn’t yet exist.

    • yes…i’ve always struggled with the getting back the ‘original state’ ? i’ve questioned it once in a meeting and the guy runign it never answered me to be honest…In reply to #76 by keith:

      I am convinced that most people who are searching for enlightenment are labouring under the misleading influence of either the biblical story of Eden or Jean Jacques Rousseau’s ideas of how we are born good but become twisted by our culture. I feel that meditators are trying to get back to some kind…

  25. Hi CrisTanzi

    I’ve been a Buddhist for 12 years … which makes me feel better and has drastically improved my life …

    Makes you feel better than what?

    How do you know it has drastically improved your life? For example: What other things could you have done with the time you spent chanting?

    [Buddhism] could [supply] the dreaded placebo effect. I have given myself 1 year to find out.

    If that’s important to you, go for it.

    I think you’re just setting the rest of us up for your re-conversion to the teachings of Buddha.

    As a Buddhist I don’t believe in God. Buddhists believe that we all have Buddhahood [the] potential for enlightenment to the sanctity of life.

    I don’t know what that means. I do know that I value life – all life not just my own – very highly. Why do I need a Buddha to do that?

    Do we need a religion (the right one) to be happy?

    Which religion is the right religion? So many to choose between, so little time to decide. What if I make a mistake?

    Do we need a religion … to be happy?

    No. Seriously, I’m happy most of the time and I have no religion. Self-recognising I have no religion also appears to be having a positive effect on the recurrence of depression that I suffered in the past.

    People of science and intellectuals seem to prefer a non-religion approach to life …

    Make up your own mind. Don’t worry about them.

    … the common person like me might need some comfort which science alone cannot provide.

    Are you sure it’s true consolation? How are you sure? Are you comfortable being cheated out of true enlightenment just to feel consolation? Why is it different for a common person? I don’t feel like I’m a special person – do I need consolation more or less than you (and how do you know?)?

    Could something like Buddhahood be an evolution of our brain?

    That depends on what you mean by evolution? It also depends on what you mean by enlightenment? It also depends on what you mean by sanctity? It also depends on what you mean by something like? It also depends on what you mean by Buddhahood?

    In the scientific meaning of evolution – descent with modification (i.e. change through the generations) – Buddhahood clearly isn’t evidence of evolution.

    Can Buddhism and Science work together for the well-being of society?

    On what project? What does Buddhism have to offer scientists? If a Scientist were to study Buddhism and find some positive feature that would be good for society at large – then it could be tested and proved to offer that positive benefit. What could a Buddhist do to help that happen? How likely is a new insight?

    Can Buddhism and Science work together for the search of the truth?

    I don’t know. Scientists generally don’t look for truth. They look at the World, the Cosmos, the people, and they ask questions based on their observations. When they study ways to answer their questions they begin by making sure that are not making any assumptions that are not already supported by scientific investigation. When their studies are completed, they share their insights and results with other scientists. At the end they sometimes find a new truth. How does Buddhism work to find truth?

    Any feedback is welcome.

    Peace.

    • Hi Stephen,as you seem to be slightly on the ” agressive” side of things I will refrain from any internet debate with you . You don’t know me or my intention but I would like to clarify that I am not setting the rest of you up for re-conversion to the teachings of ND Buddhism at all, but I’m honestly looking into the option of not being a buddhist anymore as I have too many unanswered questions and doubts. As you can’t see my facial expression nor hear the tone of my voice and you don’t know me, I can see how a hint of distrust could arise from this debate. I have had enough replies so I can now move on and make my own decision.Thank you very much for your contribution.In reply to #79 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

      Hi CrisTanzi

      I’ve been a Buddhist for 12 years … which makes me feel better and has drastically improved my life …

      Makes you feel better than what?

      How do you know it has drastically improved your life? For example: What other things could you have done with the time you spent chanting?

      [Buddhi...

      • In reply to #80 by CrisTanzi:

        Hi CrisTanzi,

        … [as] you seem to be slightly on the “aggressive” side of things I will refrain from any internet debate with you …

        How disappointing. I see now that my line beginning: “I think you’re just setting the rest of us up for your re-conversion … ” was very unfortunate as it changes the whole tone of my post.

        Like other people who ask questions, I am often misinterpreted through my writing as being someone who is strident. In person I’m a sweet-natured kind of guy. I have never been described as aggressive – except on-line.

        If you look again, I believe you will see that without that line my post is only an effort to understand. That was my intention.

        If I have asked questions that seem aggressive to you, then I suggest that says as much about you as it does about me.

        It seems to me that I tried to ask open questions – you are free to answer them in the way you think best. Refusing to address open questions in any way, it seems to me, is to concede that you have some questions which you are not willing to address.

        How honest, and how deep and how comprehensive is your search for truth, if there are some questions that you will not even begin to answer?

        You don’t know me or my intention …

        That was my point in my last post.

        … but I would like to clarify that I am not setting the rest of you up for re-conversion to the teachings of ND Buddhism at all, but I’m honestly looking into the option of not being a buddhist anymore …

        I have difficulty taking people at face value. It’s my problem, story to drop it on you. I apologise. I was wrong. I should at least accept you as you are on first meeting.

        As you can’t see my facial expression nor hear the tone of my voice and you don’t know me, I can see how a hint of distrust could arise from this debate.

        Yes. That comment works in both directions of course …

        … I have too many unanswered questions and doubts.

        As far as questions are concerned, you’re among friends here.

        Peace.

        • ….thanks for explaining, however did my original post ask the question ” Is SGI a cult” ? No it didn’t, so u were off topic hence why I did not want to debate with you. Words are powerful and should be used wisely even on line which is a pretty impersonal method of communication. Still I appreciate the fact that you are trying to rectify some of it….let’s leave it there.Thanks for taking the time to reply.In reply to #93 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

          In reply to #80 by CrisTanzi:

          Hi CrisTanzi,

          … [as] you seem to be slightly on the “aggressive” side of things I will refrain from any internet debate with you …

          How disappointing. I see now that my line beginning: “I think you’re just setting the rest of us up for your re-conversion … ” wa…

  26. In reply to #55 by CrisTanzi:

    Happiness for me is strength and unflagging hope in the face of adversities

    Got it, thanks. I hope you don’t mind, I have two questions about this. As you have probably already guessed, I’m very sceptic about Buddhist theories, but you are focusing on the practices, which seem more interesting anyway.

    i) is the kind of happiness that comes with Buddhism of a different (and more desirable) nature than the one people can get from music or literature, or whatever may work for you? I say this because, while it may not seem so, music and literature can give a great deal of well being, and to me is a great consolation to know that, in spite of all the bad things that may happen to me, the right book will most likely make everything fine again, as it has always done.

    ii) I’ve met very few Buddhist people, so I’m only talking of my gut feelings here, but I often have the impression that practicing meditation with other people might pressure someones, as if one were expected to benefit from it, feel better, etc., to the extent that one may be led to pretend to feel relief and well being, just not to appear to be doing it completely wrong. Is this just an erroneous impression of mine, or do you think that there may be something to it?

  27. You r totally right 12 years ago I only joined to b happy and felt that I didn’t “believe ” enough as the others so I did feel pressured or the odd one our , than after 5 years I started to see great improvemts in my life both inside and outside I became less arrogant, more selfless and courageous as if all my qualities we’re being highlighted but for the better. that could b the placebo but I’m definitely happier ! Stronger !

    • In reply to #82 by CrisTanzi:

      You r totally right 12 years ago I only joined to b happy and felt that I didn’t “believe ” enough as the others so I did feel pressured or the odd one our , than after 5 years I started to see great improvemts in my life both inside and outside I became less arrogant, more selfless and courageous as if all my qualities we’re being highlighted but for the better. that could b the placebo but I’m definitely happier ! Stronger !

      This may be true but a bit hard to prove how much is due to Buddhism, meditation (without mystical beliefs behind it etc.) and so forth. I have never been a Buddhist and am happier, less arrogant etc. as time goes by. This is not to say there is nothing in what you say just that anecdote alone does not constitute evidence. But whatever floats your boat. I do think meditation and such may well be very helpful, I’d encourage you to attempt the meditation with say random chants, without mystical beliefs and see if it works as well.

      • Yea i think that’s what I’ll do!
        thanks for taking the time to reply
        In reply to #83 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #82 by CrisTanzi:

        You r totally right 12 years ago I only joined to b happy and felt that I didn’t “believe ” enough as the others so I did feel pressured or the odd one our , than after 5 years I started to see great improvemts in my life both inside and outside I became less arrogant,…

  28. I am a “common” person, and an ex-Buddhist. I found that Buddhism was actually getting in the way of thinking. So, I gave it up (Buddhism, that is, not “thinking”!). I don’t know if Buddhism and Science can work together, I only know what works for me. I needed the “freedom” of my mind, in order to think without prejudice. I think that as long as we hold or cling to religion of any sort, we are putting “blinder” on, rather like they put on carriage horses. We are unable to see correctly since we still have vestigial superstitions.

    Freeing myself of all those beliefs and superstitions, really gave me so much more than I thought I’d lost. It was hard to do, but well worth it. For some, holding onto a religion like Buddhism, say, may work, I don’t know. But perhaps the real answer is in your last question. Perhaps the search fro truth should come first, and then see what happens to the religion?

    • yes totally agree “the search fro truth should come first” But in my case i have emotions and feelings that get a bit out of control sometimes and i find it hard to live a “normal” life unless i chant, it’s pretty clear that some concepts Buddhism upholds don’t have much truth…still the chanting meetings and sense of mission we all get from the practice is worth it if i’m prepared to argue my point with them, which is let science deal with science.I’m not the most popular Buddhist in fact they all think I’m a rebel but we don’t have any rules in Buddhism other than taking responsibility and respecting life! so even they have to accept me as I am :)Thanks for the dialogue1In reply to #85 by totalcolour:

      I am a “common” person, and an ex-Buddhist. I found that Buddhism was actually getting in the way of thinking. So, I gave it up (Buddhism, that is, not “thinking”!). I don’t know if Buddhism and Science can work together, I only know what works for me. I needed the “freedom” of my mind, in order to…

  29. It’s my personal belief that scientists can create the science of reality while artists provide the vision. Alot of futuristic visions are built by artists before they are achieved by scientists or technologists. Einstein also once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. I have no complete idea about Buddhism so it is hard to comment on something I have yet to completely understand. I am only aware that Buddhism talks about the middle path. It does not have a creator god yet it does believe in rebirth and heavenly beings and spirits….etc. Let’s call it quits. Science believe in aliens yet it has yet to prove anything. Buddhism believes in the existence of heavenly beings, spirits and aliens yet by scientific data, no one is able to prove any. Either both has it’s merits or both have a certain degree of a blind spot. What if in ancient literature….heavenly beings are actually aliens but there is no such vocabulary at that time?

    • In reply to #95 by Omegatron:

      Science believe in aliens yet it has yet to prove anything.

      What does that mean? Science doesn’t work by laying out beliefs. Science works by putting forth theories and then validating that those theories are good explanations and predictions of reality. Science doesn’t “believe in aliens”.

      The Drake equation is a simple calculation that describes how probable it is we will encounter intelligent alien life. There are several variables in that equation that are essentially unknown right now (e.g. how probable is it that an Earth like planet will develop life?, how many earth like planets are there in the galaxy?) so the responsible scientific view on aliens right now is we just don’t know how likely it is that they exist or we will ever meet them.

    • Interesting comment thanks , in Nichiren Daishonin’ Buddhism we don’t really believe in spirits or supernatural forces and magic however we do chant a mantra which we believe helps us summon up courage,wisdom and compassion which are the quality of a Buddha. The one thing I’m not sure of is reincarnation as we don’t focus on it much but it’s part of Buddhism in general.In reply to #95 by Omegatron:

      It’s my personal belief that scientists can create the science of reality while artists provide the vision. Alot of futuristic visions are built by artists before they are achieved by scientists or technologists. Einstein also once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. I have no…

  30. As a long time Zen practitioner, I think that the term “for the good of all mankind” is just an added on ‘feel good’ explanation as to why we meditate. Kensho experience informs us of either ‘no thing’ or ‘everything’ which, I feel is the ‘same thing’. :)
    We desperately seek a ‘raison d’ etre’.to make ourselves more comfortable. Thus, religion!
    Buddhism and science: Of course they work together. Open mindedness is the key to all cooperation. Remember the saying: “If you meet Buddha on the road, slay him?” There is no such thing. It’s a thought.

    1. No. I, like many people, am perfectly happy without God. (I sing and hum and smile to an annoying degree!)
    2. No. “Buddahood” is just an idea, like “transsexual meditation” or whatever it’s called. Nowt to do with evolution.
    3. One doing one thing and the other doing another isn’t really “working together”; it’s “working-in-parallel”. All religious people believe that their belief system holds the key to the wellbeing of society – “if only everyone accepted God’s law… we could all live in harmony!” Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists may all believe this; but judging by the fact that no religious group can even live peaceably with it’s own believers, it’s simply not true.

    Buddhism may bring you happiness – great! enjoy! Open, sceptical enquiry is more likely to bring truth.

  31. It seems you are a little ‘frustrated’ with some of the answers you received. And it’s understandable but not everyone has had experience with Buddhism. Even Richard Dawkins refrained from criticizing it because he didn’t know much about it.

    Concerning your questions:

    1) In my opinion, we don’t need any religion in order to be happy but it seems we do need to practise certain activities if we want to reach a greater well-being (exercise, meditation, healthy eating habits, etc.).

    2) I’m not sure what that means.

    3) Yes, Buddhism and science can work together. Have you heard of Matthieu Ricard? Here is his TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.html
    Apart from that, I recommend the book The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.
    They make us understand how important compassion is in the attainment of happiness. Compassion is a state of mind that can be developed. We can do this through Loving-kindness Meditation: http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

    To answer the question someone asked in this discussion, the feeling you obtaing while listening to music/reading is very different to the one you achieve through Loving-kindness Meditation. The latter could be described as ‘peaceful joy’. Lately I haven’t been doing it for the same reasons we don’t always do the things that bring us benefits (like studying, reading, eating healthier foods): laziness. It requires effort to sit quietly, concentrate and such. But it’s certain that if we taught children about equanimity, love, compassion, sympathetic joy (fundamental Buddhist concepts) we could solve many of the problems we have nowadays. Neil deGrasse Tyson said something like that too.
    Regarding the supernatural aspects of the religion, it’s not a real problem. Just as Buddhists aren’t concerned with the existence of god, neither should we care about different realms. It’s about the ‘techniques’ to end our suffering and understand reality (at least that is my perception).

    Also check these pages:

    http://www.mindandlife.org/about/hhdl-mli/

    http://www.mindandlife.org/about/hhdl-mli/buddhism-and-modern-science/

    I’m not a Buddhist but have read a little about the religion and I’m impressed with what the Buddhists have to say about this “science” of the mind. CrisTanzi, if you, too, are interested in learning more about it, you could visit Access to Insight: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

    Or read Thich Nhat Hanh’s books.

    • Hello thanks for the in depth reply and for the links. Yes I’m a little frustrated cause Nichiren Daishonin’ Buddhism is quite different from the other types of Buddhism as we don’t meditate but chant we are lay people and as such we don’t reject secular life so it’s hard to carry on with this discussion but I’m thankful for all the answers so far nevertheless. than Xen In reply to #101 by All The Same:

      It seems you are a little ‘frustrated’ with some of the answers you received. And it’s understandable but not everyone has had experience with Buddhism. Even Richard Dawkins refrained from criticizing it because he didn’t know much about it.

      Concerning your questions:

      1) In my opinion, we don’t ne…

  32. Im not gong to answer your question directly, Il simply put my views into words as bes I can.

    Science And The Supernatural


    Some people mistakenly associate the discoveries of science with their notions of gods and spirituality.
    In reality, science has nothing to do with god. In-fact science makes the notion of the existence of such a being practically impossible.

    Every spiritual or religious person should endeavour to apply their understanding and knowledge of science to the facts surrounding the inconsistencies inherent in the supposed teachings of these religions and the entities behind them, and the origins of the belief in these supernatural forces and omnipotent beings in the first place.

    Before trying to validate any particular theology through science, first tread lightly in the shallows of logic, and determine if the existence of said beliefs is in fact reasonable, and plausible, and thus more likely than the alternatives which science purports to support.

    It serves no-one any purpose to continue rationalising the discoveries of human beings through science in terms of any notion of the supernatural, before you have in fact rationalised the likelihood of such a supernatural notions existence.

    The good news is that the internet is awash with all the information you need to make these reasonable deductive steps, and to free yourself from the bondage of faith in the unexplainable, and to instead embrace the practical certainties present in truly understanding the real world, without the fog of the belief in the supernatural clouding your every mental move.

    It is my hope that religious people all around the world can find the magnificent state of being that all non-theists have, in which the universe is vastly more complex and beautiful than is described in any holy scriptures.

    Everyone can rise above these simplistic views of the world described in these scriptures of countless religious doctrines, and embrace the complexity that is truly reality.

    Regards Jeremy Harkness

    • Hi Jeremy thanks for your reply

      Regards
      Cris In reply to #103 by jeremy@harkness.co.za:

      Im not gong to answer your question directly, Il simply put my views into words as bes I can.

      Science And The Supernatural

      Some people mistakenly associate the discoveries of science with their notions of gods and spirituality.
      In reality, science has nothing to do with god. In-fact science make…

  33. In reply to #106 by CrisTanzi:

    Karma is none other than cause and effect and is not pseudoscience at all. In my Buddishm ( could be different in others) which is Nichiren Daishonin’ buddhism karma is the one thing that reincarnates nothing else does…I find that hard to believe that’s why I’ve joined this post, but the karma a…

    Then why not just use the more mundane terms “cause and effect”? They neither assume reincarnation – which is, to put it politely, unfounded – nor leave out the fact that bad things can and do happen to good people and good things can and do happen to bad people, helping to avoid the just-world fallacy.

    • You can phrase it as you wish, but they mean the same thing.In reply to #107 by Zeuglodon:

      In reply to #106 by CrisTanzi:

      Karma is none other than cause and effect and is not pseudoscience at all. In my Buddishm ( could be different in others) which is Nichiren Daishonin’ buddhism karma is the one thing that reincarnates nothing else does…I find that hard to believe that’s why I’ve j…

      • In reply to #108 by CrisTanzi:

        You can phrase it as you wish, but they mean the same thing.

        Do they, though? I just had a look at the Wikipedia article, and the concept of karma throws in a few things that are questionable at best, such as the notion that good actions lead to good consequences, the notion of reincarnation, and the notion that if somebody is in a bad position, it’s because they did something bad in a former life. That’s definitely not synonymous with “cause and effect”.

        • The way we view Karma in my Buddhism is that we are essentially the result of cause and effect so when we talk about karma we talk about the sum of the causes we have made in our lives and their effects, however i don’t subscribe to the reincarnation part…simply cause there is no proof for it. The mantra that we recite ” Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo”literally means: I devote my life to the law of cause and effect ” renge” means cause and effect.
          We are aiming in essence to bring forth our inherent compassion, wisdom and courage with the chanting so that our causes can produce value creating effects effects for the happiness of ourselves and others .In reply to #109 by Zeuglodon:

          In reply to #108 by CrisTanzi:

          You can phrase it as you wish, but they mean the same thing.

          Do they, though? I just had a look at the Wikipedia article, and the concept of karma throws in a few things that are questionable at best, such as the notion that good actions lead to good consequences, th…

          • In reply to #110 by CrisTanzi:

            The way we view Karma in my Buddhism is that we are essentially the result of cause and effect so when we talk about karma we talk about the sum of the causes we have made in our lives and their effects, however i don’t subscribe to the reincarnation part…simply cause there is no proof for it.

            OK. I’m not a big fan of having second definitions for words that also are used to define other, iffier concepts, but OK.

            The mantra that we recite ” Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo”literally means: I devote my life to the law of cause and effect ” renge” means cause and effect.

            I’m not sure I’d “devote” my life to cause and effect. I might devote myself to helping somebody, say, or to being honest, but not to a concept that doesn’t seem to need it. In fact, I’m not even sure how you go about doing that. What am I missing here?

            We are aiming in essence to bring forth our inherent compassion, wisdom and curage with the chanting

            OK.

            so that our causes can produce value creating effects

            What does this mean? By “our causes”, do you mean “the causes which caused us to exist”, or “causes which trace their origin to our actions”? How does either produce “value-creating effects”? What is an effect that creates values? And how exactly does the chanting serve this purpose?

            effects for the happiness of ourselves and others.

            So – and please forgive me if I put this a little crudely – is the chanting a method of motivating oneself to do good things? And you accomplish this by devoting yourself to cause and effect in some capacity? I’m sorry, I don’t know if it’s just the way you phrased it or if I’m just so needlessly pedantic that I’m seeing too much into what is actually a simple message, but this is how I’m inferring it at present, and I’m not entirely certain I’ve picked up on everything you intended to say here.

  34. I didn’t think that strictly speaking Buddhism was a religion, I thought it was a philosophical world view.

    Anyway, I have a feeling that reincarnation might be a problem here; it doesn’t sit too well with the branch of science concerned with evolution by means of its mechanism natural selection.

    But at least as I understand it, it really does promote peace, and doesn’t just pay lip service to it.

    • In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

      I didn’t think that strictly speaking Buddhism was a religion, I thought it was a philosophical world view.

      Anyway, I have a feeling that reincarnation might be a problem here; it doesn’t sit too well with the branch of science concerned with evolution by means of its mechanism natural selection….

      I’ve never understood the claim that Buddhism isn’t a religion. They have priests, temples, prayers, a concept of the afterlife and (perhaps the most important qualification) plenty of people have been killed needlessly and in part justified by the belief system (the Japanese version of Buddhism said the Emperor was divine and that there was no greater purpose but to die or kill in his name).

      I think part of the claim is just ignorance from some people who write about religion and assume that religion more or less means Islam, Christianity, or Judaism or systems that are similar. In fact there are all sorts of very different types of religion besides the big three. And I don’t just mean Hinduism and the few other big ones but also the many unusual tribal religions that have been discovered and documented by anthropologists such as Pascal Boyer in his book Religion Explained.

    • yes I agree, Buddhism is a philosophy of life and the chanting or/and meditation helps us staying in the present moment. I chant morning and evening to try and really focus on nothing either than the chanting its self and I feel that is truly beneficial though of course the reincarnation is the problem.I choose to ignore it and focus on the parts that work for me. In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

      I didn’t think that strictly speaking Buddhism was a religion, I thought it was a philosophical world view.

      Anyway, I have a feeling that reincarnation might be a problem here; it doesn’t sit too well with the branch of science concerned with evolution by means of its mechanism natural selection….

    • In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

      But at least as I understand it, it (Buddhism) really does promote peace, and doesn’t just pay lip service to it.

      It all depends on which version of Buddhism you are talking about. There is so much Christian bashing on this site that people lose sight of the fact that people have done an awful lot of self sacrificing moral things in the name of Christianity. In the US the civil rights and peace movements are filled with examples including some Catholic priests (e.g. Daniel Barrigan). And also in central and south america the liberation theology movements inspired some truly moral people and several of them were murdered by death squads (usually death squads trained and funded by the US).

      So Christianity can promote peace just as Buddhism can. That doesn’t ameliorate the fact that far more people have been killed and tortured in it’s name then have done moral things. So for Buddhism’s bad examples look at WWII. The Nazis and Red Army were vicious soldiers who showed little mercy to civilians or captured prisoners but by most accounts the absolute most barbaric were the Japanese. Because their version of Buddhism said there was no greater glory than to die for the emperor and any foe that surrendered obviously had no honor and should be treated accordingly. And also they had no respect for civilians or civilian authorities for similar religious reasons.

      • I’m glad you brought this up, “the absolute most barbaric were the Japanese. Because their version of Buddhism said there was no greater glory than to die for the emperor ..” those priests actually are the ones who put SGI first president Makiguchi and his disciple Josei Toda in prison cause they didn’t want to follow the “state” religion and worship the Shinto talisman. Those priest were totally corrupted by the Military and followed the state religion as they were afraid of dying.The Sgi is in fact the lay organisation who refused to succumb to the state religion.Those atrocities you are referring to have very little to do with Buddhism but more to do with the cruelties of war, the oppression of the people and the lack of courage of some of them. In reply to #123 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

        But at least as I understand it, it (Buddhism) really does promote peace, and doesn’t just pay lip service to it.

        It all depends on which version of Buddhism you are talking about. There is so much Christian bashing on this site that people lose sight of the fa…

        • In reply to #124 by CrisTanzi:

          Those priest were totally corrupted by the Military and followed the state religion as they were afraid of dying.The Sgi is in fact the lay organisation who refused to succumb to the state religion.Those atrocities you are referring to have very little to do with Buddhism but more to do with the cruelties of war, the oppression of the people and the lack of courage of some of them

          So the Japanese soldiers who killed, raped, and tortured and did so in the name of Buddhism weren’t real Scotsmen? Sorry, I mean weren’t real buddhists? That is the same defense every religion uses. The Christians who tortured witches weren’t real Christians (how could they be Jesus preached helping the poor and disadvantaged), the Muslims that flew planes into buildings aren’t real Muslims (I heard many Muslims say this after 9/11).

          Of course the atheists use this defense as well. Stalin wasn’t really an atheist or the more subtle bit of sophistry Stalin didn’t commit his crimes in the name of atheism the way the Japanese warriors committed their crimes in the name of Buddhism.

          And to me all that is nothing but sophistry. The bottom line is religion isn’t rational so you can use it to justify good things and bad things.

          And while Atheism is or at least can be rational it can still be used by irrational people to justify their crimes. Stupid evil people do stupid evil things and then make up reasons after and it’s irrational to blame the objects of their rationalization. Keeping score of how many good things vs. bad things have been irrationally justified by which religions or belief system seems to me fairly pointless and the kind of “our side good their side bad” thinking that is actually the real root of a lot of our problems.

          • I’m saying that during the second world war especially the shinto religion was dictated by the emperor cause they needed money for the Army and they they tried to force everyone to discard their current religion and follow the state one. So the first 2 presidents of my lay organisation( Soka Gakkai) went to prison causes they did not want to renounce their belief and one of them died in prison as he was elderly. When the younger one Toda came out he rebuilt the Sgi which is now the current only ( that i know of ) lay organisation ( we were banned from the priesthood in the1990′s ).[Personal remarks removed by moderator.] If you are going to object to Buddhism you should at least know more than superficial history that you can find in the Wikipedia like some of you have done. Buddhism is not rational when it talks about reincarnation and karma yes, but the chanting and mediation actually helps. You should watch some of Sam Harris videos on that and I believe he is an atheist. Shame In reply to #125 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #124 by CrisTanzi:

            Those priest were totally corrupted by the Military and followed the state religion as they were afraid of dying.The Sgi is in fact the lay organisation who refused to succumb to the state religion.Those atrocities you are referring to have very little to do with Budd…

          • In reply to #126 by CrisTanzi:

            I’m saying that during the second world war especially the shinto religion was dictated by the emperor cause they needed money for the Army and they they tried to force everyone to discard their current religion and follow the state one. So the first 2 presidents of my lay organisation( Soka Gakkai…

            I think i understand what you are saying just fine. I’ll paraphrase it back to test my hypothesis: You are saying that the values of dying and killing for the emperor were a perversion of the real Buddhism and that many Buddhists stayed true to those actual Buddhist values and demonstrated this by suffering and even dying for their cause. You are saying that those Buddhists who did resist the militaristic version are the real Buddhists. Is anything in this paragraph incorrect?

            From my reading of history the numbers of Japanese Buddhists who resisted was very small. And BTW, I don’t get my facts here from Wikipedia. I’ve read most of the major books on the US Navy in the Pacific. Mostly military history books such as The Quiet Warrier a wonderful biography of the very under appreciated Admiral Raymond Spruance but they all go into some detail about the abysmal behavior of the Japanese military and the Buddhist rationalizations for that behavior. Ironically enough actually I wrote some of the Wikipedia articles on the topic or at least large sections of them, of course no one owns anything on Wikipedia.

            But back to the main point: as I said your defense is the classic No True Scottsman defense. It is the same defense that Muslims use to defend their religion and that Christians use to defend their religion and that even atheists use to defend atheism. And it’s irrelevant because I don’t really care how many crimes were committed in the name of any religion because stupid evil people do stupid evil things and then make up rationalizations for them after.

            So my only real objection is if you try to pretend (which I get the feeling you do I apologize if I’m wrong) that Buddhism is somehow better than Christianity or Islam because it wasn’t used to justify bad things but lots of Buddhists did good things. Christians say the same thing. Lots of people I admire like Martin Luther King and Daniel Berrigan were very devout Christians. Just as the Buddhists resisted the crimes of their empire which were justified by the state religion MLK and Berrigan resisted the crimes of the US empire which were also justified partly by Christianity. (My favorite is the US general who explained why the US dropping tons of bombs on North Vietnamese civilians wasn’t having the expected result: “they don’t have the same respect for life that we do”)

          • You have not read a word of my post??Do you know anything about the Sgi? Like I tried to explain, the state decided in order to get more money to create the Shinto religion which had the emperor as the one to worship, they completely distorted buddhist teachings and texts to get money from the begrudging followers who thought they might die if they didn’t comply.You didn’t know this did u? Those professing to kill in the name of Buddhism were actually forced to or brainwashed by the army and the emperor. My 2 Buddhist lay leaders wanted nothing to do with the Shinto Religion and that’s why they ended up in prison and one of them died.Read my replies before you answer….!In reply to #128 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #126 by CrisTanzi:

            I’m saying that during the second world war especially the shinto religion was dictated by the emperor cause they needed money for the Army and they they tried to force everyone to discard their current religion and follow the state one. So the first 2 presidents of…

          • Sometimes Wikipedia helps : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunesabur%C5%8D_Makiguchi During World War II Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, opposed Japan’s military government’s attempts to impose the doctrine of State Shintō through strict control of religions and thoughts inimical to its war effort. While there is some debate as to whether Makiguchi’s actions were in direct opposition to the war, it is clear that “his outspoken criticism of the prevailing belief system represents an implicit and explicit protest against an extreme abuse of the educational process for militarist purposes.”[10]
            In 1943, due to his refusal to accept the talisman and support the war, he was arrested and imprisoned as a “thought criminal” together with Josei Toda and 20 senior leaders of Soka Gakkai for violating the Peace Preservation Law revised in 1941 and under which tens of thousands were arrested. Yet, in spite of being subjected to harsh interrogations, he never retreated from his beliefs; the 72-year-old former principal continued to assert the value of freedom of religion as a fundamental human rights. On November 18, 1944, he died in prison of extreme malnutrition. In reply to #130 by CrisTanzi:_

            You have not read a word of my post??Do you know anything about the Sgi? Like I tried to explain, the state decided in order to get more money to create the Shinto religion which had the emperor as the one to worship, they completely distorted buddhist teachings and texts to get money from the begr…

          • In reply to #130 by CrisTanzi:

            You have not read a word of my post??Do you know anything about the Sgi? Like I tried to explain, the state decided in order to get more money to create the Shinto religion which had the emperor as the one to worship, they completely distorted buddhist teachings…

            Yes, I did read your post and I do get your point. Do you understand what I mean when I say the “No True Scotsmann” fallacy? Because that is what I think you are clearly doing. If you would re-read my comment you would see I plainly acknowledged that there have been moral Buddhists who did very moral things. Well, at least I thought it was clear but I’ll say it here explicitly just to make it clear. I don’t know much about the difference between SGI Buddhists and Shinto because I don’t really care. They both fit quite well into my explanation which is that a belief system can be irrational (and essentially therefor useless for any explanatory power) and still inspire people to do good things. I take your word that is what happens with the good guy SGI Buddhists and I know from my experience there are also good Christians. I’ve met plenty in the real world and read about others like Martin Luther King.

            My point is that just because SGI Buddhists and Martin Luther King Christians are good guys is irrelevant to how true their religion is or whether their irrational belief system is a religion or not.

          • Sorry Red Dog, my other account has been disabled so I can’t debate any further, I’ve created this new one so not to be rude to people replying.In short I’m a buddhist cause chanting helps me stay in the present and focused all day long and i stick with the Sgi movement cause they are lay people like me and base the Buddhist teachings in daily life and don’t retreat in mountains. If the moderator reinstates my account in the future we can talk further if not thanks for the debate. CrisIn reply to #139 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #130 by CrisTanzi:

            You have not read a word of my post??Do you know anything about the Sgi? Like I tried to explain, the state decided in order to get more money to create the Shinto religion which had the emperor as the one to worship, they completely distorted buddhist teachings……

    • In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

      I didn’t think that strictly speaking Buddhism was a religion, I thought it was a philosophical world view.

      Anyway, I have a feeling that reincarnation might be a problem here; it doesn’t sit too well with the branch of science concerned with evolution by means of its mechanism natural selection.

      But at least as I understand it, it really does promote peace, and doesn’t just pay lip service to it.

      Some Buddhists mustn’t have got that message, Stafford:

      Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims wait in refugee camps as Buddhist leaders dismiss genocide

      • I cannot comment on a buddhist sect i don’t know anything about, do you know them well enough to bring them up on a debate? Other than what you read on this article from june 2013? I don’t I’m afraid, I belong to the SGI which is the lay organisation part of Nichiren Daishonin’ Buddhism and it’s from Japan,so I regret that I cannot contribute to your wonderful sarcasm in any way. I’ve said this before….I’m quite disappointed, from watching Richard Dawkins,Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens very interesting youtube debates, to find that in this forum people are simply content with making sarcastic not too well informed judgments on Buddhism. I think I will refrain from making any debates on this website in the future and carry on with my chanting and watching the Youtube videos that have inspired me enough to question every aspect of my Buddhism. I’m sincere in my quest for finding the truth and uphold reason and i think i will always engage in dialogues with anyone with a pure seeking spirit and a logical outlook on life. I found some people in this forum lacking ingenuity,creativity and knowledge who could do nothing but resort to wikepedia and the odd article on the interent to bridge the gap of their knowledge on Buddhism.I thought I’d find brilliant minded people here,the likes of Richard Dawkins, who i hope will live a long time to make sure the atheist movement in the UK has a fair chance. In reply to #127 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #120 by Stafford Gordon:

        I didn’t think that strictly speaking Buddhism was a religion, I thought it was a philosophical world view.

        Anyway, I have a feeling that reincarnation might be a problem here; it doesn’t sit too well with the branch of science concerned with evolution by means…

        • In reply to #129 by CrisTanzi:

          I cannot comment on a buddhist sect i don’t know anything about, do you know them well enough to bring them up on a debate? Other than what you read on this article from june 2013? I don’t I’m afraid, I belong to the SGI which is the lay organisation part of Nichiren Daishonin’ Buddhism and it’s fr…

          Hello Cris. In answer to your question, I do know a little about this. The Rohingya/Myanmar thing has been discussed before on RDnet, and I’ve posted comments on some of these threads:

          Nightmare island where traffickers imprison Burma’s Rohingya

          A Region in Myanmar Limits Births of Muslims

          Persecuted in Burma, Stateless Rohingya Fleeing by Boat

          Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Burma drown as crisis deepens

          Fears for thousands after ‘near total destruction’ of Myanmar city’s Muslim quarter

          I don’t think I’ve ever commented, sarcastically or otherwise, about Buddhism itself. The tenets, practices etc of any religion tend to bore and, ironically, mystify me.

          If chanting and watching Youtube clips about your religion works for you, then the best of luck to you. Whatever gets you through the night, as they say.

          It’s the effects of faith that concerns me. if a religion is benign and no one gets hurt because of its nonsense/sensibleness, it gets my seal of approval. If it’s used to commit genocide… then, not so much.

          Tashi Cyberman

          • Are any of these links referring to SGI Buddhists? In reply to #132 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #129 by CrisTanzi:

            I cannot comment on a buddhist sect i don’t know anything about, do you know them well enough to bring them up on a debate? Other than what you read on this article from june 2013? I don’t I’m afraid, I belong to the SGI which is the lay organisation part of Nichiren…

          • In reply to #133 by CrisTanzi:

            Are any of these links referring to SGI Buddhists? In reply to #132 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #129 by CrisTanzi:

            I cannot comment on a buddhist sect i don’t know anything about, do you know them well enough to bring them up on a debate? Other than what you read on this article from june 2013?…

            I don’t know. One religious sect is much the same as another to me, I’m afraid.

            If this is an issue, perhaps you should email the moderators and ask them to alter the title of this thread so it reads Can SGI Buddhism and Science Work Together?

          • Basically when you are stuck we should call the moderator? nice one! The answer is not…none of your links are showing SGI Buddhists why? ’cause they are all from Burma !!!!!…Now… going back to my original post.Are you saying that your links prove that Science and Buddhism cannot work together ’cause Buddhists in Burma have lost the plot? Do you have any links of nasty Buddhists from any other part of the world other than Burma ?I’m pretty sure you are aware that people are people with no free will and sometimes do atrocious things in the name of religion and science when religion and science has very little to do with it ….let’s be sensible and have a proper debate. In reply to #134 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #133 by CrisTanzi:

            Are any of these links referring to SGI Buddhists? In reply to #132 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #129 by CrisTanzi:

            I cannot comment on a buddhist sect i don’t know anything about, do you know them well enough to bring them up on a debate? Other than what you read…

          • In reply to #135 by CrisTanzi:

            Basically when you are stuck we should call the moderator? nice one!

            That was more for your benefit, Cris.

            The answer is not…none of your links are showing SGI Buddhists why? ’cause they are all from Burma !!!!!…

            Oy, someone else who thinks exclamation marks prove the truthfulness of what they’re saying.
            I’ll say it again: I have no idea what SGI Buddhists are and how they can be distinguished from non-SGI Buddhists. I don’t even know what SGI stands for; nor do I care. Are there no SGI Buddhists in Myanmar?

            .Are you saying that your links prove that Science and Buddhism cannot work together ’cause Buddhists in Burma have lost the plot?

            Certainly not.

            Do you have any links of nasty Buddhists from any other part of the world other than Burma?

            No, every other Buddhist in every other part of the world is a saint.

            I’m pretty sure you are aware that people are people with no free will and sometimes do atrocious things in the name of religion and science when religion and science has very little to do with it ….let’s be sensible and have a proper debate.

            I sort of thought we did all have free will.

          • Hi Katy, it was nice debating with you but my other account was disabled so I’m afraid i need to end here…I don’t think all buddhists are saint but buddhism seems to be the most peaceful religion so far and Sam Harris makes a good point of saying how people who call themselves atheists can sometimes ignore certain aspects of “spirituality” that religion can bring and he’s an atheist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Z5eDXRKzM Thanks again. Can’t talk further or i might get shut down again….i’m a dangerous Buddhist after all :P In reply to #136 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #135 by CrisTanzi:

            Basically when you are stuck we should call the moderator? nice one!

            That was more for your benefit, Cris.

            The answer is not…none of your links are showing SGI Buddhists why? ’cause they are all from Burma !!!!!…

            Oy, someone else who thinks exclamation marks pr…

          • In reply to #137 by cristanzi2:

            Hi Katy, it was nice debating with you but my other account was disabled so I’m afraid i need to end here…I don’t think all buddhists are saint but buddhism seems to be the most peaceful religion so far and Sam Harris makes a good point of saying how people who call themselves atheists can someti…

            Talk to the moderators, Cris; they’re really nice, and understanding.

            Come back soon :-)

    1. Nobody needs religion, philosophy, science or even understanding to be “happy”, although some understanding of the world around us certainly makes it easier to enjoy our lives. No the common person doesn’t need religion, they have only been brainwashed to believe that.
    2. Buddahood is not an evolution of our brain, but an evolution of an idea that our brain came up with to placate ourselves. Nobody wants death to be an ultimate end. Nearly everyone would like to live a blissful existence once the turmoil of this life is over. It’s a very nice idea that makes for a feel good fairy tale.
    3. Of course any philosophy, religion, personal spiritual practice can work with science. Sometimes those modalities interfere with the study, understanding, or implementation of science, but any practice can work with science to some extent. I don’t know why you would want to ‘burden’ yourself with belief in a supernatural force, but I was raised in religion and understand the hold it can have on you even if it’s only to move you from Christianity to Buddhism at least you are taking some control of yourself back.

    Now about SGI. I’m sure they are a benefit to you, that you get alot from it in your own way. (Chanting, yoga, prayer, isolation chambers and all the other forms of meditative practice have been show to help people deal with many stresses both physical and mental.) I knew SGI well when I was in Japan, and had them trying to recruit me. It’s not your normal Japanese Buddhist religion, and it’s nothing at all like Nichiren’s teachings, but a very different twist on his teachings combined with evangelical fervor and blind devotion required. During their recruiting I caught them in lie after lie when they represented their religions influence and size – and yes, in Japan Buddhism is a RELIGION. They were claiming that photos of July 4th celebrations were in honor of SGI even – you could even read the text in the photos to prove them wrong to their face! You can possibly say that’s people misrepresenting out of blindness, stupidity or whatever, but the photos and everything were supplied by SGI for recruitment.
    Internationally SGI is a very different organization though. I’ve met many people that are members here in USA, and it’s a very different style all around. Far less militant in their belief system, possibly even seems like a decent group…

    Still, my recommendation would be to continue your meditative practices, but leave the hocus pocus behind. If you want to pay SGI donations so you can continue to use their facilities and be part of the group that’s up to you, but they are bringing you no closer to enlightenment. As a matter of fact this would be the only Japanese Buddhist sect that I recommend people stay clear – just my opinion.

  35. Cris, I would love to speak to your questions, however it is important that you look into the SGI. It is indeed a seriously damaged and predatory organization, and is quite like many of the other world religions in that respect. However they are much worse in others.

    That being said:

    1) It’s been posited that humans have an innate feeling of ‘driving around their body’. This has been tested in very young children and shown to be a valid idea (it being ‘innate’ and not ‘learned’ per se, from society ). That, along with our need to feel in control of our environment, and the child’s instinct to believe everything their parent;s say, are all you need to get to ‘People Need Religion’. But, I don’t think we do. I think that once a person becomes comfortable with uncertainty, they can dispense with most of that, and they are left with community, belonging, and all the other basically social behaviors. If someone was strongly raised with religion, its harder, but possible, to leave it off with enough time and effort. The only serious problem we need to deal with then is creating a social structure that people can belong to that is large, inviting, and comforting, and is not religious. Lots of people are working on that problem as we speak. I suppose I am saying “There is nothing anyone, of any order of knowledge, needs that religion provides”

    2) Buddhahood is an idea.. a concept. It is, in fact, unattainable in the strictest sense.. perfectly balanced mind and attitude. I think over the years the original message of the guy this is all named after (Lets call him Siddhartha) has been mutated and twisted by interest groups. It seems that, if you look hard enough, he was saying something like “If you sit still for awhile, admit you are an animal, look at yourself and the world honestly.. you will be a better person.” Ignoring all the crazy trappings, what the guy probably said had nothing to do with supernatural things whatsoever, nor I am betting, did he go on about reincarnation. He seemed to be a person who realized he was living in a world where lies prevailed, and truth was important to pursue, so he sat down, thought about it for a long time, and figured some important things out. Then he told people about it. He was anti caste ( though anti woman in some sense .. can’t get everything in 600+ BC I suppose ) and insisted that his order remain egalitarian.. an idea which was promptly dismissed after he died. Anyway, Buddhahood is just another way to Deify a person, and is not useful. We could substitute ‘Actualized’ (Carl Jung ) or any other sort of honorific to represent the realized mind, the freer mind, and it would be as meaningful. In that sense, it is not an -evolved- state at all. It would be an -achieved- state. Just like getting a PhD.

    3) They work together all the time, except when the particular brand of ‘Buddhism’ is steeped in occult lore.. in which case it gets ridiculous pretty fast. I would like to think that rational thinking would serve both ideals, and we could ultimately dispense with all the religious trappings and etc. In fact, a perfectly rational mind could be thought of as having “Buddha Nature”.

    So there is my 0.02! I have been a practicing ‘Buddhist’ for over 20 years, have studied numerous branches of it, and have found the contemplative traditions very useful in my inner quest. I have discarded all the nonsense and stuck to awareness meditation and mindfulness. I have fully understood the idea that no person can ‘give’ realization.. it has to come from yourself. And I am a pretty strong Atheist. :-)

    • Hi Zyg, thanks for such a detailed reply. Sadly I’ve been banned from this website by the moderator who won’t reply to my emails. So I keep on logging in with different names but my email addresses are running out. I don’t want to seem rude to anyone so please do not make comment directly at me cause I won’t reply anymore .Im also a practicing Buddhist minus the dogmas :) thanks again Cris Tanzi In reply to #145 by Zyg:*

      Cris, I would love to speak to your questions, however it is important that you look into the SGI. It is indeed a seriously damaged and predatory organization, and is quite like many of the other world religions in that respect. However they are much worse in others.

      That being said:

      1) It’s been…

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