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The split of morality in religion

 
 
Reply Thu 3 Sep, 2009 04:55 am
On another forum I presented a topic which I'd like to discuss here also:

Recently I have read a book with conversations between the Dalai-lama and a French Jew. There he advocated the doctrine which is widely held in so-called religious circles that morality is different for laymen and monks, "renunciates". The same teaching is represented in many traditions: catholicisim, orthodoxy, buddhism in both mahayana and theravada versions, hindooism.

Now, what exactly baffles me? I should like to express that in question: "Dear Sirs! If you say that non-atachment, non-violence, celibacy etc. are necessary for the attainment of happiness which maybe called Nirvana or Moksha or the Life Eternal, why do you teach laymen that it is alright not to perform them? Why do you make a division between laymen and monks as if the first don't need happiness? Why don't you discard all the false views instead of making concessions to the worldlings that is do them harm ultimately, since this path, as you say, does not lead to liberation?"

And I must confess that I have very strong suspicions why it is being made. It seems to me that these "leaders" want people not to become really saved but to adopt a new name like buddhist, or christian which now becomes totally deprived of its meaning.
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Sep, 2009 05:27 am
@Eudaimon,
It is difficult to comment on this without any opportunity to read some of the actual dialog.

I would however comment that it seems logical to me that celibacy should be expected of a sworn monastic, but not necessarily of a lay practitioner.

But from your previous comments on the forum, and your confession of strong suspicions, it would seem that you have already decided the whole purpose is to get people to join a religious group, so maybe it would have been better for me not to comment. But I'll take my chances.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Sep, 2009 06:14 am
@Eudaimon,
This reminds me of a saying, "A monk on the hill top teaches while the monk in the temple does not."

For a long time I just thought it was a clever saying or perhaps an attack between two types of monks as if one is better than the other. The more I thought about it the more it just seemed useless. But then I figured it out.

A monk on the hill top has completely abandoned everything and is just focused on putting wisdom into absolute practice. The monk is not concerned with money, with family, with a house, or a job, not concerned with clothes, food, ect, ect, ect. This is the lesson. Where as the monk in the temple, must present a different image onto the lay people who come to visit. If the monk dozes off during the meditation session, the laymen will gossip about it. If the monk does this or that, the laymen will complain or question the monk. Nothing can be taught because it is always under scrutiny by the layman. So the conclusion is that the monk on the hill is ready to give up all things where as a layperson is not ready to give up anything.

Lay people like their lives, they want a job, they want a spouse, they want a house, they want a career and they want a family. They put all those things in front of wisdom where as the monk on the hill has placed wisdom in front of those things. That is the only difference.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Sep, 2009 12:35 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;87824 wrote:
This reminds me of a saying, "A monk on the hill top teaches while the monk in the temple does not."

For a long time I just thought it was a clever saying or perhaps an attack between two types of monks as if one is better than the other. The more I thought about it the more it just seemed useless. But then I figured it out.

A monk on the hill top has completely abandoned everything and is just focused on putting wisdom into absolute practice. The monk is not concerned with money, with family, with a house, or a job, not concerned with clothes, food, ect, ect, ect. This is the lesson. Where as the monk in the temple, must present a different image onto the lay people who come to visit. If the monk dozes off during the meditation session, the laymen will gossip about it. If the monk does this or that, the laymen will complain or question the monk. Nothing can be taught because it is always under scrutiny by the layman. So the conclusion is that the monk on the hill is ready to give up all things where as a layperson is not ready to give up anything.

Lay people like their lives, they want a job, they want a spouse, they want a house, they want a career and they want a family. They put all those things in front of wisdom where as the monk on the hill has placed wisdom in front of those things. That is the only difference.


where is the challenge then for the monk or hermit? and what good do they do to humanity or the advancement of spirituality in the species?

how can anyone have a full experience of humanity if they abandon it and all that it means to be human? what us the the level reached by a rishi in a cave? and how limited it would have to be. they may have led the way for some others with their teachings, but i dont think they could ever reach the height of someone who attained enlightenment in spite of partaking of all the bounty of life.
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richrf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Sep, 2009 01:27 pm
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon;87818 wrote:
It seems to me that these "leaders" want people not to become really saved but to adopt a new name like buddhist, or christian which now becomes totally deprived of its meaning.


I take a much simpler view of things.

1) Everyone is evolving in experiencing and learning in their own way, and there is no enlightenment, just everyday life as we experience it.

2) People like to share what they are learning so they form groups of like minded people. It could be a choir, and orchestra, a baseball team, a financial institution, or a group of monks. No one group is any higher in the totem pole than another. Everyone is just doing their thing and sharing their experiences.

3) Groups elect leaders in order to keep order in their group. The leader doesn't necessarily know anymore than anyone else, instead the leader just maintains order and enforces central tenets.

So, I wouldn't be alarmed that the monk group may be doing something different from other people. It is just somethings that they enjoy doing and maybe not appropriate for other people who enjoy forming, let's say, their own Buddhist group, to share experiences, but don't feel like doing all of the things monks do.

Rich
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 03:49 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;87821 wrote:
It is difficult to comment on this without any opportunity to read some of the actual dialog.

"Imagine All the People" dialogs between the Dalai-lama and Fabien Ouaki.

jeeprs;87821 wrote:
I would however comment that it seems logical to me that celibacy should be expected of a sworn monastic, but not necessarily of a lay practitioner.

We are discussing here is it possible to approve people doing wrong things for doing wrong. In Dhammapada is written (I am quoting from memory): So long as man hath not rooted out the lustful desire to woman, his mind is always in bondage like a calf bound to its mother. Nearly the same was told by Christ. So if these things are necessary for "enlightenment", why fooling others approving them not to perform these things?
jeeprs;87821 wrote:
But from your previous comments on the forum, and your confession of strong suspicions, it would seem that you have already decided the whole purpose is to get people to join a religious group, so maybe it would have been better for me not to comment. But I'll take my chances.

It is very sad to read such accusations. Thou hast a certain opinion of me looks at me from the past. I didn't read that book with any biased opinion, on the contrary I wanted so to say to read some peaces of wisdom. Instead I read the meaningless stuff we hear from our churches: "Christ prohibited killing to monks only (to "those who can receive"). Thou art not monk, so take thy gun and join army."

Krumple, if lay people like their material goods, then what the reason to call them, say, Buddhists. Because they go to one church and not to another?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 04:32 am
@Eudaimon,
Ir is not an accusation, Eudaimon, it is an observation. I have noticed - I think - a kind of conflict you seem to have, or something you are trying to resolve, about Buddhism or maybe religions in general. There always seems to be some aspect of it that you find very interesting, attractive, worthwhile but it often seems to be associated with something unsatisfactory or unnacceptable. So it seems to come across as an attempt to get some reason why maybe it really is something really worth pursuing, but then you always find a lot of reasons why you really couldn't endorse it after all. This theme comes up a lot for you. Am I wildly off the mark here?
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 07:23 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;87994 wrote:
Ir is not an accusation, Eudaimon, it is an observation. I have noticed - I think - a kind of conflict you seem to have, or something you are trying to resolve, about Buddhism or maybe religions in general. There always seems to be some aspect of it that you find very interesting, attractive, worthwhile but it often seems to be associated with something unsatisfactory or unnacceptable. So it seems to come across as an attempt to get some reason why maybe it really is something really worth pursuing, but then you always find a lot of reasons why you really couldn't endorse it after all. This theme comes up a lot for you. Am I wildly off the mark here?

Well, jeeprs, if thou wantest to know something about me, I shall tell thee. Some time ago I understood that the life for the sake of pleasures and lusts is not life worth living. So I started reading some books. In church I have never found the things worth following. No, to be honest there are such, but all is here mixed with belief: in Saviour, hell, God, atonement and so forth. Then I came to Buddhism and found the same belief yet in another things: "Christians" believe in afterlife, "Buddhists" -- in reincarnation, meditation, karma, non-self, they have their own priesthood, and the same splited morality which eventually permits killing, sex, money-grubbing etc. These are not my accusations that's how it is, that's what I see. Everywhere truth is mixed with mud. So I am waiting for a man who will not try to make me accept what he is saying without argumentation. If one cannot prove me something, why should I listen or follow him? But I am still reading, and again, please, be quiet I do not read with the desire to reject, it's just that I look whether the things discussed are real. If not, then I try to find a possible explanation for it, hence my suspicions.
But anyways, what dost think of the issue I raised in OP?
0 Replies
 
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 09:38 am
@Eudaimon,
I just got done reading an article about duality vs. non duality. The article brought up a similar question for me. Apparently, among some sects of Buddhists, the idea of karma is for the laymen, while the enlightened know that karma is only a tool for teaching.
I do wonder, especially among fundamentalist sects, how will anyone learn anything if the teachers never expose them to more complex ideas?
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 09:44 am
@chad3006,
chad3006;88048 wrote:
I just got done reading an article about duality vs. non duality. The article brought up a similar question for me. Apparently, among some sects of Buddhists, the idea of karma is for the laymen, while the enlightened know that karma is only a tool for teaching.
I do wonder, especially among fundamentalist sects, how will anyone learn anything if the teachers never expose them to more complex ideas?


perhaps the teachers dont comprehend anything beyond the fundamentals.
there is only one really effective type of teacher and that is the one who inspires the student to want to learn and to seek knowledge on his own. there are no teachers like this in religion as part of the hierarchy-there is only a political structure and administrative group, etc. formal religion is a real downer, what can i say.

why eudaimon you should have a problem with this, just stay away from those guys-read books and do some practices on your own, you will be fine. let us all hope that little by little (even though i wish it would be really soon) they will lose all their influence and be unable to impact society in any way at all.
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 04:23 pm
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon;87818 wrote:
On another forum I presented a topic which I'd like to discuss here also:

Recently I have read a book with conversations between the Dalai-lama and a French Jew. There he advocated the doctrine which is widely held in so-called religious circles that morality is different for laymen and monks, "renunciates". The same teaching is represented in many traditions: catholicisim, orthodoxy, buddhism in both mahayana and theravada versions, hindooism.
Now, what exactly baffles me? I should like to express that in question: "Dear Sirs! If you say that non-atachment, non-violence, celibacy etc. are necessary for the attainment of happiness which maybe called Nirvana or Moksha or the Life Eternal, why do you teach laymen that it is alright not to perform them? Why do you make a division between laymen and monks as if the first don't need happiness? Why don't you discard all the false views instead of making concessions to the worldlings that is do them harm ultimately, since this path, as you say, does not lead to liberation?"
And I must confess that I have very strong suspicions why it is being made. It seems to me that these "leaders" want people not to become really saved but to adopt a new name like buddhist, or christian which now becomes totally deprived of its meaning.

A religion is a hierarchical structure that depends upon the spiritual submission of its followers. It's like holding a carrot in front of a horse.

...keep following our law...keep conforming to our order...keep donating to our cause...you are getting sleepy....

No religion could sustain true spiritual autonomy in its followers, yet it is this which they all fundamentally propose as the way of enlightenment. It's nothing but a contradiction, which arises simply because of the will to power.

Such things as spiritual autonomy are reserved for the 'monks'...to keep the masses ignorant, to keep them following the cookie-crumb trail. You'll get it eventually, they promise. Somewhere over the rainbow....

The sacred texts (ab)used by all the major religions speak directly to those whose minds are open to their esoteric messages. The need of a mediator (priest, church, etc.) to interpret the messages only allows for manipulation and domination.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 05:03 pm
@Eudaimon,
Thank you for explaining your background. My approach and background has been different. My engagement with spiritual traditions started in the 60's as a result of psychedelic experiences. I think before these I had a mystical tendency. I studied comparitive religion to Honours level at the University of Sydney. I have never been much involved in religious groups or associations, however now I contribute to a non-sectarian, secular Buddhist teaching initiative. The key thing I have learned from Buddhism is the importance of meditation, and also that to really engage with any religious tradition requires effort, sacrifice and a dedicated lifestyle. This makes it come alive and gives it some meaning. I am not really interested in criticising religious movements, if I see something I don't like I just keep away from it. I suppose you can criticize Buddhism in terms of the behaviour of its exponents, but I have complete confidence that it 'works as advertised if used as directed'. That's all.
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 06:11 pm
@Eudaimon,
As far as I can tell Buddhism is one of if not the only religion that stresses the individual spiritual practice of the subject (meditation, etc.) over and above the Priests' dogma and rhetoric.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 06:34 pm
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey;88143 wrote:
As far as I can tell Buddhism is one of if not the only religion that stresses the individual spiritual practice of the subject (meditation, etc.) over and above the Priests' dogma and rhetoric.


in theory islam is also meant not to have any hierarchy of leaders or elders. unfortunately in reality it hasnt worked out that way. part of the reason is people are lazy-they dont want to bother to take time to study the texts carefully, they would rather be told what they are reading. another part of the problem in this part of the world is illiteracy. most people here read the qur'an in arabic only-and they dont speak arabic. when anyone tries to get together a study group and help the uneducated to read the text in a translation along with commentary and discussion, guess who intervenes and breaks up the effort?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 09:41 pm
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey;88143 wrote:
As far as I can tell Buddhism is one of if not the only religion that stresses the individual spiritual practice of the subject (meditation, etc.) over and above the Priests' dogma and rhetoric.


well that is certainly true in historic terms; you could say that Buddhism has generally been a 'movement of volunteers' in that it requires a more or less conscious decision to take it up (except in those places where it was a state religion, like old China). The attitude in Buddhism has always been 'inviting you to come and see' and rather than trying to force itself on you, the tradition was that you had to approach and ask for instruction 'three times'.

However there are also parts of other religions which are like this. it depends a great deal on whether you are considering 'religion' AS an institutional form, which it obviously is in many times or places, or as the source of inner teachings. These are a part of Christianity as well, but they are well hidden, and not something you would normally encounter. Although this has changed considerably in the last 20 years, mainly due to the influx of ideas from the East which have forced the Christian churches to come up with something similar from their own traditions.
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Sep, 2009 05:25 am
@Eudaimon,
I could not say those things about Buddhism. Surely, people in "Buddhist countries" seemed to be more religiously free, than, say, "Christians". But whether it is virtue of Buddha's teachings I can't say. In Christ's words there are also not so much things that make people "spiritual slaves" so to say. Maybe in case with Christianity those teachings just fell in bad hands?
What is meditation? According to my dictionary, this means reflection on religious issues. In this case surely any communion with something supreme is impossible without understanding. But some people mean by meditation some kind of exercise, sitting in padmasana, trying to keep mind still etc. And they say that after doing all this, I shall come to a new state, Nirvana. Surely, this is not "come and see", this is "believe and do", is it not? "Come and see" means: "Friend, I have something which I think is important for thee. Just listen and we shall see together whether it is true." I am looking for such a man.
I don't think we need exercises to overcome "the Evil One" within us. When there is understanding of what is what, it is impossible to do wrong. It's like you know, when I once realised that touching hot pan is painful, I shall not do this in future. So when there is realisation, understanding, there is no need in practice. So long as we apply efforts, it is being made for the sake of conforming ourselves with a certain pattern of behaviour we think to be worth performing. But how do we know that we should conform ourselves with that pattern? That this pattern is better than the repressed one? I think, correct me if I am wrong, that all this is based on BELIEF that I should be this and not that.
But in case with the OP, we can all agree that the existence of split morality, that is existence of lamas, ajahns, roshis, monks, priests with the morality different from that which they propose to laymen is wrong?

---------- Post added 09-05-2009 at 03:48 PM ----------

Salima, I agree with completely. But I think that we should, as Gandhi put it, repeat truth until there are people who don't know this.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Sep, 2009 06:16 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon;88222 wrote:

What is meditation? According to my dictionary, this means reflection on religious issues.


Well, that is the wrong word then. Actually 'meditation' is a bad translation of what you learn in Buddhism. The word is actually jhana or dhyana. There is actually no translation in the English dictionary, because there is no equivalent practise in the Western traditions.

You won't really understand what this means through conjecture or other forms of discursive thought. It is a specific practise in training the attention to notice and understand the many subconscious and unconscious activities that the mind is usually engaged in through the force of habit. it is certainly not religious in the sense that most western people understand the word. It is more like martial arts for the mind, if you like. It is a specific form of training the attention so as to understand the hindrances, and so as to attain freedom from these. That is what it really means. there is no need to bother about Buddhism as a social phenomenon or historical tradition if this part is understood.
Jackofalltrades phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Sep, 2009 06:44 am
@jeeprs,
Meditation in other words can represent 'mental concentration'. Hinduism does teach us how to meditate thru the methods of yoga, and other methods or approaches which allows or relegates the five senses to the passive background.
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Sep, 2009 08:11 am
@richrf,
richrf;87878 wrote:
.........2) People like to share what they are learning so they form groups of like minded people........


Might I ask you why they have to form a group; in that a group has boundaries? Why can't they exist without forming a group?

As you say, "like minded", what is it of the "unlike mind" that would offer them to care what other groups are doing? They have their "own" like minded group? Albeit, some belong to no groups, myself, for one. I consider all of this Earth, my group.

richrf;87878 wrote:
3) Groups elect leaders in order to keep order in their group. The leader doesn't necessarily know anymore than anyone else, instead the leader just maintains order and enforces central tenets.


Understood. Then might I also ask, if they are of like mind, why should there be a need for order? What would cause it dis-order, IYO?

richrf;87878 wrote:
So, I wouldn't be alarmed that the monk group may be doing something different from other people.


What would it matter Rich? If those of "like mind" are content in their group what ever they are doing, do you think that "would" alarm other people so? IYO.

richrf;87878 wrote:
It is just somethings that they enjoy doing and maybe not appropriate for other people......


Precisely. Why? Other's have their groups of like minds, why don't they find contentment in "their" group and not be concerned with the group of another?

richrf;87878 wrote:
.....who enjoy forming, let's say, their own Buddhist group, to share experiences, but don't feel like doing all of the things monks do.


Again, why should it matter? Rich, in all sincerity, the forming of groups out of necessity is a source of all out problems as it truly is the representation of a house divided. If all these groups were indeed "self-sustainable" there would be no problem. Unfortunately no group is so fortunate. All groups need, and of greater consequence "want", what other groups have in "order" to sustain them and "that" is were "conflict" occurs representing no order. Perhaps there is a great truth in the notion of "share and share alike" that we are missing or "refuse to hear" for truly selfish reasons.

What do you think? IYO.

William
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Sep, 2009 04:09 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;88227 wrote:
Well, that is the wrong word then. Actually 'meditation' is a bad translation of what you learn in Buddhism. The word is actually jhana or dhyana. There is actually no translation in the English dictionary, because there is no equivalent practise in the Western traditions.

Why did it happen so? I mean that is very bad claim: dost thou really think that western philosophy is defective compared with the eastern one? Were Socrates, Epicurus, Epictetus less sensible because they did not know that practice? By the way, many ch'an philosophers were also skeptical of any training, they taught that it is only when we forget both religious and householding life, both sansara and Nirvana, about freedom, that we shall become free. That is to say only when everything is loosed, everything is abandoned, and this includes any practice, only then we are free. Krishnamurti said the same, some sufis said the same. Were they all fools?

jeeprs;88227 wrote:
You won't really understand what this means through conjecture or other forms of discursive thought. It is a specific practise in training the attention to notice and understand the many subconscious and unconscious activities that the mind is usually engaged in through the force of habit. it is certainly not religious in the sense that most western people understand the word. It is more like martial arts for the mind, if you like. It is a specific form of training the attention so as to understand the hindrances, and so as to attain freedom from these. That is what it really means. there is no need to bother about Buddhism as a social phenomenon or historical tradition if this part is understood.

But still there is something which always baffles me. Surely cavemen did not know dhyana, neither did apes. So we must admit that there was a very long period of time, that this practice was unknown. How dost thou imagine that it came into being? Of course, we may make up a myth and say that it was given by God whatever one means by it. But who gave us right? So what is thy version?
0 Replies
 
 

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