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March 01, 2011

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@Star;

The constant negation of the self and higly speculative affirmation of its opposite is pathological at best and cannot be remedied by a mere discussion or dialogue. The author knows that from a long experience with spiritual troglodytes like yourself and devotes this blog instead to a sort of one way communication with those whom desire to complement their own insights in genuine buddhism. Much like one standing firmly on the other shore of the channel sending coded radio updates to those english pilots crash landed in WW2 France.
Each transmission gives specific instructions to find the right path home to safety away from the nazis.

You on the other hand seem to have landed on your head, forgotten your right "nationality" and like the acclimated frenchman you believe yourself to be, you dont like the germans but you accept them and their propaganda as an evil necessity.

From what I can see in some of your comments, you have proven the power of your minds marvellous ability to go blind on its own true nature by voluntary isolation of its spiritual self nature.
This is very common to pali canon "purists" whom have yet to transcend the 4th jhana stage in their meditation. Most are stuck, like flies on shit, in the 2nd state for decades and try to fill out this spiritual void with meaningless debates with other equally blind fellows. The canon itself, instead of becoming a shining beacon clearly affirming the discovered, becomes a mere empty and light-less reflection of a self chosen escapism from the obvious luminous nature of Spirit/Mind.

The denier of Spirit/ Mind/true self, becomes a defender of worldly formations/or a myriad pre-set permutations of the aggregates that leads further down the rabbit hole to a wonderland of strange dreams.You are like one whom claims the clothes on a fashion model whom walks a set of clothes (the aggregates) on a cat walk (samsara), are the true body and not vice verca. It is like the model says ;" I am my clothes because I am affirmed by the present crowd with their eye balls glued on my clothes/contemporary look and not the body underneath them".
What are the clothes without a body to wear them (model). They are empty of self (eg wearer), cannot be likened to the self (eg wearer/model) and thus functionless without the self.

If one has not affirmed this to oneself and somehow awaken at least to something close or equal to a right view of spirit/Unborn Mind/true self, by an initial kensho (the first flash of true self) how in holy avalokitesvaras name are you supposed to continue towards your first satori that reveals the true kingdom of the self and the true path that opens up before your very surprised eyes at the instatenous revelation of such a earthshaking presence?

How can you ever claim to be a buddhist just by mere merit and virtue of reading the pali canon, performing various mettas and still live in a dissonant state of spiritual self-denial?

The author has and keep teaching Buddhism at a kindergarden level and still folks like you dont get it?

Now what is that if not a miracle to be awed?

As for the middle section of this post, where you ask what is secular about certain passages, I am unsure which parts of the passages you find to be transcendent and thus non-secular. I will be surprised if you feel, to meet your criteria as a Buddhist who really understands and follows the teachings, we have to believe in a literal Mara. If that's your objection then, yes, you caught me; I don't believe in Mara except as a metaphor for death or the devil on your shoulder.

But I suspect your question has more to do with your understanding of the five aggregates of clinging, and what one is when one is free of them -- "unborn"? can we use that word? -- you seem to have indicated in the post I objected to in my previous comment that the word "spirit" would suit you, but it's not a term I find the Buddha using in the Pali canon to represent what is when there is no more clinging (I don't find him using very many words to describe the state at all -- mostly I find negations). Language gets very tricky when we get past the mundane worldview; but since you've used it before, I'll use "the unborn" for want of a better term.

I think, then, that what you are objecting to in those quotes is anchored to an idea that the mundane person perceives those five aggregates of clinging as self and so is caught up in what gets described as "the world" which you are taking very literally, so that when an arahant gets past all that clinging he is no longer part of "the world" and you take that to mean that the unborn that is left behind has transcended *this very world* -- aka "the world" -- and if that is so then, yes, that's the realm of the non-secular. My perception is that your perception is that what's left behind is (I can't believe I'm going to use this phrase) literally transcendent: mystical, amazing, beyond this world -- or maybe that's your perception of what the Buddha's perception was and what you perceive is different. But whichever, am I getting warmer?

Whereas my perception is that the Buddha knew what he meant by the unborn -- he experienced the state after all -- but that he never states it so clearly that *I* can know what he meant, or even that he was certain, himself, whether it survived death or not (since he had never experienced both a post-enlightenment state and death).

I'm guessing that this is the main difference in our understanding of what the Buddha taught: that you are certain he was saying there is some aspect that can't be located in this world but does exist (and so is by definition transcendent), and I believe that when he was talking about "the world" he was talking about "the world we create in our minds by clinging to the five aggregates" so that when he talks about "the world beyond" (paraloko) and supramundane (lokuttara) he is simply speaking about getting beyond the reality we (believe we) create for ourselves -- which makes the state of being unborn something else entirely from the way we normally live our lives -- a state that is indescribable to us mere mundanes because it has no reference to the way we have always perceived things -- but doesn't necessarily make it mystical, or literally beyond *this* world. In fact, if it is something one can experience while living in this world it has to be, at least in part, *in* this world.

And I hope you'll forgive me for being wordy.

"In the mean time, one should not be revising the teachings of the Buddha which secular Buddhists have a bad habit of doing."

I love this, it's the rain accusing the ice of abrading the mountain.

"So what is the Buddha’s reason for teaching that our self is not aggregated such that we should reject the Five Aggregates? To put it in gnostic terms, the Five Aggregates are matter and we are spirit—one is finite the other is not."

And just where does the Buddha make it clear that our self is not finite? Where does he say we are spirit?

and not for publication, just for your information as webmaster, when I hit the link to subscribe to the comment feed I get a bunch of code rather than a subscription.

I'm pretty sure that in choosing what to call themselves, folks aren't confined to using only the first definition of a word as found in the OED.

OED:
1. Of or pertaining to the world
2. Belonging to the world and its affairs as distinguished from the church and religion; civil
3. Of or pertaining to the present or visible world as distinguished from the eternal or spiritual world.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/secular
secular: 1. of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal.
Temporal: 1. of or pertaining to time. 2. Pertaining to or concerned with the present life or this world; worldly 3. enduring for a time only, temporary, transitory

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secular
secular: of or relating to the worldly or temporal; not overtly or specifically religious; not bound by monastic vows or rules

And just for good measure, the most popular definition in modern usage:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=secular
“Non-religious. Not to be confused with atheistic.”

What's being said with Secular Buddhism is something like “This variant is concerned with the aspects that focus on daily life, with no particular reference being made to religious organizations.”

That you define Buddhism as “of or pertaining to the transcendent” is likely to be the root of your issue with Secular Buddhism. Not that you are wrong about it being about the transcendent – for you it clearly is, good path, glad it works for you – but the transcendent need not be the sole focus -- and we don't all agree on what the Buddha was describing as "lokuttara". So the reason you're uncomfortable with the choice of "Secular" might be about how one defines "lokuttara".

A name is a sort of front door, so the choice of "Secular" in the name is meant to convey something to the people who aren't yet familar with the concepts it represents. It may not say good things to you, but it probably will to some of the people who are tired of the dogmatism of religious organizations.

I confine my studies to the Pali canon (plenty there to keep me busy and it's generally agreed to be the oldest record of what the Buddha taught) and therein there is certainly a distinction being made between the mundane and the supramundane (lokuttara) but for most of us, most of the emphasis of our daily practice of this path is grounded in the mundane. In fact, in reading the canon, it seems to me what the Buddha talked about most was focusing on the mundane -- direct experience is the way it's often translated these days, I think -- mindfulness, concentration, that sort of thing, seeing for oneself as it really is -- and that was what was refreshing and new about his teaching, that instead of trying to fulfill this or beat down that, to get away from feeling, he pointed to paying attention to feeling, to noticing the mundane.

It's that, that "Secular" is trying to point to.

I particularly liked "secular" as "temporal" and "temporal" as "pertaining to or concerned with the present life or this world; worldly 3. enduring for a time only, temporary, transitory" which seems to carry a great sense of impermanence.

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