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Is it wrong to do this?

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Is it wrong to do this?
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3/18/11 8:56 PM
Hello,

There's this thing I like to do, and although it doesn't cause any harm to anybody, I still have this nagging feeling that it's something that's not right. I know that ultimately such questions are something I have to choose for myself, and that the "nagging feeling" is a probably a better indicator than any scripture out there of what is right or wrong, but at the same time, I'm sort of curious as to whether anyone has thoughts about this. From a traditional Buddhist perspective, or your own beliefs, or whatever.

The thing I like to do every once in a while is go on the internet and surf around looking for fundamentalist Christian websites that bash Buddhism and the Buddha. The more uneducated the authors sound, the more misinformed their argument is, the more preposterous their arguments are, the more I enjoy reading these little gems. I never speak to any of these people or start arguments... I just read. And get a kick out of it.

And let me be clear, there are some pretty crackpot fundie/evangelical Christian websites (interestingly, Christians generally seem to be the only ones who care about bashing Buddha; I once saw a Muslim site doing it but it was a singularity).

Anyway... me worry too much?

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 4:25 AM as a reply to Jimi Patalano.
Hi Jimi,

Since you posted this to the "Morality and Daily Life" forum, you probably want to discuss it in these terms.

So, what is morality/sila to you? Is this a set of rules to follow or tick off, in order to get a perfect or good enough score? Who is the score-keeper, and why is this score kept? Or is it your desire to change your circumstances to have more "good" and less "bad" in them, and your concern is less with having a perfect record than with living a good, useful life (for arbitrary, but pragmatic values of "good" and "bad")? Or do you want to create circumstances conducive to tranquility and wisdom, and just want to avoid the hustle and bustle of violating society's moral code? There are many ways to approach this.

Then, once you have an idea what you want to get out of morality/sila, you will have a much better view of how your reading habits fit in with these goals.

Regarding the nagging feeling - well, investigate it! That's more in the realm of insight training, of course, and so slightly off-topic here. Anyway, one way to proceed would be to write about it. Don't try to reason your way through it, rather, ask yourself, what is the true reason why you are having this nagging feeling. Once you come up with a reply (doesn't have to be an answer), ask again, in what way is this the real, true reason? And so on. Again, this is not indulging in content: think of it as a noting practice with very elaborate notes. emoticon

There are other ways to investigate the nagging feeling, like trying to locate it in the body when it arises, or trying to find out how long it lasts, or finding out what your relationship is to this feeling - is it yours? If so, why don't you like it? Etc.

Oh, and I go trolling on the German Christianity usenet group occasionally - many Jesus sayings are so clear and obvious to me now, and chatting with Christians about them is fun sometimes. Nothing wrong with that, I think, even if it doesn't seem to lead anywhere.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 5:07 AM as a reply to Jimi Patalano.
Florian's advice to approach this from a moral perspective is good and worth following, but the standard advice you get here is also likely to pay off: Attend to the sensations from the six sense doors as you read that crap. What's coming up? Doing so is likely to firm up that "nagging feeling."

This is using insight practice to get at content. Don't do this in formal practice; it would be a diversion.

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 5:58 AM as a reply to Jimi Patalano.
Why do you get a kick out of it?

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 10:01 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Consciously, it's probably because it sets up an imaginary conflict, and that puts me on the Buddhist side, and then I get to enjoy watching how foolish those on the other side are. I'm sure there are unconscious reasons to - I was raised in a nominally Catholic, non-practicing family, although one side of my family tends to be strongly, practicing Catholic.

From an insight perspective (I consider this insight-related stuff because it's about the general mechanisms of my experience, rather than specific content) I've often noticed that I will "conjure up" some sort of imaginary person who is opposed to my beliefs, opinions, or parts of my identity. Then, in my mind, I will have imaginary arguments with this person or otherwise prove the superiority of my "side" over theres, and I derive satisfaction form this, even though the person exists only in my mind. That all makes it sound pretty clear and blatant but actually its usually something that happens quickly and subtly and usually slips by more or less unnoticed if I'm not actively watching.

For example, as I was typing that last paragraph I had a fleeting, imagination-bite of someone on this board posting something to the effect of "that's content, not insight" and then a fleeting image just after of me convincing that person why it qualifies as insight...

But anyway, I was mostly looking for advice from a sila/morality perspective - i.e., outside of meditation, what would the Buddha say about deriving satisfaction from viewing displays of other people's stupidity?

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 10:23 AM as a reply to Jimi Patalano.
How about starting to inform them? Argue the Buddhist case.

Flroain I would loooooooooove to hear your take on some Christian sayings from teh perspective you have now. Some of teh stuff has gotten new meaning for me. I can`T actually remember any examples right now it is more just when I hear people qoute some stuff that sometimes I see it in a more eastern perspective.

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/19/11 3:11 PM as a reply to Crazy Wisdom.
Hi Crazy Wisdom,

I'd say "arguing the Buddhist case" on a Christian forum would not be very polite. After all, we would be annoyed at Christians arguing their case here, too.

As to by take on Jesus sayings - it's not a particularly "eastern" perspective I have. It's more of a sense of recognition I have when reading certain quotes. And then, if I read such a quote used by someone, I'll ask them how they understand it, and based on their answer, a more or less interesting discussion can occur. It's not a "this means that when seen through a Buddhist lens" kind of thing, really.

If you'd like to discuss any particular Jesus sayings, just start a thread.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/20/11 1:32 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Hi Crazy Wisdom,

I'd say "arguing the Buddhist case" on a Christian forum would not be very polite. After all, we would be annoyed at Christians arguing their case here, too.

As to by take on Jesus sayings - it's not a particularly "eastern" perspective I have. It's more of a sense of recognition I have when reading certain quotes. And then, if I read such a quote used by someone, I'll ask them how they understand it, and based on their answer, a more or less interesting discussion can occur. It's not a "this means that when seen through a Buddhist lens" kind of thing, really.

If you'd like to discuss any particular Jesus sayings, just start a thread.

Cheers,
Florian


I wasn`t suggesting invading forums and arguing the Buddhist cause rather just argue the Buddhist case in threads already started to critique or bash Buddhism. I don`t consider that impolite.

I don`t really have any particular quotes in mind so I don`t have material for a thread but I would enjoy such a thread if someone else had some thoughts on it.

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/21/11 5:48 AM as a reply to Crazy Wisdom.
A lot of the websites I'm speaking of aren't discussion boards, just plain web-pages/"articles".

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/21/11 6:17 AM as a reply to Crazy Wisdom.
Crazy Wisdom:
I wasn`t suggesting invading forums and arguing the Buddhist cause rather just argue the Buddhist case in threads already started to critique or bash Buddhism. I don`t consider that impolite.


As always, it depends. I can imagine a discussion on the DhO (like the one you are interested in regarding Jesus sayings), and in that discussion the literalist, fundamentalist position being "bashed". It would still be annoying if an adherent of such a view would then proceed to argue his cause here. And vice versa.

Crazy Wisdom:
I don`t really have any particular quotes in mind so I don`t have material for a thread but I would enjoy such a thread if someone else had some thoughts on it.


Some parallels to get you going:

For example the teachings on cleanness (Mt 23:25ff, Lk 11L39ff, Mk 7:15ff) and the Buddhist teachings on the defilements.

Or the parable of the kingdom of heaven being like yeast mixed into dough (Mt 13:33 and others). Compare with the canonical description of first Jhana (kneading bathing powder).

The parables about finding a treasure, digging up a whole field to find it; selling everything to get one pearl, all the parables about shining a lamp in every corner to find something - that kind of stuff.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Is it wrong to do this?
Answer
3/21/11 6:29 AM as a reply to Jimi Patalano.
Hi Jimi,

So, to get back to the Sila aspect of your question: what is the understanding of Sila you're bringing to bear on the situation?

In the context of the five precepts: you aren't killing, stealing, lying, betraying, or getting drunk by reading these pages. Right?

In the context of the noble eightfold path - right speech, right action, right livelihood - these correspond quite directly with the five silas.

You might want to view Sila more as something you do or create. Sometimes, it's easy to get into a "Sila means abstention" thing. Sure, not killing is abstention from killing; but it can also be viewed as generating or providing or increasing security all around. So from that vantage point, what positive thing would be generated if you didn't read fundi Christian pages? (I don't have an answer, this is just food for thought).

Cheers,
Florian