RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

thumbnail
Steve James, modified 2 Months ago.

Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podcast

Posts: 98 Join Date: 2/15/19 Recent Posts
In this episode, I am once again joined by Dhammarato – a lineage teacher in the Thai Buddhist tradition who is known for his unique, 1-1 teaching style conducted over Skype. 

This interview was recorded in the lead up to a dialogue I will be hosting between Dhammarato and Daniel Ingram on the question ‘Is there magic in the dharma?’.

From the shownotes:

In this episode, Dhammarato explores the Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta, and draws out themes of magical thinking, continuation of consciousness, and dependent origination.

Later Dhammarato gives his take on the Buddhist doctrines of rebirth and making merit, the Mahasi meditation method, the tulku system, and the Dalai Lama’s claims of reincarnation.

We also discuss if the 8-fold path inevitably leads to individual renunciation and societal collapse, and what it means to ‘leave the fight’.



https://www.guruviking.com/ep82-dhammarato-magical-thinking-in-buddhism/

Audio version of this podcast also available on iTunes and Spotify – search ‘Guru Viking Podcast’.
...

0:00 - Intro
0:54 - Dhammarato gives a summary of magical thinking and the Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta
20:08 - The two levels of Dhammarato’s analysis
21:16 - How is it possible to read magical thinking into a sutta that refutes magical thinking?
25:51 - Placebo, causation, and useful ignorance
29:39 - Relationship of understanding of cause and effect to suffering
33:42 - Craving, perception, and the 4 Modes of Clinging
50:10 - Repetition and understanding how the mind works
53:46 - How to see through the Self
57:08 - Critique of the Mahasi Method and Thai vs Burmese meditation
1:00:44 - Who or what realises the No-Self?
1:05:58 - Reincarnation is irrelevent
1:07:21 - The problem with the doctrine of reincarnation
1:10:30 - Is the doctrine of making merit magical thinking?
1:19:36 - Uppaya and useful ignorance
1:20:21 - Society is built on magical thinking
1:23:01 - Renunciation is the inevitable outcome of the 8-fold noble path
1:25:57 - Is the Hinayana self-terminating?
1:26:38 - A historical example of Buddhism destroying a society
1:28:22 - Is Buddhism inviable on a societal level?
1:35:32 - The tension between individual liberation and societal collapse
1:36:43 - Dhammarato reflects on the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation claims
1:38:23 - Is the tulku system a scam?
1:41:45 - Magical beliefs prevent progress
1:45:23 - Ideal society: Benign dictatorship vs democracy
1:47:41 - Leaving the fight
1:49:41 - Dhammarato’s radical position of renunciation in the face of death
thumbnail
Ian Pitchford, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

Posts: 5 Join Date: 2/10/20 Recent Posts
What a gem Steve. I haven't laughed so much for ages.
thumbnail
Steve James, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

Posts: 98 Join Date: 2/15/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Ian, glad you enjoyed! :-)
thumbnail
Noah D, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

Posts: 1137 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
I've been Dhammaratos student since 2016.  Good to see his teaching getting this platform.  It has been formative for me.  
This one was particularly great. For some reason, the first part of the sutta discussion clicked and was quite profound for me. 

It's interesting, I think that there were good answers available to Steve's questions about individual liberation and societal collapse, which might have involved themes such as the brahmavihārās and cooperation, for example, but Dhammarato stuck to the pragmatic tack. I'm so looking forward to the one with Dhammarato and Daniel. 

​​​​​​​
thumbnail
Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

Posts: 899 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Thank you Steve, great show.  I really like Dhammarato's stuff as he seems to thoroughly get DO and the path and communicate it well.  I did think he got a bit carried away in the second half though. Two thoughts from me.

1. To paraphrase, Dhammarato claims that realisation of the emptiness of concepts will lead to abandonment of society. And yet he has not abandoned his own society. He wears robes, dwells in a monastery, and presumably keeps the precepts. Why? Whatever reason he gives to explain his monastic life should, by induction, be sufficient to account for the continuance of other forms of society as well, despite awakening.

2. To paraphrase, Dhammarato claims that magical thinking leads to suffering due to the denial of cause and effect.  The denial of cause and effect is not the only way the term 'magical' is used - it can also be used to refer to metaphor, subconscious and not yet understood tech ("all sufficiently advanced technologies are indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clark).  So we should be careful about generalising his argument.  Also, if I have characterised his definition correctly, then it is not really fit for purpose ... we cannot see all the interpendent causes and effects in our biology that lead to speech - only a metaphor, or summary, of them. This is true of all of our observations, as the capacity of our minds is less than the complexity of the world we dwell in.  So doesn't that make all of our thinking and action magical by Dhammarato's definition, as we are incapable of fully understanding all the causes and conditions?  He goes too far, for my taste. :-) Still, as a rhetorical device, he does use 'magical thinking' to make a very effective point about dukkha. Plus, he is always a treat to listen to!

 
One correction - Dhammarato is not currently a monk.  He lives with his family in Thailand.
thumbnail
Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Magical Thinking in Buddhism - Dhammarato Interview - Guru Viking Podc

Posts: 899 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Thank you Noah, an important correction.  I would say my argument still applies to his current circumstance, but I appreciate the opportunity to make the right argument instead of the wrong argument!

Malcolm

Breadcrumb