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Thread: Buddhism Psychology or Religion

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    Buddhism Psychology or Religion

    There are plenty of metaphors for psychology in Buddhism. Monkey mind is that chattering screeching monkey inside always trying to figure a way out of its cage. Trying to get out and swing from thought to thought.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_monk
    Mind monkey or monkey mind, from Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin'en 心猿 [lit. "heart-/mind-monkey"], is a Buddhist term meaning "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable". In addition to Buddhist writings, including Chan or Zen, Consciousness-only, Pure Land, and Shingon, this "mind-monkey" psychological metaphor was adopted in Taoism, Neo-Confucianism, poetry, drama, and literature. "Mind-monkey" occurs in two reversible four-character idioms with yima or iba 意馬 [lit. "thought-/will-horse"], most frequently used in Chinese xinyuanyima 心猿意馬 and Japanese ibashin'en 意馬心猿. The "Monkey King" Sun Wukong in the Journey to the West personifies the mind-monkey. Note that much of the following summarizes Carr (1993).

    https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/un...tal-companion/
    You might imagine that each thought is a branch, and you, or at least the attention of your conscious mind, is indeed a monkey, swinging from thought-branch to thought-branch all day long.

    This might sound like it might be fun, but in our troubled human way the thoughts that are often in our minds are concerned with the fears and pressures of life:

    What will happen if I lose my job? I wonder if my partner might be unhappy with our relationship?

    What if I don’t have enough money when I retire?

    Irrational fears perhaps, but made real by our own constant attention. How infuriating and exhausting it becomes.

    The Buddha, who coined the word some two and a half millennia ago, termed this mental state “Kapicitta.”

    Of course, he defined it best when he said; ‘Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    All religions include mental and emotional disciplines. Separating spirituality from secular psychology is a relatively recent phenomenon. Before James and Freud, even Europeans got whatever psychological care and healing they received from practitioners of the supernatural.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    All religions include mental and emotional disciplines.
    True, but in theistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) the foundation of those disciplines are a focus upon, obedience to, and worship of an authoritarian God. Buddhism is largely non-theistic. Thus, most of it's perspectives aimed at improving one's outlook and state of mind do not require supernatural assumptions. This, makes it's psycho-therapeutic aspects more distinct from it's religious aspects than with the Abraham religions or even polytheistic religions like Hinduism. That said, there are supernatural aspects of Buddhism, including reincarnation and Karma. Although, a "spirit" that is always tethered to a physical body is less supernatural than the immaterial God and soul assumed by theistic religions. Also, without a theistic foundation, the supernatural aspects of Buddhism are easier to ignore and dispense with while still retaining most of what it says about how to achieve happiness, which is what most Westeners do when adopting Buddhism (or Taoism and Zen).

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    Intergalactic Villainess Angry Floof's Avatar
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    I consider it more accurate to call Buddhism a philosophy because a, it's relevant to everyday human experience, and b, it's about questioning and self awareness.

    Much of what we call religion in the world is quite the opposite, offering answers rather than encouraging questioning, and in fact, often punishing questioning, and it's often irrelevant to everyday human experience. Some of that is old metaphors that either no longer apply in a modern world, or could apply if not for the religious impulse to believe metaphors literally.

    Buddhism teaches that we're all basically made of the same stuff, that suffering applies to all of us, that anyone can inquire into their own nature without regard to anything else they've been taught. All of which is antithesis to a lot of other ideologies, such as Islam and Christianity, that go out of their way to divide people into different values of human, sometimes based in nationality or ethnicity or other religions, but most strongly in the "us vs. everybody else" sense. In Christianity, that's "saved or not saved." In Islam, it's more simply put as Muslim or not Muslim. And both strongly discourage questioning into one's own nature without regard to what their damn scriptures say.

    Buddhism is antithesis to Abrahamic religions, and some others like scientology, that reinforce conformity to an authoritative body of teachings and an ideological identity and that discourage and punish metathought, introspection, or questioning of the authority figure or text.

    Much more can be said on this topic, but I think this is the most fundamental area of difference.
    The Authoritarians

    GOP and Trump supporters will not be able to say they didn't know. Vote in numbers too big to manipulate.

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    Psychology is about self awareness and experience. What is self?

    Atman is an eastern theory of self.

    In Buddhism living what is defined as the right way is not a glorification of a deity. It is about feeling good and being healthy in a chaotic world. There are no devils, evil spirits, or a Satan to do battle with. The battle is within.

    Most Christians will not see it, the battle with evil as an external devil or Satan can be seen as metaphor for the human internal struggle.

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    Raspberry bilby's Avatar
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    Meh. It's a religion. Complete with suicide bombers and other terrorists.

    Given the history, it's most probable that the Sri Lankan church bombings this weekend are down to Buddhist extremists.

    Philosophy is all very well, but to kill blameless strangers takes religion.

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    It depends on how you define religion. More broadly, belief systems about metaphysics and human nature are about transcendence. In that frame of reference 'religions' are what's happened as people have explored metaphysical possibilities.

    1. God exists and we need to transcend our earthly limitations to reach heaven
    2. Many Gods exist and we need to appease all of them to change our luck
    3. No Gods exist and we're better off focusing on our material behavior to overcome suffering

    So when you tie up religion with transcendence then Buddhism is certainly a religion, it's just that people in the Western world have had religion constantly contextualized with theism.

    From that point forward it looks more like psychology because it attempts to deal with reality as it is, rather than making presumptions and arbitrary rules about God.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Religion. Any belief that uses something one can thump.

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    American Buddhists seem a bit aloof and unaware. Buddhist cultures do have a history of violence. In Myanmar today the dominate Buddhist culture is enacting an ethnic cleansing forcing a minority out to Bangladesh.

    There are other examples in modern history.

    I like to think it is not what you believe, it is how you believe it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    American Buddhists seem a bit aloof and unaware. Buddhist cultures do have a history of violence. In Myanmar today the dominate Buddhist culture is enacting an ethnic cleansing forcing a minority out to Bangladesh.

    There are other examples in modern history.

    I like to think it is not what you believe, it is how you believe it.
    There is violence that is promoted, enabled, and thus increased by the content of beliefs, then there is violence committed by people who happen to hold a set of ideas but has no connection to those beliefs or is even against them.

    When what you believe in is an intolerant authoritarian God who has committed and commands his followers to commit murder and genocide against non-believers and those who disobey his will, then, it doesn't matter "how" you believe that. Such beliefs inherently promote intolerance and are supportive of violence against others for their beliefs. And that is what all adherents to Abrahamic religions believe, unless they disregard the Bible and the Koran as being lies and complete misrepresentations of God. The old "it's a metaphor" excuse doesn't change the explicit promotion of authoritarian violence throughout these texts.

    This is in stark contrast to the content of Buddhist doctrines where there is no God to whom obedience is the definition of morality and disobedience is a justification for punishment. In fact, there isn't a concept of "infidels" or hardly any mention of non-followers b/c every person is thought to be on their own path and each differs in where they are toward enlightenment. The Buddhist doctrines strongly and repeatedly denounce violence or anything that increases suffering, including insulting speech. I'v seen articles by anthropologists who study texts, concluding that there is nothing in canonical writings of Buddhism that could be interpreted as encouraging violence, and killing is forbidden even to protect one's own life or even killing of any animal for food.

    IOW, if you believe in the God of Abraham and give priority to either the Bible or Koran, you must concoct incoherent and internally contradictory excuses NOT to view violence against the disobedient as morally required let alone acceptable. Whereas, if you are Buddhist and defer to it's canonical writings, you must concoct incoherent and internally contradictory excuses to view an violence against others for any reason to be acceptable.

    The violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar is mostly by the government and military and supported by nationalistic sentiments against a group that does not have citizenship and is thus viewed as immigrants. Notice the absence of references to Buddhist teachings by those committing the violence, b/c there is nothing they could point to that is consistent with that violence. This is similar to other instances of sectarian violence by Buddhists. Simply being a member of a group, tends to make one more aggressive towards those who belong to other groups. I mean even sports fans engage in violence against fans of the other team.

    Buddhist are humans and thus subject to intolerance and violence, and hypocrisy. But when they do so, they go against the clear teachings of their religion, unlike the adherents of Abrahamic religions who can easily and often do point to the clear commands of their doctrines that not only allow but require intolerance and violence (Note, one command not to kill in the Bible doesn't outweigh the numerous instances where God or his followers killed or commanded violence to infidels).

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