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I have pondered about the buddhist teaching a little bit and I came to a point where doubt arose in me. It is probably because of my skeptical nature (which the Buddha endorsed).

So here are certain points that needs to be elaborated upon. There are probably more, but maybe experienced practitioners can help to shed some lights on my criticism, but I doubt they can, unless with good arguments (as always)

Critique Buddhism:

  1. Suffering is highly exaggerated portrayed. As if nothing positive or good can happen from a bad event/feeling. Suppose one had a good experience and then the person get's back to his ordinary things, a buddhist would exaggerately call this state dukkha and suffering (because the good event was fleeting and now he is back to shithood) Or simple frustration is seen as suffering or dukkha when in fact it's totally natural to feel both positive and negative emotions. Why? So long they are not extreme (i.e.: anger, depression, unhealthy jelousy, self/other depreciation) emotions like concern, frustration, sorry, disappointment, regret, give one feedback. These emotions are less intense and consequently give one more room to act and think rational.
  2. People don't learn to act assertively both in speech and deeds
  3. Unrealistic goals: "purifying the mind" -> Being always good. No bad tendencies.
  4. Buddha is seen as all perfect
  5. Was the Buddha really enlightened? Evidence? l
  6. Ethics are "too rigid". They might be optional, but trying to be kind all the time will not happed, since humans tend to be fallible
  7. Sensual desire. Dropping of sensual desires? No sex? Quite inhumane. See pt. 3 8.While anicca is/might be true, impermanence shouldn't be used as an excuse to avoid wealth or pleasure. Everything is transient but to have the experience is still better, for one has a life to experience it (imo)
  8. Denegration of sex and the body (see: meditation of the parts of the body)
  9. Buddhism isn't wholly tolerant. Look up all the rules bhikkus and especiall bhikkunis have to undertake. Btw, bhikkunis have much more rules to follow. That's sexist and completely contrary to his loving-kindness doctrine(s).
  10. Anger or frustration is seen as all bad when they can, perhaps rarely, have benefits, especially the latter emotion. It drives one to act differently to change certain situations and it displays that certain conditions are contrary to our liking which is human. Why? Because we all have preferences (like/dislike)
  11. Black and white thinking in the satipatthanna sutta: If one is mindful one is "alive" if one is not "one is like a corpse". No gray zone there. "This path is the only path to liberation" (all or nothing thinking).
  12. Absolute thinking: Nirvana. Endless, permanent and absolute absence of dukkha. But all or never conditions are rarely true.

  13. The end goal (in this case: Nirvana/Enlightenment) that makes every religion worth striving .Similar to heaven (and avoiding hell). But where really is the evidence?

  14. Economic effects of not killing animals or not working in butchery etc. (Right livelyhood, Precepts..)

  15. Not killing pesky insects?

  16. According to the Buddha the superior live is to be a monk. How will society run if no one is working and rather wants to go for alms?

  17. Meditation and/or mindfulness is seen as a panacea. While it has benefits this won't change underlying faulty cognitions (i.e. beliefs, schemas, thoughts) and it can easily be used as a "run away tool".

  18. Monks and nuns are not allowed to have sex, dance, sing, the have to look down at certain points in a conversation... that's inhumane and life denying and against our nature!

  19. It doesnt teach you how to deal with negative thoughts. It just says observe it or replace it with an opposite. But this rarely works long term! One needs to question the old, to see its irrationalities, that it's illogical and not helpful, and then to replace it with a positive but realistic (that is balanced) new belief which is -again- conform with empirical evidence which helps the practitioner in the long run.

  20. Doesnt teach you with other life obstacles that cause the "holy suffering" like divorcing, social problems, money problems etc.. The buddha taught the cessation of dukkha and if these basics arent met, how is buddhism going to work then?

  21. How can delusion be a "poison" ? We humans have cognitive distortions on a daily basis. It's a constant in human experience. It's literally wired in our brain to think both rational and irrational and both can be trained individually, in society and is also to an extent biologically determined.

  • This is a lot to tackle in one answer. Can you write individual, scoped questions for each of the doubts you have that you want answers for? You might be able to pack questions in the same theme in one question as well, so you don't write 21 new questions, if you don't want to. As for the criticisms / the things you don''t like (such as 18), it's not clear what you are expecting from publishing them here -- if it's clarification, perhaps you can elaborate what kind of information you are looking for. – Thiago Aug 7 '17 at 15:41
  • Okay. Question 2-14 can be questioned if that's "sufficient". – Val Aug 7 '17 at 15:46
  • All of those are perfectly valid and important questions, but I agree, that is way too much for one post. I think breaking each of those up into their own question would get you better responses. – user698 Aug 7 '17 at 17:20
  • I gave a thumbs up for your question. I used to ask similar questions in the past but now I have the answers to them. I think it is better if you ask one question at a time. – SarathW Aug 8 '17 at 3:53
  • Yes it's a lot, but they are all under the class of critique. I'm just answering some of them now and some latter. – Lowbrow Aug 8 '17 at 5:33
3

I'll try to give some quick pointers for each of the items. Like I suggested in a comment, you might be able to get more in depth answers (and more answers) if you post questions on their own.

  1. Suffering is highly exaggerated portrayed. As if nothing positive or good can happen from a bad event/feeling. Suppose one had a good experience and then the person get's back to his ordinary things, a buddhist would exaggerately call this state dukkha and suffering (because the good event was fleeting and now he is back to shithood) Or simple frustration is seen as suffering or dukkha when in fact it's totally natural to feel both positive and negative emotions. Why? So long they are not extreme (i.e.: anger, depression, unhealthy jelousy, self/other depreciation) emotions like concern, frustration, sorry, disappointment, regret, give one feedback. These emotions are less intense and consequently give one more room to act and think rational.

Dukkha is highly misinterpreted, see here for a summary of this subject from the pali canon. It's also not true that the Buddha taught exclusively to all people that they should abandon worldly pleasures (e.g. there are texts describing him teaching people how to be good husband and wives, instead of telling them to divorce, abandon sex and become monk/nun).

  1. Was the Buddha really enlightened? Evidence?

The Dharma is the evidence for buddhists, the texts are the evidence for historians (note, evidence ≠ proof). If historians find it almost impossible to prove past events, proving something like the attainment of Nirvana by a person who lived 2500 years ago is certainly not easier -- so there's no proof for the skeptics.

His attainment is taken by buddhists as an act of faith. Such faith is understood to be, with training, gradually substituted by knowledge, exactly as it happens in any teacher/student relationship.

  1. Ethics are "too rigid". They might be optional, but trying to be kind all the time will not happed, since humans tend to be fallible

Being fallible is not forbidden. Buddhist ethics are not commandments.

  1. Sensual desire. Dropping of sensual desires? No sex? Quite inhumane.

See 1 for what Nirvana is and why sensual desires can never lead to Nirvana.

8.While anicca is/might be true, impermanence shouldn't be used as an excuse to avoid wealth or pleasure. Everything is transient but to have the experience is still better, for one has a life to experience it (imo)

See 1 for what Nirvana is and why it can't be found in worldly pleasures.

  1. Denegration of sex and the body (see: meditation of the parts of the body)

See 1 for what Nirvana is and why it can't be found in the body or in sex.

  1. Buddhism isn't wholly tolerant. Look up all the rules bhikkus and especiall bhikkunis have to undertake. Btw, bhikkunis have much more rules to follow. That's sexist and completely contrary to his loving-kindness doctrine(s).

Tolerance ≠ absence of rules or guidelines. The buddhist doctrine instructs to be tolerant against other people's transgressions. The meaning of tolerance does not extend to do whatever one pleases.

Furthermore, the rules the monastics undertake are a choice. Also, the role of such rules is of enabling the buddhist practice and make progress easier. Just like athletes choose to undertake a strict diet, to enable their practice and make their progress easier -- that does not make them intolerant people.

I'm not super familiar with the distinctions of vinaya for male and female monastics, but still, the rules are not mechanisms of oppressing people. Part is to enable people subject to mistakes who have a shared goal in mind to live together for a long time without killing each other, and part is to make their practice easier.

  1. Anger or frustration is seen as all bad when they can, perhaps rarely, have benefits, especially the latter emotion. It drives one to act differently to change certain situations and it displays that certain conditions are contrary to our liking which is human. Why? Because we all have preferences (like/dislike)

Anything, even something terrible as the holocaust, can be seen as having "positive benefits" by someone with imagination. However, benefits interpreted a posteriori are not the point. The point is that the characteristic of anger is that of disturbing, obstructing and weakening the very faculty of discernment.

One may argue that that is not always the case. In analogy, a frequent unhealthy diet may also not be an obstruction to someone who needs to lift some boxes every other day. But it will be a severe obstruction if one is a weight lifting athlete.

  1. Black and white thinking in the satipatthanna sutta: If one is mindful one is "alive" if one is not "one is like a corpse". No gray zone there. "This path is the only path to liberation" (all or nothing thinking).

I'm not sure how you came to this interpretation of that sutta.

  1. Absolute thinking: Nirvana. Endless, permanent and absolute absence of dukkha. But all or never conditions are rarely true.

It's quite common, actually. I'm absolutely not physically at your side right now. And I'm absolutely not angry, thirsty or sad right now.

Rarity is not proof, nor is unlikeliness. For centuries, it was absurd to think that we are in motion, much worse, spinning at the speed of 1600 km/hr, and yet that seems to be the case for us in this planet. It was also absurd that invisible living things exist -- until microscopes were invented. And so on...

  1. The end goal (in this case: Nirvana/Enlightenment) that makes every religion worth striving .Similar to heaven (and avoiding hell). But where really is the evidence?

Just like one believes, in first day of class, that the calculus teacher knows calculus and is not drawing random graphics in the blackboard and at the end, come to the conclusion he/she learned some mathematics, so a buddhist practitioner trains and, upon observing the changes undertaken, concludes the dharma is visible and subject to investigation and scrutiny when put into experience.

  1. Economic effects of not killing animals or not working in butchery etc. (Right livelyhood, Precepts..)

There is no buddhist project or agenda to have every living being becoming buddhist. Buddhism is for those who, looking for long lasting happiness, come to the understand that those things do not lead to their own happiness, and they come to decide by their own that they, personally, won't engage in those things.

  1. According to the Buddha the superior live is to be a monk. How will society run if no one is working and rather wants to go for alms?

See 15.

  1. Meditation and/or mindfulness is seen as a panacea. While it has benefits this won't change underlying faulty cognitions (i.e. beliefs, schemas, thoughts) and it can easily be used as a "run away tool".

The noble eightfold path is not 8 limbs constituted of "meditation". Only one limb, strictly speaking, is focused on meditation. Meditation just happens to be a trendy topic that attracts the attention of a lot of people nowadays.

  1. Monks and nuns are not allowed to have sex, dance, sing, the have to look down at certain points in a conversation... that's inhumane and life denying and against our nature!

It's not that they are not allowed. These are vows, so the meaning is that they chose not to. Furthermore, the community should not be disturbed just because one of them wants to have sex -- they are free to do so, just leave the monastic community.

Finally, the monastic community functions as a republic: vinaya rules can be changed upon consensus.

  1. It doesnt teach you how to deal with negative thoughts. It just says observe it or replace it with an opposite. But this rarely works long term! One needs to question the old, to see its irrationalities, that it's illogical and not helpful, and then to replace it with a positive but realistic (that is balanced) new belief which is -again- conform with empirical evidence which helps the practitioner in the long run.

It's not appropriate to say the buddhist doctrine lacks something without having scrutinized it. There are many practices for dealing with these things (e.g. here and here for excerpts from the pali canon -- there's a lot more written about all of it).

  1. Doesnt teach you with other life obstacles that cause the "holy suffering" like divorcing, social problems, money problems etc.. The buddha taught the cessation of dukkha and if these basics arent met, how is buddhism going to work then?

If the root causes are resolved, the derivative symptoms do not manifest.

  1. How can delusion be a "poison" ? We humans have cognitive distortions on a daily basis. It's a constant in human experience. It's literally wired in our brain to think both rational and irrational and both can be trained individually, in society and is also to an extent biologically determined.

it's a poison in the sense that a deluded act (that is, an act that is ignorant of how suffering and happiness works and come to be) is prone to create suffering and misery for us, just like randomly typing keys in the keyboard, ignorant of how words and grammar works, is prone to not create a meaningful message.

2

You don't nessasarily have to have much intellectual faith in the teachings but you do need a little bit. Just enough for you to realise or believe the truth that you need to practice the teaching of the Buddha so that you can witness the teaching of the Buddha. The practice of the Buddha is generally "The Eightfold Path". Yeah, too much intellectual thinking can blind a practitioner making them think they have true wisdom when they are really just thinking too much.

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1. Suffering.

Why did Buddha speak about suffering, or dissatisfaction, in the First Noble Truth? Was it the main thing to discuss?

The reason of putting dissatisfaction on the first place was to explain:

Where and why should we start our practice?

People are dissatisfied in their lives, it's the prevalent condition. It becomes especially clear when you develop awareness. Advancing on the spiritual path, we find new way of life - in the atmosphere of real easiness, calmness and natural satisfaction. Then we see much better, how far people are from our natural state.

Ordinary people try to escape and to turn their heads away from the fact of dissatisfaction. That's why in Buddhism we thoroughly explain this topic. It's not because Buddhism exaggerates; it's because first of all you have to face the problem; otherwise it will unlikely disappear.

So,

  • that's why the First Truth is about dukkha,
  • and that's why we explain thoroughly: dissatisfaction is a real factor that poisons human lives.

Is that so?

Yes, this is so. For example, if you are young and healthy, and your life is pretty smooth, you can feel: "My life is well!"

But it might be not so well for your parents or friends, or for other beings around; and there are ups and downs, so it's better to be prepared when things will change, and you will get sick, old or down on your luck.

Moreover, when you are accustomed to living in shit, you don't realize how shitty it is. You need to experience really pure conditions to compare and to understand that. So what seems to be rather well, for awakened view might be miserable. That's why you were told: there's a lot of suffering, get out of there!

I hope it must be clear now.

It's normal to feel unpleasant sensations sometimes, so indeed there's no need to become obsessed with the idea that we suffer; however, it's normal also to remove discomfort.

Therefore, please, don't fixate on suffering, but also don't remain in it as mindlessly as people usually do.

Practice the Noble Eightfold Path and find the liberation and the wisdom.

Note also an important detail: if instead of the intention to cease suffering we would call people to chasing happiness, then that would likely lead to developing desire and attachment - i.e., to recreation of suffering.

Chasing something is not the way to satisfaction. Therefore the path is not through chasing happiness, but through removing dissatisfaction.

That indeed leads to profound easiness, openness of wisdom and harmony.

2. The cause of suffering and the way out.

Basically, we are dissatisfied because we left our natural condition of satisfaction.

We left it for the chase of desires.

Do you understand? Do you accept this idea?

It's easy to understand.

It might seem even too easy, too primitive. So we don't even try to apply this idea to our life.

But if we don't apply the advice, then it doesn't work.

We may think that dropping the chase we will lose something. That nirvana is bland or something. But why don't you try?

Just try and compare.

If you really abandon chasing desires, you might discover something miraculous.

Having stopped to chase few things...

...you suddenly realize that all the things are already here.

That's because while you wander apart from the natural condition, you have an attitude of chasing, all in struggles and oppositions.

The whirlpool of mental energy generates vexations, questions, disagreements...

If you let it calm down, the dirt subsides, and everything becomes clear. Instead of problems everywhere, natural field of causes and effects appears - in its silent unconcerned perfection.

Therefore, practice the path to awakening by going deeper than mental oppositions and struggles.

Explore the mind, rather than stirring it again and again.

0

Here are some thoughts on your first three questions.

Suffering is highly exaggerated portrayed. As if nothing positive or good can happen from a bad event/feeling. Suppose one had a good experience and then the person get's back to his ordinary things, a buddhist would exaggerately call this state dukkha and suffering (because the good event was fleeting and now he is back to shithood) Or simple frustration is seen as suffering or dukkha when in fact it's totally natural to feel both positive and negative emotions. Why? So long they are not extreme (i.e.: anger, depression, unhealthy jelousy, self/other depreciation) emotions like concern, frustration, sorry, disappointment, regret, give one feedback. These emotions are less intense and consequently give one more room to act and think rational.

My understanding is that the teaching is not to suppress emotions but to observe them. Are you sad your girlfriend left you? Why? Do you miss certain aspects of her character? Do you miss the sex? Are you scared you won’t find another one? Was she unique? In what way? Why? etc. It’s not to say that any of these are right or wrong but rather to get to the heart of the matter. The point is that getting attached leads to suffering (it hurts if you don’t get what you want and if you get what you don’t want). Seeking lasting happiness in what doesn’t last isn’t a long term strategy. By all means, have a relationship. Enjoy the relationship. When it ends, learn from it and move on. Or fight to revive it but at least know why. Flowers are nice to look but fruit is good for you to eat. And flowers fade and die. So does fruit but at least you can harness its goodness through eating it. Attachment is not engagement or interaction. Attachment is dependency, a bond, a fetter. The master can. The slave must. I must have those shoes. I learned a lot through learning about triangles, waves, wheels and how they all link and by meditating on what a carriage is and what work the different parts do. The fewer things you are attached to the less you are going to get dragged around by desire. Think of the prison guard who gets distracted through some ruse appealing to his stomach or his loins.

People don't learn to act assertively both in speech and deeds

Like Gevurah tempers Chesed in Kabbalah, I think something similar is going on with the Buddhist paramitas Dana and Sila. Dana is generative: put out, bring forth, produce, make or even the first step on a journey of a thousand miles; Sila imposes justice i.e. it draws a line: give but not ALL things at ALL times and to ALL people.

Unrealistic goals: "purifying the mind" -> Being always good. No bad tendencies.

Pure mind is difficult to explain. I will try, bearing in mind that it will probably fail and may even be wrong. Pure comes from Latin purus and really just means clear/clean. Think of finding a hair in a pizza. It’s disgusting because it’s not the right place for hair. But hair on your head is ok. Finding pizza in your hair is also wrong. It’s not morally wrong. It’s just not the right place for it. At the start of life, a human is open to experience and learning etc. As they grow older, they become more set and stiffer, until one day they no longer move at all. Pretty much everything rigid in this world is dead. Trees move very slowly but the wooden chair made from them is dead. Most of your body is non-Newtonian fluids e.g. like ketchup. If you get a hair on your eye it hurts. If you get a hair on the dark part of the eye, you are compelled to remove the hair immediately? Meditate on why that is. What are your eyes for? What is the relationship between the looker and the looked at and even looking itself? Purifying the mind doesn’t mean sterilising your mind. It means getting to the heart of the matter and clearing out the junk. A book you haven’t read in ten years could be better put to use in someone else’s hands. What good does it do on your bookshelf? You want to get mega-rich and have dominion over thousands? Why? Know why. For me, good and bad relate to karma and waves. Does the action lead to that which is beneficial or does it just set the wheel in spin and make waves leading to people being unhappy. Try what works for you. The teaching is primarily about dukkha and karma rather than moralising.

0

Monks and nuns are not allowed to have sex, dance, sing, the have to look down at certain points in a conversation... that's inhumane and life denying and against our nature!

How is it inhumane? It's a voluntary practice. It's the practice of trying to stop clinging to sensual desire. Sensual desire is the main distraction from focusing on present moment experience where reality actually is. The more we see this kind of reality as it's arising in the present moment, the more we understand what the Buddha was saying and the more we understand the less we suffer or react to what we like and dislike.

You have some serious wrong view going. Don't worry, almost everybody does. All you, me or most anyone have ever known is our human being worldly ways. The Teaching of the Buddha is an entirely different approach to handling oneself and a different approach to relating to reality. It's a useful way to see reality and it doesn't mean we throw the other way of looking at reality out the window. The teaching of mindfulness is about focusing on your own mind and body moment by moment with an open heart balanced with just the right amount of intellect.

Unrealistic goals: "purifying the mind" -> Being always good. No bad tendencies

No practitioner has no bad tendencies unless they are enlightened. You don't have to believe in enlightenment, (many have trouble with that one), you just have to be going in that direction.

Denegration of sex and the body (see: meditation of the parts of the body)

Sex is merely a distraction for serious practitioners, usually monks are always free to leave the monk order(well, in Sri Lanka they say you must ordain for life but a monk in Sri Lanka can still leave).

There is nothing inherently wrong with sex. Sex is very distracting for the Buddha's practice, that's all. Homosexuality is no different than heterosexual sex to the Buddha. Just destractions from the practice.

If you never tasted a shiitake mushrooms how would a practitioner of eating shiitake mushrooms tell you with words what the actual experience of eating shiitake mushrooms is like? You have to practice eating the mushrooms yourself to have that kind of understanding. Practice the Eightfold Path yourself and you will know the taste of the Dharma and understand the Buddha's teaching gradually.

You seem to act like Buddhism is being forced on you or something. Is it? You certainly don't have to have anything to do with Buddhism if you want. It's your suffering.

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