The question I would like to ask the SCDD community is whether it should be deemed appropriate on a Buddhist forum to discuss other religions, taken as whole, in negative terms.
I wish to emphasize that such discussions may not be limited to purely doctrinal issues, but may include sociological generalizations, or geopolitical fear mongering, such as: ’ all followers of such and such religion are dangerous and a threat to us because so and so’ or ‘they are responsible for such and such turmoil or crimes against humanity and therefore should be bombed from a place of compassion for the people they might harm’ etc.
I would imagine that following the guidelines of whatever site one is visiting should provide the best answer to that question. If the site requests sticking to Buddhism related material then the extensive discussion of other religions, positive or negative, would not be appropriate.
If parameters are wider, basic courtesy will always be a good idea.
The Buddha did criticize other religious teachings so why cannot we? I think it is, however, important to criticize ideas and practices and not people. Perhaps even more important is to use the language that is not overly aggressive and divisive, keeping in mind the standards of the Right Speech.
The Buddha did criticize other religious teachings so why cannot we?
The Buddha was enlightened though, and free from greed, hatred and delusion. We’re not - and therefore in my opinion we should be very careful about criticising and getting into disputes about people who have different beliefs to ours. Better to look within and attempt to improve our own practice instead.
We should not get into disputes about people who have different believes than ours, we should rather get into discussions about beliefs that are different than ours. There is a huge difference between these two things. Calling someone a bad person is one thing, respectfully saying that acording to one’s point of view some particular beliefs are wrong and even potentially harmful for such and such reason is a different thing. Other people are just as welcome to criticize Buddhism in an appropriate manner, why not?
Censorship is a cancer; it tends to interfere with life sustaining functioning, even if it doesn’t grow much.
Negative is a slippery term. Subjective. Easily influenced by defilements.
I have still been unable to finish reading the entire Secular Buddhism Is Wrong thread. I agree with the gist of Sujato’s argument, but some of the responses were … harsh at best. It has me writing in my notepad about why secular buddhism is attractive, and not the threat some see in it.
Buddhism does encourage one to use one’s judgement. The Buddha criticized sanjaya bellaputta, an agnostic skeptic who never has any firm view of his own. The Buddha said that that is an eel wiggler, twisting here and there and never commiting to anything, not having any satisfactory answers to the important questions of life.
Within the early Buddhism texts, the 6 other heretical teachers are frequently mentioned and their doctrines are rejected and the reasons for that is made clear. It is still useful today as some of the 6 represents views many still have today. One is materialism, another atomism (including matter and mind), another denies kamma, another is fatalism, one is agnostic as mentioned, the last one is the Jains.
If someone needs the reason to reject other religions and follow Buddhism, it would be good to have some discussion of it here too.
On the non-judgement thing, mindfulness is indeed gathering data. But clear comprehension is also needed, that is the wisdom which discriminates and judge, dropping what is unwholesome and only adopting the wholesome. Normal judgement using wrong view is unhealthy indeed, but clear comprehension is based on right view. And that wisdom needs the raw information of right view as learned from the outside to be able to internalize. Just like in the Brahma net sutta DN 1, there are 62 wrong views, the Buddha mentioned them all. So we can have wrong views and thus not progress in the right direction. Discussion of why other religions are considered wrong view is important for establishing right view as the basis for the path.
For it to be suitable for this forum I think it would need to be framed within the context of the EBTs.
For example MN56 is a refutation of the Jains’ view of karma. But what you notice is the Buddha doesn’t actually criticise the doctrine. He very skillfuly examines the standpoint put to him by Upali and Tapassī with his own logical response.
Proposing an alternative view is then quite different from just plain criticism. We could take a view of another religious group and examined it within the skope of the Dhamma and see how it stands up.
It is one thing to speak about particular beliefs, but it is another one to throw generalizing psychological, sociological considerations, or geopolitical fear mongering into the discussion.
Things like all followers to such and such religion are dangerous and a threat to us because so and so, or they cover for sex crimes, or they are responsible for such and such turmoil or crimes against humanity and therefore should be bombed from a place of compassion for the people they might harm etc.
please bear with me going against the grain here, but I think it is important that we discuss these things for our benefit, I believe that this is an essential part of the Buddha’s message.
If I remember correctly the Buddha encouraged a judgement, articulated, spoken out, which would refute standpoints contrary to dhamma and vinaya, to establish what is dhamma and vinaya and what is not, he praised such shrewdness of mind. Though he said also, as pointed out by Vstakan, that we should avoid relating to the person itself, rather just elucidating cause and effect of the topic under investigation and establish a mind of loving-kindness, primed to promote the other person, factors one should reflect if present before criticizing another person.
He also censured monks who actually refrained from mentioning and bringing up faults of conduct and view in their companions, comparing them with dump sheep, observing silence, the practice of other sects, saying that mutual admonishing is essential for growth in dhamma-vinaya.
I don’t consider myself to be on the same level as the Buddha who died 2,500 years ago - and I’ve seen way too much criticism and argument in internet groups about other religions and politics to want to be a part of that myself.
Yes indeed, Its also very good to remember the mind of loving kindness and the Brahma Viharas in general … but I sometimes wonder if we’re all still aware of them in some of the internet discussions that are taking place these days.
Just my humble opinion of course. I hope you all enjoy your discussions here and may they bring you peace and happiness.
Yes, they should be allowed but they should not be endorsed. Forbidding something to exist in the public space is one of the best ways to let dissent and internal conflicts grow. To my mind, the best way to confront these opinions is identical to the appropriate criticism of other religions: ‘I think that your ideas are wrong and harmful for such and such reasons.’
I would agree as long as such individuals remain exceptions. In today’s volatile climate, what if there happens to be a large number of them, so that they team up, even infiltrate the mod team and render such ideas mainstream on the forum, so that they creep even in discussions on Dhamma topics?
I think the solution adopted by SCD&D is best: make conversations that border on contentious societal and political issues outside the scope of the forum’s accepted matters to discuss.