SuttaCentral

Religious Conservatism

And children now have a bunch of rights too. There are/will be conflicts of interest between the rights of the child and the rights of parents. Of course it is right that the state steps in where harm is being done to the child.

In the UK we now ban parents from giving alcohol to under five year olds, and that’s a very good thing. That wasn’t the case when I was a baby.

Parents believing the dogma of the Catholic Church does not violate anyone’s rights. Parents raising their child as a Roman Catholic does not violate the rights of the child. In terms of alcohol, if your political outlook is to use the state to ban anything that’s harmful then why not introduce prohibition into the U.K? Why not ban a whole load of things, according to what some politician or bureaucrat decides? Personally I can’t agree to such things due to my deontological ethics, nor do I think such a powerful state that regulates people’s lives to such a degree is desirable.

This is a complex issue in practice, is it not? It seems that public education has been considered in many cultures a public good over-riding parental “ownership” or custody of living beings with limited legal rights and responsibilities. And acceptable practices of control or discipline are also not entirely parent defined. “Family” and parent-child relationships are convenient terms but not more basic unit than one human life; nor is any one human life ever actually independent, or not composed of discernable stages or things…

“near totalitarian” is rhetoric which seems to over simplify, at least.

There is nothing to be feared in living harmlessly, as a disciple on the Path. What is the cause, the origin, of fear?

This is a complex issue in practice, is it not? It seems that public education has been considered in many cultures a public good over-riding parental “ownership” or custody of living beings with limited legal rights and responsibilities. And acceptable practices of control or discipline are also not entirely parent defined. “Family” and parent-child relationships are convenient terms but not more basic unit than one human life; nor is any one human life ever actually independent, or not composed of discernable stages or things…

I’m not really sure what you are trying to say here?

“near totalitarian” is rhetoric which seems to over simplify, at least.

Its not rhetoric. If you start ignoring human rights in favour of harm reduction and empower the state to intrude as it likes into people’s lives so long as said harm is reduced then you are making way for a totalitarian society, likely with a small group of people getting to decide what is and isn’t harmful. In the not so distant past religion in general was seen as being harmful and religious people persecuted because of the harm they could cause to the state and society. Communist Albania comes to mind. Once we abandon human rights then all sorts of hellish scenarios become that much easier to actualise.

There is nothing to be feared in living harmlessly, as a disciple on the Path. What is the cause, the origin, of fear?

I do live my life according to the precepts and the NEFP. That doesn’t mean I want them enforced upon society. That would simply be me imposing my religious values on others. I don’t want the state to enforce harmlessness either. Change should always start with the individual.

Let’s eliminate any specific issue from the conversation for a moment - we all have our beliefs on specific issues that can be really hard to set aside - and simply looking at the structure.

Assumptions:
On this board

  • We share a belief that the Buddha’s life was a truly special moment in human history, and that the Buddha brought great insight and wisdom into the human realm.
  • We believe that the EBT offer the most direct access to what the Buddha said and believed.

An issue arises when we face a situation where our opinion of the right, ethical path forward disagrees (at least on first look) with what it appears the Buddha said in the EBT.

What are the possibilities?

  • Maybe the Buddha is wrong
  • Maybe our interpretation of what the Buddha said is wrong
  • Maybe the Buddha didn’t say that (problem in transmission)
  • Maybe we are wrong

Now, in the abstract, it is easy to admit I might be wrong. But I imagine most of us have issues where we believe one side is just and right and we’re not willing to entertain the idea that we are wrong. (For example, I believe women should be ordained as monastics with full and equal rights to male monastics. Depending on your perspective it is either a strength or a weakness of mine that I am not willing to entertain the idea that this belief might be wrong.)

It’s great when the discrepancy turns out to be an issue of interpretation or transmission - we’re right, the Buddha’s right - it was just a misunderstanding. But it seems if we’re exploring in good faith a conclusion of faulty interpretation or transmission should be based on evidence, not a Get Out of Jail Free default position when the situation gets tough.

So it does seem, at a certain point, you get to the question of the inerrancy of the Buddha.

If you say the Buddha might be wrong, there is no logical problem. (Having seen the contortions many denominations of Christianity have gone through maintaining a view the Bible’s inerrancy, I personally have no problem with the idea the Buddha might have gotten something wrong.)

If you say the Buddha is never wrong, you either need to identify an issue with interpretation/transmission, or be ready to accept you might be wrong, no matter how deeply you believe you are not wrong.

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Or if you have unyielding saddha in the Buddha, Dhamma, the Sangha and the commentaries then issues do not arise as long as you change your view to align with what the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and tradition says.

Personally I have faith that the Buddha was not wrong, that the Dhamma is true and that the Sangha is full of righteously practicing ones. By extension I have trust in tradition, which includes the commentaries. When I’m greeted with something I personally do not agree with I change my views to match the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and tradition. To give an example, prior to being a Buddhist I was morally ok with abortion. Now I am not. I was actually a Communist of all things before the Dhamma changed me for the better.

Yes. That is what I meant by my phrase, “ready to accept you might be wrong.” That it is your view that has to change.

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Thanks for the clarification.

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:slight_smile: It is rhetoric, to say

  • parental rights are a human right, and that they include “rights” to manage children as any individual parent sees fit.
  • this is a “start” to ignoring human rights
  • this “empiwers” the “state” to intrude “as it likes”
  • “you are making way”

If you were describing “near totalitarian” to the Buddha, could it be done sucessfully? What might be the Teaching He would offer, pointing towards liberation from suffering?

Rhetoric is speech using persuasive devices which convey a POV. It’s not bad or good; it’s communication shortcuts, which can be misused or used for kusala speech.

I agree, in that that is where it is effective; but as human lives are social, every one life occurs in social circumstances, it’s hard to discern start and finish, I think.

Thanks for the clarification.

This passage occurs at the end of T60 not T61. It’s a later translation of MA 116, so T60 just proves that the passage wasn’t removed in the century that passed between them. It’s interesting that this statement about women is tacked onto the very end of the sutra about Gautami, and it doesn’t occur in the Pali.

Also thank you for the clarification.

Hmm. Mahayana influences on the Theravada canon? It’s as likely as the reverse as far as anyone knows.

Possible but I’m inclined to think not.

The ten perfections?

Is there a case for them originating in Mahayana first?

It is possible the various lists of bodhisatva perfections are ubiquitously Ābhidharmika, I suppose. They don’t appear in EBTs though AFAIK.

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I think the paramitas began as a way of organizing Jataka stories. Then they were turned into a framework for explaining a bodhisattvas career. The three vehicle theory appeared at some point in Abhidharma texts. The Mahayana enters the picture when some Buddhist decided the bodhisattva-yana was the one to practice rather than the sravaka-yana. That’s the nutshell version of events as I understand it.

Absolutely. I suppose it comes down to what we mean by “violate the rights of other citizens”. If there is a moral case against a particular kind of conduct, then arguably there is a converse right to not be afflicted by that conduct. The extent to which this needs to be enshrined in law, however, is debatable. Clearly it would be impossible to legally prohibit all immoral conduct. (If you think the jails are too full already … :grinning:)

Perhaps the best we can do is have an education system where ethics is properly taught and debated. Education, to my mind, should focus less on the hegemonic religion of a particular society and more on universal ethical principles. If the children then wish to take up a religion later in their life, they have a solid foundation for making a good choice.

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Good morning.

Peoples rights change over time, and what is considered a violation changes too. So for example, in the UK we are in the middle of working out the details of how to stop the practice of ‘gay conversion’ therapies in the country. Will this result in a ban or will there be another way to legislate this change it is yet to be seen, but in principal it has been accepted by the government that the practice should stop in the UK. I see that you appear happy that children now have some rights, so that fills me with hope that some religious conservatives are at least moving in a positive direction.

Because prohibition of alcohol has been seen to do more harm than good.

:grinning: I would call them ‘elected representatives and experts in their field supported by a judicial system’, but yes ‘politicians and bureaucrats’. And it’s not necessarily about banning things. There are a variety of ways available to us to shift behaviour to something less harmful for all concerned.

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In NSW primary schools Ethics is offered as an alternative to the different religion/scripture classes.


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Hi Viveka , in this case do you think in reality that the arahant actually not different from Buddha in term of five indriyas five powers etc ? And why that an arahant not called a SammaSamBuddha ?
Another thing isnt that if a person transcended the kama realms ascending to the rupa realms losses it female appearances ?

That is a great initiative!

Here in the public schools in Ontario, Canada religion per se is not taught, but neither is an ethics class( in my school board at least).
But it is an uphill battle to get even topics such as updated sex Ed curriculum, gender identity/orientation taught in schools due to protests from some religious groups.
This is religious interference in state affairs and clearly not helping children who happen to live in the real world.

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