This review (previous post) has a possible flaw in its statements about Buddha and the Demon Mara. It is one thing to consider naturalism but what is the status of ideas of demonology. Secular humanism is almost fanatic on such a subject.
But the legacy of Buddha requires more than kneejerk naturalism. Even so, humanists are no doubt justified in scotching such superstitious beliefs. But the fact remains one of the great spiritual leaders of mankind affirmed such a belief. and the whole ssubject is in limbo.
We should first note that the original Buddha/buddhism is barely known to us and the account strikes one as possible folklore: the mighty founder battles with demons in an epic confrontation. The fact remains that we have no empirical record of early buddhism and the ‘folklore’ explanation should receive close attention. And we put up a video from Youtube critiquing the ‘myth’ of ‘anatta’. That’s a reminder we have no coherent information on a key issue stretching over two millennia: garbage in garbage out on a key doctrine. We should be wary of anything we read here.
But the issue of naturalism is equally confused: are demons real and are they a part of nature. Not since the middle ages has such a question had currency. But my point is the discussions are not consistent: they reject the supernatural but then consider ‘demons’ the antagonists of those who try to reach the supernatural, enlightenment. They should be naturalistic then, a cockeyed argument to be sure.
None of the parties to the debate has a coherent definition of nature, naturalism and the supernatural
It would seem that the nature of nature is an open ended question.
Here also the work of Kant can help. His discussion of the antinomies shows that such dual concepts, nature, supernature are likely not adequate to reasonable discussions.
Another issue arises: the processes of meditation among yogis can be mysterious themselves. We are not talking about mindfulness workshops, but men who renounced the world, lived in forests, and often meditating almost continually for months and years. The questions of diet and excretion arise in men who vow to remain in meditation until enlightened. What did they really do as fact? Again such tales have an element of folklore, but a figure such as Milarepa is said to have preached the dharma to demons in his cave. A clue perhaps. The ‘demon Mara’ reflects a crisis of meditation and disturbed consciousness. If you meditate continually for long periods the possibilities narrow, enlightened or stark raving. Perhaps there we have a clue.
But Buddhism finds a god realm and other realms to be, apparently, elements of nature: ‘all prakriti’ high and low to use the yogic term from Samkhya.
In any case this review can’t resolve the issue finally but while we can endorse the naturalistic slant of Buddhism it is a quite different form of naturalism. The demonic whatever its reality would be an aspect of nature. Secularists seem to have a problem:
meditate but leave out the warning tale of the founder, not a rational situation.
The student here should proceed with caution: meditation can lead to demonic realities or hallucinations with no way to resolve the duality, pace Kant.
(will provide link later) This book is a strange puzzle. Why would anyone write such a book so far outside the spirit of Buddhism? The answer seems to be that the new atheists can’t dispense …