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December 22, 2009


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One of the best pieces of writing I've read about Buddism for a while.

But Brian - do you believe you are entirely in step with Batchelor's view? Quite so open minded?

Manjitd, I can't say "entirely," because Stephen Bachelor and I are different people (obviously). He's deep into Buddhist practice -- albeit an agnostic variety -- and I'm not.

But I'm not finding much to disagree with in my re-reading of "Buddhism Without Beliefs." And his attitude toward science is very close to mine.

Absolutely, I'm open-minded. Very much so. It's just that open-mindedness has to be accompanied by a "show me" mentality, or an open mind will get filled with all sorts of meaningless crap.

If there is demonstrable evidence for God, soul, spirit, angels, heaven, life after death, whatever, bring it on. I've been searching for that evidence for most of my life, as has Bachelor, I'm sure.

Like him, I believe the searching is what is important. For Bachelor, perplexity, doubt, uncertainty, not-knowing, awe -- this is the Way. It isn't that these things are what lead us to the Way.

They ARE the Way.

So open-mindedness doesn't come with an expectation that all of the mysteries of existence will be answered. They won't be. But hopefully we can rest more comfortably and honestly with the questions.

Thank you for such clarity, your definition of open mindedness is quite different from mine. I now understand that you are open to that which can be demonstrated to your standards of acceptance, ie, show me and I will believe.
I am a little unclear how you deal with life's many illusions and the brains ready ability to interpret what it wants to see, ie. the work of Derren Brown).

I differ in my definition of open mindedness, I do not accept that the lack of demonstrable evidence for a concept amounts to proof of its non-existence. Posit a concept, test it with accepted logic, if the result is a paradox, then it can be put in the junk box.
Even this approach would not have led to such areas as quantum mechanics or many of the new theories being currently proposed (APM, CPH etc.).

Dark matter has not been observed, but if science took your "show me" approach, I doubt if much progress towards this most fundamental understanding of our universe would be made.

On the positive side, at least I now understand why my comments have been such a struggle with you, for me, open mindedness means something very different.

BO, I never have said that the "the lack of demonstrable evidence for a concept amounts to proof of its non-existence." You did.

Science indeed takes a "show me" approach. A scientific theory remains a theory until there is demonstrable evidence that it is true.

What did you imply by this sentence quoted from you above:
"If there is demonstrable evidence for God, soul, spirit, angels, heaven, life after death, whatever, bring it on."
In earlier posts, you have noted that there is no evidence of God, soul, spirit, angels or Pink elephants on your driveway. You have also noted that you are willing to believe what can be demonstrated, implying that God, soul, spirit, angels, heaven, life after death are not demonstrated and so you are not willing to accept these concepts.
The sum of which represents "the lack of demonstrable evidence for a concept amounts to proof of its non-existence." (note, I do not say IS proof, I say AMOUNTS to proof, and by that I imply 'in the mind of a closed minded person'.

The interest surely lies in the exploration of the unknown, not the mindless repeating of what is already known and accepted.

And this is where the root of my problem keeps rising up and tripping me up: I cannot agree that this blog is open minded and interested in open debate, any attempt to introduce valid ideas for debate and opportunity to explore experiences reported by you or others are quashed in preference for reeling out the same old same old, RSSB, other religions are not what they claim, science rules (despite your evident lack of research experience) and any suggestion of creative out of the box thinking is immediately put down and the writer labelled a jerk.

This blog is as false as the claims of RSSB or any religion.

BO, I called you a jerk when you insensitively tried to use my grief over my sister's death as part of your anti-science arguments, and said that there was no reason for me to feel sad because one day science would prove emotions were just products of physical brain activity.

I explained why you were wrong. So I stand by my conclusion. You acted like a jerk.

Regarding my openness to the possibility of realms of reality beyond the physical. I've been searching for evidence of metaphysical phenomena for over forty years. I've conducted "experiments" via psychedelic drugs, yoga, meditation, lifestyle changes (vegetarianism, abstinence from alcohol/drugs, etc.), and most recently tai chi/qi gong.

Every day I continue to meditate. Almost always I start my meditation with a silent (and/or audible) "Hello, I'm here." I'm speaking to God, Allah, Buddha, the Devil, alien beings, angels, departed souls, enlightened masters, and any other entity capable of communicating non-physically with a human consciousness.

So far I haven't experienced any conclusive subjective (leaving aside objective) evidence of anything beyond the physical. When I do, I'll be sure to share it.

For over five years I've been asking people to share their own evidence of such on this blog. Very few have responded. No replies have been convincing. So my search for evidence of God, soul, spirits, and such continues.

You fail to appreciate the sometimes subtle difference between (1) not believing something exists because there is no demonstrable evidence for it, and (2) believing that something does not exist because there is no demonstrable evidence for it.

Agnosticism, basically, is (1). Atheism, basically, is (2). My continuing search for evidence of the metaphysical shows that I'm an agnostic rather than an atheist. But I understand and appreciate the atheist position, because in some ways and cases it isn't all that different from the agnostic position.

In the case of God, people have been searching for evidence of a supernatural being for many thousands of years. If such evidence were evident, seemingly it should have popped up by now. Similarly, I can reasonably say "I don't believe in fairies," meaning not only am I skeptical that evidence ever will be found of fairy-existence, but I'm almost positive that fairies don't even exist.

You won't find many (if any) atheists claiming with 100% certainty that God or other supernatural phenomena don't exist. Many atheists are scientists, and science knows that no proposition is 100% certain.

But there are levels of certainty, based on evidence. Clearly I'm much more open to the possibility of metaphysical phenomena existing than an avowed atheist, because I'm actively searching for evidence of such. I've got quite a few friends and acquaintances who believe in the supernatural, and we get along great. I accept their beliefs as being possibly true. (Note the "possibly.")

Hope this helps you better understand my views.

I despair of you, you simply cannot understand plain English. I have yet to attempt to communicate with someone quite so close minded as you.
As I say, I truly despair, I find it no surprise that your personal relationships have such gaping gaps.


what is your problem? what are you doing here? what do you seek to gain by repeatedly insulting the owner/author of this blogsite and his quite rational views? its obvious you are none other than the same pseudo-scientific troll that had previously posted here under other names some months back. you were a jerk back then, and you continue to remain so now. you are not "open-minded" nor into "open-debate". your intentions are all about criticising and demeaning this blog. so its much to Brian's credit and open-mindedness that he tolerates trolls like you. if it had been my sister and my blog, your rudely insensitive and hypocritical comments would have all been summarily deleted. you are a rather disgusting and disingenuous person.


You stated,

"I differ in my definition of open mindedness, I do not accept that the lack of demonstrable evidence for a concept amounts to proof of its non-existence. Posit a concept, test it with accepted logic, if the result is a paradox, then it can be put in the junk box."

--This statement sounds kinda OK. However, BO, when you posit a concept, test it with accepted logic, with a paradoxical result, what would you do next? Again, not finding fault with you, however, what would you do next? Obviously something other than put it in a junk box, then what would this next action step(yours)be?

Here is what I believe, and please take this in the spirit that it is written, as a plea for civility and reason.

I think that believing that one's personal views are the 'end all', and that clinging to one's personal views, as some of the posters comments I've just read, as being obvious truth, this approach dismisses the idea that I found so refreshing in 'buddhism without belief', primarily the idea that 'I DO NOT KNOW'. You can argue your philosophy until you're blue in the face, but this does nothing to PROVE that your way is correct, and true.

I suggest that, before you come here and start arguments and commencing with name calling, you should examine why you feel that way in the first place.

The ego can do many things to obstruct the eyes of reason and obscure the truth. Only by letting go of your ego and fully embracing the idea that you, in fact, could be WRONG, about EVERYTHING, will you find your eyes open.

Be at peace.

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