Reply Sun 18 May, 2008 04:45 pm
Whats up with buddhism. How'd it get so cool.

talk on
emptiness
enlightenment
awakening
bodhichita
bodhisattvahood
indestructible reality
reincarnation

whatever you know

intrested to see y'alls thoughts


peace
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Aristoddler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2008 07:47 pm
@vajrasattva,
How'd it get so cool?

Trendy you mean?
Because it's exotic, and people like exotic things they can't understand.
Kinda like sushi, vegetarianism and Bob Dole.


When you say bodhisattvahood...are you referring to Bodhisattvas in the Theravada sense, or in the Mahayana practice?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:39 am
@Aristoddler,
Quote:
Whats up with buddhism. How'd it get so cool.


It's the cool revolution.

Quote:
Trendy you mean?
Because it's exotic, and people like exotic things they can't understand.
Kinda like sushi, vegetarianism and Bob Dole.


Bob Dole is exotic?
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:51 am
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva wrote:
Whats up with buddhism. How'd it get so cool...
Emptiness is the wildest concept in Buddhism to me. Somehow, and in ways I don't fully understand, Buddhists find ways to promote and celebrate altruism even though philosophically the whole idea of separate selves can be held to be illusory.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:59 am
@Aedes,
Quote:
Somehow, and in ways I don't fully understand, Buddhists find ways to promote and celebrate altruism even though philosophically the whole idea of separate selves can be held to be illusory.


If the individual self is illusory, egoism is senseless.

I think altruism is promoted and celebrated, despite potential philosophical questions, because compassion for others is good karma, so altruism is good karma. Opportunities to cultivate good karma are highly valued by Buddhists; this is why begging for food is practiced (apart from the role in personal practice), because doing so allows others to develop good karma by giving.

Besides, the philosophical problems that I see (if you see others, let me know) are concerns about self. Better to practice.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:05 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Y'all,

It appeal to reason:) and compassion!
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:15 am
@boagie,
And experience. The idea is to have a spiritual practice to cultivate understanding beyond rationalizations and emotional tendencies/aspirations.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:32 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
If the individual self is illusory, egoism is senseless.
But then so is altruism, because the other is illusory as well.

Quote:
I think altruism is promoted and celebrated, despite potential philosophical questions, because compassion for others is good karma, so altruism is good karma.
I think it's more than this, more than Karma. I think it probably has more to do with the boddhisatva ideal, i.e. of helping others approach enlightenment. I believe this is discussed in the Teaching Company course on Buddhism, but I don't remember, it's been a while.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:48 am
@Aedes,
Quote:
But then so is altruism, because the other is illusory as well.


As you have said elsewhere on the forums, altruism is a behavior based on empathy. The other may very well be illusory, but that isn't what matters. What matters is the motivation, and altruism fits rather nicely into Buddhist notions of appropriate motivation in action.

Because altruism is usually discussed with assumed western notions of self and individuality, not everything aligns perfectly with Buddhist doctrine.

Quote:
I think it's more than this, more than Karma. I think it probably has more to do with the boddhisatva ideal, i.e. of helping others approach enlightenment.


What is more than karma? There is karma that improves life in samsara, and then there is enlightenment producing karma. Altruism encompasses both, but does not distinguish between the two.

Quote:
I believe this is discussed in the Teaching Company course on Buddhism, but I don't remember, it's been a while.


Must be a good course, you reference it in every thread that touches Buddhism. Smile
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:57 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
As you have said elsewhere on the forums, altruism is a behavior based on empathy. The other may very well be illusory, but that isn't what matters. What matters is the motivation, and altruism fits rather nicely into Buddhist notions of appropriate motivation in action.
Empathy is innate, though, and as far as I know not codified in any religion. But many religious traditions will rationalize or theologize acts that ARE fundamentally grounded in empathy.

Quote:
What is more than karma? There is karma that improves life in samsara, and then there is enlightenment producing karma. Altruism encompasses both, but does not distinguish between the two.
Just like heaven and hell, karma becomes a motivating 'carrot' for good acts. In this way it becomes an end in itself rather than one being motivated by the good of the act.

Quote:
Must be a good course, you reference it in every thread that touches Buddhism. Smile
It's great! Very Happy
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 11:23 am
@Aedes,
Quote:
Empathy is innate, though, and as far as I know not codified in any religion. But many religious traditions will rationalize or theologize acts that ARE fundamentally grounded in empathy.


Empathy may be innate, but that does not mean it is beyond cultivation. I'm not really sure about the significance of the attempt of religions to rationalize/theologize compassions. Philosophers rationalize about empathy and self-interest.

Quote:
Just like heaven and hell, karma becomes a motivating 'carrot' for good acts. In this way it becomes an end in itself rather than one being motivated by the good of the act.


If heaven and hell are carrots and sticks, they are not much use. Same for karma. Karma is an expression about the way reality functions. The good of the act is the good karma.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 12:18 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Empathy may be innate, but that does not mean it is beyond cultivation.
True, but in most context it's not empathy per se that gets cultivated -- it's the appearance of empathy, or the practice of behaviors justified by empathy. But to cultivate empathy itself? Well, that's a character thing -- it has to do with an innate identification with others and their experiences. It can probably cultivated, but I think people are better at appearing empathetic because context calls for it than they are at being empathetic deep down.

Quote:
I'm not really sure about the significance of the attempt of religions to rationalize/theologize compassions. Philosophers rationalize about empathy and self-interest.
It's identical. It's about justification. We are told or influenced to behave a certain way because it is good and we are told to eschew certain acts because they are bad. Good and bad can be delimited theologically in the western religious tradition, karmically in the eastern tradition, and rationally in the logical philosophical tradition. But when it comes down to it, we don't actually eschew murder because it's in the 10 Commandments, or against the law, or negative karma, or violates the categorical imperative, or it doesn't produce the greatest good for the greatest number. We eschew murder because it violates our empathetic sense, by which we identify with the vulnerability of others and the value of their lives. I'm probably not articulating this as well as I could, but I hope you get my sense -- it's about valuing things in ourselves and identifying with the same thing in other people. So respecting other people's lives is an extension of how we value our own.

The application of theology or philosophy to this is secondary -- it's how it becomes justified in a system of thought.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 04:13 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:
True, but in most context it's not empathy per se that gets cultivated -- it's the appearance of empathy, or the practice of behaviors justified by empathy. But to cultivate empathy itself? Well, that's a character thing -- it has to do with an innate identification with others and their experiences. It can probably cultivated, but I think people are better at appearing empathetic because context calls for it than they are at being empathetic deep down.


This is a very negative view of religious practice. I think you are right if we are generalizing about mankind, but I'm not so sure I'd want to discredit any faith tradition simply because most people are not serious students.

You know more of psychology than I do; what makes someone more empathetic or less empathetic? What circumstances influence empathy? If environment plays a role in this particular behavior, it would seem to me that this behavior can be cultivated.

Quote:
It's identical. It's about justification. We are told or influenced to behave a certain way because it is good and we are told to eschew certain acts because they are bad. Good and bad can be delimited theologically in the western religious tradition, karmically in the eastern tradition, and rationally in the logical philosophical tradition. But when it comes down to it, we don't actually eschew murder because it's in the 10 Commandments, or against the law, or negative karma, or violates the categorical imperative, or it doesn't produce the greatest good for the greatest number. We eschew murder because it violates our empathetic sense, by which we identify with the vulnerability of others and the value of their lives. I'm probably not articulating this as well as I could, but I hope you get my sense -- it's about valuing things in ourselves and identifying with the same thing in other people. So respecting other people's lives is an extension of how we value our own.

The application of theology or philosophy to this is secondary -- it's how it becomes justified in a system of thought.


I think I see what you are saying. We can talk all day about theology and philosophy and never change the way people act. You're absolutely right.

That's the value of practice. You said it yourself, we try not to murder because of our ability to identify with the suffering such an act causes others. We identify with others. We understand, at least to some extent.

Talk of karma and samsara, all that, it's explanation. Buddhism doesn't suggest you take up a list of philosophical opinions and reason yourself forward. Buddhism suggests you practice in order to cultivate empathy. The Buddha spoke about this sort of thing - remember, he might be wrong or just another wacko trying to sell spiritual waste. Unless you check up for yourself, there's no way of knowing. And that is essential, not the explanations, but the experience and understanding of checking up and practice.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 04:41 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
This is a very negative view of religious practice.
It's not a specific comment about religious practice let alone a negative view. Under any contexts, whether in a monastery teaching charity or in a business school teaching manners and pleasantries, in the end (at least over the short term) you're teaching people behavior rather than changing their way of thinking. Buddhism is much more deliberate about things like right thought, of course, but that's a hard thing to teach -- it takes time and discipline. Just like cognitive-behavioral therapy, it takes tremendous effort over time to change how people think deep down.

Quote:
You know more of psychology than I do; what makes someone more empathetic or less empathetic? What circumstances influence empathy? If environment plays a role in this particular behavior, it would seem to me that this behavior can be cultivated.
Well, there are elements of character and maturity. The first step in empathy is to see other people as going through the same crap that you do in life -- and some people are too mired in themselves to do that.

Quote:
Talk of karma and samsara, all that, it's explanation. Buddhism doesn't suggest you take up a list of philosophical opinions and reason yourself forward. Buddhism suggests you practice in order to cultivate empathy.
And in this regard it's unique -- it's the only religion I know of that focuses on how we think, not what we think.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 06:07 pm
@Aedes,
Buddhism and western psychology have a great deal to learn from one another.

The spiritual path is not presented as an easy road in the Buddhist tradition. The mythical tales surrounding many of Buddhism's early teachers are filled with stories of intense sacrifices and practice. Imagine honestly meditating for 40 days. What of food and water? Sure the story is if not fabricated, exaggerated; however, the thought of 40 days without food and water is something just about everyone can sympathize with - we all know hunger and thrust.

Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Becoming Your Own Therapist: Combined - Lama Yeshe
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 May, 2008 06:15 am
@Didymos Thomas,
It looks like in the Mahayana tradition (and from early on, like from the origin of the Mahayana 500 years after the life of the Buddha), the notion of altruism was indeed developed specifically in concert with the boddhisatva concept. I read this in the book Visions of the Buddha by Tom Lowenstein (a GREAT book).

The Mahayana in part developed as a response to what they saw as the "selfish" nature of the arhat, i.e. one who sets aside all in life to achieve nirvana. They interpreted the life of the Buddha as split into three elements, which were the Buddha as the essence underlying all phenomena, the Buddha that had lived and ascended to nirvana, and the Buddha that remained to help all others. The boddhisatva developed from this. And great examples of boddhisatvas arose, most famously Avalokitesvara.

It actually makes me want to learn more about some of the extremes of Mahayana Buddhism (like the various schools of Japanese Buddhism) which are very isolating, as well as Theravada Buddhism which never developed along this line. Clearly altruism is central in Theravada Buddhism, with a good example being Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 May, 2008 03:12 pm
@Aedes,
Most of the nonsense I spout off about Buddhism is based on my (extremely limited) understanding of Mahayana, particularly Tibetan teaching. It just makes more sense to me that we should be concerned with bringing everyone over the wall, and not just our 'selves'.

But I also do not have a practice, so I don't like I get into criticisms of the Theravada school, one which I have a great deal of respect for. My criticisms are most likely the result of ignorance.

By the way, the book I link in the last post is offered for free and is a sort of introduction to Buddhist psychology from a wonderful teacher. Lama Yeshe was one of those monks who connected well with western practitioners. Visions of the Buddha sounds familiar, though I definitely have not read it. Looking at some resources online, it sounds like a great introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist history.

When looking for spiritual literature, I prefer to stick with people of the tradition. This is why I always suggest Robert Thruman's "Inner Revolution" as the best place to begin with Buddhism. Thurman was the first ordained Buddhist monk from the west.

Quote:
The Mahayana in part developed as a response to what they saw as the "selfish" nature of the arhat, i.e. one who sets aside all in life to achieve nirvana. They interpreted the life of the Buddha as split into three elements, which were the Buddha as the essence underlying all phenomena, the Buddha that had lived and ascended to nirvana, and the Buddha that remained to help all others. The boddhisatva developed from this. And great examples of boddhisatvas arose, most famously Avalokitesvara.


We have to remember that the Buddha is named as an arhat in canon. But you are right about Mahayana criticism.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 May, 2008 03:45 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I'm certainly not offering my own critique of Buddhism. My only real exposure to it was a week I spent in Kyoto, which is covered in hundreds of Zen and other Japanese Buddhist temples (as well as Shinto shrines). Tibetan Buddhism seems to be much different than the varieties of Mahayana Buddhism elsewhere in China, India, and east Asia. There seems to be more mysticism and symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 May, 2008 04:33 pm
@Aedes,
Tibetan Buddhism is a very unique vehicle. While Buddhism died out (basically, died out) in India with the resurgence of Hinduism and later Muslim invasion, Buddhism flourished in the mountain retreat of Tibet, and from it's lofty perch, spread to the rest of the world. Indian and South East Asian kings called on Tibetan teachers to reintroduce the doctrines and practice.

There is a great deal of symbolism in Tibetan teachings. Most of what we might call 'mysticism' is this symbolism. Though, there is a rich tradition of teachings and practices that would be called mystic by westerners, and probably by people of other eastern traditions. Stories of lamas with great magical powers are not exactly rare. The response from lamas about such powers is that if you have seen them, you should not speak of them. Tales of apparently super-human powers are dangerous- they distract practitioners from what really matters, practice. Also, such powers would be easy to abuse, and developing a cult around them will certainly elicit this sort of abuse.

While Tibetan Buddhism is unique, I'm not sure it's much different than other schools. All Buddhist schools focus on practice. "Stop asking so many questions, practice." In the Zen tradition this is translated to "*thwack* now go practice. "
0 Replies
 
vajrasattva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 12:57 pm
@vajrasattva,
Buddhism (Awakend enlightementism)
Bodhisattva (Awakend Being)
Buddha (Awakend and Enlightened)

Emptiness is the realization of the lack of inherent existence in all phenomena
this means the the rock you see outside only exists because of a string of causes and conditions. And the same rock due to the elements will either not exist or atleast not exist in the same way given a period of time. It is impermanant. Hence the lack of inherent existence. It is the same for people, places, things, thoughts, feelings, and all phenomena.

The realiztion of emptiness birngs about enlightement due to the fact that when one understands the transient nature of things one ceases to have the malignant attatchement to them.

Altruism comes about as a result of this due to the fact that life (because of this transience) is suffeing. And an unrealized being is attatched to that which is impermanat. This is the cause of there suffering. If they were to truely realize this fact then the would be relieved of the suffering but in their ignorance they are reborn (metaphoricly and actualy) in to the cycle of suffering (sensing, grasping, attatchment, loss and pain). Altruism is a natural reaction within the process of enlightenment.

Awakening is the true perception of reality in the ultimate sense (ultimate reality). Which is transient. This leads to a true understanding of the nature of self which is also transient. Which leads to detatchment from self and to a state which the cycle of suffering is stoped. If you see that you are impermanant then and every thing that you desire is also impermanant. Even the desire it self is impermanant then the attatchment to things as a means of bringing about happiness is gone or lessened. And with a true realization of the impermanance of self then the fear of death is also taken away.

Enlightenment is the full understanding of transience and impemanance in all of its aspects. This brings a full knowledge and manefestation of Awakening which allows for sagehood to be manefest. Due to the fact that realization brings about a natural altruism enlightend beings in their knowledge of suffering and their freedom from it are naturaly inclined to know and teach the antidotes to suffering. Hence the value of the buddhas compassion. If he wasnt compassionate then he in his lack of attatchment and true knowlege of self would have no care for your suffering.

I feel that buddhism is "cool" because it is an accesable fundamentaly non traditional intelecual effective and fast means of realizing the antidotes to suffering in all its forms. Because of Sidharha Gautamas teaching as well as thoes of bodhidharma and padmasambhava enlightenment and awakening are accesable to thoes of all walks and facultys of life considering that they are honest and willing enough to try.

I chose the name Vajrasattva because that is Who i am.
i am realized thats the point of buddhism unlike the western religions the goal and end of the religion is atainable within a lifetime.

Buddha was a man not a god. He was a great teacher. And he did posses supernatural facultys. AS DO I. These things are atainable and if used properly relive the sufferings of the ignorant. This is my end. After my enlightenment i left nivana in hopes of teaching the antidotes to suffering. Most do not care to hear them but you all are spectacular and a ray of hope in the darkness.

Thank You all very kindly

Vajrasattva
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