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On True Spirituality - A Buddhist View.

 
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 08:00 pm
rhinogrey;83457 wrote:
True spirituality comes when man loses his contempt of his own condition and embraces life as it really is, and not how one would ideological hope it to be. Spirituality is not about blind faith, it is about acceptance of what can be clearly seen.


This was provided in the context of a comment on my spiritual-philosophical outlook on life, which is Buddhist. So rather than reply there, as that thread was getting very long and complicated, I thought I would make a few remarks here in the Philosophy of Religion forum.

The Buddhist attitude is that life, our ordinary existence, is dukkha. This is a word in the Indian dialect that the Buddha spoke, and is generally translated as 'suffering' or 'sorrowful'. So - 'life is suffering'. This is actually referred to as The First Noble Truth of Buddhism. Many commentators have taken this to mean that 'Buddhism is pessimistic'. That would be so if it were the conclusion of the Buddhist teaching, but it is only the initial premise. It is followed by a presentation of the remaining Noble Truths, showing the cause of sorrow, the cessation of sorrow, and the way to the cessation of sorrow.

I will probably present a more detailed version of these fundamentals of the Buddhist path elsewhere. However I shall now proceed to respond to the initial quote.

I don't think there is, in Buddhism, the idea that man has 'contempt' for his condition and that this is the cause of sorrow. The cause of sorrow is actually due to ignorance, which is the opposite of, or the absence of, wisdom, known as Panna or Prajna. Generally speaking, ordinary people are in a sorrowful condition because they lack insight into the way that greed, hatred and delusion are constantly shaping their experience of life, moment to moment. So accordingly, normal people are referred to in the teaching as 'uninstructed worldings' or 'putujjhanas'. (This is not a derogatory term and should not be taken as an insult. We are all putujjhanas, the writer included:bigsmile:)

So very briefly the 'path of purification' in Buddhism requires understanding the way the mind (or heart; the term citta means both) reflexively creates suffering. This is an arduous task, as the mind does this by means which are not obvious to casual observation; there are many hidden roots of conflict and suffering. Hence the requirement for meditation - or dhyana. This is the means by which the mind gets insight into its own subliminal actions and hidden conflicts and is liberated from them. But it is an arduous task, as any Buddhist will testify, and requires a willingness to really face yourself head-on, so to speak.

This brings us 'embracing life as it truly is'. This is indeed an attribute of the Buddha: 'one who sees things as they really are'. In Buddhist meditation this is one of the main instructions - to see things are they are, not how one wishes them to be (or wishes them not to be). But this too is not necessarily easy. 'Uninstructed worldings' do not see things this way, exactly because we look at everything through an unconscious 'clinging or grasping' based on the idea of me-and-mine.

It is also true in Buddhism that spirituality is not about blind faith. (And in fact, I can't recall ever having advocated or recommending such an approach in anything I have said on the forum.) It is certainly about being able to observe clearly, to see things as they are, but at the same time, this is given within the context and the framework of the Buddhist understanding of the cause of sorrow and its ending, as described above. So when you say 'acceptance of what can be clearly seen', the question is, what can be clearly seen? I think it can be cldearly seen that on the whole, human beings are not born pre-disposed towards selflessness and compassion. These are latent qualities which need to be, and can be, nurtured. This is why one practises Buddhism, or any other philosophy, I would have thought. Buddhism is often described as a kind of therapy, and in some respects this is a true analogy; but the same can be said for other types of traditional philosophy also. We only take up these teachings because of our own imperfections; and speaking for myself, I have plenty to work with.

So, to summarise, the Buddhist view of 'true spirituality' is that it requires an understanding of the Buddha's analysis of the cause of sorrow and the ending of sorrow. One must willingly take on the teaching and apply it, through the observation of the precepts and the practise of meditation. This provides the ability to see things 'as they truly are' which is one of the main goals of the practise. But generally speaking, none of this will come about naturally, and it is not an easy thing to attain. You can't snap your fingers and bingo, enlightenment. I really don't think it is like that.
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Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 07:44 pm
@jeeprs,
Great post, Jeepers!

The comparison to therapy reminded me of a great book:
Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Shop

The book is free, as are the majority of the texts offered here:
Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Shop
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 07:54 pm
@jeeprs,
Lama Yeshe was a great character, larger than life and with a great sense of humour. Also very non-conventional and not too traditionalist in his outlook. I was lucky enough to see him teach in Sydney before his early death from heart failure. He left a great impression on a lot of people.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 10:50 am
@jeeprs,
You were lucky enough to hear him lecture? Ah, what a gift!

No doubt - he was one of the great ambassadors of Buddhism to the west. The book I linked to above has been an immense influence on my own life. Whoever takes the time to read those collected lectures will, no doubt, notice the great humor and insight of Lama Yeshe. In addition, whoever takes the time to read those lectures will learn a great deal about applied Buddhism, which will help them move beyond theory and common misconception of Buddhist theory. To be sure, I am a novice and then less, but reading these pragmatic teachings as a westerner is an invaluable practice.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 03:20 pm
@jeeprs,
Aha! Beginner's mind. Excellent - you will go far!
0 Replies
 
Exebeche
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Aug, 2009 04:39 pm
@jeeprs,
Question from an Innocent:
Does Buddhism also refer to the concept of Maya?
How would a buddhist describe Maya?
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Aug, 2009 07:29 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
Question from an Innocent:
Does Buddhism also refer to the concept of Maya?
How would a buddhist describe Maya?


Yes Buddhism does deal with maya, however; it can vary from schools and even specific elements within themselves. In some ways with some sutras the Buddha uses maya to point out characteristics of existence but he isn't actually claiming them to be maya. This has causes quite a bit of confusion within the Buddhist circles.

For example, the Buddha points out that there is impermenance by spotlighting the lack of a permenant essence to an object. Since this permenant essence can not be found, then by all means the object is not permenant and therefore impermenant. But he is not saying the object is illusrory or non existing because it is impermenant, all he is saying is that it does not remain the same thing for ever. This very simple thing gets mistrune and abused with attaching illusion to objects.

Where maya really comes into play within Buddhism, is with beliefs. Since beliefs can not be substantually consistent in all forms or methods they can be said to be illusrory. What does that mean? Because my beliefs are real, they effect me in a realistic way, do they not? Yes your beliefs do impact your daily existence however the impact is not always the same and they can even be transcended. So the belief can still be but the impacts change, so they are not substantual enough to be said to contain characteristics. To put it another way, it would be like saying the color red can change colors, no it can't however the effect red has on you emotionally or psychologically can change. So beliefs are consisdered illusrory or maya.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Aug, 2009 10:15 pm
@jeeprs,
Actually the Buddist equivalent to Maya is Samsara. It is similar, but different, to Maya. Samsara means 'going around in circles'. The circles that we go around are traditionally depicted as cycles of re-birth into various realms - human, animal, hell realms, or heaven realms. This is depicted in traditional iconography as being driven by the pig (greed), rooster (delusion), and snake (hatred). Nibbana is complete liberation from cyclic existence.

There is a secular interpretation which does not rely on belief in an afterlife. This is that we are going around in circles in our ordinary existence because we are driven by attachements, aversions, and delusions of various kinds. In this interpretation we are always undergoing painful deaths and rebirths in the here and now. This manifests as moodiness and unhappiness. Overcoming it manifests as joy and peacefulness.

The Buddhist view of nature is actually realist, with some important qualifications. The Buddha does not deny that things exist - to do so is nihilism - however nothing exists absolutely, or in its own right - to hold that view is eternalism. I would say modern people generally flunctuate between these positions, with materialism being on the nihilistic pole, and religious views being on the eternalist pole. But other interpretations are possible of course.

What Krumple says about the Buddhist view of material objects is quite true. In the Theravada view, every existing thing has the three marks ('laksana') of impermanence ('annica'), non-self ('anatta') and unsatisfactoriness ('dukkha'). In the Mahayana view, the idea of 'sunyata' (usually translated as emptiness) is more fundamental. Both these teachings point out that every existing thing arises according to conditions and then ceases when conditions change. Therefore there is no 'truly existent object' or anything that exists in its own right. However this is not to be understood as nihilism.

And also, while this has profound metaphysical implications, Buddhism does not have a constructive metaphysics in the same way that Western theology does and has generally discouraged metaphysical speculation. Actually getting a correct understanding of sunyata is a key to having 'right view' in the Mahayana. In some respects, it is all you need to understand. But to arrive at this, meditation practise is necesssary. It is not really possible to form a correct view in the abstract. It comes about as the result of insight into the factors of suffering through practise.

Which brings us to 'beliefs'. It is true that the role of belief is very different within Buddhism than in other religions - so much so that many say it is not a religion at all, which has some truth. The key point in Buddhism is 'right view', Samma Dhitti, which is the first step on the eightfold path. In order to go anywhere, you need to have some idea where you are, some idea where you are heading, and some idea how to get there. To do that, you need to understand properly. And this is the basis of right view. Despite the fact that Buddhism has a (largely deserved) reputation for being non-dogmatic and non-authoritarian, a very large part of the discipline is concerned with communicating the actual understanding and not forming various 'dogmatic views' - one of which is 'attachment to views' or even being especially attached to being Buddhist. And there are a multitude of ways to misunderstand the teaching. But, fortunately, there is an abundance of teaching material around, and many teaching centres nowadays, which makes it a lot easier to form the right view from the outset.

Many thanks for your interest.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Aug, 2009 07:11 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;83903 wrote:


The comparison to therapy reminded me of a great book:
Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Shop

The book is free, as are the majority of the texts offered here:
Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Shop



Quick question: Would you recommend the above link to someone interested in learning about Buddhism on the whole (i.e., starting from the general to the specific)? Or is there another reference that might be a good start?

The reason I ask is this: I know virtually nothing about it, but what little I've seen here and there gives me the sense there may be something worth investigating for myself. I'd rather not start at the specific; rather gather an overall sense of it - then move towards the nuts and bolts.

Thanks (and really hoping this question is coherent).
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Aug, 2009 10:45 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;85529 wrote:
Quick question: Would you recommend the above link to someone interested in learning about Buddhism on the whole (i.e., starting from the general to the specific)? Or is there another reference that might be a good start?

The reason I ask is this: I know virtually nothing about it, but what little I've seen here and there gives me the sense there may be something worth investigating for myself. I'd rather not start at the specific; rather gather an overall sense of it - then move towards the nuts and bolts.

Thanks (and really hoping this question is coherent).


Hi Khethil,

Like you, I usually look for a panoramic view of thinks before digging into the specifics. One book that I have found helpful with Buddhism as well as other Eastern traditions, is "World Religions" by Huston Smith.

As with every other concept in the world, I think you will find a great diversity of opinion on what Buddhism represents and how to practice it, and then it is up to you to decide whether to go deeper or to be satisfied with a broad brush view.

One of the problems that I have with any Eastern Tradition, is ideas are filtered and translated for a variety of reasons, and it does take time to form one's own world view. I spent many years working with a variety of sources as well as immersing myself in various experiential endeavors to better understand Daoism. I would say that my current philosophical views on the topic are quite far apart from the standard texts that are found in English. So it is a journey.

Good luck!

Rich
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Aug, 2009 03:04 pm
@jeeprs,
Huston Smith is very good on comparitive religion, but for Buddhism I still reckon it is hard to go past Alan Watt's Way of Zen. Published in 1957, I think he explains these slippery ideas of sunyata and 'no mind' better than anyone since.

As for standard texts, I recommend What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula and the Penguin Classics edition of The Dhammapada edited by Juan Mascaro.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Aug, 2009 04:05 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
As for standard texts, I recommend What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula


I agree, because this was the first book I read on the subject. Not only is it a short read but it is clear and to the point.
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 07:16 am
@richrf,
Khethil;85529 wrote:
Quick question: Would you recommend the above link to someone interested in learning about Buddhism on the whole (i.e., starting from the general to the specific)? Or is there another reference that might be a good start?


Absolutely!

Lama Yeshe, for me, has been indispensable. I read Becoming Your Own Therapist/Make Your Mind an Ocean at least once every year.

For someone with a budding interest in Buddhist I recommend first and foremost Robert Thurman's Inner Revolution which can be found at any bookstore. Wonderful introduction to Buddhist thought and history. Also, I recommend Karen Armstrong's biography of the Buddha simply titled The Buddha which can also be found at your local bookstore.

The three aforementioned texts are my primary sources on Buddhism.

Khethil;85529 wrote:
The reason I ask is this: I know virtually nothing about it, but what little I've seen here and there gives me the sense there may be something worth investigating for myself. I'd rather not start at the specific; rather gather an overall sense of it - then move towards the nuts and bolts.


If you have the itch, scratch.

Those three books are great places to begin. If you are an American, or westerner at large, I would also recommend Thoreau's Walden as a sort of early attempt in the west to comprehend eastern thought. Great book. He manages to grasp some basic ideas, and present them in an accessible manner for the westerner.

Also, check out Journey to the West, which also can be found at the local book store. Brilliant Buddhist allegory. It is written as a children's book, but the thought is deep. Given your, and my own, general ignorance of the thought, the classic children's text is anther great place to begin. Much like learning a new language - you first read children's books. Read this allegory.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 07:24 am
@jeeprs,
Thanks for the recommendations; I've added them to my reading list.

Yea, I did some minor poking around on the given websites and am encouraged. I did; however, become disappointed with notions of reincarnation as well as karma. But I'm going to reserve judgment until I've researched it more fully. What little I do know, I think warrants more investigation for me personally.

Thank you very much guys
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 07:46 am
@Khethil,
Reincarnation and karma are not easy concepts to grasp. I will leave further explanation to those better educated on the matter than I.

But I will say this much: they were tough for me to get even a rudimentary understanding. If these a major stumbling blocks, the best thing to do is apply more time for study. For me, once they came, they seemed so natural, so obvious. And that's the great thing about Buddhism - pragmatism. You can understand Buddhism even if you accept Hume's suggestion to commit all metaphysics to flames. Give these concepts time. Give these concepts the full weight of your consideration. Even if, in the end, you reject these peculiarly Buddhist notions, with understanding will come respect.

I want to stress that these concepts are not quite the same as the similarly termed Hindu concepts.

If you will grant me the time to speak personally, I must admit my inability to express these concepts intellectually. It's more of a visceral understanding. At some point, something clicks and they become self evident; then the challenge is to express them in language, intellectually. Maybe my visceral understanding is not quite the same as the Buddhist understanding, I don't know, but I am sure that there is at least some degree of truth - and any place one can find some degree of truth is a place worth exploring.

By the by, anything by Robert Thurman is sure to be tops.
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 10:42 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;85529 wrote:
Quick question: Would you recommend the above link to someone interested in learning about Buddhism on the whole (i.e., starting from the general to the specific)? Or is there another reference that might be a good start?

The reason I ask is this: I know virtually nothing about it, but what little I've seen here and there gives me the sense there may be something worth investigating for myself. I'd rather not start at the specific; rather gather an overall sense of it - then move towards the nuts and bolts.

Thanks (and really hoping this question is coherent).


[SIZE="3"]I"d like to offer a slightly different opinion than what's been expressed thus far. I don't believe "Buddhism" is what the Buddha taught, or that "Buddhists" are the best people to listen to. It might be that people prefer Buddhism over the Buddha's teaching, and that's perfectly fine. But if you are after what was really going on 2500 years ago with the Buddha (and his students), the first and primary place to look is Pali canon. Tipitaka: The Pali Canon because there you can read what's been preserved of the Buddha's words, instead of relying on the later interpretations and emphases that Buddhism has added.

When I say "Buddhism," I mean religion; and by "religion" I mean a type of interpretation humans do with someone having the experience the Buddha was having. If you notice what most Buddhist writers talk about, it the Buddha's ideas and associated spiritual concepts that have been developed over the centuries. You can literally read a library of books by Buddhists and never find out that what the Buddha actually taught was how to attain a type of experience that can only be regularly accessed through successful meditation. Because that means if someone really wants to follow the Buddha he/she has to do many years of work meditatlng daily, most Buddhists I've run across prefer to practice what one might call "Buddhist psychology."

Buddhist psychology is a way of thinking, of believing, and moral behaviors etc. A typical practice has one trying not to lust (desire) after stuff, and understand a huge number of Buddhist concepts. Google Buddhist websites (such as: SGI-USA: Member Resources: Resources: Buddhist Concepts for Today's Living ) and it is common to find a list of topics like these to explore:

Buddhist Concepts For Todays Living
The Four Virtues Of The Buddha
Earthly Desires are Enlightenment
What is Karma?
The Oneness of Life and the Environment
Treasures of the Heart
The Teachings of Sunyata: Non-Substantiality
To Open, Show, Awaken, and Induce to Enter
The Latter Day of the Law
The Three Realms of Existence
Happiness in this World
The Three Powerful Enemies
Buddhist Compassion
Gratitude: A Hallmark of Humanity
Making the Best of Everything: The Ten Factors of Life
How to Live as Humans: The Six Paths and The Four Noble Worlds
The Oneness of Body and Mind
Perfect Imperfection: Aspiration for Buddhahood
Practicing for Oneself, Practicing for Others
The Bodhisattva
Positive and Negative Relationship with the Law
Good Friends and Bad Friends
Peace and Security in the Here and Now
Cherry, Plum, Peach and Damson: We are all unique!
The Three Existences
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging
The Saha World is the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light
The Five Impurities
Deliberately Creating the Appropriate Karma
Devils and Demons in the Lotus Sutra
The Eternity of Life
The Wisdom of Tathata: Making the Most of our Changing World
The Oneness of Good and Evil
The Four Universal Vows
The Precept of Adapting to Local Customs
True Cause
The Buddha's Three Rules for Improving Dialogue
The Buddha Nature is Inherent in All People
Be Free to Control Yourself
King Wonderful Adornment


Now, was any of that "Buddhist" teaching the main thrust of the Buddha's teaching? I say it seriously misses the mark. Let me try an analogy to expand on what I mean. Let's say you lived on a planet where everybody is clumsy, and you wanted to teach interested students how to balance. When someone commits to practice, you agree to guide them.

The main thing you teach is that they must spend two hours per day mastering walking on a narrow beam; that's the primary practice, that's what your teaching is all about. But you also know students believe and do things that interfere with practicing the balance beam, so you develop secondary aids to help them when it's time to practice.

They believe, for example, in the "clumsy way," so you develop set of ideas meant to show how the clumsy way leads to suffering; this is how you communicate to everyone so you can get to the point where you can teach them the balance beam practice. But also, students are so weak it interferes with practice, so you have a rule that they eat better; you know they walk with terrible posture, so you have a rule they walk straight; you know they mindlessly run around, so you have rule they have to carefully run around . . . you call those rules the "three-fold balance path."

One of the most important things you offer as a teacher is yourself because you do all things perfectly balanced, and so students have a constant example to intuitively pick up clues from. But one day you are swept into a quantum vortex where time stands still; when it finally spits you out, 2500 years have gone by. You look up students of balancing and find the only thing anybody does is theorize about the perils of the "clumsy way," eat better, walk straight, and try to carefully run around. Almost nobody knows that all those activities were intended to help a person practice the balance beam (because few practice). They actually believe the secondary stuff is the main practice, and the main practice is a secondary (or even optional) thing.

That's the situation today with Buddhism as well. It's all been reduced to a philosophy and a way of life, which you can tell by merely participating in the thousands of discussions going on on the internet. The experienced samadhi meditator is a rare bird, and it's even rarer to hear someone who does have some experience place samadhi in the primary, main, chief, key, principle, foremost place of importance in discussions. Usually I am the only one making the case for samadhi as the way.

It's just as bad with Zen, which originally (as Ch'an . . . which literally means "meditation") was purely a meditation practice, just like the Buddha taught; now it is Koans and psychology, very little meditation. Check out this quote by Japanese Zen master Dogen's words (who had traveled to China to study Ch'an), "In the study of the Way, the prime essential is sitting meditation. The attainment of the way by many people in China is due in each case to the power of sitting meditation. Even ignorant people with no talent, who do not understand a single letter, if they sit whole-heartedly in meditation, then by the accomplishment of meditative stability, they will surpass even brilliant people who have studied for a long time. Thus students . . . do not get involved with other things."

I have offered the above explanation to suggest there is an alternative to taking the Buddhist religion route. I am not saying religion doesn't offer people something of value, but I am say that it isn't what the Buddha (or Jesus et al) taught. Master a very specific inner experience was the focus, and through a strong, daily samadhi practice, aided by an understanding (the Four Noble Truths) and a way of living (the Eightfold Path) that made samadhi easier to practice, was the way taught by true masters . . . not merely understandings and a way of life as religion seems to suggest.

It is for that reason I suggest the Pali canon, because who better to teach what the Buddha was about than the Buddha himself? Eliminate the middle man and go to the source![/SIZE]
0 Replies
 
vajrasattva
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 12:44 pm
@jeeprs,
I feel that your veiws on buddhism are very sound. However I question wheather or not blind faith is needed to fulfill the path buddhism lays out. Samantabhadra Manjusri and Sakyamuni make up the sakyamuni trinity in the buddhist faith. Samantabhadra represents Dharmakaya, Buddha mind, truth, and practice. Manjusri represents Sambogakaya, Buddha speech, faith, and wisdom. And sakyamuni represents Nirmankaya, Buddha body, skillfull means, and compassion. With thats said faith is essential to the practice of buddhism. Not nessasarily blind faith, but all faith starts blind, it must in order for faith to be found in knowledge. And considering that manjusri is one of the highest bodhisattvas in the buddhist faith faith must count for somthing.

Look at faith in metaphysical terms with regards to the law of attraction.

that was the close

P.S. I am not saying have faith blindly but i am saying look at faith.

Thanks

Vajrasattva
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 02:01 pm
@jeeprs,
Quote:
It is for that reason I suggest the Pali canon, because who better to teach what the Buddha was about than the Buddha himself? Eliminate the middle man and go to the source!


In a way, this doesn't make any sense. I'll ask a few questions and you'll begin to see what I mean.

Do you think there are any living Buddhas today?

If you say no to this, then why not? What good is buddhism if no one has ever reached the same level as the Buddha did? Surely if you believe in rebirth then there must be people on all different levels of the path, so there MUST be people who are at or near the same level as the Buddha.

If you say yes, there are people who are living Buddhas then shouldn't they have the ability to teach the Bodhidharma just like the Buddha? It should seem if they have the experience and the wisdom, they should qualify as teachers of the Dharma but you saying go back to the source, the pali cannon is not accurate then.

Let me put it another way. A student of math might not be qualified to teach, but a student who has a vast understanding and knowledge of math, can become a teacher of math. The way you are wording it that a student can't become a teacher of math. You are basically saying that everyone should rely on the math book and never on a math teacher.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 03:22 pm
@jeeprs,
It is true that to develop wisdom it is necessary to practise dhyana (meditation). Generally the Vipassana schools are very good and there are quite a few of them; google 'Vipassana' and see what comes back. However it doesn't hurt to do a bit of reading about it as well. I don't agree that reading about it is futile or uninformative or that all the literature misses the mark. I believe most of the books referred to here are sound.

For those who find it hard to come to grips with re-birth, a different perspective is explored by a writer called Steven Bachelor in Buddhism Without Beliefs.

As for 'faith' in Buddhism, it is understood slightly differently to the way it is in the West. Saddha means literally 'to place one's heart upon'. It is more like a feeling of confidence that consequences follow from actions, that the teaching is efficacious if applied. That kind of thing. It is indispensable - but never blind.

Incidentally, as regards the Pali canon, it is of course a marvellous source, and a good deal of it is lovingly maintained by John Bullitt on Access to Insight. Bikkhu Bodhi's translations are excellent; he was editor-in-chief of the Pali text society for decades. His essays are also first rate and can be found on that site as well. That said, the Walpola Rahula text is completely faithful to the Pali canon.
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 04:36 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;85825 wrote:
In a way, this doesn't make any sense. I'll ask a few questions and you'll begin to see what I mean.

Do you think there are any living Buddhas today?


Just one (no, not me :nonooo:).


Krumple;85825 wrote:
If you say no to this, then why not? What good is buddhism if no one has ever reached the same level as the Buddha did? Surely if you believe in rebirth then there must be people on all different levels of the path, so there MUST be people who are at or near the same level as the Buddha.


I said "yes." However, I don't "believe" in rebirth, nor do I disbelieve. Whether it is true or not makes absolutely no difference to my practice of meditation, so why should I speculate about it? But even if it were true, your logic that "there MUST be people who are at or near the same level as the Buddha" doesn't necessarily follow. How many Einsteins were around at the same time?


Krumple;85825 wrote:
If you say yes, there are people who are living Buddhas then shouldn't they have the ability to teach the Bodhidharma just like the Buddha? It should seem if they have the experience and the wisdom, they should qualify as teachers of the Dharma but you saying go back to the source, the pali cannon is not accurate then.


As you know, I said just one person right now. Now, I am not necessarily saying there are no enlightened people around now, it's just that I think people like the Buddha, Jesus, Nanak, et al are a very unique class of teachers. I have more to say about that below.


Krumple;85825 wrote:
Let me put it another way. A student of math might not be qualified to teach, but a student who has a vast understanding and knowledge of math, can become a teacher of math. The way you are wording it that a student can't become a teacher of math. You are basically saying that everyone should rely on the math book and never on a math teacher.


Math is well-established, and it can be learned from books; it is an intellectual skill, something we have lots of expertise in. Samadhi meditation is not the slightest bit intellectual since the mind must attain oneness, and oneness skill is extremely rare (tho plenty of people talk a good oneness). It is VERY difficult to learn on one's own, and certainly not from books, but made much easier for an aspirant if a teacher has realized the experience fully and full time. When it is alive in such a teacher, open and devoted students can intuitively pick up on the experience from the teacher (in Ch'an/Zen this was called "mind to mind transmission," -- one of its basic tenets), and then use that intuitive link like GPS to follow it to the place inside oneself where oneness can be experienced.

If you study the history of this experience, every great manifestation was tied to a teacher like the Buddha or Jesus . . . yes, certain devoted followers kept it alive for a time, but it also faded over the centuries and eventually would turn into more of an intellectual thing. When it becomes so "mentalized," that's when a new teacher, perfectly realized and rock-solid in the experience, is needed to seed humanity again.

Of course, those who are waiting for the teacher to descend from the clouds, to be in the exact image of some past master, think they are already enlightened, etc., will never recognize him (heck, they might even crucify him if he messes with their beliefs too much).

You know, I can tell you are upset by the excesses and nonsense of religion. It's too bad you can't strictly try to explore the experience of the Buddha or Jesus or Kabir or Nanak or many of the great meditators and monastics. You'd see and feel a wholly different thing going on within them.
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