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Thread: Thought on Buddhism...

  1. #1

    Thought on Buddhism...

    Hello Everyone,

    I have been doing a lot of reading on Zen and Buddhism lately, and recently watched the (wonderful) Buddha documentary on PBS. I have some thoughts and questions that I would like to pose to the Sangha. But first, I must ask that whoever reads these lines, please forgive me because I don't know if I'll be able to explain the exact thoughts and questions that have decided to make my mind home these past couple days. Well, I can only try, so here we go. While watching the Buddha documentary the other night, I couldn't help but question the "miraculous" sections of the documentary. I know that some sects of Buddhism take these miracles as fact, but I am a little more "skeptical." I believe that the Buddha was a historical figure and that he did awaken, and shared the path with those he came in contact with, but I do not believe that he was more than human. I guess the question I would have about this particular example would be, why was Buddha transformed into more than just a man? Is it easier to follow a particular example if that example is some how able to perform great, seemingly, godlike, feats? It seems that, as a people, we tend to gravitate towards these miracles easier than if it was just some guy that had this wonderful realization. Is the teaching, or the teacher more important? I believe the teaching is more important, but not everyone would agree. Would we have as many Christians if Jesus wasn't depicted as performing miracles? To go even further, if Jesus was alive today, would he be Christian? Would Buddha be Buddhist? Buddha is viewed as someone who was a level above everyone else, but was that really true? I've heard it said that only a Buddha can speak with a Buddha, but why is that? Is it because they are awake and the rest of the population would not possibly understand their words? In addition, when we hear of enlightenment and nirvana, why is it presented in a way that it's something that we need to reach? I've always believed that Nirvana and Enlightenment are here, NOW, not "out there" somewhere. We just have to awaken to the true nature of reality. The answer is in ourselves, not in scriptures, or even Buddha. The path is laid out in front of us through these teachings, but we can never awaken to this reality without direct experience. I believe that is why Zen Buddhism is vastly different than other forms of Buddhism. I have more questions and thoughts on these matters, but I'm going to leave just this section, as is, for now. I would like some opinions on this before going deeper into the subject. I sure hope I'm making sense, and I will explain further if anyone has any questions.

    Gassho,

    Adam

  2. #2

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    There is a lot to learn from old stories, but I might say that any bit of superstition, religious or otherwise, that would prevent us from practicing wholeheartedly should be rejected, or taken with a grain of salt. Stories that place buddhahood on some pedestal that can only be reached after millions of lifetimes of practice are enabling the very caste system that the historic buddha (if he ever existed at all) was trying to dismantle. The magical stories are simply hagiographic tribute to the teachers of the past. No problem as long as we know that and see through it . . . But it's a big problem if we take those fantasies as real, historical events. Sometimes a good story is just that, a good story. We can learn a whole lot from fiction, but we shouldn't expend a great deal of energy defending the veracity of these tales any more than we would other teaching stories.


    My bit,
    Gassho,
    Eika

  3. #3

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hi Adam,
    Men who perform great deeds often have their more human-like mistakes forgotten or forgiven, especially over the course of 2,500 years. In recent history, Einstein is respected for many things but rarely is the fact that he squandered his Nobel Prize money or had several mistresses remembered.

    This likely goes even more so for the Buddha, who in attaining enlightenment likely did not deny or try to hide any of his previous mistakes. (In fact, some people today try to point out his fallibility in 'abandoning' his wife and child).

    As for miraculous behavior, that is just the nature of reminiscing. Really no different than fish stories. Of course the catfish I caught wasn't the size of a VW bug, but the story is so much better when told as if it was :twisted: Did Jesus turn water to wine, or was he kind enough to share the last of his wine with some people? We may never know the truth, but my guess was he shared. But telling the story as though he performed some magical feat makes people stand up and take notice more so than the mundane truth. Anyone can be kind, but can anyone else perform this same kindness in such a miraculous way?

    I'm having trouble putting thoughts to words here, but one last go at it still using the Jesus example. Someone comes up to me and tells me they met a great man who shared wine with them. 'Hmmph," I say, "What is so great about that? I could share my wine as well. Anyone could." So this person, who actually sat by Jesus and heard him speak and his high on the wonderful, charismatic guy Jesus is, says the first thing that comes to mind to try and get me to see the same greatness, "Well, it wasn't just any wine! He used a miracle of God to turn plain water into wine, first!"

    But I could be completely off and these people did perform miracles. I've been wrong before!

    Gassho,
    Joshin

  4. #4

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Ah, to see the 'miracle' that is in the most ordinary right before your eyes, and that is the eye too ... A breeze felt on one's cheek is astounding and preaches the Dharma, yet folks do not feel it.

    It is difficult for most people to develop the subtle appreciation of a sublime, simple message, so they demand "special effects" that would put Hollywood to shame.

    I think Jen and Eika have said it well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    ... , why was Buddha transformed into more than just a man? Is it easier to follow a particular example if that example is some how able to perform great, seemingly, godlike, feats? It seems that, as a people, we tend to gravitate towards these miracles easier than if it was just some guy that had this wonderful realization.
    It is a process of story retelling and hero-izing known to all religions and societies. A Buddha or Ancestor, Jesus or any Saint has died and ... century by century ... those in the religion (looking from afar at what those attainments actually were on the part of their "religious heroes" and with need to depict their power) start to imagine, fantasize and exaggerate the wonderful nature of the teacher and teaching into something super-human. What was merely "Great, Profound and Wonderful" must become "Mysterious, Wondrous and (often) Ridiculous". The result is called an "hagiography"

    A hagiography is a biography, usually of a saint or saintly person, and usually written to idealize their life or justify their sainthood. In other words, a hagiography is usually a positive presentation of a life, rather than an objective or critical biography. When using a hagiography as a research source, the purpose and style must be taken into consideration, as the writer probably omitted negative information and exaggerated or even created positive information about the subject of the hagiography. Lives of the saints are typically hagiographies.
    I have no doubt that Buddha and the Ancestors, Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi too, were great human beings. But over the centuries, a Buddha who was a man ... with early stories that show he was of flesh & blood ... becomes a god-like figure floating in the air. Statues are carved, dipped in gpld and placed on a pedestal. Even during his lifetime, the process appears to have begun ... and many of the earliest Sutta and art forms (although all created centuries after his death) are already quite worshipful and describe super-human qualities.

    In the view of many, however, the power of his teachings are their immediate value to ordinary people just like us, and he was just one ... even if a very special and gifted, insightful human being.


    I've heard it said that only a Buddha can speak with a Buddha, but why is that? Is it because they are awake and the rest of the population would not possibly understand their words? In addition, when we hear of enlightenment and nirvana, why is it presented in a way that it's something that we need to reach? I've always believed that Nirvana and Enlightenment are here, NOW, not "out there" somewhere.
    Yes, in the very very early stories of Buddha, his message on the Noble Truths appears quite simple. People were "enlightened" right and left, by the hundreds and within days, hours! The bar was quite low. But quickly, as the ranks of his followers swelled, the "Golden Ring" had to be moved farther and farther away, and great complexity added to the teachings. There are many theories as to why, but it does seem that part is the inner dynamics of any church or like group to perpetuate itself. We cannot all be as were the simple early disciples following Jesus, but instead an entire church and complicated theology of mysteries must be built and maintained.

    It is difficult to get people to see "just this, right here" ... and it is difficult to have them hear "this world is at the heart of it, when tasted as such". It is easier to get people to understand "pie in the sky when you die" and like other-worldly rewards for the faithful, Great Mysteries that only the priestly class can penetrate (for a donation), and flying Buddhas with Auras of Golden Light.

    I did not express this very elegantly today, but something like that.

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Perhaps this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Yes, in the very very early stories of Buddha, his message on the Noble Truths appears quite simple. People were "enlightened" right and left, by the hundreds and within days, hours! The bar was quite low. But quickly, as the ranks of his followers swelled, the "Golden Ring" had to be moved farther and farther away, and great complexity added to the teachings. There are many theories as to why, but it does seem that part is the inner dynamics of any church or like group to perpetuate itself. We cannot all be as were the simple disciples early following Jesus, but instead an entire church and complicated theology must be built and maintained.

    Is explained by this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I did not express this very elegantly today, but something like that.
    Buddha may have have had the ability to use his actions and words to help others break through to enlightenment, but those who came after him were less elegant in their expression, unable to to get their message across as clearly. The right combination of charisma, people skills and elegant speech does not manifest in everyone, and I would assume the same is true even for enlightened beings! The further removed you get from the original, the more pomp and ceremony is required to convey how wonderful the original was.

    And of course, there is human nature to take into account. Most tend to value what they work for more than they value that which is given to them.

  6. #6

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    The miracle is you and I think we all have a little magic too. The historical buddha is cold and dead but you might find him/her living in your self. To get a more realistic view you might read Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh which is a biography of Gautama based on Thich's interpretation of various sutras. That PBS movie actually put me to sleep.

    /Rich

  7. #7

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Let me add that myths and legends, such as those about the Buddha(s), carry deep and profound truths about the human condition. The most creative symbolically represent and express many profound Buddhist teachings, and convey them as story. I do not mean to say that we cannot find many many Truths and valuable teachings in even the most fantastic of stories. Tale telling and "heroes" are important to our civilization, as Joseph Campbell and others speak about so beautifully ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Campbell-S ... 1583500545

  8. #8
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    may I add something else...

    Myths and legends are metaphors. They stand and express the very reality you are living in/with. And yes, as Jundo suggests, Joseph Campbell is the best guy to get a grasp of what a spiritual hero is about ( beleive the old University creature I used to be).


    gassho


    Taigu

  9. #9

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hello,

    another great Campbell fan here. One thing I notice again and again in discussing the meaning and power of myths, legends etc. with people is that they think that something being "just" a metaphor makes it less real and significant. Love, comradeship, oaths...pledges...marriage, dreams....all metaphors. But not "just" metaphors. Painful, wonderful, alive.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hans,

    Metaphors are truly powerful and alive once you experience them. Flowers of emptiness. They are real. Dogen and Campbell both agree on that.

    And I did not write " just".

    Hans, you seem to misread the good old stupid Taigu so often ... .

    gassho


    Taigu

  11. #11

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hi Taigu,

    I know you didn't write "just", but "the people" I was referring to used the word "just" when talking about metaphors. "The people" meaning a whole group of hardcore materialists I talked to throughout the course of my life. Trust me, if I want to criticize you or your teachings in any way, I will use your name. No hiding behind strange sentences.

    So just to clarify once, my post might have followed yours, but I had absolutely no intention of critizing you, precisely because what I wrote was on the same page as your posting IMHO.

    Gotta love the internet sometimes.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  12. #12

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Did Jesus exist, even as a man? No reliable evidence for that. In fact some scholars are suggesting that, given the parralels with Buddhist literature, the four gospels are reworkings of Buddhist teachings for a different culture! Did Buddha exist? No evidence either. In fact these stories, with those from other cultures too, have so many similarities in terms of miracles, events and teachings that they all may point to a single genesis of a myth.

    Who know's? Don't Know- as always- Don't Know.

    Could myths actually be dangerous? Heroes need enemies..this can be just more of the same. We paint that which stands against as bad and we are good. Reflections of the injustices we do to the world painted in Hollywood feel-good pictures. Peaceful coexistence needs no heroes perhaps?

    Back to this very moment and "don't know". Time to wash up. If I just wash up what import has any of this?

    Rich

  13. #13

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    By coincidence or Karma, I happen this week to be rereading portions of D.T. Suzuki's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra. It is a work which even Suzuki admits is not actually "the words of the historical Buddha", but something cooked up centuries later, in bits and pieces by many authors ... and it is also a typical Mahayana Sutra with fantastical visual images to put Tim Burton's movies to shame ...

    ... But buried in (or expressed by) all that are various Teachings of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that are at the heart of much of our Practice. For example, this section ... in which a fellow (Ravana, the Yaksha nature spirit) has a vision of himself talking to the Buddha ... or rather, a vision of countless himselfs talking to countless Buddhas on countless mountaintops ... but then realizes, as all disappear in a flash, that things are not quite as they appear, and even "Buddhas" might not be something to stick a name on ...

    I have put in BOLDFACE a couple of lines that are worth the whole price of admission, for they say straight out that the "real Buddha" is ... well ...

    33. On the summit of each mountain the Buddha himself was visible, and R?va?a, the Yaksha, also was found standing there.

    34. Thus the entire assembly was seen on each mountain-peak, and all the countries were there ...

    35. Here also was the King of the R?kshasas and the residents of La?k?, and the La?k? created by the Buddha rivaling [the real one].

    36. Other things were there, too, —the A?oka with its shining woods, and on each mountain-peak Mah?mati was making a request of the Buddha,

    37. Who discoursed for the sake of the Yakshas on the Truth leading to the inmost realisation; on the mountain-peak he delivered a complete sutra with an exquisite voice varied in hundreds of thousands of ways.

    38. [After this] the teacher and the sons of the Buddha vanished away in the air, leaving R?va?a the Yaksha himself standing [above] in his mansion.

    39. Thought he, "How is this? What means this? and by whom was it heard? What was it that was seen? and by whom was it seen? Where is the city? and where is the Buddha?

    40. "Where are those countries, those jewel-shining Buddhas, those Sugatas? (9) Is it a dream then? or a vision? or is it a castle conjured up by the Gandharvas?

    41. "Or is it dust in the eye, or a fata morgana [a mirage], or the dream-child of a barren woman, or the smoke of a fire-wheel, that which I saw here?”

    42. Then [R?va?a reflected], "This is the nature as it is (dharmat?) of all things, which belongs to the realm of Mind, and it is not comprehended by the ignorant as they are confused by every form of imagination.

    43. "There is neither the seer nor the seen, neither the speaker nor the spoken; the form and usage of the Buddha and his Dharma—they are nothing but discrimination.

    44. "Those who see things such as were seen before, do not see the Buddha; [even] when discrimination is not aroused, one does not see the Buddha; the Buddha being fully-enlightened is seen where the world itself is not evolved.

    The Lord of La?k? was then immediately awakened [from his reflection], feeling a [turnng backward] (par?v?iti) in his mind and realising that the world was nothing but his own mind: he was settled in the realm of non-discrimination, was urged by the stock of his past good deeds, acquired the cleverness of understanding all the texts, obtained the faculty of seeing things as they are, was no more dependent upon others, observed things excellently with his own wisdom (buddhi), gained the insight that was not of discursive reasoning, was no more dependent upon others, became a great Yogin of the discipline, was able to manifest himself in all excellent forms, got thoroughly acquainted with all skilful means, had the knowledge of the characteristic aspects of every stage, by which he would surmount it skilfully, was delighted to look into the self-nature of Citta, Manas, Manovijñ?na, got a view whereby he could cut himself loose from the triple continuation, had the knowledge of disposing of every argument of the philosophers on causation, thoroughly understood the Tath?gata-garbha, the stage of Buddhahood, the inmost self, found himself abiding in the Buddha-knowledge; [when suddenly] a voice was heard from the sky, saying, "It is to be known by oneself.”

  14. #14

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hello Everyone,

    Thanks to all that have replied so far! I just find it interesting how many people seem to be drawn to the more magical side of religions, than the teaching or practical side. I was drawn to the Buddha's teachings even before I knew much about Buddha himself (if he even existed). I have a Buddha and alter, but I use those as reminders of the path that I am on, not as devotional tools. I'm currently reading Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki, and it brings up the same subject that we are talking about here. Is the personality of these religious leaders the reason for these religions (philosophies) lasting through so many generations. How much of Christianity, or Buddhism, for that matter, still have to do with the actual words that these two spoke? For example, some Buddhist sects believe in reincarnation, but the Buddha himself never spoke on the subject (from what I understand). It's just interesting how teachings change over the years to better fit those living now.

    Gassho,

    Adam

  15. #15

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Hi.

    There is a number of scholars (maybe most fronted by stephen batchelor) who believe that any sutta or text putting forth Buddha as some god/semigod/having godllike powers etc is to be considered as an "more cultural thing" than anything the buddha would actually have said himself.
    This does not mean it doesn't have any meaning by the way...

    And it is not in kalamaputtasuttan as he takes up "remember monks, What i have declared to be declared and what-i have to ask the note declared note declared" and where he deals with things like reincarnation and rebirth of "undeclared".
    While you may interpret what he said in another Sutra as he is reborn again, or believes in rebirth.

    But, you should also remember that he talked and worked in an environment where belief in reincarnation or rebirth was the norm, and that he may have used it as an example to explain the different theories or approaches to people around him.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  16. #16

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Let me add that myths and legends, such as those about the Buddha(s), carry deep and profound truths about the human condition. The most creative symbolically represent and express many profound Buddhist teachings, and convey them as story. I do not mean to say that we cannot find many many Truths and valuable teachings in even the most fantastic of stories. Tale telling and "heroes" are important to our civilization, as Joseph Campbell and others speak about so beautifully ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Campbell-S ... 1583500545
    Thank you for this reminder of Campbell. I believe I will blow the dust off my copy of Power of Myth this evening.

    Gasshoe

  17. #17
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    Hello Everyone,

    Thanks to all that have replied so far! I just find it interesting how many people seem to be drawn to the more magical side of religions, than the teaching or practical side. I was drawn to the Buddha's teachings even before I knew much about Buddha himself (if he even existed). I have a Buddha and alter, but I use those as reminders of the path that I am on, not as devotional tools. I'm currently reading Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki, and it brings up the same subject that we are talking about here. Is the personality of these religious leaders the reason for these religions (philosophies) lasting through so many generations. How much of Christianity, or Buddhism, for that matter, still have to do with the actual words that these two spoke? For example, some Buddhist sects believe in reincarnation, but the Buddha himself never spoke on the subject (from what I understand). It's just interesting how teachings change over the years to better fit those living now.

    Gassho,

    Adam
    This really reflects my point of view too.

    Chet

  18. #18

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    I believe that is why Zen Buddhism is vastly different than other forms of Buddhism.
    "Mountains walk" - Dogen Zenji

  19. #19

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    But, you should also remember that he talked and worked in an environment where belief in reincarnation or rebirth was the norm, and that he may have used it as an example to explain the different theories or approaches to people around him.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Hi Fugen

    This is something often repeated by those not believing in (literal) rebirth, but it is not true, as far as I know. The notion of rebirth was not commonly accepted during the Buddha's time, hence was not the norm. There were a lot of theories circling about, from those that stipulated that there was no continuum at all, to those that stipulated that the atman was reincarnated, and so on. The Buddha's take on rebirth was a new angle. This implies that it was indeed something that Buddha believed in.

    Doesn't mean that we should all believe it now, though.

    Sorry if this was OT. We could start another rebirth-thread, if people are not sick of the already existing ones .

    Fred ut.

  20. #20

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    But, you should also remember that he talked and worked in an environment where belief in reincarnation or rebirth was the norm, and that he may have used it as an example to explain the different theories or approaches to people around him.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Hi Fugen

    This is something often repeated by those not believing in (literal) rebirth, but it is not true, as far as I know. The notion of rebirth was not commonly accepted during the Buddha's time, hence was not the norm. There were a lot of theories circling about, from those that stipulated that there was no continuum at all, to those that stipulated that the atman was reincarnated, and so on. The Buddha's take on rebirth was a new angle. This implies that it was indeed something that Buddha believed in.

    Doesn't mean that we should all believe it now, though.

    Sorry if this was OT. We could start another rebirth-thread, if people are not sick of the already existing ones .

    Fred ut.
    I am reasonably sure (although we cannot know for sure) that the historical Buddha, Guatama, believed in rebirth and taught post-mortem rebirth. I do think, from my reading of history, that it was widely accepted in the India of his day in Brahmanism and Jainism and the like ... and that the Buddha's interpretation was a variation on the general theme, although more in the details than the general system.

    But even if the Buddha believed in it (we cannot be sure, as the earliest Sutta were not written down until centuries after his death .... although it seems likely that he would have given indirect evidence and the culture of the time) I do not think it necessary to believe in every single point and word of the Buddha's (often conflicting) reported ideas ... lock stock and barrel ... or to think he needed to be right on every single thing out of his mouth (I have read some opinions attributed to him on the cause of earthquakes ... well, it was a good perspective for a man living 2500 years ago, and even there is a little truth there) ...

    13. Then the Blessed One said: "There are eight reasons, Ananda, eight causes for a mighty earthquake to arise. What are those eight?

    14. "This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.

    15. "Again, Ananda, when an ascetic or holy man of great power, one who has gained mastery of his mind, or a deity who is mighty and potent, develops intense concentration on the delimited aspect of the earth element, and to a boundless degree on the liquid element, he, too, causes the earth to tremble, quiver, and shake. This is the second reason, the second cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.

    16-21. "Again, Ananda, when the Bodhisatta departs from the Tusita realm and descends into his mother's womb, mindfully and clearly comprehending; and when the Bodhisatta comes out from his mother's womb, mindfully and clearly comprehending; and when the Tathagata becomes fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment; when the Tathagata sets rolling the excellent Wheel of the Dhamma; when the Tathagata renounces his will to live on; and when the Tathagata comes to pass away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains — then, too, Ananda, this great earth trembles, quivers, and shakes.

    "These, Ananda, are the eight reasons, the eight causes for a great earthquake to arise. 27
    re%20those%20eight%3F%20%2014.%20%22This%20great%2 0earth%2C%20Ananda%2C%20is%20established%20upon%20 liquid%2C%20the%20liquid%20upon%20the%20atmosphere %2C%20and%20the%20atmosphere%20upon%20space.%20And %20when%2C%20Ananda%2C%20mighty%20atmospheric%20di sturbances%20take%20place%2C%20the%20liquid%20is%2 0agitated.%20And%20with%20the%20agitation%20of%20t he%20liquid%2C%20tremors%20of%20the%20earth%20aris e.%20This%20is%20the%20first%20reason%2C%20the%20f irst%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20mighty%2 0earthquakes.%20%2015.%20%22Again%2C%20Ananda%2C%2 0when%20an%20ascetic%20or%20holy%20man%20of%20grea t%20power%2C%20one%20who%20has%20gained%20mastery% 20of%20his%20mind%2C%20or%20a%20deity%20who%20is%2 0mighty%20and%20potent%2C%20develops%20intense%20c oncentration%20on%20the%20delimited%20aspect%20of% 20the%20earth%20element%2C%20and%20to%20a%20boundl ess%20degree%20on%20the%20liquid%20element%2C%20he %2C%20too%2C%20causes%20the%20earth%20to%20tremble %2C%20quiver%2C%20and%20shake.%20This%20is%20the%2 0second%20reason%2C%20the%20second%20cause%20for%2 0the%20arising%20of%20mighty%20earthquakes.%20%201 6-21.%20%22Again%2C%20Ananda%2C%20when%20the%20Bodhi satta%20departs%20from%20the%20Tusita%20realm%20an d%20descends%20into%20his%20mother's%20womb%2C%20m indfully%20and%20clearly%20comprehending%3B%20and% 20when%20the%20Bodhisatta%20comes%20out%20from%20h is%20mother's%20womb%2C%20mindfully%20and%20clearl y%20comprehending%3B%20and%20when%20the%20Tathagat a%20becomes%20fully%20enlightened%20in%20unsurpass ed%2C%20supreme%20Enlightenment%3B%20when%20the%20 Tathagata%20sets%20rolling%20the%20excellent%20Whe el%20of%20the%20Dhamma%3B%20when%20the%20Tathagata %20renounces%20his%20will%20to%20live%20on%3B%20an d%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20comes%20to%20pass%20a way%20into%20the%20state%20of%20Nibbana%20in%20whi ch%20no%20element%20of%20clinging%20remains%20%E2% 80%94%20then%2C%20too%2C%20Ananda%2C%20this%20grea t%20earth%20trembles%2C%20quivers%2C%20and%20shake s.%20%20%22These%2C%20Ananda%2C%20are%20the%20eigh t%20reasons%2C%20the%20eight%20causes%20for%20a%20 great%20earthquake%20to%20arise.%2027&pg=PA75#v=on epage&q=13.%20Then%20the%20Blessed%20One%20said:%2 0%22There%20are%20eight%20reasons,%20Ananda,%20eig ht%20causes%20for%20a%20mighty%20earthquake%20to%2 0arise.%20What%20are%20those%20eight?%20%2014.%20% 22This%20great%20earth,%20Ananda,%20is%20establish ed%20upon%20liquid,%20the%20liquid%20upon%20the%20 atmosphere,%20and%20the%20atmosphere%20upon%20spac e.%20And%20when,%20Ananda,%20mighty%20atmospheric% 20disturbances%20take%20place,%20the%20liquid%20is %20agitated.%20And%20with%20the%20agitation%20of%2 0the%20liquid,%20tremors%20of%20the%20earth%20aris e.%20This%20is%20the%20first%20reason,%20the%20fir st%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20mighty%20e arthquakes.%20%2015.%20%22Again,%20Ananda,%20when% 20an%20ascetic%20or%20holy%20man%20of%20great%20po wer,%20one%20who%20has%20gained%20mastery%20of%20h is%20mind,%20or%20a%20deity%20who%20is%20mighty%20 and%20potent,%20develops%20intense%20concentration %20on%20the%20delimited%20aspect%20of%20the%20eart h%20element,%20and%20to%20a%20boundless%20degree%2 0on%20the%20liquid%20element,%20he,%20too,%20cause s%20the%20earth%20to%20tremble,%20quiver,%20and%20 shake.%20This%20is%20the%20second%20reason,%20the% 20second%20cause%20for%20the%20arising%20of%20migh ty%20earthquakes.%20%2016-21.%20%22Again,%20Ananda,%20when%20the%20Bodhisatt a%20departs%20from%20the%20Tusita%20realm%20and%20 descends%20into%20his%20mother's%20womb,%20mindful ly%20and%20clearly%20comprehending;%20and%20when%2 0the%20Bodhisatta%20comes%20out%20from%20his%20mot her's%20womb,%20mindfully%20and%20clearly%20compre hending;%20and%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20becomes% 20fully%20enlightened%20in%20unsurpassed,%20suprem e%20Enlightenment;%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20sets %20rolling%20the%20excellent%20Wheel%20of%20the%20 Dhamma;%20when%20the%20Tathagata%20renounces%20his %20will%20to%20live%20on;%20and%20when%20the%20Tat hagata%20comes%20to%20pass%20away%20into%20the%20s tate%20of%20Nibbana%20in%20which%20no%20element%20 of%20clinging%20remains%20%E2%80%94%20then,%20too, %20Ananda,%20this%20great%20earth%20trembles,%20qu ivers,%20and%20shakes.%20%20%22These,%20Ananda,%20 are%20the%20eight%20reasons,%20the%20eight%20cause s%20for%20a%20great%20earthquake%20to%20arise.%202 7&f=false">http://books.google.com/books?id=0Nt2ih ... 27&f=false
    As long as the Buddha has been right on his most vital teachings ... the Four Noble Truths, Dukkha, Impermanence and what to do with all that ... I do not care whether he was right or wrong on many side issues.

    I used to describe the Buddha as the "Henry Ford" of Buddhism, who perfected the idea of putting an engine on 4 wheels, and the "Model T" car ... but now, after centuries of working out some kinks ... we have the Prius! (At least, I used to use that analogy until the Prius was in recent news! ops: )

    I personally am an agnostic on these issues, meaning that (like many Zen practitioners now and in the past), I am mostly concerned with the life at hand ... and will let its impact on all future lives (if any) take care of itself. Live in a good way now, and any good effects will have the effects they have.

    We have had threads on this in the past. Here are a couple of them ..

    viewtopic.php?p=17953#p17953

    viewtopic.php?p=15655#p15655

    Gassho, J.

    PS - Tricycle had an interesting essay about our tendency to put too much faith and over-reliance in what the founder of the religion may or may not have said ... I mean, in America for example, one might respect "Thomas Jefferson" as a founder and genius who put the basic wonderful system of the republic in place, without basing every modern policy decision on what he would or would not have done ... or completely discounting him for some errors. Same for Buddhism!

    http://www.wisdom-books.com/FocusDetail.asp?FocusRef=80

  21. #21

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I personally am an agnostic on these issues, meaning that (like many Zen practitioners now and in the past), I am mostly concerned with the life at hand ... and will let its impact on all future lives (if any) take care of itself. Live in a good way now, and any good effects will have the effects they have.
    OK, how about this: would you agree with me that orthopraxy is more important in a sangha (like Treeleaf, for example) than orthodoxy?

  22. #22

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I personally am an agnostic on these issues, meaning that (like many Zen practitioners now and in the past), I am mostly concerned with the life at hand ... and will let its impact on all future lives (if any) take care of itself. Live in a good way now, and any good effects will have the effects they have.
    OK, how about this: would you agree with me that orthopraxy is more important in a sangha (like Treeleaf, for example) than orthodoxy?
    Hi Philip,

    Hmmm ... if I understand the question correctly (and I probably do not) ...

    Buddhism including Zen Practice (in Dogen's view, for example) is generally held to consist of both Right Action and Right Understanding. We have certain viewpoints gathered on and off the cushion (through old, dusty Buddhist books), but this is meaningless until we realize this practice in actual life-doing. One should not neglect either the head or the body (not two). Wisdom and Compassion are only realized when realized within (realized meaning "understood") and realized (realized meaning "made real") though actual implementation in life. "Correct belief and understanding" supports "correct action", and "correct action" teaches and fleshes out "correct beliefs and understanding".

    On some questions, we have very clear and definite perspectives, and it is probably necessary to pretty much be "Orthodox" on the belief in order to practice Buddhism or Shikantaza Zen Practice. (recognizing "impermanence" is one such example ... although, even here, details of understanding may vary).

    On others ... we leave it open, or drop the question. Voices can disagree. I believe rebirth is one of these questions (although some would disagree with me, and put it in the inviolable doctrine category. Most modern Zen Buddhists in the West do not consider the question central to Practice).

    I think I said many words, but did not answer your question. :?

    Gassho, J

  23. #23

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    I think I said many words, but did not answer your question. :?

    Gassho, J
    You answered my question just fine. Thanks!

    Fred ut, and gassho.

  24. #24

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    I came from a "strong atheist" perspective before deciding to look at Buddhism as a whole. I have always had an "urge", so to speak, of looking at the teachings of Buddhism and the further I delved into it, the more it began to "click" with me.

    With some of the books I have read on Soto Zen Buddhism and with the wonderful videos for beginners by Jundo and Taigu, I have learned to accept everything, even from the teachings of Buddha himself, with a grain of salt. I took the teachings at hand and found the ones that worked and disposed of the ones that didn't. Until the day when we can go back to the past (unlikely) we will never know if anything that has been passed down from generation to generation is truely 100% real. I agree with this statement by Jundo:

    "I personally am an agnostic on these issues, meaning that (like many Zen practitioners now and in the past), I am mostly concerned with the life at hand ... and will let its impact on all future lives (if any) take care of itself. Live in a good way now, and any good effects will have the effects they have."

    While it is nice to think about the past and future, too many people become, for lack of a better term, obsessed with it. Yes we must learn from our past mistakes and yes we need to look ahead, but we must also understand that we have to focus on the know. What happened, happened and cannot be undone and the future in its entirety is out of our hands.

    Religion, no matter what you believe in and no matter how long it has been around, will have faults. The people, saints, Buddhas, prophets, etc. will be looked at over time as "god-like". It's "human" nature to put people in this kind of status because we live in a life that is mundane, boring, etc. and people out there want to have or believe in something or someone that is bigger, better, brighter than them. Is this neccesarily wrong? Depending on how you view it it could be. But that is up to the person to decide.

    To finish, and I don't like to go to deep into this subject, did Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, etc. exist? Maybe they did. Of course following the teachings of Buddha, I would like to think he did in fact exist, but not as a supernatural being, but as a normal man that learned to see the life we live for what it really is, when the biggest majority of the people believe that a god or gods exist, that something unknown to us controls everything that happens in our lives, or that someday we will be "saved" by a god and leave this mundane, dangerous, destructive world. Does this necessarily mean that the views I have are better than everyone elses? Absoluetly not. It just works for me, and obviously for a lot of people as well :wink: . Do I wish for other people to follow or consider the teachings of Buddha? Do I wish that they would see live for what it is? Of course, we all do, just like Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. would love for us to believe in their seperate teachings. I'm not saying that anyone here says this, but too many people go around saying, "What you believe in is wrong. My religion is the one true religion and unless you believe in what I believe in your useless." You can understand how wrong this is.

    Okay, maybe I went a little longer on that one :P . The fact is that as practitioners of Soto Zen Buddhism, and even with all aspects of Buddhism, we can't say it is 100% true because we cannot prove it and so we must focus on the teachings or schools that help us and use them to, as Jundo said:

    "Live in a good way now, and any good effects will have the effects they have."

    Gassho,
    David

  25. #25

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    My first reply to this thread was perhaps a little too "concise"

    Although others have already made a similar points - sort of - I think i want to explain my view on this a little more..

    I think concern over the "true vs false" status of phenomenon is sometimes misplaced or unnecessary.

    Whether you read a book of fiction or a book of non-fiction, your mind can become distracted and "caught up" in the story of what youre reading, or it may not be.

    And there is also this..

    You can read - as example- the "fact based" news paper and while doing this you may notice your mind and emotions as they are swayed from one extreme to another by the stories you find there. Even though youre reading about things that you can identify with as being true and possible - aka "factual" you are pulled and pushed by these "facts". This is mental-emotional entanglement until you remember your zen mind. From a zen perspective, such entanglement or "distraction" has a "fictional" or false basis you might say.

    On the other hand - you can also read in a story, the "fictional" account of something very dramatic, maybe about love or death or some emotional situation in a "made up" story line that speaks to a deeper level of our experience - deeper than the literal "fact based" level of what is physically possible or not physically possible. Such a "fictional" story can and has been known to move people to actually change their lives, to see things in a different and dare I say "truer" way.

    What really is truth and what is fiction?

    Some people watching a movie always find it necessary to ask, "Is that really possible? Did that really happen?" Watching a movie this way can be annoying and distracting.

    Yes, of coarse, watching a movie itself is a form of distraction from so called "real life". But if you're already in the theater, if you've already paid for your ticket, why not trust your innate ability to "get what you are supposed to get" from the show as the drama of it unfolds?

    I practice Vajrayana as well as Zen and so I sometimes allow myself to believe in Buddha lands and flying wisdom beings and rainbow bodies. I give myself permission to believe in these things.

    But what is belief?

    It is an experience, a "thing" if you will. All experiences, all "things" are by their very nature temporary or "empty-interdependent" phenomena.

    In Vajrayana, the mind is elaborated on and is seen to have many levels. This 'elaborating on' is part of the Vajrayana path. This is different in Zen. In Zen this is all dropped. But even so, my old zen teacher would have still challenged my 'assumption level' of mind that was so concerned with distinguishing between "physically possible" and "not physically possible". Maybe he would have advised to "drop that" as well. I don't know.

  26. #26

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorje T
    My first reply to this thread was perhaps a little too "concise"

    Although others have already made a similar points - sort of - I think i want to explain my view on this a little more..

    I think concern over the "true vs false" status of phenomenon is sometimes misplaced or unnecessary.
    It is a 'Truth' that all of life is a mind created fiction ... a bit of theatre manufactured. That's Buddhism 101.

    It is also a Truth' that each moment of life is just as Real as Real can be ... a theatre show, perhaps, but the only show in town, with each bit of stage scenery, line of dialogue and character sacred in its way! Each instant is 'Truth'. That's Dogen 101.

    And it is true that fictional stories, fables, films, legends and parables can help us taste Truth, while the "facts" we read in the newspapers or 'online' these days are never the complete picture (and often quite twisted). It is hard to separate fact from fiction.

    Part of the Buddhist Way is to untangle these various Truths and fictions, and not get 'em all mixed up. Things we take as "true" are often not completely so, things we take as "false" may be closer to the Truth.

    Most people think the events of their lives are completely real, and thus do not know about the mind created fiction (which can be reconfigured, if not totally undone). They believe that this life theatre is the reality, and cannot see behind the curtain.

    Many Buddhists and others think the purpose of Practice is simply to see behind the theatre curtain, to the "True" empty back stage ... and they miss the beauty of the show's comedy and tragedy (which they mistakenly think is merely a lie, thus best to ignore or abandon in this life or the next). That's a one sided view, and misses the "Big Picture" of the whole spectacle. Enjoy the show! Even allow yourself to fall into it, be part of it ... (though you want to keep in mind that appearances of its ultimate reality are deceiving).

    I do not think it is a problem if a fictional story, fable, film, puppet show, Buddhist parable, strange legend, wild Sutra or the like helps us realize some deep lesson. Each may say something, express something, about the world and human condition in its way. As well, we can realize the perfect "really just what it is" nature of all, each tale a perfectly what it is tale. But I think there may be a problem when we begin to think that the fictional story, fable, film, puppet show, Buddhist parable, legend, wild Sutra is a true tale about real humans, super-creatures and events.

    That may just be the same mistake as thinking this theatre world and its fictional characters (us) is a completely true tale, replacing one fictional show with another mistaken belief. Thinking that some of the Buddhas and wild creatures in old Buddhist stories are "real" would be as much a mistake as seeing Batman and Peter Pan as real.

    On the other hand, learning the lessons taught by Batman and Peter Pan is good to do. One of those lessons is that our own lives are more like "Batman and Peter Pan" creations than we usually know.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  27. #27

    Re: Thought on Buddhism...

    Jundo......bravo!

    I really don't know where my path on Buddhism would be without the teachings of Jundo and Taigu and the always helpful and caring members of Treeleaf. This topic is always kind of sketchy because people see it differently (life, rebirth, etc.). But I love being able to come on here, check the topics that I'm interested in, and get always great answers, further bringing light on my path and to meditate, practice, study and the like.

    Gassho,
    David

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