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BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




Nessus posted:

I got a nice thick translation of the Lotus Sutra for the new year's and boy this is some somewhat heavy lifting. I can see why the Soka Gakkai people just decide to say its name over and over; it would be easier.

Of course a lot of this is just the repetition in details.

All of the sutras are very clearly written to make it as easy as possible for monks to memorize them accurately and easily back when they were passed down orally. Now that they're written down they would all benefit from being edited down to be easier to read like what Ambedkar did

BIG FLUFFY DOG fucked around with this message at 05:00 on Jan 13, 2021

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





BIG FLUFFY DOG posted:

All of the sutras are very clearly written to make it as easy as possible for monks to memorize them accurately and easily back when they were passed down orally. Now that they're written down they would all benefit from being edited down to be easier to read like what Ambedkar did
Looking up Ambedkar's work, I am not sure about the overall project, but an abridged version would be valuable instructional and educational material... you wouldn't even need to take out any of the actual statements from Shakyamuni etc. so much as trim down all the parts about the eighty thousand so on and so forth.

The translators did say one of their biggest challenges was making this translation suitable for recitation or reading aloud instead of a purely scholarly text.

Thirteen Orphans
Dec 2, 2012

The principles expressed in the martial arts make up the backbone of my philosophy.

There’s a local Tibetan Sangha (Kagyu lineage) that’s doing instruction and empowerments over Zoom. Is that becoming more common?

Edit: Zoom/Skype/Etc empowerments, I mean.

Thirteen Orphans fucked around with this message at 01:23 on Jan 19, 2021

LuckyCat
Jul 26, 2007



Grimey Drawer

We lost an important family pet today and all day I keep thinking of “a cloud never dies” from Zen and it is very comforting.

Spacegrass
May 1, 2013



I consider myself a non-denominational Christian, it just seems like my only choice now. But I am terrified of the Old Testament because in a way it shows a God that is really f'ing strict. I never went to church as a kid and I never got into religion much till I was about 30. I just hate the Christian way of thinking if you screwed up you're going to hell forever. At least in Buddhism hell isn't forever. And you can get rid of evil karma. Any thoughts on this guys?

Chinook
Apr 11, 2006

...into the far North we shall take you.



This doesn’t have a lot to do with Buddhism, but I will say that the New Testament specifically releases believers from a lot of the Old Testament rules and that it may help you to to think of the God of the OT as speaking in a language that the Israelites of that era could understand.

Just as the Buddha spoke using many of the cultural norms and religious framing that was prevalent in his environment.

Just my 2 cents! Plenty of good overlap between these two philosophies in any case.

And as always- Take what it useful and throw the rest out.

echinopsis
Apr 13, 2004
Probation
Can't post for 5 days!


The NT also introduces eternal punishment so maybe the strict rules are better if at least death is the end of it.

Depending on the sermon of the week, I used to walk away from church either feeling quite good about life or scared as heck about gods wrath.

What if Jesus’s grace only covered each sin once? If you continue to sin, ask forgiveness, repeat sin, there’s scripture that implies you run out of grace.

And what if you’ve committed the unforgivable sin?

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Thirteen Orphans posted:

There’s a local Tibetan Sangha (Kagyu lineage) that’s doing instruction and empowerments over Zoom. Is that becoming more common?

Edit: Zoom/Skype/Etc empowerments, I mean.

Yes and no.

Online empowerments are semi-controversial but only when people want them to be. Personally, I think they are fine and great and cool. We're talking about some pretty lofty stuff and like, why would I think a fully enlightened being couldn't empower someone to a practice lineage because they're not in the same physical space? Makes no sense to me.

Garchen Rinpoche was one of the first big names to do this with any regularity, and many of his centers will do it now also. I know which center you're talking about and I think it's a good thing.

There are traditionalists who would argue this is ineffective or at least dubiously effective, and there's merit for that too. But the effective part of any empowerment is entirely on the practitioner, right? It's whether or not we accept the commitments and see the Lama as the Buddha and see the connection and I don't see any reason why that would not be effective online. It's not like you can get a fake samaya, and an empowerment is a permission to practice, it's not an accomplishment, so there shouldn't be credential concerns, but... Whatever.

Short answer yes, it's becoming more common. Whether or not that's a good thing varies based on who you ask.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Paramemetic posted:

I only know of it as absolutely as an ebook, where it was available on Google Play.

I can do a big ol post on the aesthetics of Tibetan Buddhism next time I'm at a keyboard. The short of it is basically the combination of cultures and the encoding of meditative instructions in art. Different aspects of the deity represent different characteristics which then we in turn internalize. The dudes are jacked and often terrifying because in a warlord culture if you're gonna defeat ignorance you should definitely consider doing it in an extremely badass way with a flaming sword and you should definitely be totally ripped as hell.

Okay so I'm not a Tibetan culture scholar. I'm a white guy what speaks Tibetan and has been around Tibetan culture, but I'm not a Tibetan or a scholar of it. I am gonna base this on what I've been told by Tibetan people and people in the Tibetan milieu but I encourage you to remember that that's coming to you through a filter.

So Tibet is a warrior culture first. The Tibetan empire was one of the largest empires in the world at its height. Its history is one of warlords. I did an editing pass on my lineage's history for the lineage at one point and even Buddhist lineage histories are like "at this point the monastery was destroyed by a warlord but then the Lama fled and came back with his warband and restored it and then..." Tibetans will refer to themselves as "a warlike people, difficult to tame" and mention this as evidence of why Buddhism is good as hell- if Buddha's teachings could tame the Tibetans, they must be amazing.

One of the greatest heroes of Tibetan culture is Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava. His shtick as a tantric master was cruising all over Tibet and subduing the demons and land-owning spirits and making them sign contracts not to hurt people and to practice Dharma. One of the protectors of a monastery I stayed at is a pact-bound gyalpo spirit, not an enlightened being. He was sworn to serve the Dharma by a tantric warlord that basically beat him up.

This is the culture from which the aesthetics arise. So the artwork reflects the nature of a spirit and its function. They are all full of symbols. In general, if you understand the cultural symbolism, you can look at any thangka (a type of Dharma painting of a deity, story, etc) and figure out that being's nature.

Spirits come in three flavors: peaceful, wrathful, and semi-wrathful. Peaceful spirits have smiling faces, wrathful ones have fangs showing and are angry, and semi-wrathful have fangs showing angrily but smiling faces. These represent their methods of interaction. Intense flaming dudes like Mahakala with swords that are jacked and standing on bodies and things are symbolic of the function. Mahakala for example is on fire (wisdom fire) with wrathful face (wrathful means of defeating Dharma enemies), a sword (cuts through ignorance), a bow and arrow (nails the Dharma into beings and nails the teachings to the earth) standing on a body (conquering ignorance), wearing a tiger sash (unconquerable heroism, conquest of fear), with a garland of skulls (conquest of the various ignorances), three eyes (the three wisdoms), a crown of five skulls (the five Buddha families), and so on and so on.

But the aesthetics are those of power because this appeals to the culture. This dude is a badass, and that gets a warlord into your Dharma center, right? The warlord rolls in and he's like "drat, yeah, I'm into this." Then the monks go "yeah that's our protector hang out we'll tell you about him." And the lessons appeal to the person but also, they learn about compassion and wisdom and how the only enemy that it's impressive to conquer is your own mind, and we're off.

A peaceful being will have the same things. Green Tara is peaceful, sitting on a sun and moon disk (wisdom and method), on a lotus (enlightenment, in the lotus family) holding a lotus (granting wishes and healing? Not sure I remember) with hands in the mudras of protection and wish-fulfilling, in the half-lotus position representing that she's in the process of standing up to help beings, so she's an action-doer.

Achi Chokyi Drolma rides on a wind horse (rapid activity) with a damaru drum (sounds the truth of the Dharma in all directions) and a skull cup (conquest of ignorance, fulfilling blessings) in her wrathful form, but in her peaceful form she's standing (action) with a mirror that sees the suffering of all beings and a wish-fulfilling gem that grants Dharma according wishes.

There's no idle details, nothing is purely aesthetic, everything is symbolic. If I understand correctly, even the dimensions and angles of postures have Dharma meaning.

The general aesthetics are based on Tibetan culture. Lots of five colored pennants in blue, yellow, white, green, and red, which represent the Indian or Chinese elemental systems (depending on sequence and context). These also represent the five Buddha families, the five wisdoms, and so on. So on say a long life bracelet they represent the five elements being stable and harmonized, on an empowerment garland that represent the five wisdoms and the five Buddha families and so on.

Lots of skulls and bones and such are reminders of impermanence, but also the affects of the enlightened beings. Drinking from a human skull cup is a taboo! But enlightened beings are free from taboo, so let's go! You'll see this also in some practices you'll offer a meal of the five unclean meats (human, elephant, dog, horse, beef) and the five nectars (poo poo, piss, cum, blood, marrow) and then those beings transform these into pure things and return blessings. But it's about violating taboos. It's about rising above attachments and aversions. The horns that tantric practitioners use are made from a human thigh bone because this is hosed up! But it is meant to be unsettling, the practitioner starts unsettled and then over time overcomes this and is transformed. If you can be happy summoning flesheating spirits to a graveyard and offering your body in a big melting pot and visualizing yourself being chopped to pieces and melted into stew and so on and offered, then what can possibly bother you?

I could go into a ramble about how this is consistent with other initiations in other cultures (freemasons will find it relatable) but this was meant to be about aesthetics and I'm doing it on my phone because I haven't had a chance to be at a computer at length lately and welp.

Basically, the aesthetics of Tibetan Buddhism reflect the culture of the Tibetan people and the adaption of Buddhist iconography to Tibetan symbolism to communicate Dharma in a local context. My Lama taught me that when we're doing offerings, we, as westerners, shouldn't necessarily visualize silk and coral as signs of wealth. We should offer fine suits and iPads and other symbols of wealth, because that's what's meaningful to us.

In that reflection of Tibetan culture, a lot of the symbols are also based on taboos. It's not that Tibetans love bones and dead bodies! It's that those things are unsettling and disturbing because of our attachments and aversions, and that by normalizing them and working with them we start on a process of challenging ourselves to overcome fears and ultimately suffering. By being constantly with these disturbing things, we challenge ourselves to undergo transformation, and that self-transformation is ultimately the goal.

And also having your gods be super jacked badasses and beautiful women and loving moms is rad as hell.

Paramemetic fucked around with this message at 20:19 on Mar 3, 2021

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Paramemetic posted:

Yes and no.

Online empowerments are semi-controversial but only when people want them to be. Personally, I think they are fine and great and cool. We're talking about some pretty lofty stuff and like, why would I think a fully enlightened being couldn't empower someone to a practice lineage because they're not in the same physical space? Makes no sense to me.

Garchen Rinpoche was one of the first big names to do this with any regularity, and many of his centers will do it now also. I know which center you're talking about and I think it's a good thing.

There are traditionalists who would argue this is ineffective or at least dubiously effective, and there's merit for that too. But the effective part of any empowerment is entirely on the practitioner, right? It's whether or not we accept the commitments and see the Lama as the Buddha and see the connection and I don't see any reason why that would not be effective online. It's not like you can get a fake samaya, and an empowerment is a permission to practice, it's not an accomplishment, so there shouldn't be credential concerns, but... Whatever.

Short answer yes, it's becoming more common. Whether or not that's a good thing varies based on who you ask.

afaik the vast majority of the controversy is cuz 'does spiritual stuff over the internet' was for a long time one of the like top 3 red flags of bullshit spirituality peddling or worse. On a doctrinal level, yeah there's a very strong case to be made that the precise medium of interaction shouldn't matter that much, particularly when one is using the method that is available that doesn't put people at needless risk.

BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




Transferring my merit to beings in Avici but no idea how to do it to a guy 3 towns over by computer

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


BIG FLUFFY DOG posted:

Transferring my merit to beings in Avici but no idea how to do it to a guy 3 towns over by computer

it's well known that 5g inhibits merit transfer~

Thirteen Orphans
Dec 2, 2012

The principles expressed in the martial arts make up the backbone of my philosophy.

Crossposting from the Religion Thread. Namo Trump Butsu

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


In case you've ever wondered how it is that statues get the heads knocked off

Greg Legg
Oct 6, 2004


I have been practicing seated zazen off and on for a long time. I visited the local zen center when I started but I think I was too young and unfocused and I didn't really enjoy it. I read posts on treeleaf every now and then but I don't feel comfortable identifing myself as a Buddhist. I learned a lot from this thread, thank you!

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Greg Legg posted:

I have been practicing seated zazen off and on for a long time. I visited the local zen center when I started but I think I was too young and unfocused and I didn't really enjoy it. I read posts on treeleaf every now and then but I don't feel comfortable identifing myself as a Buddhist. I learned a lot from this thread, thank you!

Jundo is great. Not familiar with the forums, so I can't weigh in on the membership / other teachers. In the US, Taigen Leighton (ADZG) is also excellent, as is Shohaku Okumura. Lots of good teachers and content at SFZC as well.

Not sure how much reading you've done, but Opening the Hand of Thought and How to Cook Your Life are good introductory books (well paired, for the same purpose, with Fukanzazenji, Bendowa and Genjokoan), and for a deeper dive, obviously the balance of Shobogenzo and the source materials listed in the SZBA formation guide, which run through background and history, the Mahayana sutras, philosophical development, early Buddhism, Ch'an and Zen, and more. The guide seems, unfortunately, to have disappeared from their site, but if it's of interest I can paste the list in here.

Greg Legg
Oct 6, 2004


I have not read any of those books but I will get started today. Thank you!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





It would seem that Bhutan had a delay in their COVID-19 vaccine rollout due to poor astrology:

https://mothership.sg/2021/04/bhutan-covid-19-vaccinate/ posted:

ZME Science reported that Buddhist astrologers advised the government that a woman born in the year of the monkey should be chosen as the first person to receive the vaccine.

Ninda Dema, a 30-year-old Bhutanese woman, was the chosen one.

She received the shot at a school-turned vaccination center in the capital Thimphu amid chanting of Buddhist prayers.

Moreover, Bhutan did not start its vaccination in January when it received its first batches of vaccine.

Instead, it waited for the "right time".

Bhutan's prime minister's office issued a statement in the first month of 2021 to say that it was “important we roll out the nationwide vaccination on an auspicious date,” ZME Science reported.

That meant that Bhutan authorities delayed and waited until the passing of an "inauspicious" month to start vaccination.

“Upon consulting with Zhung Dratshang (the Commission for Monastic Affairs), we were informed of dana (inauspicious month) which falls between February 14 and March 13. We will wait until the period is over,” the statement added.

On the other hand:

Brawnfire
Jul 13, 2004

Listen to Cylindricule!
https://linktr.ee/Cylindricule


Hi! I just got finished reading through the thread, and am considering reading the previous thread as well because it sounds like there were some interesting discussions therein.

I want to be proactive in following the eightfold path. Since becoming a father, many painful aspects of life have apparently increased in my awareness. Truly fixing myself in the cycle of human birth and death. Recognizing that death will come for my parents in a surprisingly short time. Knowledge that my children are aging and I will never re-experience the beauty or the pain of these moments again. Raising moral beings in a world with such problems. Physical desires and longings that cannot be met. The general fear we all experience.

Obviously some of it is depression, and it makes it hard, it muddies the waters. But reality is what it is, and I want to respond to it in a manner that has the potential to reduce my suffering and the suffering of others around me. Buddhism seems to speak in many of the same terms.

So I may say some stupid things and ask some stupid questions in this thread, if you don't mind. But I wanted to thank the OP for a frank and informative post. I've been looking for some words about Buddhism that are plain speech and not pulling any punches and this seems to really fit, tonally.

BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




Brawnfire posted:

Hi! I just got finished reading through the thread, and am considering re
ading the previous thread as well because it sounds like there were some interesting discussions therein.

I want to be proactive in following the eightfold path. Since becoming a father, many painful aspects of life have apparently increased in my awareness. Truly fixing myself in the cycle of human birth and death. Recognizing that death will come for my parents in a surprisingly short time. Knowledge that my children are aging and I will never re-experience the beauty or the pain of these moments again. Raising moral beings in a world with such problems. Physical desires and longings that cannot be met. The general fear we all experience.

Obviously some of it is depression, and it makes it hard, it muddies the waters. But reality is what it is, and I want to respond to it in a manner that has the potential to reduce my suffering and the suffering of others around me. Buddhism seems to speak in many of the same terms.

So I may say some stupid things and ask some stupid questions in this thread, if you don't mind. But I wanted to thank the OP for a frank and informative post. I've been looking for some words about Buddhism that are plain speech and not pulling any punches and this seems to really fit, tonally.

consulted amitabha and he said these videos will answer your questions and bring enlightenment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mULvGLOKVCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ssx67FDiYFI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_4AoQvIQ_k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UN8x1ZRdYI

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Brawnfire posted:

So I may say some stupid things and ask some stupid questions in this thread, if you don't mind. But I wanted to thank the OP for a frank and informative post. I've been looking for some words about Buddhism that are plain speech and not pulling any punches and this seems to really fit, tonally.
Welcome! It is a real good OP. I think any question is good, and you are clearly past the point of "so what is this about, death worship" or what-not.


That pig's got real religion chops

Brawnfire
Jul 13, 2004

Listen to Cylindricule!
https://linktr.ee/Cylindricule


Nessus posted:

Welcome! It is a real good OP. I think any question is good, and you are clearly past the point of "so what is this about, death worship" or what-not.

It's been a bit of a journey already, probably ~15 years. Had a really influential Buddhist friend and a Buddhist adjunct professor who informed a lot of what I know about Buddhism. I've done a bit of reading in various classes here and there but have consistently shied away from anything that could be considered "spiritual." I'm over that poo poo now, I held on to the idea of spirituality being woo-woo for a long time but it's pretty much the pressure we exert to keep from being crushed by What Is.

Anyhow, words in Buddhism that made only theoretical sense before are starting to take on a very personal clarity. It gives a lot of vocabulary to the pain and pleasure of existence, and the sheer amount of discourse means at least one other person mused over something I'm preoccupied by.


BIG FLUFFY DOG posted:

consulted amitabha and he said these videos will answer your questions and bring enlightenment.

Well that's a fine start!

Yorkshire Pudding
Nov 24, 2006





Girlfriend brought up an interesting question when she was asking about rebirth. She asked if she could be reborn in the past.

Do any Buddhist dialogues discuss the nature of time, and whether it is linear or something else. Is it just another composite thing?

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


That's getting into Andy Weir's The Egg territory.

I don't think I've ever heard anything about non-linear time progression within rebirth, but I know many traditions have a codified understanding of how long and where someone will be reborn which would directly contradict that as a possibility.

That said, certain Mahayana groups seem to find Buddhas to be extra-temporal, so to speak. They're beyond the cycle of rebirth, and I believe that would put them outside the progression of time as we understand it. Someone with more experience or expertise may be about to clarify or expand.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






I'll be very interested to see what comes up in response to this. I tend to look at the practice as more central than speculative matters, but at a minimum, it would complicate the notion of dependent origination as it is typically understood.

100 degrees Calcium
Jan 22, 2011





What's the buddhist view on being reborn in another world, like maybe as a monster or a traveling adventurer.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





100 degrees Calcium posted:

What's the buddhist view on being reborn in another world, like maybe as a monster or a traveling adventurer.
I think it's pretty clear in a lot of Mahayana sutras that there are non-human (but human-equivalent in terms of their position in the general order of beings) intelligent entities out there, and that pretty much everything going on applies to them as well. In the Lotus Sutra, an alien comes in on his sound rocket to listen to a Dharma talk from Shakyamuni, if I remember right.

Yorkshire Pudding posted:

Girlfriend brought up an interesting question when she was asking about rebirth. She asked if she could be reborn in the past.

Do any Buddhist dialogues discuss the nature of time, and whether it is linear or something else. Is it just another composite thing?
I've never heard it come up but it does not seem like, categorically impossible. The main thing that stands out is that I can't remember it being specifically mentioned either, Shakyamuni apparently had a long sequence of events that were in fact sequential. Time travel also suggests that in a sense, something that has decayed still exists, which seems to present some other philosophical issues.

BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




100 degrees Calcium posted:

What's the buddhist view on being reborn in another world, like maybe as a monster or a traveling adventurer.

easily done. the bigger issue is retaining memories of your past life so you can easily dominate the world through your superior knowledge. not many ways to do this that don't involve spiritual training and if you have to take a vow of chastity so you can't enjoy big titty anime babes what's even the point.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


The real question is if Aqua from Konosuba is a Deva, Bodhisattva, or a Dakini.

zhar
May 3, 2019



I remember hearing somewhere (in a tibetan buddhist context probably drawing from yogacara, not sure if it translates to theravada etc) that there is a continuum of ones subtle energy or prana that is physical but not material, therefore exists within spacetime so you cannot be reborn back in time. If you can't be reborn back in time which seems to me to be the general stance, there must be a physical continuum, right?

The buddhas mind however must transcend time in some way, in all traditions afaik the powers of the buddha include omniscience with respect to past present and future.

100 degrees Calcium
Jan 22, 2011





BIG FLUFFY DOG posted:

easily done. the bigger issue is retaining memories of your past life so you can easily dominate the world through your superior knowledge. not many ways to do this that don't involve spiritual training and if you have to take a vow of chastity so you can't enjoy big titty anime babes what's even the point.

Thanks for this post. You've freed me from my last attachment (big titty anime babes) and now I can focus exclusively on guiding my fellow humans to enlightenment.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





zhar posted:

I remember hearing somewhere (in a tibetan buddhist context probably drawing from yogacara, not sure if it translates to theravada etc) that there is a continuum of ones subtle energy or prana that is physical but not material, therefore exists within spacetime so you cannot be reborn back in time. If you can't be reborn back in time which seems to me to be the general stance, there must be a physical continuum, right?

The buddhas mind however must transcend time in some way, in all traditions afaik the powers of the buddha include omniscience with respect to past present and future.
While true, I also realized that time travel, in a sense, implies that the past is 'a real place,' in the sense of being an actual physical location or state which could be revisited if you could adjust your position in time. And I had realized that while this may be metaphorically true in the sense that, for instance, we can reproduce the situations or ambiance of the past, it might not be literally true.

BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




100 degrees Calcium posted:

Thanks for this post. You've freed me from my last attachment (big titty anime babes) and now I can focus exclusively on guiding my fellow humans to enlightenment.

you actually want to maintain exactly one attachment (big titty anime babes) so you can follow the bodhisattva ideal. sorry for the confusion. hope you enjoy nirvana though

Beowulfs_Ghost
Nov 6, 2009


There is no past to go back to. Everything exists in the present. And there is no future, as it depends on the present conditions to create it, which is in the process of happening.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


100 degrees Calcium posted:

What's the buddhist view on being reborn in another world, like maybe as a monster or a traveling adventurer.

it's canon, also, literally kanin

echinopsis
Apr 13, 2004
Probation
Can't post for 5 days!


Where does Buddhism (or the various schools) derive it's beliefs about anything metaphysical from?

All that can ever be discovered is in our minds.

Is there an implicit claim that the metaphysical claims by the various schools can be discovered personally?

Beowulfs_Ghost
Nov 6, 2009


echinopsis posted:

Where does Buddhism (or the various schools) derive it's beliefs about anything metaphysical from?

All that can ever be discovered is in our minds.

Is there an implicit claim that the metaphysical claims by the various schools can be discovered personally?

The Buddha in the Pali Canon often put down metaphysical pondering, which can be interpreted as a distraction from the path or that the answers to such questions are ineffable.

After his death, the Abidharma school came up with the idea that the world is made of phenomenal atoms call dharmas. And these sort of things can range from sights and smells, to restlessness and pride, on to space and nirvana.

The Yogacara school made the argument that those dharmas are just all in your head. Yogacara is fine as a sort of phenomenology, but some take a metaphysical turn and use it to argue for idealism.

Madhyamika came along to argue against the Abidharma by showing it to be absurd, but in the end also gets held up as proof of the metaphysical certainty of "emptiness".


Buddhism makes few metaphysical claims, but Buddhists make tons of them. And the teaching of all those above schools can still work using metaphysical certainty. There is a utility to telling a student that dharmas, or cittamatra, or sunyata, are the foundations of existence. It can be assumed they'll ditch metaphysics like a raft once they cross the stream.

echinopsis
Apr 13, 2004
Probation
Can't post for 5 days!


What do you mean by "cross the stream?"

BIG FLUFFY DOG
Feb 16, 2011

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.




in all indian religions, hindusim and its descendents, a river is traditionally used as the metaphor for the separation between the mundane world and the supernatural divine world. one shore of the river is our limited unenlightened understanding and the other side is the enlightened understanding. crossing the river or "stream" therefore means moving from an unenlightened state to an enlightened one.

Jainism, a cousin religion of Buddhism, even refers to its prophets as Tirthinkara or "ford-makers" (Ford meaning a shallow part of the river you can wade through a la Oregon trail not the car) while Buddhism refers to non-Buddhists as tirthika (also means ford-maker but with more emphasis on trying to cross the river than actually crossing the river.)

Buddhism, early buddhism especially, also refers to how "advanced" someone is as a buddhist through river imagery, so a person who has just started to figure out buddhist concepts and apply them in their own life is a "stream-enterer".

The raft is a mahayana ( the school of buddhism which predominates in China and traditionally Chinese influenced countries) elaboration on the traditional imagery. Mahayana practice places a very high empahisis on the idea of "skillfull means" and the idea of there being a "conventional truth" and an "absolute truth". this is known as two truths theory. the absolute truth is transcendent and non-dualistic and therefore beyond human language, which is fundamentally dualistic, and so the buddha and buddhist teachers are incapable of teaching it directly. they therefore have devised a series of conventional truths which explain most things but don't form a complete picture. Sort of like how in college chemistry they teach you a bunch of models that aren't really how electrons work but model 95% of cases and are way easier to understand than the models that actually show how they work which they teach later. As you progress in the Buddhist path and find situations in which the conventional truths from earlier don't hold or explain, you then receive a new conventional truth which is closer but not quite there. this process repeats until eventually you arrive at the absolute truth which comes from personal realization after being pointed in the right direction not from it being transmitted directly.

the raft is one metaphor used to explain this concept. once you're on the other shore you have no intention of going back so you can just get rid of the "raft" of conventional truth you have no more use for it.

another popular metaphor is the hand pointing at the moon. The moon is a traditional symbol of enlightenment in buddhism because it provides light in the darkness. if you'd never seen the moon before and asked someone to show you this moon you'd heard so much about and they pointed toward the sky, you might confuse the hand for the moon itself. Buddhist doctrine shows the way to enlightenment, it is not enlightenment itself.

BIG FLUFFY DOG fucked around with this message at 05:46 on May 16, 2021

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Beowulfs_Ghost
Nov 6, 2009


While I was pulling the stream metaphor from early Buddhism, the two truths system is also an excellent way to look at Buddhist views on metaphysics.

Yogacara adds a kind of temporary intermediate truth of realizing everything is dependant. There is an old Zen saying that roughly goes "first I saw mountains, then I saw no mountains, then I saw mountains again."

A lot of Buddhist metaphysics is on the deconstructive end of things. Abidharma thought was picked apart by later schools, but the point of seeing the world as made of atoms of phenomenon is to give one a tool to pick apart their perceptual world. Yogacara and Madhyamika have the same goal but different means.

To go back to the mountain example, the average person looks at a mountain and sees a mountain. After reading a stack of books on buddhist metaphysics, they no longer see the mountain. Instead they see dependant origination, or reactions of the eye conciousness, or the ripening or karma, or the absence self existence. Then they have their breakthrough moment, and they can see the mountain again, but without the bullshit that causes suffering. Does that mean that karma, or dharmas, or emptiness is bullshit? No. They were true in the sense that they lead to ultimate truth.

In the end, all Buddhist metaphysics falls into "conventional truth". At best, it is a half truth that one can use as a path to ultimate truth.

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