Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«7 »
  • Post
  • Reply
Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

As with all of us, the Buddhism thread passes through a cycle of birth, sickness, aging, and dying. The old thread having aged, I was asked to look towards its future life.

This is a thread about Buddhism.



Okay, I’ve heard of Buddhism and played Sekiro, but want to know more. What’s this all about?

Buddhism is a religion or group of religions focused on following the teachings of a historical man, Siddhartha Gautama, titled “Buddha,” or “awakened one.” The historical Buddha was a prince of the Sakya clan who renounced his family’s throne and went off in pursuit of living a religious life. There are a couple different takes on all this stuff. The consensus amalgamation of the story is this:

The Buddha was born to the King of the Sakyas. As was the standard for rich dudes, he had his astrology done up, and the astrology indicated that he would either become a world-ruling king, or a religious man. His father wanted him to become a world-ruling king, what king wouldn’t? So he kept Siddhartha in a palace where he was shielded from knowledge of suffering entirely. Siddhartha grew up though, and over time came to realize that poo poo sucked outside the palace. He asked his attendant to take him out of the palace over a series of nights, where he witnessed people sick, aging, and dying. This shook him up, so he abandoned his family and kingdom and all his possessions and went off in pursuit of a solution to suffering.

He studied a number of different meditative practices that were popular at the time, mastering each one quickly. However, all of them offered only a temporary cessation to suffering. This not being the goal, he moved on. Eventually, he became an ascetic, practicing self-mortification. He collapsed one day, but was given rice pudding by a local girl. At first he was upset because he had broken his fast, but then as his brain stopped being starved mush, he realized that in fact, not starving to death is good, actually.
He recognized at this point the Middle Way, as well as the causes of suffering, and, powered by the pudding, meditated for 40 days under a Bodhi tree until he achieved perfect enlightenment. He then decided to gently caress off forever, but a bunch of gods begged him and he decided to teach the Dharma.

Okay, so what’s the Dharma?

Boy, what a can of worms. There are a couple different schools of Buddhism. The main schools are the Mahayana, the Vajrayana, and the Theravada.

Theravada is a restoration movement that seeks to return to the original Buddha’s practices, but in so doing strips out a bunch of stuff that was almost certainly part of the historical Buddha’s practices. It is regarded by Mahayana as the “Hinayana,” or “inferior vehicle,” but it is the basis of all Buddhism. Its goal is liberation of the self – that is, attaining enlightenment for oneself, rather than for others.

This is contrasted with Mahayana, the “great vehicle,” which seeks to attain enlightenment for all sentient beings. Mahayana practitioners vow not to achieve final enlightenment until all beings can do so, and so they stick around as bodhisattvas. They also have a more advanced definition of what constitutes a Buddha, with like, ranks and levels and stuff. Don’t worry about that too much!

The Vajrayana is a flavor of Mahayana that uses expedient means (read, sorcery and wizard poo poo) to attain enlightenment very rapidly, in order to better serve the goal of attaining enlightenment for all sentient beings. It uses the method of yogatantra to manifest oneself as having the Buddha qualities and so on.

The thing is, all schools of Buddhism necessarily include what the Buddha taught, which boils down to the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path.

What is the Dharma, Part 2, In Which I Answer the Question

The Four Noble Truths are based on observations the Buddha made. They are not divine mandates or some kind of royal decree, but rather simple observations that we ourselves can make. They are as follows:

1) The Truth of Suffering: All existence is characterized by suffering. All compounded phenomena are impermanent. There are no uncompounded phenomena. Thus, all experience is suffering. There are three kinds of suffering: overt suffering, like hunger, pain, horniness, and so on; the suffering of change, where things we like turn into things we don’t like; and the all-pervasive suffering of conditioned existence, where even where we’re not suffering one of the other two sufferings, our very existence is creating circumstances that will result in suffering.
2) The Truth of the Cause of Suffering: Suffering is a characteristic of phenomena but it is not the nature of phenomena. All phenomena by nature are empty and without essence. Thus, suffering is not an inherent property of phenomena. Instead, it originates with the experiencer of phenomena. Specifically, suffering come from ignorance, attachment, grasping, and aversion. Suffering occurs when we want something that is not the case to be the case (grasping), when we want something that is the case to not be the case (aversion), or when we want something that is the case to remain the case (attachment). We do those things (grasp, attach, fear) when we think that phenomena are real, or when we are ignorant to the nature of phenomena as inherently empty*.
3) The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering: because suffering comes from a discernable cause, suffering can be ended.
4) The Truth of the Path of the Cessation of Suffering: because suffering can be ended, there is a method to ending that suffering. That method is the Noble Eightfold Path.

*I’m a Vajrayana practitioner, and Mahayana and Vajrayana go hard on this “emptiness” thing. You won’t find as much talk about it in Theravadan texts. Don’t sweat it, Buddhism is vast and understanding emptiness is simultaneously the most and least important thing!

The Noble Eightfold Path is a path and set of practices that, if practiced, inevitably leads us to liberation. The Noble Eightfold Path is divided into three components: moral conduct, mental activity, and wisdom or insight.

1) Right view: samsara sucks, everything is suffering, this is bullshit
2) Right resolve: gently caress it, I want to attain enlightenment to end suffering for (myself|sentient beings)
3) Right speech: don’t talk poo poo, don’t get hit.
4) Right action: don’t do things that cause overt suffering. Do do things that don't cause overt suffering.
5) Right livelihood: there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, but that doesn’t mean you should sell people vices.
6) Right effort: you should work diligently towards attaining enlightenment.
7) Right mindfulness: you should be focused now, on the present moment, and not on non-real realities like the past or future.
8) Right concentration: you should meditate on some poo poo, but the right way, don’t meditate with the goal of cultivating bullshit miracle powers.

The path is pretty straightforward. It both begins and ends with right view and right resolve. You begin with the insight of the four noble truths, which creates the motivation to do the stuff. You do the stuff, and this leads to a greater insight into the nature of existence and the nature of mind. This insight creates a strong motivation towards liberation, and so you do more stuff… and on and on.

It’s a process, a path, and you walk that path. Eventually you’re liberated and, poo poo, that’s great.

But what about those Zen guys?

It’s a flavor of Mahayana that is solves some problems experienced in feudal Japan. The thing about the Dharma is it’s not really culturally bound. Buddha very specifically told people to adapt Dharma to the local cultures so that people could meet with it and engage with it. After all, the goal here is for beings to attain liberation. That will never happen if they bounce off it hard because you’re telling them all their poo poo is wrong.

I will use Tibet as an example. The Tibetan people characterize themselves as “difficult to tame.” They were an empire of horse raiders and warlords. That’s why Tibetans really like their deities and bodhisattvas to be extreme badasses.


Sup everyone, just chilling here on this cadaver practicing my path of peace and compassion towards suffering beings here, with my flaming sword and belt of human heads, as one does.

Zen happens to meet a need in Japan for a Buddhism that was not completely controlled by the imperial class and full of esoteric ritual Vajrayana stuff. A Buddhism that people can do. You see this historically several times, where you have strong returns to “okay but what if we could actually practice Buddhism without becoming a monk?”

In India, becoming a monk even today is pretty easy because there is a culture built around giving to monks. In China this is also the case, there is a whole “merit market” and the wealthy will patronize religious people simply to gain merits. This is not so much the case in feudal Japan or in modern America. So, what to do?

If you’re a Theravadan, what to do is try to live your best life following the five lay precepts in hopes that you can be reborn as a person who can become a monk, and then after you do that a couple hundred times hopefully you can become an arhat.

For Mahayana people, it’s to do that thing but also aspire to become a bodhisattva so you can help others in future lifetimes. Sometimes this includes trying to be reborn in the pure land (heaven, basically?) of a Buddha (usually Amitabha) so you can learn the Dharma without all the distraction of *points to everything, all around*.

For Vajrayana practitioner, you meditate yourself as a deity by recognizing that you’re inseparable by nature from that deity anyhow, reconceive of your body as being 108 peaceful and wrathful deities, and power-level yourself as a bodhisattva using magic.

What’s that about precepts? Are those like commandments?

Nah, Buddhists don’t do commandments, that is very unchill. Precepts are practices that you should do because they will help you cultivate right view and also they are right action and right speech in themselves. There are five lay precepts, but the vast majority of Buddhist practitioners around the world don’t take all five precepts on initially.

1) Don’t kill. Everyone fears death and nobody wants to die, so if you kill people you cause overt suffering. This overt suffering increases the net suffering in the world, and we don’t want to do that.
2) Don’t steal. People are ignorant and have attachment to their things. When we take things that are not given to us freely, we cause people suffering. Because we’re Buddhists, we should not have attachment to things, so what purpose could this possibly serve?
3) Horny is prohibited (avoid sexual misconduct). Our bodies are composited things and so they are impermanent. Banging is just a transient sense pleasure, and so doing a lot of it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. But I mean, do you. What you shouldn’t do is gently caress around on your spouse or do rapes or so on for reasons that should be obvious.
4) Don’t lie. Lying to people prevents them from having right mindfulness. If we lie to others then we prevent them from being able to engage with the world as it actually is. If we lie to ourselves, that’s even more stupid. Don’t lie or be in the habit of lying.
5) Avoid intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Take your drat meds, but don’t drink or do drugs that cause you to disengage from the world in ways that prevent your right mindfulness. When you’re drunk, you might feel better temporarily, but you aren’t engaging with the real actual world. Because you will always return to the real world, there’s no point in trying to hide from that.

Most people world-over practice 1, 2, and 3. The precepts are guidelines that we should try to follow, not commandments. The accountability is to ourselves, and is based on karma – cause and effect.

Wait, karma is a Buddhist thing? Threefold law is some bullshit!!!

Yeah man, threefold law is some bullshit, and has nothing to do with Buddhism. Karma means “action” and is related to cause and effect. That is, when you do an action, there is a result. When you throw an apple into the air, it will definitely fall. When you kill someone, they will definitely die. Karma is not a system of arbitration, it’s not a system of “justice.” Justice is a thing for us to figure out, not a thing of Buddhism. When a wolf eats a deer, is that justice? The deer doesn’t think so! So let’s not worry about justice, and instead deal with what actually happens: when a wolf eats a deer, the deer suffers. The wolf causes suffering and by this action creates karmas of suffering. When the wolf dies, it bears responsibility for those actions. As it nears death, it recognizes that it is not different from deer, and that it is dying. It becomes fearful. From this fear, out of infinite generations of habitual tendency, the wolf is reborn in a lovely place.

What we habituate is what we will do.

When we habituate peacefulness, meditation, calm, happiness, and so on, when we engage with these mental activities, then when we are dying or being murdered or going hungry or so on, we will still feel those emotions. We will not be driven to have lovely experiences.

If we’re a killer, or a liar, or a thief, then when we die we will feel fear, or we will self-delude, or we will grasp after our possessions.

The precepts are about cultivating good mental behaviors because whatever habits we create are what we’re going to fall back on in moments of hardship or at pivotal times such as when we’re gonna die.

There are a lot of different interpretations on karma. Tibetan Buddhists have this whole 40 day thing when you die and your consciousness breaks down into its component pieces and you hallucinate and become an unbounded consciousness then gently caress around for a while before being reborn when the white and red energies merge and blah blah blah gently caress it.

Don’t worry about that stuff when you’re starting.

Think about your habits. When you put on your shoes, what foot do you start with? When you brush your teeth, what hand do you use? You can put the other shoe on first, you can use your other hand to brush your teeth, but if you do it without thinking, you will follow your force of habit. That’s karma. Compound that over many countless lifetimes with regards to “thinking phenomena are real” and you can see what we’re dealing with.

Following the precepts is deliberately reworking our brains/minds to change our habits so that instead of seeing a spider and going “oh god gently caress” and smashing it to death (causing the spider suffering and forcing it to be reborn), we go “oh, word, a fellow suffering being” and then we feel compassion. When we habituate feeling compassion, we create the conditions in which we will experience compassion. No woo required.

Causes and Conditions

The other part of karma is that nothing happens without a precipitating cause as well as appropriate conditions. If you throw an apple seed on the ground, whether or not you get a tree depends on conditions of where it lands. If it lands on rocks, no dice. If it lands on soil, then okay, maybe. If it lands on soil and has water and sunlight, yes! Not only will you get an apple tree if you throw it in soil with water and sunlight, you cannot get anything else. It is impossible that you’ll get an orange tree. It’s impossible that you’ll get pears. Bananas are right out.

If the causes and conditions are there, then you will get the fruit. You already have the conditions of suffering (a composited existence), so if you create causes of suffering, you’ll suffer. By following the precepts, we create causes of not-suffering. If you practice the Dharma, it is impossible that you get anything but the cessation of suffering.
Meditation is part of this. Meditation in Tibetan is “gom gyap,” which means “to press a habit.” You’re just trying to form a habit of thinking about the present moment rather than thinking about non-real realities. Rather than worrying about tomorrow or imagining worst case scenarios or other things we habitually love to do, you are working to be present in the current moment.

We’re just cultivating causes and conditions. Those causes and conditions reduce suffering. It’s a very straightforward system that gets buried in a lot of woo sometimes. I think the most important thing about approaching Buddhism is not getting lost in the woo and staying very focused on the basic ideas of cause and effect, that our mental habits characterize our mental environment, and that if we reduce suffering through our actions, net suffering is reduced, without any need for esoteric systems of justice or retribution.
I’ll probably add some more to this and probably have another post after this one that I’ll put links in and such. I am very fortunate to be part of a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, but because of that I’m not super familiar with a lot of resources outside my lineage, so I will rely on other posters to post their recommendations of materials.

I'll also probably post my hot takes on topics that have popped up lately that I have words about. I'm just a person who has been fortunate to have good teachers, though, so don't worry about me if you think my hot takes are bad, that is okay.

Why the gently caress am I getting reborn all the goddamn time

This process is called the "12 links of interdependent origination," and it goes like this:

1) We're ignorant to the actual nature of reality and consider ourselves to be a "self" rather than recognizing ourself to be an aggregation of properties (called "skandhas," which are form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness, more in a bit), so we
2) create mental formations generating cause and effect, and this leads to
3) Consciousness, called impelling consciousness (an impulse towards existence), leading to
4) Name-And-Form, the formation of those five skandhas, creating a body and consciousness that considers itself a self, in which
5) the six consciousnesses arise, because our name-and-form has sense organs.
6) Contact occurs between object and organ. Sense objects meet sense organs, leading to
7) Sensation, whichs lead to sense-consciousness-arising-events, i.e., an image hits the eye and the eye generates a consciousness-moment that is "seeing", for all senses plus the meta-cognitive thought that identifies those consciousness-events. So, we see a turtle, the light hits the eye, an event happens, and then we think "that is a turtle" and replace the sense-turtle with the thought-turtle in our mental representation.
8) Craving occurs because we now have thought-objects, which includes the imputed characteristics of things we like and don't like.
9) This leads to grasping, because we strive to never be apart from things we like, and never be with things we don't like.
10) Grasping leads to Becoming, because our actions in seeking out the objects of our grasping leads to our creating karma - we create causes and receive effects, and this process is becoming.
11) Through the power of becoming, we continually experience rebirth any time the causes and conditions are met.
12) Because anything that is born is composited by nature, we must experience aging, sickness, and dying. If we do not resolve the root of ignorance, these last two processes loop eternally.

If, however, we resolve ignorance, then it's like cutting a tree at the roots.

Paramemetic fucked around with this message at 23:29 on Feb 16, 2020

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

A reserved post that I will probably use.

How to Learn More

The first thing I would recommend is posting in this thread. This thread has a host of brilliant minds from many traditions and from all stages and parts of the many paths. The Buddha taught that we should take refuge in the community of followers. Instructions from high Lamas are wonderful things, but not everyone has the karma for this right away. We all have the karma to post in this thread. Please ask questions and make comments and discuss the Dharma.

Second, because I'm the OP and get to post what I like, I strongly recommend Walking an Uncommon Path by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa Jigmed Padme Wangchen. It is not an academic text on Buddhism. It could probably be argued that it's not really a book about Buddhism at all - His Holiness spends an awful lot of time calling out dogmatism of all flavors. It is, however, an incredibly insightful and direct call to practice a form of spirituality that leads one to enlightenment. His Holiness in particular is well educated and has received all of the teachings and so on, but prefers the practice of compassion over high empowerments. There are no Drukpa centers in the US. When he visits, he does things like visit Baltimore after the Freddie Gray riots to offer support for protesters.

If you want an academic discourse, and I mean some real meaty poo poo, like ridiculously dense commentary, I recommend The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, which is Gampopa's treatise on the entire path, with commentary and translation by His Eminence Khenchen Rinpoche from the Drikung Kagyu lineage. I do not recommend this as a "first introduction" to Buddhism, however. It's super dense and spends most of its time talking about incredibly deep doctrines which are overwhelming and distracting.

Okay, having abused my privilege as OP, please look to these well curated lists of resources by some of the fantastic thread regulars.

Nude Hoxha Cameo posted:

Ok here are a few starter links for Soto Zen.

What is (Japanese Soto) zen / zazen:
Dogen’s (the founder’s) description of the practice (Fukanzazenji):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/en...kanzanzeng.html
Dogen’s Zen FAQ (Bendowa):
https://www.wwzc.org/sites/default/...endowa-book.pdf

How to do zazen (Soto-shu):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/en...ce_of_zazen.pdf

Genjokoan (The Koan of the Present Moment; or Actualizing the Fundamental Point)
http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...Koan_Aitken.htm

The Shobogenzo (more Zen, by far, than you ever wanted to know):
Vol 1: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...Koan_Aitken.htm
Vol 2: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo_2_NC.pdf
Vol 3: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo-3_NC.pdf
Vol 4: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo_4_NC.pdf

For general reference on Buddhism, there's also
What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_W...ddha_Taught.pdf

And as to Mahayana
Mahayana Buddhism, the Doctrinal Foundations:
https://www.amazon.com/Mahayana-Bud...s/dp/0415356539

Goldreallas XXX posted:

Here's some links that I find myself using a lot. Many of these are particularly focused on the Tibetan traditions, but there's some other stuff in there too:

84000 - An effort to translate the Tibetan Buddhist canon into modern languages. To illustrate Paramemetic's point about the vastness of the teachings, they're estimating it'll take them 25 years to just get the main sutras and shastras (commentaries) translated.

Sutta Central - A huge collection of texts from all buddhist schools, although it primarily focuses on texts from the Pali Canon.

Access to Insight - A selection of readings from the Pali Canon..

Lotsawa House - A growing collection of translations of texts from the Tibetan tradition.

Lhasey Lotsawa - Another collection of texts from the Tibetan Tradition. This one is overseen by my guru Phakchok Rinpoche, and emphasizes treasure texts revealed by the Terton Chogyur Lingpa and the Seventh Riwoche Jedrung Jampa Trinle Junge.

A Treasury of Lives - An (almost) exhaustive list of Tibetan Buddhist religious figures from Padmasambhava on down. Seriously there are some deep cuts in there.

Himalayan Art Resources - Tibetan Buddhism makes great use of iconography and art as a meditative tool. This is a great resource to identify which heruka you are looking at.

Madyamaka - A website offering an introduction to Madyamaka philosophy (or at least how its traditionally presented in Tibetan traditions). There's a reading list and a 8 week study program easing you into the key text of Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara.

More of a Rant than Reference List

One problem of Buddhism is that there are 84,000 paths to enlightenment, for every conceivable person, because we all have our own unique karmas, causes, and conditions that we must work with. Over 2500 years of bored monks thinking about profound philosophy thoughts has led to a ton of deep and extremely profound philosophical literature. However, when we approach to the Dharma we think that when someone tells us "just practice mindfulness and focus on the noble eightfold path" that they are condescending or brushing us off. After all, they are saying that while sitting in front of 50,000 pages of canon.

The thing is, they're absolutely right. The philosophical stuff is to satiate the minds of bored monks. It's not necessary to the path, if it were, Buddha would have taught it! It's absolutely fine to get deep, I mean deep into this poo poo. I went and learned a whole language and so on to be able to get to the stuff that isn't in English yet and so on. But it's not necessary. I think we can learn a lot from the Christian saint Thomas Aquinas, who, after a lifetime of theological study and writing many books (it was said he'd often have as many as 12 scribes taking dictation of different books at the same time), said "all that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me."

You can get deep into the philosophy, but the profound practice is the one that you need right then. Getting deep into the doctrine of the fundamental treatise of the middle way is a distraction if you aren't cultivating compassion. It's like if you're looking for a particular flower in a field but spend your time studying every blade of grass because there's more of it. There is more grass, but you're looking for a flower! You'll find the flower if you study the grass, but why not get the flower and then enjoy the grass after? Or something, I'm not a brain genius of metaphors.

Anyhow, I recommend getting a basic practice of compassion and generosity and meditation and then see where the poo poo takes you, rather than trying to find The Buddhism For You. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, either. Don't think you shouldn't meditate because you don't have a cushion or an hour or whatever. Meditate for 30 seconds in your car before you go in to work. Don't think you can't make offerings to Buddha because you don't have 7 metal bowls and a statue. Print out a picture or hell, draw a stick figure and label it "Buddha" then pour a cup of water or light a candle or whatever you can do.

The point is, Buddhism as a lifestyle is what gets you enlightenment, not Buddhism as a philosophy or a religion or whatever the flavor of the month is in the academic circles.

Okay, right, poo poo, I'm rambling again. Other posters, please post resources so I can flesh this out.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

A reserved post that I'm less likely to use.

Chinook
Apr 11, 2006

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



Thank you for the awesome post/thread. I like your distilled definitions of the Eightfold Path.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Chinook posted:

Thank you for the awesome post/thread. I like your distilled definitions of the Eightfold Path.

Thanks. I owe much to the previous thread in terms of practice talking about Dharma. I also owe much to my teachers, who have never discouraged me, even when I am getting owned to my bones by my Lama, who never pulls a punch in pointing out areas where I can improve.

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Thanks so much for the new thread, and the excellent OP, Paramemetic!

I'll root around a bit and see if I can suggest some Soto zen links.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

How do some sects of Buddhism feel about suicide?

I know that certain groups consider it okay (the famous picture of the monk on fire being one of the most lasting images of the 20th century) but does the "having no fear of death" or perhaps the longing for oblivion have anything written about?

Nude Hoxha Cameo
Sep 29, 2007






Ok here are a few starter links for Soto Zen.

What is (Japanese Soto) zen / zazen:
Dogen’s (the founder’s) description of the practice (Fukanzazenji):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/en...kanzanzeng.html
Dogen’s Zen FAQ (Bendowa):
https://www.wwzc.org/sites/default/...endowa-book.pdf

How to do zazen (Soto-shu):
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/en...ce_of_zazen.pdf

Genjokoan (The Koan of the Present Moment; or Actualizing the Fundamental Point)
http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...Koan_Aitken.htm

The Shobogenzo (more Zen, by far, than you ever wanted to know):
Vol 1: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...Koan_Aitken.htm
Vol 2: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo_2_NC.pdf
Vol 3: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo-3_NC.pdf
Vol 4: http://thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/...ogenzo_4_NC.pdf

For general reference on Buddhism, there's also
What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_W...ddha_Taught.pdf

And as to Mahayana
Mahayana Buddhism, the Doctrinal Foundations:
https://www.amazon.com/Mahayana-Bud...s/dp/0415356539

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Here's some links that I find myself using a lot. Many of these are particularly focused on the Tibetan traditions, but there's some other stuff in there too:

84000 - An effort to translate the Tibetan Buddhist canon into modern languages. To illustrate Paramemetic's point about the vastness of the teachings, they're estimating it'll take them 25 years to just get the main sutras and shastras (commentaries) translated.

Sutta Central - A huge collection of texts from all buddhist schools, although it primarily focuses on texts from the Pali Canon.

Access to Insight - A selection of readings from the Pali Canon..

Lotsawa House - A growing collection of translations of texts from the Tibetan tradition.

Lhasey Lotsawa - Another collection of texts from the Tibetan Tradition. This one is overseen by my guru Phakchok Rinpoche, and emphasizes treasure texts revealed by the Terton Chogyur Lingpa and the Seventh Riwoche Jedrung Jampa Trinle Junge.

A Treasury of Lives - An (almost) exhaustive list of Tibetan Buddhist religious figures from Padmasambhava on down. Seriously there are some deep cuts in there.

Himalayan Art Resources - Tibetan Buddhism makes great use of iconography and art as a meditative tool. This is a great resource to identify which heruka you are looking at.

Madyamaka - A website offering an introduction to Madyamaka philosophy (or at least how its traditionally presented in Tibetan traditions). There's a reading list and a 8 week study program easing you into the key text of Chandrakirti's Madhyamakavatara.

Blendy
Jun 18, 2007

She thinks I'm a haughty!



I just wanted to add to the discussion that secular schools of Buddhism also exist, Buddhism is not strictly a religion. The Buddha himself was not concerned with the religions of his time and taught everyone willing to learning, telling them there is no conflict between belong to any religion while also following Buddism. Most of the mythical religious aspects of Buddism came about as Buddhists melded local religions and shamanism into their belief system to attract more followers, for example, Tibetian Buddism is a fusion of Buddist teaching and the Bon religion. Or it picked up those aspects to supplement instead of competing with local views such as in Japan where Shinto did not deal a lot with death rites so Buddhists were like "we got you" and today weddings in Japan (if tradition non-Chrisitan) is Shinto and funerals (non-christian) are Buddhists. For those interested in the philosophy but are not interested in converting or are simply not interested in the religious aspects of various schools, there is still a ton that Buddism can offer you. Here's a link to the Secular Buddist Association: https://secularbuddhism.org/ for a simple summation I also like to recommend the book Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor.

Edit:

I wanted to add one of my favorite Buddist anecdotes about the nature of compassion in Buddism that always made me laugh. A Buddhist monk and a young child who is a ward of the temple are out for a walk. It's a long walk and eventually, the child has to urinate. So the child starts to leave the road to go behind a tree. The monk asks the child, "what are you doing?' and the child replies 'I am going to pee, I need to pee.' The monk gets upset and tells the child 'You can not pee on that tree, the tree has Buddha's nature you cannot foul it.' The child obeys and they continue their walk. The child then spots a stream and begins to dash off to pee in it. The monk again stops the child, explaining the stream also has the Buddha's nature so he can not foul the stream. So again they begin their walk until the child spots a mound of rocks and again dashes off clearly in pain. Again the monk stops and scolds him explaining that the rocks, and the grass, the dirt, and all of nature have the Buddha's nature and cannot be spoiled. So the child walks over and pees on the monk.

Blendy fucked around with this message at 21:25 on Feb 16, 2020

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Josef bugman posted:

How do some sects of Buddhism feel about suicide?

I know that certain groups consider it okay (the famous picture of the monk on fire being one of the most lasting images of the 20th century) but does the "having no fear of death" or perhaps the longing for oblivion have anything written about?

It's bad, folks.

So, the thing about it is that Buddhists are totally down with death. We're all gonna do it and being afraid of it is dumb. However, a human life is a precious thing. Not innately. Lmao, god no. Human bodies are gross, and make disgusting things. When you take delicious food and put it in your mouth, then take it out of your mouth, we say the food is dirty. When you spit on the dirt, we say we made the dirt dirty. When you die, people will pay a lot of money to get rid of your body. Nobody wants to keep it around! The body is not precious.

The human life is precious, because the human life has the opportunity to practice Dharma and make strides towards enlightenment. In this way, it's more precious than a deer's life, because a deer does not have a lot of time or onus to practice Dharma. A deer still has a Buddha Nature and its life is no less valuable than a person's.

To bring it back to causes and conditions, a deer has the cause of enlightenment because it has a Buddha Nature, but it lacks the conditions to practice Dharma. A human life has the causes of liberation but also the conditions to practice.

So, instead of killing yourself, it's much better to just practice Dharma. If your poo poo sucks completely, at least you can help others. Your poo poo won't get improved by killing yourself, because you will cause suffering to others (your parents, or even if everyone hates you, someone will have to clean up the mess your body makes and will be suffering), and you may not be reborn as a person, but instead as a fuckin' weasel, or something, so nothing gets better from dying. But, while you're alive, you can do things to make other people's lives better.

On top of that, if you have the desire to kill yourself, it's because you want to escape from suffering. But Buddhists know the causes of suffering, and those causes are not how lovely our lives are, right? Our lives are lovely, perhaps unbearably so, but rather than kill ourselves, we should try to use that recognition of suffering to practice mind training.

We're going to die inevitably, so killing yourself is a completely futile act that accomplishes nothing at all. Instead, just meditate, just serve others. You'll be miserable, but if you can make others less miserable, then that's good.

Clinical depression is a real rear end thing of course and can make it very difficult to see these things. It's unfortunate when a human life is lost to depression, it's tragic that suffering like that exists. So as Buddhists we' also have to support people with depression and try to help them by easing their suffering.

A human life is a precious human life when it has the opportunity to practice Dharma, also, which is why a middle class lifestyle is considered ideal for Buddhists - if you're so poor that you have to spend all your time trying just to stay alive, this is unfortunate, because you have no opportunity to practice Dharma; but similarly, if you're so rich that you can't recognize the unsatisfactory nature of your existence, because you can just throw money at every problem, then you'll never recognize your suffering as being something coming from you, and you won't meet that first noble truth. Instead, you'll think that every suffering is just a problem you haven't solved (it is, but not like that).

So basically, don't do a suicide, do see doctors and take your meds, do practice mindfulness, don't judge others who are struggling, but rather take advantage of every opportunity you have to practice Dharma.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Also, because it often comes up, there is a general consensus across all schools that some people should not meditate. This has become a problem since the West has embraced mindfulness as the magic bullet to solve the problem of everyone being miserable under capitalism. People with very bad anxiety and depression should generally not meditate. Meditation involves engaging with your mind very directly, and people with anxiety and depression can often end up reinforcing those depression thoughts or anxiety thoughts rather than ameliorating them. Some people can meditate mindfully and recognize that their depression or anxiety has no basis and that those thoughts are just transient things, but usually only people who have good karma for meditation (we'd say from past lives of practice, but who cares about that) can meditate away a depression. Most people end up just seeing the depression thoughts and habituating them more strongly because they get very distracted by the self-loathing and can't quite get to the root of the thought, or hell, some will even get worse ("I can't believe I can't see the nature of my mind! I'm so loving stupid and useless).

So don't meditate if you have a depression unless you have a good teacher who can tell you when to stop. For Tibetan Buddhists if there is major discouragement like that we generally recommend doing purification practices and focusing on ritual-y stuff rather than doing a lot of meditation if you are prone to those kinds of things; focusing on concrete stuff and not spending so much time "in one's head."

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Blendy posted:

I just wanted to add to the discussion that secular schools of Buddhism also exist, Buddhism is not strictly a religion. The Buddha himself was not concerned with the religions of his time and taught everyone willing to learning, telling them there is no conflict between belong to any religion while also following Buddism. Most of the mythical religious aspects of Buddism came about as Buddhists melded local religions and shamanism into their belief system to attract more followers, for example, Tibetian Buddism is a fusion of Buddist teaching and the Bon religion. Or it picked up those aspects to supplement instead of competing with local views such as in Japan where Shinto did not deal a lot with death rites so Buddhists were like "we got you" and today weddings in Japan (if tradition non-Chrisitan) is Shinto and funerals (non-christian) are Buddhists. For those interested in the philosophy but are not interested in converting or are simply not interested in the religious aspects of various schools, there is still a ton that Buddism can offer you. Here's a link to the Secular Buddist Association: https://secularbuddhism.org/ for a simple summation I also like to recommend the book Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor.

Edit:

I wanted to add one of my favorite Buddist anecdotes about the nature of compassion in Buddism that always made me laugh. A Buddhist monk and a young child who is a ward of the temple are out for a walk. It's a long walk and eventually, the child has to urinate. So the child starts to leave the road to go behind a tree. The monk asks the child, "what are you doing?' and the child replies 'I am going to pee, I need to pee.' The monk gets upset and tells the child 'You can not pee on that tree, the tree has Buddha's nature you cannot foul it.' The child obeys and they continue their rock. The child then spots a stream and begins to dash off to pee in it. The monk again stops the child, explaining the stream also has the Buddha's nature so he can not foul the stream. So again they begin their walk until the child spots a mound of rocks and again dashes off clearly in pain. Again the monk stops and scolds him explaining that the rocks, and the grass, the dirt, and all of nature have the Buddha's nature and cannot be spoiled. So the child walks over and pees on the monk.

Thanks for this. I tend to dislike the term "secular Buddhism" because to me, all Buddhism is secular. It is about people living in the world, how can it not be secular? I recognize there's a major movement towards a secularized Buddhism in favor of Western materialism. I would argue that it's a stretch to say that the Buddha didn't engage with the religions of his time because a significant amount of the Pali canon is stories of the Buddha dunking on teachers of other religions of his time, and he came to Buddhism only after (and incorporated into Buddhism) attaining many stages of Samadhi through other practices.

That said, there's nothing wrong with taking a Western materialist approach to Buddhism - it is functional without any kind of esotericism at all. It tends to look different and there is often a kind of inherent academic snobbery or cultural imperialism built into it, especially as it floats around the Western academic community. "Ah, you see, the Buddha never taught about spirits existing or nagas or gods, this is just those superstitious Tibetans mixing Good Pure Scientific Positivist Buddhism with their dumb animist superstitions~~~" is an unfortunately not uncommon sentiment from the "Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion" crowd.

You even see this within academic scholarship about Tibetan Buddhism. There's a practice called "chod" in Tibetan Buddhism, "cutting," where you offer yourself as a sacrifice to all the sentient beings, visualizing yourself being chopped to pieces and vivisected and boiled down into a big pot that is used to serve all the hell beings and demons and so on. In one of these practices, in the text, there's the phrase "project the consciousness to the space in front of and above the body, and observe the body." And the word is "phowa," which means "projection." It doesn't mean "visualize your body." It doesn't mean "imagine yourself floating..." Tibetans have words for these things! It says project!

I asked Rinpoche, "does this mean project or does it mean to kind of visualize," and he said "why would you visualize it? Send your consciousness there!*" But then you have the academic crowd going "ah, it's just imagination and psychodrama, the Tibetans didn't really believe in this" because the academic consensus can't synthesize the dialectic between "Tibetans are really wise" and "Tibetans aren't scientific materialists."

* In the basic instructions on calm-abiding meditation with a reference object, it says that you should rest the mind on the object, without any analysis or visualization. In the West a lot of the time we translate that to "hold the object in your mind," which is a big problem! When you rest the mind on the object, you're recognizing the non-spatial nature of the mind as a thing that is not located in space, but moves around. Our Western conception of the mind tends to put it in a place, usually in our head. When we "hold an object in our mind," we are limiting the mind and so actually obscuring its nature (i.e., the mind is something that can hold things, the mind is a place, the mind has properties). When we "rest the mind on an object," we still limit it ("the mind is something that can rest on things") but there is a nuance there. Another problem is that when we "hold the object in our mind" this is a mental activity, it's not resting, it's holding. Calm abiding is just resting the mind, if you're imagining or visualizing or so on the object, you're not just resting it. Finally, part of the exercise is recognizing that the body is not "you" and "you" are not the body and even within this perceptual field of phenomena the distinction between "self" and "other" is completely arbitrary. When "I" see "a pebble," the event that's happening is a pebble eye-consciousness activity is arising, and then a thought-consciousness activity of naming is occurring, and neither of those events happen anywhere in space, they just occur.

So all of those words just to basically say, "be careful about placing Buddhism within a strict framework of scientific positivism because that's just another mental trap." It turns out the framework that's best for building spaceships and splitting atoms is actually kinda garbage for figuring out the nature of mind or the qualia of consciousness, but that's a whole thing for me to get into.

Double tl;dr Secular Buddhism is cool but be careful about dogmas of any sort.

In particular I want to be clear that I'm not accusing you, Blendy, of any of those things, or Stephen Batchelor, whose work I'm only passingly familiar with. It's just a sort of tendency and a discussion I've had many times, especially with academics.



Edit: (help, the only unceasing things in the three worlds are the Buddha's compassionate activity and my bad posting)

I used to be a big proponent of "Buddhism is a philosophy" and I have never been a fan of Buddhism as a religion - after all, I'm a Westerner myself and so have never had the religious approach that is common throughout East Asia. I am increasingly approaching Buddhism with the idea that "Buddhism is a lifestyle," which is not about buying yard decor from Amazon dot com but more about living the Buddha's teachings in your actual everyday life mindfully. Going to teachings and empowerments and performing meditations and rituals can be part of that lifestyle but if we say that that is our practice, then we're putting our practice in a compartment separate from our day to day life. If Buddhism is our religion then we become "meditation seat Buddhists" who are very pious and wise on the cushion and then get in their cars and motherfuck people who cut them off on their way to their jobs on Wall Street, and it's not very effective. It's better than nothing at all, but I think someone being compassionate and kind and exemplifying the Buddha's teachings in day to day life is better than Twitter Jack spending more than a small family makes in a decade to fly to Myanmar and do meditation for a week.

So that's my thing. Buddhism is a lifestyle which is based on both philosophical and theological conceptions, and that philosophy happens to be perfectly happy in a scientific positivist framework if that's where it has to be, but it is neither better nor worse than spooky ghost smoke offerings Buddhism.

Edit2: I'm just doing edits at this point because I don't want to do like a quadruple post.

Anyhow, much of this came to me as a matter of necessity rather than as a willful decision. I used to have a practice of about 2 hours a day in meditation and ritual before doing my fulltime work as a Tibetan language translator and personal attendant to my Lama.

Then I had a kid and you know what is not supportive of a fulltime Dharma life? Havin' a fuckin' baby. But boy, let me tell you, nothing teaches practicing compassion quite like having to defend your home from a goblin 12 hours a day, and it helped me greatly to take that practice of Dharma and put it in the context of the real world.

Paramemetic fucked around with this message at 22:00 on Feb 16, 2020

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

Who/what created Dharma? Does it just exist prior to everything else? What set it all in motion (as it were)?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.



Josef bugman posted:

Who/what created Dharma? Does it just exist prior to everything else? What set it all in motion (as it were)?
My understanding:

The dharma in the ultimate sense is like the law of gravity. That's just the way it is.
The buddha-dharma, i.e. what Shakyamuni taught and which has been elaborated and developed on by various schools, was the work of Shakyamuni Buddha and his successors, but a dharma recorded on an alien planet would be fundamentally similar. There would be some differences no doubt due to the fine nuances of the human-equivalents on that world (for instance, obligate carnivores would have different challenges regarding right livelihood).

There was no fundamental ultimate point of "creation," a point before which there was 'nothing' and after which there was 'something'. You could trace this back to, for instance, this universe, but time itself didn't begin then. There were beings suffering before this universe existed, and there will be beings suffering after this universe ends (tho hopefully progress will be being made by the bodhisattvas).

zhar
May 3, 2019



Josef bugman posted:

Who/what created Dharma? Does it just exist prior to everything else? What set it all in motion (as it were)?

Dharma can be translated as literally "truth", and "practicing dharma" could be said as "living in accordance with the universe". Noone created dharma and it is not specifically Buddhist, you can have Christian dharma, Hindhu Dharma, even humanist or atheist dharma. You can say the Buddha's dharma was created by the Buddha in one way (maybe in the same way Planck's constant was created by Planck) but it is like truth - noone creates or owns the truth, it's just the truth (you can own lies though).

As for what set it in motion, idk but here's a cool Dzogchen interpretation. Note that Samsara comes about due to ignorance about the nature of the universe, which lead to actions that do not accord with it.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Josef bugman posted:

Who/what created Dharma? Does it just exist prior to everything else? What set it all in motion (as it were)?

This is a question.

I can only sort of answer from a Tibetan-ish perspective. I think the shortest and most concise answer is actually "the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao" but, you know, wrong flavor.

"Dharma" means "phenomena" but also "path," in the sense that your path, the one you're on, is where you are right now, and that is amongst all this phenomena that is arising and falling around you constantly.

So a dharma is just anyone's gestalt. The Tibetan word for what created it or where it arises would be རང་བཞིན་གིས་། "rang shin ki" - "by its own nature." It exists as a composition of consciousness events. Eye consciousness, ear consciousness, nose consciousness, mouth consciousness, touch consciousness, thought consciousness, all of of these have arising events, without beginning or ending, and we consider the aggregation of these arising events to be "our mind" and we consider this to be "us" and then we differentiate subject from object and end up in samsara.

So everyone has "a dharma" because everyone exists in a field of phenomena that is reality.

"The Dharma" is the actual, true nature of that reality, as taught by the Buddha. It recognizes that those phenomena are without inherent existence but rather exist only through interdependent origination. All phenomena are the result of interdependent cause and effect, without any inherent substance or "reality."

We can recognize the nature of reality by recognizing the nature of our own mind, because our mind is the sort of substrate upon which reality arises. There are some technically terms here like "Dharmakaya" which is the state in which Buddhas exist after enlightenment (the truth body that is the nature of mind free from conceptual elaboration) and the Dharmadhatu (the vast field of all phenomenal arisings prior to conceptual elaboration) and I think that those are both the same thing from different perspectives, but I also know that that is not quite right. It becomes a bit difficult to define, which is why I somewhat avoided getting into the doctrine of emptiness and that kind of philosophical stuff. My lineage founder, Jigten Sumgon, teaches quite rightly that you have to experience things that can't be described because they can't be described by definition, because, well, the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

Who/what created Dharma? Does it just exist prior to everything else? What set it all in motion (as it were)?

EDIT - Other people gave a better answer.

One thing to bear in mind though is the sanskrit word dharma is one of the most hilariously vague words ever. It can mean: Truth, religion, way, law or path. It can also mean "phenomena" which leads to wonderfully impenetrable sentences in the sutras like "This dharma is the dharma that is the dharma to dharma". It's poo poo like this that means the commentaries are fundamental to anyone trying to understand the sutras without a degree in ancient Sanskrit.

Goldreallas XXX fucked around with this message at 23:01 on Feb 16, 2020

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

So if the nature of reality is suffering, could not a goal be to end reality?

zhar
May 3, 2019



Josef bugman posted:

So if the nature of reality is suffering, could not a goal be to end reality?

Careful!

Paramemetic posted:

2) The Truth of the Cause of Suffering: Suffering is a characteristic of phenomena but it is not the nature of phenomena. All phenomena by nature are empty or without essence. Thus, suffering is not a characteristic of the phenomena. Instead, it’s a characteristic of the experiencer. Specifically, suffering come from ignorance, attachment, grasping, and aversion. Suffering occurs when we want something that is not the case to be the case (grasping), when we want something that is the case to not be the case (aversion), or when we want something that is the case to remain the case (attachment). We do those things (grasp, attach, fear) when we think that phenomena are real, or when we are ignorant to the nature of phenomena as inherently empty*.

In any case, how would one go about ending reality even if one wished to?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.



Yeah that kind of thing comes up a fair bit, like I was trying in the end of the previous thread to articulate that "dukkha" isn't exactly "suffering" as we would construct the concept in English, though it is a form of that.

Josef bugman posted:

So if the nature of reality is suffering, could not a goal be to end reality?
Ah, I see you enjoy anime too.

Ultimately, you can't end reality. Even if you were Dr. Eggman and could destroy the Earth with your super laser piss, you could extinguish the human species but you would do nothing about the nature of the mind that generates suffering. In time other minds would arise and would experience the same situation. You can also make major strides in addressing suffering - even leaving aside Buddhist practice, putting the resources it would take to even begin to try to figure out "how to destroy reality" into effect would probably be sufficient to move vast numbers of people into the householder/middle class situation where practice is probably the most fruitful.

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

So if the nature of reality is suffering, could not a goal be to end reality?

The nature of seeming reality is suffering, samsara. Alexander Berzin describes samsara as being "impossible ways of being". When impossible ways of being (craving for phenomena that have no real essence, clinging to a self that doesn't really exist etc.) are destroyed, we see reality for what it truly is, which is great emptiness free of suffering.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

zhar posted:

In any case, how would one go about ending reality even if one wished to?

Simply allow heat death to occur. That or die continuously so that you cannot be part of the wheel.

Also I don't like the idea of a universe both having a nature that is inherently hostile to human beings wanting to live, and also possessing a load of things that could improve it. That would imply the universe is not only sentient, but malicious.

Goldreallas XXX posted:

The nature of seeming reality is suffering, samsara. Alexander Berzin describes samsara as being "impossible ways of being". When impossible ways of being (craving for phenomena that have no real essence, clinging to a self that doesn't really exist etc.) are destroyed, we see reality for what it truly is, which is great emptiness free of suffering.

As I have argued before if one can only perceive of something and no-one can agree on what the other thing is, does the second truly exist? Like if the self cannot be grasped, can reality itself be said to exist?

Josef bugman fucked around with this message at 23:12 on Feb 16, 2020

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

Simply allow heat death to occur. That or die continuously so that you cannot be part of the wheel.

Also I don't like the idea of a universe both having a nature that is inherently hostile to human beings wanting to live, and also possessing a load of things that could improve it. That would imply the universe is not only sentient, but malicious.

You can't die without being born. The wheel spins whether you want it to or not.

Our universe isn't inherently hostile to human beings, as buddhas and bodhisattvas manifest in this world to benefit beings both temporarily and ultimately.

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

As I have argued before if one can only perceive of something and no-one can agree on what the other thing is, does the second truly exist? Like if the self cannot be grasped, can reality itself be said to exist?

This is one of the major elements of criticism from classical Hindu sources levelled at the buddhas teaching. That it is a nihilistic doctrine denying the existence of all phenomena. What the buddha very carefully lays out though is that, although all phenomena lack an inherent essence, they do exist on a relative level. The buddha denies the existence of a real, eternal, unchanging self. He does not deny the apparent existence of the world and the creatures within it. This is why the message of his dharma is great compassion to suffering beings. These two truths (relative truth = the world exists, ultimate truth = but it has no essence) must be understood in their unity. This is also why you see a lot of male / female union in tantric texts and images, the male represents relative truth / compassion and the female represents ultimate truth / wisdom.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

Goldreallas XXX posted:

You can't die without being born. The wheel spins whether you want it to or not.

Our universe isn't inherently hostile to human beings, as buddhas and bodhisattvas manifest in this world to benefit beings both temporarily and ultimately.

Then I exist without my consent, and I wish to return this ticket and tell the universe to shove it where the sun shineth not.

Does the fact that only some become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not imply that there is a malevolence in the cosmos? Is the fact that only some become this through simply moulding themselves into the wheel not a condemnation of the wheel itself?

By this I mean that, if only certain people through time are able to become Buddhas, does that not mean that the universe only "allows" certain folks to get that way. This is deeply paranoid (and I know not actually representative of Buddhist thought) but how do we know that the Buddha is not just a sticking plaster to the wheel of what is?

(I do apologise if this is insulting! I do not mean it to be, I just really like discussions like this!)

Josef bugman fucked around with this message at 23:26 on Feb 16, 2020

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Josef bugman posted:

Simply allow heat death to occur.

Seems inevitable anyhow, no worries.

quote:

That or die continuously so that you cannot be part of the wheel.

That's what we've all been doing, but that's also exactly being part of the wheel. If you want to be free from the wheel of samsara, you have to end the process of birth, aging, sickness, and dying.

One of the things I didn't originally get into in the OP because it's complicated and putting too much poo poo out there makes people pop off is that the whole process of rebirth happens because of ignorance. We have an aversion to death, and we grasp for life (based on the things we've mentally habituated), so when we die our consciousness clings to form and reboots. Death is as impermanent as life. This is absolutely fundamental to Buddhist thinking (and one of my reservations about materialism in Buddhism, but there are interpretations of death and rebirth that talk about mindstates and aren't terrible) and more or less makes the whole point. We escape the cycle of rebirth by recognizing the actual nature of reality and spending our time practicing breaking the habit of reorganizing consciousness in new forms when we die.

This process is called the "12 links of interdependent origination," and it goes like this:

1) We're ignorant to the actual nature of reality and consider ourselves to be a "self" rather than recognizing ourself to be an aggregation of properties (called "skandhas," which are form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness, more in a bit), so we
2) create mental formations generating cause and effect, and this leads to
3) Consciousness, called impelling consciousness (an impulse towards existence), leading to
4) Name-And-Form, the formation of those five skandhas, creating a body and consciousness that considers itself a self, in which
5) the six consciousnesses arise, because our name-and-form has sense organs.
6) Contact occurs between object and organ. Sense objects meet sense organs, leading to
7) Sensation, whichs lead to sense-consciousness-arising-events, i.e., an image hits the eye and the eye generates a consciousness-moment that is "seeing", for all senses plus the meta-cognitive thought that identifies those consciousness-events. So, we see a turtle, the light hits the eye, an event happens, and then we think "that is a turtle" and replace the sense-turtle with the thought-turtle in our mental representation.
8) Craving occurs because we now have thought-objects, which includes the imputed characteristics of things we like and don't like.
9) This leads to grasping, because we strive to never be apart from things we like, and never be with things we don't like.
10) Grasping leads to Becoming, because our actions in seeking out the objects of our grasping leads to our creating karma - we create causes and receive effects, and this process is becoming.
11) Through the power of becoming, we continually experience rebirth any time the causes and conditions are met.
12) Because anything that is born is composited by nature, we must experience aging, sickness, and dying. If we do not resolve the root of ignorance, these last two processes loop eternally.

If, however, we resolve ignorance, then it's like cutting a tree at the roots.



I've edited this into the OP.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

So what if we Crave non-existence.

I don't say this personally but as a thought experiment. If someone truly wished to not be, would that be possible inside of a karmic set up?

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

Then I exist without my consent, and I wish to return this ticket and tell the universe to shove it where the sun shineth not.

Does the fact that only some become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not imply that there is a malevolence in the cosmos? Is the fact that only some become this through simply moulding themselves into the wheel not a condemnation of the wheel itself?

By this I mean that, if only certain people through time are able to become Buddhas, does that not mean that the universe only "allows" certain folks to get that way. This is deeply paranoid (and I know not actually representative of Buddhist thought) but how do we know that the Buddha is not just a sticking plaster to the wheel of what is?

(I do apologise if this is insulting! I do not mean it to be, I just really like discussions like this!)

A central difference between Buddhism and other religions is that the buddha is not omnipotent. He has immeasurable power, and he is certainly omniscient, but his power does have limits. This is why we're not all buddhas now. But, buddhism isn't limited by ideas like a final apocalypse or anything. Samsara is infinite, so buddhas have an infinite amount of time to work their magic, which they do ceaselessly. The sutras talk about merit pouring from buddhas pores, and how, through the merit of their aspirations, anyone who even sees an image of, say Amitabha is blessed with the merit to further realization. The mahayana indicates (I forget the sutra I'm sorry, it may be the Diamond sutra but idk...) that the ultimate fate of all sentient beings is to become buddhas eventually.

All beings have the same buddha nature that Paramemetic mentioned. This is pristine and stainless, and untouched by samsara. It remains regardless of the accretions of karma that it's picked up through its voyage through samsara. Nagarjuna likens it to a diamond covered in poo poo. All beings can become buddhas, and every single act of kindness, compassion or basic decency moves one and everyone around one ever so slightly towards clearing that poo poo away and recognizing it for what it is.

zhar
May 3, 2019



Josef bugman posted:

Simply allow heat death to occur. That or die continuously so that you cannot be part of the wheel.

Also I don't like the idea of a universe both having a nature that is inherently hostile to human beings wanting to live, and also possessing a load of things that could improve it. That would imply the universe is not only sentient, but malicious.


As I have argued before if one can only perceive of something and no-one can agree on what the other thing is, does the second truly exist?

In the Buddhist worldview (at least as I understand it) the mind is primary, not physical reality. Even if this universe is destroyed a new one would pop up in relation to the ignorant mind not dissimilar to how the past and future pop up in relation to the present. Not only is the universe not innately hostile due to buddhas and bodhisattvas as Goldreallas says but the flip side of samsara is nirvana. The mind cannot be destroyed, as long as there are ignorant minds there will be a reality to experience samsara but the mind can be transformed to experience nirvana instead.


The universe is not sentient other than you (as a sentient being) being part of the universe that is aware - you are the sentient aspect of the universe.


Josef bugman posted:

So what if we Crave non-existence.

I don't say this personally but as a thought experiment. If someone truly wished to not be, would that be possible inside of a karmic set up?

No, the mind cannot be destroyed. You could go to the formless realms or something which are very subtle though. I'm not sure you'd want to not be if you became a buddha.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Josef bugman posted:

Then I exist without my consent, and I wish to return this ticket and tell the universe to shove it where the sun shineth not.

Does the fact that only some become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not imply that there is a malevolence in the cosmos? Is the fact that only some become this through simply moulding themselves into the wheel not a condemnation of the wheel itself?

By this I mean that, if only certain people through time are able to become Buddhas, does that not mean that the universe only "allows" certain folks to get that way. This is deeply paranoid (and I know not actually representative of Buddhist thought) but how do we know that the Buddha is not just a sticking plaster to the wheel of what is?

(I do apologise if this is insulting! I do not mean it to be, I just really like discussions like this!)


Literally everyone becomes a Buddha eventually, because many millions of dudes have dedicated their lives to making that happen. All sentient beings have a Buddha Nature and the potential for Buddhahood, and will eventually realize that Buddha Nature. It just takes a long time.

No maliciousness, malice requires consciousness. The universe is only sentient insomuch as we are sentient and inexorably connected to the universe, which exists only through phenomenal arisings within mind.

If your mind is malicious, then look to sorting that. Anger begets anger, hatred begets hatred. Compassion for sentient beings begins with compassion for ourselves as well.

Goldreallas XXX
Oct 22, 2009


Josef bugman posted:

So what if we Crave non-existence.

I don't say this personally but as a thought experiment. If someone truly wished to not be, would that be possible inside of a karmic set up?

This would be the cause of rebirth in the formless realm, specifically the realm of Ākiṃcanyāyatana:

quote:

"Sphere of Nothingness" (literally "lacking anything"). In this sphere formless beings dwell contemplating upon the thought that "there is no thing". This is considered a form of perception, though a very subtle one. This was the sphere reached by Ārāḍa Kālāma (Pāli: Āḷāra Kālāma), the first of the Buddha's original teachers; he considered it to be equivalent to enlightenment. Total life span on this realm in human years – 60,000 Maha Kalpa. This realm is placed 5,580,000 yojanas above the Plane of Infinite Consciousness(Vijńānānantyāyatana).

It is one of the pinnacles of samsara, but not devoid of birth and death. Tending towards the nihilistic, rather than the eternalist view. The buddhadharma is called "the middle way" becaust it transcends the distinctions of "being" and "not being".

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.



Josef bugman posted:

Then I exist without my consent, and I wish to return this ticket and tell the universe to shove it where the sun shineth not.

Does the fact that only some become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not imply that there is a malevolence in the cosmos? Is the fact that only some become this through simply moulding themselves into the wheel not a condemnation of the wheel itself?

By this I mean that, if only certain people through time are able to become Buddhas, does that not mean that the universe only "allows" certain folks to get that way. This is deeply paranoid (and I know not actually representative of Buddhist thought) but how do we know that the Buddha is not just a sticking plaster to the wheel of what is?

(I do apologise if this is insulting! I do not mean it to be, I just really like discussions like this!)
You do not need to apologize, brother, but I will be real that sometimes it seems like these questions have heat behind them, even if that heat is not authentic and is an artifact of phrasing, word choice etc. I do not say this to demean your perspective or the feelings of your heart, just to try to give back info since you seem to wish for it.

As Paramemetic said, probably in the long run, the very long run, all become Buddhas, or I suppose arhats. You could pursue the course of arhatship and I think they held that if you were in the stream you only had a few more rebirths ahead of you - perhaps you would even be able to reach paranirvana in this life.

The idea of someone so deeply dedicated to suicide that they pursue the path of arhatship sounds like a parable in the making.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Specifically, regarding the Middle Way, Gampopa said "believing things have an essential nature is stupid like cattle; believing in nihilism is even more stupid."

zhar
May 3, 2019



Goldreallas XXX posted:

This would be the cause of rebirth in the formless realm, specifically the realm of Ākiṃcanyāyatana:


It is one of the pinnacles of samsara, but not devoid of birth and death. Tending towards the nihilistic, rather than the eternalist view. The buddhadharma is called "the middle way" becaust it transcends the distinctions of "being" and "not being".

problem with this kind of rebirth is that it sounds like a long time (it is in fact a very very long time) and you aren't going to be suffering when you're there but eventually your karma runs out and like it was a dream you wake up (not remembering it) right back in the lower realms again no closer to escaping samsara.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

Paramemetic posted:

Literally everyone becomes a Buddha eventually, because many millions of dudes have dedicated their lives to making that happen. All sentient beings have a Buddha Nature and the potential for Buddhahood, and will eventually realize that Buddha Nature. It just takes a long time.

No maliciousness, malice requires consciousness. The universe is only sentient insomuch as we are sentient and inexorably connected to the universe, which exists only through phenomenal arisings within mind.

If your mind is malicious, then look to sorting that. Anger begets anger, hatred begets hatred. Compassion for sentient beings begins with compassion for ourselves as well.

So, wait, hang on. If we all possess Buddha nature, and the universe is none malevolent, why don't we already all Buddhas? Saying "oh it takes a while" is meaningless if it takes more than 14 billion years and counting.

Anger also begets change, it begets passion, hope and, hopefully, justice. The universe existing, as is, is fundamentally unjust. I think that anger, more than any other emotion, gets a bad rap because it is associated with hatred. But they are fundamentally different and I would argue that anger is a net positive for people.

Also, compassion is for other people. As in literally. Have compassion for others before you give it to yourself.

Goldreallas XXX posted:

It is one of the pinnacles of samsara, but not devoid of birth and death. Tending towards the nihilistic, rather than the eternalist view. The buddhadharma is called "the middle way" becaust it transcends the distinctions of "being" and "not being".

So there is no exit. We have to keep on, until we have "perfected" ourselves? That seems, to me at least, coercive.

Nessus posted:

You do not need to apologize, brother, but I will be real that sometimes it seems like these questions have heat behind them, even if that heat is not authentic and is an artifact of phrasing, word choice etc. I do not say this to demean your perspective or the feelings of your heart, just to try to give back info since you seem to wish for it.

Of course! I don't want to come across as angry at people, that is foolish and bad, I want to be angry at systems. Making people sad or angry for no reason is a bad thing. Do be sure to let me know if I am being bad with the phrases, and I will bear in mind if I'm making folks cross!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.



Josef bugman posted:

So, wait, hang on. If we all possess Buddha nature, and the universe is none malevolent, why don't we already all Buddhas? Saying "oh it takes a while" is meaningless if it takes more than 14 billion years and counting.

Anger also begets change, it begets passion, hope and, hopefully, justice. The universe existing, as is, is fundamentally unjust. I think that anger, more than any other emotion, gets a bad rap because it is associated with hatred. But they are fundamentally different and I would argue that anger is a net positive for people.

Also, compassion is for other people. As in literally. Have compassion for others before you give it to yourself.
See I understand what you're saying, and I'm all about channeling anger towards righteous causes, but I was very angry and I had horrible skin infections and digestive issues. I have found ways to not be writhing in this particular fire (not least the ones in this thread) and I am personally in a much better state.

If I had not had this compassion for myself - if I had taken your advice and focused on putting others entirely before myself - I might be dead, and I would certainly be physically disabled and enervated. In my personal work I do provide help to others and I try to do what I can; I judge dispassionately that I am, at least, on a positive trend line, even if the full accounting (so to speak) is beyond my power.

I don't' understand what you mean about this being coercive. There is the option to not cultivate merit and good karma, it just seems a little counterproductive. Like from the Buddhist perspective, this is just the way it is - what you do with this is up to you. You can curse the law of gravity; you can work around it; or, you can figure out ways to leverage it to help people, for instance by cunning design of the sewage pipes so the poo poo rolls downhill and collects in one place rather than in the river.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003






Fallen Rib

Josef bugman posted:

So, wait, hang on. If we all possess Buddha nature, and the universe is none malevolent, why don't we already all Buddhas? Saying "oh it takes a while" is meaningless if it takes more than 14 billion years and counting.

Breaking habits takes time.

quote:

Anger also begets change, it begets passion, hope and, hopefully, justice. The universe existing, as is, is fundamentally unjust. I think that anger, more than any other emotion, gets a bad rap because it is associated with hatred. But they are fundamentally different and I would argue that anger is a net positive for people.

Change is fundamental, and I think I have to disagree on the hope and justice bits. We should strive for those things, but not from anger. Doing so out of anger is cultivating suffering. Doing so out of compassion or love is cultivating the end to suffering. The anger itself is a form of suffering, hatred is a poison.

Punch Nazis, but do it out of love, is what I'm saying. "May all sentient beings, especially those enemies who hate me, obstructors who harm me, and those who create obstacles on my path to liberation and enlightenment, have happiness and the causes of happiness, be separated from suffering and the causes of suffering, and quickly attain complete, perfection enlightenment."

You see, if your enemies have happiness and freedom from suffering, they won't be your enemies any longer. The trick here is that what they think will make them happy and what actually is the cause of happiness is not happiness. People will say "yeah but Nazis want to kill everyone, and you want them to be happy!!! Wow!!!!" But that's not it at all. Rather, Nazis want to kill everyone out of ignorance, grasping, attachment, and aversion. I want them to not have those things anymore. But it's not out of hatred for them.

quote:

Also, compassion is for other people. As in literally. Have compassion for others before you give it to yourself.

Compassion is something you have to learn. You don't get good at lifting weights by starting with the heaviest object you can find. You don't get good at cultivating compassion for all sentient beings by starting with "all sentient beings." Start with those close to you that you love and, then those close to you that you don't love, and then you can worry about going further afield.

How can you be kind to others if you can't be kind to yourself? How would you even know what kindness looks like?


quote:

So there is no exit. We have to keep on, until we have "perfected" ourselves? That seems, to me at least, coercive.

As Sartre said, "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance." Nobody asks to be born, but we are responsible for our actions. Is it unfair? No, not really. It's simply cause and effect.

If you want off, that will also require cause and effect. Alas, it's Sisyphean, but one must imagine Sisyphus happy.

quote:

Of course! I don't want to come across as angry at people, that is foolish and bad, I want to be angry at systems. Making people sad or angry for no reason is a bad thing. Do be sure to let me know if I am being bad with the phrases, and I will bear in mind if I'm making folks cross!

No point in being angry at systems, either, because it's just cause and effect. As useful to be angry at gravity. Instead, hang up the anger, because anger is itself suffering.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Chomsky Boi

Nessus posted:

See I understand what you're saying, and I'm all about channeling anger towards righteous causes, but I was very angry and I had horrible skin infections and digestive issues. I have found ways to not be writhing in this particular fire (not least the ones in this thread) and I am personally in a much better state.

If I had not had this compassion for myself - if I had taken your advice and focused on putting others entirely before myself - I might be dead, and I would certainly be physically disabled and enervated. In my personal work I do provide help to others and I try to do what I can; I judge dispassionately that I am, at least, on a positive trend line, even if the full accounting (so to speak) is beyond my power.

I don't' understand what you mean about this being coercive. There is the option to not cultivate merit and good karma, it just seems a little counterproductive. Like from the Buddhist perspective, this is just the way it is - what you do with this is up to you. You can curse the law of gravity; you can work around it; or, you can figure out ways to leverage it to help people, for instance by cunning design of the sewage pipes so the poo poo rolls downhill and collects in one place rather than in the river.

I hope they got better/ are getting better!

It's good that you are doing that, but you already provide help to others. That means there is the opportunity to provide compassion inwards too. The problem is that it's far too easy to just go "I'm a good person" and then do horrible stuff.

I dislike the idea of "this is the way things are" when it comes to moral systems. I know that from a lot of points of view that is the equivalent of getting real mad at gravity, but I don't like the cyclical "it's here because, it's here because, it's here because it's here" nature of it. It is better to light a candle, but it is also good to curse the darkness, as it were.

Josef bugman fucked around with this message at 08:33 on Feb 17, 2020

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.



Josef bugman posted:

I hope they got better/ are getting better!

It's good that you are doing that, but you already provide help to others. That means there is the opportunity to provide compassion inwards too. The problem is that it's far too easy to just go "I'm a good person" and then to horrible stuff.

I dislike the idea of "this is the way things are" when it comes to moral systems. I know that from a lot of points of view that is the equivalent of getting real mad at gravity, but I don't like the cyclical "it's here because, it's here because, it's here because it's here" nature of it.
Yeah, I'm in pretty good shape now. But it was connected to anger. Everyone is built differently of course.

On your second point, it is definitely possible to get complacent. This is part of the cycle of things arising, persisting, decaying, and going away. The cycle is in a sense inevitable, but the question is how can we make it so that the arising and persisting bring benefit, and the decaying and going away do too - or at least, do as little harm as they may? Something that does a great deal of good, and a little harm - is this better than something that does a little good, and no harm?

On your final point, I get you, and I realize in a sense we're coming at the topic of Buddhist matters with a different perspective. From my perspective I have few to no doubts that it is a valid perception of the universe, and any errant details are likely due to either mistranslation or my incomprehension. (This is stuff like, the various hell realms may not exactly match medieval Tibetan art, etc.) From yours I imagine it is a social construct like any other, and I don't even disagree with you 85, 90% of the way, it is just that there IS a fundamental bedrock I hold as true.

e: I would also disagree on the nuance with the idea of 'getting angry at systems,' because I think Josef means in the sense of social systems, created by humans, vs. things like the passage of rivers, which are morally neutral (if, to a limited extent, also amenable to change).

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply
«7 »