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NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





How important is getting a proper teacher in your opinion? This was a big discussion over on he Dharma Wheel forums back when I found it and posted on it for a while. Some think it's essential that you go and get personal instructions.

I'm not a Buddhist but part of my eternal not getting involved with a religion is my handicap. I'm legally blind and can't drive. The closest Buddhist locations for me are an hour away in Dallas. I won't deny I'm also just incredibly lazy and hate being around strangers which compounds the problem.

I do go out of my way to read as much as I can and learn as much as I can. But some think you need more than that.

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NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





I would be interested as well.

NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





Do any schools of Buddhism talk about an "end?" I understand the importance of beginninglessness so maybe that precludes talk of an end but I can't help but think about if the process of salvation is ever over.

Is there no point where all beings will be rescued from samsara?

In the Pure Land tradition as I nderstand it, Amida became a Buddha upon fulfilling his Vow to save all beings which basically means that we are all guaranteed salvation because otherwise he wouldn't have become Amida Buddha. So that would seem to posit there has to be some end to his task ie. at some point nobody will be trapped in samsara.

NikkolasKing fucked around with this message at 00:52 on Mar 1, 2020

NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





Ya know the Religionthread is kinda about just everyone who is religious chatting but it's still mostly Christians. And this thread seems more like, well, a Q&A thread rather then just shooting the poo poo.

Do you have any favorite sutras or mantras?

Is anybody here a Theravadan Buddhist and not Mahayana or Tantra?

Hearing this is what brought me back to Buddhism. I don't know if I would qualify myself yet as a Buddhist but I'm closer to it than I've been to any faith in a long, long time. Learning and regaining faith very slowly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72luMobA_vI

NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





Spacegrass posted:

Well, I've been to prison for a few years and read alot. That's where I discovered Buddhism and Christianity (Islam also).
I'm just so confused because this world is so messed up, and there's tons of christians and the internet is so messed up, it blows my mind because these are real people. I'm going to study some buddism this week, I think I may be on to something. Also, the idea of animals and insects having souls makes no sense unless they screwed up in a previous life. How could a just god do that though.

Spacegrass posted:

Is it ok to be a Buddhist and still believe in Jesus Christ?

There's a concept in Buddhism called the Bodhisattva who are people who became enlightened and could have gone on to Nirvana but elected to stay here and help others become enlightened. Some people who want to make a more syncretic religion think of Jesus that way, as a Bodhisattva. But Buddhism in all its forms rejects the idea of a Creator God so if you did believe in Jesus it could not be in the traditional Christian sense. It's up to you if that is a problem or not. There are Christian Wiccans and stuff.

But the point is, Karma is the reason all those beings became animals. They don't have souls exactly but the important thing is that Karma is a law of the universe like gravity. It's not judging you like a God would, it just does its thing and is completely amoral, even as it legislates morality. it's weird. I've struggled with this idea too since it seems to create a Just World hypothesis and indeed, early 20th Century Japanese Zen were big in Social Darwinism because the poor were proo because they had bad karma and deserved to be born into that state.

I'm not a Buddhist and not sure how you really reconcile all that but I understand being attached to the deeper philosophical questions. That's why I'm here, too.

NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





Hiro Protagonist posted:

I've kind of talked about this in this thread, but with COVID I don't have a good place to talk to anyone about this, and I kind of need to vent.

I'm someone who was raised in a very religious context, but has always been somewhat skeptical of religious thinking. I've also had a deep abiding fear of Oblivion as a concept. The idea that my consciousness is solely a product of my physical body is terrifying, particularly because of the finality of it.

That fear and skepticism have kind of combined such that any attempt to understand rebirth, heaven, hell, or any afterlife is tinged with a cynical belief that I'm just trying to deny science or make myself feel better. I do believe there are rational reasons to believe in rebirth, and I find some evidence quite convincing, but my questioning side always claws away at me.

I feel like this affects my progress as a Buddhist, because it means I don't have a solid foundation or relationship with it. I always want a security that I fundamentally have difficulty accepting. Anyone have experience with this?

This defines my entire adult life. I've bounced from religion to religion and even today I don't call myself a Buddhist because Buddhism fundamentally, like all religions, requires a leap of faith. Faith is the opposite of rationality, you can't think it or explain it. You can try to describe it but that's the best you can do. I've longed all my life to find that faith and I'm not sure I will ever find it in myself to believe so wholeheartedly in something. I just read and listen to music and find comfort in the ideas and feelings but 100% commitment is beyond me.

I really wish I had some solutions to give but I'm the last person on Earth with the answer to this problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anybody can fix this problem for any of us. We have to do it ourselves. That's the worst answer but if there is a better one, I'm still looking. But you're definitely not alone in always questioning and fearing, I've been there since I was 117 or so. (32 now)

NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





echinopsis posted:

what part of it requires the leap of faith?

Karma and rebirth. I'm open to the idea but can I say for certain that I think my mental stream or whatever term you want to use for it will survive after my body dies? No. That can't be proved so far as I'm aware, any more than a Christian soul can be proved.

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NikkolasKing
Apr 3, 2010





quote:

Because the power of the vow is without limits,
Even our evil karma, so deep and heavy is not burdensome,
Because the Buddhas wisdom is without bounds,
Even the bewildered and wayward are not abandoned.
(Shozomatsu Wasan 37)



While initially giving the appearance of presenting a rather bleak portrait of the human condition, the above verse contains, in fact, an important insight into the nature of the Buddha's compassion. When fully appreciated, it is capable of providing a liberating vision of spiritual emancipation for ordinary people.

What Shinran is trying to tell us here is that we should not be judging our spiritual worth by merely human standards which are, perforce, limited and distorted. Many sincere individuals who earnestly follow a spiritual path become easily discouraged as they soon begin to realize their many flaws and infirmities. A sense of unworthiness often develops in response to the countless imperfections we recognize as we come to deepen our self-awareness. This awareness, of course, is often a consequence of following a spiritual commitment or, at the very least, of recognizing a higher reality against which one judges oneself. Many individuals who lack such a commitment are often oblivious to such insights with respect to themselves as they lack the appropriate benchmark by which they can make an accurate assessment of their true natures.

Neverthless, there are dangers in coming to this awareness if one draws the wrong conclusions from it. It is not uncommon to encounter spiritual confessions in a number of the world's religious traditions where the individual in question expresses a profound self-hatred and sense of worthlessness in the face of Divine perfection. Occasionally, this can lead to extreme ascetic practices designed to crush one's ego or to even punish oneself physically. While such practices can serve as a corrective to address particular anomalies in one's self perception, more often than not, they can also greatly harm an individual and effect damaging distortions in one's spiritual life. The Buddha always exhorted individuals to avoid such extremes and to adopt a more measured and balanced approach in these matters.

Shinran's verse is important because it provides us with a crucial key in ensuring that we able to achieve such a balance. The recognition that our karmic burden is 'deep and heavy' and that we often feel 'bewildered and wayward' is a natural and honest response to the difficulties we all face in following the Buddha's call to a life of transcendence amidst the pain and turmoil of this world. Anyone who claimed that such a vocation can be pursued without considerable and confronting challenges is deluding themselves. However, the crucial insight that Shinran brings to this situation is that the Buddha does not judge us because of our limitations and spiritual poverty. The Buddha does not 'weigh up' our good and bad qualities and come to some overall assessment as to our worthiness of being 'saved'. The Buddha, in his boundless and inconceivable compassion, fully comprehends the human condition with all its tragic consequences. Such compassion would be meaningless if it did not embrace everyone despite these crippling flaws and obstacles in our natures. Such compassion is the preserve of the Buddha alone, not ordinary people who can only manifest it imperfectly. As Shinran observes in his Tannisho, there is no 'good' that we can do to earn our liberation and there is no flaw so bad that can impede the Buddha's desire to save us from our woeful state in this world.

As the verse says, the Buddha never abandons us even if we feel that we are utterly undeserving of his compassion. The recognition that we are saved despite ourselves, is the very thing that allows our karmic weight to no longer be as 'burdensome' for the Buddha takes it on his shoulders, so to speak, and assures us that it is no longer an impediment to our being embraced by his wisdom and compassion. To be sure, we still feel the bitter pain and disappointment of our own manifold shortcomings but we no longer have the added burden of feeling that we are thereby excluded from the Buddha's grace.
http://www.nembutsu.info/may033.htm

I always find comfort in this and I feel it's relevant to the discussion about struggling for faith and belief.

Of course, the "reality" of the Pure Land also is a matter of faith and belief. Whether it's an actual location or just a state of mind has been debated for thousands of years according to this book on Chinese Pure Land Buddhism I have.

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