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Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


I was curious what people in this thread thought of Ian Stevenson's work. I've seen some people in the Buddhist community point to his work as "proof" of rebirth as a concept, and the little I've read does seem intelligent, but there are likely huge issues with it that I may not be noticing from a surface reading.

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Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


Cuervo Jonestown posted:

Iirc the general story was that the Buddha was reluctant to ordain women for social reasons and was convinced to do so by Ananda, who explicitly pointed out that women could attain awakening just as well as men. Recent textual scholarship by some people have put forward some strong arguments that this is a later addition and its more likely that women and men were both ordained from more or less the beginning, but unfortunately I don't have the links/pdfs handy atm.
I actually did a paper about this in graduate school. If I recall, some of the earliest monastic records we've recovered have a roughly equal number of men and women monastics, and a surprisingly large number of women taking on large community roles on the lay side of the community. The bit about Ananda convincing Shakyamuni Buddha is not included in all older texts, and I believe the oldest text that does have the story is Chinese in origin. Feel free to correct me if I'm misremembering anything, though.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


Yeah, Dōgen definitely had a distinct interpretation of Ch'an philosophy from both his Tendai roots and his dissatisfaction with the larger Buddhist community at the time. Because of this, I wouldn't be surprised if Zen was the most different out-branch of Ch'an, though I'm admittedly less familiar with them.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


I've been wondering, why do you all think Buddhism never developed its own "romantic" tradition?

To clarify, I've noticed that most major religions seem to develop traditions around romantic and devotional love between two partners, even when the religion itself is quite anti-erotic. Christianity in it's early days was incredibly anti-sex, with marriage being not just non-ideal, but actively frowned upon. Yet modern Christianity is filled with concepts like soul-mates, marriage sacraments, and "family values". I've seen similar traditions in Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. What is different about Buddhism?

Mahayana Buddhism even succeeded over other traditions in China and neighboring countries because it had more of a house-holder role through the bodhisattva path, which allowed it to mesh better with Confucian values.

Moreover, there are elements of Buddhism which seem to work well with this kind of thinking. The stories of Shakyamuni and Yasodhara from their past lives are very romantic, and I heard that a major Japanese Pure Land Buddhist, I believe Shinran, talked about how he believed his wife was an emanation of Manjushri because of her guidance. Obviously Buddhism isn't going to ever be an incredibly romantic tradition; it forces individuals to confront the ephemeral nature of everything, even love, but I'm surprised that I haven't found any such tradition in my studies yet.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


I saw a post online recently, and couldn't come up with a good response: why do English speaking Buddhists (generally) chant in the language of their tradition instead of English? Isn't it important to understand what you're chanting, not just in a "someone told me it means X" way, but through your own language?

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


Another thing that may help you, if I can chip in. Others in the thread talked to you about how you are a composite of your experiences with others, and they are a composite of you. All those experiences are diminishing, being added to, or being forgotten. This applies to a lot of things: your perspective changes with time, as does your body. This raises a question: if everything that you're composed of, thoughts, memories, organs, emotions, they're all changing constantly, what are "you"? What is the "you" that you feel is worthless? The Buddhist answer is that it doesn't exist. Every moment everyone is changing so dramatically that it isn't helpful, from a place of self reflection, to consider yourself the same person you were ten or twenty years ago.

There's some disagreement on what this means, as some Buddhists assert that this means the "soul" of a person just isn't found within these traits (called the five aggregates). Most, however, assert that all individuals are nothing more than shifting and occasionally overlapping states.

I don't know if this will help you at all, but for me, I found it profoundly freeing. The person who did that embarrassing thing? They died years ago! I am a completely different person. Yes, there is a "momentum" that carries us forward, which makes sudden and drastic change difficult. But if you aren't satisfied with the person you are right now, know that not only are you capable of changing, but changing into someone else is an inevitably. And you are the person with the most control over that. Don't expect immediate results, but you can change if you decide you need to.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


From what I hear, Soka Gakkai has a perception off being fairly intense and confrontational with other major Buddhist groups, particularly in Japan, and promoting intense devotion that makes the more religiously-skeptical elements of Japanese culture suspicious at best. How much that reflects the truth, both in Japan and abroad, is up for debate. I haven't had many interactions with the group, but I imagine that, like almost every Buddhist community in the Western world, a more ecumenical approach is going to be necessary just to survive, which would likely sand down some of the edges there, so to speak. Take from that what you will.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


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?

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


echinopsis posted:

I’m not sure where I got this from but so far it makes sense to me but, rebirth is something that occurs very often.

A “life” is just one version of you that appears in consciousness as an ego and the experience is simply subjectivity itself, and this life rises, takes centre stage, and then gives way to another life. These lives have different wants etc.

An example would be one life occurring while someone having sex but then an orgasm occurs, and that life has now been replaced with another that no longer desires sex. ever feel like a different person immediately after orgasm?

and careful mindfulness can make this rebirth cycle clear because you’ll end up seeing that the sense of subjectivity is simply another appearance in consciousness rather than a fundamental truth proving that “you” are a definite thing.

and escaping the cycle means living outside of the constant diving-back-in and being the ego.

That’s my understanding. I can see the truth in it, although I’m not good enough at mindfulness to perceive it directly nor escape the sense of subjectivity (or view subjectivity as an appearance within consciousness rather than experienced consciousness through the lens of subjectivity)


And Karma.. that’s just like, you kill a dog and later the dogs owner comes and kills you. It’s not metaphysical it’s just cause and effect..


🤷‍♂️

While I 100% agree with that, I would say that the leap from gradual, incremental transition like you're talking about to a rapid change via not properly understood metaphysical methods as discussed in rebirth is large. I can accept easily that my body and mind are constantly in flux. Whether that flux inherently means that there will be some transition beyond them is the issue. And I don't mean in the "my actions will reflect across everyone via interdependence" sort of non-answer, I mean a further continuation of my mind-stream, even if I'm not consciously aware of my previous lives.

Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


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

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

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

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Hiro Protagonist
Oct 25, 2010

Last of the freelance hackers and
Greatest swordfighter in the world


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

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