Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 1

Vajradhara

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Namaste all,

this is a response to the generalized Buddhist commentary by Dr. Naik. i can treat the prophecy of Maitreya and Muhammad in another thread, if so desired.

The original text is indicated with an * whilst my comments are denoted with a Commentary section.



* Buddhism is divided into two sects viz. Hinayana and Mahayana.



Commentary:



This is not correct. Buddhism has Three Vehicles that are called Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. These are Vehicles not sects. Within each Vehicle are a number of different schools, Zen, Ch’an, Ti’en T’ai and so forth.



Generally, the Hinyana Vehicle is simply called Theravedan as that is the only extant school of that Vehicle still in practice.





*. BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES:


Historical criticism has proved that the original teachings of Buddha can never be known. It seems that Gautama Buddha?s teachings were memorized by his disciples. After Buddha?s death a council was held at Rajagaha so that the words of Buddha could be recited and agreed upon. There were differences of opinion and conflicting memories in the council. Opinion of Kayshapa and Ananda who were prominent disciples of Buddha were given preference. A hundred years later, a second council at Vesali was held. Only after 400 years, after the death of Buddha were his teachings and doctrines written down. Little attention was paid regarding its authenticity, genuineness and purity.



Commentary:



Historical critisim has proven no such thing. Nevertheless, it is true that Buddhism was primarily an oral tradition and continues to be so to this day. This is exemplified by the teaching, which is known as the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma when the Buddha gives direct mind-to-mind transmission of Awakening to Kondanna.



The First Council was held in Rajagaha, India where 500 Arhant Bhikkhus were gathered. They were lead by the venerable Mahakassapa where the all the teachings of the Buddha were recited and agreed upon. An Arhant is a being that has released the fetters of binding, ignorance, in particular.



The Second Council was held in Vesali to discuss points of the Vinya (rules for the monastics) and the first schism occurs, eventually leading to the creation of the Mahayana and Hinyana Vehicles.



The Third Council was convened by King Asoka in Pataliputra to resolve outstanding disputes regarding the Vinya.



The problem that many beings have is that their own religious teachings are written down and it is these written words that form the basis of their orthodoxy and theology. Buddhism, by contrast, relies upon the Dharma to form the basis of our theology since we view words as relative and, essentially, guideposts along the way. In much the same way as the phrase “the menu is not the meal.” The menu will not relieve your hunger, no matter how delicious it describes the food.



*Buddhist Scriptures can be divided into Pali and Sanskrit Literature:


The Pali literature was monopolized by the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.

 
Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 2

Commentary:



The Hinyana Vehicle of Buddhism did not “monopolize” the Pali language. When the teachings were first being written down, they were recording the vernacular, which was Pali. Pali is a pankrit of Sanskrit, a dialect, if you will and they are related to each other in the Indo/Aryan language tree.


*Tri Pitaka: The most important of all Buddhist scriptures is the TRI-PITAKA which is in Pali text. It is supposed to be the earliest recorded Buddhist literature which was written in the 1st Century B.C.



Commentary:



The Pali canon is called the Tipitaka, which means the Three Baskets and is divided into the Sutta Pitaka, which consists of over 10,000 teachings and discourse given by the Buddha; the Vinya Pitaka, which consists of the rules and regulations for the monastics and the Abidharma Pitaka wherein the philosophical basis for the Buddhas teachings are discussed.


* Sanskrit Literature:*

Sanskrit literature was preferred by the Mahayana. Sanskrit literature has not been reduced to a collection or in Cannon like the Pali literature. Thus much of the original Sanskrit literature has been lost. Some were translated into other languages like Chinese and are now being re-translated into Sanskrit.*



Commentary:



The Sanskrit version of the Tipitaka are found in Tibet and China. The main, though not only, difference between the Pali and Sanskrit canons are the modification of some of the Vinya rules, the inclusion of the laiety and the addition of commentaries. The Tibetan Canon is unique in Buddhism in that it contains the complete Pali canon and all of the Mahayana commentaries that are included in the Mahayana canon as found in China.

* TEACHINGS OF BUDDHA:*


A. Noble Truths: *


The principal teachings of Gautama Buddha can be summarised in what the Buddhists call the "Four Noble Truths":


First - There is suffering and misery in life .


Second - The cause of this suffering and misery is desire.


Third - Suffering and misery can be removed by removing desire.


Fourth - Desire can be removed by following the Eight Fold Path.



Commentary:



The author has mistranslated the word “dukkha” for the First Noble Truth and thus has come to an erroneous conclusion regarding the First Noble Truth.



The First Noble Truth is described thusly:



Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha."



To use the word “suffering” to describe dukkha is rather like describing the earth as a ball. Whilst true enough, in a very limited, sense, it really isn’t a complete description of the earth.


 
Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 3

The Second Noble Truth is the cause of dukkha. The Buddha describes it thusly:



And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: the craving that makes for further becoming -- accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there -- i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.



So, with this understanding, we see that it’s not desire, per se, that is the problem. It is, rather, a specific type of desire, which in English we call “craving”. If desire were the actual cause of dukkha we would have no means of liberation.



The Third Noble Truth is the cessation of dukkha. The Buddha says:



"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.



Again, desire is not the issue… desire of a particular type, craving. The English word craving is defined thusly:



\Crav"ing\ (-?ng), n.Vehement or urgent desire; longing for; beseeching.

The Fourth Noble Truth is described like this:



"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path -- right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.



http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn56-011.html






*B. The Noble Eight Fold Path:*


(i) Right Views


(ii) Right Thoughts


(iii) Right Speech


(iv) Right Actions


(v) Right Livelihood


(vi) Right Efforts


(vii) Right Mindfulness


(viii) Right Meditation



Commentary:


generally speaking, this teaching is divided into three main areas, as such:

(Prajna)

Prajna is insight, intuitive wisdom into emptiness or the true nature of reality

1. Right understanding

2. Right thought

(Sila)

Sila is "Virtue". Precept, prohibition, command, discipline, rule, morality; the second paramita (perfection).

3. Right speech

4. Right action

5. Right livelihood

(Dhyâna)

Dhyâna is meditation, abstract contemplation; method of attaining enlightenment by means of correct meditation or contemplation, the fifth of the six paramitas.

6. Right effort

7. Right mindfulness

8. Right concentration


*C. Nirvana:


Nirvana' literally means "blowing out" or "extinction". According to Buddhism, this is the ultimate goal of life and can be described in various words. It is a cessation of all sorrows, which can be achieved by removing desire by following the Eight Fold Path.

 
Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 4

Commentary:



Nibbana (Pali) or Nirvana (Sanskrit) is a term that reveals its proper meanings with an understanding of the term. The Buddha expresses it like this:



'But, Venerable Gotama [the Brahman, Aggivessana Vacchagotta, is addressing the Buddha], the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?'

'"Reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'

'In that case, Venerable Gotama, he does not reappear.'

'"Does not reappear," Vaccha, doesn't apply.'

'...both does & does not reappear.' Vaccha, doesn't apply.'

'...neither does nor does not reappear.’ Vaccha, doesn't apply.'...

'At this point, Venerable Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured.'

'Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, "This fire is burning in front of me"?'

'...yes...'

'And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, "This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'

'...I would reply, "This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance."'

'If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that "This fire burning in front of me has gone out"?'

'...yes...'

'And suppose someone were to ask you, "This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?" Thus asked, how would you reply?'

'That doesn't apply, Venerable Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass & timber, being unnourished -- from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other -- is classified simply as "out" (nibbuto).'

'Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea. "Reappears" doesn't apply. "Does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Both does & does not reappear" doesn't apply. "Neither reappears nor does not reappear" doesn't apply.

'Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental process...

'Any act of consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned... Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard-to-fathom, like the sea.'

 
Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 5

* PHILOSOPHY OF BUDDHISM IS SELF - CONTRADICTORY:

As mentioned earlier, the main teachings of Buddhism are summarised in the Four Noble Truths:


(i) There is suffering and misery in life.


(ii) The cause of suffering and misery is desire.


(iii) Suffering and misery can be removed by removing desire.


(iv) Desire can be removed by following the Eight Fold Path.



Commentary:



As explained above, the author has transliterated the term dukkha incorrectly and thus finds his exposition of the teachings to be self-contradictory. However, a proper cognition of the teachings would resolve this dilemma.


*This Philosophy of Buddhism is self-contradictory or self-defeating because the third truth says "suffering and misery can be removed by removing desire" and the fourth truth says that 'desire can be removed by following the Eight Fold Path'.



Commentary:



Buddhism does not have a single, monolithic philosophy that drives it. Buddhist philosophical views are classified, at least by Tibetan Buddhists in general, into four main categories: Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogachara, and Madhyamika.

1. Vaibhasika has been called "direct realism." It is similar to the first few of the Indian views that see the World of Experience as composed of various physical elements that interact with the components of beings.

2. Sautrantika considers that awareness is merely representational. These first two schools consider that there are two kinds of interactors: Physical aspects, i.e. skandhas of which one, rupa comprises the traditional elements, and the Mental aspects including consciousness (vijnana), sensation (vedana) which contributes to pain/pleasure, cognition (sanjna) and the impressions derived from experience (samskara.). The 12 Links of Causality go into this in more detail.

3. Chittamatra/Yogachara sometimes referred to as the Knowledge Way or Vijnanavada. It has also been called Subjective Realism, acknowledging that individual factors including karma contribute to an experience of reality that must be different for every being. It mentions the idea of "Buddha nature." Vasubandha and Asanga finally adopted this position.

4. Madhyamika basically holds that there is no ultimate reality in the sense that something exists apart from the experiencer, but that this does not mean that there is nothing at all. It turns around the definition of Shunyata and therefore has been called Sunyatavada. Nagarjuna and Aryadeva are the main proponents. Chandrakirti expounds upon Nagarjuna.

The Madhyamika view has given rise to two particular schools of thought: Svatantrika and Prasangika, which is the school that i adhere to. According to the Prasangika school, the object of refutation (or negation, gag-cha)* is an extremely subtle object that is ever so slightly more than—a little over and above—what is merely labeled by the mind.



To mistake all Buddhists as having one philosophical position is to greatly misunderstand the teachings themselves as a proper cognition of the philosophical basis for the view is essential to progress along the path.
 
Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 6

* Now, for any person to follow Buddhism he should first have the desire to follow the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path. The Third great Noble Truth says that desire should be removed. Once you remove desire, how can we follow the Fourth Noble truth i.e. follow the Eight Fold Path unless we have a desire to follow the Eight Fold Path. In short desire can only be removed by having a desire to follow the Eight Fold Path. If you do not follow the Eight Fold Path, desire cannot be removed. It is self contradicting as well as self-defeating to say that desire will only be removed by continuously having a desire. *



Commentary:



The above paragraph and, thus the argument, is rendered null and void with a proper cognition of the term Dukkha. As the author lacks this understanding, he becomes trapped in the words that have been used to describe the phenomena and is unable to extricate himself from his dilemma. A proper understanding of the term dukkha could resolve this issue for him.




*IV CONCEPT OF GOD

Buddha was silent about the existence or non-existence of God. It may be that since India was drowned in idol worship and anthropomorphism that a sudden step to monotheism would have been drastic and hence Buddha may have chosen to remain silent on the issue of God. He did not deny the existence of God. Buddha was once asked by a disciple whether God exists? He refused to reply. When pressed, he said that if you are suffering from a stomach ache would you concentrate on relieving the pain or studying the prescription of the physician. "It is not my business or yours to find out whether there is God ? our business is to remove the sufferings of the world".



Commentary:



The author is conflating two, different teachings… one about a Creator Deity and one about Karma.


The notion of creator is rejected in terms of the Buddha in satirically retelling the creation story of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. This not "a discreet silence about the First Cause," it is not indifference. Though the Buddha's particular rejection is not a philosophical argument against a creator god, it is rather a religious statement that is consistent with the underlying ontology of becoming that characterizes what the Buddha taught. What is clear, in the broader context, is that this rejection is not tied to a particular god-notion, but addresses the notion of a "single supernatural Being" from which "all things began," given that such a notion is invariably grounded in a radically different ontological basis than what the Buddha presents.

Let me further add that in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad Brahma/god is very much the creator of _all_ the other gods and _all_ that is.



"Yes," said he, "but just how many gods are

there Yajnavalkya?" "Thirty-three." , . .



"Yes," said he, "but just how many gods are there,

Yajnavalkya?"



"One. . . " -- Brhadaranyaka Upanishad



By mirroring the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (and the early upanishadic theism in general) we can get a good sense of what it that the Buddha was rejecting, a singular creator-god/godhead (Bramha/Brahman), and it basically comes down to:



"There are some ascetics and brahmins who declare as their doctrine that all things began with the creation by a god, or Brahma" -- that is, "...the universe and all creatures and forces within it have been created by a single supernatural Being," and this is what is rejected by the Buddha.

 
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Re: Buddhist response to Dr. Naik pt 7

*Buddhism provided Dhamma or the "impersonal law" in place of God. However this could not satisfy the craving of human beings and the religion of self-help had to be converted into a religion of promise and hope. The Hinayana sect could not hold out any promise of external help to the people. The Mahayana sect taught that Buddha?s watchful and compassionate eyes are on all miserable beings, thus making a God out of Buddha. Many scholars consider the evolution of God within Buddhism as an effect of Hinduism.



Commentary:



Dhamma (Pali) or Dharma (Sanskrit) does not take the place of God. Dharma has a broad range of meanings and is quite dependent on the context in which the term is used.

dharma–derived from the Sanskrit root dhr meaning to hold up, to carry, to bear, to sustain. The word dharma refers to that which upholds or sustains the universe. Human society, for example, is sustained and upheld by the dharma performed by its members. For example, parents protecting and maintaining children, children being obedient to parents, the king protecting the citizens, are acts of dharma that uphold and sustain society. In this context dharma has the meaning of duty. Dharma also employs the meaning of law, religion, virtue, and ethics. These things uphold and sustain the proper functioning of human society. In philosophy dharma refers to the defining quality of an object. For instance, liquidity is one of the essential dharmas of water; coldness is a dharma of ice. In this case we can think that the existence of an object is sustained or defined by its essential attributes, dharmas.



The division of Buddhism into the Hinyana and Mahayana Vehicles is due to disputes over which aspects of the Vinya were to be changed not, as implied by the article, that Hinyana Buddhism couldn’t help people resolve their existential issues.



The author seems to be talking about the Sambogkaya or Dharmakaya, nevertheless, these concepts are fully articulated within the Hinyana Vehicle, ipso facto, the preceding paragraph is incorrect. Futhermore, the use of emotive language like “miserable” and so forth are products of the authors imagination rather than teachings of Buddhism.




*Many Buddhists adopted the local god and thus the religion of "No-God" was transformed into the religion of "Many-Gods" - big and small, strong and weak and male and female. The "Man-God" appears on earth in human form and incarnates from time to time. Buddha was against the caste-system prevalent in the Hindu society.*



Commentary:



This is false. There are no “gods” in Buddhism that are accorded any more status than any other sentient being. It is true enough that Buddhism acknowledges that deities do exist, however, these beings are like all other sentient beings, driven by karma and subject to rebirth.



The author is probably confusing a Bodhisattva with a God, which is a common enough mistake to make amongst theists when approaching Buddhism from their own paradigm. In any case, the article implies that Mahayana Buddhism is theistic in orientation, which is false. In point of fact, the only school that even would be close is the Pure Land School and, if one has a proper understanding of their teachings, even this school would not be viewed as theistic.

In summary, the author has misconstrued the meaning of several key terms that resulted in his inability to properly understand the teachings as they are presented.
 
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