Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by KnowSelf, Apr 17, 2020.
Very perceptive, @Nasruddin! Well spotted. Thanks for the compassion and clarity.
I heard that, too. Do you think it is the path which is difficult, or is it a case of those left behind trying to restore the status quo? Or just a case of the postman delivering all the mail just when one is leaving?
I believe there is a Buddhist saying, though I cannot name the source: 'Those whom the gods love most, they take away from them everything.'
It is the essence of monasticism: bare necessities of life?
Possibly, since early Buddhism was very centered on the mendicant monastics.
On the other hand, there are householders among the early Buddhist saints, so the homeless life was not considered prerequisite to enlightenment even then.
I think the full saying paraphrased is that the gods take away from those they love, and from those the gods love most, they take away everything?
That's gods for you.
Gods have no absolute status in Buddhism. They may be powerful, but they suffer, age and die like the rest of us. They aren't necessarily wiser than us, either.
The Buddha had the grandiose title of "teacher of gods and humans", to drive home that last point...
Are they intermediary, like the Christian saints? Or more like nature forces?
The Abrahamics have angels:
Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
There are over thirty planes of existence even in early Buddhism. Some are heavenly, some hellish. We inhabit just one of them.
The beings populating these planes are as diverse as ghosts, nature spirits, angelic or demonic hosts, all the way up to a universal soul or consciousness, all subject to the same inexorable processes of (re)birth, aging, and death. But Nirvana is not one of these planes of existence, and there are no intermediaries or intercessors to Nirvana, though the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are often considered something like facilitators of Enlightenment.
Ok. A lot to unpack ...
A diagram of some of these planes. The Lord of Death, wearing a tiger fur (visible below, between his feet) is holding up a mirror of existence. Note the Buddhas outside this scenario, top left and right. Around the rim, the twelve factors forming the chain of dependent origination, from ignorance through birth and aging to death. At the center, the three roots of suffering: greed hate, and delusion, depicted as a pig, a snake, and a bird (not necessarily in this order). Six realms are depicted on the mirror, a hell realm at the bottom, the heaven of the 33 gods at the top, the animal realm at 7'o'clock, a titan realm at 11'o'clock... Note how the gods reap the fruit of the tree watered by the titans... Note that the Buddha is teaching in every one of these realms, though his teachings fall on deaf ears in most cases.
It is kind of all of the above. Achieving enlightenment is a lot of hard work. I do not think achieving enlightenment is only a matter of having some kind of ‘aha experience’, as some belief systems (such as Zen Buddhism) would have us believe.
It has been said achieving enlightenment is the most difficult thing we will ever do. The way I see it, a minimum level of spirituality is required to achieve enlightenment, and the vast majority of people in this world are nowhere near that level (and I wonder if you would agree). I think most people have a long way to go before they achieve the minimum level of spirituality required. So, for these people, if they want to achieve enlightenment in a relatively short amount of time, they will have to work very hard and do it quickly.
I have also heard that all personality ‘quirks’ (such as having a big ego, being narcissistic, being too easily insulted or offended, having a lack of empathy, etc.) must be removed before a person can achieve enlightenment (which, as you can imagine would take a LOT of work for most people).
I tend not no view this quite so linearly, or hierarchically.
Us human beings are in many different places.
I agree that spiritual exercises need to be taken very seriously, and if practiced to a high standard, will take a great deal of effort and dedication. But then, that's true for writing a Ph.D thesis. Also, this could very well be my perfectionist streak talking.
Agreed! I would go further, on my non-hierarchical understanding, and say that I have seen people with very deep spiritual insight commit the most unethical acts, not just behave quirky. A well-known example would be Trungpa (whom I never met).
Agreed. But then,as soon as you put your foot upon the path ...
I think it can be. All traditions have their examples of sudden breakthroughs, of 'miraculous' conversions. I think the 'miraculous' bit is something that needs to be examined.
Somewhere in the Kaballa there's the ideas of wheels turning within wheels, and that it's possible for the wheels, all turning in their own way, coming into alignment, and one gets a clear insight ...
... also, of course, there's the natural human disinclination to accept that someone apparently undeserving can attain enlightenment in a moment ...
Soto Buddhism believes that by sitting in zazen, one is 'doing it'.
Part of me is inclined to agree, but then that is tempered by the awareness that the gnostics, for example, held to the rule of pnuematic, psychic and hylic. The vast majority of people they deemed as hylic, and they're the ones who were 'beyond redemption'. There's an element of truth, but then no-one is beyond redemption, and too often it was a case of gnostic 'sour grapes' ... Of course the gnostics of the 2nd century, like the cultists on the last, like to think themselves 'special', and the 'gnostics' or the 'esoterists' of the Middle Ages were always ready to dismiss those who do not fall at their feet.
And even that mindset is flawed.
In martial arts there are stories akin to "How long will it take?" "Ten years." "I haven't got that time. What if I train twice as hard for twice as long?" "Twenty years."
And add to that the entropic drag of the Kali Yuga; or for the West an atheist, consumerist, self-obsessed culture, etc., etc.
But I'll be 50 by then!
Whether you do it or not you'll be 50 by then.
But hell, I was sort of tossed into this whole faith/belief thing.
I frankly just haven't seen anything that makes me want to sign up for all that is purported to be required for salvation or enlightenment.
Over 40 years ago, I walked out of a recruitment office when I decided I was not cut out for a job I couldn't quit.
I still claim unitic, but giving up blame is enough of a challenge for me.
Dogen (the man who introduced Soto Zen in Japan) reckoned 50 years practice before you seriously start doing zazen ...
D'you know of the idea that René Guénon expressed in his metaphysics, and I think (I can check) the Tibetan Buddhist Marco Pallis said the same, that to fully grasp the nature of being and existence as such, we should be aware of not only of being-in-succession (the idea of reincarnation) but being-in-simultaneity, that both must be comprehended to come to some understanding that is the Multiple States of Being ...
And as ever, Guénon's notes are as complex as his statements ...
"On the other hand, to avoid all possible confusion, the reader must be reminded at once that when we speak of the multiple states of the being it is not a question of a multiplicity that is simply numerical, nor even more generally quantitative, but rather multiplicity of a 'transcendent’ or truly universal order, applicable to all the domains that constitute the different 'worlds’ or degrees of Existence considered separately or in their totality, and therefore outside and beyond the special domain of number and even of quantity in all its modes. In fact, quantity – and all the more so number, which is only one of its modes, namely that of discontinuous quantity – is but one of the conditions that determine certain states, ours among them; it could not therefore be transferred to other states, and still less could it be applied to the totality of states, which obviously escapes any such determination. That is why when we speak in this respect of an indefinite multitude, we should always be careful to observe that the indefinitude in question exceeds all
number, and also everything to which quantity is more or less directly applicable, such as spatial and temporal indefinitude, which similarly arise only from conditions proper to our world."
René Guénon, The Multiple States of Being, from the Preface, full text available here
He also penned massive tomes about Zen, which is in itself remarkable within a tradition that upholds transmission without words or scripture.
No bad writings either, I did read parts of his Shobogenzo.
It all reminds me of a line from an animated film Kung Fu Panda III, in a scene where master Shifu is rummaging through the stacks of scrolls complaining: "There's so much wisdom in here I can't find anything!"
Wonderful. Thanks. I want that poster
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