Hindu Prana, Buddhist Prana, and Taoist Qi the same energy?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Silverbackman, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Thanks for taking us back to the original post AT5 :), these discussions do go off on tangents a lot. I was wondering about prana myself in Buddhism. I suspect (but I'm not sure) that prana concept is present in Vajrayana. As you know there are a lot of parallels and overlap between Vajrayana and the Agamic or Tantric traditions of Sanatana Dharma. The prana concept is closely linked with the concept of Shakti, and is central to Agamic/Tantric practices in Hinduism. It is also prominent in the Vedic tradition and there is a hymn to prana in the Atharva Veda.

    Another thing I was wondering about, since we've already strayed onto the subject in previous posts in this thread, is the role of puja or lack thereof in Buddha dharma. Generally speaking, in Sanatana Dharma, prayer and puja are important to daily practice at the home alter and in temples. I was wondering if you or another follower of Buddha Dharma can comment on the role of puja.
     
  2. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    While you are at it ATFifth, could you also explain what you and buddhists in general mean by "creator being"?

    Is God the same as "creator being"? Are you ok with a concept of God who is not a creator? Does buddhism have a concept of God?
     
  3. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,


    interesting thread and discussion thus far.

    my views are predicated on my understanding, shallow as it is, of the Buddha Dharma and my particular Vehicle upon which i ride.

    ATF is correct, Buddhism does not have a teaching of Prana, per se, to be found in the Hinyana or Mahayana. however, the Varjayana has something which, in some sense, could be considered in the same vein.

    within the Buddhist Tantric system, there is a thing called the "subtle psychic body" which, for all intents and purposes, is the same as the Sanatana Dharma understanding of Prana. however, the real difference between these two understandings is the nature of Prana or the psychic body, as it were, and its' function.

    within the context of the Tantric tradition of the Vajrayana, the subtle psychic body corresponds to the channels and winds which consciousness is interdependent on. (sorry... don't really know how to express this properly!) i mean to be saying that consciousness rides the drops and channels in dependence upon them. they "interare" with each other.

    this subject does get, as you may suspect, fairly esoteric fairly quickly :)

    essentially, the idea is that the male/female energies are, for most beings, not integrated with each other, they operate at cross purposes. the subtle body is the medium by which we can, through training and practice, direct the male/female principles to develop our spiritual capacity more quickly than we could through non-tantric means.

    if there is interest, i can, perhaps, go into some more depth on what i've said thus far or elaborate further along some ideas.

    as for the role of puja in Buddhist practice, the short answer is "it depends" :) unlike many traditions, Buddhism has three progressively subtle modes of practice which we typically denote as Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. we need to understand, however, that these terms are mere designations for the sort of practice of which we are possed of the correct capacities. whilst, in the past, there was some derogatory views vis a vie Hinayana/Mahayana, this is more a matter of speaking than a real difference in the nature of the fruit which is reaped.

    within the context of the Hinyana practices, Buddha Shakyamuni does teach that one should perform puja, circumambulation and other ritual acts. these are for the express purpose of generating merit, not Prajna, and we need to bear this in mind. the idea behind such teachings for generating merit is to train from the outside in. in other words, before we have an internal realization of Prajna, we need to create the right causes and conditions for such a realization to arise. the most expeident means for doing so, for Hinyana adherents, is through external ritualized actions. this is essentially true for the other two Vehicles as well as they are built on the foundation of the Hinayana. naturally, there are some differences in the approach and, ultimately, the understanding involved in such activities.

    in the Mahayana, especially in the Prajna Paramita Sutras, the gathering of merit is turned to a different purpose and, ultimately, a different outcome due to the emphasis placed on Anatta and Shunyata, in my view. some of the differences in these things are due to the various philosophical schools which are found in Buddhism. i suppose that i could attribute all of the differences to this, should i be so inclined, though i would tend to draw some distinctions for discussion purposes.

    with regards to a Creator Being and Gods et al. Buddhism teaches that there are beings which are called Gods. in point of fact, one of the titles of a Buddha is "Teacher of Gods and Men". however, there is nothing which can rightly be regarded as the "ultimate ground of being" within the Buddha Dharma. thus, Buddhist thought does not agree with the idea of a Creator Deity, in whichever manner such Deity may be conceived. the Gods, for all intents and purposes, are the same as you and i in that they, too, are subject to karma and eventual rebirth. whilst it is true that their lifespans are significantly longer than a humans, it is not eternal.

    i've sort of rambled around on this post and made some claims and so forth which may be confusing and (hopefully not) incorrect. as i say, this is based on my own understanding of the matter, as incomplete and shallow as it may be.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  4. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Vajra,

    Thanks for the explanation. Your post, as always, was detailed and very insightful. This is turning out to be a very good thread indeed :).
    So, what is consciousness according to Buddha Dharma? How did consciousness come about, and does that consciousness cease to be at some point?
    Does one cease the ritual practices and pujas after realization of prajna as they may no longer be needed?

    It appears the reasoning behind the rituals given above is similar to the one given by Sanatana Dharma, wherein rituals are, as said, for the purpose of training from the outside in. However, in Sanatana Dharma pujas and rituals also aid the individual to commune with the Mahadevas and Ishvara, unto whom the rituals are directed, and guide that person toward the state of mind necessary for attaining realization. After realization, one continues to practice dharma, so long as one is still in the body, as it becomes her/his dharma (for most) for the remainder of her/his life to lead and teach by example.

    Am I correct to say then that according to Buddha Dharma, the universe/multiverse never came to be at some particular point, but always has been, always will be, but is perpetually in flux?

    This is also the case in Hindu Dharma, but applies only to the Devas in the subtle/astral plane. The Mahadevas in the causal plane, by contrast, are never, and never have been, subject to samsara similar to ones who have been liberated (muktas). The Mahadevas are not eternal either - their lifespan is only so long as time, space, and the three planes continue to exist.

    Regards.
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Agnideva,

    thank you for the post and the kind words :)

    the most direct answer is that "consciousness is that which knows". consciousness, per se, is like all other phenomena in our universe, interdependent. in a certain sense, consciousness and the universe et al, arose in mutual dependence upon each other. there is a fairly detailed explanation of this process to be found in the Tipitaka, but it isn't often of much concern in our daily spiritual practice.

    consciousness, or at least what we normally call consciousness, is a finite thing and is a conditioned sort of thing. thus, the conditioned aspects of consciousness do, indeed, end. there are three more subtle levels and, even there, the 8th (Alaya Consciousness) is eventually left behind as well. the other two are a bit difficult to really explain.. suffice it to say that there are several views on this to be found in the Buddha Dharma. as such, this is more a matter of personal instruction.

    well... yes, but it also happens before that as well. essentially, once the correct causes and conditions have been assembled, the phenomena manifests. at this point, we could say that this is a realization of Prajna, however, it is still a conditional sort of realization.

    all the Dharma traditions share quite a bit of practice and doctrine, in my experience. the more that i've studied the more i've come to the conclusion that beings adopt a spiritual practice which "resonates" within them in a certain manner which others do not. from the POV of Buddha Dharma, this is why we say that there are 84,000 Dharma Doors which correspond to the variety of beings and their capacities for spiritual practice.

    correct, we share the Indian view of time and it's cyclical nature. this universe is simply the current one, which is influx and constantly changing, when it finally ceases to manifest, a new one will arise.

    the Buddha gave a few different responses to this sort of question, depending on the spiritual capacity of the beings posing the question. on some occassions, he explained that this is completely unimportant and refused to discuss it. in other instances, he explains it very succiently and directly. in yet other instances, he alluded to it and left it open for the individual being to discover for themselves.

    thank you for the information :)

    metta,

    ~v
     
  6. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    I am free,

    I don't dislike prayer I just think it should never be equated to yoga/meditation. I don't mind people pray at all, in fact the more I think about it is okay but prayer should be done with uttermost faith and people cannot expect God to just do whatever they say. It's not that simple ;).

    Your defination of prayer;

    ""For me prayer is pure love. Prayer is expressing one's love to God. Prayer is not for appeasing the deity, it is for purification of self. In that sense it is not just beautiful but also a very powerful spriritual practice.""

    I agree with this defination as effective. The problem is that Abrahamic Faiths tend to emphasize the appeasment their deity abd expect God to help them. As a result many people have left their Abrahmic faiths because God never helped them. Obviously this realiance on God helping them, will not help. If prayer is done in the fashion you are describing it I don't have any problem with it. In fact I would encourage your defination.

    Again however I do not think it should ever be considered as important as yoga/meditation.
     
  7. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    As I explained earlier I don't mind prayer in the Eastern sense (although I disagree praying to a particular deity) but I strongly do not like the Western Blind Faith and "God do this, I worship you" type prayer ;). For spiritual experiance I don't see the problem with it, but I do not think it should be equated to yoga/meditation which gives a deeper experiance;).
     
  8. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Who says Buddhist don't believe in a creator? Be careful, don't let Western ignorance make you believe Buddhism is an atheistic religion ;).

    Buddha never denied the existance of God. Then again he never really talked about it. But to assume he did not believe in God is utter nonsense, Buddha was a Brahmin and merely if anything created a philosophy for spiritual experiance. In a sense it is a philosophy of Hinduism, Buddha needed to mention was that there is a Brahman, but he didn't. It doesn't mean he did not believe in it. Buddhism is very much like Hinduism, different only in a few aspects.
     
  9. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Vajradhara,

    To my knowledge Shaolin Monks are Buddhist monks and do believe in some kind of force (shaolin monks actually call it Chi). However I'm not sure whether their concept of the mystical force to shaolin monks was an influence of Taoost Chi. Did Buddha ever discuss such an existance? If meditation does exist in Buddhism, I would expect the acknowledgment of a mystical God-like force such as the prana or chi (qi) to exist.

    ""Am I correct to say then that according to Buddha Dharma, the universe/multiverse never came to be at some particular point, but always has been, always will be, but is perpetually in flux?"" by Agnideva

    ""correct, we share the Indian view of time and it's cyclical nature. this universe is simply the current one, which is influx and constantly changing, when it finally ceases to manifest, a new one will arise."" by Vajradhara

    This is interesting. There are actual scientific theories such as the cyclical universe theory;). According to it the universe has been big banging and big crunching for eternity, although receant scientific evidence is showing that the universe will in fact continue to expand, but the cyclical universe theory is still very much accpeted by many scientists. Are you two aware of the theory? How similar is to Budo-Hindu view of the universe?
     
  10. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Silverbackman,

    thank you for the post.

    Buddha Shakyamuni says this. there is no Creator Deity in Buddhism. now, if you mean "atheistic" in the sense of denying that deity exists, this would be correct. we do say that deities exist, thus, we are not atheistic in that sense. we do say that no Creator Deity exists, thus, in that sense we are atheistic.

    it depends on how you are defining the term "god". if you mean a Creator Deity, this is denied. if you simply are referring to deities, this is affirmed.

    actually, this is only partially correct. the Buddha Shakyamunis response to this query is directly dependent upon the spiritual capacity of the being asking the question. remember, the Buddha Dharma Sutta/Sutras are not "all encompasing". each one of them is expounded to a particular group of beings predicated on their spiritual maturity and capacity.

    actually, it is absolutely correct.

    actually, Silverbackman, Buddha Shakyamuni was not a Brahmin, he was a prince and princes and Brahmins are different sorts of beings.

    more to the point, there is not a single philosophical school in Buddhism, there are several of them, actually.

    actually, this is not correct. Sanatana Dharma, too, has more than one philosophical school, as does the Buddha Dharma.

    actually, Buddha Dharma and Sanatana Dharma share many concepts, but they are not the same. should we pick only one feature of Buddha Dharma to make this clear, it is my view that it is no more clear than as presented in the teaching of Atman and Anatman.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  11. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste everyone,

    Sanatana Dharma also has this concept of interconnectedness of all things :). In Vedanta, it is explained that all things came from the same source, and the source is called, among other things, the Sutratman, the string soul. So all things in existence are sort of threaded together like pearls on a string. They are interdependent and interconnected. This position is also found in the Bhagavad Gita.

    Thanks for the info :), I wasn’t sure whether the universe and time were cyclical according to Buddha Dharma, or not.

    Yes, I am aware of the cyclical universe theory in science. In Hinduism, the cyclical universe is a central doctrine and is accepted by all philosophical schools. The idea is that the universe (or multiverse as we may call it ;)) comes into being, along with time and space, exists for a period of time, and then returns to its source. The period of time of its existence is very long by human standards. This is also called the cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution, and is likened to waves emerging from the ocean, crashing on the shore, and being drawn back in. The universal cycle continues on and on forever, but time exists only when the universe is in existence. A fundamental principle in Hinduism is that the universe does not manifest itself into being, but rather only does so because a Force acts upon it. Whether that Force is the material cause of the universe or not … is a point of contention between the monistic and pluralistic schools.

    Some excellent points, Vajra. Sanatana Dharma, for example, contains many philosophical positions ranging from pure monism to pure pluralism (dualism). Most philosophical schools, however, take a stand somewhere between monism and pluralism. Obviously, people who speak of religion will have their opinions colored by the philosophical position of the tradition(s) they follow. For the record, I would like to state that what I describe of Hinduism is based on my limited understanding of monistic Vedanta, monistic schools of Shaivism, and Shaktism, unless otherwise noted.

    As for the Dharma religions also I agree with you. Similarities between the various religions of the Dharma family should not be misconstrued to mean that they are the same. Sanatana and Buddha Dharma are different and distinct religions, although they are related because they fall in the family of Dharma religions, of which Sikh and Jain Dharma are also a part.
     
  12. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    I am pretty sure the mystical energy exists in Buddhism, Shaolin Monks (monks of Zen Buddhism I think) use the concept of Chi all the time in their practices, meditation, and martial arts ( can can do pretty amazing things with it!). Though I am not sure whether this is a Taoist influence or not. Anyone know?
     
  13. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    actually, Silverbackman, Zen is a Japanese word and wouldn't be used to describe the Chinese Buddhist practice, of which there are many schools. generally speaking, it is the Ch'an school of Buddhism that the Shao~lin temple practices.

    Ch'an, in many respects, represents a blending of Buddhist and Taoist traditions, in particular the Mahayana and Taoist Spiritual Alchemy schools found throughout China.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  14. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Yes, so the "chi" aspect of of the shaolin monks is not buddhist? So is there a mystical force or not?
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    i think that we've been pretty consistent saying that Buddhism doesn't have a "mystical force" in it's teachings.

    within the Vajrayana, in particular the Tantric aspects of practice, there is something which is similiar which we call the "subtle psychic body" but it is not a mystical force, per se.

    more to the point, perhaps, is that such abilities are not, in the Buddhist view, confined to the particular use of any energy. such things manifest naturally as a being progresses through the Jhanas.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  16. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    The shaolin monks seem to devote a lot of their time in finding the Chi. What sect of buddhism are the shaolin monks;)?
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    There are several schools of Mahayana Buddhism which are prevelant in China, perhaps the most well known is Ch'an Buddhism, of which Zen is the Japanese flavor of the same tradition.

    in any event, Ch'an is the school of Buddhism which is practiced by the Shaolin monks.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  18. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Oh I see it now. Chinese Buddhism gets most of its mystical force-like energy from Taosim. So in a sense there is just Taoist Chi and Hindu Prana.

    What that said, what are some fundemental differences between Taoist Chi and Hindu Prana?
     
  19. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    ehh, ok. limme make some statements here as im pretty intimately involved with this subject as it pertains to my practice as a chinese martial artists of the shaolin school.

    qi in the taoist tradition is the same "vital life force" described in buddhism. well you talk about qi, your really not gonna get anywhere on an intellectual level because its something that has to be experienced. let me say this though about the "shaolin monks" for one, buddhism is all but extinct in shaolin temple, its a tourist attraction and is for the most part occupied by "wushu" or demonstrative monks. many of them do practice "iron body" which is a form of qi gong, which in itself has many different schools or 'styles' for instance i practice "small golden bell" qi gong, which is from shaolin , but not neccesary the same qi gong the monks may do. regardless the monks for the most part are not real shaolin monks, they can do "amazing" things but they only appear amazing to the unintiated to the arts. if you understood the level of dedication it took to get the results, but beyond that i would say there is much mystical about the abilitys they posses.

    now, is qi mystical. no, imo its just a very real, very natural aspect of our bodies. the methods used in taoism and buddhism to harness and manipulate the qi energy are vast, if you would look to the chinese history there are countless storys and legends of monks outside of the shaolin order who are known for their amazing abilitys.

    as for the actuall process of manipulating qi, there is no secrets or short cuts. it takes hard work(kung fu) to fully develope and mantain. like is commonly said when the mind(intent) is present the qi energy is manifest. of course body structure and the like are of upmost importance, the most important aspects of harnessing and manipulating the qi energy is the mind.
     
  20. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    You sure that Shaolin Monks practice little to know Buddhism now? They practice mainly Taoism? I havn't read that anywhere, do you have an article to back up that claim ;).

    Shaolin Monks have been known to do some amazing things with the qi, but so have yogis with the prana I think. It makes you wonder whether the two energies might be the same energy. How similar and different is the prana and the qi?
     

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