the greatness of Gautam, why?

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Susma Rio Sep, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. jiii

    jiii ...

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    Well, Susma, I don't know if such sentiments are realistic, at all. Firstly, let's compare 'Gautama the Terrible' with somebody who is, let's just say, a bit more qualified for the superlative. How about 'Ivan the Terrible', who you, yourself, mentioned?

    Inspired by 'Buddha the Terrible', many people became monks or nuns. Why? To seek spiritual liberation. At the hands of 'Ivan the Terrible', thousands upon thousands were executed, including his own son, the prince, who was felled by a blow to the head with Ivan's staff. Why? One day the prince's pregnant wife wore clothes that Ivan apparently did not approve of, so he beat her so severely that she had a miscarriage. When Ivan's son came to him infuriated over the incident, Ivan stuck him dead. Let me assure you that 'Ivan the Terrible' may very well have been 'Ivan the Great' to some, but not to those he had slaughtered. Not to mention that in this modern era, only a few hundred years after his death, Ivan can unquestionably be called terrible...his greatness, it seems, is largely a product of nationalism in times when society didn't really have a huge problem with constant, successive slaughters. Things have changed nowadays.

    Now granted, there are more types of violence than just physical. And frankly, I guess one COULD 'style' the Buddha to be 'Terrible', but no more than anybody else who had a profound effect on people's lives...so, that's Christ the Terrible, Muhammed the Terrible, Socrates the Terrible, Confucius the Terrible, and so on.

    Suffice to say, there is as much realism in the idea of 'Gautama the Terrible' as there is in thinking of delicate Venus Fly-traps as beastly, man-eating, trees. Taking the whole of human history into account, there have been innumerable people who rightfully earned the title of 'The Terrible', and they've been granted that title during their lifetime by people who could could attest, first-hand, to their genuine wickedness. The Buddha does not number among these.

    Monasticism has had a place in pretty much every civilization that has existed; Buddhism can hold no claim to being unique in that respect. And furthermore, it would be far too hasty for someone to assume that his or her values as far as the 'proper utilization of our best years' are necessarily universal. Perhaps their best years were well-spent outside of a monastery, but would it not be reasonable to allow for the possibility that others may have benefitted very much from their time as monks or nuns? Is it realistic to believe that the whole of monastic history and lineage is entirely one of misery and wasted life? I don't think that can be said, so clearly there must be something to it, no?

    By the way, I realize that it may seem as though I am evading your question as to "Why the Buddha is so great", but not needlessly so. The fact of the matter is, you seem to be starting off tilted pretty drastically to a preconception that his greatness is a fraud, yet you seem to be asking about his teachings as if you don't know enough about them to be able to say either way. I am curious of why this is, but that is beside the point, really. It is, of course, beneficial to question great things sometimes, but the Buddha's greatness is not his doctrine, and if you're caught up on trying to either affirm or deny him as being 'great', you'll miss out on what he really has to offer.
     
  2. chakraman

    chakraman God save us from religion

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    i think one of the problems that arises with buddha and jesus is that i dont think that anyones knows exactly what they "taught" - is there anything known to be written by there hand. i feel that they probably were avatars as you can see fragments of "the perrenial wisdom" in short quotes and phrases remembered by their followers and also to have survived a couple of thousand years in religious lore they must have had quite an impacting presence on those around them. as to his greatness i think krishnamurti answers that- you ask a man the direction to somewhere he tells you, you go or don't, but to worship him for giving directions is rediculous, also - it is the teachings that are relevant who the teacher is is not relevant. and i dont think there is a significant body of teaching, as i said earlier, that is known beyond doubt to have been ushered from his mouth. i'm sure some buddhists would claim that worship isn't involved, it may be more subtle but i feel its still there. i think krishnamurti saw this problem and insured against interpreters and advised people to go directly to the teachings which were only his words. one thing he has shown me or enabled me to realise by posing the correct question as opposed to telling me what to do, which only breeds dependance, is that i can rid myself of an external guru, but what of the guru within - the me, the i, which says this is right, that is wrong, this is moral, that isnt, the choices sculptured by my tradition, desires etc and therefore nothing to do with truth. i could justify pretty much anything to myself so i must rid myself of all "greatness" and authority from without and within and then maybe....j........
     
  3. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? Happy fish are like happy folks.

    And I am left wondering what is the point of that exchange between the two Chinese gentlemen who admire nature and are given to gab. Is this anecdote recorded in order to challenge guys like myself to search for the terrific lessons found in it?

    I think it is an illustration of people who are sure what each means and understands and accepts the words of the other, but who just what to be argumentative for the sake of arguing, like those skeptics I meet in skeptics forum, though I consider myself a skeptic but not of their ilk.

    Most probably the two Chinese gentlemen who are not occupied with manual work like plowing the fields for a living, because they belong to the leisure class from whatever sources of revenues like hand-me-down endowments or stipends from the imperial court for being philosophers, just wanted to exercise the skill of ascertaining conclusions from observations.

    They don't seem to know about the method of analogy, which I may use that term for my own purpose here, like this: when humans are happy they exhibit actions and postures which indicate to others that they are happy, because others also show the same actions and postures; similarly also when they are in fear or in anger.

    So, when fish display actions and postures which analogous actions and postures are seen in humans, and humans see these fish engaged in such actions and postures, the humans can be certain that the fish are happy in their own fishy ways.

    What kinds of actions and postures in humans are indicative of happiness?

    In my case, when I am satisfying my senses and needs, wants, desires, easily, with just enough effort as to not tire me out, that is happiness for me. What about postures? When I have eaten a good meal but not overly stuffed, and I lie in my simple but comfortable bed for a nap, or just to be lazy in the tradition of Italians, dolce far niente (sweet to do nothing), that is happiness for me.

    No, I don't think I will be happy sitting on my haunches trying to empty my mind, in meditation. Lying comfortably in bed imagining pleasant thoughts or even risky ones, but nothing of perversity please, hahaha; that is also happiness for me, and no disturbance please -- no matter Buddha says desire leads to suffering; I will tell him, "Dude, it's all a matter of how you deal with desires; and if you stick around with me, I will teach you how."



    Susma
     
  4. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? ...me spiritual?

    I remember after I wrote that message in the other thread on end destiny of man and life in Buddhism that I want to make a lot of money, easily and quickly, that I also said earlier here in the message above that I have become more spiritual by criticizing Buddhism, and then that spirituality must dictate religion, not the other way around.

    So, what kind of a religion do I have and what kind of spirituality, when I have avowed unabashedly that I want to make a lot of money?

    You know what? I have a lot of aspirations for a lot of worldly goods, but I am too lazy to go after them, working myself to exhaustion, because of my innate laziness; laziness then is the motivational incentive for me to cultivate spirituality, understood as a detachment from worldly drives and also world attachments.

    That is what I might consider from Aesop to be a spirituality of sour grapes.

    Sorry, but that is the truth of the matter, and just the same I do enjoy a kind of peace and freedom thereby.

    Yet if a lot of money should perchance come to my hands easily and quickly, then I will certainly know what kind of spirituality I will develop, definitely first the spirituality of security, then the spirituality of liberality, and also the spirituality of detachment.

    It's like only the famous can indulge in the virtue of obscurity and be genuinely obscure, the rich in the virtue of poverty and be truly detached, the powerful in the virtue of humility and be truly weak; with the unknown masses, the indigent crowds, the rank and file of the helpless, there is no virtue but compulsion.


    These latters can cultivate Nirvana or the Kingdom of Heaven.


    What about Gautama, is his greatness founded on compulsion or on the luxury of virtue. I understnd that the man was born into renown and wealth and power, that of his parents; but he chose the life of a wandering preacher of renouncement for freeing oneself from suffering, i.e., overcome desire and of course flee from it. However, to be cynical I believe once he got himself into that kind of an advocacy and attained stature therefrom, he could no longer turn his back on it, then it had become for him a compulsion, like a hero enslaved in his heroism.


    Susma
     
  5. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? Happy fish are like happy folks.

    A being's compassion is indicative of their happiness. If you are so confident about your views, then why quibble endlessly on our forum?
    Go to the Buddhas and show them and their followers how to do it. That would be compassionate.
     
  6. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama,,, I keep an open and receptive mind(?).

    A being's compassion is indicative of their happiness. If you are so confident about your views, then why quibble endlessly on our forum?
    Go to the Buddhas and show them and their followers how to do it. That would be compassionate. -- samabudhi​

    As I said in that other thread of mine on man's end destiny, exchange of thoughts on religion is entertainment of the mind; and it is specially however the attitude to be dismissive about it, a most noble activity of man.

    You are not inclined to agree with me?


    I had been wanting to say this piece for some months back but always forget, here:

    You are into Buddhism of the kind of school you align yourself with, so also Vaj, and I am sure other Buddhists here, each with his peculiar school or sect and outsiders might even call cult.

    As with Christians and Muslims, so also Buddhists express the desire to help people to know what is the purpose of life even just on this side of the grave (for I notice that Western Buddhists seem not to anymore bother with the realm beyond the grave). So, in this respect of wanting to share their religion with others, they do harbor a genuine kind of sincerity in their religious affiliation.

    Are simple Buddhists like the lay Buddhist folks in Thailand, China, Burma, Tibet, Sri Lanka aware that as they go further and deeper into Buddhism, their religion, and wider, they will come across doctrinaires in their faith of Buddhism, who on the one hand are ardent believers ostentatiously of Buddhism, but on the other are also engaged in profoundly divisive and conflicting debates among themselves; these simple Buddhists are surely aware if they exercise regular devotions under the lead of these doctrinaires.

    And these doctrinaires, for fighting over beliefs and practices of their respective denominations, with the keenest of cerebral broadswords and rapiers, are unavoidably from logic occupied with the most important issues for the guidance of their life, their own and that of the simple lay Buddhists. [Sorry for the long sentences.]

    One controversy, and I was surprised to read about it, has to do with the question about whether once having attained enlightenment, if at all on this side of the grave, the enlightened Buddhist can and will still lose the state of enlightenment -- no different from the dispute in Christianity whether ever a Christian can be certain of being saved.


    If simple Buddhists in a medical emergency of life and death are being attended to by highly renowned physicians, who while their patients are gasping for breath, are trying to convince each other whether to open the skull for brain surgery or the heart for repairing a valve, these patients will truly be in a fix, and most probably die before the renowned physicians come to a concurring line of action.

    But as regards their faith of Buddhism, similarly also Christians and Muslims in their respective religions, they are acquainted with the controversies of their leaders on matters of beliefs and disciplines, yet they don't feel any panic, while their doctrinal and disciplinary worthies debate away on and on; why?

    Because they, simple Buddhists and doctrinaire Buddhists, and outsiders even, we all know that in religion it's all an optional drama, playacting in the bottom line -- why indeed worry when it is all in religion a matter of imagination in the final analysis, a fiction which all of us who do take up a religion make it a point to observe by simulating serious comportment and eliciting solemn commitment.

    Like an entertainment of the most transcendental level but which does not impose any risk on life and limb, unless you are foolish to take it with the same realism as you do with putting out the fire in your stove before leaving the house.


    I hang out here because I am interested just the same, there might be some utility aside from entertainment even of the most transcendental level,


    Susma
     
  7. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Perhaps it is because they have humbly learnt not to judge their leaders by appearances.
    As Sakya Pandita says

    When a virtuous man disputes, he benefits all.
    A fool causes damage even by his friendship.
    Though the gods be angry, they defend all sentient beings.
    The Lord of Death may smile, but still kills his enemies.

    The Dharma is profound and my ignorance is all-pervasive. I don't expect to know everything, not at the beginning, not in the middle, not without patience and respect.
     
  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercur├Žn Buddhist

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    That's what it all comes down to when winnowing the wheat from the chaff, isn't it?
     
  9. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautam... time for a comic relief.

    I don't know but I fear my sojourn here is about to end, unless Brian has the iron guts for freedom of speech as long as people don't resort to invectives, instead of civil words even the most disturbing of questions.

    Here, read this exchange for a comic relief, for us all to lighten up even as some of you here are absolutely convinced with your religion and some like myself are just here for the, forgive the term, entertainment, and just maybe something of utility might come along.

    Postscript: My names elsewhere have been Yrreg, Gerry, Pachomius, and others I don't recall this moment. No, I have not been writing posts as much as others who do devote a lot of time in boards; I do it usually in the early morning while the family is still in bed, wife and kids.


    Poor Leo of eSangha, he seems to have been a sheep astray, not knowing what had transpired between a moderator/administrator and myself some four or five months back, he was trying to catch up with his work in the forum at this late date,

    To forum owners and operators: please monitor the going-ons of your forum to know who's in and who's out; even the power-person who threw me out, he also sent me a message, no, not by email, but when I clicked on his board, the message that my banning will be lifted in year 2500, exaggerated of course but some time when I will definitely be dead and reduced to ashes, unless the message really was inspired by the doctrine of rebirths and karma and the whole lot -- come to think about it, maybe that is the raison d'etre of that message. Hahahha.

    When I wrote him by email whether I was still going to be able to click on their link to get to post, he wrote back, "... no more you have been banned absolutely." Hehehehe!


    Susma
     
  10. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Just browsing through this thread and what popped into my idle mind was a Sutta from the Majjhima Nikaya, No 27, The Culahatthipadopama Sutta, or - in English - "The Simile of the Elephant's Footprint". In this sutta a Buddhist "wannabee" exclaims that "The Buddha is fully enlightened, the teaching is good, those who practise it are practicing the best way". Rather than sitting back and accepting the plaudits, the Buddha instead insisted that it was only when the "wannabee" becomes fully enlightened themself that they would be able to come to any such conclusion.

    So who can really say if the Buddha was "great"? It seems implied that even those who practice the teachings - by whatever "dharma gate" - must still hold a degree of trust/faith until final deliverance/enlightenment..............however that is conceived in the meantime! Arguments one way or the other this side of enlightenment will settle nothing, or so it seems.

    The Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor amplifies this to a certain extent at the beginning of his book "Buddhism Without Beliefs", where he speaks of the Four Noble Truths as originally taught.................That "suffering" is to be understood, that its cause is to be let go of, that its end is to be realized, and that the path to that end is to be cultivated. Batchelor points out that the distinction that each truth requires being acted upon in its own particular way "has been relegated to the margins of specialist knowledge". That it is when such "truths" are known only as "propositions to be believed" that Buddhism becomes a "religion", amid all the other "religions".

    I would say that these comments by Stephen Batchelor could be stretched to cover ALL Faiths............using a little imagination!

    I would say that a level of trust/faith is required for the practice - or the living - of any "path".

    "Was the Buddha "great"? Who knows! In what does his greatness consist, if it exists at all? "ehipassiko"..................or, "come and see, for oneself"

    Or, within another context, as Jesus said to Peter......"Who do you say that I am?"

    :)
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    Indeed. Practice is the key; living is the expression of the teaching. What use are words without practice? Just ink on a page. Responsibility for our own lives is required; not endless mulling over of texts.

    s.
     
  12. chakraman

    chakraman God save us from religion

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    the greatness of gautam, why?

    because i say so, and i know everything about anything so ner :p
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    Well if you'd said so earlier then there wouldn't have been any need for all the other 80,000 posts on this forum. We could all just PM you!

    s.
     
  14. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama... learning to practice without words?

    ...not endless mulling over of texts.

    I think there are two ways we learn how to do an action or carry on a practice.

    The first is by self-exploration and self-cultivation of the action and the practice. For example, if you leave a boy and a girl babies in the wilderness without any elders and they grow up, they will learn sex and acquire the practice. Same also with eating and possibly with wiping their posterior ends after bowel movement -- a topic for curiosity whether and when mankind developed the need for wiping one's cloaca magna -- or some non-human agent taught man.

    The second is by instructions from others who invented or worked our an action and a practice. All these actions and practices are not what we might consider physiologically necessary for survival of the individual and of the race.


    Now, all religious actions and practices, they are all invented by man; and hence they need the inventors' instructions in order to master them, that is to the approval and satisfaction of their inventors.

    The big question is why not invent your own religious acts and practices, why learn them from others. Who is Gautama and who Jesus Christ and who Joseph Smith that others should choose to learn to perform acts and enact practices, which mankind consider to be within the domain called religion?

    They all claimed to have arrived at some kind of enlightenment which they believed to be the one for the rest of mankind; otherwise mankind would miss the whatever they inculcated about mankind not missing, like nirvana, or heaven, or what else?

    And how did they arrive at their kind of enlightenment? Using their heads I imagine, in particular their imagination, so that one day suddenly they came to the eureka moment and started preaching their religions.

    No wonder there are as many religions even conflicting among themselves as there are guys who are genetically disposed to imagine whatever they can and want to imagine is the thing not to be missed now or in the future and even post this grave of the grave.

    If you would be independent and be your own teacher and master and give the credit to yourself, fashion your own enlightenment and make a script of the acts and practices you have to devote your time and labor and energy to, in order to arrive at not missing whatever you have come to the conclusion that you must not miss in and with and by your life.

    Animals outside of man know what they should not miss at all: stay alive until death and pass your genes to posterity. Luckily they are at least seemingly not plagued by regrets; otherwise if they should never give birth to their similars, and die not having passed their genes to their descendants they should mourn their missing what is important to themselves when they face death dawning upon them.

    What is that said by a Roman thinker, correct me if I am wrong, a guy should love a woman and raise a child before departing from life. I will add, and write a book, even just a pamphlet.


    Gautama has achieved greatness for succeeding in making a lot of folks follow his idea of what not to miss and how to not miss it, by thinking and acting the way he believes efficacious for you to not miss what he is convinced of himself, that man should not miss. What is that you should not miss according to Gautama? liberation from life, liberation from coming back to life again and again.

    I absolutely disagree with his kind of not missing, it is a negative kind of not missing, in which case two negatives do not multiply nor divide, into any positive, they just add up to more negativity.

    No, not my cup of tea, not at all. I gonna live until I die, I gonna live live live until I die, I gonna live live live live live live live...


    Susma
     
  15. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    susma,

    I think in many ways you have good points to make. Certainly in my own investigation - and practice - of the "Buddhist Path" I have constantly felt the need to guard against what I have always spoken of as a "betrayal" of this world. To deny - in whatever way - the only world we have ever known for the sake of some imagined other...............well, I have always sought not to make this any sort of reality in my own life. And one must be on their guard! The "world-weary" have always beaten a path to the "religious" door and left their opinions in their wake!!

    Yet like Christianity, Buddhism has many mansions. 84000 "dharma gates" are spoken of (perhaps its 84001, as I've never actually heard my own particular path, as I've experienced it, spoken of before!!) Anyway, 83,987 or whatever, there are many ways in which the original dharma/teaching has been appropriated by those who have investigated it and sought to apply in within their own life. To read of the life of Thich Nhat Hanh, for instance, is to read of a human being whose affirmation of life is profound. He sought not to "liberate himself from life" but came to understand true life, and then lived it...............for the benefit of others. And speaking personally, making absolutely no claim to "enlightenment" (whatever that might mean!) this in a way has been my own experience. Living life more fully, a deepening of experience. Certainly never a denial of life, except a denial of that which is eventually seen to be a denial of true life in itself!

    As far as "thinking for oneself" or whatever, why not - using your own terminology - give a glance to the various "pamphlets" of others? In a deep sense I believe we are all "one" with each other. We can learn from each other and lean on each other. "No man is an island" as John Donne has said. Yes, in the end we have, by investigation, practice and application, to make any "teaching" (or call it the "experience of another", given voice by that person as an expression of love and concern for the welfare of others) our own. Yet often this will be initiated by the simple observation that another human being, by their speech and acts - or the record of them - have had something we can learn from.

    Maybe we should all strive to be one who "doth cause a way to arise which has not arisen before". (In one sense, we all do, being unique individuals) Yet to learn from the experience of others is all part and parcel of living - well, at least it is to me.

    Anyway, this is how I see it.

    All the best!
    Derek
    :)
     
  16. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama... I am a man plagued with doubts.

    Thanks, Derek, for your edifying message.

    I confess myself notwithstanding my confident posture to be a man plagued with doubts.


    Now what? life security attained, not fabulous wealth, but enough to stay around until retirement; and then the long wait for the departure train and most inconvenient train -- be there a more convenient way to leave without causing sorrows to others dear to oneself? for not departing as everyone is expected by civilization to do so, in prolonged helplessness and agony.


    Only man among all animals that I know of think of religion or the life i.e. existence beyond the grave -- probably that is the curse of intelligence, the asking of what comes next vis-a-vis the animal instinct to continue to be alive or around in any way even as I said beyond this side of the grave.

    Biology has taught us that the purpose of life is to stay alive and reproduce, but it does not tell us whether and what is the purpose it is designed to achieve as a means to another end beyond biology.

    What do animals do when they are not into physiology?

    The pet cat at home is the most Buddhist of animals that I have observed, and I have not observed many animals; it spends innumerable hours just looking like Buddha as portrayed in those giant statues of Buddha on his anatomically equipped seat -- with eyes almost closed completely and looking very calm, very serene, very indifferent or most profound, that one would imagine the guy or the cat is dozing off but pretending to be on red alert while keeping up a decoy of somnolence.

    My pet dog is kept within the confines of our home and grounds, so it does not have any chance of going out to join other dogs; many are free-moving ones, specially those whose owners loved them at the beginning then their care got to be overly costly or time-demanding or simply too troublesome, so that their dogs come in and out of their homes as they will.

    I ask my wife and kids when I see a dog going somewhere to all appearances, and dogs they can cross the streets better than cats, where is it going? And then I tell the wife and kids the following lines I read somewhere about invalids:

    Invalids have places to go, things to do, people to see.


    So also dogs.

    Hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    If invalids have places to go, things to do, and people to see, what more guys who are not invalids; and when they have nothing to occupy themselves to survive another day, or to get to eat the next meal, and then to work for the next meal, or produce the next baby and bring it up to do likewise, then they go into religion, or arts, or philosophy, or sports, or sciences, or message boards.

    That is why I said earlier somewhere here that religion is big entertainment for mankind, that does not mean that it is without worth, understanding worth any way one prefers to understand the word.


    By the way, animals outside of man don't do any religion, the kind that man does; why? Most probably they are smarter than us. Take the lowly cockroach, I understand this character been around millions of years before man made the biology scene, and it will still be around after the nuclear holocaust by which man will do himself in -- that is why animals are smarter than man.


    Susma
     
  17. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Susma,

    Thanks, Derek, for your edifying message.

    Well, I suppose there is a first for everything! "Edifying" is often not the first word that comes to mind when others speak of my posts...........:eek:

    I confess myself notwithstanding my confident posture to be a man plagued with doubts.

    Me too................though I lack also the "confident posture".

    Anyway, thanks for your reply. Yes, we are animals, and perhaps we do "think too much". That would seem to be one of the main problems, irrespective of exactly what we do our thinking about! The thought of our mortality certainly seems one of the main impetuses for the origins of "religion". Are the other animals "smarter than us"? Perhaps intellect as such doesn't really come into it. They certainly seem happier than most humans I know..............unless being led into the slaughterhouse, at which time they do seem to sense some sort of hint of their own mortality judging by some of the pictures I've seen........Maybe "religion" can be seen as some sort of attempt by ourselves to regain the state of "innocence" that the other animals see m to know. Yet some argue it would not be a "return" as such, but a forward move through "awareness" and genuine choice....which some, again, would argue "adds" something to the final state that was not originally there.

    As the words of the song "The Pilgrim" go........

    "From the rocking of the cradle to the rolling of the hearse,
    The going up was worth the coming down"

    Speaking personally, having nursed my own mother for three years as she deteriorated with alzheimers, I have been given cause to wonder. Yet I plough on. Hooked I suppose, now the journey "back to paradise" has started. I think it was a Tibetan "master" who once said that once we begin our path to "liberation", there must be no turning back..........or else, I suppose, to now grab at a Gospel phrase, we shall become like "pigs returning to our own vomit".

    It does seem possible to gain liberation, or "the freedom of the children of God". You speak of the representations of the Buddha. I have always loved the description given by the Christian monk Thomas Merton when visiting the various statues at Gal Vihara in Ceylon.........................."I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraodinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of sunyata , that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything - without refutation - without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening.........................Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tired vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious...............The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no 'mystery'. All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya - everything is emptiness and everything is compassion...................."

    Well, such is the "return" to paradise. (According to T S Eliot, a "condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything")

    Well, as I said, I'm hooked!

    And here, from the pen of Billy Collins, is another version of "emptiness"........."Shovelling Snow with Buddha"

    In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
    you would never see him doing such a thing,
    tossing the dry snow over a mountain
    of his bare, round shoulder,
    his hair tied in a knot,
    a model of concentration.

    Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
    for what he does, or does not do.

    Even the season is wrong for him.
    In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
    Is this not implied by his serene expression,
    that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

    But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
    one shovelful at a time.
    We toss the light powder into the clear air.
    We feel the cold mist on our faces.
    And with every heave we disappear
    and become lost to each other
    in these sudden clouds of our own making,
    these fountain-bursts of snow.

    This is so much better than a sermon in church,
    I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
    This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
    and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
    I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

    He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
    as if it were the purpose of existence,
    as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
    you could back the car down easily
    and drive off into the vanities of the world
    with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

    All morning long we work side by side,
    me with my commentary
    and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
    until the hour is nearly noon
    and the snow is piled high all around us;
    then, I hear him speak.

    After this, he asks,
    can we go inside and play cards?

    Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
    and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
    while you shuffle the deck.
    and our boots stand dripping by the door.

    Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
    and leaning for a moment on his shovel
    before he drives the thin blade again
    deep into the glittering white snow.



    Anyway, perhaps I have gone on enough!

    :)
     
  18. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautam... edifying -- hahaha.

    Susma,

    Thanks, Derek, for your edifying message.

    Well, I suppose there is a first for everything! "Edifying" is often not the first word that comes to mind when others speak of my posts........... ​


    I like that. It's not everyone literate in English who knows the meaning of the word edify, unless he has been exposed to spiritual literature of the New Testament type. Tell him to think edifice.


    What is the nearest term in Buddhist literature to the Christian term, edify?

    Ask Vaj here, he says that I have been an earlier and now much better guy at tearing down than building up; certainly if he uses the term, edify, my writings here are absolutely not designed for edification, more for demolition if anything at all. Hahaha.


    Let's move to another thought, relevant to the greatness of Buddha or the Gautama.

    You must have been some kind of Buddhist enthusiast for a good time. Tell me have you experienced any kind of visitation from the Gautama or any visitation from the domain beyond the senses?

    What is a visitation? I take that word in our present context to refer to any kind of feeling or flash of light by which you find yourself so sure even though you cannot analytically break it down to scientific if that be scientific psychology and physiology.


    Thanks for a delightful and edifying exchange.

    Susma
     
  19. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Susma,

    Thanks for your post. Not so much for your explicit questions, as I am never at my best when seeking to answer such things! My "enthusiasms" are many, not just "Buddhist", but I have found great guidance at times within the various Dharma teachings. Anyway, you ask about "visitations", "flashes of light", even of becoming "sure".

    I would just say that, though I would love to be "shovelling snow with Buddha", I think if he DID turn up in my own back garden I would question my sanity rather than see such a "visitation" as any sign of grace!

    Although not a great lover of Zen (as a path for myself) - especially in its "western" manifestations - I do share its rejection of any form of resting in particular "states", or of being particularly concerned about them. This attitude is also born of my interest in the Christian mystical tradition of the "via negativa" , more a way of letting go, of "unknowing", than of any clinging to any particular experience. "Faith" is seen/understood as the "death of understanding", not as any particular affirmation of doctrine - certainly not a grasping at "belief", however defined. (The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart speaks of God in the following terms............"Nothing that knowledge can grasp or desire can want, is God. When knowledge and desire end, there is darkness. And there God shines" - this gives a "taste" of its "way" - or Non way! - to "God")

    My own actual path is Pure Land. Just to say the nembutsu - "Namu Amida Butsu", trusting in the infinite grace/compassion of Reality-as-is, asking no questions! (Or in technical terms, the way of "no-calculation", where "true working is no-working") Once again, in Christian terms, Thomas Merton has spoken of this...........

    "We should avoid forms of spirituality and piety that make us too aware of ourselves and of our precious interior lives and inner experiences......The great thing is to be free in the forgetfulness of self".

    Or, as a Thai Buddhist teacher has said, "nothing should be clung to as "I", "me" or "mine".

    Sorry, I seem to be getting caught up in various quotes. The reality is that I just plough on with my life and its various worries and doubts and niggling anxieties. No particular evidence of "spirituality".

    To look too close is perhaps to miss it. Yet the reality of "grace" in some sense does seem to manifest. As Merton has said............all "paradox and contradiction". A bit of a mess really!!

    :)
     
  20. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Re: the greatness of Gautama... and Tarzan?

    In another forum they will certainly call me a troll or whatever is detestable in online message boards for guys who disrupt the uniform and soothing chanting of the devout though variant members of the spiritual congregation.

    The Internet Infidels forum where I could say that it was my home until I got booted out on a most broad of offense, viz., transgressing board rules which I had promised to abide by -- the powers there, at most only two admins make up an adequate number to throw out a member, most probably could not come to a consensus exactly what specific ground to throw me out on, so they settled on the most vague and overly extensive fault, transgressing board rules which I had promised to keep.

    Even an ignoramus is aware that no one is ever punished unless on kangaroo justice, for such a broad and amorphous kind of offense, as transgressing board rules which I had promised to abide by, seems like for conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman in the military, but then the military is not supposed to think but to act like programmed robots.

    I was going to say, that the Internet Infidels notwithstanding that like any human society it has its share of servants who thrill to throw out people if for nothing but to sate their dislike for them on their own personalistic antagonism, this infidels forum does not allow any member to call any other a troll or a liar or any similar epithets that attack the person, assailing his moral integrity instead of his ideas.

    So, for what I am going to say now, please don't curse me, because it is an opinion which in a free society anyone has an inborn right for being begotten of human progenitors to express. [Forgive the long sentences; I was just reading Boswell's preliminary pages to his Life of Johnson, and I guess I got infected or enriched by that kind of writing.]


    I must salute Gautama for the greatness of the man can be seen in that among so many already in the market of spirituality hawkers in his time and clime, he survived and flourished so that today his followers will always be illumined by the sun however long and far it travels. [More 'Boswellisms'.]

    But it is not impossible or at least not most improbable for people to come to a spirituality when the human milieu is already rife with ideas about existence beyond time and the senses, and practices to come to this mode of existence and pass into it. Such was the locale of Gautama's birth and ministry, in the Indian continental shoulder of what we call now Nepal.


    I invite everyone to think of Tarzan, the legendary ape-man, actually in the story by adventures author Burroughs, a human baby lost in the dark jungle of Africa and brought up by simians; how is such a human abandoned or given up for irretrievably 'desaparecido', how is such a human ever going to get any spirituality when he exists in an environment bereft of all kinds of mystical heirlooms accreting in the millennial progress of civilization and culture outside dark Africa?


    Susma
     

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