are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by _Z_, May 27, 2007.

  1. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

    "Buddhism promotes seeing the world as it is, using logic and reason."

    this sentence was used by an atheist as part of an argument against there being an essential 'you' or being/mind/essence, and that we are chemical robots only.
    many recent discussions i have had suggest that western buddhism is becoming a way to remove the magical essence of life and produce a purely practical ‘religion’. many atheists are saying they are buddhists, but i don’t get how this works. the above statement was made by an atheist, but surely logic and reason are a part of the transient realm. do buddhists not believe in rebirth anymore - or the deepest and truest aspect of mind and being? or have i been missing the point all these years?
    any ideas?
    and is 'western buddhism' harming the religion? e.g. by preaching it for practical and non spiritual terms only.
     
  2. ardenz

    ardenz New Member

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    are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

    Perhaps they are, since it is the one "religion" which Richard Dawkins didn't criticise heavily in "the God Delusion".

    cheers,

    ardenz
     
  3. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you said,
    "Buddhism promotes seeing the world as it is, using logic and reason. --> this sentence was used by an atheist as part of an argument against there being an essential 'you' or being/mind/essence...."

    --> In my opinion, most Buddhists would disagree with such an idea.
    "...and that we are chemical robots only."

    --> I think all Buddhists would disagee with this.
    "...western buddhism is becoming a way to remove the magical essence of life and produce a purely practical ‘religion’."

    --> Another way to look at is, some forms of Buddhism remove promises of Heaven, belief in ghosts, etc., and only concentrate on the here and now.
    "...are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?"

    No, Buddhists are not atheists.
    "...many atheists are saying they are buddhists, but i don’t get how this works."

    --> Atheists can be Buddhists, and it works out quite well. Theism is not required (nor forbidden) in Buddhism.
    "...do buddhists not believe in rebirth anymore...."

    -> Rebirth is a key Buddhist teaching, but millions of Buddhists do not believe in it.
    "...being?"

    --> Buddhism says this world does not really exist — it is all only an illusion.
    "...is western buddhism' harming the religion?"
    --> This idea has been kicked around a lot at the Buddhist Forum, but I would say no, it just brings in a new perspective.
     
  4. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    ardenz
    i went to a ‘practical philosophy’ [!] course recently, and that seamed to be aimed at the same thing, it seamed a crime to mention anything spiritual,even enlightenment was eluded upon as being ‘in the present’ in the context of not being something outside our physical self. perhaps i have got the message of buddhism wrong?

    nick the pilot

    well thats what i thought.

    sure, that is how i see it too. but for me the ‘here and now’ is not in the physical moment - of being just aware in this world, but of the stillness and emptiness of the un-obscured mind. i can see how they are getting it all mixed up, using meditation to get you in the present is part of buddhist teachings but here i think it is taken out of context, in that the ultimate goal is removed.

    comparatively yes, perhaps we can use terms like mind and being without it denoting the worldy versions. it is not the words but what we are saying with them what counts in my mind.
     
  5. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    Z, u ask:

    are 'atheists' taking over buddhism?

    I don't think they are, really, I think that maybe for those ppl who have no knowledge of or faith in God buddhism is an attractive concept- instead of being saved by the holy beings, u can save urself... u want to work on ur own self, understand urself better, u want to aim for these glorious transcendental experiences or become awakened and reach enlightenment, then suddenly, u can... u don't have to go cap in hand to some God who as a rational being u find it hard to believe in, and nor do u have to tie urself up in knots, performing bizzare rituals and fasting and suchlike to do so either- buddhism, in its essence, is a very rational and common sense path, and I think u can quite easily be a buddhist and be an atheist at the same time...

    ...buddha never mentioned God in his sermons... there is one reference to a "something" which isn't a product of the individuals consciousness, but Buddha never spells out what it is and he turns away from it... nor did Buddha himself eer state that he was God, or a God, or an avatar of a God...

    that bit came later...

    ...as we know, most ppl who come to church and temple, unless they have been brought up to have a faith, come to the churches and temples because in some way, they are needy... they are suffering, they desire change, they are looking for answers to the big questions, they are looking for support, there is some need they have that they think could be addressed in some way by religion...

    the answer to these ppl's problems is not fasting, and whipping the self, or covering the self in ash, or immersing themselves in the holy books... most ppl who come to church aren't really looking for God- instead, they are looking for some suffering they have or some misery they feel or some misfortune they have encountered to be a little less of a big deal... they are looking for peace, or comfort, and well, if a man asks u for bread and u give him a rock, he'll only walk away dissapointed...

    ...the theory goes that Buddha never taught his students about God, as Buddha realised it wasn't what ppl were after- instead, they needed to understand themselves, their origins, their destinations, they needed to see the bigger picture, and then fix something, and whatever that misery or misfortune is could be overcome, and a person could find some kind of peace... all they had to do was listen...

    of course, Buddha could have said- stand on ur head and recite the 12 times table and u will see God and all ur problems will suddenly be gone, and yes, ppl would have still given it a go, because that's what ppl are like, but no, he said-

    I have come to teach only about suffering, the origin of suffering, and the way out of suffering...

    u say that- "buddhism promotes seeing the world as it is, using logic and reason", and yes it does... ultimately...

    on the surface, of course, we see the same things we see in all religions- insence, prayers, devotion, but there is more to buddhism than that, and that's part of why buddhism is so appealing...

    of course, we think there is more to us than being chemical robots, but that is part of the illusion... u do not exist... not alone, as a singular self supporting entity with 100% original thoughts and actions... the music u listen to, the image u maintain, the books u read, all of it is the result of other ppl, their ideas, and thoughts, and images, and in this respect u and what u think makes u is nothing but an illusion... there are potentially a million other ppl in the world who have picked up the same cultural references and expressions and have the same life experiences as you do... so, where is the self?

    look for it, u won't find it... u might find some theories, u might find some labels, I am this, I am that, this defines me, these are what I like and dislike, but if u could sit still and honestly evaluate all these things which u think u are u will find that u are a vegetarian because ur best friend was when u were both in year seven, you like Kant and Descartes because Mr Spriggs, the lecturer at university, was a fan, and u wanted to be clever like him, u say "flibbertygibbet" because ur aunt Mavis said it, and at five years old u thought it was cool, etc, etc...

    all those things which u think define u and make u unique are nothing but products, and just a result of the conditioning u and me and everyone else experiences... u are confronted with stimuli and accept it or reject it, but ur choices are not neccessarily ur own, u could have been influenced to choose A over B because of ur perception of what might be acceptable to ur friend, or ur mother...

    ...this is the finest existentialism in the universe, a rare gem of a theory- all those things, concepts, ideals, capitalism, socialism, are all obsolete here, for they are devoid of any inherent existence...

    ...yes, some buddhists believe in rebirth, but there is more than one way to skin the cat- personally, I find it ridiculous to believe that if we are naughty in this lifetime we might come back as pigs if we are greedy, or roosters if we are egotistical, or snakes if we are mean to others, or that we will be born in some kind of hell realm where we get dragged over a hill of iron spikes for a few years til we learn the error of our ways... it's the kind of tale we tell children so they will behave, to my way of thinking, and far too simplistic...

    it would be a mistake for buddhists to blindly follow tradition with no recourse to reality- the Buddha himself warns us against behaving this way, but of course, we are only ppl after all, and we do behave in this way regardless, and we do it because... it gives us something to cling to and something to have faith in and something to help define us and make sense of the world... not all buddhists on the path are fully enlightened beings who can see all things as they are... the rest of us still impute with our "nonvirtuous mental factors (caitta)", rather than the cleaner freer citta...

    as for "the deepest and truest aspect of mind and being"

    -i know nothing of them...

    is 'western buddhism' harming the religion? e.g. by preaching it for practical and non spiritual terms only..?

    i think that maybe bad buddhism is better than no buddhism at all, or at least then ppl are exposed to it, and maybe some of them will do their own investigating of what is dharma and what is not, which is good, surely..? I think that western buddhism is what westerners need- they should be glad they are able to strip it back, take out the gaudy bits and the tinsel and see it for what it really is, to use it to approach the problems we have in this age, and in this time, and in this culture and civilisation...

    really, that's more buddhist than conventional buddhism, rather than less...

    and the best bit about buddhism...?

    u are free to believe what u like... just because a million ppl tell u the world is flat u don't have to go along with it, do u...?

    gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
     
  6. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    francis, hello
    yes people are afraid to think of the spiritual - it has such a bad name. i personally don’t think one should have to go cap in hand to any god - and i think god agrees - if i may. it is just that on the other hand you should have respect and not talk down to him or what have you. the same as any other person would expect really.
    sure i hate rituals, although i ritualise life in some ways. fasting is done by buddhists sometimes. seams to me that people just want it all so easy these days, as if you just flick a switch and you enter nirvana or heaven. :rolleyes:

    oh do tell, what was he eluding to?

    i think people realise how hollow the world is after death in the family or some other suffering, and this is what makes them turn to religion. i think this is why jesus taught us simple lessons, the trouble is that ‘clever’ people came along and over-complicated his message and made demands upon those complications.

    yes stripping buddhism back is good, but not so far as to loose its essential truth!

    thank you for posts, :) more later
     
  7. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you said,
    "...the ultimate goal is removed."
    --> As you can imagine, some Buddhists say the ultimate goal of meditation is to take us closer to Nirvana. What may surprise you is, some Buddists say the ultimate goal is not to take us closer to Nirvana. The different goals of Buddhists can be a fascinating topic.

    "...for me the ‘here and now’ is not in the physical moment - of being just aware in this world, but of the stillness and emptiness of the un-obscured mind."
    --> This, too, gets into the nature of Nirvana as understood by Buddhists. The interpretation of Nirvana varies from tradition to tradition. Some see Nirvana as merely a different way of perceiving this physical world, while others see Nirvana as a different plane of existence.
     
  8. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick

    interesting as to how that can possibly be? however i think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head there, as to how ‘atheists’ and the non religious generally can take buddhism to the physical plane. perhaps they see nirvana as dark energy or something :D.
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you asked,
    "...interesting as to how that can possibly be?"
    --> Some Buddhists see Nirvana as just another form of Heaven. Other Buddhists strongly disagree with such an idea. It is this second group which see Nirvana as just a different way of perceiving this physical world.
    "...how ‘atheists’ and the non religious generally can take buddhism to the physical plane."
    --> Some Buddhist oppose what I call the "religious" aspect of Buddhism -- praying to go to Heaven, petitioning dieties for favors, etc. It is these same people who limit Buddhism to the physical plane.
    "...perhaps they see nirvana as dark energy or something."
    --> No, not at all. They are just trying to make it into something non-religious.
     
  10. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick

    i can see the merit in this, as at least they are being taken nearer to divinity via philosophy, similar to how practical philosophy groups are springing up at uni’s here n there preaching similar.
    the only problem is that one needs to define exactly what the state of nirvana in the physical world is. perhaps it can be seen as like the nothing from which quantum particles emerge? this has been refuted elsewhere, as this ‘nothing’ does not infer self or life or being or mind.
     
  11. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you said,
    "i can see the merit in this, as at least they are being taken nearer to divinity via philosophy...."
    --> This fits into my belief system nicely. I believe that anyone, no matter if they are Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, etc., are making progress if they are devout about their religion. It sounds like you and I agree that exclusitivity in religion is a mistake.
    "...similar to how practical philosophy groups are springing up at uni’s here n there preaching similar."
    --> I have to wonder, though, if they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. What do you think?
    "...the only problem is that one needs to define exactly what the state of nirvana in the physical world is."
    --> An excellent question. I definitely have my ideas of what Nirvana is. What is yours?
    "...perhaps it can be seen as like the nothing from which quantum particles emerge?"
    --> Would you equate Nirvana with nihilism?
    "...this has been refuted elsewhere, as this ‘nothing’ does not infer self or life or being or mind."
    --> How does the idea of Self fit into your belief system?
     
  12. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    nick

    well yes on the one hand they are being brought nearer then on the other they will never know the subtle truth and the reality behind it. i think people should be shown truth where possible, otherwise what is the point in ‘followers’ and great teachers spending all their lives finding them!

    that could be a long discussion, but i try to think of as infinity proper i.e. as incomparative. this is of course a westernised perspective but by this i can think of it as the basis of all things, the field from which all things grow. secondly, whatever descriptions we give it do not contain it - and this is the true vision of the thing that i feel is the same whatever end of the planet we come from. so how do you see it?

    no. although i can see how the two can equate in some peoples minds. this is because people think of everything being terminated - every essence of self, everything one knows and loves, the people the things, all being taken away. what is not realised is that this ultimately equates as freedom and takes us to a place where all beings end up.

    well there are two options the merged and the epicentral. the merged is when all is dissolved into oneness, the other is what i call ‘the guider’ - where the ‘atom-self’ can go from form to form in eternity. the atom-self is thought of in druidry as the acorn or the seed of self, it is considered so that when we die, what we are folds into itself kinda like the universe returning to singularity. this is like a tiny particle with no actual form as it is too subtle, hence i call it the ‘guider’, it is like a whirlpool in the ocean of nirvana. this second penultimate nature is what travels from body to body in rebirth cycles, yet contains what we are in essence.
    ‘self’ is a little further down the line of manifestation.
     
  13. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    to my mind, ppl maybe confuse nirvana with sunyata...

    what is nirvana? nobody really knows... some ppl think it is cessation of something, some ppl think it is a transcendental experience, some ppl think it is a metaphor...

    nirvanam= bliss (acc. to michael collin's book on sanskrit)

    but according to the sanskrit dictionary published by macdonnell in 1924, (oxford uni press) nirvana means:

    extinguished, set (sun), and can also mean (the light of one's life) has gone out, released from the bonds of existence, enjoying absolute bliss...

    ...yet that isn't what it is, really, surely? so, because sanskrit is a lovely language made of little words combined to make bigger words, I have it as either...

    nir (na) varna= "absence of type/colour/quality"
    nir (na) vana= "absence of delusion/ "no forest"

    so, if we have it as neither bliss, or as the end, what it is but a metaphor?

    and to use a collection of buddhist metaphors- if we leave the dense forest of delusion, if we see the world without classifying things into types, varnas, what do we have? we reach the furthest shore, go beyond samsara and reach clearest nirvana...

    ah ha! we have destroyed inherent existence, we have gone beyond the stereotypes and the conditioning... we are beyond delusion and classifying things into this and that... we have nirvana! we are arhats!

    but of course, that is not the same as the realisation of sunyata...

    sunyata= nought (zero) ya= who, what, that, which, ta= his


    which surely, is a little more transcendental, becoming that nothing, becoming zero...

    just thought I'd mention it...
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2007
  14. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Z, you said,
    "Nirvana --> that could be a long discussion...."

    --> Ha, I think my discussion could be longer than yours!
    "...i try to think of as infinity proper i.e. as incomparative."

    --> I see a difference between infinity and Nirvana. Perhaps you do not?
    "so how do you see it?"

    --> To me, Nirvana is another dimension, another type of reality. We all know how Heaven is seen as a "place" by Christians. I also see Nirvana as a place, but at a level higher than Heaven. (Heaven is a wonderful place we visit between incarnations, but I see Nirvana as an even higher place we go to, when we stop reincarnating. Another aspect I believe in is, Heaven is a place or rest, while Nirvana is a place of great activity.)
    "...people think of everything being terminated - every essence of self, everything one knows and loves, the people the things, all being taken away."

    --> I find it fascinating you would say that. I find Nirvana to be the very opposite of a place of terminating things a person knows and loves. I see Nirvana as a place where lower and undesireable aspects of a person are terminated, yet a place where higher aspects of a person become much more active.
    "...what is not realised is that this ultimately equates as freedom and takes us to a place where all beings end up."

    --> I agree with both ideas.
    "Self --> when all is dissolved into oneness...."

    --> I wonder if you see Nirvana as a place where a person loses their individuality and self-identity. I do not. I see Nirvana as a loss of separateness yet not a loss of self-identity.
    "... the ‘atom-self’ can go from form to form in eternity. the atom-self is thought of in druidry as the acorn or the seed of self, it is considered so that when we die, what we are folds into itself kinda like the universe returning to singularity. this is like a tiny particle with no actual form as it is too subtle, hence i call it the ‘guider’, it is like a whirlpool in the ocean of nirvana. this second penultimate nature is what travels from body to body in rebirth cycles, yet contains what we are in essence."
    --> This is similar to what I believe. For me, the key to Nirvana is that all separateness between you and I is removed. Right now, here on Earth, it is impossible for me to really understand what it means for you to be you. The way I see it, in Nirvana, all separateness is removed, and I become you. Yet, I never lose track of my own individuality.


    A man named George Arundale wrote a book called Nirvana — An Occult Experience. According to him, he achieved the ability to experience Nirvana while still incarnating in his physical body. Here is Mr. Arundale’s account of achieving oneness with an orange grove:
    “I remember sitting at the window of my room in the hotel in which a party of us were staying, and I was listlessly dreaming. All of a sudden my half non-seeing eyes rested on the orange grove in the little valley beneath, and I found myself peculiarly, wonderfully, identified with the orange trees, with their very life and being. I was at my window, yet was I also in the orange grove — indeed, I was the orange grove. It was almost as if my consciousness flickered between George Arundale as George Arundale and George Arundale as the orange grove. I was two entities, yet one. And as I lived as the orange grove a gardener entered and began to pluck some of the oranges and to cut off some of the branches. All these things the gardener was doing to me. I rebelled — not as George Arundale might rebel, not with my mind and my will, but as orange groves apparently do rebel. I was conscious of discomfort, of loss, not exactly of pain but of something next door to it. I was the more discomforted because the gardener did not treat me reverently or affectionately, but as if I were inanimate with no feelings, with no capacity for sensation. Why could he not realise that the same life was in us both? If he bad only had the attitude of asking my permission, of begging my pardon, for his actions, of conveying to me that I could make others happy by sharing myself with them, I should not have minded so much. But he was callous, selfish, and treated the orange grove as a slave instead of as a comrade. He hurt me every time be plucked an orange or cut off a branch. With a different attitude on his part, he might have had all my oranges, all my branches, and we might have rejoiced together, for we could have worked together. As it was, being at his mercy and treated as his chattel, life was only just worth living, and I was a poor orange grove, because uncared for. “This experience of consciousness in the vegetable kingdom opened before my eyes In entirely new conception of consciousness at different levels of unfoldment, and of the implications of the all-embracing unity. I have never been the same since. I have never been able to pluck a flower, or even to uproot a weed, without as it were silently explaining my reasons to the plant or to the weed, requesting a sacrifice for some definite, I will not necessarily say larger, good. And I have never found any lack of cooperation.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages xi - xiii) ​

    George Arundale describes the entry into Nirvana as a blinding experience.
    [When one enters Nirvana for the first time,] “Light, of course, is the first discovery, for it is the primary, overwhelming experience. I have spoken of "lightning-standing-still". Entry into the Nirvanic world is as into lightning, blinding, penetrating, drenching. One plunges into a sea of vibrant, vocal lightning. One cannot sink, but one has to learn to swim. One does not sink, because the light within makes one buoyant. It is impossible to conceive entry into this kingdom without the warrant of the awakened light within....” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, page 58) ​

    Here, George Arundale describes Nirvana as being nothing but light, yet having points of light within the light.
    “Let me try to put my visions [into words]. I look upon the world, and I see our Lord the Sun expressed in myriad suns. Each monad I perceive to be a Sun in miniature. The Sun Divine throws off spark-suns charged with all His attributes. The process of evolution begins, and these sparks burst into color, or rather gradually. unfold in terms of color; rainbows with sun-hearts, or nuclei or centers. God's Light thus imprisoned in form begins its long pathway of transcending form, thus acquiring self-consciousness. Every atom of light is an atom of unconscious Divinity, slowly but surely fulfilling the will of the Sun that it shall become unfolded into self-conscious Divinity. Every atom is a Sun unconscious, and shall become a Sun self-conscious. And the Sun-Light, which is the Light that is free, shines upon the Sun-Light, which is the Light imprisoned; Light the wanderer in the darkness, until the Light within and the Light without blend into a perfect whole, earth-light kissing Heaven-Light and becoming Sun-Light. “Bathed in the Lightning-standing-still which is Nirvana, I perceive the imprisoned lightnings in all things. I perceive the Light which is dull — the savage; the Light which is bright — the man evolved; the Light which is glory — the Superman, the Master. I see color everywhere in process of transmutation, of glorification, of transcendence. There is no blackness anywhere in the sense of a negation of Light. God said: ‘Let there be Light.’ And there was and is light everywhere. His Light shineth even in our darkness.’ “And as before I might express my vision in terms of sound, of music, in terms of gloriously growing forms. For, as time passes, I begin to perceive that while my first impression found instant expression in the word ‘Light,’ and specially in the phrase ‘Lightning-standing-still,’ I now know that this Light conception is but a quality of Nirvana, an aspect, a facet of the diamond sphere. In truth, Nirvana is an essence of things and a flower of things.” (George Arundale, Nirvana — An Occult Experience, pages 16 - 18) ​
    It seems to me that Nirvana will be a place without physical matter and physical shapes. If so, the idea that everything in Nirvana is "lightning-standing-still" makes a lot of sense to me.
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    i am curious why the prevailing view is that the Buddha Dharma does not contain teachings regarding deities or God since a cursory exploration of the Suttas reveals quite the opposite.

    in point of fact one of the other titles of a Buddha is "Teacher of Gods and Men" which would seem to be rather self evident that there are teachings regarding deities.

    more to the point, however, there are teachings which address the prevailing understandings of the day, to wit, monotheism and the view that all things began from a Creator Deity. in a rather lengthy discourse, DN #24, the Buddha refutes the idea of a Creator God in no uncertain terms, in my opinion.

    as for Buddhism is the West...

    i think that we are still trying to recover from the disservice that Theosophy did to the Buddha Dharma when it tried to bring it to the West as the religion of "enlightenment" and as a completely rationalistic religious paradigm. it has led to a strange view that some of the Suttas which deal with metaphysical subjects, such as rebirth, are not "true" Buddhist teachings... sort of a later addition which can lead one to some unusual views regarding the Dharma.

    since a being can become liberated when there is no Dharma present in the world system, we can be pretty sure that the system set down in the Buddha Dharma is an expedient means for beings that have the fortune to encouter it.. that should not be understood, however, to mean that beings that have never encountered it or improperly understood the teachings are barred from Liberation, in my view. the origin of a light in a dark room improperly perceived still lights the darkness.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Nick,

    all beings, according to the Buddha Dharma, can experience Nibbana with remainder whilst in this physical form.

    i am curious, however...why do you think George Arundales experience is an experience of Nibbana especially as he seems to tie it to some sort of God feeings?

    have you read the Buddhas words on this topic?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  17. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    bump for tech. difficulties.

    *a cute fluffybutt (aka :kitty: :D) bumps the thread with his sleek body*

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  18. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

    Vajradhara,You asked,
    "i am curious why the prevailing view is that the Buddha Dharma does not contain teachings regarding deities or God...."

    --> Buddhism often de-emphasizes what happened billions of years ago, and what will happen billions of years from now, and only deals with what is happening right here, right now. Because the here and now is so emphasized, the other realms, deities, etc., end up being de-emphasized (and that is what attracts a lot of westerners to Buddhism). I am not sure the prevailing view is that Buddhism does not contain teachings regarding deities. I think most westerners get interested in Buddhism because they wish to escape from Christianity, and the last thing they want to hear about is a pantheon of deities. I am sure the prevailing view is that Buddhism does not contain teachings regarding God. Buddhism is widely perceived as not being a monotheistic religion.
    "...since a cursory exploration of the Suttas reveals quite the opposite."

    --> Are you saying the sutta point to teachings of a monotheistic God?
    "...in point of fact one of the other titles of a Buddha is "Teacher of Gods and Men" which would seem to be rather self evident that there are teachings regarding deities."

    --> Buddhism definitely teaches about deities. I just feel many people want to de-emphasize deities in their personal belief systems. Many people very much like the idea of only concentrating on the here and now.
    "...the Buddha refutes the idea of a Creator God in no uncertain terms, in my opinion."

    --> This is certainly the prevailing view of Buddhism in the west.
    "...i think that we are still trying to recover from the disservice that Theosophy did to the Buddha Dharma when it tried to bring it to the West as the religion of "enlightenment"...."

    --> I thought Buddhism was a religion of enlightenment.
    "...and as a completely rationalistic religious paradigm."

    --> Theosophy tries to show Buddhism as a religion of rationality, but Buddhism definitely has other aspects.
    "...it has led to a strange view that some of the Suttas which deal with metaphysical subjects, such as rebirth, are not "true" Buddhist teachings..."
    --> I do not agree. Please share some examples. Millions of Buddhists do not believe in physical rebirth, but I do not think we can blame Theosophy for that. In contrast, Theosophy teaches the idea of physical rebirth in a most vociferous way.

    Also, thanks to Theosophy, most westerners think Buddhism teaches reincarnation, and are shocked to find out it does not (I sure was). Most westerners have no idea of the difference between reincarnation and rebirth, a key Buddhist distinction.
    "... sort of a later addition which can lead one to some unusual views regarding the Dharma."

    --> Again, feel free to share some examples.
    "... that should not be understood, however, to mean that beings that have never encountered it or improperly understood the teachings are barred from Liberation, in my view."

    --> Do you think the discussion here leads to such a conclusion?
    "...all beings, according to the Buddha Dharma, can experience Nibbana with remainder whilst in this physical form."

    --> I agree. It does beg the question, however, of what the conditions will be when we finally leave the phsycial world behind forever. This is what Arundale was trying to describe, and his description makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you?
    "...i am curious, however...why do you think George Arundales experience is an experience of Nibbana especially as he seems to tie it to some sort of God feelings?"

    --> Arundale was part of a group of Theosophists who were very much into Jesus, an Almighty God, etc., etc. Because of this, his writings are very much colored with Christian terminology. When I read his works, I just ignore all the Jesus terminology. When all of the Jesus terminology is set aside, Arundale's writings are quite good. His book is the only book I know that describes conditions within Nirvana, so I like to quote from it.
    "have you read the Buddhas words on this topic?"
    --> Do you mean Buddha's descriptions of Nirvana?
     
  19. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    see, to me this is the problem- we think nirvana is some transcendental experience, when in truth that transcendental experience would be realising sunyata instead... or so I would think

    and yes, there are plenty of sutras which talk about Buddha being in the company of, say, Brahma, and Indra, yet Buddha himself never mentioned such things, and nor did he advise ppl to pray in any kind of sense either

    or so I have heard...
     
  20. MindFreak666

    MindFreak666 New Member

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    I agree that alot of people nowadays distort buddhism and disregard things the Buddha taught, according to their own personal beliefs. I've met buddhists who don't believe in psychic powers, but the Buddha displayed them and talked about them very often. He did say that they are not the point of the spiritual life but very real none the less. And there are many examples of this, people distorting buddhism according to their own beliefs, seperate from buddhism.
    But regardless of all this, the Buddha said that the Dharma exists whether theres a tathagata in the world or not.
    We are all bound for our own awakening, some people are just closer than others, and for those who are farther away, it is harder for them to grasp the meaning of some of the scriptures. Plus alot of people get there ideas of buddhism from other people rather than the scriptures themselves.

    Also, about Buddha being a teacher of gods and men. All the ancient civilizations described the gods as being very real, they have appearance and they interact in a very human-like way. In the suttas, Buddha talks to them often, as if they were people. The appear too many times in the suttas to ignore.
    Many people, including yours truly, believe that extraterrestrials used to be among us and that they were the "gods" of the past. Far from perfect but more technically advanced. If this sounds far fetched, keep in mind there are pictures of UFOs inside the pyramids, and drawn on cave walls.
    I think alot of confusion also comes from the fact that in the suttas, many things that were common back then, and common knowledge, are myth now and so people do not understand, or make their own conclusions about these things. But these aren't the point of buddhism, and alot of people get tied up in those things rather than the main point of buddhism, studying and training, and developing the mind, leading to "awakening". I prefer to use awakening rather than enlightenment because enlightenment for whatever reason seems to confuse some people, even though they are refering to the same thing. Remember that Buddha means one who is awake and the actually experience of waking up he called "bodhi". Not many people ever refer to this word, its always Nibbana, but bodhi is the actual experience. Nibbana is what is after.
     

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