Material Attachments

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Chronicles, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Chronicles

    Chronicles New Member

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    I remember when discussing the plight of the current Dalai Lama, it was pointed out that if he returned to China, he could die.

    However, this point of view puzzles myself - I was very strongly under the impression that Buddhism teaches liberation from material things - even to the point that existence is no better than suffering, and therefore should be escaped - with the Buddhist spending his lifetime shaping his or her life precisely to try and pull on karmic guidelines to prevent them ever having to "live"/"suffer" again.

    In which case, that a Buddhist should fear for their life for their faith would make little sense.

    So what attachments do Buddhists make with this world? And do they really see existence as something to be escaped from, life as nothing more than a form of suffering that should be escaped?
     
  2. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Rigid conclusion

    That is the rigid conclusion of all religions which preach about not having a lasting city here and wanting to go to the kingdom after death, death being the necessary transition to that kingdom.

    The answer as can be and will be expected from such religious people is that they may not hurry the transition to come sooner than is appointed by the powers that be in charge, God or whatever forces in the universe of matter and spirit.

    That is why I find the Dalai Lama very illogical and unspiritual and unBuddhistic in being in charge of a political entity that is Tibet or wanting to go back there to take over the government there.

    Another answer they will give to wash off the contradiction is that they have to remain healthy and avoid an early death, because namely they still have things to do for the good of mankind.

    Early Christian monks, the desert fathers, went into the desert and remained there to be altogether unknown to man and known only to God. But they could not remain there for long. They eventually always gravitated to the cities and became political power blocks.

    So also with Buddhist monks. When men get organized they become politicized, notwithstanding that religion is the basis of their unity and organization. And when they get politicized they get to live in castles and in palaces and maintain also armies.

    That happened with Buddhist monks in Tibet, I imagine. I invite the Dalai Lama to go home to Tibet and take up the life of a simple unpoliticized monk to teach the ways of peace and modern hygiene and sanitation.

    Then I will really admire him for his Buddhistic authenticity.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  3. brucegdc

    brucegdc Moderator

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    Yea, but having to reincarnate takes such a long time until you're back in the full swing of things again... which means that his knowledge can't be passed on effectively while he's off getting born again and getting back up to speed, which would not be a good thing for other people, so thus something to be avoided if possible rather than desired.

    Did that make sense?
     
  4. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    There is an ideal which, in the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools is seen as higher than Buddhahood. It is to live the life of a Bodhisattva which is someone who instead of gaining enlightenment for themselves, does it for everyone else. His aim is to help everyone else reach enlightenment. The Dalai Lama is in a much greater position to help people than if he were to seek isolation. It would not be bad if he did, but the reality is that he is a most influential person and his purpose is best served right where he is. He attracts crowds in excess of 250 000 at times.

    If he were to return to Tibet and die, those who he inspired would have to wait ages until he was born again, or until another influential person established themselves.

    The Dalai Lama only wants what is best for the people. The people of Tibet are ruled under an iron hand by the government of China. I'm sure I don't need to expand on their plight. If they were freed, we wouldn't hear anything more from the Dalai Lama on the subject.
    The Dalai Lama was never the head of Tibet anyway. He is the head of the Gelug order of monks.
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Samabudhi,

    thanks for the post.

    hmm... well... i'm going to have to disagree with your post, somewhat.

    whilst it is true that both the Mahayana and the Vajrayana posit the Bodhisattva as the highest path, that should not be understood to mean that the Bodhisattva is, in fact, a more realized being than a Buddha. according to the Prasangika-Madhaymika system of Varjayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva is in one of ten stages of spritual development, with the 10th one is effectively called a Buddha at the Effect Stage. i would suggest a text called Stages of Meditation by Kalimashila for more indepth information on this topic.

    The Dalai Lama lineage was, in fact, the political and religious head of Tibet. the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was appointed the head of state and government on Nov 17, 1950. it's true enough that he says that when Tibet is free again that he does not want the Dalai Lama position to be in charge of the goverment, though many Tibetans aren't pleased with this idea.

    for more information about His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, you can visit this link:

    http://www.tibet.com/DL/biography.html
     
  6. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Differences among Buddhists

    One notices the differences between Vaj and Sama in some of their doctrinal stock data. Now, that phenomenon is peculiar to all religions.

    What I would like to learn from our Buddhist posters here is whether they also go into a very extensive and intensive examination of the distinction between belief and knowledge in Buddhism, as with Christians in regard to their Christian religion.

    When it comes to beliefs, it is inevitable that in whatever realm of discourse there is going to be differences.

    I guess Westerners who have embraced Buddhism and become more knowledgeable in Buddhist teachings and observances than the masses of Buddhists in Thailand or even in Tibet, owing to their presumably past Christian background must have thought of the belief basis of Buddhist teachings and observances.

    My question to the Buddhist posters here is: Are you still aware that for all the adherence you maintain to your now Buddhist religious teachings and observances, these doctrines and practices are still essentially founded upon belief, they don't equate with knowledge.

    Christians of course have resorted to the distinction between knowledge from belief or faith and knowledge from experience. Do you Buddhists here also resort to this kind of a distinction, in order to claim the same kind and degree of validity to your adherence of Buddhist teachings and observances, as you also take seriously the data obtained from experience?

    Suicide bombers are a very extreme example of religionists who take their religious beliefs most seriously, as to invest their life for a quick transit to paradise, by rendering to Allah a testimony of their sincerity.

    Christians nowadays even among the fundamentalists don't seem to be as serious with their faith as to go for similar demonstrations of sincerity to their God.

    What about Buddhists? Did those Buddhists who burned themselves do so for a quick transit to Nirvana, or for plain politico-patriotic reaons?


    Susma Rio Sep
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Su,

    thanks for the post.


    yes, the Abhidharma deal with exactly this point.

    incorrect. the Buddhist teachings are directly based on knowledge. The Buddha instructs everyone to test his teachings for themselves and only adopt them if they can demonstrate that they are true. there is no requirement to believe anything without evidence. which is, by the way, one of the things that differentiates the various Buddhist schools.

    perhaps you could rephrase your question here as it makes no sense to me.

    er... Nirvana doesn't work like that... however, i cannot say why they did what they did, other than to tell you what they said about it. the monk that i'm aware of did it to protest the war in vietnam. any futher than that on my part is pure speculation.
     
  8. AG3287

    AG3287 New Member

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    I doubt many Buddhists would burn themselves in order to take some kind of shortcut to Nirvana. Nirvana isn't a place that can be lived in after death. Nirvana is the word used to describe the state of Enlightenment. Any Buddhists who believe that Nirvana is something that can be equated to the Christian Heaven, or any other physical realm, are probably not very knowledgable concerning Buddhism.

    There were monks in Vietnam who burned themselves in protest of the Vietnam War, as Vajradhara stated already. I guess you could partially attribute their actions to political reasoning, though I doubt there was patriotism involved.

    In my experience with Buddhism, there doesn't seem to be much belief involved, unless it be among specific lay populations, for example, Chinese farmers revering Kuan Yin as a Goddess rather than a Bodhisattva. There is a limited amount of belief in Pure Land Buddhism, in which the practitioner relies completely on Amitabha Buddha in order to be reborn in Sukhavati, Amitabha's pure land, where they can practice and reach enlightenment easier than they can here. Of course, this belief lends itself to a very literal interpretation of Pure Land teachings, and there are ways to interpret them which don't really involve any belief. Besides these cases, I believe that Buddhism is much more about direct experience than belief. As Vajradhara touched on before, Buddha had said, "Ehipasiko", which can be roughly translated to mean "Come and see for yourself." Much of the spiritual insight attained by Buddhists can be attributed to meditation in all its forms, and I think this counts as direct experience.
     
  9. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Good replies. :)

    And welcome to CR, AG3287. :)
     
  10. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, namastar ji, hej, konbanwa, squeak, meow, :wave:, AG3287.

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  11. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Privileged area

    Vaj writes:

    Well, I guess we are back to definitions of what is belief and what is knowledge. And what is evidence as used in 'no requirement to believe anything without evidence.' For my part, if evidence there be then no need to believe.

    Different schools of Buddhism founded upon different kinds of evidence leading to belief? For you say "evidence. which is, by the way, one of the things that differentiates the various Buddhist schools".

    In the end, my conclusion is always that when dealing with religious ideas and observances we are in a privileged area, emphasis on 'privi'. Religion is a law unto the believers themselves, no exigency for them to explain and to prove to themselves, and no use explaining and proving to outsiders.

    Outsiders can and should just be on the lookout for any suicide bombing among religionists, or crusading movements in the war-making kind, military conquests for religious propagation.

    No, I am not accusing Buddhism of this inclination; but they must also have some skeletons here yet not as much as with Christianity and Islam, and also Judaism of the Old Testament days.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  12. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    I'm afraid there are not many differences between Vajradhara and me. Firstly he agreed that the ideal of the Bodhisattva is the highest path and I agree that it is not necessarily one of greater realisation.

    Secondly, by the time the Dalai Lama came to be head of 'Tibet', it had been invaded and was then part of China. This is what I meant when I said that he was not the head of Tibet.

    I think an adapted extract from the Kalama Sutta from the Anguttara-nikaya can help us out here.

    There will always be differences in opinion as I am not an enlightened being.

    But who said I was Buddhist anyway?
     
  13. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Well if you find those skeletons, I'd like to here about them. I know of only one case where a Buddhist has killed. 1 in 2500 years.

    Just because there are different schools in Buddhism doesn't mean that some are right and others are wrong. They all have the same end in mind, and they all follow the same basic principles, it's just the practise that differs.

    Other than that, I'm having difficulty understanding your point. You are assuming that there has to be something wrong with Buddhism just because it falls into the category of a religion. Skepticism is natural. If there's something in particular you find lacking, bring it up. But if you want to be sure about anything in Buddhism then I would suggest that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
     
  14. Chronicles

    Chronicles New Member

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    Just the one? I am sure that I can find more. Or would you personally make the distinction that Buddhists (and even Christians) who kill are therefore neither Buddhists (or Christians)?
     
  15. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    I think the issue here is who you regard as a Buddhist. There is no way to conclusively prove what someone might think.
    Never-the-less, a Buddhist who kills, for whatever reason, is breaking the first of the five precepts which all Buddhists follow.
    Does this mean he is not a Buddhist?
    You need to put it into context. The Tibetan army, which naturally consisted of Buddhist's, must have been responsible for some Chinese deaths. There is an exception to every rule. If you are rigid like a tree, you make easy cutting for the axe. Bend like a young stem and the wood cutter won't give you a second glance.
    Buddhism is very peaceful. This has been it's greatest downfall and it's greatest virtue. In my opinion, it's why it didn't get far in the Middle East, and has done well in the Orient.

    Back to the subject.
    The idea of making a definition such as 'I am a Buddhist' is against Buddhist teaching (my opinion, Vajradhara). It is a definition for convenience and primary for other people. One who follows the Buddha's teachings knows he is following the Buddha's teaching. He doesn't need to label for himself, only for others.
    This is contrary to a lot of other religions that take pride in their religion (in other words taking pride that they have found the right path, or that they are superior[I think therefore I am.])
    There is no place for pride in Buddhism. It inhibit's the flow of compassion for others and encourages the flow of egoism.

    You should look at your motives for trying to find examples of Buddhists who have done wrong. What are you trying to prove; that Buddhist's are not human? That they're above the laws of nature and the natural tendencies of man. That is the ideal, but you don't have to be a fully enlightened being to call yourself Buddhist.

    You needn't look far to find embarrising examples in other religions, but then I would be making the mistake of comparing Buddhism to other religions and, on account of it being at the top of the list in terms of morality, concluding that it is the right path.

    The only thing you should use to judge a religion's effectiveness is by your own experience. Different things work for different people anyway, and there are many paths to God, so they say.

    (won't be replying for a long time. leaving job, hence internet connection)
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    The trouble is when people make statements, that imply that the inherents of a particular path are somehow above human flaws. Such statements deserve correction.
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    thank you for the thoughtful replies.

    i would like to touch on a few points that have been raised in the dialog.

    In 1642, Gushri Khan placed both the spiritual and temporal rule of Tibet in the hands of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682). He founded the Ganden Phodrang government, which today continues to function under the leadership of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Prior to this time, the temporal ruler of Tibet was a secular King. In point of fact, the title "Dalai Lama", which means "Ocean of Wisdom" was given to Sonam Gyatso by Alta Khan in 1578.

    eh... it's just history and is only of importance for those that find history interesting :)

    my comment about the evidence was more related to how the various philosophical schools posit shunyata, please review my posting in the Buddhist Philosopy thread for more information about this topic, rather than an empricial statement.

    Sambudhi also touched on an important point.... that is often overlooked due to the worldview that most westerners have. there is no "I" to be considered a Buddhist. to entertain notions such as this demonstrate that one is still in the grip of ego. using these types of words does have a value in the relative world, though they ultimately have no meaning. moreover, it is not what one labels oneself that denotes if one is an adherent to a religious tradition, it is their character, their actions and their speech that demonstrate if they are a true adherent or not, in my opinion.

    now... just to touch on the burning monks thing... you know... there are photographs of these things happening... the monks are fully involved yet they are still in meditation.. not moving on inch as their bodies are burned away... it's really quite amazing in a phisological sort of way...
     
  18. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Buddha would smile.

    Sama says: "Well if you find those skeletons, I'd like to here about them. I know of only one case where a Buddhist has killed. 1 in 2500 years."

    Sama, can you spare a smile? Know anything about the Feast of the Holy Innocents? Perhaps you might have been a Catholic before; if not, find out. It's like April Fools' Day.

    Buddha reads your apologetics of Buddhism and he reads the apologetics of Christianity, and laughs hilariously.


    Vaj says: "it is not what one labels oneself that denotes if one is an adherent to a religious tradition, it is their character, their actions and their speech that demonstrate if they are a true adherent or not, in my opinion."

    That's very good, Vaj. Just one caveat: Restraint forcefully anyone who should put to practice his religious ideals, like for example blowing oneself up for a testimony to Allah, opening up women's wombs to drag out babies and dash them on rocks for Jaweh.


    In some ways I prefer hypocrites in religion to zealous faithfuls, read that zealots.

    Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  19. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Burning monks


    About burning monks:

    vaj, do you know of any investigative reports on the number of burning monks in the last 50 years, and the circumstances?

    Have there been autopsy done on those monks post factum?

    Any possibility of ingestion of anaesthetic herbs or concoctions by burning monks ante factum?

    Well, maybe those burning monks had mastered the skill to remain stationary while burning themselves, unlike what we see on live tv of guys who burn themselves for a statement but run or move about wildly.

    Maybe one day I might come across a laboratory study of how a live human feels like while being burned, like those studies of sexual activities and moods and physiological stages.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  20. zenmonk_genryu

    zenmonk_genryu New Member

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    If I can add my two cents worth. The monks that I know of who did this, to draw the worlds attention to the repression of Buddhism in Vietnam, and to the war there for example, were pretty adept in Samadhi. That being so they had no need to take any drugs to dull the pain and yes autopsies were done as I understand it.
     

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