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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:58 am

Now can we get :focus: ? ;)
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:19 am

Just wanted to point something out... I was reading his ever-so-humble Genius Forums earlier today and saw many postings from members there speculating on Kevin's motives for suddenly spending so much time on E-sangha and the consensus seemed to be he was trying to attract a crowd to his board, which actually worked because I noticed a couple dejected/banned former E-sangha members there. In light of this, I wondered if it might have been Kevin who hacked E-sangha for spite? He seems to have the capability to create software, so he would probably know how to exploit PHP based forums. I'm not unjustly accusing him of anything, just a suggestion to make backups and double-check security around here now that he's been banned.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:49 am

Jikan wrote:There have been a few threads on DW and elsewhere on God in Buddhism: calls for room for an Abrahamic or Vedantic Godhead in Buddha Dharma have been made ("Theistic Buddhism"?) and generally shown to be incoherent.

I'd like to consider the reverse: now that Buddhist traditions have had plenty of exposure to Abrahamic doctrines for a significant period of time, we might have some examples of what have Buddhist teachers said about the God of the Tanakh and the Koran. Anyone have anything on this?


This is the original post to this thread.
Thank you, moderators for your recent action.

Regarding the original post to this thread, the thing that I find interesting is that, not surprisingly, people tend to start out conceptually putting Buddhism into the category of religion. We hear Buddhism referred to as "one of the world's great religions" and we see all sorts of outward trappings...incense, hands pressed together, "holy" men wearing robes.

But in light of recent events, I wonder if this is a mistake. Obviously it can become a problem for people sometimes, when they throw everything together. This is not because one cannot or should not study and benefit from the study of various teachings on life and morality or whatever, but because it starts out with presumptions, with labels ("religion") and then people assemble all of their presumptions in an effort to fill in the definition of "religion".

My parents were Catholics but by the time I was born (an unexpected joy, I am told) my folks had already raised 2 kids and were tired of the whole church thing. So, I never had any real exposure to the concept of "religion" as a thing. I mean, I had a little bit of familiarity, because kids I knew talked about going to their church and so forth, which I always thought was just weird. And there were the Davey & Goliath cartoons, which were REALLY weird. So, when at a young age I started reading short Zen stories, I wasn't approaching them from the thought of "well, let's see what this religion has to offer". I just liked the stories, and I liked the philosophy. But then, I liked Aesop's fables too. So, I guess my point is, I never approached it as "religion" and thinking of dharma that way still feels creepy to me to this day.

Many years ago, a visiting university student from Taiwan, that I hung out with, asked me why it was that of all the US Presidents, Lincoln was the only one that had a temple devoted to him. I was a bit puzzled. Then he explained that he had seen it when he toured Washington DC. And if you think about it, he is sort of right. people make pilgrimages to the Lincoln Memorial, even bring flowers. They go there for inspiration. They talk to the statue. But nobody thinks of Lincoln as a god. So, in a sense, it is very much like a Buddhist shrine. But that association wouldn't occur to someone unless they were already familiar with Buddhist (or Taoist) shrines to begin with. So, this is what i am getting at: When we see something, we make these random (?) associations because of the labels we have already put on things with which we are familiar.

So, do we automatically think of Buddhism as a "religion" because this is a preconceived category, and if we do, how does this influence the way Buddhists practice? Is this a sort of conceptual baggage that draws people into lumping Buddha and God and Bob Marley and whoever all together into these "Frankendharmas", or is there really something in the human realm experience which is 'religion' that Buddhism is part of?

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:36 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Many years ago, a visiting university student from Taiwan, that I hung out with, asked me why it was that of all the US Presidents, Lincoln was the only one that had a temple devoted to him. I was a bit puzzled. Then he explained that he had seen it when he toured Washington DC. And if you think about it, he is sort of right. people make pilgrimages to the Lincoln Memorial, even bring flowers. They go there for inspiration. They talk to the statue. But nobody thinks of Lincoln as a god.

.


Actually inside the Capital Dome there is a painting called the Apotheosis of George Washington, literally its Washington ascending to become a God. It depicts his Enlightenment at least in terms of how the Western Mysteries understand it. The general idea of the image is that he has ascended to Olympus.

http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/rotunda/apotheosis/apoth_center.cfm
Image

Then there is this picture of Abraham Lincoln ascending with George Washington, who has come down to get him-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TheApotheosisLincolnAndWashington1860s.jpg

The belief is that these men were members of secret societies that taught the Solar Mysteries, that they achieved the equivalent of Christ/Krishna Consciousness, and thereby achieved Enlightenment. Whether or not its true its hard to say. Everyone wants to believe America was founded by Christians, but the reality is that it was founded mostly by Masons who believe only in a "Higher Power" by whichever name you wish to call it.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:50 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, do we automatically think of Buddhism as a "religion" because this is a preconceived category, and if we do, how does this influence the way Buddhists practice? Is this a sort of conceptual baggage that draws people into lumping Buddha and God and Bob Marley and whoever all together into these "Frankendharmas", or is there really something in the human realm experience which is 'religion' that Buddhism is part of?
.


What religion and Buddhism have in common, even what Christianity, Islam or Rastifarianism and Buddhism have in common, is that they offer hope to an individual that somehow, someway, someday they will be free from suffering.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Acchantika » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:08 am

wisdom wrote:What religion and Buddhism have in common, even what Christianity, Islam or Rastifarianism and Buddhism have in common, is that they offer hope to an individual that somehow, someway, someday they will be free from suffering.


Ultimate ultimate truth...

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:36 am

Nice. I think Buddhism gets pretty close to being the "religion of the Golden Rule" when you consider karma, causality, the precepts, and so on. Even the extremes like the lists of Bodhisattva precepts are mostly things designed to make a person think before they act, and not do harm to oneself or others.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby LastLegend » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:56 am

My fear is KevinSolway might start his own "Buddhism" and he will be the teacher.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:07 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Agree. Still that can't be an excuse for such lack of coherence and stubbornness... I think there's a middle point that most find acceptable when we debate a subject, no?


Indeed. I think it's pretty clear when dialogical respect is violated.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:17 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:When I said you had some interesting ideas, tobes, I was referring to the topic, not Kevin or the whole episode, by the way. :smile:
I really dislike that part of the job, but alas, other members also have their rights. Not being relentlessly pounded to death with that sort of arguments is one of them.


Yes, I gathered that ~ and I suppose that when I said that I didn't have much to add, I meant philosophically.

It just so happens that I have been working through Spinoza's Ethics with a few others - and frankly, I've really struggled, especially with book 1 which contains all of his axioms about God-Nature.

So my position is one of humility - Spinoza is just one of many great theistic thinkers (although he also has been interpreted as an atheist)....and I can't help but see a thread like this and wonder why everyone is so sure they have it all nicely figured out.

So I'm just the guy saying 'hang on a minute - maybe you shouldn't be so certain.'

Knowing Nagarjuna's arguments about emptiness does not instantly grant access to all of the world's philosophies and the arguments therein.

Incidentally, if there is something which I think most people here might be interested in pursuing, it is the theme of 'mystical' encounter or experience, and particularly, its fundamental tension with language and concepts. I think both you and Kevin touched on this - but it is by definition impossible to talk about.


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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:40 am

KevinSolway wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
KevinSolway wrote:Elsewhere he correctly calls it "the All as a phenomenon".
Where exactly?

The text has been quoted at least two or three times in this topic. I believe the first time was by Namdrol. He may have provided the exact reference.
If you want to use it you have to know where it is (the exact reference). Namdrol may have been lying or misquoting, does that mean you will use his misinformation to support your position? Heresay , I believe this is called, is generally inadmissable as evidence.
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PS Whoops, just notied that Kev has been banned :woohoo:
PPS It also just occured to me that the entire collection of Sutta and Sutra are actually heresay as well (since the Buddha did not write them).
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:41 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:PPS It also just occured to me that the entire collection of Sutta and Sutra are actually heresay as well (since the Buddha did not write them).


Ha, ya think that's why so many of them might have begun with "Thus I have heard..."?

However, it is more reliable than the official canon known as the Bible and shows internal consistency. Without quoting the exact sutta he's talking about, it's impossible to determine if he's misquoting or has otherwise distorted its meaning. Any time, ol' Kev was challenged on his sources, he inevitably gave a lackluster response falling quite short of proving the veracity of his claims or he simply never responded at all. This is one of several perfect examples of that.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:50 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:PPS It also just occured to me that the entire collection of Sutta and Sutra are actually heresay as well (since the Buddha did not write them).


What did the Buddha write ?
Ultimately....what IS Buddha ?

In the Diamond Sutra it says something to the effect that there are no sentient beings. So what's left ?

What's the difference between Enlightened & Non-Enlightened ?
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:38 pm

tobes wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:When I said you had some interesting ideas, tobes, I was referring to the topic, not Kevin or the whole episode, by the way. :smile:
I really dislike that part of the job, but alas, other members also have their rights. Not being relentlessly pounded to death with that sort of arguments is one of them.


Yes, I gathered that ~ and I suppose that when I said that I didn't have much to add, I meant philosophically.

It just so happens that I have been working through Spinoza's Ethics with a few others - and frankly, I've really struggled, especially with book 1 which contains all of his axioms about God-Nature.

So my position is one of humility - Spinoza is just one of many great theistic thinkers (although he also has been interpreted as an atheist)....and I can't help but see a thread like this and wonder why everyone is so sure they have it all nicely figured out.

So I'm just the guy saying 'hang on a minute - maybe you shouldn't be so certain.'

Knowing Nagarjuna's arguments about emptiness does not instantly grant access to all of the world's philosophies and the arguments therein.

Incidentally, if there is something which I think most people here might be interested in pursuing, it is the theme of 'mystical' encounter or experience, and particularly, its fundamental tension with language and concepts. I think both you and Kevin touched on this - but it is by definition impossible to talk about.


:anjali:

This is why I wanted you to participate in this topic. You speak of a few ideas worth exploring and debating. This is, in my opinion, an interesting way to approach a topic like this.

Best wishes.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Malcolm » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:53 pm

tobes wrote:
Knowing Nagarjuna's arguments about emptiness does not instantly grant access to all of the world's philosophies and the arguments therein.




Nope, it just makes them all completely irrevelevant to the one thing that matters: liberation.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:21 pm

tobes wrote:
Yes, I gathered that ~ and I suppose that when I said that I didn't have much to add, I meant philosophically.

It just so happens that I have been working through Spinoza's Ethics with a few others - and frankly, I've really struggled, especially with book 1 which contains all of his axioms about God-Nature.



I looked into a summary of Spinoza at this Stanford University Link:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/#GodNat

I have never read Spinoza and so I don't know how accurate it is, but I will assume it is, and based on that assumption, these are my observations:

1. Like all theists, Spinoza begins with the abstract and uncertain concept of something bearing the title "God" and then "defines" the meaning of that label with a lovely description of infinity.

But that type of reasoning, from a buddhist perspective, is backwards. It's "witch-hunt" logic. It's like saying,
"There are hard to explain things going on in the village, so there is probably a witch living nearby, and so now we have the word "witch" so let's define that word as meaning that strange woman who lives near the edge of the woods".

We start with everything we know and everything we wonder about, and because it's bigger than anything we can imagine, we call it "God" and maybe give it a face and a beard and maybe not, and then we start filling in the blanks: "god is this" God is that" and so on.

This is akin to the problem many new buddhists have when it comes to understanding sunyata, or emptiness. They begin with an apparently solid thing, like a table, and then, thinking that Buddhism tells them the table doesn't exist, struggle with deconstructing it. Buddhism doesn't say the table doesn't exist. Buddhism says that nothing is existent (meaning essential, or independently arising, or unconditional, or not composed of other things) that can be called a table. In other words, there is no essential "tableness' in a table. There's just wood and glue and screws and a shape. It only becomes a table in the human mind. If a crocodile sees it, it is not a table to the crocodile.

Likewise, if we start with "God" as something other than the abstract label that it is, then we start to invent all sorts of meanings. So the problem is that Spinoza never let's go of that first presumption. He starts with "God" and then comes up with all sorts of philosophy to attribute to this label.

2. he makes references to 'substances' as in:
Proposition 13: A substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible.

Which from a Buddhist point of view is contradictory in nature. For something to be infinite, it would have to transcend both absolute and non-absolute, indivisibility and non-indivisibility.
I won't go into all the other points about substances because these were already discussed and refuted 1300 years earlier by Nagarjuna.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:43 pm

Tobes wrote:Knowing Nagarjuna's arguments about emptiness does not instantly grant access to all of the world's philosophies and the arguments therein.
This is very true, but the "Middle Way" philosophy is what I tend to "judge" philosophies against since I consider it one of the pinnacles of Buddhist philosophy (and being a Buddhist...). Nagarjuna is my "yard stick". If they do not stand up to the analysis contained in Nagarjunas treatises then I tend to avoid them as wrong view. "TEND TO". This, of course, does not mean that they are not valid to their followers, just that they are not really all that important to me and my striving for liberation.

But when somebody comes along and claims to be a Buddhist AND enlightened (like Kev claimed), well I tend to expect their words/theories to coincide with the teachings of enlightened teachers like Nagarjuna. When they don't...

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:What did the Buddha write ?
Nothing apparently, he talked.
Ultimately....what IS Buddha ?
Realisation of ones enlightened nature.
In the Diamond Sutra it says something to the effect that there are no sentient beings. So what's left ?
Their Tathagatagarbha.
What's the difference between Enlightened & Non-Enlightened ?
Realisation of Tathagatagarbha, non realisation of Tathagatagarbha. According to Mahayana Sutras like the Diamond Sutra, of course!
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:53 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Realisation of Tathagatagarbha, non realisation of Tathagatagarbha. According to Mahayana Sutras like the Diamond Sutra, of course!


The Diamond Sutra does not make reference to the later concept of the Tathagatagarbha.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:01 pm

Some of the earliest and most important Tathāgatagarbha sūtras have been associated by scholars with certain early Buddhist schools in India. Brian Edward Brown, a specialist in Tathāgatagarbha doctrines, writes that it has been determined that the composition of the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra occurred during the Īkṣvāku Dynasty in the 3rd century CE, as a product of the Mahāsāṃghikas of the Āndhra region (i.e. the Caitika schools). Wayman has outlined eleven points of complete agreement between the Mahāsāṃghikas and the Śrīmālā, along with four major arguments for this association. Sree Padma and Anthony Barber also associate the earlier development of the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra with the Mahāsāṃghikas, and conclude that the Mahāsāṃghikas of the Āndhra region were responsible for the inception of the Tathāgatagarbha doctrine.


The history of the text is not fully known, but Japanese scholars generally consider the Diamond Sūtra to be from a very early date in the development of Prajñāpāramitā literature. Some western scholars also believe that the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra was adapted from the earlier Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra. Early western scholarship on the Diamond Sūtra is summarized by Müller.

The first translation of the Diamond Sūtra into Chinese is thought to have been made in 401 CE by the venerated and prolific translator Kumārajīva. Kumārajīva's translation style is distinctive, possessing a flowing smoothness that reflects his prioritization on conveying the meaning as opposed to precise literal rendering. The Kumārajīva translation has been particularly highly regarded over the centuries, and it is this version that appears on the 868 CE Dunhuang scroll. In addition to the Kumārajīva translation, a number of later translations exist. The Diamond Sūtra was again translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Bodhiruci in 509 CE, Paramārtha in 558 CE, Xuanzang in 648 CE, and Yijing in 703 CE

Hmmmm...
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:16 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Hmmmm...
:namaste:


Greg,

Leaving the historical timespan aside for a moment, can you point to one mention of the Tathāgatagarbha in the Diamond Sutra? It is a different class of Mahāyāna literature.

Regarding the history of the texts, many scholars (including some of the sources in your wiki article) suppose the Prajñāpāramitā literature was being composed as early as the 2nd century BC and that the Diamond Sūtra was an early model for later texts. Tathāgatagarba is a later development in the history of Indian Mahāyāna.

All the best.
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