But to respond to a few of your comments,
No, the Pali literature does not threaten my understanding, or 'destroy the basis' of my practice.
Dunno why youre so fed up with Pali literature. I'm not really speaking about Pali literature nor am I saying that the Pali texts are right and the later sutras are wrong. My understanding is that the Pali texts have soe traces left of what the historical person Gautama has said, while other Sutras and Shastras might contain very cool stories and neat presentations of philosophical concepts, but are a prouct of the thoughts of monks and layman at their time. Thats all.
If you rely on snippets from one text or another, and apply them narrowly, then yes, you can establish a lot of contradictions.
But you can widen the context of your understanding and see
where all these different teachings and schools lead to the same thing.
People should really read from all these sources, I think.
As far as why Buddhists need "faith" ...I would say "faith" (and you could substitute a lot of words for that) but i think in the Buddhist context it is more of a tool, or method for letting go of attachment.
That I want to see
Let me give you two examples. Say you want a new car and you walk to the dealer and ask him for a car you like and the first thing the dealer says before showing you the car is that you need to awaken faith that this car is going to work. Wouldnt you raise an eyebrow? Or you are in a restaurant and the waitor brings you your dish and asks you to strongly believe that its going to taste well. Wont you start getting doubts about the food? And this is about things that you can
actually see and touch.
What I dont understand in my past self nor you (meaning religous people) is that why dont you raise an eyebrow if someone tells you to believe in the content of some old text written by someone youve never even met and whichs content you cant verify.
Intellectual understanding is a great thing, but it can also be something that we cling to for in order to justify how right we are about this or that.
intellectal understanding is essential to know right from wrong and to distinguish myth from fact.
"Faith" is really, a totally stupid thing...and that's the beauty of it. Chanting to be reborn is Amitabha's Pure Land is probably one of the most idiotic things a person can do --from an intellectual perspective--and that is why it is so liberating. It is the manifestation of the complete letting go of the self. But Buddhism doesn't have a monopoly on this sort of thing.
Here for example you present the "letting go of the self" as a result of chanting the name of a Buddha or his pureland as a fact. But its not.
There is a term used in Japanese Pure Land buddhism, ShinJin, which is usually translated as 'faith", but that is not really the right meaning. It doesn't mean blind faith or "belief" as one usually thinks of "belief in God". The meaning has more to do with absolute conviction based on what one considers to be valid reasoning. This does not contradict what the Buddha taught. A lot of Buddhists, especially , I think, in the west, are not motivated at all by fear of rebirth, or by karma or by some abstract notion of 'enlightenment'. Buddha said to test out the teachings, apply them fully to one's own experience and then see if, in one's own experience, they prove to be valid.
Yes Ive read that more than once in this thread and its wrong.
If you say that "because I can test it out for myself, therefore its right" than I would first acknowledge that this makes sense, you are saying "since A therefore B", which needs A as being existing. It doesnt exist in your case though since you cant test it out. If you want to test out if you really get reborn in Sukhavathi or get enlightenment through "direct perception" of emptiness etc. then to be able to use it as evidence you have to actually have that in your hands. You have to be in the pure land or be enlightened so your logic works.
If you think of rebirth as only occurring when the physical body perishes, and regard consciousness as a sort of "thing" that goes from one body to another, the way a soul goes to heaven in Christianity, that is a very common but simplistic way of understanding. Buddha taught that there is nothing that exists that can be truly regarded as a 'self", so what can die and what can be reborn? Yet, awareness persists from moment to moment, even in an ever-changing, ever dying and ever-being reborn body. We die and are reborn every second. Every part of the baby you were when you were born is dead! A dead baby. gone. It is the illusion of a continuous "me" that causes problems. So, from the Buddhist point of view, awareness is not dependent on any continuity of the body whatsoever to begin with, so rebirth from moment to moment or lifetime to lifetime is pretty much the same thing. An arbitrary distinction.
Dont see the point, sorry.
Anyway, what is your point?
Just making conversation.
Joda, please correct me if I am mistaken,
but I think you are regarding "enlightenment"
in much the same way that Christians regard heaven,
as a sort of a final destination or goal thing.
Enlightenment is either when you destroy the three poisons in the stage of arahanthood or if you reach Buddhahood in Akanishta. It is a final goal.
But what the Dharma teaches is how to experience joy without depending on it
and how to experience sadness without dwelling on it.
A little bit of enlightenment gained from non-attachment to the passing appearances of things.
I honestly think thats something that good parents should teach their children. Has nothing to do with enlightenment.
In spite of many western scholarly interpretations,
The Dharma is really more process-oriented than goal oriented.
It's not like you are wallowing in samsara an then you try really hard and then suddenly you have achieved nirvana,
like trying to get a stubborn cork out of a wine bottle.
And so you often hear The Buddha being referred to as having attained
"Complete Enlightenment", meaning having completely eliminated
the generation (karma) of attachment, revulsion and ignorance
(called the three poisons) and all of their various manifestations (greed, anger, and so on).
We are going into repetitive-land here, really. I would just tell you again that I dont see any evidence that this final elimination is either possible or healthy. I dont think pursuing this exchange of ideas is going to give any new input.