Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:01 pm

Your argument is:
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true,
BuddhaDharma tells about Mount Meru,
Therefore, what the BuddhaDharma teaches about Mount Meru is true.

So, you have to look at the foundation of your argument
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true
(in your words, "Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma,")
and determine if that itself is a true statement, and if so, why.

It is possible that everything presented as Buddha Dharma is true.
It is possible that only some of it is true, because some of it might have been made up by somebody who was not the Buddha and who was not enlightened. As you say, none of us were in India that long ago.
it is possible that what the Buddha taught is true but was misconstrued or misunderstood
and it is possible that some statements represent truth on a profound level but taken literally are not factual.
Sometimes myths convey a level of truth which cannot be ascertained by mere empirical observation.
There are a lot of possibilities, even more that these.

We believe that the Buddha told his followers
not to believe something simply because someone says it is true,
but to test it out for oneself.
And this is a reliable method, whether the Buddha actually said it or not, because in the end,
it all comes down to one's personal experience,
and what my be true for one person may not be true for another.
For example, the idea of emptiness may calm the mind of one person
but may make another person become restless and agitated.
So, everybody in the world is not attracted to Buddhism.
It is not the right path for everybody.

Of course, there are a lot of things we cannot determine based on personal experience,
but there are other reliable methods.
For example, whether there is a Mt. Meru and whether the ancient Buddhist cosmology is accurate
cannot be determined by looking up at the night sky.
Since people are often not satisfied with being without answers,
Quite often any answer will do as long as it cannot be disproved.
The history of all religions has been the providing of answers, accurate or not, to questions people asked.
The problem is that just because someone has an answer to a question that there are no facts about,
doesn't make that answer accurate.
In ancient India, people only knew about the universe, including the Earth, from what they could see from India.
people thought the earth was flat, or surrounded by mountains they were unable to cross.
they thought that the Universe had the same directions as a compass.
They did not have all the facts.
Today, we have more facts, and we know that this is not true.
We can test theories out for ourselves and determine the truth, just as the Buddha advised.

When people asked questions regarding various topics to the Buddha, such as the nature of the universe,
he only answered regarding topics that had to do with the cessation of suffering.
So, he may have discussed various realms, and may have taught on the subject of Mt. Meru
or this may have been added by a Brahmin priest later on. We don't know.
But if he discussed Mt.Meru, then we can assume that it was in the context of a method for attaining liberation.

As you say, Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma,
and the Buddha is a manifestation of Dharmakaya,
the ultimate truth of the way things are.
Buddha only revealed the truth, he didn't make it up.
if likewise, science reveals the truth,
the truth is still the truth regardless of who reveals it.

In the early 1990's, I knew a lama, a person who had been very close to HH16th Karmapa
and we had the opportunity to look at Saturn through a very large telescope.
He had been living in the United States for many years.
He did not know that Saturn had moons, and he did not know that our moon merely reflected light from the Sun
and did not give off its own light.
There is still a lot about the universe that we do not know
But there is a lot that we do know, but that many people, including some lamas, do not know,
especially if their education is, or was, limited to religious training in a monastery


.
.
.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:16 pm

Aemilius wrote:Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma, Mount Meru cosmology tells us about the existence of the God realms or Deva realms, and is therefore helpful to our development as human beings.


I don't see how. The existence of devas doesn't depend on the simple Mount Meru cosmological model for a start. In fact, it depends on the law of Karma. And its the law of Karma that motivates many humans to be a better person, not Mt Meru mythology. The model is also too simplistic and any readers of scientific journals would rubbish it.

Scientific cosmology supports nihilism.


Nonsense. Some of the current universe modellings actually support the possibility of a cyclical universe in which the universe constantly undergoes destruction followed by reformation and so on for an infinite amount of time. I don't see how that supports nihilism. And I hope more people will read about science before accusing it.

We must admit that you have great faith in the popular science. You yourself were not in India 100 000 or 1 000 000 years ago, you rely on faith in your
view ( about the nonexistence of previous aeons on Earth).


Science relies on evidence, not faith. OMG, you really sound more and more like a Christian creationist.

There are in the field of Philosophy of Science some persons who have described how a scientific truth is created, how a popular scientific truth is created. People are easily manipulated, in the scientific community and in the society at large


And religious community is not manipulated? We can see many of that "brainwashing" or political warfare in Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, etc.........But just because there are some bad sheeps, does it mean that we have to condemn the whole community? Nice logic...................

No, there has always been a large percentage of religious wingnuts in the US and a religious zeal associated with "Democracy".


I think some wingnuts did say that democracy is an idea which derived from the bible, itself........LOL
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:30 pm

The great strength in science is that a theory can be disproved.
The great weakness in religion is that a theory can't be.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:04 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Your argument is:
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true,
BuddhaDharma tells about Mount Meru,
Therefore, what the BuddhaDharma teaches about Mount Meru is true.


I didn't say that, rather I said that Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma. etc...

What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism. If you don't accept that you are a nihilist, a person who denies karmic causality, according to Bhagavan himself. The process of infinite rebirths includes existencies in the three higher realms, usually understood to be Deva realms, Asura realm and the human realm. The Mount Meru world map contains the higher realms of Devas, and is therefore helpful to the understanding of the infinite process rebirth and karmic causality.
If you accept the process of rebirth in the six realms to be true, then this Mt Meru map illustrates an important truth. The great strength of rebirth is that you can prove it for yourself.
As is said in the teachings of Yogachara, for ex Vimshatikarika of Vasubandhu, beings in the six realms perceive the universe differently. Mount Meru made of jewel material is a perception belonging to the Deva realms. In the human realm we see its reflection which is the blue sky above our heads. At night time we see a reflection of its crystal facet, which means that we see through it, to the space that is.
You can't prove the nonexistence of Mount Meru by your nonobservation of it, especially as you now know that you see its reflection every day !
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby el_chupacabra » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:36 am

Aemilius wrote:What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism. If you don't accept that you are a nihilist, a person who denies karmic causality, according to Bhagavan himself. The process of infinite rebirths includes existencies in the three higher realms, usually understood to be Deva realms, Asura realm and the human realm. The Mount Meru world map contains the higher realms of Devas, and is therefore helpful to the understanding of the infinite process rebirth and karmic causality.


The idea of karma as you describe belongs to the first turning of the wheel of dharma - describing the way things appear. What you've written suggests that the subsequent turnings of the wheel imply nihilism.
You are correct in saying that this process would be infinite, given that causality is the sum total of all there is - this begs two questions; how did it begin? (usually explained by a first cause, itself uncaused, ie. a creationist/eternalist standpoint), and secondly, how would it then be possible to stop? What do you think Buddha's achievement was in this case? What would the point of practising Buddhism entail if we were all locked in to an infinite causality?
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:21 pm

Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Your argument is:
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true,
BuddhaDharma tells about Mount Meru,
Therefore, what the BuddhaDharma teaches about Mount Meru is true.


I didn't say that, rather I said that Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma. etc...

What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism.


When you said
Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma
I didn't know you were saying
karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism.
For some reason, they sound like two totally different statements to me.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:56 pm

Aemilius wrote: If you accept the process of rebirth in the six realms to be true, then this Mt Meru map illustrates an important truth.


Accepting the former does not require acceptance of the latter.
http://www.atikosha.org
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:16 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Aemilius wrote: If you accept the process of rebirth in the six realms to be true, then this Mt Meru map illustrates an important truth.


Accepting the former does not require acceptance of the latter.

Indeed.

All the best,

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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:00 am

Aemilius wrote:What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism. If you don't accept that you are a nihilist, a person who denies karmic causality, according to Bhagavan himself. The process of infinite rebirths includes existencies in the three higher realms, usually understood to be Deva realms, Asura realm and the human realm. The Mount Meru world map contains the higher realms of Devas, and is therefore helpful to the understanding of the infinite process rebirth and karmic causality.


As already stated, the Mount Meru cosmology is a over simplistic model that is not to be taken seriously by anyone and because of its lacking in specific details and perfect symmetry of landmass (around same size with equal distance apart for each of the four continent), its severely outdated and needed to be modified or abandoned.

Finally, your understanding of Mount Meru = law of karam is disturbingly wrong.........I wonder who taught you that or how you come to that awfully wrong conclusion.

If you accept the process of rebirth in the six realms to be true, then this Mt Meru map illustrates an important truth. The great strength of rebirth is that you can prove it for yourself.


Nah it proves nothing except the fact that Buddhism does have its own share of ill informed followers. Rebirth is proved by the law of karma and live experimental accounts of people remembering it or those who have practiced Jhanas high enough to see them.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:06 pm

If you can reduce your self-cherishing by believing in a flying spaghetti monster what's the harm in believing in it?
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:52 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:If you can reduce your self-cherishing by believing in a flying spaghetti monster what's the harm in believing in it?


There are a lot of things that can reduce self-cherishing. Life is full of humbling experiences, awe-inspiring events and so forth. But to reduce is different from the permanently reduction or complete extinguishing of self cherishing. There are a lot of things that reduce, but if they don't uproot the cause of self-cherishing, it will reoccur.

There is no guarantee that visualizing mountains or dedicating merit or whatever will bring cessation of dukkha, just as owning a hammer is no guarantee that some day you will have a house to live in. These are only tools which provide opportunities. But a person has to know what to actually do with these tools, what they actually mean and do, how to use them and how to determine the results of using them.

It is possible to permanently reduce, if not totally eliminate self-cherishing through all types of means. There are many religious traditions which focus on this, but I think The BuddhaDharma is the only one that not only makes it the primary goal, but goes beyond all dualistic concepts such as a worshiper and a god.


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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby el_chupacabra » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:08 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:If you can reduce your self-cherishing by believing in a flying spaghetti monster what's the harm in believing in it?


It would depend on whether it was viewed merely as an effective means or as an ultimate Truth.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:40 pm

Indeed.
Times change and expedient means too. Today we have a certain amount of scientific knowledge. If you read some Buddhist teachers lectures, sometimes they talk about what we know in science today and some funny relations with Dharma. Not exactly fitting in that category, but illustrating what I'm saying, one can think of the "Shamatha Project" (you can take a look http://seaver.typepad.com/expedition_sh ... oject.html).

2500 years from now, our actual knowledge about neuroscience and the benefits we seem to understand meditation brings about that seem to be confirmed by such technology/ theories, may be "their Mount Meru". This doesn't mean it can't help some practitioners now, at this day and age, who feel inspired by seeing scientists and Buddhists working side by side (see Mind and Life Institute, Santa Barbara Institute for Conciousness Studies and so on, for instance). It doesn't mean in the future if some of the current theories are proven completely incorrect, they weren't helpful to some Dharma practitioners by increasing their confidence. None of this affects the main tenets of the Buddhist practice or ultimate view.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby swampflower » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:14 pm

Charles Darwin described evolution as “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”.
How Buddhist!
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:44 am

Kai wrote:
Finally, your understanding of Mount Meru = law of karam is disturbingly wrong.........I wonder who taught you that or how you come to that awfully wrong conclusion.

If you accept the process of rebirth in the six realms to be true, then this Mt Meru map illustrates an important truth. The great strength of rebirth is that you can prove it for yourself.


Nah it proves nothing except the fact that Buddhism does have its own share of ill informed followers. Rebirth is proved by the law of karma and live experimental accounts of people remembering it or those who have practiced Jhanas high enough to see them.


I should have been more specific, what I mean is that the Mount Meru map includes the deva realms, it thus supports the view that beings incarnate through the five or six realms.
Modern cosmology does not include or describe the deva realms etc and so it supports the nihilistic view.
Last edited by Aemilius on Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:54 am

Kai wrote:
Aemilius wrote:What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism. If you don't accept that you are a nihilist, a person who denies karmic causality, according to Bhagavan himself. The process of infinite rebirths includes existencies in the three higher realms, usually understood to be Deva realms, Asura realm and the human realm. The Mount Meru world map contains the higher realms of Devas, and is therefore helpful to the understanding of the infinite process rebirth and karmic causality.


As already stated, the Mount Meru cosmology is a over simplistic model that is not to be taken seriously by anyone and because of its lacking in specific details and perfect symmetry of landmass (around same size with equal distance apart for each of the four continent), its severely outdated and needed to be modified or abandoned.


When properly understood the Meru World map is an interesting historical document, you could for example sail around the world with it, it says correctly that sun circles around Meru/Antarctis, etc. For all practical purposes the North Pole is here a ring of ice around the world, and this is experientally true. Mathematically North pole is a point that is in this cartographical projection streched into a circle.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:07 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Your argument is:
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true,
BuddhaDharma tells about Mount Meru,
Therefore, what the BuddhaDharma teaches about Mount Meru is true.


I didn't say that, rather I said that Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma. etc...

What I mean here is that karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism.


When you said
Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma
I didn't know you were saying
karmic causality lasting for several lives, or several millions of lives, is essential to buddhism.
For some reason, they sound like two totally different statements to me.


For one's personal existence facts like what kind of matter the planet Pluto consists of are not very central although they are counted as belonging to the category "truth". For one's personal existence what happens after death is a central and important truth. Yes, I was in fact thinking of reincarnation when I wrote the first sentence!
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby el_chupacabra » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:23 pm

The way matter on Pluto appears to us is as relative a truth as the way Mt. Meru appears to those in the Deva realms.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:49 pm

Aemilius wrote:I should have been more specific, what I mean is that the Mount Meru map includes the deva realms, it thus supports the view that beings incarnate through the five or six realms.
Modern cosmology does not include or describe the deva realms etc and so it supports the nihilistic view.


No deva realms = nihilism? Sorry but this is a rather poor definition of nihilism which is a POV that supports pure materialism.

FYI, Mount Mera cosmology is not the only ancient cosmology that support deva realms. Christianity has its own share as well and they did so without an incredible large mountain.

When properly understood the Meru World map is an interesting historical document, you could for example sail around the world with it, it says correctly that sun circles around Meru/Antarctis, etc. For all practical purposes the North Pole is here a ring of ice around the world, and this is experientally true. Mathematically North pole is a point that is in this cartographical projection streched into a circle.


Sorry but Antarctica was not found until 15th-16th century, some ancient scholars did state the possibility of a southern most continent but never include it into the map or the cosmological model of that time nor had they argued that Antarctica was at the center of the world at any point in time. Its pure pseudo history invented by creationists.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:39 am

Kai wrote:
Aemilius wrote:I should have been more specific, what I mean is that the Mount Meru map includes the deva realms, it thus supports the view that beings incarnate through the five or six realms.
Modern cosmology does not include or describe the deva realms etc and so it supports the nihilistic view.


No deva realms = nihilism? Sorry but this is a rather poor definition of nihilism which is a POV that supports pure materialism.


There is a teaching found somewherein the pali suttas, but also in an abhidharma work Mind in Buddhist Psychology
that is a translation of Herbert Guenther, according to it before the appearance of a Buddha humanity or human culture has to be on a level of development that accepts four basic truths, viz: 1.The existence of karma and rebirth, 2.The existence of higher and lower worlds and realms, 3.The existence of a path to deliverance, and 4.The existence of realized or liberated persons.

For me it is alright if you come up with some alternative cosmology that contains the higher and lower realms.
There are New Age teachers who have produced something in that direction. To be accepted by buddhists this kind of new cosmology would need a real spiritual authority for its basis.
If you don't provide us with an alternative cosmology, in the afore mentioned lines, I can still call your view nihilistic.
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