Are sutra's to be taken literally?

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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Mojo » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:04 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Ervin wrote:Peace. I have read in the past sutra ot Avalokitesvara bodhisatva mahasatva. I got it from the temple in Melbourne city.

And it preaty much talks about miracles that would happen if you had faith and called upon this bodhisatva. Now are those miracles to be taken literally or metaforicaly?

Thanks
Well, there are various theories across schools about how this works and the nature of deities, but yes. They are meant to be taken literally.

However, by calling upon a Bodhisattva it doesn't mean to only say his name. As Thrangu Rinpoche put it in his teachings on the Medicine Buddha, one has to also reflect and be awed by his qualities and on that basis gain faith.


When the Cowardly Lion called upon The Wizard of Oz to grant him courage and was given and demonstrated that courage, surely an observer would describe what they saw to another as a miracle. As the story goes on, we see that courage is trait already possesed by The Cowardly Lion. When calling upon The Wizard to grant him courage, he is really calling upon himself to have the strength to express this trait he has had all along.

Perhaps this is how the miracle of calling upon a particular Bodhisatva works. If we are in a situation that requires more compassion than we believe we are capable of, we call upon the bodhisatva of compassion to intervene. We call upon the extra compassion that we had all along to be able to cope with the situation at hand.

To the person who has known you your entire life and never seen you display anywhere near this amount of compassion may call what happened a miracle as well as the person who called upon the Bodhisatva.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:28 am

Mojo Jojo wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Ervin wrote:Peace. I have read in the past sutra ot Avalokitesvara bodhisatva mahasatva. I got it from the temple in Melbourne city.

And it preaty much talks about miracles that would happen if you had faith and called upon this bodhisatva. Now are those miracles to be taken literally or metaforicaly?

Thanks
Well, there are various theories across schools about how this works and the nature of deities, but yes. They are meant to be taken literally.

However, by calling upon a Bodhisattva it doesn't mean to only say his name. As Thrangu Rinpoche put it in his teachings on the Medicine Buddha, one has to also reflect and be awed by his qualities and on that basis gain faith.


When the Cowardly Lion called upon The Wizard of Oz to grant him courage and was given and demonstrated that courage, surely an observer would describe what they saw to another as a miracle. As the story goes on, we see that courage is trait already possesed by The Cowardly Lion. When calling upon The Wizard to grant him courage, he is really calling upon himself to have the strength to express this trait he has had all along.

Perhaps this is how the miracle of calling upon a particular Bodhisatva works. If we are in a situation that requires more compassion than we believe we are capable of, we call upon the bodhisatva of compassion to intervene. We call upon the extra compassion that we had all along to be able to cope with the situation at hand.

To the person who has known you your entire life and never seen you display anywhere near this amount of compassion may call what happened a miracle as well as the person who called upon the Bodhisatva.
:namaste: In other words, Avalokiteshvara clears away some of the obscurations inhibiting your buddha nature. Thanks.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Mojo » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:33 am

Konchog1 wrote:In other words, Avalokiteshvara clears away some of the obscurations inhibiting your buddha nature. Thanks.


Up until I read the two posts that I quoted, I hadn't even really thought about this. In fact, I have pretty much looked at these Bodhisatvas as mythology adopted from Hinduism and adapted to Buddhism in ways similar to how Christianity has incorporated pagan gods into their own mythos as saints, angels, and demons. And for the longest time, it always baffled me why a religion that denies the presence of a soul as one of its main tenants (anatman - no self), could hold on to the concepts of super spiritual beings and Pure Lands that are physically different realms from where we are.

So for me to be able to fit these beings and lands into into a Buddhism that isn't a big heap of superstition, then they have to be taken metaphorically.

This isn't to say I'm right. I have no idea at all. I haven't even read the sutras. I'm just explaining how it works for me.
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:08 am

Mojo Jojo wrote:Up until I read the two posts that I quoted, I hadn't even really thought about this. In fact, I have pretty much looked at these Bodhisatvas as mythology adopted from Hinduism and adapted to Buddhism in ways similar to how Christianity has incorporated pagan gods into their own mythos as saints, angels, and demons. And for the longest time, it always baffled me why a religion that denies the presence of a soul as one of its main tenants (anatman - no self), could hold on to the concepts of super spiritual beings and Pure Lands that are physically different realms from where we are.

So for me to be able to fit these beings and lands into into a Buddhism that isn't a big heap of superstition, then they have to be taken metaphorically.

This isn't to say I'm right. I have no idea at all. I haven't even read the sutras. I'm just explaining how it works for me.
Whatever works :smile:
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Anders » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:41 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
LastLegend wrote:... what can Buddhists do to help convicted criminals?


Go to prisons and teach them the Dharma!

Actually, due to their situation - where they often clearly see cause and result - many convicts are in a very good position to practice the Dharma.

~~ Huifeng


That is a good idea.

Has this been done?


Lots. Ajahn Brahmavamso tells a hilarious story in a video somewhere online about how he went to a prison to teach and they started talking about how life as a monk was viz a viz prison. By the time he had finished explaining how little he slept, how he didn't watch tv, ate one meal a day, had 220+ rules to follow, no money etc. one of the prisoners was so moved that he burst out "that sounds awful, why don't you come live with us here in prison instead?"
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:07 pm

Mojo Jojo wrote:Up until I read the two posts that I quoted, I hadn't even really thought about this. In fact, I have pretty much looked at these Bodhisatvas as mythology adopted from Hinduism and adapted to Buddhism


Actually the idea of the Bodhisattva was first introduced in the Jataka Tales.



You can also read more in Nattier's book "Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha)" as well as Boucher's "Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahayana: A Study and Translation of the Rastrapalapariprccha Sutra".
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Are sutra's to be taken literaly?

Postby Anders » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:12 pm

Mojo Jojo wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:In other words, Avalokiteshvara clears away some of the obscurations inhibiting your buddha nature. Thanks.


Up until I read the two posts that I quoted, I hadn't even really thought about this. In fact, I have pretty much looked at these Bodhisatvas as mythology adopted from Hinduism and adapted to Buddhism in ways similar to how Christianity has incorporated pagan gods into their own mythos as saints, angels, and demons. And for the longest time, it always baffled me why a religion that denies the presence of a soul as one of its main tenants (anatman - no self), could hold on to the concepts of super spiritual beings and Pure Lands that are physically different realms from where we are.

So for me to be able to fit these beings and lands into into a Buddhism that isn't a big heap of superstition, then they have to be taken metaphorically.

This isn't to say I'm right. I have no idea at all. I haven't even read the sutras. I'm just explaining how it works for me.


One of my favourite stories is of a practitioner who chanted the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra diligently, but nevertheless had some doubts. So one day he went to his teacher and said "teacher, I have to know this: Is guanyin real or not? If she is real, I will keep on chanting the mantra, but if she is not then I no longer wish to do it." To which the teacher smiled and said "she knows she is not real."

There is another story of when Kumarajiva was first approached by one of his future disciples (I forget who now), a pureland practitioner at the time who was practising visualization of Amitabha. He recounted to the master how the image of Amitabha seemed to take a life of its own and he wanted to know if he was really seeing the real Amitabha or simply a figment of his own mind. To which Kumarajiva said that if he was seeing the real Amitabha, then Amitabha would surely instruct him that even Amitabha is empty of real existence.

"Physical super beings" and humans - they all look a lot like they have a self. That's why we buy into the notion in the first place. I am not sure why celestial bodhisattvas should reinforce the assertion of self more than the fact that we walk around in our everyday lives assuming a self.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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