Johnny Dangerous wrote: zsc wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:The wiki page specifically noted (and this is not new info to anyone) that the concept of transference of merit seems to contradict the notion of Karma as taught by most Buddhist schools. Your own actions can't ripen int he mindstream of someone else, i'm fairly confident that the vast majority of Buddhist teachers would say this, if you have information somewhere to contrary - show me. otherwise, you are basically making up your own philosophy of karma.
Really? It contradicts "most Buddhist schools"? Even those Buddhist schools that teach it
The article didn't even say it contradicted "most Buddhist schools". At most, it said the teaching contradicted most western interpretations of Buddhist writing
which is a completely
different claim. But it does show that Buddhist thought on karma has historically not been fossilized, seeing as how the teaching had to be interpreted through different languages, and the different assumptions these languages make, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone.
Cool, go ahead and find me a writing from some respected master, scholar, or whoever that says you can influence the karma of others in the way you propose. I can find countless writings that say you cannot. Seriously, just start with the Dhammapada.
Heh, I already did, plwk actually posted several more, not to mention this is a mainstream practice is most of the Buddhist world, I have referenced my own firsthand experience with it in the very school you say doesn't teach it, I have already demonstrated how this isn't just "my" proposal, so I don't know how much "proof" would be "enough" for you. Unless you mean prove without any doubt that this is actually taking place, which is not something I claimed to have "proof" of; I only claimed that this is a Buddhist teaching, which is easily observed online and offline (mostly offline from where I'm standing though, being limited by being fluent only in English at the moment).
And really, I don't have to start at the Dhammapada, as if because it is attributed to the Tharavadin school, it is the "Old Testament" and Mahayana sutras are the "New Testament". The hermeneutics of the Judeo-Christian tradition that you are using don't necessarily apply here.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Yeah, there are sutra and sutta references to the concept- especially in Mahayana..but that is the point of having definitive and provisional interpretations of scriptures..if it don't make sense in the larger picture, it don't make sense. The point is, it doesn't jive with how karma is taught. Mahayana sutra are impossible to read without that mindset IMO, being as there are so many, and they say such contradictory things if you choose to take them all as strictly definitive.
That's the reason I said master or scholar, rather than asking for a Sutta or Sutra reference. You can find anything in Sutta or Sutra if you don't bother with interpretation...my point is that it's not taught as part of the notion of karma in mainstream Buddhist schools - that i'm aware of of course, and i'm certainly open to correction, i'm not a scholar of any kind.
The irony here is that you are basing your assumption that "mainstream Buddhist schools" don't teach karma this way (which is demonstrably false because people aren't getting this teaching out of thin air) on the writings of people who do the very thing you are criticizing. The critics of the transfer of merit practice are mostly scholars basically reading and analyzing Buddhist writings like you would fiction, then coming up with idiosyncratic interpretations that do contradict
"the bigger picture" (i.e. interpretations that already exist, and have for quite some time). The "bigger picture" to them is what they think the philosophical foundations are Buddhism are. The "bigger picture" that they are contradicting, or unable to consider, is that phrases like "self-effort" and "owners of their own karma" may actually mean something different than what they think they mean when they are said (translated) within a religious tradition that denies an independently existing/arising self
. This non-dualism is in contrast to most western languages and language usage, which is influenced by the bulk of western philosophy, which take terms like the dualistic notion of the 'self' for granted
. They don't take a moment to question whether being well-versed in a dualistic language and religious traditions that take dualism for granted would cause them to misunderstand the texts of non-dualistic religious traditions. It does, for reasons I touched on before. Meanwhile, most Buddhists in the world continue to practice in a way they have been taught for generations, while on the whole not very concerned with making scholars
. It's not as if they have been twiddling their thumbs, eagerly participating western interpretations to show them how to really
Really, I think western philosophers, rather than historians, are better qualified to comment on Buddhist scriptures because one would hope that they would be familiar enough with the idea that how you read affects what you read
, and would be more likely to recognize their hermeneutical bias.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:The wiki point out that even though it is a common practice in some traditions it contradicts notions of karma - that isn't controversial I don't think.
It's not controversial. I just find the assumption that "the practice contradicting the school it's practiced in" absurd in and of itself, personally
. If the practice is mainstream in the school, and there is evidence of the practice being taught from the "early years" of said school (or several), can we say that the practice "contradicts" this school? At this point, I'm wondering why isn't it being considered that the critics
are actually mistaken, mostly conceptually, about what that school's philosophical foundation is.
But for the purposes of the point of this post, this isn't too relevant
. Forget selective reading, I think you would have to be selectively living
to deny that transfer/dedication of merit is a Buddhist teaching, which is all I set out to demonstrate. If you want to talk about whether this actually takes place
, it's not a discussion I'm interested in at the moment, so you won't here peep from me about it right now.
Johhny Dangerous wrote:I can almost predict you will throw out "but there is no real YOU" or something in response to this, in which case i'll say: whether your school says the mindstream truly exists, or only exists conventionally, in either case it is your mindstream, your karma ripens in your aggregates, and not anywhere else.
Where else is there?
Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm only half-serious right there, because I think you are
continuing to take dualism for granted in a way the traditions I generally align myself with do not, but as I said above -- whether it is "happening" or not doesn't really interest me for the thread. For full disclosure (if it wasn't obvious) I believe that it's happening because that's how I've been taught and that's how I practice, but I know whatever is happening will happen no matter what either of us believe, so it's no skin off my nose if you disagree with me about the truth of this teaching. I only want to make it clear that you are disagreeing with me about the teaching
, but it cannot be said that it is not
a teaching. Buddhism is not whatever you want it to be, but it also is not a zero-sum game, unlike what it is implied in Judeo-Christian religions, where ending up in the "wrong" denomination can get you a one-way ticket to hell. Even if you go to hell in Buddhism, there's eventually a "return trip".
My main concern here is that the position of one "owning" karma in a completely isolated way, due to solely one's past life, has traditionally had the social
consequences of justifying congenital birth defects, generational poverty, inequality and discrimination against social "deviancy" etc. When I say "justifying", I don't mean just "explaining", I mean that this understanding of karma has been used as a way to encourage complacency and passivity about suffering and mistreatment brought on due to social and political systems. For this discussion, that's more important to me, rather than what truly is "happening". I outlined my position, which has not, to the best of my ability, deviated from what I have been taught and what has been "recommended reading" for me over the years, on a philosophic level. For a good example, see River of Fire, River of Water by Dr. Teitetsu Unno, especially from Chapter 26 "Duality" until the end of the book. His non-dualistic perspective (based in Pureland and Zen) demonstrates the philosophical soundness of my position about this better than I could have done. In fact, I've read his book mostly while participating in this discussion so I outright parrot his points in some places.
So, my only point is that what I've said doesn't deviate from Buddhist thought, even if it's not your (and others') Buddhist thought. Who has the superior "Buddhist thought" strays from the topic under discussion.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:If you know of a Buddhist philosophy of karma that teaches something else, i'm all ears, I haven't heard of it, but I don't doubt someone believes somethhing like this.
I have already expounded on a "philosophy of karma that teaches something else", so I just would be repeating myself at this point. Also, I would say that a huge portion of the Buddhist world practicing merit-transference/dedication is more significant than what you imply when say "someone".