Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social politics?

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby daverupa » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:08 pm

Seishin wrote:I remember reading somewhere that the Ullambana Sutra was written in China as a way of increasing the existing "merit giving" practices, many of which actually benefited the monasteries. Any scholars on here have a link? :shrug: I can't find one.


Wiki says mid-sixth century in China...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:19 pm

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 their teachers. It's not as if they have been twiddling their thumbs, eagerly participating western interpretations to show them how to really practice Buddhism.

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".
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby tellyontellyon » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:27 pm

Malcolm:
The problem with wealth redistribution is that it is not feasible. There is no way to ensure fair and equitable distribution because central planning and democracy cannot coexist:


Hiya Malcolm, I don't agree with you that planning and democracy can't exist together and that wealth distribution is 'not feasible'.
I think you would be wise to avoid relying on Hayek, he was a nasty piece of work who was quite prepared to justify tens of thousands of trade unionists, and others, being killed and tortured in Chile in the name of neo-liberalism.
Profit driven neo-liberalism has clearly been shown to fail yet again, and only got as far as it did over recent decades because of the vast extension of credit. That is not a long term solution to the contradictions of capitalism. The fact is society is just going to have to grow up and make democratic planning of the economy work.
Market forces are not going to save the planet - I wish they could, life would be so much easier - but no, we need a new economic and political system.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:31 pm

zsc wrote:
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.


No, you didn't- you merely proved that it's a common practice, not that there is any good explanation of it regarding the standard explanation of Karma. The "Old testament" thing is completely out of place, i'm not advocating some kind of fundamentalism, just asking for you to justify your very non-standard explanation of Karma. Find an actual explanation of your claims about karma not proof that the practice exists, which we already know.

i mentioned the Dhammapada not as a reference to Christian setups, but as a reference to the fact that minus ideas like storehouse consciousness, karmic seeds, and being able to alter somewhat one's own karma-vipaka, Theraveda and Mahayana ideas about karma are consistent on the point that you can't alter someone else's karma, or purify someone else.




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.


Doesn't matter if you find it absurd, it is observably true..there are lots of practices that operate outside doctrine, and hard to square with it. My claim isn't that the practices are wrong, maybe I just haven't seen the explanation that makes sense, but surely -I don't think that your does.. My claim is that your understanding of Karma in the thread so far has nothing to do with any of the standard explanations i've been exposed to despite the existence of these practices - which obviously, I don't dispute - I know they exist.



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.


So basically, you have no support for your claims about Karma being transferable to others, or for being able to remove the bad karma of others. Probably because it's not an accepted interpretation..people do all kinds of practices without understanding the supposed mechanics of the practice. There are lots of practices in Vajrayana for instance that look like a kind of ritual purificaiton if you don't get an explanation of how they are working.


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".


You really haven't, you only proved that people do practices that fall outside the standard explanation of the workings of Karma, which is not the same thing at all, and not something I would argue against. but i'll take a look at the sources you list. I did in fact look through PLWK's links from previous discussions, and if anything the answers there are trending from ambivalence to agreeing with my position, if I am reading them right, so I am unsure where you think you or anyone in the thread has "proven" merit transfer somehow.

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.


This is quite true I think, but has less to with needing to rewrite the notion of Karma than it does with people using the notion of Karma as a reason for praise, blame, and selfish treatment of others.

As Malcolm mentioned those in the position of oppressor will one day find themselves in the position of the oppressed if the law of karma is infallible.

When everyone has been everyone's mother, best, friend, worst enemy, there is no place for praise or blame as a reason to help or not - you simply help regardless, which also is in line with the Bodhisattva ideal it seems.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:49 pm

tellyontellyon wrote: The fact is society is just going to have to grow up and make democratic planning of the economy work.


"Democracy" and "planned economy" are mutually exclusive terms.

Market forces are not going to save the planet


I never said they could. Markets require regulation. That what governments are for.

we need a new economic and political system.


No, we simply need to decide that some types of resources are better preserved than consumed and pass laws to ensure that.

Personally, I find Hayek far more appealing than Trotsky, and much more reasonable and sensible. He fully exposes the failures of both right and left wing socialist collectivism.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:26 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
zsc wrote:
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.


No, you didn't- you merely proved that it's a common practice


Cool, that's all I wanted to do.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Adi » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:38 am

Malcolm wrote:...
A Buddhist social consciousness must be able to accommodate both perspective simultaneously: on the one hand observing that things like attack dogs and water canons being used on non-violent protestors is fundamentally wrong, and understanding also that the people who are being attacked are also experiencing the ripening of their own karma, while the attackers are creating negative karma for themselves too, which will ripen as suffering later. The Buddhist approach to social justice issues therefore should be equanimous concern and effective engagement, rather than passionate involvement and karmically questionable actions.

M


This seems to me a very good reason to engage in social events that have a political nature, if it leads that greater equanimity of seeing those with the cannons and those being cannoned. Developing compassion for people one would otherwise be inclined to hate and generate negative thoughts and feelings about is, to me, a quintessential Mahayana practice. To that end, I think this means involving everyone on the basis we're all more alike than different, rather than creating actions based on our apparent and comparatively small differences.

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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby rory » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:17 am

Johnny Dangerously et al;
it's been a really interesting thread as I've learned of the deep divergence in Mahayan between Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism. And both of the groups have assumed (wrongly) the other group has similar assumptions.

I'd say probably the big divide comes with the Lotus Sutra, which is a seminal influence in East Asian Buddhism and influences so much of how we think. Let me post a part of the sutra and a comment by Jan Nattier and then I will post later.

Ch. 21 of the Lotus Sutra: The Supernatural Powers of the Tathagata:
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus21.htm

Then the worlds of the ten directions interpenetrated without obstruction, as if they were one Buddhaland.

"In general, all the Dharmas of the Thus Come One, all the sovereign spiritual powers of the Thus Come One, all the secret storehouses of the Thus Come One, all the extremely profound deeds of the Thus Come One are all proclaimed and revealed in this Sutra.

The secret and essential Dharma obtained
By the Buddhas seated in their Way-places
Will also be gained before too long
By those who can uphold this Sutra.


And now Prof. Jan Nattier's commentary:
Rather, in the Lotus the very idea of a path is radically undermined. Instead, practice is fulfilled by accepting, in all humility, Shakyamuni’s word that through faith one will attain Buddhahood in the future. As the closing lines of chapter 2 of the sutra put it, “Have no further doubts; rejoice greatly in your hearts, knowing that you will become Buddhas.”

http://www.tricycle.com/special-section ... g?page=0,1

So the big issues here are: faith, the promise of quick buddhahood, the interpenetration of worlds, the Buddha's revelation he is eternal and the Buddha's (Shakyamuni's) putting all his spiritual powers & dharmas in this Sutra. Actually there is even more but I'm trying to pick out the highlights that led to common ideas in East Asian Buddhism.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:14 pm

I think rory's point is valid in explaining the different perspectives here where we are finding our disagreement. Even though I go to a Theravadin sangha because of convenience and I like the people there, my personal orientation is Pureland practice and thought, in which is not a controversial claim to say that this lifetime will be my last lifetime conditioned within samsara. Even with a lot Theravadin lay people who just would like a better rebirth though, meritorious actions are done in the hopes of that being their last lifetime in the human realm, or at the very least their last lifetime as a non-monastic.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tibetan Buddhists, but from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective this may seem sort of myopic to you because eons and eons of progression is taken as a given, while other East Asian traditions like Pureland-based traditions almost imply that our human birth and access to the dharma is "proof" that those eons of meritorious work are "behind" us, so it's realistic to believe we can go "up" from here in just one more lifetime.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:52 pm

zsc wrote:I think rory's point is valid in explaining the different perspectives here where we are finding our disagreement. Even though I go to a Theravadin sangha because of convenience and I like the people there, my personal orientation is Pureland practice and thought, in which is not a controversial claim to say that this lifetime will be my last lifetime conditioned within samsara. Even with a lot Theravadin lay people who just would like a better rebirth though, meritorious actions are done in the hopes of that being their last lifetime in the human realm, or at the very least their last lifetime as a non-monastic.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tibetan Buddhists, but from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective this may seem sort of myopic to you because eons and eons of progression is taken as a given, while other East Asian traditions like Pureland-based traditions almost imply that our human birth and access to the dharma is "proof" that those eons of meritorious work are "behind" us, so it's realistic to believe we can go "up" from here in just one more lifetime.


It rather depends on which Tibetan Buddhist perspective you are discussion, sutra or tantra.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:19 pm

zsc wrote:I think rory's point is valid in explaining the different perspectives here where we are finding our disagreement. Even though I go to a Theravadin sangha because of convenience and I like the people there, my personal orientation is Pureland practice and thought, in which is not a controversial claim to say that this lifetime will be my last lifetime conditioned within samsara. Even with a lot Theravadin lay people who just would like a better rebirth though, meritorious actions are done in the hopes of that being their last lifetime in the human realm, or at the very least their last lifetime as a non-monastic.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tibetan Buddhists, but from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective this may seem sort of myopic to you because eons and eons of progression is taken as a given, while other East Asian traditions like Pureland-based traditions almost imply that our human birth and access to the dharma is "proof" that those eons of meritorious work are "behind" us, so it's realistic to believe we can go "up" from here in just one more lifetime.



Ok, i'm correcting you. It's not remotely controversial in Tibetan Buddhism to talk about enlightenment in one lifetime, nor rebirth in the Pure Land.

A Fuzzy explanation to the best of my knowledge:

Hinayana sutra = many many lifetimes, "incomplete" version, Mahayana sutra = fewer lifetimes but still lots, Tantra = different levels, but there is the definite possibility of this being the last lifetime. IIRC the lowest level is listed as 60 lifetimes until or something like that, all mapped out lol!

I don't know a lot about Pureland, but the biggest difference from what I do know is the "other power" thing.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:17 pm

In genera the sutrayāna approach is that it takes a minimum of three incalculable eons to achieve the required accumulations of merit and wisdom to become a Samyak sambuddha. After spending two incalculable eons to reach the eighth bhumi, it take another eon to reach buddhahood.

Thus, the idea that having a human birth means you have all the accumulations behind you is plain wrong when you actually study the Mahāyāna path. Why? When you reach the eighth bhumi, you gain power over birth.

Further, each Bhumi allows one to manifest a number of emanations in different buddhafields: thus, when one attains the first bhumi, one can manifest 100 emanations in one hundred buddhafields and so on. When one attains the second bhumi, one can manifest 1000 emanations, etc. At each bhumi, one manifests emanations in successive powers of ten.

We who cannot manifest even two bodies in this lifetimes should not think that we are anywhere near the end of our path. In fact, we are merely on the first path, the path of accumulation, trying to develop authentic bodhicitta. We have indeed attained a precious human birth, but this can be lost easily and who knows when we will have this opportunity again. Buddha himself describes the rarity of the precious human birth through the analogy of a blind tortoise in the ocean who rises to the surface every one hundred years and manages to rise through a golden circle that is randomly floating around on the surface of that ocean.

The pure land path is not a quick path, per se. There are many grades of birth described in the pure land sutras, and some people who are born there are born in lotuses that never open, so they never see the face of Amitabha. Of course, in Shinran's pure land school this is all understood rather differently than in the Chinese and Tibetan pure land traditions. So the point is that even we consider that it is possible to take birth in the pure land, this is not necessarily a swift path. In the Tibetan tradition taking birth in the pure land tends to be considered a resting point, where one can make progress on the bodhisattva path, eventually returning to various impure realms to aid sentient beings. further, while Amitabha's vow clearly says "Whoever hears my name will be reborn in Sukhavati", it does not state "Immediately upon having died in this lifetime". In fact, one of vows clearly states that in order to take rebirth in Sukhavati, one must accumulate the necessary merits after one has heard his name and so on. So, in reality, birth in the Pure Land is not the shortcut it sometimes appears to be in East Asian Buddhism. And of course vow 35 can be understood to be completely sexist:

When I obtain the Buddhahood, women of boundless and inconceivable Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters after having heard my name thereby awakened in faith and joyful aspiration, and turning their minds towards Bodhi, therefore dislike their own female lives, when they be born again, in their next life should not be incarnated into a masculine body, then may I not attain the enlightenment.

In other words, this vow states that women who have faith in Amitabha, who are unhappy being women because they wish for awakening, will be born as men in their next life.

There is also the recognition of the advantages of position in vow 43:

If after I have obtained the Buddhahood, that any Bodhisattva of other countries having heard my name, will be incarnated as a member of a noble family (if he so desires) when he dies, otherwise may I not attain enlightenment.

There is in fact no guarantee of immediate birth in Sukhavati in the 48 vows of Amitabha.

When it comes to Vajrayāna, Vajrayāna proposes that one can achieve buddhahood in this lifetime in this body. If one does not succeed in this life, one can easily attain buddhahood in the bardo, or failing that, one will definitely achieve awakening with 7 lifetimes if one practices or 16 even if one does not practice.


Johnny Dangerous wrote:
zsc wrote:I think rory's point is valid in explaining the different perspectives here where we are finding our disagreement. Even though I go to a Theravadin sangha because of convenience and I like the people there, my personal orientation is Pureland practice and thought, in which is not a controversial claim to say that this lifetime will be my last lifetime conditioned within samsara. Even with a lot Theravadin lay people who just would like a better rebirth though, meritorious actions are done in the hopes of that being their last lifetime in the human realm, or at the very least their last lifetime as a non-monastic.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tibetan Buddhists, but from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective this may seem sort of myopic to you because eons and eons of progression is taken as a given, while other East Asian traditions like Pureland-based traditions almost imply that our human birth and access to the dharma is "proof" that those eons of meritorious work are "behind" us, so it's realistic to believe we can go "up" from here in just one more lifetime.



Ok, i'm correcting you. It's not remotely controversial in Tibetan Buddhism to talk about enlightenment in one lifetime, nor rebirth in the Pure Land.

A Fuzzy explanation to the best of my knowledge:

Hinayana sutra = many many lifetimes, "incomplete" version, Mahayana sutra = fewer lifetimes but still lots, Tantra = different levels, but there is the definite possibility of this being the last lifetime. IIRC the lowest level is listed as 60 lifetimes until or something like that, all mapped out lol!

I don't know a lot about Pureland, but the biggest difference from what I do know is the "other power" thing.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:38 pm

zsc wrote:
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.


The fact that you and you alone are the owner of your karma (The Buddha likens karma to a debt that one has to pay off) merely explains these things, it does not condone nor justify them. What you say about encouraging complacency is not true of how karma is understood within Buddhism, it is true of how karma is understood in Hinduism.

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".


If it were possible for dedication of merit to change the karma of sentient beings, you would have though that the Buddhas in their compassion would have dedicated all their merit to us, so that we would no longer suffer.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby rory » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:30 am

Malcolm:
If it were possible for dedication of merit to change the karma of sentient beings, you would have though that the Buddhas in their compassion would have dedicated all their merit to us, so that we would no longer suffer.
[/quote]

I don't know the practice in TB but in Asian Buddhism it's extremely common to call on Kwan Yin/Kannon/Gwan-eum for help. This bodhisattva uses her abundant karma to help those overcome trials. I've called on Kannon-sama and been helped. This is common.

Now as for Yogacara and Madhyamaka, these seem to be the only 2 philosophical schools accepted by TB. Whereas in East Asia there is the Avatamsaka School, Tiantai/Lotus Sutra, Pure Land and Ch'an/Zen which is based usually on Yogacara.

Anyway "Hua-yen [Avatamsaka] sees all phenomena as expression of an originally pure and undifferentiated one mind.....Hua-yen thinkers developed new theories of dependent origination ([i]pratitya samutpada, yuan-ch'i, such as "dharma realm origination" (fa-chieh yuan-ch'i, tathagata-garbha origination...or "nature origination" to clafiy how the one mind manifests in the phenomenal world"[/i]
Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism, Jaqueline Stone p.7

The point of posting that is to show new philosophical developments that originated from Chinese thinkers such as Fazang and Zhi-yi that spread through East Asia as Koreans and Japanese travelled to China and studied these ideas. This obviously didn't happen with Tibet, so it's out of the East Asian mainstream. And this applies to ideas about karma.

The other big development is Zhi-Yi's theories of the 10 worlds which he took from the Lotus Sutra..Here is a simple explanation for lay people:

"
The Lotus Sutra maintains that all phenomena in this world are contained in a single thought of each individual. By consolidating the principles of “Ichinen Sanzen" , it can be concluded that the Lotus Sutra proclaimed a unique theory that each of the ten realms' of living beings-(1) hell, (2) hungry spirits, (3) animals, (4) asuras, (5) human beings (6) heavenly beings, (7) disciples, (8) self-enlightened Buddha, (9) bodhisattvas. (10) Buddha-are mutually inclusive and contained in one another. It is a thinkmg that within a soul of a human being lies the other nine realms. Even within the pure and noble soul of Shakyamuui Buddha, the ugly realms of hell and hungry spirits lie therein. On the other hand within the soul of wicked and malicious persons, the realms of Buddha and bodhisattvas are also contained therein."

http://www.butsuryushu.or.jp/en/a_guide ... /1_11.html

Though this is from a Nichiren Buddhist website it is orthodox Tiantai thought. This is why Malcolm in another thread denied that a Buddha could think evil thoughts while those familiar with Zhi-yi's thought know this is true. Ven. Indrajala kindly translated a pertinent piece.
viewtopic.php?f=53&t=15236

So there is a wide divergance between Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism due to the intellectual developments that took place in China and were disseminated through East Asia.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby tobes » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:40 am

Malcolm wrote:Personally, I find Hayek far more appealing than Trotsky, and much more reasonable and sensible. He fully exposes the failures of both right and left wing socialist collectivism.


It pained me to discover this, but I think Hayek is right about the relationship between price and knowledge - and it follows that centrally planned economies have a genuinely huge epistemic problem of making decisions that are not as well informed as those 'on the ground' making and buying stuff.

However, to say that he 'fully exposes' the failures of right and left wing socialist collectivism is beyond generous. One would have to already be a paid up libertarian to read him in such a kind light. The more orthodox reading is that like most liberals, he either doesn't read Hegel or Marx, or simply doesn't understand their dialectical logic.

One can't fully expose something one doesn't grasp.

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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:55 am

rory wrote:Malcolm:

I don't know the practice in TB but in Asian Buddhism it's extremely common to call on Kwan Yin/Kannon/Gwan-eum for help. This bodhisattva uses her abundant karma to help those overcome trials. I've called on Kannon-sama and been helped. This is common.


I'm willing to bet that just like Tibetan Buddhism the understanding of the nature of a Mahasattva, and how it works in a karmic sense to call on one differs from a person educated in doctrine and a layperson doing veneration without necessarily knowing the doctrine.. not saying one is right or wrong, just doubting the dichotomy is much different than others forms of Buddhism. Also not sure how it's related to the karma stuff, are you saying it's taught that Kwan Yin actually "gives" you good karma somehow? Tibetan Buddhism is full of stories of people calling on Bodhisattvas, meeting them, hanging out with them, manifesting them, and all kinds of stuff like that, I don't know how you think that effects the notions of karma.




The point of posting that is to show new philosophical developments that originated from Chinese thinkers such as Fazang and Zhi-yi that spread through East Asia as Koreans and Japanese travelled to China and studied these ideas. This obviously didn't happen with Tibet, so it's out of the East Asian mainstream. And this applies to ideas about karma.


How does it apply to ideas about karma?


So there is a wide divergance between Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism due to the intellectual developments that took place in China and were disseminated through East Asia.
gassho
Rory


How exactly? you've managed to point out some stuff that is certainly different in some sense, but it doesn't seem to involve (at least what you've posted here) a different notion of Karma. The "all things contained in all things" is an interesting development, but it doesn't seem to imply you can give or take away karma, unless I missed something, anymore than other understandings of interdependence do. Any school that postulates a defiled mindstream as an agent of karma (which Mahayana schools outright reject that notion, any of them?)..seems like would need an explanation of how you can reach into someone elses mindstream and shift stuff around. If there's such an explanation in East Asian Buddhism, i'm interested to read about it.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:03 am

tobes wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Personally, I find Hayek far more appealing than Trotsky, and much more reasonable and sensible. He fully exposes the failures of both right and left wing socialist collectivism.


It pained me to discover this, but I think Hayek is right about the relationship between price and knowledge - and it follows that centrally planned economies have a genuinely huge epistemic problem of making decisions that are not as well informed as those 'on the ground' making and buying stuff.

However, to say that he 'fully exposes' the failures of right and left wing socialist collectivism is beyond generous. One would have to already be a paid up libertarian to read him in such a kind light. The more orthodox reading is that like most liberals, he either doesn't read Hegel or Marx, or simply doesn't understand their dialectical logic.

One can't fully expose something one doesn't grasp.

:anjali:


I am pretty sure Hayek had a very good grasp of both, since he was Austrian, and fled Europe in 1933.

His principle observation is that both right and left wing collectivism share a common belief, i.e., that economies should be centrally planned. This is the main thrust of his thinking. In general, he was not nearly as libertarian as librarians read him. He fully supported the idea that laws can and should be passed to limit markets and so on. Further, another of his main observations is that Democracies only functioned well when people confined themselves to broad issues upon which consensus could be reached through discussion, and tended to break down when they tried to adjudicate specific economic problems which required the creation of a centralized bureaucracies to implement (as all implementations of economic planning require). His third main point about planned economies is that they were a priori goalless, that they required special knowledge of which no one could possibly have.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:14 am

rory wrote:Malcolm:

I don't know the practice in TB but in Asian Buddhism it's extremely common to call on Kwan Yin/Kannon/Gwan-eum for help. This bodhisattva uses her abundant karma to help those overcome trials. I've called on Kannon-sama and been helped. This is common.


Such things merely create a positive dependent origination so that your positive karma can ripen. But quite frankly, it is well understood that unless your dedication of merit is objectless, help by such bodhisattvas in the present exhausts your merit. For example, one can practice Jambhala for wealth, but if you do not have the merit to be wealthy in this life, Jambhala practice merely creates causes for future wealth. And if you do not properly dedicate merit of such practice such that it is objectless, then it is exhaustible merit.

Now as for Yogacara and Madhyamaka, these seem to be the only 2 philosophical schools accepted by TB. Whereas in East Asia there is the Avatamsaka School, Tiantai/Lotus Sutra, Pure Land and Ch'an/Zen which is based usually on Yogacara.


Hua Yen, Tian Tai, Pure Land and Chan are Chinese innovations. Indians did not develop schools of philosophy based on specific sutras. Tibetans follow Indians in this respect.

Anyway "Hua-yen [Avatamsaka] sees all phenomena as expression of an originally pure and undifferentiated one mind.....Hua-yen thinkers developed new theories of dependent origination ([i]pratitya samutpada, yuan-ch'i, such as "dharma realm origination" (fa-chieh yuan-ch'i, tathagata-garbha origination...or "nature origination" to clafiy how the one mind manifests in the phenomenal world"[/i]


If this is the case, then Hua-Yen is just Hindu Advaita Vedanta in Buddhist drag.

The point of posting that is to show new philosophical developments that originated from Chinese thinkers such as Fazang and Zhi-yi that spread through East Asia as Koreans and Japanese travelled to China and studied these ideas. This obviously didn't happen with Tibet, so it's out of the East Asian mainstream. And this applies to ideas about karma.


Actually, Sino Japanese Mahayana Buddhism developed along lines that were outside of the Indian Mahayana mainstream. Tibetans traveled to India and studied Indian Buddhism and developed their schools along the lines set by the great Indian Buddhist monasteries such as Nalanda and Vikramashila.

This is why Malcolm in another thread denied that a Buddha could think evil thoughts while those familiar with Zhi-yi's thought know this is true. Ven. Indrajala kindly translated a pertinent piece.


The idea that a Buddha can have afflicted thoughts is patently absurd and should be rejected at face value without any further thought.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Indrajala » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:25 am

Malcolm wrote:The idea that a Buddha can have afflicted thoughts is patently absurd and should be rejected at face value without any further thought.

M


The idea is that the dharmakāya "encompasses" every aspect of saṃsāra.

    Furthermore, a single moment of thought in the mind of a common being possesses the ten realms. They completely possess the nature and characteristics of evil karma, yet the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. It is due to evil that there is virtue. Apart from evil there is no virtue. Turning over evils, there is virtue supporting them, like inside bamboo there being the nature of fire. It is not yet the object of fire, which is why it exists but does not burn. When meeting with conditions the phenomenon comes to exist, and then it can burn things. Evil as the nature of virtue is not yet an existent phenomenon. When it meets with conditions it becomes an existent phenomenon, and then there can be a turn to evil. It is like bamboo. Fire is emitted and returns, burning the bamboo. In evil there is virtue. When virtue comes to exist it returns, destroying the evil. This is why that which are the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. A single moment of thought of an ordinary being always possesses the consciousnesses, names and forms of the ten realms. The nature and characteristics of the path of suffering – they misunderstand this path of suffering, and saṃsāra remains expansive. This is misunderstanding the dharmakāya as the path of suffering. There is no separate dharmakāya apart from the path of suffering, like mistaking south as north, there is no separate south. If one realizes saṃsāra, then it is the dharmakāya. Thus it is said the nature and characteristics of the path of suffering are the nature and characteristics of the dharmakāya.


https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... -good-evil

This idea seems to be influenced by chapter 2 of the Dao De Jing:

    All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the want of skill is. So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to (the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one (the idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness arise from the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.


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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:43 am

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The idea that a Buddha can have afflicted thoughts is patently absurd and should be rejected at face value without any further thought.

M


The idea is that the dharmakāya "encompasses" every aspect of saṃsāra.


The idea that a Buddha can have afflicted thoughts is still patently absurd and should be rejected at face value without any further thought. The dharmakāya is a Buddha's omniscience so of course it can encompass every aspect of samsara.

M
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