Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social politics?

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

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

Postby Indrajala » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:54 am

Malcolm wrote: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


I agree, but hopefully them miscommunication is understood: Zhiyi is talking about how everything is "encompassed" which might make it sound like a buddha is "having afflicted thoughts", whereas it is more about "encompassing" everything, both good and evil. Also, Zhiyi seems to see the dharmakāya in an ontological and not strictly epistemological light. So, evil is as much encompassed by the dharmakāya as virtue would be.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby tobes » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:15 am

Malcolm wrote:
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.



Doesn't follow. The Austrian neo-liberals were of course reacting to fascism and communism (and most explicitly, Keynesian social-democracy which they saw as the path to the former two). But if you grant that Hayek had a good grasp of Marxist dialectics on account of where and when he lived, then how do you account for Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Sartre etc?

All either had to escape Germany or in the case of Sartre live under Nazi occupation. All remained committed to Marxist dialectics.

The relevant point is that Hayek, like the other Austrian-Ordo school liberals, were principally committed to a kind of politics connected to logical positivism - and there is nothing in their work which demonstrates that they 'get' Hegel or Marx. And there is much which clearly demonstrates that they don't.

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

Postby rory » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:09 am

As for the validity of Karmic Transfer, Thomas McEvilley talks about it in "The Shape of Ancient Thought" the section is actually titled Karmic Transfer. He says this appears in Shantideva's buddayacaryavatara where "in that theory one can transfer one's good karma to another and take on the other's bad karma..."
Sorry Google books won't show the page number

And then there is the power of mantras and dharanis like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usnisa_Vij ... rani_Sutra
which purifies all karmic obstructions

So I really don't understand if TB accepts Shantideva where the resistance comes from about transferring merit, unless you're simply not taught this but I'm sure it's in a scholarly text.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby JamyangTashi » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:55 am

rory wrote:As for the validity of Karmic Transfer, Thomas McEvilley talks about it in "The Shape of Ancient Thought" the section is actually titled Karmic Transfer. He says this appears in Shantideva's buddayacaryavatara where "in that theory one can transfer one's good karma to another and take on the other's bad karma..."


A translation of this sutra is available online at Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior with a discussion of difficulties of translation discussed at The Way of the Translators. Shantideva's text appears to have an extensive dedication of merit section, but this does not seem to explicitly claim karmic transfer. It seems rather to be a wish for the happiness of beings and an intention to work for their benefit.

rory wrote:And then there is the power of mantras and dharanis like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usnisa_Vij ... rani_Sutra
which purifies all karmic obstructions


This sutra does seem to require an idea of affecting the karma of others to make sense of its text if taken literally.

Usnisa Vijaya Dharani
Buddha again told Lord Sakra cautiously, "If someone could write this Dharani and place It on the top of a tall banner, high mountain or in a tall building or even keep It in a stupa; Lord of Heaven! If there are bhiksus or bhiksunis, upasakas or upasikas, laymen or laywomen who have seen this Dharani atop the above structures; or if the shadows of these structures should fall on beings who who come near to the structures, or particles of dust from the written Dharani are blown onto their bodies; Lord of Heaven: Should the accumulated evil karma of these beings cause them to fall into the evil paths such as realms of hell, animal, King Yama, hungry ghost, Asura and other, they will all be spared from the evil paths, and they will not be tainted with filth and defilement. Lord of Heaven! Instead, all Buddhas will bestow predictions (Vyakarana) onto these beings who will never regress from the path to Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (complete enlightenment)."
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:02 pm

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.


Good to know.

rory wrote: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.


I can see that :lol:

Malcolm wrote: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.


No, this has been the position of many unethical authorities who wanted to maintain the status quo by using "Buddhist" rationale. I agree that it's not what Buddhism teaches.

Malcolm wrote: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.


Besides rory's point, most Pureland thought assumes Amida already has, and Pureland practice serves to karmically link ourselves to him. Suffering is a samsaric condition that we are still bound by, for now.

Malcolm wrote: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.


The grades of rebirth in the Pureland demonstrates that Pureland practice isn't just a license for evil. For the practitioner open to Amida's grace and acting compassionately in response, they do not need to have anxiety about which grade they will be born in. They just can continue practicing without worrying. Also, what I have bolded is the understanding of various Pureland schools, including in Shinran's teaching. In Jodo Shinshu, the progress phase is "instantaneously" realized because of the practitioners openness to the gift of shinjin by Amida.

Malcolm wrote: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.


It is generally understood that the vows are all-encompassing due to Amida's boundless compassion, so they don't contradict each other, they are open to cover as many sentient beings as possible, including people in their deathbed who do not have the time to accumulate merit.

Malcolm wrote:...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 the early ages, the lives of women were full of hardships. They were expected to care of the house, go through the the pain of carrying a child to term then giving birth, take care of the kids from then on, and since a lot of women didn't have enough time to become literate (or weren't allowed to), women generally weren't allowed to become influential religious practitioners and teachers. They were the backbone of the civilization, but this resulted in a lot of them being treated like work horses. Even in other sutras, a male rebirth was assumed to be better than a male one for practice, and Shakyamuni even hesitated to allow women to practice in the same way as his male disciples did. I've read commentaries that propose what I have said above--so much of society depended on women not dedicating a lot of time to practice when the same wasn't true for men, and even Shakyamuni's hesitance was due to this consideration. This is true in some countries even today. So like I said above, Amida's vows are meant to be all-encompassing.

Malcolm wrote: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.


Again, the vows are meant to be all-encompassing, they don't negate each other. As it stands today, Pureland practitioners are encouraged to direct their faith primarily to the 18th Vow, which is the Primal Vow.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:21 pm

zsc wrote:
No, this has been the position of many unethical authorities who wanted to maintain the status quo by using "Buddhist" rationale. I agree that it's not what Buddhism teaches.


Which unethical authorities,

Malcolm wrote: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.


Besides rory's point, most Pureland thought assumes Amida already has, and Pureland practice serves to karmically link ourselves to him. Suffering is a samsaric condition that we are still bound by, for now.


Then something isn't working, either your theory or his vow.

In Jodo Shinshu, the progress phase is "instantaneously" realized because of the practitioners openness to the gift of shinjin by Amida.


Its a theory, but it has no support in sutra. In fact Shinran had to take huge liberties. And yes, I have read a lot of Shinran.


It is generally understood that the vows are all-encompassing due to Amida's boundless compassion, so they don't contradict each other, they are open to cover as many sentient beings as possible, including people in their deathbed who do not have the time to accumulate merit.


I don't agree.


In the early ages, the lives of women were full of hardships.


They still are.

They were expected to care of the house, go through the the pain of carrying a child to term then giving birth, take care of the kids from then on, and since a lot of women didn't have enough time to become literate (or weren't allowed to), women generally weren't allowed to become influential religious practitioners and teachers.


This is generally still true, though changing.

They were the backbone of the civilization, but this resulted in a lot of them being treated like work horses. Even in other sutras, a male rebirth was assumed to be better than a male one for practice, and Shakyamuni even hesitated to allow women to practice in the same way as his male disciples did. I've read commentaries that propose what I have said above--so much of society depended on women not dedicating a lot of time to practice when the same wasn't true for men, and even Shakyamuni's hesitance was due to this consideration. This is true in some countries even today. So like I said above, Amida's vows are meant to be all-encompassing.


Of course, it is only in Vajrayāna where women's full spiritual potential is actuality recognized, and the only tradition in which there full fledged female Buddhas like Vajrayogini and so on.

Again, the vows are meant to be all-encompassing, they don't negate each other. As it stands today, Pureland practitioners are encouraged to direct their faith primarily to the 18th Vow, which is the Primal Vow.


You mean Jodo Sinshu practitioners.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby JamyangTashi » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:05 am

zsc wrote: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.


This possibility is also supported in Theravada doctrine such as in MN 10 which says:
If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.


zsc wrote:Even in other sutras, a male rebirth was assumed to be better than a male one for practice, and Shakyamuni even hesitated to allow women to practice in the same way as his male disciples did. I've read commentaries that propose what I have said above--so much of society depended on women not dedicating a lot of time to practice when the same wasn't true for men, and even Shakyamuni's hesitance was due to this consideration.


The reasons for Shakyamuni's reluctance, or even whether he was reluctant or misrepresented, doesn't seem to be clear from the existing information. A brief survey of some of the information around this can be found at The Buddha's initial reluctance. The same discussion in the Vinaya where he seemed reluctant also quotes him as saying "Having gone forth from home into homelessness in the Dhamma and discipline women are able to realize all the states leading to enlightenment and enlightenment itself."

There are also other sources such as MN 73 where he is quoted as saying "Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many, more bhikkhunis, disciples of mine, who have destroyed desires, the mind released from desires and released through wisdom, here and now realising abide" and also "Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many more female lay disciples of mine, who have destroyed the five lower bonds to the sensual world, and are born spontaneously not to proceed" and also "Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many more female lay disciples of mine wearing white clothes lead the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures, doing the work in the dispensation have dispelled doubts. Have become confident of what should and should not be done. They do not need a teacher any more in the dispensation of the Teacher."

This seems to suggest that the Buddha viewed women as equally capable of achieving enlightenment. Notions of male superiority appear to have been a later accretion.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:33 am

Malcolm wrote:
Then something isn't working, either your theory or his vow.


I actually find this statement really disrespectful and inappropriate for a Mahayana forum. Not the claim that I'm wrong, but the implication that a Buddha well-respected in Mahayana traditions is somehow being deceitful, or the practice surrounding him is illegitimate or based on falsehood. I realize that's not an unusual claim but this board appears to have the aim to be inclusive of all Mahayana traditions. Not saying I find debate of doctrinal differences disrespectful, but considering the context, this is like a troll coming in conversations about Buddhism here with the argument "The Buddha was lying, so your religion is a sham" as their reason for disagreement, not because they find a Buddhist claim philosophically unsound.

As for everything else:

Malcolm wrote:
zsc wrote:In Jodo Shinshu, the progress phase is "instantaneously" realized because of the practitioners openness to the gift of shinjin by Amida.


Its a theory, but it has no support in sutra. In fact Shinran had to take huge liberties. And yes, I have read a lot of Shinran.


It is generally understood that the vows are all-encompassing due to Amida's boundless compassion, so they don't contradict each other, they are open to cover as many sentient beings as possible, including people in their deathbed who do not have the time to accumulate merit.


I don't agree.


Like I touched on in my exchange with Johnny Dangerous, I'm not trying to convince you that my beliefs are true, but since they may give people a better idea from where I'm coming from, I stated them and provided my own explanations and recommended some sources (plmk did a better job of that though). When it comes to different and divergent Buddhist traditions, I don't play the "who is the real Buddhist?" game, especially not online. I only responded because your assumptions about what Pureland traditions teach were erroneous. Like this statement:

Of course, it is only in Vajrayāna where women's full spiritual potential is actuality recognized, and the only tradition in which there full fledged female Buddhas like Vajrayogini and so on.


To imply that Pureland traditions in East Asia do not recognize a woman's "full spiritual potential" is painting the situation with too broad a brush.

In reference to Amida Buddha and Kwanseum Boddhisattva, who I believe you are eluding to, "him" and "her" are conventional concepts to help us communicate and better understand. We have no genderless pronoun in English, and "it" would not be respectful, and also it's objectifying by nature. We English speakers also have to use a pronoun whenever we don't name the subject, but in Asian languages like Korean (which I'm most familiar with), the subject can be implied without using a pronoun, so Amida's "gender" isn't such a solid concept. For example, a phrase that would make perfect sense in Korean would be literally translated to English as "This is zsc. Is student." with no need to say "She is a student" for the second sentence. So we have to say something.

In more personal and devotional aspects, it is not unusual for authors to address Amida as "mother and father" or Japanese works to refer to him as "oya-sama" which is a genderless and very affectionate term for a dear parent. Some authors have a little fun with this concept, by switching up "he" and "she" when referring to Amida to reference the belief that Amida is truly limitless, and even our language can't do him justice.

Kwanseum is referred to as "he" in the translation of the acapella performance of the Heart Sutra I listen to sometimes. And it's not like Kwanseum is in a ego-driven competition with Amida for status, nor do we get the idea that she is a lowly, oppressed servant. The more East I seem to go in my reading, the less any one-sided guru-student dynamic is emphasized, so to imply this in teachings about Amida and Kwanseum would be kind of dissonant.

I'm wondering what criteria you are basing that claim on. If it's based on leadership, it seems like that would be like saying mainline Episcopalians don't recognize a woman's full spiritual potential because there are more men in high positions than women. I don't think anyone who knows about the Episcopalians would say this is true (for those who don't know, mainline Episcopalians have female reverends and bishops). If it's based on monastic practice, it's mostly a cultural issue, but generally they are not seen as less able to become a Bodhisattva or Buddha because they are women.

Malcolm wrote:
zsc wrote:Again, the vows are meant to be all-encompassing, they don't negate each other. As it stands today, Pureland practitioners are encouraged to direct their faith primarily to the 18th Vow, which is the Primal Vow.


You mean Jodo Sinshu practitioners.


The "Primal Vow" is a Jodo Shinshu term, true, but the 18th vow is important in other Pureland traditions too. And yes, "Pureland practitioners" includes "Jodo Shinshu practitioners".
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:35 am

JamyangTashi wrote:This seems to suggest that the Buddha viewed women as equally capable of achieving enlightenment. Notions of male superiority appear to have been a later accretion.


Yes, I suspect so. The passages you posted are usually some of the reasons authors take a more ambiguous stance than "The Buddha was sexist", from what I've read.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby rory » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:45 am

Fascinating discussion ZSC and Jamyang Tashi;
I really like learned discussion as we all benefit by learning something new. Barbara Clayton in "Moral Theory in Santideva's Siksasamuccaya: cultivating the fruits of virtue" (p. 80) discusses merit transfer and finds in common in Theravada

"such practices called Pattidana by Pali commentators include dedicating gifts to the sangha to benefit deceased relatives or gods....However aspiring to direct or transfer the fruit of ones deeds to another, which is the widespread and characteristic Mahayana practice, is rare in the Pali canon, and the idea that celestial Buddhas and bodhisattvas can offer their punya to help sentient beings seems to be a uniquely Mahayana phenomenon. As Gombrich states: "In the Mahayana both the Buddha and bodhisattvas saved more directly, by transferring merit."

Now to explain this contravention of karma Clayton continues:
"As Harvey points out, in the context in which all is understood to be empty and/or mind-dependent
, there are no inherent owners of karmic benefit. The tranference of karmic fruitfulness is possible because it is "empty" and does not "really" or "ultimately" belong to a particular being, which is a fiction in any case. Thus in this sense as Williams says, "the notion of transference of merit fits squarely within the ontology and sprituality of the Mahayana."


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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:27 am

zsc wrote:We have no genderless pronoun in English...


Nor are there any in Sanskrit, Pali, etc.

Amitabha has the thirty two major marks of a Buddha...one is a retractable penis.

In all Sanskrit literature referring to Avalokiteśvara, Avalokiteśvara is strictly referred to as male. It is only in China that Avalokiteśvara's gender is bent.

As to gender ambiguity in bodhisattvas, there are some examples of this, Śariputra's encounter with the goddess of the ganges, for example. But Amitabha is indeed male as are all who are born in his pure land.

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

Postby rory » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:41 am

Malcolm:
Of course, it is only in Vajrayāna where women's full spiritual potential is actuality recognized, and the only tradition in which there full fledged female Buddhas like Vajrayogini and so on.


Someone hasn't read the Lotus Sutra: Chapter 12 - Devadatta
Wisdom Accumulation asked Manjushri.....Is there any living being who can, through diligence and vigor, cultivate this Sutra and quickly gain Buddhahood?"

At that time, Shariputra spoke to the Dragon Girl, saying, "You claim quick attainment to the Supreme Path. This is difficult to believe. Why? The body of a woman is filthy and not a vessel for the Dharma. How can you attain to the Supreme Bodhi? The Buddha Path is remote and distant. Only after one has passed through limitless aeons, diligently bearing suffering and accumulating one�s conduct, perfecting one�s cultivation of all Paramitas, can one then attain realization. What is more, a woman�s body has Five Obstacles: one, she cannot become a Brahma heaven king; two, she cannot become Shakra; three, she cannot become a Mara king; four, she cannot become a Wheel Turning Sage king; five, she cannot become a Buddha. How can a woman quickly realize Buddhahood?"

Now the Dragon Girl had a precious pearl, its worth equal to the entire system of three thousand great thousand worlds, which she took before the Buddha and presented to him. The Buddha immediately accepted it. The Dragon Girl then said to Wisdom Accumulation and the venerable Shariputra, "I just offered up this precious pearl and the World Honored One accepted it. Was that quick or not?"

"Very quick!" They answered.

The girl said, "With your spiritual powers, watch as I become a Buddha even more quickly than that!" At that moment, the entire assembly saw the Dragon Girl suddenly transform into a man and perfect the Bodhisattva conduct. Instantly she went off to the south, to the world without filth, where, seated on a jeweled lotus, she accomplished Equal and Proper Enlightenment and embodied the Thirty two Marks and Eighty Minor Characteristics. There, for the sake of all living beings throughout the ten directions, she proceeded to proclaim the wonderful Dharma.

both humans and non-humans in the Saha world all watched from a distance as the Dragon Girl became a Buddha and spoke the Dharma for all the gods and humans, they rejoiced exceedingly and reverently made obeisance from afar.

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus12.htm

This was deeply radical and the basis for many women's pious practice. Imre Hamar ed. "Reflecting Mirrors: Perspectives on Huayan Buddhism

"the enlightenment of the naga-girl, as found in the Lotus Sutra was a powerful exemplum of women's liberation, and it merged with the motif of the naga palace."
Bernard Faure p.304

Hokkeji an Imperial Nunnery in Japan performed the Lotus Repentance Ceremony for the state (and no they didn't believe they had to turn into men either....see Barbara Meeks "Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Pre-Modern Japan"
Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:17 am

Malcolm wrote:Amitabha has the thirty two major marks of a Buddha...one is a retractable penis.

Nirvana Sutra Chapter 7
O good man! This is as in the case of worldly people. Men and women conceal their genitalia behind clothing, because such are ugly things to look upon. Here we speak of “concealing”. It is not thus with the Tathagata. He has long since done away with genitalia. As he does not have such, there is no reason for concealment. O good man! The Brahmins do not like to have their words and what they say heard by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras. Why not? Because there are many things in their words that are wrong and wicked. But the Tathagata’s Wonderful Dharma is such that it is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its conclusion. So we cannot speak here of a thing hidden or stored away.

and

Everybody says that I am a man. But truth to tell, I am not.

and

I also manifest myself in Jambudvipa as a female Buddha. People see this and say that it is strange that a female should attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. The Tathagata, after all, has never once been a female. In order to subdue people, I manifested as a female. As I pity beings, I also manifest in various coloured images. I also manifest myself amidst the four unfortunate realms of Jambudvipa. How could I be born in the unfortunate realms through evil actions? In order to pass beings to the other shore, I get born as such. I also get born as Brahma in Jambudvipa and make those who serve Brahma abide in Wonderful Dharma. But, truth to tell, I am not Brahma. But all people say that I am truly Brahma.

chapter 7 of the Nirvana Sutra is a explanation of the Shakyamuni Buddha's manifestation teachings found in chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra.



As to gender ambiguity in bodhisattvas, there are some examples of this, Śariputra's encounter with the goddess of the ganges, for example. But Amitabha is indeed male as are all who are born in his pure land.
M

There is no male or female, human or god in the Pure Land those are just terms/words/concepts that are used in an attempt of description.

Larger Sutra
The shravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings and humans there have lofty and brilliant wisdom, and are masters of the supernatural powers. They are all of one form, without any differences, but are called 'heavenly beings' and 'humans' simply by analogy with the states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb, unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with bodies of Naturalness, Emptiness, and Infinity."
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:29 am

rory wrote:
Someone hasn't read the Lotus Sutra: Chapter 12 - Devadatta

At that moment, the entire assembly saw the Dragon Girl suddenly transform into a man


Apparently you have not read it either.

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

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:31 am

Malcolm wrote:
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.


Vow 19 is the guarantee for immediate rebirth in Sukhavati also it corrisponds with the chapter on the 3 different types of aspirants which also teaches guaranteed immediate rebirth in Sukhavati.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:48 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
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.


Vow 19 is the guarantee for immediate rebirth in Sukhavati also it corrisponds with the chapter on the 3 different types of aspirants which also teaches guaranteed immediate rebirth in Sukhavati.


NO, that vow is not a guarantee of rebirth in Sukhavati. It merely guarantees a vision.

Secondly, your Nirvana sutra citation does not describe the career of a female buddha. It merely describes the ability of a buddha to manifest a buddha in female form.

The fact remains that the only place where embodied female buddhahood, i.e. that one can attain buddhahood without changing from a female gender, is expressed only in Vajrayāna. It is just a fact of text, it is not even controversial.

The idea that there is no gender in the Sukhavati pure land is a post-modern interpretation.

But we are far afield from the original topic...
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby rory » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:13 am

Malcolm wrote:
rory wrote:
Someone hasn't read the Lotus Sutra: Chapter 12 - Devadatta

At that moment, the entire assembly saw the Dragon Girl suddenly transform into a man


Apparently you have not read it either.

M


Keep reading Malcolm!
the entire assembly saw the Dragon Girl suddenly transform into a man and perfect the Bodhisattva conduct. Instantly she went off to the south, to the world without filth, where, seated on a jeweled lotus, she accomplished Equal and Proper Enlightenment and embodied the Thirty two Marks and Eighty Minor Characteristics. There, for the sake of all living beings throughout the ten directions,
she proceeded to proclaim the wonderful Dharma.


This is the last time I reply to someone who makes unsupported statements. I expect the participants here to get out your scholarly books, sutras and have an educated discussion. I've already learned a lot from researching answers!
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brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:39 am

Malcolm wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
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.


Vow 19 is the guarantee for immediate rebirth in Sukhavati also it corrisponds with the chapter on the 3 different types of aspirants which also teaches guaranteed immediate rebirth in Sukhavati.


NO, that vow is not a guarantee of rebirth in Sukhavati. It merely guarantees a vision.

yes the 18-19 Vow does guarantee immediate rebirth in Sukhavati,the rest of the text further backs this up.

(The 19 Vow) If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds and sincerely desire to be born in my land, should not, at their death, see me appear before them surrounded by a multitude of sages, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

(2. The middle grade)

[24] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The middle grade of aspirants are the devas and humans in the worlds of the ten quarters who sincerely desire to be born in that land. Although unable to become monks and cultivate much merit, they awaken aspiration for the highest Enlightenment, single-mindedly think on Amitayus, perform some good deeds, observe the precepts of abstinence, build stupas, donate Buddhist statues, give alms to mendicants, hang banners, light candles, scatter flowers, burn incense, and so forth. They transfer the merit of those practices to his land, aspiring to be born there. When they are about to die, Amitayus will manifest his transformed body, which is fully possessed of the same radiance and physical characteristics and marks as those of the real Buddha, and make it appear before them, together with a host of sages. Then they will follow this transformed Buddha and be born in the Pure Land, where they will dwell in the Stage of Non-retrogression. Their virtue and wisdom will be next to those of the higher grade of aspirants."

(3. The lower grade)

[25] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The lower grade of aspirants are the devas and humans in the worlds of the ten quarters who sincerely desire to be born in that land. Although unable to do many meritorious deeds, they awaken aspiration for the highest Enlightenment and single-mindedly concentrate on Amitayus even ten times, desiring birth in his land. When they hear the profound Dharma, they joyfully accept it and do not entertain any doubt; and so, remembering the Buddha even once, they sincerely aspire to be born in that land. When they are about to die, they will see the Buddha in a dream. Those aspirants, too, will be born in the Pure Land. Their merit and wisdom will be next to those of the middle grade of aspirants."
Secondly, your Nirvana sutra citation does not describe the career of a female buddha. It merely describes the ability of a buddha to manifest a buddha in female form.
The fact remains that the only place where embodied female buddhahood, i.e. that one can attain buddhahood without changing from a female gender, is expressed only in Vajrayāna. It is just a fact of text, it is not even controversial.

thats incorrect the Nirvana Sutra citation does in fact describe the career of a female Buddha.
you see in the Lotus Sutra chapter 16 you find out that the Buddha manifested himself in this world as a human male named Shakyamuni then proceeded to show humans how a human person would go about the path to attaining enlightenment.

the same goes for the Nirvana Sutra citation it shows the Buddha manifested itself in the world as a human female and then proceeded to show humans how a human person would go about the path to attaining enlightenment.So both the career paths of either man or female are both manifestations of the Buddha, and are both represented.
The idea that there is no gender in the Sukhavati pure land is a post-modern interpretation.

nope the idea of the 32 features of the Buddha which we receive in the pure land,having no gender is not a post modern interpretation unless you consider the Nirvana Sutra post modern. the idea of the Buddha not even being a man can be found in the Donna Sutta so this is hardly a new view.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:48 am

I wanted to reply to a statement that was made earlier in the thread, about the more devotional traditions being suitable for PoC especially African-Americans due to their having to struggle with various issues related to disenfranchisement in racist societies and more family-centered orientations.

At the time I found this generalization very broad, and upon reflection actually inaccurate. There are several African-Americans and a Haitian-American whom I know personally and through exchanges on facebook, who have completely the rigorous and "academic" requirements for teaching authorization in the Gelug and Kagyu traditions.

Dr. Jampa Kunchok Pryor was an early student of Lama Yeshe and eventually completed extensive studies at Sera Jey monastery in the 1980s under very difficult material conditions. He also completed an advanced degree in the West, and worked as a teacher, all the while maintaining his monastic vows. He even taught science to the monks at Sera Jey, in their first foray offering it as a topic to the resident monks. He is a prolific author on several difficult topics including Collected Topics and Tenents. Some of his books can be found in a list here: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-a ... og%20Pryor

Venerable Phuntsok is a Hatian-American student of HH Dalai Lama and the late Khensur Tharchin who leads retreats and teaches extensively under the current guidance of Gyumey Khensur Rinpoche. He is also an active participant in the Mind and Life Conferences of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: http://www.phuntsok.org/about/

In terms of female and lay African-American devotees of Tibetan Buddhism, there is Jan Willis who teaches at Wesleyan University and has authored several books. One of them is called "Dreaming Me", and is about her spiritual journey as well as life as a Black woman both in Asia and in America. She has also published a translation called Luminous Lives about several ancient Gelug masters which I have yet to read.

Lama Rod Owens completed the three year retreat training in the Kagyu tradition and received teaching authorization from several important Kagyu masters. He is currently the director of the Karmapa UTD-affiliated centre in Washington, DC.

I typed all this out because I do not think it is helpful to say that one type or another of Buddhism is appropriate for one race or another. While I agree that Soka Gakkai has the largest number of African-American participants, from the few examples I posted above it is clear that people of African heritage have also completed training and risen to teaching positions in several of the Tibetan Buddhist schools.

As was mentioned people of African descent are just as capable intellectually and spiritually as any other racial/ethnic group so there is no reason they cannot succeed in the rigorous training of the more traditional Theravada and Tibetan schools if barriers to their participation are addressed.

Barriers to access to dharma need to be addressed and in that vein I think Shambhala was very wise to send out surveys and publish a "Diversity in Shambhala" report to identify possible reasons for the lack of diversity in many of its centres located in multicultural cities, especially in America.

Finally I want to voice that the segregation and Black/White dichotomy takes a particular flavour in the United States of America and this should be taken into account when posting on this board, which has people participating from many different countries.

In my home country of Canada, such a discussion would not be as relevant. We have a plethora of different ethnic groups, especially in the cities. For example, in Toronto more than 70 different languages are spoken. And our Asian and South Asian populations outnumber our native Afro-Canadian population (concentrated in Nova Scotia) and Carribean-Canadian population (concentrated in Ontario). As such discussions on race have to take a different format.

Our most disenfranchised group is Aboriginal-Canadians and so especially any barriers to their participation in any community, including Buddhist, need to receive special attention. That being said, the Native people I have met have a strong sense of their own indigenous spirituality so I am not sure how many would be attracted to Buddhism.
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Re: Should Buddhists even care about "engaging" social polit

Postby zsc » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:25 pm

JKhedrup - I do not see "academic" and "rigorous" Buddhist understanding mutually exclusive from preferring devotion. I do not think devotion is more suited for the "masses" because they lack competence, but many more people lack the leisure time.

Malcolm - "Only in China" is not a rebuttal unless you question the competence of Chinese Buddhists, which seems like a personal problem.
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