Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby yan kong » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:11 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Gwenn Dana wrote:The beings for which he deemed that to be necessary must have had some tough karma? :shrug:


Or maybe there is some truth to astrology?


While I am not as educated as yourself on the subject Venerable, I don't think it was ever about whether astrology was true or not.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:37 pm

plwk wrote:Uh huh, on what level? The same level as the Buddha's duhkha nirodha marga?


That would depend on an individual's own perspective and how they evaluate subjective truth.

Some people find the idea of temporal cycles quite insightful.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby plwk » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:33 pm

Uh huh, on what level? The same level as the Buddha's duhkha nirodha marga?


That would depend on an individual's own perspective and how they evaluate subjective truth.

Some people find the idea of temporal cycles quite insightful.
Ah yes, the utilitarian principle, how could I forget that.
Perhaps, maybe because I regard the Buddha's duhkha nirodha marga as a Pathway, good in the beginning, middle and end, as opposed to a mere convenient package but yes, to each man his own ...
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:25 pm

You can have your path to the cessation of suffering with a cyclical time-space model of the cosmos. They're not mutually exclusive.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Qianxi » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:51 am

Indrajala wrote:It begs the question though how many people would be interested in living by a lunar astrological calendar, or doing rituals calibrated to the dates provided with such a system?

Lots of Chinese festivals are dated according to the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year, Mid Autum Festival, Dragon Boat Festival. In China the Buddha's enlightenment is celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, which is also a native Chinese winter festival for making offerings to ancestors and spirits. Quite similar to how celebration of the birth of Jesus was incorporated into an existing pagan winter festival. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laba_Festival

The birthdays and enlightenments of the major Boddhisattvas are also celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Before 1911 in China (and before Meiji Restoration in Japan) almost everything was done according to the lunar calendar. In China you still get lunar dates side by side with solar dates on traditional style calendars, and until recently you still got some old people who saw their lunar calendar birthday as their 'real' birthday.

China has its own ways of chopping up the stars into constellations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_constellations unrelated to the Babylonian/Egyptian/Indian model. Fortune telling based on stars, planets, numerology of birth date+time are all quite popular in China - even more popular in Taiwan (I hear) because they didn't go through the communist campaign against superstition. Interestingly though, in my experience young people talk a lot about their star signs (in the Western system), but aren't really aware that the Leo/cancer/libra/pisces/virgo etc. system comes from the west, and don't know anything about native Chinese constellations. I don't think this Western influence comes from Indian translations, I think it just comes from modern Western popular culture via Japan.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:52 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Gwenn Dana wrote:Astrology appears to be a set of interpretations. Thoughts. Starlight Feng Shui.
I rather take refuge in Buddha than in astrology's explanations.

Best wishes
Gwenn


Funny thing is according to some Mahāyāna scriptures the Buddha in fact taught astrology.


According to Tibetan tradition, astrology (calculation) was first introduced from China where it has been taught by Manjuśṛī to Kong tse 'phrul rgyal, often identified as Confucius. Later Kalacakra was introduced (1027) and this is when Tibetans first began to officially use the 120 (five elements * 12 animals) year cycle. This is also why dating anything prior to 1027 in Tibetan annals is a problem without external references.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:28 pm

I do not wonder that dates back to confucious. It fits his philosophy of morality where experience has to submit to abstract principles, even if it hurts, rather than models try to describe that which can be experienced.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:05 pm

Qianxi wrote:China has its own ways of chopping up the stars into constellations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_constellations unrelated to the Babylonian/Egyptian/Indian model.


True, but the Buddhists from maybe the fifth or sixth century onward had much of the Indian model, and then from the eighth century onward the Indian model was quite well established among at least esoteric Buddhist circles.

I think this is largely forgotten now, which is why hardly anyone even in Asia is aware that Indian astrology was once a significant component to Buddhism in East Asia.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:03 pm

Hmm. When you take the Brahmajàla Sutta, and the many things that a Brahman should do not for a living, listing whatever way of divination or foretelling as a low art, then I really doubt the astrology part. From the perspective of consciousness, that would have to be some kind of divination. I would assume astrology can only get a hold in a theistic (stars = light = gods) or materialist-magic (external influence on life) setting. But from a perspective of awareness, what should the stars do more than light and dark?

So I can understand a theory of Yin-Yang arising, or a theory of Doshas. That (the energies during the day or seasons) is something that can be experienced, the effect on mind and body can be observed. It does make sense to distribute certain chores throughout the day honouring the doshas, since that will support your natural flow. No divination needed.

But foretelling karmic tendencies by the stars? I doubt that. IMHO it would contradict right view.

<off topic note>
Divination has an interesting aspect to it, when done as self-practice. When you for example take the I-Ging, which only contains "aspects" or views upon something you can have. Then the divination is not mere foretelling, not asking what will be, but can serve as a guidance to awareness when you face a particular challenge. It doesn't really matter which one you pick, as long as you do pick one. That's even an interesting practice to try, find and conquer views which you have aversion, that you would otherwise subconsciously avoid.
</off topic note>

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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:43 pm

It's commonly listed as a form of wrong livelihood for a bhikshu too.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:46 pm

Zhen Li wrote:It's commonly listed as a form of wrong livelihood for a bhikshu too.


That doesn't preclude the possibility of practicing it for strictly non-commercial purposes.

I explain the details behind this proscription in my paper.

In the Buddhist literature I surveyed (in Chinese) there seems to be a begrudging understanding that astrology can be practiced for skillful non-commercial ends.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby shaunc » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:51 pm

It's a known fact that different phases of the sun & the moon affect plants, fish, birds, animals & even people. To think that other planets & stars could also have an effect is not a big ask IMO. Having said that I also believe that making your own luck (karma) plays a much bigger part in what happens or at least what is likely to happen in your life.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:31 pm

That doesn't preclude the possibility of practicing it for strictly non-commercial purposes.

I explain the details behind this proscription in my paper.

In the Buddhist literature I surveyed (in Chinese) there seems to be a begrudging understanding that astrology can be practiced for skillful non-commercial ends.

Certainly, I agree. I also think it has lovely artistic uses, as for instance on cave roofs.
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Re: Astrology in East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:14 am

Edward Henning has an interesting article discussing misconceptions of astrology and his conclusions on the matter:

http://kalacakra.org/calendar/!astrol.htm
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