Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:45 am

A cutting from another thread:

Masaru wrote:
One of the things I've thought about a bit lately is the degree that Nichiren placed the Lotus Sutra in a primary position due to his extensive research of sources of the time that presented the Lotus as being a teaching, however figurative in its semiotics, that originated from the historical Buddha. (It's entirely possible that he suspected otherwise and didn't care - that his reforms needed expedients to carry out a desired objective of unifying Buddhism and the nation - but that's a big conjecture to make.) Our best scholarship now tells us that the Lotus Sutra was compiled centuries after the Buddha's lifetime and that there are differences in the existing Chinese translations and versions found in different languages from earlier periods.

It seems that, at best, we can take the Lotus Sutra as a kind of commentary on the distilled, perennial import of the Buddha's teaching. This would maybe put the Lotus and other influential Mahayana sutras on the level of doctrinal interpretations communicated via very dense symbolism. Kind of like my BS post about why I chose Nichiren Buddhism over other forms of Buddhism. Almost none of the s### in that post ever happened, but it does actually communicate important aspects of my initial inspiration for choosing Buddhism as a religious practice. And the answer to the "why Nichiren" question did actually end in Killeen. Lol.

I admire Nichiren, so despite my current doubts or desire to take up another kind of practice or emphasis that fits my life and situation, lately I find myself thinking about how Nichiren was wrong about certain things as an imperfect mortal and what that means to my practice in the here and now. Ultimately, I think that's where a lot of "Independents" end up. When I look at these kind of scriptures, I see the work of people who were good at essentially using the skill toolkit of suggestion and manipulation to communicate the gist of complex ideas to people unlikely to understand the technical minutiae of their teachings. The Lotus seems to be "this is what we think the Buddha ultimately meant," as presented by its ancient authors and later embedded commentary. Then the rest of our tradition goes from there.

SGI seems to accept that the Lotus is one part of an evolving tradition of ever more clearly refined religious truth, and I can accept and agree with that. It's just their Nippon-centric, Ikeda messianism that is too much wasabi for my palate.

One idea I've been mulling over though is that Buddhism was ultimately a kind of art and science. The Buddha rejected things from his native tradition that he thought to be superstition and used what he viewed as the best contemporaneous understanding of the world to explain his inner transformation and bring about that transformation in others. But what we also have a record of is the Buddha changing his teaching in various ways according to the people he taught in order to achieve a desired result. If Gautama was alive today, I imagine he'd have delved deeply into the sciences and yet still use a lot of religious metaphor for some, or many people.

Nameless wrote in response:
Before people had the Sutras, they had Shakyamuni in person. Someone (Madgulyayana?) after his death and after the compiling of the sutras said something like "its good that we have the sutras, but for me I will always remember the Buddha as an example".

As far as authenticity, the Lotus is in the exact same position as the Pali canon, or more importantly, the Pali canon is in the same position as the LS, ditto for the other sutras.

Masaru replied:
The canons used by the Mahayana and Theravada were both changed, but in different ways, and it's the quality of the changes made in the Mahayana that give me pause. Mahayana sutras represent a tradition focused on common people, and so feature more mythological symbolism. They also passed through China, where commentary and scripture was often given equal weight, and where it appears that the Lotus and other Sutras were altered by embedded commentary. It also gives me pause that Mahayanists reinterpreted the admonition to follow sutras that are "complete and final" to mean "Mahayana" rather than "unaltered in content.

What are we getting with the Lotus sutra?" Is it "wrong" or "false?" It certainly doesn't contain, in any surviving form, any word ever uttered by the historical Buddha, that much is certain. To what extent is it faithful in communicating a profound teaching (1) from the Buddha or (2) about Buddhism? Moving in either direction gives us reason to hearken still to this inspiring, and maybe "inspired," document. But neither leaves much ground for Nichiren's arguments about the supremacy of the Lotus.

SGI has it's answer to the questions and dilemmas that arise from these considerations, and that answer is mentor-&-disciple "Ikedaism." Illaraza has his personal answer; it's what I teasingly but respectfully will call "righteous copypasta-ism." Queequeg, from what I can tell, seems to still be developing in his understanding of what implications the Sutra's history has on his faith, generally falling on the idea that "all truth is Buddhavacana," or something like that. To an extent, I'm just sort of venting my thoughts here, but in another sense I'm bringing this up because I see that this newly released Lotus seed from the SGI greenhouse will come up against this question too if they stay with this tradition.

I can't discount the practice because by internalizing it I have seen significant positive changes in my life. I've also experienced other, less positive things, some self-created and some aided by the influence of superstition. So I have to consider in what sense the Lotus sutra is true, and in what sense is it simply metaphorical? What is that metaphor saying, and thus, what are we upholding and what is it asking us to bulwark against to protect this profound "something?" The Nichiren practice seems simple enough with just chanting and making good causes, but we're also admonished to spread and protect the teaching. Not only do I consider that admonition a significant and even an unavoidable part of correct practice, but sometimes a tall order to uphold.

The appearance of the treasure tower seems to admonish us to always follow and uphold the highest truth as great people in history have always done, but it also puts the votary in a class of people that is constantly reviled. But if I told you to live to the fullest and then told you a story like the experience I posted, what would you think?

and Nameless sur-replied:
When I say "authenticity" in relation to the sutras, I mean that we have just as much reason to believe the Buddha spoke the Pali cannon as we do the LS. Which is none, other than people have said he said it. I too have some "negative push back" in my Buddhistness recently, Buddhism and those things we discussed briefly on the other forum before it asspl0ded are not always easy to reconcile, human beings have had so much built upon idealist notions and when you have to be honest with yourself and they fall apart what then? I suppose I am with (your understanding of) Queequeg's view that "if its true, its Buddhism". I guess we are lazy, we don't stuck to just writing our own scriptures, if its true, its ours. Yoink.

Well, I can't pull any actual quotations out of my head, but to my knowledge some discourses in even the Pali Cannon are actually attributed to people other than Shakyamuni, and after said discourses are given Sidh even said "I could not have put it better myself". He did not even consider himself a founder of a new religion, or sect, or order (other than the Sangha?). Buddhism then, perhaps should not be constrained to a series of teaching attributed to the historical Buddha. By his teachings people have been led to varying degrees of awakening, and they also wanted to teach people, and did so according to their ability and understanding, different from the historical Buddha, but the same perhaps as the eternal Buddha. I guess I see it like evolution, evolution is a tinkerer, not an inventor. it works with what it gets, new things are placed upon old things, when you move one of your fingers, actually the first thing to happen in your brain is a signal to move all of your fingers goes out, however some newer part of your brain fixes that so only one moves, because we had an ancestor who could not at all move only one finger. The idealist idea that all of this was said by the historical Buddha, that he established and taught everything we need to know about the Dharma and ergo we should only rely on what he actually can be said to have said, that is falling apart and this too is hard to reconcile for some people. But why? Think of it like science, there was not one person who handed us science. Newton was into alchemy and prophecy. Its not a perfect analogy because Sidh was likely not insane like that, but science is an evolving and changing entity.

of course people can also tell themselves that "the Buddha actually taught this", I think the honorable MarkP believed this, and they have just as much reason to believe that, as people believe the Pali Cannon came straight from the horse's mouth.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:51 pm

You guys covered a lot of ground. Some comments -

Nichiren, at least nominally, believed that the historical Buddha spoke the Lotus Sutra. That said, they knew even then that the Lotus Sutra (and other Mahayana scriptures) had not even appeared in the first 500 years after the Buddha's parinirvana. "500" is a nice round number. Historically, it was a few centuries, maybe as many as 500. The Buddha is believed to have lived sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. The Lotus is believed to have been compiled between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. Nichiren discusses this issue in his writings, so it not news to him that there were questions about the authenticity, not only of the Lotus, but of Mahayana scriptures in general. Nichiren refers to these ancient controversies.

Nichiren's resolution was to rely on the standard Mahayana explanation - that the Mahayana scriptures were specially transmitted and were kept secret until such time as the time was right for their revelation.

A guy name Michael Fuss - I think he's a Jesuit - wrote a book comparing the inspirational genesis of the Lotus Sutra and the Bible - Buddhavacana and Dei Verbum. The guy has a weighted interest in establishing that the Lotus Sutra is the historical Buddha's actual teaching, just as he has a weighted interest in establishing that the New Testament is Jesus' actual teaching. He writes about the oldest layers of the Lotus Sutra being in Prakrit. Its not clear what Prakrit was, and I don't think scholars agree that it was a standardized spoken language, but its believed that the people in the area where the Buddha was active spoke some dialect that has been labeled Prakrit, and so its likely that's the language the Buddha spoke - certainly not Pali and not Sanskrit (this negative at least is an accepted fact). Fuss speculates based on this that the Lotus Sutra, at least some parts of it, were actually taught by the Buddha.

Still, I think this whole line of questioning concerning historical fact sidesteps the real issues as Buddhists have generally thought about it. Historical fact is not as important as the narrative, and how that forms and contributes to an overall view.

If you look at Nichiren's writings, there is some sense in which he is very concerned about the actual text of the Lotus Sutra. However, he is also very comfortable with variation, too. Nichiren knew that there were several versions of the Lotus Sutra in Chinese. He also took for granted that the Lotus Sutra has different forms in other worlds according to the specific conditions. This is not a particularly novel view - at a fundamental level, Buddhist psychology establishes that the world in which we live is inseparably determined by the nature and quality of our sensory apparatus. To a being whose predominant means of experience is olfactory, would it make any sense for a Buddha to teach through sound?

One of Zhiyi's most important works - the Fa-hua Hsuan-i (Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra) is a thesis explaining that the meaning of the entire Lotus Sutra is contained in the five characters of its title.

Question: The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai has explained that the term Myoho-renge is used in two different senses, one meaning the entity of Myoho-renge and the other being figurative in meaning. What are these two kinds of renge, or lotus?
Answer: The figurative renge, or lotus, is explained in detail in the three metaphors of the lotus blossom enfolding the seed, the lotus blossom opening to reveal the seed inside, and the lotus blossom falling and the seed ripening, so one should refer to them. The lotus that is the entity of Myoho-renge is explained in the seventh volume of The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra as follows: “Renge, or lotus, is not a symbol; it is the actual name of the entity. For example, at the beginning of the kalpa of continuance, the various things in the world had no names. The sage observed the principles that govern them and on that basis made up names for them.” He also writes: “Now the name renge is not intended as a symbol for anything. It is the teaching expounded in the Lotus Sutra. The teaching expounded in the Lotus Sutra is pure and undefiled and explains the subtleties of cause and effect. Therefore, it is called renge, or lotus. This name designates the true entity that the meditation based on the Lotus Sutra reveals, and is not a metaphor or figurative term.”

Totaigisho

So, there is this exact correlation of Renge to the Buddha's teaching. Its also a metaphor. This passage goes on to explain how these two aspects are related.


Nichiren compared his 5 or 7 character daimoku to the 24 character teaching of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. So, when we're talking about the Lotus Sutra, it is of course the text itself, but this is inseparable from the ultimate impression that the narrative makes on the practitioner, and it is possible that any innumerable expressions of the sutra could make the same impression. At the time and in the place, the Kumarajiva translation has been determined to be most appropriate.

It seems that, at best, we can take the Lotus Sutra as a kind of commentary on the distilled, perennial import of the Buddha's teaching.


Whether its the historical Buddha's words or Buddha Vacana - it doesn't matter. Its not commentary - it is a sutra. To call it commentary is to conceive of it from, to put it maybe a little too simply, a Western perspective marked by obsession with historical fact. Believe it or not, not all people and cultures have the same obsession. For some people, its more important to find the ultimately true, which sometimes does not find a neat expression in historical happening. This might be said of the people who composed the Mahayana sutras. After 5 centuries of discussion, debate, and contemplation, questions that could not be answered by resort to contemporary canon emerged. Strict adherence to the canon meant a scholastic stuffiness - an almost mindless preservation of ritual. Some people, like Nagarjuna, apparently had no problem with treading into the questions without being tethered to the accepted canon to innovate and find answers. They turned out commentaries, but they also turned out "sutras". I generally agree with the rest of your take - these new sutras answered the burning questions and opened new modes of Buddhist experience. Just like your Sutra on the Texas Awakening with Kannon making a cameo appearance as the Virgin of Guadalupe airbrushed on the hood of a low rider.

I don't think anything I'm saying is new. You can find what I'm arguing in variation in Mahayana Buddhist discourse. They dress it up a little more in pious language, but its there.

SGI seems to accept that the Lotus is one part of an evolving tradition of ever more clearly refined religious truth, and I can accept and agree with that. It's just their Nippon-centric, Ikeda messianism that is too much wasabi for my palate.


Setting aside their adherence to the problematic Nichiren Shoshu ideology and Ikeda fetish, I think you're generally right about Soka Gakkai (SGI, for all its hype, is a flea on the tail of a dog. When we're talking about the real doctrines, they're fashioned in Japan and then processed into junk food for worldwide consumption by gaijin (a slightly derogatory word that means "foreigner" or maybe more accurately, "barbarian")(my characterization, btw)). The problem is that Soka Gakkai took a fairly well developed form of Buddhism and then adapted it for modern Japanese. They then exported these crib notes abroad thinking they would work for people whose character and world view was forged in completely different historical conditions. The problem is, people outside Japan are not Japanese, and they have different sensibilities. SGI screws up because they try to take these crib notes and then adapt it to the local people. You're trying to idiosyncratically distort what is already distorted to meet the needs of non-Japanese. What really needs to be done is that the actual source needs to be transmitted and then that needs to be allowed to ruminate for a few generations in the minds of locals who will then, on their own, make the teaching indigenous. And what's the source? Well, that's the rub, in't it?

It also gives me pause that Mahayanists reinterpreted the admonition to follow sutras that are "complete and final" to mean "Mahayana" rather than "unaltered in content.


I think that admonition comes from the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra. Mahayanists are interpreting that to mean exactly what the intention was.

But neither leaves much ground for Nichiren's arguments about the supremacy of the Lotus.


Well, the Lotus makes that claim for itself. And people in East Asia accepted the position of the Lotus as the supreme teaching long before Nichiren. There's a whole school of Buddhism called Tientai from China that is premised on this, and there is the Tendai in Japan established in the 9th century. Of course people disputed this, but my point is, Nichiren wasn't the first one making this argument, not by about 10 centuries, at least.

Queequeg, from what I can tell, seems to still be developing in his understanding of what implications the Sutra's history has on his faith, generally falling on the idea that "all truth is Buddhavacana," or something like that.


I didn't make this up.

Nichiren writes:
T’ien-t’ai states, “In the Golden Light Sutra it is recorded that ‘all the good teachings that exist in the world derive from this sutra. To have a profound knowledge of this world is itself Buddhism.’”

Kaimokusho

QUESTION: What is the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo?
Answer: All beings and their environments in any of the Ten Worlds are themselves entities of Myoho-renge-kyo.
Question: If so, then is it possible to say that all living beings, such as ourselves, are entities of the Mystic Law in its entirety?
Answer: Of course. The sutra says, “This reality [the true aspect of all phenomena] consists of the appearance, nature . . . and their consistency from beginning to end.”
The Great Teacher Miao-lo comments on this as follows: “The true aspect invariably manifests in all phenomena, and all phenomena invariably manifest in the ten factors. The ten factors invariably manifest in the Ten Worlds, and the Ten Worlds invariably manifest in life and its environment.”
T’ien-t’ai commented, “All phenomena consisting of the ten factors, Ten Worlds, and three thousand realms are entities of the Lotus Sutra.”
The Great Teacher Nan-yüeh says, “Question: What does Myoho-renge-kyo represent? Answer: Myō indicates that all living beings are myō, or mystic. Hō indicates that all living beings are hō, or the Law.” T’ien-t’ai also says, “The Law of all living beings is mystic.”

Totaigisho

QUESTION: The “Expedient Means” chapter in the first volume of the Lotus Sutra states, “The true aspect of all phenomena [can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature . . . and] their consistency from beginning to end.” What does this passage mean?
Answer: It means that all beings and environments in the Ten Worlds, from hell, the lowest, to Buddhahood, the highest, are without exception manifestations of Myoho-renge-kyo. If there is an environment, living beings are bound to dwell there. A commentary states, “Living beings and their environments always manifest Myoho-renge-kyo.” Another says: “The true aspect invariably manifests in all phenomena, and all phenomena invariably manifest in the ten factors. The ten factors invariably manifest in the Ten Worlds, and the Ten Worlds invariably manifest in life and its environment.” And “Both the beings and the environment of the Avīchi hell exist entirely within the life of the highest sage [Buddha], and what is more, the life and the environment of Vairochana [Buddha] never transcend the lives of common mortals.” These explanations are precise and clear. Who could have doubts? Thus, the entire realm of phenomena is no different than the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.

Shohojissosho

It is for this reason that T’ien-t’ai states, “All things having color or fragrance are manifestations of the Middle Way.” Commenting on this, Miao-lo adds: “However, although people may admit that all things having color or fragrance are manifestations of the Middle Way, they are nevertheless shocked and harbor doubts when they hear for the first time the doctrine that insentient beings possess the Buddha nature.”

Mokue nizo Kaigen no koto

I selected quotes of Nichiren quoting other sources just in case people want to object that these citations are from apocryphal writings. The point is, this is a long established Lotus Buddhism doctrine.

nameless said:
I guess I see it like evolution, evolution is a tinkerer, not an inventor. it works with what it gets, new things are placed upon old things,


I think that's a good way to describe it - we're dealing with cause and effect. Effect and cause are directly related - if we get effects totally unrelated to causes... I just don't know what we would have. Buddhism is alive and evolving. The moment it stops, it'll go the way of all those other dead religions.

Anyway, sorry to be long winded, but if I just dropped comments without explanation, I thought I might be too abrupt.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby dude » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:55 pm

The problem is that Soka Gakkai took a fairly well developed form of Buddhism and then adapted it for modern Japanese. They then exported these crib notes abroad thinking they would work for people whose character and world view was forged in completely different historical conditions. The problem is, people outside Japan are not Japanese, and they have different sensibilities. SGI screws up because they try to take these crib notes and then adapt it to the local people. You're trying to idiosyncratically distort what is already distorted to meet the needs of non-Japanese.

I don't understand. What is the distortion? How was the teaching "adapted"?
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Son of Buddha » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:40 pm

It also gives me pause that Mahayanists reinterpreted the admonition to follow sutras that are "complete and final" to mean "Mahayana" rather than "unaltered in content.



I think that admonition comes from the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra. Mahayanists are interpreting that to mean exactly what the intention was


That's found in Chapter 8 of the Nirvana Sutra V362-V370, (about four pages near the end of chapter 8)
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:28 pm

dude wrote:I don't understand. What is the distortion? How was the teaching "adapted"?


I don't know your level of knowledge of Soka Gakkai doctrines or Nichiren doctrines, so I really don't know where to start. If you're really curious, a google search is a good place to start and will turn up plenty of material exploring all the ways Soka Gakkai is wrong. If you want more scholarly quality stuff, a good place to start is the Nanzan University Journal of Japanese Religions archives which are available online. It includes many articles from the 60s, 70s and 80s on Soka Gakkai. I guess we can start with this: in the late 40s or early 50s, Josei Toda got together with Hori Nichiko, the Abbot of Taisekiji, the head temple of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism to formulate a daily practice for Soka Gakkai lay persons based on practices at Taisekiji. That practice was then marketed heavily as a magical formula to get you whatever your heart desired; to put more polish on it, they would talk about world peace through individual happiness, with happiness being very heavily defined by the materialism of the post-war period. They pretty much took the doctrine, Earthly Desires are Enlightenment (Bonnosokubodai) at face value and sold that to a populace recovering from the material and spiritual devastation of the Second World War. The two presidents, Toda, and then Ikeda, did a lot of interpreting of Nichiren's writings, as well as the Lotus Sutra, to arguably make it more relevant and accessible to modern Japanese. Some of it was arguably harmless. Some of it good. Some of it was, in my opinion, bad.

Beyond that, I'm not sure where to go. Happy to discuss.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby dude » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:05 am

Can't open the Nanzan articles and other sources don't look promising. Let's start with bonno soku bodai.
In what way were the teachings distorted?
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby nichirenista » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:46 am

I'm sorry I have nothing to contribute here other than: Left-Click --> Print (Seriously. It's so wonderful to see such a great discussion.)
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby shaunc » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:46 am

nichirenista wrote:I'm sorry I have nothing to contribute here other than: Left-Click --> Print (Seriously. It's so wonderful to see such a great discussion.)


Seconded.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Queequeg » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:58 pm

dude wrote:Can't open the Nanzan articles and other sources don't look promising. Let's start with bonno soku bodai.
In what way were the teachings distorted?

Its like I wrote above, people in Soka Gakkai tend to take that concept at face value and equate pursuit and fulfillment of their desires as Buddhist enlightenment.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby dude » Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:28 am

If they do, I would say their understanding of the principle is superficial at best.
Not getting what you want is one of the eight sufferings inherent in temporal existence.
Overcoming suffering is the purpose of Buddhist practice.
Changing karma isn't magic. It's cause and effect.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby nichirenista » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:40 am

This article, which unfortunately is now off limits to non-contributors, is an interview with Jacqueline Stone of Princeton. She says praying for material gains has a long history in Buddhism and strong basis in Buddhist scripture. She said that historically Buddhists in Asia have always viewed the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum. http://www.tricycle.com/special-section ... line-stone
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:05 pm

nichirenista wrote:This article, which unfortunately is now off limits to non-contributors, is an interview with Jacqueline Stone of Princeton. She says praying for material gains has a long history in Buddhism and strong basis in Buddhist scripture. She said that historically Buddhists in Asia have always viewed the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum. http://www.tricycle.com/special-section ... line-stone" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Yes, but it has more to do with our asian culture than Buddhist scripture.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby nichirenista » Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:31 pm

Jacqueline Stone writes that chanting/praying for material gains "has a strong basis in scripture." (In case anyone reading this isn't aware of who she is, here is a video of her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzJogeFyPE0 And this is her site at Princeton: http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/ She's really amazing. Nichiren Buddhism is her particular focus.)
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:04 pm

nichirenista wrote:[Stone] said that historically Buddhists in Asia have always viewed the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum.

"Always" is a big word, and it bothers me here. If it is warranted, we should expect to see "the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum" in the earliest sutras and, to my knowledge, we don't - or not much, anyway. There are sutras saying that living a virtuous lay life brings mundane peace of mind and happiness because family and neighbours will trust and respect anyone who lives in such a way, but that's quite a long way from putting material satisfaction on the same level as spiritual progress.
But perhaps I am missing something?

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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Jikan » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:40 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
nichirenista wrote:[Stone] said that historically Buddhists in Asia have always viewed the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum.

"Always" is a big word, and it bothers me here. If it is warranted, we should expect to see "the fulfillment of spiritual and temporal needs as being on a continuum" in the earliest sutras and, to my knowledge, we don't - or not much, anyway. There are sutras saying that living a virtuous lay life brings mundane peace of mind and happiness because family and neighbours will trust and respect anyone who lives in such a way, but that's quite a long way from putting material satisfaction on the same level as spiritual progress.
But perhaps I am missing something?


J Stone is a well-regarded and very careful scholar. I suspect that she put her claim forward in much more careful and less categorical language than nichirenista's post might indicate.

From what I've seen & as I've been taught, though, the "continuum" idea generally is true in East Asian Buddhism. Temporal and spiritual needs are not seen as radically divorced, nor is Dharma seen as a strictly "spiritual" practice. At the far end of the "temporal" spectrum, for instance: the reason the Lotus Sutra teachings were established formally and institutionally in Japan was because the Emperor had a desire to "protect the nation" by means of their spiritual power. That's part of the backstory of Nichiren's intervention into history.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:37 pm

nichirenista wrote:Jacqueline Stone writes that chanting/praying for material gains "has a strong basis in scripture." (In case anyone reading this isn't aware of who she is, here is a video of her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzJogeFyPE0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; And this is her site at Princeton: http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; She's really amazing. Nichiren Buddhism is her particular focus.)


Does she list any "quotes from scripture" that say we should pray for material gains?

Don't get me wrong I think material gains can be a byproduct attained from the numerous positive merit/karma derived from Buddhist practice, however I don't believe material gains should be the "goal" of our Buddhist practice.

We should chant/meditate to see our Buddha nature......and if we get a new car in the process of seeking our Buddha Nature.....well that is cool.

However I think it is backwards to chant for GREED and expect to gain that which is devoid of greed as a reward.

In a Ekayana Sutra the Queen Srimala Sutra it is said any wealth a Bodhisattva receives in this world should be used to spread the Dharma and assist the poor ,needy and friendless.

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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:31 pm

Tien Tai actually said material gain is one of 4 goals of Buddhist practice. This is a problem only when you ignore the other 3, nurturing your strengths, working on your faults, and realizing your Buddha nature (which often finds expression in the other 3). Other types of Buddhism deride the first goal, much of western Buddhism would appear to pretend that the first and last goal do not exist and to them Buddhism is only a psychotherapy. So mayhap we should find a middle way between "chanting for stuff is wrong" and "chanting for stuff is right". Its right, but its not the whole picture.
I seem to have been like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

- Sir Isaac Newton
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby nichirenista » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:17 pm

Jikan wrote:J Stone is a well-regarded and very careful scholar. I suspect that she put her claim forward in much more careful and less categorical language than nichirenista's post might indicate.

From what I've seen & as I've been taught, though, the "continuum" idea generally is true in East Asian Buddhism. Temporal and spiritual needs are not seen as radically divorced, nor is Dharma seen as a strictly "spiritual" practice. At the far end of the "temporal" spectrum, for instance: the reason the Lotus Sutra teachings were established formally and institutionally in Japan was because the Emperor had a desire to "protect the nation" by means of their spiritual power. That's part of the backstory of Nichiren's intervention into history.


It's a virtual transcription. The entire article used to be online. I have it downloaded, though, and I can scan the quote from her. Her argument is that what we have in the United States is something called "Buddhist Modernism." Western intellectuals extracted from the Buddhist world the aspects of Buddhism that they thought fit best with what they considered "rational," and they left in Asia the things that they didn't like. This means that things that have always been central to Buddhist practice -- such as chanting, praying, faith -- became marginalized when brought to the United States. I'll upload a scan later.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby nichirenista » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:19 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:
nichirenista wrote:Jacqueline Stone writes that chanting/praying for material gains "has a strong basis in scripture." (In case anyone reading this isn't aware of who she is, here is a video of her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzJogeFyPE0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; And this is her site at Princeton: http://www.princeton.edu/~jstone/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; She's really amazing. Nichiren Buddhism is her particular focus.)


Does she list any "quotes from scripture" that say we should pray for material gains?


I'll upload a scan of the article later. Don't have it at the moment. But what she concludes the article "The Final Word" by saying is that it's not that the Lotus Sutra is all about making money and being rich and all materialism. It's that chanting the Odaimoku is said to bring about every positive end. Chanting Odaimoku is said to bring spiritual and material well being.
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Re: Lotus Authenticity and Implications...

Postby dude » Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:10 am

Myoho-Nameless wrote:Tien Tai actually said material gain is one of 4 goals of Buddhist practice. This is a problem only when you ignore the other 3, nurturing your strengths, working on your faults, and realizing your Buddha nature (which often finds expression in the other 3). Other types of Buddhism deride the first goal, much of western Buddhism would appear to pretend that the first and last goal do not exist and to them Buddhism is only a psychotherapy. So mayhap we should find a middle way between "chanting for stuff is wrong" and "chanting for stuff is right". Its right, but its not the whole picture.



That's exactly what I would say.
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