The devil?

The devil?

Postby janpeterotto » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:29 pm

Coming from a Christian background the devil was an interesting topic, a force in life, always present. But I realized after some years in the Amitabha faith that I am the devil, or rather the devil is me. And this is very liberating. It is difficult for my Christian friends to understand, they often feel the need of the dual conception. But in Amitabha the compassion works only when I admit my total depravity and ruthless devilness.

Anyone resonate with this?
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Re: The devil?

Postby garudha » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:32 pm

Very much so. Thanks for posting.
~ "The requested topic does not exist" ~
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Re: The devil?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:31 pm

janpeterotto wrote:Coming from a Christian background the devil was an interesting topic, a force in life, always present. But I realized after some years in the Amitabha faith that I am the devil, or rather the devil is me. And this is very liberating. It is difficult for my Christian friends to understand, they often feel the need of the dual conception. But in Amitabha the compassion works only when I admit my total depravity and ruthless devilness.

Anyone resonate with this?


Yes, in fact I think this was something Shinran believed as well (I mention this because I found his expression very powerful). It may take me some time to dig up the quote (I think it's in the Tannisho), but Shinran says he identifies with Ajatasatru (the evil son who slays his father and almost kills his mother, who approaches the Buddha only seeking escape from all of his evil deeds) rather than identifying with Vaidehi (the innocent mother, set upon all sides by suffering, largely caused by her own son, just looking for an escape from the world). Pretty powerful statement that really hits home when you see, with open eyes, the true depths of what you're capable of.
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Re: The devil?

Postby plwk » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:59 pm

Roasted honeyed lotus nuts, anyone? :popcorn:
But in Amitabha the compassion works only when I admit my total depravity and ruthless devilness.
If I were in your shoes, if, this is what I would identify with, in consonance with what 'Amitabha' stands for...
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements."
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements."

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that -- for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person -- there is no development of the mind."
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that -- for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones -- there is development of the mind."

Pabhassara Sutta

In a similar fashion, kulaputras, when I regard all beings with my Buddha cakshur (eye), I see that hidden within the kleshas (barbs) of raga (greed), lobha (confusion), dvesha (hatred) and moha (obscuration) there is seated augustly and unmovingly the Tathagata jnana , the Tathagata-vision and the Tathagata kaya. kulaputras, all beings, though they find themselves with all sorts of kleshas, have a tathagata-garbha that is eternally unsullied, and that is replete with virtues no different from my own.

Whether or not buddhas appear in the world, the tathagata-garbha of all beings are eternal and unchanging.
It is just that they are covered by kleshas of sentient beings.

Tathagatagarbha Sutra

But of course, every man to his own menu...
Last edited by plwk on Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The devil?

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:00 pm

Very true and relevant for my situation in practice right now, thank you for sharing.
Without this kind of brutal honesty, I think we'll only keep tricking ourselves into the same old pains.

plwk: isn't this precisely what the OP is saying? It's not that this foolish self is somehow a bad thing that we utterly reject in preference to Amida. Our tendency to put our little identities on a special pedestal demanding all our energy is so strong, so if that's all that saying we're evil/etc. were, it would be trying to wash out mud with muddy water. Same old nonsense.

My impression of this "evil self" is that for many beings, including myself, we are utterly confused and overwhelmed by the strength of our egocentric karma. Every goodness I try to cultivate ends up revealing some hope for personal advantage, and when things go badly or are difficult, energy and intention peter out. At that moment, the self-centeredness of my supposed good intentions becomes painfully clear. Habitual delusions seem to have a mind of their own.
For instance, while burning alive with lust, trying to tell myself of the disadvantages of lust or the undesirability of the body etc. has proven totally futile.
That's because Self-Power has already cultivated and grown this lustful desire, and is hard-pressed to suddenly abandon what its tenderly cared for. Admitting that this self is evil, or foolish, or the devil, prevents the mistake of relying on the same thing that gave rise to the lust to somehow be able to abandon it. Therefore, we rely on something else. Some call it the Tathagata, some the luminous mind, some Amida.
If we don't admit the harm of Self-Power, which we identify so closely with, then we cannot hope to put it in perspective and see that yes, what we desire so dearly, or our fondest hopes for others, are centered in a perspective with roots deep in ignorance, and can only ever lead to further harm or at least be ultimately ineffective.
As you say, to each his own. For me, trying to rely on an abstraction of my own Buddha-nature or luminous mind sounded beautiful, but in the inferno of lust or my temper, totally inaccessible.
Instead, Pure Land offers people of certain dispositions an alternative.

Also worth mentioning is that if we merely set down Self-Power without then letting ourselves be swept up by Other-Power, the resultant behaviors bear a remarkable resemblance to what we would've done in the first place! This is where I think a lot of Devil talk or self-loathing falls short: with no alternative, old habits reign supreme.
Such is the need for some, like myself, for an alternative that isn't in the realm of "self applying antidotes to self" and the like.

That is my understanding at least, and how I see Pure Land harmonizing with the sorts of things you quote instead of being in opposition.
Last edited by duckfiasco on Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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Re: The devil?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:35 pm

Awesome reply!
Of course removing the kleshas is the key.
In Theravada they do this with sati (Mindfulness). Mindfulness in the Sutta Nipata is a very strong corrective type of Mindfulness, while Mindfulness elsewhere in the Pali canon (and in secondary sources like Mindfulness in Plain English) is more of a remembrance or or an awareness of something. Bhante G says that once we shine the light of awareness on the arising of a klesha, then it tends to evaporate on its own. The more mindful we become, the more we notice the poisons arising. The point of the Shinran paraphrase/quote is that he'd been mindful enough to notice that anything that arose from his calculating (self-centered) mind ultimately had the poisons at its root, that he could no longer identify his self-centered identity with the innocent Vaidehi, and that only by relying on Tathagata could he escape his own evil.
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Re: The devil?

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:46 pm

Thank you Pork Chop, your reply is much clearer and more succinct. :cheers:
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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Re: The devil?

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:16 pm

I wouldn't endorse the idea that the self or even the ego is synonymous with 'the devil'. Quite why the notion of the devil became so much more prominent in Christianity than in Buddhism is an interesting question that would take a lot of research. But as the posts above say, the fundamental idea in Buddhism is that 'mind' (being, nature) is 'originally pure' but 'obscured by adventitious defilements', a consequence of which is avidya, 'defiled cognition' (or not seeing the world right.)

But the imagery of 'devil' goes much further than - it connotes being willfully bent on mischief, destruction, and sorrow.

But in Amitabha the compassion works only when I admit my total depravity and ruthless devilness.


I don't suppose your former Christianity was Calvinist, was it?
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Re: The devil?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 01, 2014 1:29 am

In Buddhism, there's a parallel to the devil in Mara, the demon of temptation.
Mara is explicitly said to be the 5 skandhas: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and discernment.
When one falsely identifies the self with the 5 skandhas, it's said that one has fallen to Mara.
Mara's talked about a lot more in Theravada I think than in Mahayana.
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Re: The devil?

Postby Wayfarer » Thu May 01, 2014 1:51 am

I am aware of the parallels between Mara and the Devil. But it is a curious fact how much less attention Mara gets (although in the Christian West, 'the devil' assumed much greater significance later in history, than at the time of the Bible.)

But there are clear parallels between the scene where the Devil tempts Christ in the Wilderness at the end of his 40-day fast, and the story of 'Mara's Army' trying to shake Gautama's resolve under the Bodhi tree by appearing as maidens and fearsome demons.

I suppose you could argue that both are in some way symbolic depictions of the forces of greed and hatred which are really within the mind. But the fact that in both cases, the hero has to go through an ordeal which involves 'defeating the demon' is more than coincidence.
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Re: The devil?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 01, 2014 2:02 am

Wayfarer wrote:I am aware of the parallels between Mara and the Devil.


Wasn't trying to be condescending, hope that's not how it came off.

Wayfarer wrote: But it is a curious fact how much less attention Mara gets (although in the Christian West, 'the devil' assumed much greater significance later in history, than at the time of the Bible.)


Yeah by the time you get to Mahayana, Mara's getting his prediction for Buddhahood.
Actually, it's probably good that they took emphasis off before they got too fixated on the entity in the dualistic sense.
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Re: The devil?

Postby Wayfarer » Thu May 01, 2014 2:42 am

No not at all.

I noted in another thread, in the early Christian era it was thought by some that even the Devil would be eventually redeemed, but ultimately the idea of 'eternally damned' became the accepted norm. I think that sense of fear and hatred and 'otherness' is indeed at the root of the significance the devil assumes in Western thinking. Whereas in Hindu iconography, 'ignorance' is portrayed as being the dwarf under the foot of the deity.

All that said, I think there is a reality which is represented by the devil (and Mara, for that matter). Baudelaire - 'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist' - presumably so he can go about his work un-remarked. And I'm sure that there's something in that. (Cut to sinister laughter......)
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Re: The devil?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu May 01, 2014 5:28 am

Wayfarer wrote:Cut to sinister laughter......

... echoing around the empty stage.

And if you don't understand that, see Phantom of the Opera and you will.

:smile:
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Re: The devil?

Postby lobster » Fri May 02, 2014 9:28 am

The Devil is us. :jawdrop: Oh well . . . not so surprising after all . . .

I too thought duckfiasco gave an excellent reply.

The idea of wilfulness and compassion for Lucifer is part of an emerging compassion for our samsaric demons and those other hell dwellers . . .

Strangely enough in some traditions the Shakyamuni gained enlightenment whilst seeing Lucifer/morning star/Venus . . .

So personally I feel the capacity to forgive ourself, or have compassion is directly linked to finding the nature and location of heaven/Pureland and hell/samsara

:woohoo: time for picnics in the hell realms?

:popcorn:
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Re: The devil?

Postby Z0rb » Fri May 02, 2014 6:22 pm

Greetings,

My education was based on Christian. My whole family are Christians, I am currently anti-Christian. In fact, any religion bother me. There are good things that we take them, but in General is bad for humans. The devil is antagonistic force for some , for others it is just a release.

The Devil it's the archangel Lucifer who said "I'm born to be free - I don't serve!" In the Tree of Life the Devil goes from consciousness and harmony to intellect and logic - against all dogma, never caring for rules, freely uncompromising and independent. There are no restrictions, no limitations, nothing is forbidden. The Devil is aware of the darkness, he knows all the shadows and will go on researching even at a high price. - http://www.corax.com/tarot/cards/index.html?devil" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


I'm talking about Tarot deck, of course. The number of the letter "The Devil", is 15. Using the method of Numerology, 1 + 5 = 6. Now, According to the teachings of Dzogchen/Dream Yoga, Dreamwork must be performed through the six syllables - A, Aaah, Ha, Sha, Sa, Ma. Connected to the realms of Gods, Demigods, humans, animals, ghosts and hell. You have too the six yogas of Naropa. To finish, the cycly of samsara is based on birth+old age+sickness+death+rebirth= 5 and it's governed by desire+hatred+ignorance=3. 5+3=15, the number of the Devil.

Keep in mind that I don't know much about Buddhism, this is all new to me, nor my beliefs are "compatible" in totality with Buddhism. But, I think it is an excellent opportunity to see things differently. I hope helped.
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Re: The devil?

Postby hop.pala » Fri May 02, 2014 8:18 pm

I'm talking about Tarot deck, of course. The number of the letter "The Devil", is 15. Using the method of Numerology, 1 + 5 = 6. Now, According to the teachings of Dzogchen/Dream Yoga, Dreamwork must be performed through the six syllables - A, Aaah, Ha, Sha, Sa, Ma. Connected to the realms of Gods, Demigods, humans, animals, ghosts and hell. You have too the six yogas of Naropa. To finish, the cycly of samsara is based on birth+old age+sickness+death+rebirth= 5 and it's governed by desire+hatred+ignorance=3. 5+3=15, the number of the Devil


O man.
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Re: The devil?

Postby Z0rb » Fri May 02, 2014 11:16 pm

hop.pala wrote:O man.

which means?
btw, its 5*3 and not 5+3 as i said above.
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Re: The devil?

Postby janpeterotto » Tue May 06, 2014 8:26 am

Talk about a living sangha ! Such good responses !


Wayfarer wrote:I wouldn't endorse the idea that the self or even the ego is synonymous with 'the devil'. Quite why the notion of the devil became so much more prominent in Christianity than in Buddhism is an interesting question that would take a lot of research. But as the posts above say, the fundamental idea in Buddhism is that 'mind' (being, nature) is 'originally pure' but 'obscured by adventitious defilements', a consequence of which is avidya, 'defiled cognition' (or not seeing the world right.)

But the imagery of 'devil' goes much further than - it connotes being willfully bent on mischief, destruction, and sorrow.

But in Amitabha the compassion works only when I admit my total depravity and ruthless devilness.


I don't suppose your former Christianity was Calvinist, was it?


No my background is catholic. I do find that I crucified Christ. One catholic priest/friend said: like in the Gibson film of The Passion you can see the devil promenade around when Christ is scourged, we have to realize we are that devil. We kill the Christ. That is who we are.

Shakyamuni did not have God. For me God could not exist in Shakyamuni who was intellect himself, separating intellect, rationalizing sin and evil -- the prince of the world. Shakyamuni Buddha was the devil himself, he trusted only intellect. Intellect saw the intellect, the devil saw the devil. As a catholic I called it "conscience". So Shakyamuni courageously trusted his conscience, and most effectively so. His sword can therefore cut my suffering, my regrets, my restraints, my ignorance, my delving into lust.

For me the last thing I would do is to talk about my "pure mind" or of Amitabhas compassion from my own easygoing perspective.

Thanks sangha for such a support !!
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Re: The devil?

Postby Zhen Li » Tue May 06, 2014 11:44 pm

Jan, have you by any chance read Alan Watts' Myth and ritual in Christianity? You may find it very interesting, since it looks at Catholic Christianity from the mystical perspective, i.e. looking at how the 'myth and ritual' in Christianity can be viewed a series of symbols for human life. While he's more well known for writing on Zen, I actually think this is Alan Watts' best book. It helped me to appreciate Christian culture, while being a Buddhist, or from a Buddhist perspective. The book is available for free on the internet archive, I believe.
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