Is Buddhism hopeless?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:32 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:Samatha simply calms your mind and may temporarily supress some gross defilements, that's about it (in general).


I'm not sure what you are referring to, but shamatha as taught in the Tibetan traditions has nothing to do with this.

Well, I'm sorry. What does it have to do with?

Thank you,

Kevin
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:37 pm

AlexanderS wrote:i don't think you will reborn as a stinkbug if that helps.


Honestly? I don't really think it matters. Buddhism does posit that this mind-energy inside me will transmigrate; the Abrahamic faiths posit I will go to heaven, hell or purgatory; and ancient Egyptian religion states I will be questioned by Osiris. I'm definitely not ready for that last one. :lol:

Most theists' perspective of heaven/hell is so grossly exagerrated it's not even funny. Streets paved with gold? Seeing our loved ones? It's a fantasy-land. If you really get into theology, heaven is nothing more and nothing less than total immersion in God. And where is heaven? It isn't anyplace. It's beyond time and space. So, there's no bodies - so how can you recognize people? Our "souls" don't have the image of anything - except God, according to theology. And God is Spirit - which has no dimensions.

Most theists also delude themselves about getting into heaven. Unless you're a Saint Francis of Assisi or a Mother Teresa, you're not getting into heaven automatically. Sorry. If you're not ready for the immaterialistic, pure vision of the Godhead, you're not ready for heaven. For most people, hell would be a more entertaining delusion - except, apparently, you spend your eternity in hell in utter despair...and you can't even commit suicide 'cause you're already dead.

Dead is dead as far as I'm concerned and death is separation. Whatever options there are beyond death, everything in this life is paltry in comparison.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:44 pm

Namdrol wrote:Had you not practice dharma in the past, you would not be interested in it today.


Do you mean past lives, or 12 years ago when an ex-girlfriend gave me Steve Hagen's introduction for my birthday?

If the former, I don't believe you. I have no reason to, honestly, as I have no experience in that area. I also contend that because the nations are increasingly globalized, with greater ease of access to information, that it's much more difficult to avoid Dharma, plus there are a great deal of sociological and philosophical reasons for it catching on with so many people. That's my limited view. Plus, I remember reading that a person is considered to have had a "good rebirth" if you're born in an area where Dharma is available - which makes me think that there must have been a bunch of bad rebirths in 13th century Europe.

If the latter, then yes, I agree.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Acchantika » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:51 pm

Virgo wrote: What does it have to do with?

    The waves of gross and subtle thoughts subside in their own place.
    The stream of mind rests unmoved in itself.
    May we be free from the stains of agitation, stupor, and dullness,
    And establish a still ocean of calm abiding.
~ Rangjung Dorje
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:53 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote: What does it have to do with?

    The waves of gross and subtle thoughts subside in their own place.
    The stream of mind rests unmoved in itself.
    May we be free from the stains of agitation, stupor, and dullness,
    And establish a still ocean of calm abiding
~ Rangjung Dorje

Hi Acchantika,

I'm not sure that differs from what I said.

Virgo:

"Samatha simply calms your mind and may temporarily supress some gross defilements, that's about it (in general)"

Kevin
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:56 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:Samatha simply calms your mind and may temporarily supress some gross defilements, that's about it (in general).


I'm not sure what you are referring to, but shamatha as taught in the Tibetan traditions has nothing to do with this.


Yes, it is the same. Please read, for example Sakya Pandita, Tsongkhapa, etc.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:58 pm

Epistemes wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Had you not practice dharma in the past, you would not be interested in it today.


Do you mean past lives, or 12 years ago when an ex-girlfriend gave me Steve Hagen's introduction for my birthday?

If the former, I don't believe you.


Your conceptual limitations are irrelevant.

N
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Acchantika » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:21 pm

Virgo wrote:Hi Acchantika,

I'm not sure that differs from what I said.

Virgo:

"Samatha simply calms your mind and may temporarily supress some gross defilements, that's about it (in general)"

Kevin

Best to ask a qualified teacher, which I am not.

According to the quote, gross defilements are not temporarily supressed but "subside in their own place".

Shamatha is effortless, always.

Supression requires effort, always.

So, always, supression is not shamatha.

Therefore, the difference between the quote and what you said is the difference between shamatha and not-shamatha.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:29 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:Hi Acchantika,

I'm not sure that differs from what I said.

Virgo:

"Samatha simply calms your mind and may temporarily supress some gross defilements, that's about it (in general)"

Kevin

Best to ask a qualified teacher, which I am not.

According to the quote, gross defilements are not temporarily supressed but "subside in their own place".

Shamatha is effortless, always.

Supression requires effort, always.

So, always, supression is not shamatha.

Therefore, the difference between the quote and what you said is the difference between shamatha and not-shamatha.


No, Kevin is basically correct in what he says, and it does not contradict Ranjung Dorje.

Shamatha by nature only suppresses afflictions, it does not uproot them. It doesn't mean that when you are doing shamatha you are supressing anything.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:57 pm

Acchantika wrote:According to the quote, gross defilements are not temporarily supressed but "subside in their own place".

Shamatha is effortless, always.

Supression requires effort, always.

So, always, supression is not shamatha.

Therefore, the difference between the quote and what you said is the difference between shamatha and not-shamatha.

Shamatha does require effort, at least initially, for placement of the mind on the object. As it deepens, less and less effort is needed as the mind becomes calm and starts to prefer relying on the object of meditation as it's primary object. No effort is needed to suppress the hindrances, although you can perform countermeasures to fight against them, as they become naturally supressed indirectly by the pleasure of shamatha, so to speak. In deep states, some afflictions can be totally temporarily abandoned. But even this does not root out afflictions, as far as I know.

In tantra, shamatha can be used in different ways. For example, placing the mind on a form visualized in the body, can manipulate your winds, clear you channels, and so on.

Kev
Last edited by Virgo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Acchantika » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:04 pm

Namdrol wrote:
No, Kevin is basically correct in what he says, and it does not contradict Ranjung Dorje.

Shamatha by nature only suppresses afflictions, it does not uproot them. It doesn't mean that when you are doing shamatha you are supressing anything.


I don't disagree with this, I wasn't trying to debate meditation practices, just represent the other side.

In my opinion, I am skeptical that the shamatha and vipassana practices Virgo characterises as "crap" are equal to or representative of those taught in the Tibetan tradition, including by Sakya Pandita, Tsongkhapa etc., even if I did indeed misunderstand the context in which the word "supressing" was being used.

At the very least, I don't think they are crap, so now we have a balanced view.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:08 pm

Acchantika wrote:I don't disagree with this, I wasn't trying to debate meditation practices, just represent the other side.

In my opinion, I am skeptical that the shamatha and vipassana practices Virgo characterises as "crap" are equal to or representative of those taught in the Tibetan tradition, including by Sakya Pandita, Tsongkhapa etc., even if I did indeed misunderstand the context in which the word "supressing" was being used.

At the very least, I don't think they are crap, so now we have a balanced view.

I don't think samatha is crap (and I didn't say it is). It can be very useful. Nor do I think vipashyana done correctly is crap either, not in the slightest sense. It is excellent. My argument is what real vipassana entails, according to my own experiences (and Buddhist texts).


Kevin
Last edited by Virgo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:31 pm

Epistemes wrote:Buddhists believe in rebirth. Buddhists also claim that there is no chronological first beginning to the series of past lives. We have all of us been reborn an infinite number of times. No God is needed to start the series off – for there simply was no first beginning. Things have been around (somewhere) for all eternity.

If rebirth is true, realistically we really have no hope. It is a hopeless doctrine.


No - beings take rebirth compulsively (uncontrollably) due to the ripening of karma, primarily negative karma. So we can purify karma and only take higher rebirths. As long as we don't produce and more karma that could result in birth in the lower realms then we're set (not really but sort of). However in future rebirths we invariably create karma for lower rebirths. This is because our minds are clouded by ignorance and even that is seasoned with habits of greed, hatred, anger, jealously and desire. Still all is not lost: we can attain liberation by pursuing the path of the Arhat, Pretyakabuddha, or the Bodhisattva path culminating in perfect Buddhahood. Of if we have faith in the Pure Lands we could go to Amitabha's Pure Land at death.

So it's not hopeless. Liberation is possible.

If Buddhism is correct, then unless I attain enlightenment or something like it in this lifetime, I have no hope.


Positive qualities (and negative qualities too) carry over from life to life.

Clearly, I am not going to attain enlightenment in this life. Many of you will be inclined to accept that as true about myself and about your own enlightenment, as well, since enlightenment is a supreme and extremely rare achievement - not for the likes of someone like me.


There are many levels of enlightenment. It's true that the classical expositions of the levels and paths of the Sravaka systems and the Mahayana systems emphasize true supramundane enlightenment.

However in our world if you intentionally reduce greed, hatred and desire and try to increase one's wisdom, this is a form of enlightenment. If you reject harming beings, that is a form of enlightenment. If you embrace helping beings that is a form of enlightenment. If you pursue virtue and reject non-virtue, that is a form of enlightenment.

Then actually the classical qualities of enlightenment are actually something that people can manifest. All branches of Buddhism have beings who demonstrate these qualities (or at least some of these qualities). I hope you meet them because then your view might be transformed. Then you might gain confidence that you yourself could cultivate some of these qualities in your own life (or more correctly cultivate them more deeply). For example, we can all work on loving all beings 24/7. And because this is doable, you could take that as evidence of hope.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Acchantika » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:28 pm

Virgo wrote:I don't think samatha is crap [...] Nor do I think vipashyana done correctly is crap


Then we don't disagree and I misunderstood you, my apologies.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:38 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:I don't think samatha is crap [...] Nor do I think vipashyana done correctly is crap


Then we don't disagree and I misunderstood you, my apologies.

There is no need to apologize to me. But thank you Acchantika. Hopefully, some way, I can be of service to you and all the other people.

This is my only hope.

Kevin
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby kirtu » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:09 am

Epistemes - every moment you are responsible for your mind. Moment by moment you can liberate yourself from negativities and generate a positive mind. So moment by moment you can actively generate the Buddhamind.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:53 am

(Buddhists believe in rebirth. Buddhists also claim that there is no chronological first beginning to the series of past lives. We have all of us been reborn an infinite number of times. No God is needed to start the series off – for there simply was no first beginning. Things have been around (somewhere) for all eternity.)

We need to understand why God as a creator cannot exist. There is a deep analysis for this. The reason is not because there is no beggining then there is no god. The reason is because of emptiness of inherent existance. In case you have understood this concept, you will be able to tell why it is impossible for God as a creator to exist.


(If rebirth is true, realistically we really have no hope. It is a hopeless doctrine.)

I think because there is rebirth, there is hope. Imagine if we are in the hell and there is no rebirth. It will be end of the world, because forever you will be in the hell. Buddhism doesn't accept permanance concept. Consequently, our stay permanently in the hell is rejected. SO, there is big hope to reborn again and again until finally we stop this reborn. Rebirth is beautiful, isn't it? It gives us unlimited chances to be a Buddha.


(I cannot imagine being reborn as a stinkbug precisely because there is nothing to imagine. I quite simply would not be there at all. If rebirth is true, neither I nor any of my loved ones survive death. With rebirth, for me – the actual person I am – the story really is over. There may be another being living its life in some sort of causal connection with the life that was me (influenced by my karma), but for me there is no more. There is no more to be said about me.)

My comments will be similar with above comments.

(If Buddhism is correct, then unless I attain enlightenment or something like it in this lifetime, I have no hope. Clearly, I am not going to attain enlightenment in this life. Many of you will be inclined to accept that as true about myself and about your own enlightenment, as well, since enlightenment is a supreme and extremely rare achievement - not for the likes of someone like me. So I and all my friends and family have in themselves no hope. More than that, from a Buddhist perspective, in the scale of infinite time, the significance of each of us as such, as the person we currently are, converges on nothing - for each of us lives our lives and then perishes. Then we're lost forever.)

This feeling I think is quite common. In Lamrim, it is explained that in case we cannot achieve enlightenment, it is fine, but at least we have to be able to be reborned again as human. There are conditions, which will condition us to be reborn as human and they are explained in Lamrim. So, don't worry about it.
In case, you think you can exceed that requirement, then you can try to find what is emptiness both at intellectual and direct experience level. It is this understanding of emptiness which free us from reborn. So, you just need to put your whole energy into this key term called emptiness.
There are numerous meditation method you can use to understand it. Find something which is suitable for you. If I can give a suggestions, you can look into this 4 books to get a good understanding about meditation and how to practice it both during meditation and after meditation:
1. Mindfulness in Plain English.
2. Natural Liberation.
3. Vivid Awareness.
4. The Flight of Garuda.
Once we understand the technique well, we can have a feeling actually enlightenment is not difficult and it is not something very far away from us. The difficult part is do we want to practice it or not? How can we be effective in our training?

(Again, if rebirth is true, we really have no hope. It is a hopeless doctrine.)

Do you still think rebirth is hopeless? :rolling:
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby Adamantine » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:16 am

Actually there is an entire chapter titled "Hopelessness" in Chogyam Trungpa's book "The Lion's Roar: Introduction to Tantra" in which he explains the different yanas from an experiential POV. If you're going to think about hopelessness, I'd read this and up your game a bit: he discusses it in a much more profound and useful way. (Crazy Wisdom is a great book, but this one boasts a chapter titled after your theme, so...) Here is a direct link to the chapter: http://books.google.com/books?id=8TVESqI_V-oC&lpg=PT37&ots=ReL370CPCg&dq=trungpa%20lion's%20roar%20hopeless&pg=PT27#v=onepage&q&f=false
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby catmoon » Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:13 am

If you want to hope for something, hope for progress, the development of universal loving kindness. Stop and think for a moment what your life would be like if you were utterly free from greed, anger, and fear. Think what it would be like to be overflowing with goodwill, kindness and generosity. Think of the impact you might have on others. We may not attain enlightenment this time around, but great progress is possible and there are living examples to prove it.
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Re: Is Buddhism hopeless?

Postby 5heaps » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:26 am

Epistemes wrote:So I and all my friends and family have in themselves no hope. More than that, from a Buddhist perspective, in the scale of infinite time, the significance of each of us as such, as the person we currently are, converges on nothing - for each of us lives our lives and then perishes. Then we're lost forever.

Again, if rebirth is true, we really have no hope. It is a hopeless doctrine.

your logic is not internally consistent--for if rebirth is true then later moments (or later lives) depend on previous moments (or previous lives), and so the significance of you and your actions could not be more important.

as for whether rebirth is in fact true, this is a mechanical question about the mind ie. is it the brain as a collection, is it one particular part of the brain, a particular collection of atoms, a particular atom, etc. you just have to examine the multitude of reasonings for yourself, and train to gain more sophisticated methods of inquiry (ie. a microscope for your mind / meditation / masterful introspection)
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