real question

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Nemo
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Re: real question

Postby Nemo » Sat May 26, 2012 1:40 am

According to Muslims, Jews and Christians we are idolaters. There is no doubt in this.

Priceless artifacts of Buddhist history are still destroyed with alarming regularity.
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... C0%2C1%2C0
Sophistry generally has had little effect on zealots swinging a hammers in the last 1300 years.

I feel no need to apologize for my idolatry. I think the monotheists following Abrhamic faiths should be the ones apologizing.

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Wesley1982
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Re: real question

Postby Wesley1982 » Sat May 26, 2012 3:25 am


krodha
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Re: real question

Postby krodha » Sat May 26, 2012 4:42 am


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KathyLauren
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Re: real question

Postby KathyLauren » Sat May 26, 2012 5:02 am


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Nemo
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Re: real question

Postby Nemo » Sat May 26, 2012 1:20 pm


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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: real question

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 26, 2012 2:17 pm

If you are looking at this from an Abramic (Judeo/Christian/Islamic) point of view, then yes, it is idolatry, because the concept of idolatry itself is an abramic concept, as is the concept of "worship" in this sense. But this is taking a concept out of one context and trying to apply it to a different context.

if I, as a Buddhist, brought a Buddhist point of view to a Christian concept, I might ask, "isn't belief in God just an extension of the idea of an existent 'self'?" and from a Buddhist point oif view the answer would be yes, but from a Christian point of view the answer might be no.

So, if you mix these different contexts the answer is going to be confusing.

The regarding of idols as actual beings, or as objects of devotion depends on the notion that the beings represented in these images, statues and so forth have an independently functioning reality to them. For example, Catholics pray before a statue of Mary because they believe Mary exists outside of the mind of the worshiper and exercises a kind of conscious awareness that hears the prayers of the worshiper.

In Buddhism, all Buddhas and so forth represented as images are in fact ultimately aspects (or, in Vajrayana Buddhism, manifestations), of one's own true mind, the awakened state free of confusion. In discussing whether one regards them as 'real' or not, one must also ask to what degree one sees oneself as 'real'. In buddhism, seeing yourself as real (as Christians regard themselves as "real') might be considered a type of idol worship.

To say that the deities and various celestial beings in Buddhism are real or not is actually beside the point.
Are they any more "real" than the person who "worships" them?
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

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Wesley1982
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Re: real question

Postby Wesley1982 » Sat May 26, 2012 10:42 pm


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Wayfarer
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Re: real question

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 27, 2012 11:40 am

I think the distinction is as follows: it becomes idolatry when you are seeking a benefit, boon or assistance, in some matter, by way of the power imputed to the idol/symbol/form.

This certainly can apply to Buddhism, just as much as any other religion, and only insofar as Buddhism is a religion (bearing in mind that 'dharma' and 'religion' are not synonymous). But I don't think the original meaning of (for example) invocation of the name of the Buddha or the Bodhisattvas or bowing before the form of the Buddha is 'idolatrous'. The original meaning and intent is only to embody, serve and understand dharma, for the sake of understanding it, and for no other reason. I have found that bowing is a way of acknowledging that the teaching reveals something I don't understand, that is beyond my understanding. It is not supplication for an advantage. In other words, this is something undertaken solely for its own sake. As soon as it become a means to an end - a way to secure good fortune, a better rebirth, better days ahead, and so on, then it tilts towards idolatry, because then you are reducing it to a symbol for 'what I want', thereby subordinating the entire teaching to your needs. If you can really look upon such symbols with no ulterior motive and without any thought of gain, there is no possibility or idolatory arising.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

acarefreeman
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Re: real question

Postby acarefreeman » Sun May 27, 2012 3:22 pm



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