Rebirth and morality.

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

Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:06 am

shel,

I talked about liberation, enlightenment. There are innumerable benefits one can reap even from hearing the word "buddha". It's just that Zen is about sudden enlightenment, seeing the nature. If one cannot see the nature it's only aspiring to reach Zen but not actually obtaining it. The true nature is dependent origination. Confirming dependent origination is perceiving the mechanism of birth and death.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:49 am

shel wrote:
Astus wrote:And there are those who practice Zen throughout their lives but never realise enlightenment. Zen is not for any of them in a sense that it brought no liberation - even a little liberation - into their lives.

It is remarkable that someone could practice Zen Buddhism their entire life with no benefit whatsoever.


Sawaki Roshi was a lifelong Japanese Soto priest and called Zen good for nothing. Nothing at all.

Here's the relevant quote:

"12. To you who is wondering if your zazen has been good for something

What’s zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.

You say you want to become a better person by doing zazen. Zazen isn’t about learning how to be a person. Zazen is to stop being a person.

Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.

Isn’t it self-evident? How could that which is eternal and infinite ever satisfy human desires?

Unsatisfying: simply practicing zazen.
Unsatisfying: realizing zazen with this body.
Unsatisfying: absorbing zazen into your flesh and blood.

Being watched by zazen, cursed by zazen, blocked by zazen, dragged around by zazen, every day crying tears of blood – isn’t that the happiest form of life you can imagine?

You say “When I do zazen, I get disturbing thoughts!” Foolish! The fact is that it’s only in zazen that you’re aware of your disturbing thoughts at all. When you dance around with your disturbing thoughts, you don’t notice them at all. When a mosquito bites you during zazen, you notice it right away. But when you’re dancing and a flea bites your balls, you don’t notice it at all.

Don’t whine. Don’t stare into space. Just sit! "

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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:07 am

More etymology, for the word benefit this time. It's from late Middle English (originally denoting a kind deed or something well done): from Old French bienfet, from Latine benefactum 'good deed,' from bene facere 'do good (to).'

Frankly, the world could use more good deeds, and I doubt anyone would disagree with me, but some might I guess. To bad liberation and enlightenment have nothing to do with good deeds, aye?
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Anders » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:23 am

shel wrote:More etymology, for the word benefit this time. It's from late Middle English (originally denoting a kind deed or something well done): from Old French bienfet, from Latine benefactum 'good deed,' from bene facere 'do good (to).'

Frankly, the world could use more good deeds, and I doubt anyone would disagree with me, but some might I guess. To bad liberation and enlightenment have nothing to do with good deeds, aye?


This is from the commentary on the great perfection of treatise (Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa Shastra), attributed to Nagarjuna:
The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt

Nāgārjuna’s Preamble

Furthermore, a person who contemplates true emptiness has first gone through an incalculable amount of giving, upholding of precepts, and dhyāna absorption. His mind is soft and pliant and his fetters are but scant. Afterwards, he gains [the realization of] true emptiness. In the case of [one who clings to] erroneous views, there have been none of these endeavors. He simply wishes to seize upon emptiness by resort to erroneous thoughts associated with speculations and discriminations.

Story: The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt
This is comparable to the man of rural origins who had never before seen salt. He happened to observe a man of noble status flavoring various meat and vegetable dishes with salt before eating them. He asked, “Why is it that you do that?”

The other man replied, “It is because this salt is able to make everything taste delectable.”

This man thought, “If salt is able to cause everything to taste delectable, its own flavor must be even more delicious.” He then foolishly scooped up salt, filled his mouth, and swallowed it. The intensity of the saltiness injured his mouth whereupon he said, “Why did you claim that salt is able to make for delectability?”

The man of noble background said, “You fool. With something like this, you must carefully calculate how much to mix in to cause [the food] to be delectable. How could you even contemplate just eating salt by itself?”

Concluding Exegesis Discussion
One deficient in wisdom hears of the emptiness gateway to liberation but fails to also cultivate all manner of meritorious qualities.

He wishes only to realize emptiness. This is tantamount to the cutting off one’s roots of goodness by resorting to erroneous views.

Principles such as these illustrate what is meant by the gateway of emptiness. If one enters into these three gateways [of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness], then he will realize that the principles contained in the Dharma of the Buddha are not mutually contradictory. The origin of one’s ability to realize this concept is just the power of prajñāpāramitā. As a result, one has no hang-ups or obstructions with respect to any dharma.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:51 am

Anders Honore wrote:
shel wrote:More etymology, for the word benefit this time. It's from late Middle English (originally denoting a kind deed or something well done): from Old French bienfet, from Latine benefactum 'good deed,' from bene facere 'do good (to).'

Frankly, the world could use more good deeds, and I doubt anyone would disagree with me, but some might I guess. To bad liberation and enlightenment have nothing to do with good deeds, aye?


This is from the commentary on the great perfection of treatise (Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa Shastra), attributed to Nagarjuna:
The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt

Nāgārjuna’s Preamble

Furthermore, a person who contemplates true emptiness has first gone through an incalculable amount of giving, upholding of precepts, and dhyāna absorption. His mind is soft and pliant and his fetters are but scant. Afterwards, he gains [the realization of] true emptiness. In the case of [one who clings to] erroneous views, there have been none of these endeavors. He simply wishes to seize upon emptiness by resort to erroneous thoughts associated with speculations and discriminations.

Story: The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt
This is comparable to the man of rural origins who had never before seen salt. He happened to observe a man of noble status flavoring various meat and vegetable dishes with salt before eating them. He asked, “Why is it that you do that?”

The other man replied, “It is because this salt is able to make everything taste delectable.”

This man thought, “If salt is able to cause everything to taste delectable, its own flavor must be even more delicious.” He then foolishly scooped up salt, filled his mouth, and swallowed it. The intensity of the saltiness injured his mouth whereupon he said, “Why did you claim that salt is able to make for delectability?”

The man of noble background said, “You fool. With something like this, you must carefully calculate how much to mix in to cause [the food] to be delectable. How could you even contemplate just eating salt by itself?”

Concluding Exegesis Discussion
One deficient in wisdom hears of the emptiness gateway to liberation but fails to also cultivate all manner of meritorious qualities.

He wishes only to realize emptiness. This is tantamount to the cutting off one’s roots of goodness by resorting to erroneous views.

Principles such as these illustrate what is meant by the gateway of emptiness. If one enters into these three gateways [of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness], then he will realize that the principles contained in the Dharma of the Buddha are not mutually contradictory. The origin of one’s ability to realize this concept is just the power of prajñāpāramitā. As a result, one has no hang-ups or obstructions with respect to any dharma.

This would seem to contradict the notion that a life of Zen Buddhist practice or 'encultureation' is a mistake or as Astus puts it, "not for" a lifelong practitioner if it doesn't result in "liberation, enlightenment."

Personally, I believe a life of Zen Buddhist practice would be a path to liberation.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:59 am

shel,

Your question was whether Zen is universal or not. I said it is not as far as its effectiveness in liberation goes. It may still be good for helping people in other ways. Let me explain it in a different way.

The bodhisattva path can be divided up to three stages. Before awakening bodhicitta one accumulates merit which results in the optimal circumstances for bringing about the rise of aspiration for enlightenment. After that one works on both merit and wisdom to familiarise with the Dharma and eventually realise emptiness. Then one can practice the prajnaparamita and all the merits will be innumerable. Before being able to use prajnaparamita all the merits and wisdom are worldly things, after that they're causes of buddhahood.

When talking about the sudden path of Zen it is at least about realising emptiness and working with prajnaparamita, at best it is becoming buddha. It is not concerned with anything below that for that would be the gradual approach. That's why I emphasised enlightenment as the criterion for being able to profit from Zen. Also that is the reason it seems as if in Zen people wouldn't need the common Mahayana methods - this is the source of confusion.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:11 pm

Astus,

The confusion will be cleared up as soon as you can explain how a lifetime of Zen Buddhist practice or, to put it another way, a lifetime of practicing the Nobel Eightfold Path is not a path to enlightenment but a path to something else… a path to delusion I guess?

Or maybe we should apply what Sawaki Roshi says about zazen to the whole Nobel Eightfold Path, that it is all good for nothing. You can do that if you like but personally I believe that not killing, for instance, is good for something. Call me an ignorant blasphemer if you like! :smile:
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:42 pm

shel,

I talked about attaining Enlightenment in this life, in this body. Not other benefits nor future benefits. Plus I think that Zen is not at all the best in working for other and future benefits.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:03 pm

Astus wrote:I talked about attaining Enlightenment in this life, in this body.

You must admit it is strange that you would consider a lifetime of practicing the Nobel Eightfold Path a mistake or a waste of effort if it did not result in Enlightenment within a lifetime.

But it is not clear if you are saying that practicing the Nobel Eightfold Path for a lifetime would be a mistake or a waste of effort if it does not result in Enlightenment within lifetime. Are you claiming this?
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:14 pm

shel,

It is specifically Zen, the school of sudden enlightenment, I said and not other teachings or schools.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:03 pm

You don't consider Zen Buddhist practice to be practicing the Nobel Eightfold Path? WOW!
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:03 pm

shel,

The NEP goes for the entire Buddhadharma. Zen is just one segment, an approach, a style among many as I've already written here. Is there anything particularly that you find incomprehensible about what I've already said in this topic?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:12 am

Astus wrote:shel,
Is there anything particularly that you find incomprehensible about what I've already said in this topic?

Yes.

You say that "the NEP goes for the entire Buddhadharma. Zen is just one segment, an approach, a style among many..." Essentially Zen Buddhist practice is practicing the NEP. Yet here you say that "Zen is definitely not effective for everyone," which is to say that the NEP is not effective for everyone, for Zen Buddhist practice is not other than the NEP.

So it seems that you either believe that Zen Buddhist practice is not practicing the NEP or you believe that the Nobel Eightfold Path is not effective for everyone. If the latter is true then it seems you do not accept the fourth Noble Truth, that there is the eightfold path leading to the cessation of suffering, or perhaps that you partly accept it in that you believe the eightfold path is effective for some people but inexplicably, others can practice it their entire lives to no effect (in regard to liberation).

Perhaps an extreme example would help to sort things out. Which would be a more effective path to liberation even if it did not result in liberation within a lifetime:

    A) A lifelong practice of theft, rape, murder and other bad stuff.
    B) A lifelong practice of the NEP.

I think you will agree that for some reason choice B would be a more effective path to liberation for anyone.

Yes? :thinking:
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:47 am

shel,

Even the NEP is not for everyone as far as not all can attain liberation with it in one life. Also it is good to note that the NEP as it is is not often used as a teaching in Mahayana, instead there are the paramitas, although "in spirit" the NEP is there too. But I brought up Zen specifically because it emphasises sudden enlightenment, awakening in this body. Buddhism and Zen not usable for everybody only means that they don't have the good karma for that. There's also a difference between Buddhism and Zen, which is that even if one is fine with Buddhism it may not be that such a person is OK with Zen but can use Theravada, or Vajrayana, or Tendai, etc.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:43 am

Astus wrote:shel,

Even the NEP is not for everyone as far as not all can attain liberation with it in one life.


I think, realistically speaking, very few people, whether they be practising Bodhisattvayana or Sravakayana, will attain freedom from samsara in their lifetime. The latter is generally the easier path of the two, but even then as Shakyamuni taught one can attain stream-entry, but that doesn't mean arhatship. In the case of the Bodhisattva, one needs immeasurable stores of merit to proceed through the various bhumi or stages.

I've noticed a tendency in western circles towards craving, if not demanding, enlightenment immediately (with the concept of enlightenment being vaguely defined), while in Asian cultures it isn't a pressing concern. Even with the bhiksu(ni) I know, they all seem pretty okay with dying and being reborn. I honestly think this is because they've cultivated enough compassion that they foresee a fortunate rebirth where they can continue helping others. They're really not constantly thinking about the immediate necessity of enlightenment. Just listening to what they say and how they say it, they care more about the welfare of others than of their own liberation from suffering.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:10 pm

Huseng,

Certainly, enlightenment in this life may not be so important for many. Still, and not to contradict you but to show what I call the Zen POV, here are two quotes.

Linji said,
"As I see it, there's no Buddha, no living beings, no long ago, no now. If you want to get it, you've already got it - it's not something that requires time. There's no religious practice, no enlightenment, no getting anything, no missing out on anything. At no time is there any other Dharma than this. If anyone claims there is a Dharma superior to this, I say it must be a dream, a phantom. All I have to say to you is simply this."
(tr. B. Watson, p. 33)

Mazu said,
"If you understand the mind and the phenomenal appearance, deluded thought will not originate. If deluded thought does not originate, this is the acceptance of the nonproduction of dharmas. [It] originally existed and exists at present. It does not depend on the cultivation of the Way and seated meditation. Neither cultivation nor seated meditation - this is the pure Chan (dhyana) of Tathagata. If you now understand this reality, you will truly not create any karma. Following your destiny, passing your life, with one cloak or one robe, wherever sitting or standing, it is always with you. Observing the precepts (sila), you accumulate pure karma. If you can be like this, why are you concerned about not understanding?"
(tr. Jinhua Jia, p. 125)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:04 pm

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:shel,

Even the NEP is not for everyone as far as not all can attain liberation with it in one life.

I think, realistically speaking, very few people, whether they be practising Bodhisattvayana or Sravakayana, will attain freedom from samsara in their lifetime.

If I understand Astus correctly that means that over 99% of people who've practiced Zen Buddhism, even for their entire lives, have completely wasted their time in regard to liberation. Well, hopefully they don't make the same mistake twice.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:16 pm

shel wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:shel,

Even the NEP is not for everyone as far as not all can attain liberation with it in one life.

I think, realistically speaking, very few people, whether they be practising Bodhisattvayana or Sravakayana, will attain freedom from samsara in their lifetime.

If I understand Astus correctly that means that over 99% of people who've practiced Zen Buddhism, even for their entire lives, have completely wasted their time in regard to liberation. Well, hopefully they don't make the same mistake twice.


Not really. If you cultivate yourself in meditation in this life, it will be easier in future lives and the "shell to crack" will be thinner than if you hadn't done any meditation at all.

Also if you practise properly, you will suffer less in this life even if liberation is not attained.

A bit of proper meditation everyday coupled with right view can eliminate a lot of pointless and unnecessary psychosomatic agonies in life which also means less stress which in turn reduces the probability of suffering diseases like cancer or having a stroke at some point.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:41 pm

Huseng wrote:
shel wrote:
Huseng wrote:I think, realistically speaking, very few people, whether they be practising Bodhisattvayana or Sravakayana, will attain freedom from samsara in their lifetime.

If I understand Astus correctly that means that over 99% of people who've practiced Zen Buddhism, even for their entire lives, have completely wasted their time in regard to liberation. Well, hopefully they don't make the same mistake twice.

Not really. If you cultivate yourself in meditation in this life, it will be easier in future lives and the "shell to crack" will be thinner than if you hadn't done any meditation at all.

...
Astus wrote:And there are those who practice Zen throughout their lives but never realise enlightenment. Zen is not for any of them in a sense that it brought no liberation - even a little liberation - into their lives.

I guess a thinner shell does not translate to a bit of liberation. :tongue: OK, this is getting too silly, even for me.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Clueless Git » Sat Jun 12, 2010 9:46 am

Huseng wrote:But from the Buddhist perspective you're actually accountable for your actions post-mortem.

'Lo Huseng :)

And in Christianity and Islam too, in fact I don't know a religion that doesn't teach that. 'Cept for Satanism, mayhaps?

I am thinking that post mortem punishishment/reward does not provide a motivation to be moral that differentiates buddhism from every other religion. That that which does not differentiate one thing from another cannot be that which makes one thing better or worse than another.

M'personal feeling (which does not discount rebirth) is that what makes people moral in this life is simply wanting to be moral in this life whether or not there is another/other life/lives to follow.

The motivation for that is not wanting to suffer oneself in THIS life which means in THIS life doing everything possible not to be a cause of suffering to others.

You commented on the decline of Japanese buddhism?

I can't help linking that to Jap buddhists often caring less about not being a cause of suffering to others than they care about being free to have the direct products of suffering which they prefer to dull old veg'n'rice for their dinners.
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