I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby jmlee369 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:32 pm

There are several issues from the thread that I'd like to touch on.

First, the issue of drinking. As mentioned previously, drinking is a morally neutral act. However, due to the consequences of losing inhibitions and such, the act of drinking is seen to be detrimental to one's practice and hence the precept against drinking. Now violating a precept has more severe consequences than the performance of the same act by a person without precepts. However, as far as I know, there is no scriptural basis for stating that drinking leads to the hells.

Next, to the literality of rebirth. I find that the purpose of practising Dharma is established on the grounds of literal rebirth. The whole problem is suffering in Buddhism is the problem is cyclic existence, not just the sufferings of this one life. The Buddha in his teachings taught rarely on ways to be happy just in this life, but rather extended the benefits of practice to the next existence and eventually to the ending of birth and death altogether. What does it mean to attain the liberation of an Arhat or to attain Buddhahood? Both of those fruits have as a common trait the ending of the cycle of birth and deadth, so that Nirvana is described as the "deathless", because there is no more birth and death. Obviously, there is physical death of the current body, but it is the last time that will happen. Such a release is considered to be the ultimate goal of Buddhism, and is incompatible with non-literal rebirth (if you take recorded proclomations of enlightened beings about their enlightenment at face value).

I believe that birth in the hells requires some serious trangressions, but the thing with a hell birth is that even when the result from the original cause for your birth there is exhausted, it's a good place for other negative imprints to ripen, so beings end up spending a long time in the hells. This is also probably why the results do not seem to match the cause. However, the Buddha emphasised that simply performing an act in no way guarantees a specific result in the next life. The strongest factor determining the circumstances of one's next birth is the state of mind at death, which ripens imprints in line with that state of mind. All in all, I would think that the video isn't really in line with the Buddha's teachings.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby jundo cohen » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:28 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:It seems that many people are pretty skeptical about these kinds of Siddhis. But really, Samadhi, Siddhis, Dream Yoga, etc. are the only way for us to have direct experience regarding the verification of things that aren't verifiable to the physical senses.

This is why the Rishis and Buddhas have taught, so that we can be on the Path and verify these things for ourselves, instead of merely believing or disbelieving.


Assuming, of course, that "Siddhis, Dream Yoga, etc." are reliable. That may be, perhaps, a very large assumption.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:47 pm

Assuming these are reliable or assuming they are not are two sides of the same coin.
The problem lies in assuming instead of confirming.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:10 pm


Describe the reality of those realms in Buddhist terms. are you familiar with the teaching of emptiness?


Sunyata or not, driving nails through someone's hands is pretty specific.


Yes, the text is describing a specific experience. The question is whether it's, ultimately, a real one or not. Again, you insist that Buddhism posits these realms as real, and object to that. I ask you again to describe that reality in Buddhist terms (emptiness is your hint). If you can't, then you're just trolling the board with a strawman argument.

Tell me, how do the experiences of hell realms arise according to any school of Buddhism (your choice)?


I'm not trolling anyone. I'm inclined to make people think about these hard questions. That's all. I play Devil's advocate sometimes. What's wrong with that?

Emptiness (sunyata), in the Buddhist sense of the word, would suggest that none of these states of mind or being or rebirth or beings suffering these states of mind or being or rebirth have an inherent self (anatta), and thus are amenable to impermanence (anicca) and are not lasting.

The realms of Hell, as any other realm, state of mind or rebirth or being arise as the result of karma -- cause and effect -- and thus dependent origination.

What's your point Dechen?
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-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:13 pm

well it seems to me you have answered your own question!
:namaste:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:49 am

gregkavarnos wrote:well it seems to me you have answered your own question!
:namaste:


I'm not sure how I have.

The Buddha states quite clearly that there will be real, specific physical torture in the Narakas wherein people will have acid poured on their faces and nails driven through their hands. Now, as I understand it, a Buddha isn't able to lie, and a Buddha is omniscient. If we don't take what the Buddha is saying as literal, then we must logically conclude (a) either the Buddha is lying or (b) he is not omniscient... which would mean, since those are both qualities of a Buddha, that he is not Buddha.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:50 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Assuming these are reliable or assuming they are not are two sides of the same coin.
The problem lies in assuming instead of confirming.


How do you confirm a sutta?
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:56 am

jundo cohen wrote:
Assuming, of course, that "Siddhis, Dream Yoga, etc." are reliable. That may be, perhaps, a very large assumption.

Gassho, Jundo


They are experiences.
When a competent practitioner has direct experiences there is nothing more reliable.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:07 am

Ikkyu wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Assuming these are reliable or assuming they are not are two sides of the same coin.
The problem lies in assuming instead of confirming.


How do you confirm a sutta?

What do you mean by confirming a sutta? Confirming if it can be attributed to the historical Buddha?
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:10 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Assuming these are reliable or assuming they are not are two sides of the same coin.
The problem lies in assuming instead of confirming.


How do you confirm a sutta?

What do you mean by confirming a sutta? Confirming if it can be attributed to the historical Buddha?


I mean that if you're going to believe half of what's in a sutta, it has to mostly be based on faith. It can't be empirically confirmed that rebirth, bodhisattvas, enlightenment, etc. are real.
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:21 am

Ikkyu wrote:
I mean that if you're going to believe half of what's in a sutta, it has to mostly be based on faith. It can't be empirically confirmed that rebirth, bodhisattvas, enlightenment, etc. are real.


That is only true if you are assuming that there is anything that is "real".
The problem is that we have too much faith in what we think is real.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:27 am

Josef wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
I mean that if you're going to believe half of what's in a sutta, it has to mostly be based on faith. It can't be empirically confirmed that rebirth, bodhisattvas, enlightenment, etc. are real.


That is only true if you are assuming that there is anything that is "real".
The problem is that we have too much faith in what we think is real.


That's a double standard. If you're going to deny the reality of existence itself, why not deny the reality of rebirth, karma, etc.? Yes there are illusory aspects of reality, but to conclude that nothing is real amounts to empirical or metaphysical nihilism, and nihilism goes against the madhyamaka.
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:29 am

Its not a double standard at all.

I do deny the reality of rebirth, karma etc.
Just like I deny the reality of my kitchen table and my cool shoes.

Madhyamaka is all about how nothing is real.
There are many different and fancy ways to say it but it all boils down to nothing is real.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:34 am

Josef wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:
Assuming, of course, that "Siddhis, Dream Yoga, etc." are reliable. That may be, perhaps, a very large assumption.

Gassho, Jundo


They are experiences.
When a competent practitioner has direct experiences there is nothing more reliable.

I agree, but one only knows that for sure when one has these experiences for himself. When one hasn't, understandably one may doubt such things and wonder if they are or aren't reliable. It's natural. For instance, if you taste sweet, such experience will be very reliable for you. You know what sweet tastes like. But if I never tasted sweet and you describe it to me, I may wonder if your experience of sweet is reliable, especially if I don't believe there's such a thing as sweetness. I may think, 'well, he thinks he tasted sweet, he even believes that wholeheartedly, but probably it is his imagination'. You may try to convince me, but until I taste sweet myself, I can never be sure and think you tasted something flavorless for instance.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:35 am

Of course.
This is why our liberation is our responsibility.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:45 am

Josef wrote:Its not a double standard at all.

I do deny the reality of rebirth, karma etc.
Just like I deny the reality of my kitchen table and my cool shoes.

Madhyamaka is all about how nothing is real.
There are many different and fancy ways to say it but it all boils down to nothing is real.


Would you care to clarify?
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:46 am

Ikkyu wrote:
Josef wrote:Its not a double standard at all.

I do deny the reality of rebirth, karma etc.
Just like I deny the reality of my kitchen table and my cool shoes.

Madhyamaka is all about how nothing is real.
There are many different and fancy ways to say it but it all boils down to nothing is real.


Would you care to clarify?

Sure, which part?
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:50 am

Ikkyu wrote:I mean that if you're going to believe half of what's in a sutta, it has to mostly be based on faith. It can't be empirically confirmed that rebirth, bodhisattvas, enlightenment, etc. are real.

Can you confirm there are quasars without a telescope? No.
So you need to refine your apparatus. Train your mind.
And then you will say 'yes, I will train my mind and if I discover that there are other realms (as an example), how will I show them to you?'. The answer is that you won't. But you can't show me that you are thinking of an apple if I ask you, can you? Does that mean you can't think of an apple?

At the beginning one should consider theory like working hypothesis and suspend doubt. Let's find out if it is really as Buddha said. We train our mind and find out. If, OTOH, we negate it from the start, having no confidence at all, then probably we won't even bother. It's easier to negate what isn't apparent, but had we always done that and we would still be thinking the Earth was flat.

At the beginning how do we build trust? We study. If what is said is in accordance with our experience, if it makes sense and is helpful, then that's a good start. There are subjects not easy to investigate when we start, like rebirth, karma and other realms. So we don't need to believe these things blindly. Perhaps first it is wiser to investigate the ontological state of things we believe to exist. Then we will see that this world and this self we assumed were so real aren't that real after all. And we proceed from there. Negating things before knowing for sure has a reason, and usually that reason is our belief in a competing metaphysics, generally incompatible with Buddhadharma. But if we take the time to separate what are facts and what are beliefs, the belief for instance that consciousness is annihilated after death or the belief that there is an independent physical reality out there, we may realize that we know less that we thought we knew.

The problem is that we take for granted things that aren't more than assumptions, inferences and so on. Buddhadharma presents an alternative and if we are interested and have the capacity for it, we should put it to the test. But to honestly put it to the test, we can't judge it under the dictates of an alien paradigm that is erected over subtle, yet deeply rooted, metaphysical assumptions for the simple fact that such paradigm may be inadequate. Neither can we judge it without going through the training that is said to be necessary to verify it. This if we want to be honest. If we want to be simpletons, we negate all that seems strange from the start, trust in whatever is more common in our culture and lay our investigation to rest. But then we shouldn't be surprised if others who are going through the proper training don't take us seriously. Come on... it's like being surprised when seeing an astrophysicist not taking seriously the critics made to his conclusions by an overconfident undergraduate.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:09 am

Josef wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
Josef wrote:Its not a double standard at all.

I do deny the reality of rebirth, karma etc.
Just like I deny the reality of my kitchen table and my cool shoes.

Madhyamaka is all about how nothing is real.
There are many different and fancy ways to say it but it all boils down to nothing is real.


Would you care to clarify?

Sure, which part?


From what I understand, Madhyamaka is about finding balance in everything. I suppose this implies non-duality to some extent. How does this verify that nothing is real?
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Josef » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:24 am

Ikkyu wrote:
From what I understand, Madhyamaka is about finding balance in everything. I suppose this implies non-duality to some extent. How does this verify that nothing is real?


The Mulamadhyamika-karika is the text to read if you are interested.
It's not really about finding balance in things but if that is something that you can take from it that's ok.
The philosophy is about eliminating views that affirm existence of independent causes or conditions.

It isnt nihilism, because nihilism is an assertion/a view ( and the madhyamika literature and commentaries do a good job of avoiding this extreme). But the entire premise of Madhyamika most certainly is that nothing is "real" as far as the subject and object perceptions of sentient beings is concerned which from our experience is everything.
It does imply non-duality, but not only to some extent, it implies it incredibly strongly and that is why non-duality is an important feature of Mahayana, Vajrayana, etc.
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