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 Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:11 am

Ikkyu wrote: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.
In Buddhism we talk about relative and ultimate truth. Notice that both are truths? Actually they are indivisible, two sides of a coin, so to speak. Karma, rebirth, etc... at true at the relative level. Existence is real at the relative level. Humans are real, Hell beings are real, Animals are real, Gods are real, experiences are real, phenomena are real, etc... But at the ultimate level they are all empty of a true, lasting, independent existence.

So no contradiction at all. As long as we are trapped into dualistic conceptualisation samsara exists and Nirvana is something else. Once we overcome dualism then samsara and Nirvana are not in the slightest bit seperate.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Anders » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:47 am

Ikkyu wrote:From what I understand, Madhyamaka is about finding balance in everything.


That's not really what Madhyamika, or the middle way in general, is about. It's just about steering clear of the extremes. In Madhyamika, that means the extremes of existence and non-existence.
"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"

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

Postby Anders » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:49 am

Ikkyu wrote:
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.


Just a bit of meta-commetary, but for someone learning about Buddhism you come across as very eager to nail your colours to the mast one way or the other.

Try and consider that you are missing lots of pieces for that to be somewhat problematic.
"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: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Shemmy » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:05 pm

The idea that karma dictates that someone would pour acid on my face and nail me to the floor with spikes for having a cabernet with friends gave me a good laugh! Thanks! Love it! Funny stuff!

But, I also understand your annoyance and feel the same way about some things I read and which strike me as ridiculous. There are a lot more ridiculous things we are threatened with than having a drink leads to unspeakable tortures in the afterlife. I guess my take on it, for what it is worth is that this is partly a cultural thing. I have lived and worked in Asia for 16 years and this is the way people try and impress upon others that they are serious. It's very common to have your boss give you some ridiculous thing that you have to do and when you cannot do it, it really isn't an issue. There are a lot of ridiculous things said just to get people to listen and obey. Westerners tend to take it literally only to find later they were just kidding. It seems a poor way to communicate and try and motivate people and often backfires.a result of this may be what I have heard many Thais and Chinese saying that they are proud of how they never listen to anybody and never do anything that anyone asks them be it their boss, their wife or the government.

I wonder if anyone -even a Buddah- could say what is the karmic result of any action. Any particular type of action is intermixed with so many factors that are constantly in flux, so its a gross generalization to say that having a drink means x,y,and z torture for you. The emptines aspect I guess.

I too love to get drunk. But, like someone said in one of the previous posts, I now have to ask myself, "what are you cultivating by doing so?" I have taken precepts so I can't do it anyway and probably already am going to hell for having a beer or two every few months. If its not one thing it's another, hence the problem with samsara.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:43 pm

I wonder if anyone -even a Buddah- could say what is the karmic result of any action.


Karma is action, so in my experience, a bad action has it's outcome in a non-positive way.
A good/proper action has a positive outcome.

As to hell, my understanding is even if there really isn't a "hell" a rebirth in a place where life is not "positive/comfortable" would be the karmic result of a life of negative actions.

what are you cultivating by doing so?


Thank you, that is a really good question to ask ones self when making any decision to act.


Kindest wishes, Dave
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:50 pm

Anders wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:From what I understand, Madhyamaka is about finding balance in everything.


That's not really what Madhyamika, or the middle way in general, is about. It's just about steering clear of the extremes. In Madhyamika, that means the extremes of existence and non-existence.



Right, Ikkyu, you are talking about the Madhyamā pratipad i.e. the middle way path:

Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.

Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (the Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana. And what is that Middle Path realized by the Tathagata...? It is the Noble Eightfold path, and nothing else, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:35 am

Anders wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
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.


Just a bit of meta-commetary, but for someone learning about Buddhism you come across as very eager to nail your colours to the mast one way or the other.

Try and consider that you are missing lots of pieces for that to be somewhat problematic.


Well I am looking for some fairly definitive answers and opinions based on logic.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:42 pm

Ikkyu wrote:Is the deep fear of going to Hell from drinking alcohol, etc. just a Theravada thing?
This video was sort of disturbing and I hope I can get some clarification on this:



Thank you, :smile:


If I died in the raving mind I had last night after two bottles of wine, I would have seen hell.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby odysseus » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:36 pm

Hello, I was thinking about making my own post but in context of this discussion I´ll say it here - my understanding of "hell".

I have been ridden with various perceptive distortions due to former drug use. They have been light but sometimes quite serious.

Well, a few years ago I moved into my parents´house. I was interested in Buddhism and read pieces here and there. I can´t see the start of it, but weird things were happening. During daytime, I was often resting on the couch and in nighttime I would walk unrested around the house disturbing my parents. I´ll tell you about my torments. I was lying in the sofa and an invisible force was sticking nails through my legs and trying to break them. I saw and felt weird lights that were "evil" and burnt my body when close. I had waking dreams that I had killed my neighbour by psychic force. Sometimes I felt knives being thrusted through my chest. And so on, I could hardly take a shower because "evil" invisible forces were pulling me out, forcing me to stop showering.

These and similiar things happened over several months, but I got pauses from the torment and when I got a break I thought "what is this punishment?" I cried many times. At the same time, a Buddha-spirit (not Buddha himself but someone associated with Buddhism) sent me unhearable but senseable messages like "Don´t think you´re evil" and "Don´t worry" and "Know that it will pass".

Well, after a while these things began to fade away but I was very scared. Something unexplainable is that even if I was in this terrible pain I had a sense of positiveness that got me through the worst parts.

Anyway, I have told only half of the "hell" I went through but I shall not bore you with details. This is my experience of hell on earth. Was it Mara having fun with me? I have tried to examine my life to find out what I did bad to deserve this experience. I´m not Angulimala the criminal but yes I have done some not good things. Or was it hallucinations, I had stopped drugs some time before this.

I have´nt dared to talk about this with a priest/monk or doctor for fear of judgement. I asked my dad but he said he could´nt answer. Nonetheless, this "punishment" was very real to me.

This is the closest thing I can think of as "hell", because I don´t believe the descriptions of hell from legend - they are exaggerated. As I said, I could maintain some positivity during this experience so there is a way out!

All I´ve learned is that I have to admit that "suffering" exists. I tried to repent my wrongdoings but to whom can I repent? I´m back into "normal" reality now and I´m still not convinced.

A scientist would say that my "hell" was a psycho-somatic illness, but why did I in between get positive "realisations" and I had contact with reality and my mind was not destroyed, only shaken.

Sorry if my story is out of context but I think nobody wants to scare people with hell except hardcore criminals! Legends talk about hell but they are made by humans who nobody knows if they were enlightened or not. My moral conclusion is that "suffering" exists and it can happen to anybody but there is a way out of it, or else I would not be able to maintain my sanity even if my story was scary. And I don´t need any religion to tell me that.

I still don´t know why this happened to me, but I have been a nice boy also since later I have had moments of real peace of mind.

This begs the question that is off-topic: Could another person have inflicted this pain on me by physical or psychic force? Hmm, someone with a little black-magic-pill like Hannibal Lecter. Not everything that happens is due to karma...
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Seishin » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:33 pm

The way I've come to understand suttas/sutras and Buddhist teachings, and the way it's been taught to me by various people is that some of the stuff out there are stories that try to guide us in the right direction. This is called skillful means. We also have to put the sutras in to context: they were written/spoken over 2000yrs ago, so some of their stories might seem bizarre or even down right distasteful. They point is, they were always trying to teach something.

To try and put some of it in to context, imagine trying to teach something to a child; children respond better to black and white situations and scenarios than they do to something with grey areas. Also, sometimes we catch ourselves scolding and/or threatening a child to stop them doing something bad or life threatening (like running across a busy road without looking).

Another thing we sometimes do is use metaphors to explain something so bad that normal words fail us. A good example is when I used to suffer from terrible migraines that had put me in hospital one time. When asked to explain the pain of my migraine I'd say something like this; "First I start to go blind, white clouds appear in my vision and soon I can't see at all. Then I feel a dull ache behind my eyes like some one squashing my eyes with their hands. Then the pain starts to spread across my head in waves and it feels like red hot pokers are being hammered into my head continuously. This torment caries on for a number of hours before it slowly starts to dissipate, taking a number of days before I'm able to function properly again." For me, this was a monthly "hell" that I lived through for over 10 years.

The way I see it; the Buddha was using his skillful means to teach people who had a childlike attitude to their actions not caring of the consequences. So he spoke in black and white terms (do this, that happens) and used over the top similes and metaphors (which might have been quite normal for the time) hoping that these childlike people would take a good hard look at themselves and start along a good path in life.

In the west, we are used to religions speaking of their holy texts as if they are categorical fact, gospel, to be taking literally, so when we read a sutra condemning us to hell should we put one foot wrong we put the book down and walk away without realising there is a story with a subtext worth looking into.

So whenever I read a sutra I try not to take it so literally. I let it sink in without picking it apart and see what can be learnt from it. I have never met a Buddhist who spoke of hell the way the sutras do. And any way, who says that hell isn't in our minds, in our lives right now? I know I experienced hell during my migraines attacks...

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

Postby waimengwan » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:02 pm

Buddhism does not threaten people if they do not believe in Buddha or the tenets then they will go to hell. Rather hell is described in detail what the levels of hells and their associated suffering. For a rebirth in hell one must have engaged in many acts relate to anger one of the 3 poisons. So if we want to avoid hell we have to stop doing those actions that can bring us to hells. Also there are ways for us to purify our karma so not all is lost.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby catmoon » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:59 pm

In my experience Buddhism isn't about threatening people with hell. For instance I can't remember any member of the robed sangha ever so much as mentioning the possibility. A few fellow lay members may have mentioned it in jest. It's certainly not the sort of teaching that dominates people's thinking.

At most I've seen these teachings regarded as a semi-logical extension of the karma principle, which means that problems in this area are very much repairable and very few people need worry about them. I'd be a lot more worried about coming back as a Pekinese myself.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:59 pm

I've been taught to meditate on the Initial Scope as set forth in Lam Rim. This states that the sufferings of the lower realms exist and that I should very strongly desire not to take rebirth in those states.

If when I have the chance to live a wholesome life
My actions are not wholesome,
Then what shall I be able to do
When confused by the misery of the lower realms


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

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:09 pm

When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven.

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

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:02 am

Fruitzilla wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

jundo cohen wrote:I have seen the "hells" and "heavens" that folks make for themself, and those around them, in this life. I do not know if there are literal "heavens" and "hells" which await us after we die, but I have seen people create real bits of heaven and hell in this life, for themselves and those near them, by their actions.

Makes sense to me.

I find it more useful to regard "hells", "heavens" etc. as experiences, rather than geospatial environments. Experiences are all we have, whether one labels the external environment "heaven" or "hell".

Maitri,
Retro. :)


Well, continuing the recent trend on this forum...
If devas living in plants would be an archaic way to talk about the sentience of plants, you can easily conclude that hell realms are archaic ways of talking about negative mind states, n'est-ce pas?


You could, if you really want to. It's a very useful tool especially for Westerners and Japanese folk. However, this doesn't spare one from suffering in purgatory for long periods of time, after death.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:00 am

I found this pertinent little tidbit on LJ:

http://buddhists.livejournal.com/1541375.html
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Nemo » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:57 pm

The first question is whether hell is an internal or external experience.

I think the most telling statement is that in the realm of Yama(Death) none of the abodes have doors or windows(external sense perception). So it would be an internal experience. With what one experiences being projections of the essence of ones mind. If one combines this with the knowledge of having a completely enlightened Buddha as you basic nature the torments make logical sense. How much guilt would a Buddha feel for committing evil actions?

The essence of Yamantaka, the Tantric deity with supreme power over death, is having a very strong conscience. Guilt and shame protect one from wrong conduct. This is power over ones experiences after death.

If you think wrong conduct won't hurt you you are denying that you have Buddha nature.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Son » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:44 pm

Nemo wrote:The first question is whether hell is an internal or external experience.

I think the most telling statement is that in the realm of Yama(Death) none of the abodes have doors or windows(external sense perception). So it would be an internal experience. With what one experiences being projections of the essence of ones mind. If one combines this with the knowledge of having a completely enlightened Buddha as you basic nature the torments make logical sense. How much guilt would a Buddha feel for committing evil actions?

The essence of Yamantaka, the Tantric deity with supreme power over death, is having a very strong conscience. Guilt and shame protect one from wrong conduct. This is power over ones experiences after death.

If you think wrong conduct won't hurt you you are denying that you have Buddha nature.


Very insightful. However what you really struck my interest with was the absence of sense gates. The realm of Yama however doesn't exactly equate to purgatory, or any hell or the human realm. It's a more discreet term, as I understand it. Could you please elaborate more?
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:33 am

"If his passions and thoughts are in the proportion of nine to one, he will sink into the wheel of fire and be reborn where wind and fire meet. He will dwell in the intermittent hell if his passions are great, in the unintermittent one if they are very strong, and in the avici hell if he is completely dominated by extremely violent ones. If in addition he slanders the Mahayana, breaks the Buddhaís precepts, distorts the Dharma when preaching it to deceive his patrons for selfish gain or for fame, and commits the five rebellious acts and ten grave sins he will be reborn (in turn) in all the avici hells. Although the above are self-inflicted retributions resulting from individual evil deeds, all sinners endure the same kinds of suffering which originate from (the same) concurrent causes."

- Surangama Sutra

Josef wrote:
ClearblueSky wrote: But drinking alcohol, and that leading to a rebirth where you have acid poured on your face for a huge amount of years? I don't see the logic in that.

Neither do I.
I think they are parables, nothing more.
But then again, I don't really dig Sutra's.


Pretty specific conditions under which a person can be tortured. How much of these "holy texts" can we really take literally? And how do we know when to dismiss the content of sutras like this as historical, cultural or personal additions/innovations on part of the author? How do we know which parts are allegorical and which parts are literal? I guess we really DO have to cherry pick with Buddhist texts unless we want to believe in unconscionable irrationality.
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:53 am

seeker242 wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
I mean how can people ACTUALLY believe -- using logic and reasoning -- that there is ACTUALLY a place where you go after you die and you suffer horrible physical agony in such gory, explicit and specific detail? It smells like bullshit to me.



Not all beliefs are based on logic and reasoning. :smile:


They should be, lest we betray our own intellect and potential as human beings. To believe something without evidence is pretty much intellectual suicide, and frankly it's self-degradation. We base our understanding of things on our ability to perceive the empirical evidence that suggests a certain thing is true.
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