Buddhist Epistemology

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
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viniketa
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:58 am

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

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:59 am

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

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:01 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:05 am

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

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:58 am

Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
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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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:48 am

Here is a link to a publication on the Pali Abhidhamma:

Abhidhammattha Samgaha
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/abhidhamma.pdf

The Sanskrit Sarvāstivādan Abhidharma is longer & more difficult to find...

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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:51 am

Here is a good Sanskrit resource that includes many Abhidharma terms, however:

Buddhist Terms
Multilingual Version
Edited by Peter Gäng and Sylvia Wetzel
Buddhist Academy Berlin Brandenburg

http://www.buddhistische-akademie-bb.de ... tTerms.pdf

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

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:01 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:14 am

Actually, getting back to the original post (well, to some of it) the Buddha did advise his followers not to accept as fact something merely because he said it, but to test it out for themselves as a person tests the purity of gold.

That being said, (I love that phrase) there is much especially in the Mahayana texts and perhaps even more in the Vajrayana that one cannot prove empirically, as we say. A good example is the existence of hungry ghosts, or of an entire hungry ghost realm. How can you test that out?

One of the things I think may be unique about Buddhism is that one does not actually have to believe anything in the teachings that one cannot prove to one's satisfaction. One can give the teachings 'the benefit of the doubt" and still remain highly skeptical, and yet still practice meditation and the six perfections and generation of compassion and so on. So, it is not as though the validity of the teachings rests on accepting as fact, for example, that the Buddha was born from his mother's side and took seven steps when he was born and lotuses sprang up from his footprints.

For that matter, one does not really need to believe in rebirth. But I say this not because the concept of rebirth doesn't play an important role in Dharma, but because one's own conceptual definition of rebirth is really all one has on hand to begin with, and so, ultimately, to practice dharma, it is not essential that one accepts one's own (present) understanding (or perception) of things regardless of whether they are imagined or come in through the bodily senses.

In other words, I have no way of verifying rebirth--but this is not because it may or may not be true, but because my own understanding (and thus definition) of rebirth may be severely limited to begin with. So for example, if one's understanding is that Uncle Larry died and came back as my house cat, well, who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no. The fact of not really knowing actually makes it a moot point. proving it one way or another would not have any impact on one's dharma practice. More to the issue, however, would be whether "Uncle Larry comes back as a house cat" is really a good grasp of the concept of rebirth or not.

So, I guess what I am saying is that maybe validating the teachings, or finding a way to validate them is in fact not important, because any means of validation is ultimately suspect, just as much as is a body of teachings that were not even written down until a century after they had been given.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
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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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:15 am

Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
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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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:19 am


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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:01 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Grigoris
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Grigoris » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:47 am

Feeling emotions would be another example of non-material perception. Though granted that some can also have bodily sensations associated with them.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:04 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby catmoon » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:56 am

Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.

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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:14 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

undefineable
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby undefineable » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:43 pm

Ikkyu, I'm not talking about truths; I'm talking about things that *might* be true. I'm not bothered about certainty, or about the fact that I'll be dissappointed if the dharma proves to be somehow false.

A lot of it boils down to me *not remembering* the thought processes that brought me to the conclusions about reality that I consider the most likely . I'm pretty sure I remember them being rational, however. For your part, you seem to be looking at Buddhism as if it didn't advocate emptiness, just as physicists do (apart from the Higgs-Boson set!)

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

Postby undefineable » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:15 pm


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

Postby viniketa » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:29 pm

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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby nilakantha » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:27 am

Buddhist epistemology (Pramanavada) reaches its most consistent formulation in the works of Dharmakīrti, a seventh century cittamatrin scholastic. A good place to begin is Foundations of Dharmakirti's Philosophy by John Dunne. Sangharakshita's Tattvasamgraha is also very useful in clarifying Buddhist epistemology, especially about the place of Buddhavacana.
May I be a poet in birth after birth, a devotee of the feet of Lord Avalokiteśvara,
with elevated heart, spontaneously directed towards his Refuge,
wholly occupied with the solemn duty of saving others.

--Lokeshvarashatakam of Vajradatta


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