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Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO - Dhamma Wheel

Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mpcahn
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Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby mpcahn » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:29 am

I feel that when it comes to suffering and its cessation, the Buddha was spot on. But when it comes to the workings of the physical universe not so much:

"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." -

When I first read this I felt a sense of samvega towards the buddha's knowledge as this is obviously wrong. Though I thought about it and what could I expect? That the buddha would pierce the mysteries of plate tectonics through meditation?

What are your thoughts?
is the mind us? Is it ours? Slash on down! Whatever is going to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. We feel no regrets. We want only the truth. (Ajahn Maha Boowa)

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cooran
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby cooran » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:43 am

Hello mpcahn,

In the Kindred Sayings (V, Maha-vagga, Book XII Kindred Sayings aout the Truths, Ch. V, part 6, Gross Darkness:

"Monks, there is a darkness of interstellar space, impenetrable gloom, such a murk of darkness as cannot enjoy the splendour of the moon and sun, though they be of such mighty magic power and majesty.'

In the rest of the Sutta, the Buddha talks about a greater and more fearsome darkness ~ Dukkha.

part of a rather similar thread here:
Where in the canon?
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4544#p69238

BTW, samvega means:
Samvega-vatthu: 'the sources of emotion', or of a sense of urgency, are 8:,birth, old age, disease, death, being 4; the suffering in the lower states of existence being the 5th; further, the misery of the past rooted in the cycle of rebirth, the misery of the future rooted in the cycle of rebirth, the misery of the present rooted in the search after food; Vis.M III..

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Dan74
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:57 am

It's possible that you are right, mpcahn, it's also possible that these are later additions.

For instance the Chinese Agama version of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta makes no mention of the earthquake passage at all.
_/|\_

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cooran
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby cooran » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:07 am

You may also find this article interesting:
Buddhism and Modern Science - by Dr. Granville Dharmawardena, University of Colombo
"Buddha is the greatest scientist in the history of mankind."
http://www.beyondthenet.net/misc/science2.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:54 am

If you view the Buddha as an ordinary human being who came up with a self help philosophy that got mixed with the local religions of the time, then your issues aren't really a problem. It is only natural that the "science" of 2600 years ago is going to be backward.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby octathlon » Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:34 pm


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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:47 pm

I may be in the minority among the typical Western Buddhist; in my opinion that the Buddha was quite endowed with scientific knowledge, when taking into account the time frame in which he lived. No, I don't think he was a scientist who wore a lab coat, but the insights of enlightenment gave him some profound understanding of the universe.

When you consider that other religions and philosophies were including creation theories, gods impregnating mortal women, that the earth is 6,000 years old, etc., the Buddha's teachings look pretty scientifically advanced with teachings that the earth is billions of years old, that the universe expands and contracts, that we evolved from gender-less things and from the ocean.

No, not 100 percent accurate in the Aganna Sutta for example, but may be he was providing the teaching in an allegory that the people could understand.

See also: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... and_spirit
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby SamKR » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:09 am


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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:37 am


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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:00 am

The wind element (vāyodhātu) means the element of motion or pressure.
The fire element (tejodhātu) means the element of temperature — hot and cold.
The water element (āpodhātu) means the element of fluidity and cohesion.
The earth element (pathavīdhātu) means the element of solidity.

When the pressure (wind element) builds up, the magma (water element) moves, shaking the earth's crust (earth element).

The four primary elements (and space) are present in all material things. When we say that something is a solid, liquid, or gas, we are describing its predominant characteristic at normal temperatures and pressures. Ice flows as a liquid in glaciers, but turns to super-heated steam vapour when it contacts magma.

If we mix some apparently solid flour, with liquid water to make dough it becomes very sticky (manifestation of the element of cohesion). If we keep kneading the dough to add air element it becomes less sticky, lighter, and soft. Then we bake it adding fire element, and it changes its texture again. The primary elements manifest differently so that hardness then becomes apparent.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:18 am

One of the things that inspired me to become a scientist was that I desperately wanted to understand how and why everything worked. I was at school for fourteen years and university (studying physics) for nine. After twenty-three years of education up to doctorate level I discovered that knowing lots about science doesn't make you happy. Having a confident understanding of natural philosophy doesn't bring peace of mind. I also learnt that there wasn't enough paper in the world to write down everything that could be known about the universe, and not enough time in which to write it. My attic is a testiment to that; it is laden with notes I'll never read again about all sorts of different aspects of physics but I know very well my notes contain a very small fraction of information about the universe.

I don't think the Buddha had any interest in trying to transmit a complete, correct and flawless account of the workings of the universe to those he taught. Rather, I think he realised that striving for knowledge was folly and didn't lead to the end of stress. I think all the Buddha wanted was for people learn about the Dhamma, put it into practice and strive towards their own liberation from stress.

We could bend over backwards to try to make all of the words attributed to the Buddha fit with our current scientific understanding of the universe; or we could read the Dhamma, put it into practice and strive towards liberation. Personally, I'm done with science (insomuch that I am no-longer a researcher).

If you want to strive towards science, read the appropriate material, go to the appropriate lectures and do the appropriate research. If you want to strive towards liberation, read the appropriate material, go to the appropriate retreats and do the appropriate practice.

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:24 am

I think there are people who want the Buddha to have been a divine being of some kind or at least a human who attained super human capabilities, rather than just a man who came up with a philosophy for dealing with life. Attributing scientific knowledge 2600 years after his time to him is one way of doing that.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

Mawkish1983
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:35 am


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Alexei
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Alexei » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:02 pm


Mawkish1983
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:18 pm


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Alexei
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Alexei » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:31 pm

Than what is the problem with science? Is there a contradiction with dhamma?

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:57 pm


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Kusala
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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Kusala » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:16 pm

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:34 pm

Exactly.

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Re: Buddha's knowledge Suffering-Yes, Science-NO

Postby Viscid » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:33 pm

I find it rather silly when people use the Simsapa Sutta as evidence that the Buddha was omniscient. If someone were to say to me "Well, I know everything... I'm just not going to tell you!" I'd be more likely to think they really don't know much at all.

I'm actually much more impressed by Jain cosmology than Buddhist cosmology. They believed the Universe was shaped like a person with their arms on their hips:

Image

Which looks surprisngly similar to cosmic expansion:

Image
"What holds attention determines action." - William James


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