Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

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Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Vidyaraja » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:43 pm

As some may know from my earlier posts, I consider myself a Traditionalist in the same way as figures like Rene Guenon, Julius Evola, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, and so forth. What I would like to know is what your opinions are on the compatability of Buddhism and this worldview (Marco Pallis seemed to think they were compatible.) Based on my readings on this forum and various other places on the internet, it would seem most Buddhists (like many other religious traditions) deny this view point. It seems to me Buddhism likes to claim to be the unique and only means toward Truth/liberation/awakening or whatever other term you wish to use. Buddhism seems to even come complete with its own version of "our way or hell" with the notion of being reborn for endless kaplas until you properly become a Buddhist and thereafter become a Buddha.

It seems to me, after reading about the higher dimensions of the world's major sacred traditions, that they are all based on the same metaphysical principles and that their practices lead their followers to the same Truth or liberating experience. If you read the words of, say, Meister Eckhart, Huang Po, Ibn Arabi, Longchenpa, Adi Shankara, Rumi, Lao Tzu, the Cloud of Unknowing, Plotinus, or any other sage from the world's major sacred traditions, it seems to me that they are all describing the same truth, flavored or "colored' as it were by their own personal theology or spiritual culture. It seems to me that all the major differences of this experience are word based and conceptual--they are attempting to formulate a philosophical tradition or description of an ineffable reality or experience as best as possible, which of course must be done to at least some degree if they want to lead their followers to the Truth. They are so many fingers pointing to the moon, but none can claim (in my opinion and in that of the Traditionalists) to be the only finger pointing to the moon or worse yet, the moon itself. They are all so many paths up the same mountain, but the peak is one. I suppose this picture can accurately describe the situation:

Image

Now, from what I've read, Buddhism likes to deny this. It likes to say that all of these other experiences of an "ultimate reality" are still based in samsara, and that they must be transcended. But is there really a difference between the God of Meister Eckhart or Allah of Rumi or the Tao of Lao Tzu or the Paramsiva of Abhinavagupta and that of the deathless state Buddha experienced? Isn't it more likely the case that "Tathagatagarbha" or "One Mind" or "Suchness" of Buddhism is really the same as these others? That what the Hindus call the Self and Buddhists call "non-self" are just different conceptual formulations of the same experience that is ultimately beyond words?

Personally, I think it is true that these different traditions may have more accurate philosophical or theological expositions of what this "ultimate reality" or Truth may be, but does that really negate all the others? Can we really say that the Taoists or Sufis or various Hindus are having lesser experiences or are in contact with lesser truths than the Buddhists, who are the only possessors of the right way or the Truth? Isn't that a bit arrogant? Is there really any way of verifying that these examples of gnosis in other traditions are not the same as those of the Buddhists? I don't think so, but I'd like to hear what everyone else thinks.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:11 pm

Isn't that a bit arrogant?


It's narrow minded for sure, everyone want's to think they have the true religion. Compassion is pretty much a universal tenant of most religions, but there are many commonalities if you look. The main reason I've stuck with Buddhism is that, at the core of it, it's designed to eliminate suffering, and there are many ways to achieve that end. Buddhism is more like a tool, than a religion, but you can practice it either way.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:20 pm

There are two times that the religions you mention are the same. The first is when those religions say that there is a goal. So all religions with a goal are pretty much the same. Could be the unknown of heaven or could be the unknown of enlightenment. Then the second time is when those religious practitioners see the path as the goal. Then in this case the benefits of all these religions are equal.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:56 pm

No way of verifying either way..we can only go by examining and testing doctrine.

Asserting that all religions definitively contain the same truth is exclusivity also, isn't it?

My hunch is:

If we go by that it seems like you could maybe intuit that the goal is somehow the same, but the path is very different. However, ultimately there is no real way to know until you get there.

Making a definitive statement in either direction, that Buddhism must be entirely different, or that all religions are the same essential thing is a waste of time. It's cool when you find things that resonate with one another, but the extrapolation that they must be one thing or another strikes me as pointless.

Maybe it's not worth dwelling so much on "compatibility" of different viewpoints.

This is the same basic thing from a different angle when someone says "well I like Buddhism, but I don't believe in Mahasattvas, karma, rebirth etc.", like somehow their lack of belief nullifies it.. whatever. If you are interested enough to be thinking about monasteries etc., surely you are interested enough to just suspend some skepticism (whatever direction it goes in), accept some things provisionally, and get on with it...right?

Choosing one philosophy or the other won't end the basic conflict that asks whether something can be or not be over and over..the only thing that can do that is realization of what actually is, so that's the thing to think about - not whether something is conventionally in conflict or not.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:13 pm

There is one thing in common with all religions, that is your mainly dealing with yourself. We may call it a million things, externalize it, but it is all the same.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:43 pm

Vidyaraja wrote:As some may know from my earlier posts, I consider myself a Traditionalist in the same way as figures like Rene Guenon, Julius Evola, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, and so forth.
I don't know who any of those guys are or what they professed. Buddhism does not have a monopoly on truth. But, from what I understand, it is the only philosophy that regards belief in an ultimate self as the actual cause of suffering. This is different from any philosophy based on any notion of a god, such as Hinduism, because such a notion necessitates a belief in an ultimate self.

Buddha did not invent the truth.
He did not make up a philosophy, as you suggest.
he just pointed out the obvious.
He saw that regardless of what philosophies or religions people practiced or believed in,
they still experienced the same basic suffering, dissatisfaction, craving.

There are all sorts of good paths to the elimination of one sort of affliction or another,
but Buddhism is the path that eliminates the suffering
which is caused by clinging to the idea of an ultimate self.

That, i think, is the difference.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:47 pm

I'm not 100% familiar with other guys, but Julius Evola was a nasty piece of work. A big influence on the "cultural" side of fascism, which of course loves to say it's not actually fascist but "apolitical".
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:15 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Asserting that all religions definitively contain the same truth is exclusivity also, isn't it?


Well its not all religions, for example Scientology or an entirely "intellectual" or cerebral tradition like many forms of Protestantism aren't going to lead to spiritual transformation and higher knowledge in most cases. Secondly, its not about the religion containing a truth doctrinally, but rather that through their various esoteric or mystical practices they are capable of leading their followers toward a direct experience of truth, which is the same direct liberating experience for all of them despite the variety of ways attempted to express that experience/knowledge in words.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Buddha did not invent the truth.
He did not make up a philosophy, as you suggest.
he just pointed out the obvious.


I agree, Buddha didn't create a philosophy but merely tried to instill the importance of a direct experience of Truth over metaphysical speculation or empty ritualism. However Buddhism and later Buddhists most certainly have philosophical doctrines by which they (generally) tend to dismiss all others as inferior, much like most religious traditions.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I'm not 100% familiar with other guys, but Julius Evola was a nasty piece of work. A big influence on the "cultural" side of fascism, which of course loves to say it's not actually fascist but "apolitical".


What does Evola's political standpoints have to do with his ability to express truthful statements regarding metaphysics or spirituality? The Dalai Lama has often said he is a "Marxist"--I personally find Marxism to be a destructive force, but I don't let that detract from everything the Dalai Lama says. Either way, Evola had critiques of fascism and he wasn't a fascist, he simply saw more hope in the fascistic movements of his day at reviving his true ideals over that of the other major political forces of liberal democracy and Communism. Evola considered his values to be those held by most aristocracies prior to the modern world--he drew much of his inspiration from ancient Rome. In any case, if one is honest with oneself, we can see that indeed liberal democracy and Communism in all of its form HAVE been largely destructive toward a spiritual and traditional view of reality and man, which Evola considered to be of prime importance. As to the apolitical aspect, this is true. Evola believed that no meaningful action could be taken to rectify the present situation which he viewed essentially as a state of dissolution, and therefore stressed the importance of an attitude of "apoliteia."
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:45 am

Vidyaraja wrote: Buddhism and later Buddhists most certainly have philosophical doctrines by which they (generally) tend to dismiss all others as inferior, much like most religious traditions.
Can you cite some examples, please?
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:52 am

f one is honest with oneself, we can see that indeed liberal democracy and Communism in all of its form HAVE been largely destructive toward a spiritual and traditional view of reality and man, which Evola considered to be of prime importance. As to the apolitical aspect, this is true. Evola believed that no meaningful action could be taken to rectify the present situation which he viewed essentially as a state of dissolution, and therefore stressed the importance of an attitude of "apoliteia."


The "spiritual and traditional view of reality and man" has also been destructive to itself, and is responsible in part for the creation of things like liberal democracy, it's not like all these ideas sprung up in their own vacuum.

As far as apolitic..he claimed to be apolitical for exactly the same reason third positionists of today claim to be apolitical, they want to sway others to their 'culture war', anti-egalitarian notions while still being able to claim impartiality...one can't read Julius Evola from an apoltical standpoint unless you are just actively deciding to adopt his biases, and purposely avoid political critique..as if you engage in it, it's obvious what you find, and his own political leanings were well known.

Evola had critiques of fascism and he wasn't a fascist, he simply saw more hope in the fascistic movements of his day at reviving his true ideals over that of the other major political forces of liberal democracy and Communism.


Yeah, that's quite the distinction. :roll:
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:09 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Can you cite some examples, please?


From what I've seen it is stating that other sacred tradition's mystical experiences have notions of self or an eternal metaphysical principle and are therefore wrong or inferior realizations. Of course according to Buddhist doctrine that would be true, but what I am getting at is that these mystical or transformative experiences are ineffable, and therefore all attempts to explain them intellectually are limited and that there is no way of verifying whether the Brahman of Advaitins or the Dharmakaya of the Buddhists are actually different on an experiential level. In my opinion they are the same liberating experience/knowledge of the one and only Truth simply expressed in different ways through the limited medium of language/philosophy. As the Vedas say, "Truth is One. Sages call it by many names."

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
The "spiritual and traditional view of reality and man" has also been destructive to itself, and is responsible in part for the creation of things like liberal democracy, it's not like all these ideas sprung up in their own vacuum.

As far as apolitic..he claimed to be apolitical for exactly the same reason third positionists of today claim to be apolitical, they want to sway others to their 'culture war', anti-egalitarian notions while still being able to claim impartiality...one can't read Julius Evola from an apoltical standpoint unless you are just actively deciding to listen to adopt his biases, and purposely avoid political critique..as if you engage in it, it's obvious what you find, and his own political leanings were well known.


He was apolitical primarily because he saw no meaningful causes to devote oneself to or means by which to change the current cultural and political paradigm, not to win anyone over. He wasn't concerned with swaying others to following his ideals, as he stresses quite a bit throughout his works. Either way, you can most certainly read Evola from an apolitical standpoint because not all of his works have political notions in them; more specifically his Traditionalist view on the world's major religions are free from any political connotations, thereby being irrelevant to the topic of discussion.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Yeah, that's quite the distinction. :roll:


It is, really. I could be an anarchist at heart, but if libertarianism was a major political force vs. some other political forces that were much further from my ideals, I could see more hope in libertarianism without, in fact, being a libertarian.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:38 am

Vidyaraja wrote:Personally, I think it is true that these different traditions may have more accurate philosophical or theological expositions of what this "ultimate reality" or Truth may be, but does that really negate all the others? Can we really say that the Taoists or Sufis or various Hindus are having lesser experiences or are in contact with lesser truths than the Buddhists, who are the only possessors of the right way or the Truth? Isn't that a bit arrogant? Is there really any way of verifying that these examples of gnosis in other traditions are not the same as those of the Buddhists? I don't think so, but I'd like to hear what everyone else thinks.


I am very much in the same school as yourself, but it is a delicate question. I don't want to fall into a shallow kind of cultural relativism. I think there are real and important differences between the various cultural traditions, which ought not to be glossed over too easily.

Butthe perspective from which we view these questions now, is very different from the perspective that might have been obvious in earlier times. The modern world is one in which many different traditions have to intermingle and get along, and within which it is possible to make comparisons between the various traditions from a different perspective than would have been natural in a traditional setting, where each proponent's aim was to demonstrate the superiority of his/her particular school or teaching. In other words, our situation calls for a pluralistic outlook, in my opinion.

Here is a very interesting passage from an Amazon reader review of Huston Smith's book Forgotten Truths: The Common Vision of the World's Religions:

...there are "levels of being" such that the more real is also the more valuable; these levels appear in both the "external" and the "internal" worlds, "higher" levels of reality without corresponding to "deeper" levels of reality within. On the very lowest level is the material/physical world, which depends for its existence on the higher levels. On the very highest/deepest level is the Infinite or Absolute -- that is, God.

Basically this volume is an attempt to recover this view of reality from materialism, scientism, and "postmodernism." It does not attempt to adjudicate among religions (or philosophies), it does not spell out any of the important differencesbetween world faiths, and it is not intended to substitute a "new" religion for the specific faiths which already exist.

Nor should any such project be expected from a work that expressly focuses on what religions have in common. Far from showing that all religions are somehow "the same," Smith in fact shows that religions have a "common" core only at a sufficiently general level. What he shows, therefore, is not that there is really just one religion, but that the various religions of the world are actually agreeing and disagreeing about something real, something about which there is an objective matter of fact, on the fundamentals of which most religions tend to concur while differing in numerous points of detail (including practice).

Of course any two religions therefore have much more in common than any single religion has with "materialism". In fact one way to state the "common core" of the world's religions is simply to say that they agree about the falsehood of "materialism."


All that said, as far as the various traditions are concerned, I still maintain the superiority of the Buddhist teaching in particular. But that doesn't mean that I therefore think all the other teachings are without merit or even 'wrong'. After all, the Buddhist teaching itself recognizes that it is a 'raft' or a 'vehicle' to 'the other shore' which is beyond the scope of religion as such. Which is one of the main reasons I think it is superior!
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:14 am

Vidyaraja wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Can you cite some examples, please?


From what I've seen it is stating that other sacred tradition's mystical experiences have notions of self or an eternal metaphysical principle and are therefore wrong or inferior realizations. Of course according to Buddhist doctrine that would be true, but what I am getting at is that these mystical or transformative experiences are ineffable, and therefore all attempts to explain them intellectually are limited and that there is no way of verifying whether the Brahman of Advaitins or the Dharmakaya of the Buddhists are actually different on an experiential level. In my opinion they are the same liberating experience/knowledge of the one and only Truth simply expressed in different ways through the limited medium of language/philosophy. As the Vedas say, "Truth is One. Sages call it by many names."


Sez you. :tongue:

What does it mean, in your opening post when you say you are a traditionalist?
- - - - - - - -
Actually, the suggestion that all paths lead to the same end has come up before.
But let's not just go by opinions, let's look at it logically.
In all traditions, wherever there is an emphasis on "letting go" of a self,
whether it's the method of the whirling dervish, the self mortification of the sadhu, whatever,
the more that one can let go of any notion of the self,
the more one experiences a type of liberation that only results from that very letting go.

This experience doesn't actually need any type of verification,
and in fact, verification would be counter-productive
as it would only increase attachment to a self.

So, if you say that many traditions share this aim toward the selfless, this is true.
Where the Buddha Dharma differs, as I said before,
is taking this to the next logical step:
Ultimately, nothing exists which can be called a self.
None of the other traditions, as far as I know, go this far.

And everyone is partial to their own path. This is true as well.
Of course I think this is the best path for me
but generally, Buddhists do not go out seeking converts.

But partiality in itself doesn't make the traditions similar.
Buddhists don't deny that others have meaningful experiences,
but without fully grasping the concept that, ultimately,
nothing exists which can be called a self,
it isn't what you might call, the Buddhist experience.

Logically, if the cause of suffering is attachment to the idea of an ultimate self,
then only a path that perfectly leads one away from that
can result in perfect liberation from that suffering.
An analogy is putting out a fire.
If it isn't completely put out, it may rekindle
but if completely put out, perfectly,
it will not rekindle.

So, simply claiming that all experiences are identical is inaccurate.
It's like saying that because Catholics light votive candles and pray to God
that this is the same as lighting candles on a birthday cake and making a wish.
Depending on one's view, for example, to an atheist, perhaps there is no difference.
But that is a rather superficial view, I think.

But, I request for a second time,
please cite your source of Buddhist texts claiming that this path is superior.
or,
show me another path that teaches that Ultimately, nothing exists which can be called a self.

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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Vidyaraja » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:12 am

jeeprs wrote: I think there are real and important differences between the various cultural traditions, which ought not to be glossed over too easily.


Agreed. I am not trying to purport some New Age doctrine that all religions or paths are essentially the same and totally equal, but that the higher forms of the worlds major orthodox sacred traditions can lead their follows toward the same liberating experience of the one Truth.

jeeprs wrote:All that said, as far as the various traditions are concerned, I still maintain the superiority of the Buddhist teaching in particular. But that doesn't mean that I therefore think all the other teachings are without merit or even 'wrong'. After all, the Buddhist teaching itself recognizes that it is a 'raft' or a 'vehicle' to 'the other shore' which is beyond the scope of religion as such. Which is one of the main reasons I think it is superior!


I agree. I personally am inclined toward Buddhism, Taoism, and Yoga/Tantra. I feel these are clearer, more direct paths but then this might not be the case for every single person in every single culture in every single era at all times.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What does it mean, in your opening post when you say you are a traditionalist?.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditionalist_School

http://www.amazon.com/Transcendent-Unit ... 0835605876

Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Where the Buddha Dharma differs, as I said before,
is taking this to the next logical step:
Ultimately, nothing exists which can be called a self.
None of the other traditions, as far as I know, go this far.


Yes, but this notion of "non-self" is a philosophical conception of a higher experience. It would fall under the "Exoteric" line in the image I posted at the start of this thread. I agree that the various traditions are different on a doctrinal and exoteric level. I also believe that some, say the Buddhist doctrine, may be more accurate or closer to the truth than others. However, where the various traditions converge, the very tip above the esoteric line in that image I posted, is the direct experience of the one Truth. Buddhists calling it "One Mind" or claiming there is non-self is an attempt to formulate in words an experience or state of being that is beyond words. When the Sufis call it Allah or the Taoists understand it as Tao, that is them attempting to do the same thing. The formulations may be different, but ultimately we can never know who is right. The only thing we can do is experience Truth for ourselves directly, which is exactly what the Buddha wanted us to do.

Though it is interesting that, if we wished to be democratic about it, one could argue that every other mystical tradition understanding this experience of Truth as that of a Divine or Ultimate Reality and a "True Self" lends more credence to that being the reality over the Buddhist notion of the lack of both of those concepts. Of course I am not saying that is the view I hold or that it is even worth deliberating over. The best thing to do would be, again, to experience that truth directly.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, simply claiming that all experiences are identical is inaccurate.


Read some of those sages I listed earlier in the thread. Compare the words of Meister Eckhart, Ibn Arabi, Adi Shankara, Lao Tzu, and Huang Po or Longchenpa. It is quite clear (at least to me) that they are all describing the same experience of the same reality in different terms, again colored as it were by their culture, language, religion, traditions, etc.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:But, I request for a second time,
please cite your source of Buddhist texts claiming that this path is superior.


There are plenty of Buddhists texts claiming that others have wrong views, or even that other Buddhists have inferior views or experiences, such as Mahayana vs Hinayana or Vajrayana vs all others. Really though I was talking about the prevalent attitude among Buddhists rather than the scriptures. Head over to the Tao Bums forum and read some of the debates between Taoists and Buddhists and you will see plenty examples of Taoists complaining of a Buddhist sense of superiority and "only we have the highest Truth and experience of it" attitude.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby greentara » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:13 am

The respected and wonderful Buddhist monk Ajahn Sumedho has said that ultimately even Buddhism must be let go of to reach what he calls 'ultimate simplicity.'
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:55 am

How can it be clear that all the mystics are describing the same thing, when you yourself have not experienced what they are describing?

Language is really limited that way, it's easy to say something all looks the same from the other side of the fence, where you can't see it clearly anyway. Neither can I of course, i'm just saying, no one without some level of realization can say whether they are describing the same thing or not.

I'd like to know what exactly seperates this perennial argument from the usual "all religions are one" type relativism...

Yes, but this notion of "non-self" is a philosophical conception of a higher experience.


No, it's more than that, it's a refutation of the ontological, arguments made by virtually every other religion, really it's a refutation of ontology itself, and of most other religions views of causality and cosmology when viewed in terms of time as dependent origination. Causality is a big one, if a religion teaches a supreme cause, the conclusions reached can't help but be different, it seems to me.

In Meditation in Action Trungpa Rinpoche briefly touches on the difference in path, while acknowledging the possibility (though not the certainty) that they end in the same place. Most other religions teach that there is a really existing "it" inside you, and the point is to unite with this "it", because it's connected to the larger "it". Now, some would argue that some Mahayana doctrine is almost is indistinguishable from this, but leaving that aside for now.. In practice these other religions practice meditation or whatever practice helps you reunite with this "it", that is the goal.

Buddhist meditation simply attempts to the remove projections that cover what is already there, and defies ontological description.

"One truth" is a dichotomous concept , truth is not one or many..
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:31 am

I think other traditions might speak of experiences of the same suchness, but with Buddhism it's much more in depth and clear. Sure Lao Tzu described a similar experience, but his language was too compact and needed serious unpacking. The problem with not being clear is what leads practitioners to realms of heavens instead of liberation from suffering. I must say all other traditions are not clear in what they teach, and this does not help practitioners towards liberation. Buddhism, on other hand, constantly reinforces dependent origination, emptiness, and non-self, liberation from suffering. Other traditions don't beat that enough.

No, it's not superior. It's clearer, straightforward, and not beating around the bush.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:34 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:really it's a refutation of ontology itself


As 'ontology' means 'the nature of being' this falls into the trap of nihilism. (Oh no, not that argument again....)

As far as the general point goes, the argument as to whether there is or is not a 'common core of mystical experience' is the subject of an interminable debate in religious studies. In the right corner, we have the Constructivists, lead by Steven Katz, who claim that 'there are no unmediated experiences', and that all religious experience is a product of a particular cultural milieu. In the left corner, we have Robert K C Forman, who is a practicing meditator and able exponent of the 'perennialist' view. (This is now generally known in religious studies as 'the Katz-Forman Debate'.) I generally side with the latter. But I really wouldn't get too worried about it, as I don't think advocates of the perennialist or universalist views are at all hostile to Buddhism, nor do I think that they are trying to say that 'all religions are the same'.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:06 pm

I am not disagreeing with your suggestion that all paths point to a similar end.
I am a big fan of Taoism, and of Christs' forgiveness dharma even though I call myself a Buddhist.

My teacher once pointed that
All of the activities of all beings ultimately
have the same motivation, and point to the same goal:
All beings want to be perfectly free from suffering,
and, all beings believe that what they are doing
will lead to perfect happiness.
Even the worst political dictators do what they do for this very reason.
That does not mean that all paths will lead to the same results.

When people, searching for lasting happiness,
take refuge in things which do not, ultimately, remove the causes of suffering,
regardless of their motivation or their goal,
whatever happiness they find will not last.
So, perhaps similarity of motivation, as well as similarity of goal,
are both moot points.

What I am suggesting is that perhaps the criteria is a bit arbitrary.
While hunger may be my motivation, and food my goal,
If one's purpose in eating is merely to fill one's belly,
then all foods are equal. Donuts are the same as vegetables.
As you say, all paths are basically the same.
But if one's goal in eating is to supply the body with nutrition,
then we may note some differences.

We cannot know what path brings happiness to someone else
but we can infer, through deduction and logic
and even predict, sometimes
that if the causes of unhappiness are not removed,
unhappiness will return to that person.

Criteria is the key point, I think.
Buddhism is only "superior"
only if one's goal is the perfect removal of the cause of suffering.
If one's goal is to achieve bliss, one-ness with everything,
a realization of love and compassion, great wisdom, the god within, etc.
then, yes, pretty much any tradition will do.
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.
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Re: Buddhism and the Perennial Philosophy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:05 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:really it's a refutation of ontology itself


As 'ontology' means 'the nature of being' this falls into the trap of nihilism. (Oh no, not that argument again....)



I think you're misunderstanding me, nihilism would be assertion of non-being, not what i'm talking about.

What I mean is throughout the Suttas, Sutras and commentaries, you find a distrust of definitive ontological statements, truth is pointed at rather than stated.. it's much more pronounced in some places - Nagarjuna or some of the Pali Suttas, things like the Unanswerables... and way less in others - Tathagatagarbha sutras etc. At any rate, by my reading it seems pretty obvious that Buddhism avoids ontological speculation on the whole in a way most other religions do not.

I can see the Buddha or famous Buddhist thinkers shaking their head at the question of whether Truth is one or many...wait, I think that's actually been written about!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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