Believing and Knowing

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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby greentara » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:55 am

Buddhism is about seeing into your real nature. Deep down it's for those able to understand the import of the Buddhas awakening. This is not belief, it is knowing. Buddhism is essentially a religion of enlightenment. It's not a philosophy it's about supreme awakening.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:17 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Oushi wrote:You can be a Christian believer while not believing in walking on water.

Not so! You are required to believe in miracles.

Only one miracle, actually.
You have to believe that Christ rose from the dead, but not much more beyond that.
Most Christians also believe in the Virgin Birth
but this is not essential, meaning it is not a pivotal point.
It is not needed to validate the message, as the resurrection is.
Most also believe Christ performed various miracles
Healing the blind, walking on water, etc.
But many regard these the way Buddhists regard
some of the "unprovables" of Buddhism,
Hungry Ghost realms and so forth:
"Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe doesn't really matter to me."
...maybe more as metaphors for something.

But belief in religion and knowing in dharma are not identical.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby oushi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:20 pm

greentara wrote:This is not belief, it is knowing.

It is not intellectual belief (uncertainty), it is not intellectual knowing (knowledge).
It is direct knowing, which is experienced through opening enabled by trust. Only when you believe in Buddhas words, you will trust them, and let go of uncertainty that is the cause of intellectualization. Grasping through knowing. There is always something to know, become the one that knows. Samsara.
So, belief is a cure for conceptualizing mind.
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
jeeprs wrote:
Oushi wrote:You can be a Christian believer while not believing in walking on water.

Not so! You are required to believe in miracles.

You have to believe that Christ rose from the dead, but not much more beyond that.

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Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.
Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death." -Gospel of Thomas 18

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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:11 pm

The Gospel of Thomas, unfortunately, is not part of exoteric Christianity, even wisdom Christianity.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby randomseb » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:39 pm

There are two vehicles of buddhism, if not more, one of which is about belief, and is a religion in the same way as Christianity, that is to say, prayers and faith in something external to oneself. And the other is the practice of buddhism, which is not a religion, but a methodology, an instruction manual on what to do and how to verify and experience internally the teachings.

The western religions have this dual mode too, but I don't know if their monks still cloister themselves in monasteries engaged in deep practice of personal experience still, like they did in more ancient times. (A hint to this form of practice is the 7 days of Genesis, which reads as the generation process of Mind, if you use waters/earth/heavens/forests/plants/beasts metaphors properly.. A firmament separates the waters from the waters)

The benefit of this is to provide something for that certain kind of people to hold on to as an inclusive participation and moral road map, and it provides a means for the teachings to remain available to those certain kinds of people who are ready to take on direct practice and see for themselves.

So the moral of my sleepy rambling is not to confuse a Path's transport vehicle, the religion, with it's practical teachings, the experiencing methodology.

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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby oushi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:08 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:The Gospel of Thomas, unfortunately, is not part of exoteric Christianity, even wisdom Christianity.

Personally, I cannot find a reasonable explanation why.
Still, we can enjoy it without limitations made by the fathers of the church :), and draw our conclusion on Christianity as it looked in early stages of doctrinal development. That's the core of the subject. Don't lean on beliefs of others.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:43 pm

oushi wrote:Personally, I cannot find a reasonable explanation why.

Other than the fact that it is a totally different religion which as a matter of dogma, established by history and tradition, requires belief in the substitutionary atoning death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation.

oushi wrote:Still, we can enjoy it without limitations made by the fathers of the church :), and draw our conclusion on Christianity as it looked in early stages of doctrinal development. That's the core of the subject. Don't lean on beliefs of others.

"We can enjoy"? Um, OK but my hair is on fire. If others want to hang with Yogananda, believe Jesus went to India, etc., ok, but - my time is very short. Mr. bardo ain't going to be interested in how many fluffy bunnies I can paint. It's going to care about how solid I am with guru, deva, dakini.

IMHO ecumenism soup usually ends up tasting like everything at once - i.e. a pot of cr*p. If you don't believe me go walk down the aisle at Barnes and Noble (if they still have real bookstores).

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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:13 pm

randomseb wrote:There are two vehicles of buddhism, if not more, one of which is about belief, and is a religion in the same way as Christianity, that is to say, prayers and faith in something external to oneself. And the other is the practice of buddhism, which is not a religion, but a methodology, an instruction manual on what to do and how to verify and experience internally the teachings.


These are not two vehicles.
1. There is the Dharma, the teachings that the Buddha is purported to have given
2. There is the construction of "Buddhism", purported to preserve the Dharma teachings.
This construction includes prayers and so forth.
"something external to oneself"
would include a belief in a self, and i don't think that necessarily applies.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby Indrajala » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:53 pm

jeeprs wrote:Buddhists 'believe' in the Buddhist teaching, but only insofar as it is necessary to practice it, at which point the consequences of the practice start to become evident.


There is a certain amount of faith required at the beginning of practice, though perhaps this is best understood as conviction in the teaching and the promised results.

Consider the Pubbahkotthaka Sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    "Lord, it's not that I take it on conviction in the Blessed One that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation. And as for me, I have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment. I have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."


There is also the idea that one enters through faith, and crosses through wisdom. Nāgārjuna in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa Śāstra also explains that faith or conviction comes before practice and not the other way around. I found this striking as it is the opposite of what is usually thought in the English speaking Buddhist world. A foundation of faith and good-will towards the master and teachings are essential for practice to really commence and be fruitful. Faith alone does not ensure liberation, though without it there is no actual practice realistically.


At that point, it is no longer about 'believing', but 'seeing' - understanding the way that 'actions bring results', and related principles. So it really is a path of knowing, rather than believing.


That is what the aforementioned sutta is getting at I believe.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby oushi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:39 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:"We can enjoy"? Um, OK but my hair is on fire. If others want to hang with Yogananda, believe Jesus went to India, etc., ok, but - my time is very short. Mr. bardo ain't going to be interested in how many fluffy bunnies I can paint. It's going to care about how solid I am with guru, deva, dakini.

IMHO ecumenism soup usually ends up tasting like everything at once - i.e. a pot of cr*p. If you don't believe me go walk down the aisle at Barnes and Noble (if they still have real bookstores).

It seem that we are talking about two different things here. :smile:
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby randomseb » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:54 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
randomseb wrote:There are two vehicles of buddhism, if not more, one of which is about belief, and is a religion in the same way as Christianity, that is to say, prayers and faith in something external to oneself. And the other is the practice of buddhism, which is not a religion, but a methodology, an instruction manual on what to do and how to verify and experience internally the teachings.


These are not two vehicles.
1. There is the Dharma, the teachings that the Buddha is purported to have given
2. There is the construction of "Buddhism", purported to preserve the Dharma teachings.
This construction includes prayers and so forth.
"something external to oneself"
would include a belief in a self, and i don't think that necessarily applies.
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.
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Vehicles is perhaps not a good term to use since there's already a concept of vehicle as described by the lotus sutra, I'll grant you that. But let's say two modes, or kinds, the religion, and the practice.

The religion is what most lay people follow, praying to buddha, going to temple once a week,.etc.. A standard religion, what. The followers of this don't look for a buddha within, they don't know about self or nonself, they are just regular people busy with their regular lives, you know? In the West, a buddhist is generally a practitioner, not a religious follower, because we seek this out and explore for ourselves, as opposed to being born into it, into a culture immersed in it. The general religion follower is pretty much the same whatever the religion in question is, really!

You and I both know praying to some external buddha is pointless, but joe average follower doesn't care to know this, doesn't have time to know this he does his prayers weekly and then gets on with his life.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby randomseb » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:00 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:IMHO ecumenism soup usually ends up tasting like everything at once - a pot of cr*p. If you don't believe me go walk down the aisle at Barnes and Noble (if they still have real bookstores).


Looking at all the various pieces of a jigsaw puzzle before assembling it gives you a good general idea of what the picture is and what is going to need to be done, whereas but looking at a single piece might be confusing and unclear.

I've seen texts that recommend exploring around to get a feel for the dharma from various angles :shrug:

Being told "do this, do that" as your practice is great, but if you don't know the point of the practice you are just creating gastrointestinal gases, you know?
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:19 pm

randomseb wrote:
The religion is what most lay people follow, praying to buddha, going to temple once a week, etc.


This may depend on where you live,
which demographics you are talking about,what your experience is.
In my city, there is a big Vajrayana center, and some zen groups,
a few Thai temples and a Vietnamese Mahayana temple.

So, it really varies, I can only speak from experience with the Vajrayana group.
There is a lot of "ceremony" but everything is about no-self, emptiness, all that good stuff.

it is easy to misinterpret outward appearances.
A friend of mine from Taiwan visited Washington DC and asked me
why Lincoln was the only president who had a temple.
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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: Believing and Knowing

Postby randomseb » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:47 pm

And churches talk a lot about all sorts of things, but most people are just there for the service and then go on with their lives, you see what I am saying?
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:32 am

randomseb wrote:And churches talk a lot about all sorts of things, but most people are just there for the service and then go on with their lives, you see what I am saying?

Yes. I understand what you are saying.
Is what you have encountered personally?
It isn't what I have encountered,
at least not among Buddhists whom I know .
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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: Believing and Knowing

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:57 am

PadmaVonSambha wrote:Only one miracle, actually.
You have to believe that Christ rose from the dead, but not much more beyond that.


Actually I realized I do believe that, which at the time came as a surprise.

The occasion was several years back when some fortune-seeker declared they had found the vessel ('ossuary') which they claimed could have contained 'the bones of Jesus'. (From what I understand, his finding has been discredited.) But we were discussing it around the dinner table. I said I didn't put any credence in the story. But then a couple of family members said that it wouldn't make that much difference if they were found. I was astonished by that idea. I said 'well, if you don't believe in the resurrection then you're not really Christian'. For my trouble I had a cup of tea thrown over me. Perhaps I had been a bit too vehement about it. But it made me realize it is something I do believe, even if I don't discuss it much.

[quote= "Karma Dondrup Tashi"]The Gospel of Thomas, unfortunately, is not part of exoteric Christianity, even wisdom Christianity.[/quote]

Marvellous text, though. More on this below.

Oushi wrote:Still, we can enjoy it without limitations made by the fathers of the church, and draw our conclusion on Christianity as it looked in early stages of doctrinal development. That's the core of the subject. Don't lean on beliefs of others.


Actually, the 'fathers of the Church' were those who generally opposed the Gnostic types of scriptures (such as the Gospel of Thomas, and others.) Modern knowledge of these texts was greatly increased by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, in the Egyptian desert, which allowed scholars to find long-lost gnostic scriptures, of which the Gospel of Thomas was one.

There is an interesting scholar by the name of Elaine Pagels who has done a lot of work on interpreting what she saw as the power struggle in the early Church between the 'Johanine' ('Gospel of John') and Thomistic ('Gospel of Thomas') interpretations of scripture. The former won, decisively. Generally speaking, the Gnostics were suppressed and dispersed, and their opponents (Iraneus, Tertullian, and others) prevailed. And, as they say 'history is written by the victors', and enormously influenced the way Christianity developed and got passed down to us. (See Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.)

My feeling is that there is a seminal difference between the Eastern and Semitic faiths, which revolves around this emphasis on 'belief' on one side, versus knowledge ('gnosis') on the other. It is not hard and fast, because their are pistic (belief-based) and gnostic elements in both of them. But the general distinction can be made between the centripedal (power flowing out to periphery) model of Buddhism, whereby each successive generation is 'empowered' by 'passing on the knowledge', versus the 'centrifugal' model of Catholicism, whereby all power is vested in the titular head of the institution, and abeyance to the ecclesiastical law is paramount ('extra ecclesium nulla santo', no salvation outside the Church.)

They're actually very different kinds of psychological and political models.

This essay is well worth reading: The Pagan Roots of Early Christianity. It is not a scholarly article and makes some pretty wild claims, but there is more than a grain of truth in it.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby randomseb » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:15 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
randomseb wrote:And churches talk a lot about all sorts of things, but most people are just there for the service and then go on with their lives, you see what I am saying?

Yes. I understand what you are saying.
Is what you have encountered personally?
It isn't what I have encountered,
at least not among Buddhists whom I know .


Well I personally have never been to the East, but it's what you tend to see in documentaries and such, and is implied by the strong admissions of the sages who constantly tell people to not look anywhere but inside for the buddha.

And all people everywhere are in general of the same nature :shrug:
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby shel » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:16 am

randomseb wrote:And all people everywhere are in general of the same nature :shrug:


Despite our wishes that we are special. :tongue:
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby oushi » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:13 am

jeeprs wrote:Actually, the 'fathers of the Church' were those who generally opposed the Gnostic types of scriptures (such as the Gospel of Thomas, and others.)

That is why I wrote "without limitations made by the fathers of the church", as scrolls survived in caves. :smile:
Still, I would not agree on classifying gospel of Thomas to gnostic wing. It was written before such divisions were made, and it can be seen clearly from the text.
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Re: Believing and Knowing

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:22 am

oushi wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Actually, the 'fathers of the Church' were those who generally opposed the Gnostic types of scriptures (such as the Gospel of Thomas, and others.)

That is why I wrote "without limitations made by the fathers of the church", as scrolls survived in caves. :smile:
Still, I would not agree on classifying gospel of Thomas to gnostic wing. It was written before such divisions were made, and it can be seen clearly from the text.


The early period was a riot of competing sects, schools and beliefs within which the Gnostics were visible as a distinct movement. We one that because o the polemics of their opponents. I recommend the Pagels book I referred to above.
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