Buddhism and Enlightenment

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby tobes » Mon May 20, 2013 6:53 am

dude wrote:I would have expected it to be perfectly obvious what I was objecting to.
The purport of my further comments may be less obvious, but no real dialog is possible without first making clear what is being said and its meaning agreed upon.


I'm listening my friend. What do mean? What are you objecting to?

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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby dude » Mon May 20, 2013 3:46 pm

I'm not buying it. As I said already, it should be obvious.
Your earlier posts indicate more than enough intelligence and power of reasoning that I'm beginning to question your intent here.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon May 20, 2013 4:12 pm

dude wrote:I'm not buying it. As I said already, it should be obvious.
Your earlier posts indicate more than enough intelligence and power of reasoning that I'm beginning to question your intent here.


Colour me stupid, but I can't figure out what you are disagreeing with either. You say you vehemently disagree and then go on to agree with the point of the post you are responding to. Huh?!
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Jnana » Mon May 20, 2013 5:42 pm

dude wrote:As I said already, it should be obvious.

Well, it isn't.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby LastLegend » Tue May 21, 2013 5:03 am

I think Westerners can understand Buddhism fine without Kantian philosophy. Kantian philosophy is not necessary. I think tobes enshrines Kantian philosophy a little too much.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby dude » Tue May 21, 2013 5:34 am

tobes wrote:
dude wrote:I would have expected it to be perfectly obvious what I was objecting to.
The purport of my further comments may be less obvious, but no real dialog is possible without first making clear what is being said and its meaning agreed upon.


I'm listening my friend. What do mean? What are you objecting to?

:anjali:


Okay; after taking some time to reflect on myself and contemplate the roots of my own stupidity, I think I understand now why I have failed so miserably at making myself understood. I might have done better to state explicitly, rather than by implication, that I take issue not with you, but with the teachers you mentioned, peripherally, who chastise anyone who dares question them.
My outrage stems not only from my sense of responsibility to uphold the true teaching, but also from my own experience. When I was new to Buddhism, I sought instruction, and assumed that if I disagreed with the teacher, it must be because I didn't understand and they knew a lot more about it than I did. After reading the sutras for myself, however, I reached the conclusions I stated earlier.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby tobes » Tue May 21, 2013 8:53 am

LastLegend wrote:I think Westerners can understand Buddhism fine without Kantian philosophy. Kantian philosophy is not necessary. I think tobes enshrines Kantian philosophy a little too much.


Yes, of course they can; of course Kant is not necessary.

The point I'm making is simply this: the way that most westerners engage with Buddhism, is by daring to use their own understanding (that is the Kantian injunction that Astus was pointing us to inquire about).

The very fact of choosing to be a Buddhist - which is a minority tradition - seems to presuppose that.

Moreover, westerners virtually never proclaim irrational faith or belief in Buddhadharma. Where there is faith, it is almost always carefully acquired, and justified with reason and experience.

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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby tobes » Tue May 21, 2013 9:05 am

dude wrote:
tobes wrote:
dude wrote:I would have expected it to be perfectly obvious what I was objecting to.
The purport of my further comments may be less obvious, but no real dialog is possible without first making clear what is being said and its meaning agreed upon.


I'm listening my friend. What do mean? What are you objecting to?

:anjali:


Okay; after taking some time to reflect on myself and contemplate the roots of my own stupidity, I think I understand now why I have failed so miserably at making myself understood. I might have done better to state explicitly, rather than by implication, that I take issue not with you, but with the teachers you mentioned, peripherally, who chastise anyone who dares question them.
My outrage stems not only from my sense of responsibility to uphold the true teaching, but also from my own experience. When I was new to Buddhism, I sought instruction, and assumed that if I disagreed with the teacher, it must be because I didn't understand and they knew a lot more about it than I did. After reading the sutras for myself, however, I reached the conclusions I stated earlier.


I see. I think that is quite understandable. I think, returning to the OP, we can also safely conclude that you agree that Buddhadharma ought to be approached with the Kantian injunction in mind - that simply means, the ultimate epistemic authority is your own understanding.

What would be interesting now - for the thread per se - would be for other practitioners to voice their concerns with such an approach. Are there limitations to it?

The obvious objection might be something like this: if true wisdom requires advanced meditative insight, doesn't that insight naturally have more epistemic truth and authority than someone who stays true to their own understanding, but lacks that insight? In that case, might sticking with ones own understanding be nothing more than sticking with ones own lack of insight?

[these are not directed specifically at you dude, they are general questions to help move the thread along].

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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby jeeprs » Tue May 21, 2013 9:47 am

The limitation I see is that Kant himself did not seem to have much of a notion of 'enlightenment' - in the Buddhist, as distinct from the European, sense.

I think that in the Western philosophical tradition, there is really only one place where something like the notion of enlightenment in the Buddhist sense makes an appearance, and that is in the Allegory of the Cave. Otherwise, you can only look to religion - which is what we are supposed to put behind.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby tobes » Tue May 21, 2013 10:23 am

jeeprs wrote:The limitation I see is that Kant himself did not seem to have much of a notion of 'enlightenment' - in the Buddhist, as distinct from the European, sense.

I think that in the Western philosophical tradition, there is really only one place where something like the notion of enlightenment in the Buddhist sense makes an appearance, and that is in the Allegory of the Cave. Otherwise, you can only look to religion - which is what we are supposed to put behind.


I agree, and I think that is a very important point.

But I think there are 'degrees of awakening' - especially in neo-platonic influenced medieval thinkers (who of course were simultaneously quite religious too).

It's there in thinkers like Spinoza and Bergson too.

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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby jeeprs » Tue May 21, 2013 10:57 am

You're talkin' my language.....

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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Tue May 21, 2013 11:20 am

tobes wrote:The obvious objection might be something like this: if true wisdom requires advanced meditative insight, doesn't that insight naturally have more epistemic truth and authority than someone who stays true to their own understanding, but lacks that insight? In that case, might sticking with ones own understanding be nothing more than sticking with ones own lack of insight?


How can you verify another's insight? By their teachings and conversing with them (AN 4.192). The teaching should be matched with the canonical texts (DN 16) and should bear the eight qualities (AN 8.53; also: Recognizing the Dhamma). That is, the only thing one can rely on is our understanding of the Dharma.

The above is of course what an intellectual person can agree with, something that is in harmony with the "Kantian injunction". In fact, however, people simply rely on faith based on temporary emotional moods most of the times. This results in statements about what they felt in the presence of the teacher, how they have a special connection, how the teacher inspires them, etc. Another thing that is likely thought of as a reliable source is reputation and hearsay. If they are told that such and such a teacher is magnificent, authentic, real, enlightened, then naturally that's how one starts to view that teacher.

While there is the idea that Buddhism is rational and not at all like other religions, there are many methods Buddhism has to emotionally convince people about its usefulness and superiority. The very claim that Buddhism is rational is such a tool to attract followers.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby dude » Tue May 21, 2013 5:47 pm

I see. I think that is quite understandable. I think, returning to the OP, we can also safely conclude that you agree that Buddhadharma ought to be approached with the Kantian injunction in mind - that simply means, the ultimate epistemic authority is your own understanding.

What would be interesting now - for the thread per se - would be for other practitioners to voice their concerns with such an approach. Are there limitations to it?

The obvious objection might be something like this: if true wisdom requires advanced meditative insight, doesn't that insight naturally have more epistemic truth and authority than someone who stays true to their own understanding, but lacks that insight? In that case, might sticking with ones own understanding be nothing more than sticking with ones own lack of insight?

[these are not directed specifically at you dude, they are general questions to help move the thread along].

:anjali:[/quote]


"I think, returning to the OP, we can also safely conclude that you agree that Buddhadharma ought to be approached with the Kantian injunction in mind - that simply means, the ultimate epistemic authority is your own understanding."
Yes indeed, and I would say the Buddha's words concur as well; to expand on my earlier citation of the Kamala Sutra : "Don't believe it just because the holy teachers say it, including if I say it....when you see for yourself that it is good, leads to good outcomes for self and others, is praised by the wise, then you should accept it."


"The obvious objection might be something like this: if true wisdom requires advanced meditative insight, doesn't that insight naturally have more epistemic truth and authority than someone who stays true to their own understanding, but lacks that insight? In that case, might sticking with ones own understanding be nothing more than sticking with ones own lack of insight?"
Of course; when we rely on our own self-satisfied understanding, we are following our own common-mortal mind : "This is what I perceive, these are the conclusions I have reached through my own powers of reasoning, and on what authority can anyone tell me otherwise? I tell me what to do, not you."
It has been said that the beginning of wisdom is knowing what you don't know : "I'm suffering, and I can't figure out how to make it stop. I wonder if anyone can help with this."
Insight meditation practice is for the purpose of observing the workings of our own minds and develop the capacity to perceive the Buddha wisdom inherent in our minds.
The Sutra on the Six Paramitas states : "Be the master of your mind. Do not let your mind master you."
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Jnana » Tue May 21, 2013 8:45 pm

tobes wrote:I think, returning to the OP, we can also safely conclude that you agree that Buddhadharma ought to be approached with the Kantian injunction in mind - that simply means, the ultimate epistemic authority is your own understanding.

What would be interesting now - for the thread per se - would be for other practitioners to voice their concerns with such an approach. Are there limitations to it?

The obvious objection might be something like this: if true wisdom requires advanced meditative insight, doesn't that insight naturally have more epistemic truth and authority than someone who stays true to their own understanding, but lacks that insight? In that case, might sticking with ones own understanding be nothing more than sticking with ones own lack of insight?

This is a good question. I think if we look at the sūtras and śāstras it's quite clear that they place significant emphasis on relying on the instructions of a learned and wise spiritual friend. For example, the Kalyāṇamitrasevana Sūtra:

    Ānanda, the point is that a virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is the whole, the unadulterated, the complete, the pure, the totally purified holy life, but a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support is not.

    Why is that? Ānanda, it is because, by relying on me as their spiritual friend, sentient beings subject to birth will be completely released from being subject to birth, and sentient beings subject to aging, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and agitation will be completely released from being subject to aging, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and agitation.

    Therefore, Ānanda, you should understand in the following way alone: A virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is the whole, the unadulterated, the complete, the pure, the totally purified holy life, but a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support is not. Ānanda, you should train thinking in this way.

The Bodhisattvapiṭaka:

    Having realized that they—the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, the Bodhisattvas and the Buddha's (holy) disciples—are his spiritual friends, great faith arises in him and his devotion is doubled. Those spiritual friends, again, teach him the (law of) karma that 'one has to reap what one sows.' When they know that he has become 'a proper vessel' (to receive) the (Dharma-) discourses which are hard to fathom, they give them to him....

The Śrīsaṃbhava Śrīmativimokṣa:

    In respect of all bodhisattva-practice and studies, (son of good family), bodhisattvas (must) depend on spiritual friends. All excellence pertaining to a bodhisattva is brought to perfection thanks to them. All 'roots of merit' of a bodhisattva have been produced (with the help of) spiritual friends. All learning and experience of a bodhisattva presuppose their (help).

The Ugraparipṛcchā:

    0 Householder, if a bodhisattva [has learned] to read and recite any four-line stanzas about giving, conduct, or patience, zeal, meditation or insight, or about accumulating the equipment for the bodhisattva path, [then] he must give reverence for that doctrine to the Ācārya from whom he [first] heard, or learned to read and recite them.

The Bodhisattvabhūmi:

    A bodhisattva can be recognized as a spiritual friend, perfect in every respect, if he has eight qualities: [a] He keeps the discipline of the bodhisattva vow without fault or failing. [b] He is very learned because his mind is pure. [c] He has a comprehending mind and has acquired all possible virtue arising from contemplation. [d] His loving heart is endowed with compassion. He puts aside his own happiness in this life and works for the good of others. [e] He is aware of the terrible fear others may have when the Doctrine is being taught, and [displays] unfailing confidence and fearlessness himself. [f] He is patient in the face of contempt, censure or flattery, the unpleasantness of malicious gossip, and all the devious ways creatures have. [g] His mind does not tire in his strong and incessant teaching of the doctrine to the four assemblies [of the community]. [h] He has the gift of clarity and does not obscure the reality behind words....

    There are four qualities to [the disciple's] perfect reliance on a spiritual friend: [a] Acting as his common servant and nurse as occasion demands. [b] Speaking respectfully and at the proper time; rising in his presence and greeting him cheerfully; bowing with folded hands. [c] Worshiping him [as a Buddha], and providing him with articles of worship, suitable religious robes, food, sleeping-quarters, a mat, and healing medicine, and the necessities of life. [d] Making him one's refuge, and walking in his presence, confessing one's sins to him and questioning and listening.

The Sūtrasamuccaya:

    If one wishes to apply oneself to dharma-practice in real earnest, one must rely on spiritual friends. Dharma-practice (is really possible) thanks to a spiritual friend.

Kamalaśīla's Second Bhāvanākrama:

    What are the prerequisites of special insight (vipaśyanā)? They are:

    relying on holy persons;
    seriously seeking extensive instruction;
    and proper contemplation.

    What type of holy person should you rely upon? One who has heard many [teachings], who expresses himself clearly, who is endowed with compassion, and able to withstand hardship. What is meant by seriously seeking extensive instruction? This is to listen seriously with respect to the definitive and interpretable meaning of the twelve branches of the Buddha's teachings. The Unraveling of the Thought Sūtra says: "Not listening to superior beings' teachings as you wish is an obstacle to special insight." The same sūtra says, "Special insight arises from its cause, correct view, which in turn arises from listening and contemplation." The Questions of Nārāyana Sūtra says, "Through the experience of listening [to teachings] you gain wisdom, and with wisdom disturbing emotions are thoroughly pacified." What is meant by proper contemplation? It is properly establishing the definitive and interpretable sūtras. When bodhisattvas are free of doubt, they can meditate single-pointedly. Otherwise, if doubt and indecision beset them, they will be like a man at a crossroads uncertain of which path to follow.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Azidonis » Wed May 22, 2013 1:10 am

"Nirvana is the extinction of all notions." - Ven. That Nich Han

That includes the notion of Buddhism.

One cannot be 'liberated' from Buddhism, or anything else, and still be dependent upon it.

However, one may be thus liberated, and choose to use Buddhism as a vehicle whereby to help turn the wheel of the dharma, without implying any personal attachment or dependency upon Buddhism, or any other thing.

Then, the use of Buddhism as a vehicle is just an expedient means, a common vernacular, approach, or method.

Recall, from the Lotus Sutra, "There is no other vehicle, there is only the one Buddha vehicle." And that vehicle is not named "Buddhist", or anything of the sort. In fact, even the term "Buddha vehicle" is but a name given to the nameless by use of expedient means.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Wed May 22, 2013 9:58 am

Jnana wrote:I think if we look at the sūtras and śāstras it's quite clear that they place significant emphasis on relying on the instructions of a learned and wise spiritual friend.


It should also be noted that the definition of such a good friend lies in that he is a learnt and experienced person who happily shares the Dharma. Like an older monastic (upadhyaya), or any sangha member who fits the criteria. The point is, being a teacher is defined by apparent achievements and not on recognition by a lineage or tradition. This is somewhat contrary to the prevalent notion in the West about teachers.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Jnana » Wed May 22, 2013 4:13 pm

Astus wrote:It should also be noted that the definition of such a good friend lies in that he is a learnt and experienced person who happily shares the Dharma. Like an older monastic (upadhyaya), or any sangha member who fits the criteria. The point is, being a teacher is defined by apparent achievements and not on recognition by a lineage or tradition.

In terms of being able to transmit the larger doctrinal framework of the dharma to the West, I think the Tibetan lamas have generally been better able to do this than other Buddhist traditions. There are likely a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that many of them have received significant education and training in these matters.
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby Astus » Wed May 22, 2013 4:37 pm

Jnana wrote:There are likely a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that many of them have received significant education and training in these matters.


I think probably because they have the living lamrim system, unlike East Asian Buddhism.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhism and Enlightenment

Postby dude » Wed May 22, 2013 8:29 pm

"The point is, being a teacher is defined by apparent achievements and not on recognition by a lineage or tradition."

That's the way I see it too. After a number of both good and bad experiences, I don't follow anyone, or even pay much attention to what they say, until they have proved themselves.
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