How evolution relates to dependent origination?

General forum on Mahayana.

Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby ground » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:16 pm

Aemilius wrote: How does the sexual non-activity prescribed by buddhism affect human evolution ?


If the Buddha had taught evolution I would bother


Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:31 am

Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:50 am

TMingyur wrote:
Aemilius wrote: How does the sexual non-activity prescribed by buddhism affect human evolution ?


If the Buddha had taught evolution I would bother


Kind regards



One definition of Dharma is that it explains how things and beings come into existence and how they cease to exist, this is stated briefly in the formula: "This being that becomes, from the ceasing of this that ceases". Same principle is taught in slightly more detail in the Pratitya Samutpada or Dependent Origination or the Causal Genesis. Pratitya samutpada explains how the six classes of beings and the six worlds come in to existence ands how they cease. The idea of evolution does exist in some sense in the buddhist sutras. It is present in the teaching of the Four major kalpas, the Twenty minor kalpas, the yugas and so on... It is also expressed in the Agganna sutta, which you will find here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agganna_Sutta
Buddhism doesn't reject that which is true, that which is borne out by factual evidence.
svaha
User avatar
Aemilius
 
Posts: 1490
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby Astus » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:56 am

Aemilius,

In Buddhist cosmology at the beginning of an aeon it is not from cells to humans and definitely not from insentient to sentient but from gods to hell beings and only from sentient to sentient. Beings are born, live and die because of karma and not natural selection. So it is quite opposite to the scientific evolution.

If you want to discuss this further I recommend to open a thread for it.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4213
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:26 pm

Astus wrote:Aemilius,

In Buddhist cosmology at the beginning of an aeon it is not from cells to humans and definitely not from insentient to sentient but from gods to hell beings and only from sentient to sentient. Beings are born, live and die because of karma and not natural selection. So it is quite opposite to the scientific evolution.

If you want to discuss this further I recommend to open a thread for it.

What do you mean by "sentient"? Some humans might say that animals aren't really sentient in the way humans are. And some gods might say humans aren't sentient in the way gods are. :)

Do you object to equating evolution with dependent origination because of its apparent materialism? What about memes?

I find the 12 chains of dependent origination to be a sufficient explanation of the phenomenological world, but insufficient to explain the objective world because you have to establish something like a cosmic or primordial ignorance, a cosmic consciousness or "background mind" which is like the ether in early physics, and you have to assume the existence of beings with minds but no bodies, or at least some kind of mental interactions that are independent of the physical. These ideas are useful for dharma practice, but on what basis might you debate these things as being realities, with a scientist? He has actual evidence, critical analysis of various rupas, and you have dharma texts? Even if what you say were true, because it is a mental dharma, it is impossible to prove in the same way one might hold up an apple and say, "Here is an apple."
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:00 pm

Astus wrote:Aemilius,

In Buddhist cosmology at the beginning of an aeon it is not from cells to humans and definitely not from insentient to sentient but from gods to hell beings and only from sentient to sentient. Beings are born, live and die because of karma and not natural selection. So it is quite opposite to the scientific evolution.

If you want to discuss this further I recommend to open a thread for it.


That's why I said in some sense there is the idea of evolution. There is the idea of something (new) becoming from causes and conditions,... don't you think this is true ? In the Wheel of Life there is the idea of coming down the scale as well as going up in the scale of existence, I think this should be very clear for everyone? The idea of selflessness implies that you are not forever human, you will change and become something else, either you up or you go down in the scale of existence in the six worlds. This process is normally very slow and it takes hundreds and thousands of lifetimes. You must not forget that there is an upward going process too.

Please open a new thread if you wish!
svaha
User avatar
Aemilius
 
Posts: 1490
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby zerwe » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:41 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Aemilius wrote: How does the sexual non-activity prescribed by buddhism affect human evolution ?


If the Buddha had taught evolution I would bother


Kind regards


I feel that one might argue that Buddha taught the evolution of consciousness and that biological procreation is beside the point (obviously both are necessary or we wouldn't have this precious opportunity).
Shaun
zerwe
 
Posts: 225
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:25 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:45 pm

I don't see any conflict between evolution and DO, because the DO process applies whether we're moving upwards (to the heavens) or downwards (to the animal realms, etc). For that reason, it can apply equally well to an evolutionary or devolutionary model.

But I do wonder if a conflict between evolution and canonical Buddhist cosmology has implications for some other areas of doctrine. According to the sutras, we started off in a sublime state but degraded into our present state after being lured by various material pleasures (food, sex). In that case, the way to transcend our state is obviously via abandoning these habits.

But according to evolution, we began as low forms of life, concerned solely with survival and proliferation, but were able to develop into higher-order beings. That suggests that the evolution of consciousness does not necessarily entail rejection of the natural world but can emerge in conjunction with -- or even as a result of -- natural processes.

Is there a way to reconcile the two paradigms? One angle, perhaps, is to say that evolution simply accounts for the material end of things -- consciousness is always looking for a form to manifest in, and will always manifest in accordance with karma. Thus, as evolution produces forms, these become available to the rebirth-seeking consciousness, which will aim "higher" or "lower" as appropriate.

I'd be interested in hearing how others approach this question. Do you accept evolution and reject the cosmology (in whole or part); do you accept the cosmology and reject evolution, or is there some unifying explanation?

LE
User avatar
Lazy_eye
 
Posts: 277
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:32 am
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:08 pm

Dependent origination is on one hand a principle, on the other a description of psycho-physical processes, while Buddhist cosmology applies dependent origination on a macrocosmic level. Evolution is a scientific concept based on different principles and established on different methods. Putting them into a single system is minimum unscientific and irrelevant to Buddhism. Just as there is no need to synthetise Buddhism and Hegelianism, so it's meaningless to bring together evolution and Buddhist cosmology.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4213
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:56 pm

Astus wrote:Dependent origination is on one hand a principle, on the other a description of psycho-physical processes, while Buddhist cosmology applies dependent origination on a macrocosmic level. Evolution is a scientific concept based on different principles and established on different methods. Putting them into a single system is minimum unscientific and irrelevant to Buddhism. Just as there is no need to synthetise Buddhism and Hegelianism, so it's meaningless to bring together evolution and Buddhist cosmology.

I agree, but there is a distinction I might make. But first, let's clarify that you acknowledge two expressions of dependent origination:

1) As psycho-physical processes; the subjective, phenomenological world.
2) Buddhist cosmology; the "macrocosmic level".

I'd relate the above to this sutta.

For now, my question is: Why is the second doctrine put forth when understanding the first doctrine is sufficient to attain liberation? :)
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Ogyen » Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:24 pm

this always kind of surprises me.

dependent origination IS evolution.

What's there to relate to?
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive Word Press
Mud to Lotus

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy
User avatar
Ogyen
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:19 pm

Individual wrote:1) As psycho-physical processes; the subjective, phenomenological world.
2) Buddhist cosmology; the "macrocosmic level".

I'd relate the above to this sutta.

For now, my question is: Why is the second doctrine put forth when understanding the first doctrine is sufficient to attain liberation? :)


What I said was that dependent origination is:
1. a universal principle
2. a description of psycho-physical processes

No word about either being subjective or a cosmology in itself.

The cosmological part is an extension of the teaching of dependent origination where other teachings are also involved, especially karma, rebirth and the different realms. Buddhist spatial cosmology means the three worlds and the many realms from the lowest hells up to the immaterial heavens. Temporal cosmology describes the lifespan of beings in the realms and also the time a realm may come to existence, remain and dissolve. This whole cosmology is used both to describe how rebirth works and also applied to the career of noble beings. That's how it is an integral part of Buddhism.

If evolution was used in Buddhism one would have to explain its relation to karma, to the realms and how one can attain liberation in that system. That is, it'd involve a major reorganisation and rewriting of Buddhism, simply because the teachings a co-dependent on each other. There are, of course, parts of cosmology that can be changed without messing up the whole system - here I mean basically how the world is described with its four continents and Meru in the middle. But even that can be left as it is. I say that because the Buddhist cosmology is a religious one, something spiritual, from a different perspective than science uses.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4213
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:46 pm

Astus wrote:The cosmological part is an extension of the teaching of dependent origination where other teachings are also involved, especially karma, rebirth and the different realms.

OK, so then: Why is that extension of dependent origination necessary? On the same basis that it was established, would it not make sense to include evolution in some way?

Astus wrote:If evolution was used in Buddhism one would have to explain its relation to karma, to the realms and how one can attain liberation in that system. That is, it'd involve a major reorganisation and rewriting of Buddhism, simply because the teachings a co-dependent on each other. There are, of course, parts of cosmology that can be changed without messing up the whole system - here I mean basically how the world is described with its four continents and Meru in the middle. But even that can be left as it is. I say that because the Buddhist cosmology is a religious one, something spiritual, from a different perspective than science uses.

Not necessarily re-writing or re-organization, just different ways of thinking. Mahayanists did not have to re-write the Nikayas, but merely interpreted them in different ways. Throughout the entire evolution of the Mahayana Buddhist schools, each school developed new ideas and teachings through new interpretations, without having to necessarily create new texts or forsake the old ones.
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:01 pm

Well, if you can come up with a consistent application of evolution without contradicting the Buddha's words I might reconsider my views about this subject. But you should note that Mahayana is not based on implementing other philosophies into 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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4213
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:37 pm

Astus wrote:Well, if you can come up with a consistent application of evolution without contradicting the Buddha's words I might reconsider my views about this subject. But you should note that Mahayana is not based on implementing other philosophies into Buddhism.

I wouldn't bother! :)

However, you have one mind (I assume!). In your one mind, you seem to be both a Mahayana Buddhist and a believer in evolution. How are these things implemented together in your one mind right now?

Specifically: Do you treat one as being slightly more or less true than the other (that acknowledging evolution is expedient means but in ultimate reality evolution is false?), or do you see them as equally useful but different modes of understanding?
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:04 pm

Astus wrote:Dependent origination is on one hand a principle, on the other a description of psycho-physical processes, while Buddhist cosmology applies dependent origination on a macrocosmic level. Evolution is a scientific concept based on different principles and established on different methods. Putting them into a single system is minimum unscientific and irrelevant to Buddhism. Just as there is no need to synthetise Buddhism and Hegelianism, so it's meaningless to bring together evolution and Buddhist cosmology.


On the whole, I'd agree with you, Astus. Still, there are some points of overlap, and that's where the questions may arise. Some passages in the scriptures (the Agganna Sutta, for instance) clearly seem to be discussing phenomena at a conventional level -- i.e. explaining how life on earth originated, how society developed, and so on. This brings the dharma into the arena studied by the various sciences.

And so it raises the question of how the Buddha -- assuming he taught these things at all -- intended them to be understood. Maybe they are allegories meant to dramatize Buddhist teachings. Maybe Darwin was wrong and the apes devolved from us, rather than us evolving from apes. I don't know. But I have a hunch many people over the centuries took such passages literally.
User avatar
Lazy_eye
 
Posts: 277
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:32 am
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:07 am

Buddhism's goal is to liberate beings from suffering. Science's goal is to understand natural phenomena in a systematic way. This difference in attitude separates them and gives distinct meanings to these creations of the mind. Consequently Buddhist cosmology is not the same as scientific cosmology, and there are many other cosmologies. Then if we want to evaluate these cosmologies there's a need for a measurement. From a Buddhist point of view scientific cosmology doesn't help liberating beings, therefore it has little or no value. From a scientific perspective the Buddhist cosmology is a religious fiction and can be used only within certain social sciences but tells little about our physical environment. But suppose we view them from a Christian or a Neoplatonic system they're both incorrect. However, if we're looking for The Real Cosmology, well, I call that naivety.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4213
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:51 am

Astus wrote:Buddhism's goal is to liberate beings from suffering. Science's goal is to understand natural phenomena in a systematic way. This difference in attitude separates them and gives distinct meanings to these creations of the mind. Consequently Buddhist cosmology is not the same as scientific cosmology, and there are many other cosmologies. Then if we want to evaluate these cosmologies there's a need for a measurement. From a Buddhist point of view scientific cosmology doesn't help liberating beings, therefore it has little or no value. From a scientific perspective the Buddhist cosmology is a religious fiction and can be used only within certain social sciences but tells little about our physical environment. But suppose we view them from a Christian or a Neoplatonic system they're both incorrect. However, if we're looking for The Real Cosmology, well, I call that naivety.

Why is dependent origination presented as cosmology when presenting it as merely psycho-physical processes is already enough? :)
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:10 am

How does the sexual non-activity prescribed by buddhism affect human evolution ?


After Darwin it has gradually become a concern in civilization about our 'future evolution'.

I think it prompted the ideas about race theory (the superior and inferior races) and racial purity (the perceived need to preserve the strength and qualities of a 'race' lest positive evolution be lost with intermingling with 'other races').

Can you really plan the evolutionary course of a species? Some people think so.

One should keep in mind when Buddha advocated celibacy he was speaking to renunciates. Most humans have no interest in celibacy. I don't think the idea is that the whole species will suddenly adopt celibacy and humanity will die out within a century. That's taking the teaching to an unrealistic extreme.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5863
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby ground » Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:55 am

Ogyen wrote:dependent origination IS evolution.


This is an instance of applying a buddhist term ("dependent origination") out of its original context in a non-buddhist context.

In the same vein one could say "Death IS the end of suffering"

Now if you say you refer to "evolution in general" then you also apply the term "evolution" out of the context it has been discussed here and I would say that you are just playing with words.

Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:31 am

Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:16 am

Huseng wrote:
How does the sexual non-activity prescribed by buddhism affect human evolution ?


After Darwin it has gradually become a concern in civilization about our 'future evolution'.

I think it prompted the ideas about race theory (the superior and inferior races) and racial purity (the perceived need to preserve the strength and qualities of a 'race' lest positive evolution be lost with intermingling with 'other races').

Can you really plan the evolutionary course of a species? Some people think so.

One should keep in mind when Buddha advocated celibacy he was speaking to renunciates. Most humans have no interest in celibacy. I don't think the idea is that the whole species will suddenly adopt celibacy and humanity will die out within a century. That's taking the teaching to an unrealistic extreme.


There are several things I had in mind when saying that. Firstly, acquired propensities are not hereditary. This is to say that if the father or mother has attained or has not attained dhyana/samadhi has no effect on the chromosomes their children will inherit. I take Aryans, or the Overmen (of Nietsche), to mean persons who have attained concrete levels of the mundane or supramundane path. These attainments have no effect on their chromosomes, nor are these attainments caused by their chromosomes. Do you agree?

I think Buddha's teaching is meant for people at large, not just for renunciates, it is the same for different classes of people. In Dhammapada there is a sentence that Lust is a blemish of mankind. It is quite rare that a person is interested in Dharma, but if he takes interest in it it is similar, like gravity is similar whether you are renunciate or not.
I think it is easy to detect that Pali Scriptures have been edited in such a manner that all teachings given to laymen, laywomen and people outside the sangha have been eradicated or changed so that it seems that the Shakyamuni always and exclusively taught the monks, which certainly is not a historical truth.
Why would there be right livelihood in the Noble Eightfold Path if the teaching is aimed at renunciates exclusively? The interpretations of "livelihood" are strained, I think, that you find in Pali sources.
svaha
User avatar
Aemilius
 
Posts: 1490
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Next

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: sozenithurts, twiz and 21 guests

>