How evolution relates to dependent origination?

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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:59 pm

Aemilius wrote:
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 wonder if there is certain genetic programming that is favourable to samadhi? Some people are natural athletes -- I wonder if there are natural meditators?

Actually I think I was fortunate to be born with flexible limbs, which would a physiological trait. From since I can remember I've been able to sit comfortably in full lotus without straining my legs. I don't have to stretch my legs either. I just sit down in full lotus in front of the computer or on the meditation cushion and I'm fine. I've never really had to struggle much with sitting in lotus, which has made meditation easier for me. Quite fortunate (or perhaps it is a just karmic reward from past lives? :thumbsup: )

But as to your original question I don't think meditation has an effect on your chromosomes, but then maybe it might affect which chromosomes you come to inherit in your future lives.

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.


Indeed the teachings are applicable, but some teachings will likely be seen as disagreeable by those without the strong will to renounce samsara.

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.


I think the monastic community was the party most likely to remember and then record their teachings. The commoners coming to the Buddha would have received great teachings, but the means to remember and transmit those teachings probably were scarce. Folk tales I'm sure existed about the Buddha, but those can only last so many generations.
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Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby fragrant herbs » Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:02 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.


Thank you Astus. I agree with you. Upon reading this I do not get evolution at all. What I get is that these spiritual beings materialized, and perhaps if it was due to karma, other sentient beings materilized as animals, etc. But that is my own take on it.

I have been reading a book that basically disproves evolution by pointing out the flaws in it that other scientists have found, some that were even exposed many years ago but have been ignored and are now taught as facts.

I would like to hear what you have to say about this statement you made: from gods to hell beings and only from sentient to sentient.
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:47 pm

Urgyen Chodron,

What I meant was that in Buddhist cosmology at the begining of an era first gods are born and last hell beings. Also, only from a sentient being can become a new sentient being, ie. rebirth.
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This face, the face at birth."

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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby fragrant herbs » Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:19 pm

Astus wrote:Urgyen Chodron,

What I meant was that in Buddhist cosmology at the begining of an era first gods are born and last hell beings. Also, only from a sentient being can become a new sentient being, ie. rebirth.


What do you mean by a sentient being in this case? I think of all living things as sentient.

What is interesting to me is that the gods were first. Without sounding like a Christian, because I am not, it reads much like the bible in that it says, let us create , not speaking of one god. Being "born" to me implies creation, but that may not be what you mean. Perhaps the gods always were? perhaps we always were in existence. I don't know. How did the hell beings come about?

I also don't take the creation in Genesis to be all fact, but there are some similarities. gods first, sentient beings, then demons.
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Astus » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:41 am

Urgyen,

Here's a summary for you on Wikipedia: Buddhist Cosmology

As for the order of the reemerging of life in the different realms see the temporal part here.

Sentient being means a being with a mind-stream. Insentient things have no mind-stream.
"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: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Aemilius » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:54 am

Huseng wrote:
Aemilius wrote:
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 wonder if there is certain genetic programming that is favourable to samadhi? Some people are natural athletes -- I wonder if there are natural meditators?

Actually I think I was fortunate to be born with flexible limbs, which would a physiological trait. From since I can remember I've been able to sit comfortably in full lotus without straining my legs. I don't have to stretch my legs either. I just sit down in full lotus in front of the computer or on the meditation cushion and I'm fine. I've never really had to struggle much with sitting in lotus, which has made meditation easier for me. Quite fortunate (or perhaps it is a just karmic reward from past lives? :thumbsup: )

But as to your original question I don't think meditation has an effect on your chromosomes, but then maybe it might affect which chromosomes you come to inherit in your future lives.

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.


Indeed the teachings are applicable, but some teachings will likely be seen as disagreeable by those without the strong will to renounce samsara.

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.


I think the monastic community was the party most likely to remember and then record their teachings. The commoners coming to the Buddha would have received great teachings, but the means to remember and transmit those teachings probably were scarce. Folk tales I'm sure existed about the Buddha, but those can only last so many generations.


As ven. Huifeng has told us, in some other forum previously, there are special names and titles for people who have memorized the whole Tripitaka, this is a remarkable feat of memorizing and it gives us some idea what the oral tradition was like, and incidentally these persons were mostly or always upasakas!
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Aemilius » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:09 am

Urgyen Chodron wrote:
Astus wrote:Urgyen Chodron,

What I meant was that in Buddhist cosmology at the begining of an era first gods are born and last hell beings. Also, only from a sentient being can become a new sentient being, ie. rebirth.


What do you mean by a sentient being in this case? I think of all living things as sentient.

What is interesting to me is that the gods were first. Without sounding like a Christian, because I am not, it reads much like the bible in that it says, let us create , not speaking of one god. Being "born" to me implies creation, but that may not be what you mean. Perhaps the gods always were? perhaps we always were in existence. I don't know. How did the hell beings come about?

I also don't take the creation in Genesis to be all fact, but there are some similarities. gods first, sentient beings, then demons.


To Astus

You have to say the whole thing or more of it, i.e. before the beginning of the present kalpa or cosmic era there was another cosmic era that ended and disintegrated, and before that an other one and so on,... One cosmic era consists of four vast periods of time, these are: 1.the era of vacuity, 2. the era of development, 3. the era of maturity or maintenance, and 4.the era of destruction,...

The buddhist axiom that from causes and conditions a (new)thing or a (new)being arises is similar to the definition of the word to evolve.
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby fragrant herbs » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:14 pm

Thanks.

I am never sure about wikipedia. i looked up soul once and found i was reading a darkzen wikipedia entry.
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Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby Jikan » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:33 pm

zerwe wrote:
I feel that one might argue that Buddha taught the evolution of consciousness
Shaun


Hi Shaun,

On what basis might one make the argument that the evolution of consciousness is a Buddhist teaching?

My take: if you look at it historically, the doctrine of the evolution of consciousness has its roots in German idealist philosophy: Hegel, Schelling, Dilthey... it turns up in Theosophy and in some modern South Asian philosophers (Aurobindo most explicitly), and from there to a mainstay of New Age thinkers who tend to attribute it to the Buddhist tradition.

(I'm speaking of evolution-of-consciousness as distinct from biological models post-Darwin.)
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:37 pm

Urgyen Chodron wrote:Thanks.

I am never sure about wikipedia. i looked up soul once and found i was reading a darkzen wikipedia entry.


I'm not refering to wikipedia, haven't read yet what it says about Kalpas etc... The issue is an old one, it occurs in Sutras and in the Abhidharma, it has been explained in the past by several writers on buddhist history. There are Theravadin based accounts, one by Jayatilleke, about buddhist cosmology. Herbert Guenther and Edward Conze have both written about buddhist cosmology, based on the Abhidharma. Alex Wayman writes about the beginnings of the world period in his collection of essays called Buddhist Tantras: Light On Indo-Tibetan Esoterism, I think his view on the topic is interesting. And so on....
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Re: How evolution relates to dependent origination?

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:49 pm

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.


Yes, I agree on the whole with the distinction you're making. But it seems to me that not all questions are answered.

For one thing, certain passages in the teachings seem intended as a literal description of how natural phenomena developed, in which case we have an overlap with science. They are making what seem to be scientific statements, according to the knowledge of a certain era.

When Ven. Sheng Yen writes:

As for the first appearance of life on Earth, Buddhists believe that all living beings, from single-celled organisms to human beings, first emerged on this planet through spontaneous birth.


In what sense is this statement true? Scientifically? Religiously/Mythologically? Allegorically?

You write that "from a Buddhist point of view scientific cosmology doesn't help liberating beings, therefore it has little or no value." This suggests that from the Buddhist point of view, cosmology is simply a way to illustrate Buddhist principles.

But where do the principles and goals of Buddhism come from? They come from a view of reality, which can be expressed in the cosmology. So ultimately we can't avoid making some assessment as to whether the view of reality is correct. As I'm sure you'll agree, certain givens are required (rebirth, karma, planes of existence, etc) or the dharma falls apart.

Thus, to say that the cosmology should be measured by its ability to liberate sentient beings is to make a circular argument. It's like saying we should believe in rebirth because this will help us become liberated; if there were no rebirth, however, liberation would not be necessary.

However, if we're looking for The Real Cosmology, well, I call that naivety.


Maybe so. But a Buddha would know what the real cosmology is. So we can't dismiss the possibility that it exists and can be understood.
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Re: How do monks put up with celibacy?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:58 pm

Jikan wrote:
My take: if you look at it historically, the doctrine of the evolution of consciousness has its roots in German idealist philosophy: Hegel, Schelling, Dilthey... it turns up in Theosophy and in some modern South Asian philosophers (Aurobindo most explicitly), and from there to a mainstay of New Age thinkers who tend to attribute it to the Buddhist tradition.

(I'm speaking of evolution-of-consciousness as distinct from biological models post-Darwin.)


I find that idea most amazing! When we know that the Tathagata has repeatedly explained how development in Dharma is gradual, like when the ocean floor gets gradually deeper and deeper ( Udana Vagga). Then we have the gradual stages of development of the Stream Enterer, Once Returner, Non Returner and Arhat. We have gradual stages of development in meditation through the four Dhyanas, through the gradual stages of Eight Liberations, we have gradual stages of development in Faith, we have gradual stages of Effort or energy (virya), we have gradual stages of Wisdom, gradual stages in Patience, gradual stages in Moral training, and so on... Like in the case of the Stream Enterer these stages can occur during several lifetimes or in one lifetime. Thus there certainly is an idea of gradual development, either in one lifetime or during several lifetimes, in the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.
In dictionaries gradual development is explained to be the meaning of the word to evolve.
Then we ofcourse have the the gradual development (of the Bodhisattava) from the first meeting with Dipankara Tathagata to the Full Enlightenment as Buddha Shakyamuni, which spans a very long career of development.
We must not forget that there is gradual development, or evolving, within Samsara. When we gradually, through many lifetimes, rise from lower planes of existence to higher ones. This idea is presented in the teaching of the Wheel of Life. At its the hub there is a white halfcircle representing the possibility of rising from lower states of existence to higher planes of existence.
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