"...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby dude » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:45 am

lol Samba
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Sherab » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:46 am

The teachings of the Buddha reflects his skillful actions. That would include using wrong ideas of the day to get a point through. If the Buddha did not do that, then the point that the Buddha wanted to get through will get side-tracked by debate about the wrong ideas themselves.

There are certainly things said in the suttas and sutras that are not to be taken literally. But we have to use rational thinking to filter out what should be taken literally and what should not be. There are many things that science has explained and explained very well. We should accept them until a better scientific explanation comes along. So I think it is rational to reject the description of the physical universe in the sutta. But there are things that science has yet to be able to explain such as the various siddhis of accomplished meditators. I personally have experienced the siddhis of my master and I have to accept the fact that I could not explain them in any scientific way.

Practically all participants on this forum are familiar with the Kalama Sutta. Nevertheless, it bears repetition here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby dude » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:30 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
dude wrote: That's pushing it.


Yeah, probably! :tongue:
...but is the hungry ghost realm any more real than the human realm?
...is Manjusri any more real than you or I?
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.
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Assuming that they are also no less, of course not.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby pensum » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:07 am

Sherab wrote:But there are things that science has yet to be able to explain such as the various siddhis of accomplished meditators. I personally have experienced the siddhis of my master and I have to accept the fact that I could not explain them in any scientific way.


Excellent, Sherab! We've got some pretty sharp analytical minds here, on both sides of the debate. So if you provide an accurate account of the these events, like you we can dissect them and see if indeed science and logic come up short, and perhaps we'll all get lucky and finally get a first-person account which is reasonably reliable. I would just ask that all parties treat this with respect and intellectual honesty, presenting and discussing just the facts, and reasonable hypotheses pro and con. Sherab just imagine that you are writing up an eyewitness report for a court case starting with time, date, location, names of those involved, and all the related circumstances including those that led up to the events in question, as well as their result and their aftermath. Of course, collaborating testimony by other eyewitnesses would not only be appreciated, but go a long way toward providing a solid case. If you are willing to do so, and would like help preparing your account i would be happy to provide impartial support to ensure that your account is complete before subjecting it to public scrutiny, in which case just PM me. Such an approach would likely avoid a lot of sidetracks.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Simon E. » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:24 am

dude wrote:You think preventing or causing hail, healing mantras, etc are bullshit too?

Now that's a much more important question, isn't it?

Personally...causing hail..crap.
Healing mantras..sometimes but the reason is not esoteric or involving the unexplainable.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby heart » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:04 am

A scholar I met in Dharamsala 20 years ago that in his past been a Gelug monk at a big monastery in the south of India for 15 years told me he was completely convinced that Tibetan medicine was complete crap. According to him he never seen anyone get even a little better from Tibetan medicine all the years he been a monk. But when discussing the magical rituals he participated in the monastery, for example to produce rain, he said it was very impressive success rate. He was also convinced that many of the various laypeople acting as oracles had an uncanny capacity to accurately predict the future. He is currently holding a position at a University in the US.

Just to show that there isn't really two sides in this discussion, there are many.

/magnus
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:06 pm

Regarding Scientology, if their methods did lead to good results that would be great. It's for the individual to judge that for themselves - the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.


They seem pretty convinced their methods do lead to good results. I can't be sure that is the litmus test for truth.

Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard said it himself:
"And in the eternal debate on answers what is true.... Is what's true for you"


Citing "experience" can be an easy way to get around the tough questions.

In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:29 pm

pensum wrote: So if you provide an accurate account of the these events, like you we can dissect them and see if indeed science and logic come up short, and perhaps we'll all get lucky and finally get a first-person account which is reasonably reliable. .


That would be nice.
But the process of validation is complicated.

First of all, people who have such activities may be reluctant to reveal details or even admit it,
And we have to take it on faith that the person is giving an accurate and true account of events,

But, suppose someone presents as an honest accounting, some "unusual" activity (I will do that at the end of this post).
Were these events actual 'siddhis" or is it just some sort of common, though perhaps unusual phenomena?

Is what is offered as a possible 'siddhi" the result of highly developed meditation practices,
some kind of specific Buddhist activity which is supposed to produce a particular type of ability?

That is the kind of information one usually needs to establish a direct cause-and-effect proof.
Many people claim to have extraordinary powers of perception (ESP) and so on, which might be called Siddhis,
but they themselves have never practiced Buddhist meditation of any sort.

What is the specific definition of a "Siddhi" for the purposes of such an investigation?

Many of the posts I make to this forum should indicate that I am a very skeptical person, and not easily led to believe in the validity of supernatural claims. I think people often see things they want to see, and create coincidences out of situations where in fact there are none. However, I have witnessed a lot of stuff that could be regarded as beyond the ordinary, and I will share my own personal experience. But please note, I am not claiming in any way that this is a siddhi, or the result of any sort of enlightened realization or anything like that. I only want to show that unusual things occur, and people can make their own assumptions about the causes.

My experiences took place about 20 years ago, when I had been living for a year or so at a (well known) Tibetan Buddhist facility in upstate new York. I participated in the usual daily activities, (sadhanas, occasional pujas, etc.) but nothing "concentrated"...it wasn't a solitary retreat or anything. But, lots of sitting meditation. During that time I found that if someone gave me something handwritten by someone else I did not know, I could tell something rather specific about the writer. This wasn't a case of handwriting analysis, but if i held the item and looked at it, I sensed some specific things about the person who had written it. I could even tell something about a letter in an envelope, without seeing the writing specifically. This was also subject to misinterpretation, as I shall explain.

I enjoyed exploring this 'ability" mostly for fun and the amusement of my friends. The most striking occurrence was when
one friend handed me a matchbook with a phone number scrawled on it, and asked me, 'what can you tell me about this person?" The process I would then engage in was to let my thoughts subside, allow my mind to go blank, and then say what it was that came to me. But when I did it this time, I felt very distracted, and I told my friend, "I'm sorry, I am having trouble doing this. for some reason, I keep thinking about Pit Bulls" (dogs). Her mouth dropped open and she cried, "WHAT?" and I said, "pit bulls. for some reason, I keep thinking about pit bulls." and she said, "The person who wrote this has pitbulls. He raises pit bulls!!!" ....so, what I thought was a distraction was actually the "incoming message" if you want to call it that.

Around that same time, another person once handed me an envelope with a letter inside that she had received, and asked me to tell her about the person who wrote the letter, without opening the envelope. I told her that I thought the person who wrote the letter probably traveled a lot, that traveling was always on their mind, and that they always thought about being someplace else. Then she told me that the letter was from an inmate she writes to, who is serving a life sentence in prison. So, in one aspect, I was right about what I was sensing, but my interpretation of that sensation was way off.

There were a few other opportunities to do this, and always with some degree (whatever that means) of accuracy. I asked a resident lama about this "ability" and he said not to get too hung up on it, it had causes and when those causes ceased it would too. So, I quit doing it. I quit "performing" it.

Of course, this is not the same as recalling past lives, or flying through the air or traveling through the ground. Generating heat is a kind of yogic activity that I think pretty much anyone can learn to do. But Since there was a mention of wanting some first-hand account, I thought I would share this, but how does one really determine that someone has accomplished a siddhi?
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:48 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Meru is not presented as a visionary model in any Buddhist text It is presented by Vasubandhu as empirical fact. Since that cosmology does not conform to what is universally accessible empirical knowledge, it is relic of another time and another culture that no longer can be entertained as true.

You seem to accept rebirth. Is that based on universally accessible empirical knowledge?


Yes.

No. It's an inferential conclusion about a phenomena of which I have no direct knowledge (I have no recollection of past lives, and couldn't prove it to you even if I did). But I do have a mind, the last I checked (some may disagree of course), and as a matter of inference, is seemed unlikely to me (when I examined the question) that ultimately my stream of consciousness could have emerged from my brain alone (which is a necessary condition for sense cognitions, but in my opinion cannot account for knowing).

M
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Simon E. » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:57 pm

Padma Von Sambhava..some years ago I was on retreat at Samye Ling monastery and one day came across a group of young monks and nuns practising Tum-mo on the banks of a freezing cold stream.
Later I learned that the one who showed most aptitude and had dried out most wet sheets was a young nun.
A year or two back I was told by a friend that the nun in question had become a Roman Catholic.
I don't know what if anything that shows, but I thought it was interesting.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:48 pm

One thing that people seem to be unaware of, because perhaps they are not very clear about the history of Buddhist ideas, is that the so called "siddha" movement largely rose in response to increasing hostility towards Buddhists. In fact, it seems it seems that the tales of magical violence match pretty well with the increasing unviability of Buddhism in India. Think on this.

The legends of siddhas in India virtually all have the context of trying to amaze or defeat non-Buddhist opponents. The legendary battles between buddhist and non-buddhist siddhas always come down to "The fastest siddha in the East". And of course, we only record our victories, not our defeats. For a record of our defeats, we must examine Hindu sources.

If we take the example of Virupa -- in the legends of siddhis he displayed for Buddhists, they are generally kind, like crossing a reflecting pond by walking on the lotus leaves. However, when confronting Hindus they are always wrathful, like causing a linga to split in two by prostrating to it, and so on. Eventually, because Virupa was such a badass, Avalokiteśvara intervened, according to the main account of his career, and asked him to stop displaying siddhis because he was freaking people out too much.

Tibetans were fascinated by such stories. When we look to the accounts of Vajrayāna in Sino-japenese Buddhism, we do not see anything like the narrative of conflict and subjugation that we see when Vajrayāna was imported to Tibet.

While the Buddha himself is said to have criticized displays of ṛddhipati as a means to engender faith, as Buddhism lost ground against hostile Shaivaites and Bhagavatis (followers of Vishnu), there is marked increase in such tales. Unfortunately for Indian Buddhists, there simply were not enough Buddhist siddhas to stave off the eventual destruction of Buddhism in India by hostile Hindus and Muslims -- not to mention Central Asia. In reality, if we examine the Buddhist siddha movement as a defensive strategy in order to preserve the faith, it failed. By the the 12th century, even Bodhgaya had been overrun by nonbuddhists. So it seems that the Buddhist siddha movement in the end completely failed at preserving the Dharma in India.

So what does this have to do with Buddhist "inner science"? Of what possible use are siddhis in taming the mind? Of what possible use are siddhis other than as a frightening display of power imbued with the threat of violence?

If you read the accounts of Buddhist siddhas, they are filled with magical violence of the most extreme kind (Tilopa killing small creatures by the side of a river; Gesar slaying hundreds of thousands of Horpas). What is admirable about stopping the sun so that crops in the field burn and animals begin to die of dehydration (Virupa)? What is admirable about the ability to incinerate your opponent with a wrathful glare (Dharmakirti)? Why do we admire this?

Honestly, I think that people should really evaluate what it is that they find so admirable about the ritual violence (that we term "siddhis") that so many Vajrayāna legends are imbued with. Poeple really should evaluate the fact that many of the primary legends of siddhas concern their skill at destructive magical violence as evidence of their qualities of realization.

This reflection should also cause people to reconsider what is meant by Buddhist "inner science". Perhaps we should form a hypothesis (like any good scientist) and subject that hypothesis to testing.

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Astus » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:But I do have a mind, the last I checked (some may disagree of course), and as a matter of inference, is seemed unlikely to me (when I examined the question) that ultimately my stream of consciousness could have emerged from my brain alone (which is a necessary condition for sense cognitions, but in my opinion cannot account for knowing).


And that is the only topic where Buddhism needs to develop some proper arguments. Many of Shantarakshita's arguments against the materialists could be today refuted by the current understanding of neurology and biochemistry. For instance, he writes in relation to the body being the material cause of consciousness:

"What is a fact is that when the modification of one thing always follows the modification of another, then alone can the one be rightly regarded as the Material Cause of the other."
(Tattvasamgraha, §1886, vol 2, p 900)

Although there is no complete map of the human brain, but a strong correlation between the neural system and consciousness is quite apparent. There are many drugs people use daily to improve their mental functions, just as there are known physical symptoms of mental illnesses (p 912). There are also physical signs of one's emotional state (p 915), just as the brain still functions during the dream state and such (p 921). Explaining the actions of newborn infants do not require assuming previous lives (p 926), and mental states can often be explained by physical elements (p 933). Thus the usual Buddhist position is hard to maintain that

"Subjective Consciousness rests entirely upon the previous Consciousness; this is the idea expressed in the words 'Subjective Consciousness must be regarded as independent'. The reason for this 'independence' consists in the fact of its not requiring anything else, In all cases, this Subjective Consciousness proceeds entirely from its own Cause, because it does not stand in need of any causes other than its own, in the. shape of the Eye, etc.; as is found to be the case during sleep."
(p 922)

As you say, Buddhists should update themselves to the 21st century, if they want to be taken seriously and not as narrow minded people lost in a long gone era. Of course, there are Buddhists for whom such things as the philosophy of mind are not unknown, however, it is too easy to end up on the materialist side and lose important elements of Buddhism.

For those who believe that it is pointless to engage in science and philosophy as religion is mostly for the uneducated simple folk who believe whatever the authority figure says, it is partially true. Still, most human beings want to rationalise what they believe in. That's why reasoning and arguments matter. And those who are considered authentic sources of truth tend to be people with at least a little higher intellectual capacity than the average humans. Also, the more effort one puts into one's religion the more one wants to understand the details behind the surface.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Meru is not presented as a visionary model in any Buddhist text It is presented by Vasubandhu as empirical fact. Since that cosmology does not conform to what is universally accessible empirical knowledge, it is relic of another time and another culture that no longer can be entertained as true.

You seem to accept rebirth. Is that based on universally accessible empirical knowledge?


Yes.

No. It's an inferential conclusion about a phenomena of which I have no direct knowledge (I have no recollection of past lives, and couldn't prove it to you even if I did). But I do have a mind, the last I checked (some may disagree of course), and as a matter of inference, is seemed unlikely to me (when I examined the question) that ultimately my stream of consciousness could have emerged from my brain alone (which is a necessary condition for sense cognitions, but in my opinion cannot account for knowing).

M


Should be..."my stream of consciousness could not have emerged..."
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:26 pm

The legendary battles between buddhist and non-buddhist siddhas always come down to "The fastest siddha in the East". And of course, we only record our victories, not our defeats. For a record of our defeats, we must examine Hindu sources.


Agreed, can you suggest some?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:46 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
The legendary battles between buddhist and non-buddhist siddhas always come down to "The fastest siddha in the East". And of course, we only record our victories, not our defeats. For a record of our defeats, we must examine Hindu sources.


Agreed, can you suggest some?


Take a look at the "The Hardship and Downfall of Buddhism in India" showing that Indian Buddhism was destroyed by Hindus. This book convincingly puts to rest the idea that Buddhism was not destroyed by Hindus but rather by Muslims. It shows, convincingly in my mind, that the long standing and deeply entrenched Brahmanical hostility to Buddhism was in large part responsible for the downfall of Buddhism in India, as recorded in myths and accounts in Hindu texts and archaeology.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:Take a look at the "The Hardship and Downfall of Buddhism in India" showing that Indian Buddhism was destroyed by Hindus. This book convincingly puts to rest the idea that Buddhism was not destroyed by Hindus but rather by Muslims. It shows, convincingly in my mind, that the long standing and deeply entrenched Brahmanical hostility to Buddhism was in large part responsible for the downfall of Buddhism in India, as recorded in myths and accounts in Hindu texts and archaeology.


I agree. It is a remarkable work, although some Indian scholars I know personally disagree with his premises and reject his ideas. However, he backs up his claims with ample evidence in my mind.

The Buddhists incidentally responded to the hostilities by implementing their own forms of violence:

    Violence was no longer a taboo for the Buddhists: it was part of their strategy, together with sexual unruliness and a conscious resorting to social revolt. It is a mistake to consider the incitements to revolt contained in the texts and the manifestations of violence in both texts and iconographies as purely symbolic. They are literal and metaphorical, not symbolic. As metaphors, through the analogical process, texts and iconographies transfer the violence committed by the Buddhists on the tīrthika-s to those carried out on the Brahmanical gods by the new Buddhist deities. That a symbolic interpretation started developing at an early stage is not particularly significant, because it was largely the work of trans-Himalayan Buddhists who had to adapt the received tradition to a context where there were no tīrthika-s. The Vajrayāna was considered part of the true teaching of the Buddha, and neither texts nor images could be changed: they could only be interpreted. These interpretations have their own legitimacy, and so deep and influential as to have generated an entire symbolic universe, extending from Tibet to Japan, but we must first distinguish between Indian Buddhism and the violent world where it developed and the forms it took when it was received outside India.


Giovanni Veraridi, Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India (New Delhi, India: Manohar, 2011), 349-350.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:One thing that people seem to be unaware of, because perhaps they are not very clear about the history of Buddhist ideas, is that the so called "siddha" movement largely rose in response to increasing hostility towards Buddhists...

I understand what you say, and I agree with it. However I think you are using a more restrictive sense of "siddha/siddhi" here than what I, and probably others posting on this thread, have in mind.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby smcj » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:18 pm

Of what possible use are siddhis in taming the mind?

In the admonition to…

Cease bad actions.
Adopt good actions.
Tame the mind.

The "taming of the mind" part has a somewhat broader meaning than is usually associated with that saying. In ancient India when they tamed an elephant they did not just keep it as a pet. They put it to work doing things. They utilized the potential of the elephant's immense strength to pick up logs and tow things for instance. So for us to "tame our minds" we need to do more than just pacify our minds, we need utilize our minds immense potential to do things. We need to put them to work. People are surprised how much work the Vajrayana is. If this saying was better understood that would not be a surprise.

Part of the teachings on karma say that the action alters, or defines, the actor. If we lie, we become a liar, etc. But the same idea works in a positive way also. By applying ourselves to work we actualize a part of our minds that isn't brought to the fore any other way. Even in our modern mundane society we can see how people that apply themselves to a discipline are changed by the effort. When we apply ourselves to a Dharma discipline, such as the 6 yogas, besides the mastery of the yoga the yoga alters us.

Or so I've been told.

Plus the resulting abilities can be put to good use helping others to some extent.
Last edited by smcj on Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:26 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:One thing that people seem to be unaware of, because perhaps they are not very clear about the history of Buddhist ideas, is that the so called "siddha" movement largely rose in response to increasing hostility towards Buddhists...

I understand what you say, and I agree with it. However I think you are using a more restrictive sense of "siddha/siddhi" here than what I, and probably others posting on this thread, have in mind.



Power, all power, is always laced with the threat of violence, the ability to transgress boundaries, whether physical, social, or moral.

We see these themes again and again the stories of Buddhist siddhas:

Physical boundaries: master over the four elements, etc.

Social boundaries: Kings reduced to beggars like Luipa, brahmins using low caste consorts like Saraha, etc.

Moral boundaries: the five meats, the five nectars, ritual acts of violence like the famous lower activities rites of Vajrakīlaya, etc.
Last edited by Malcolm on Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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Re: "...but the science of Buddhism will never change."

Postby smcj » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:30 pm

Power, all power, is always laced with the threat of violence, the ability to transgress boundaries, whether physical, social, or moral.

Power="the ability to do". A surgeon has the ability, or power, to heal. Bodhisattvas and Buddhas have the power to benefit others, etc.
Last edited by smcj on Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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