Where are the Gods?

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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Will » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:49 am

On a related thread I expressed that traditional Buddhist or Hindu or Greek etc. cosmogonies & cosmologies must have had some hidden meaning or function. But so far most responses ignore what that is. Instead the attitude is "just drop the goofy notions and move on." Understandable from the modern viewpoint.

But why are they the way they are? Some of these spiritual folk had powers and insight far beyond our ken. So why present these cosmic patterns as they did?
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:47 am

Namdrol wrote:Their bodies are composed of light.

Achieving the ability to see devas is a result of change in the optical nerves, etc., under the influence of dhayna, etc. This is not a path phenomena, but a mundane phenomena.


I have heard that some develop the capability to see deva through focusing on the nimitta or mental light that manifests prior to the first dhyāna. That is not to say they perceive deva while in meditation, but that somehow it prompts the ability to perceive them in ordinary life.
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:17 am

Will, I wonder what would they make out of this...
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... grava.html
When this was said, the brahmin student Sangārava said to the Blessed One:
“Master Gotama’s striving was unfaltering, Master Gotama’s striving was that of a true man, as it should be for an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One. But how is it, Master Gotama, are there gods?”

“It is known to me to be the case, Bhāradvāja, that there are gods.”

“But how is this, Master Gotama, that when you are asked, ‘Are there gods?’ you say: ‘It is known to me to be the case, Bhāradvāja, that there are gods’? If that is so, isn’t what you say empty and false?”

“Bhāradvāja, when one is asked, ‘Are there gods?’ whether one answers, ‘There are gods,’ or ‘It is known to me to be the case [that there are gods],’ a wise man can draw the definite conclusion that there are gods.”

“But why didn’t Master Gotama answer me in the first way?”

“It is widely accepted in the world, Bhāradvāja, that there are gods.”
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:04 am

Namdrol wrote:Meditative experience.


Does that mean you don't think there could be a common understanding about them? It appears to me that the Buddhist system of the different realms and beings is a good template to be used when analysing different religious-spiritual teachings. But since monotheists lack the diversity (except perhaps with Catholics' saints and angels) and materialists have no understanding of other worldly entities I presume there should be some general system in Buddhism to be accepted and taught beyond simple statements like "there are different realms".
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:16 am

Will wrote:On a related thread I expressed that traditional Buddhist or Hindu or Greek etc. cosmogonies & cosmologies must have had some hidden meaning or function. But so far most responses ignore what that is. Instead the attitude is "just drop the goofy notions and move on." Understandable from the modern viewpoint.

But why are they the way they are? Some of these spiritual folk had powers and insight far beyond our ken. So why present these cosmic patterns as they did?


Is there any hidden meaning behind the plethora of creation myths and legends of gods and heroes? Is there a hidden meaning behind modern urban legends?
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Will » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:22 am

Astus wrote:
Will wrote:On a related thread I expressed that traditional Buddhist or Hindu or Greek etc. cosmogonies & cosmologies must have had some hidden meaning or function. But so far most responses ignore what that is. Instead the attitude is "just drop the goofy notions and move on." Understandable from the modern viewpoint.

But why are they the way they are? Some of these spiritual folk had powers and insight far beyond our ken. So why present these cosmic patterns as they did?


Is there any hidden meaning behind the plethora of creation myths and legends of gods and heroes? Is there a hidden meaning behind modern urban legends?


To the former, yes; to the latter, who cares.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:35 am

Will wrote:To the former, yes; to the latter, who cares.
I reckon that all myths start off as urban legends and that all urban legends have a basis in an (inkling) of truth (no matter how small).
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:40 am

Will wrote:To the former, yes; to the latter, who cares.


Urban legends are modern myths. If you read some studies on the development of different myths, like that of Bodhidharma or Guanyin in China, you find that it was through centuries that different ideas, tales, theories and rituals eventually amalgamated into a somewhat complete mythology what now is presented to modern readers as if it has always been like that.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Will » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:05 pm

Astus wrote:
Will wrote:To the former, yes; to the latter, who cares.


Urban legends are modern myths. If you read some studies on the development of different myths, like that of Bodhidharma or Guanyin in China, you find that it was through centuries that different ideas, tales, theories and rituals eventually amalgamated into a somewhat complete mythology what now is presented to modern readers as if it has always been like that.


We are getting off-topic, my fault I reckon. The question I posed was not about myths, but the specific use of geometric shapes in teaching the Dharma. In another example, beyond cosmology, consider the use of mandalas of varied shapes, colors & images, some in two dimensions, some in three dimensions - just imagination run wild or something else going on? Even the old kasinas, disks of several colors, for meditation objects - why such a choice not found in ordinary nature?
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:47 pm

Will,

There's the practice of devanusmrti (god-remembrance) but I don't know any related to cosmology itself. If you think there is a deeper sense of traditional Buddhist (i.e. ancient Indian) world view there should be somebody of the old masters actually mentioning that, don't you think? If they were symbols there has been so many commentators and abhidharma teachers that at least some of them could have explained that. On the other hand, it's never too late to start a new interpretation.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Rael » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:23 pm

Because of the mention of gods in Cittamani Tara practice my Tulku who studied two years in a Hindu university commented on them as such....i asked, so He told us stuff....in nichiren practice there is a prayer thanking the Shoten Zenjin (buddhist gods) for their protection...

in the Gakki Ikeda boils it down to just natural occuring functions or energies in the universe...

The Tulku explained it this way...

there is a god and demi god realm...they marry and have children and war with each other..demi gods trying to steal the gods' women and such....i know ...I know...but He is a Tulku and He did say this and so it is part of my paradigm....

He said they are part of the creation if you will...they are part of the creators....He did comment on His usage of Creators...and said it wasn't about God the creator but many creators .....

:offtopic: He also said that due to the Buddha's presence in the creation we have beauty, flowers and mountains and such...if there was no Buddha the world would all ugly...He said this....it is part of my paradigm in this life....

because of them we have this realm we live in.....

he used Agni the god of fire as an example....

because of the "presence "of Agni in everything we have fire...if there was no Agni we would have no fire....

Agni's presence in all things allows the match to actually work when stuck......

they live for a long time and it is a huge Bliss burning up state......

when they are about to die their cherished lotus throne cushions start to wilt...and they start to smell.....

their loved ones abandon them and ignore their suffering....which is long and drawn out.....

they offer prayers and toss flowers at them from afar.....in their dieing state they are a reminder to which all the gods and demi gods must go through...hence the ignore factor...


due to that fact they are very clairvoyant they know where they are going to be reborn....due to the massive bliss Karma burn up they usually fall to a hell realm...or animal realm....even a human realm is considered a suffering for them......


i believe all the above to be fact..... :sage:
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Rael » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:28 pm

few edits to above post.....just saying

it also is a very integral part of my life paradigm....

if you want to knock it it would be a pleasure for me to read....
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:21 pm

Astus wrote:Will,

There's the practice of devanusmrti (god-remembrance) but I don't know any related to cosmology itself. If you think there is a deeper sense of traditional Buddhist (i.e. ancient Indian) world view there should be somebody of the old masters actually mentioning that, don't you think? If they were symbols there has been so many commentators and abhidharma teachers that at least some of them could have explained that. On the other hand, it's never too late to start a new interpretation.


Recollection of the gods is one of the six remembrances. Buddha, dharma, sangha, generosity, morality and the gods. We recollect the gods to consider the virtue they cultivated to achieve such a birth.
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Will » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:25 am

Will: The question I posed was not about myths, but the specific use of geometric shapes in teaching the Dharma. In another example, beyond cosmology, consider the use of mandalas of varied shapes, colors & images, some in two dimensions, some in three dimensions - just imagination run wild or something else going on? Even the old kasinas, disks of several colors, for meditation objects - why such a choice not found in ordinary nature?


Gavin Kilty, the translator of the Kalacakra text Ornament of Stainless Light (p. 6) gives a good explanation:

The Kalacakra is also at great pains to point out that neither the Abhidharma nor the Kalacakra presentation of cosmology constitutes the sole truth on the matter... It is not necessary to establish such a truth because each presentation suits its own purpose. For this reason, those who try to marry or harmonize Buddhist ideas of the cosmos with present-day scientific knowledge could well be pursuing a fruitless path. The differences need not be resolved. The generation-stage practices... [aim at a transformation which] indicates a system in which mind developed to its full potential takes precedence over objectively viewed "real" phenomena.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:03 am

Will,

Thanks for the quote. I'm not trying to fit it into any scientific view but the view of modern humans what is influenced by science and other factors. But I could simply ask: what is it that you believe? It is obvious from Buddhism in different lands that Indian gods easily got out of currency to be replaced by local ones. What local deities would replace them in the West, if that happened at all? Or, since bodhisattvas and buddhas are not that much bound by culture, for Mahayana followers there is no dealing with gods?
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the devas?

Postby Will » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:04 pm

Devas are invisible to the normal senses, so until enough Western Buddhist develop the inner "eye" to see them, we will have to trust the Dharma traditions & those gurus who do see them.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby catmoon » Sun May 15, 2011 11:45 pm

Astus wrote:Traditionally it is described that gods live on mount Meru and above in the sky. There are actual distances given and so on. But where are the gods now that we have no mount Meru and even the sky ends at one point and there is just empty space left? This is also a question because gods below the formless realm have some kind of physical body thus they're supposed to be somewhere. But where is it?



It's pretty straightforward. Go out your front door, turn north and travel until you meet a major highway. Then travel either east or west, either one is fine, until you arrive at a major intersection. Now the last part is a bit tricky. Your next step is to turn at right angles to everything and proceed straight ahead to the god realms.

Easy peasy.
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon May 16, 2011 7:01 am

Astus wrote:What local deities would replace them in the West, if that happened at all?
Well, Tibetan Buddhism tends to import its Gods. That said, I personally know of one instance of a realised teacher "discovering" a local God and adding it into the mandala (pantheon) of a traditional protector practice.

Also, and I don't know where you live, but here in the "West" where I live there are many local deities and guardians worshipped by the locals within the confines of their Judeao-Christian faith. Like Padmasambhava oath bound local gods to protect an uphold the Dharma so Greek Orthodox Christianity incorporates local "saints" and "spirits" (it baptises them as angels) into its pantheon. Unless of course you don't consider Greece as "the West".
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Astus » Fri May 20, 2011 11:55 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Well, Tibetan Buddhism tends to import its Gods. That said, I personally know of one instance of a realised teacher "discovering" a local God and adding it into the mandala (pantheon) of a traditional protector practice.

Also, and I don't know where you live, but here in the "West" where I live there are many local deities and guardians worshipped by the locals within the confines of their Judeao-Christian faith. Like Padmasambhava oath bound local gods to protect an uphold the Dharma so Greek Orthodox Christianity incorporates local "saints" and "spirits" (it baptises them as angels) into its pantheon. Unless of course you don't consider Greece as "the West".
:namaste:


Geographically Greece is "the South" as I live in Hungary, religiously it is "the East" because it is Orthodox instead of Roman, but all this is just European politics. I know that the cult of angels is quite popular and they could be fine materials for deities, however, they're very Chirstian in my view and I'm unaware if they have anything to do with local spirits (if there are any...) since angels are common Christian deities and also servants of a higher god. But I find this dualistic view of good and evil, upper world and lower world a bit difficult to match with 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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Where are the Gods?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri May 20, 2011 1:54 pm

Astus wrote: I know that the cult of angels is quite popular and they could be fine materials for deities, however, they're very Chirstian in my view and I'm unaware if they have anything to do with local spirits (if there are any...) since angels are common Christian deities and also servants of a higher god. But I find this dualistic view of good and evil, upper world and lower world a bit difficult to match with Buddhist cosmology.
You are looking at it back to front. A "spiritual" phenomenon occurs at a local level and because the locals happen to be Christian they baptise the spirit an (christian) angel or a (satanic) devil depending on its action.

As for upper-lower being difficult to match with Buddhist Cosmology, well... it actually doesn't take that much effort to see the parallels, pick up any abhidharma text and you will see what I am talking about.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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