Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:16 am

I've never read the Vedas myself, except maybe some short excerpts, but a friend of mine who works in the University Library said that in Vedas there is a description of Earth being like an iron ball in space, that is held in place by invisible magnets. The buddhists have also generally thought that the Four Continent worlds float in space. Unlike the greeks who thought that the giant Atlas is supporting Earth on his shoulders.
In sravakayana suttas Shakyamuni promises that a person who develops the dhyanas can even travel in space and stroke with his own hand the Sun and the Moon that are so powerful. In an other sutta Shakyamuni further describes how in space between the stars there is a very deep darkness.
From his disciples atleast MahaMaudgalyayana is known to have travelled in space and to have visited many distant worlds.
When these kind of stories are then repeated through centuries and millennia without new personal experience of what they describe, they are bound to change because people will try to imagine and understand them, and interpret them.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:49 pm

Aemilius wrote:I've never read the Vedas myself, except maybe some short excerpts, but a friend of mine who works in the University Library said that in Vedas there is a description of Earth being like an iron ball in space, that is held in place by invisible magnets.


Revisionist............
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:29 am

None of this is important.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:03 pm

I haven't changed my position, the discussion so far has been helpful in many ways, thanks for everyone! To restate my position, here is the Agganna Sutta, or Knowledge of the Beginnings, http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/AggannaSutta.pdf
It teaches how mankind on Earth gradually appears through devolution. For the understanding of this Michael Cremo's work is most helpful. And this doesn't mean that you become a creationist!!
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:19 pm

Aemilius wrote: I haven't changed my position, the discussion so far has been helpful in many ways, thanks for everyone! To restate my position, here is the Agganna Sutta, or Knowledge of the Beginnings...It teaches how mankind on Earth gradually appears through devolution... And this doesn't mean that you become a creationist!!


Do you have a learned teacher who can tell you whether your interpretation of the meaning and purpose of this story is accurate? Who wrote the (very presumptuous) introduction which states, "This description of the beginning of mankind is so different from the modern theory of evolution"

The context of this of this sutta is to invalidate the caste system and in doing so offers a rather picturesque and simple understanding of the evolutionary process in order to refuting the Brahman theory. The description is, in fact, rather similar to the modern theory of evolution although the exact details, unprovable in Buddha's time, are a little fuzzy. Incorporated in this sutta is a teaching about craving and becoming.

When people asked the Buddha about the nature of the universe and so forth, it is said that he declined, stating that he only taught that which would lead to an end of suffering. Any reference to the origin of the species would therefore have to seen in that context, and not as an independent explanation of how we got here.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:05 pm

Aemilius wrote:I haven't changed my position,


Well, same here........


To restate my position, here is the Agganna Sutta, or Knowledge of the Beginnings, http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/AggannaSutta.pdf
It teaches how mankind on Earth gradually appears through devolution. For the understanding of this Michael Cremo's work is most helpful. And this doesn't mean that you become a creationist!!


Sighz............. :thinking:
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:36 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:[The context of this of this sutta is to invalidate the caste system and in doing so offers a rather picturesque and simple understanding of the evolutionary process in order to refuting the Brahman theory. The description is, in fact, rather similar to the modern theory of evolution although the exact details, unprovable in Buddha's time, are a little fuzzy. Incorporated in this sutta is a teaching about craving and becoming.

When people asked the Buddha about the nature of the universe and so forth, it is said that he declined, stating that he only taught that which would lead to an end of suffering. Any reference to the origin of the species would therefore have to seen in that context, and not as an independent explanation of how we got here.


In the past, that is in the 1970's and 1980's, I have studied this sutra & its topic with learned people, I have read its chinese and tibetan versions also, they differ in certain details, but the basic story exists in the chinese and tibetan canons, you have to understand that I no longer can remember everything accurately, time has passed...
This sutta has several important themes, and evolution, or devolution, is certainly one of them. The version I put there comes from http://www.urbandharma.org, which, I think, is a good and alive buddhist organisation.

The often quoted opinion that you repeat doesn't do real justice to the Bhagavan, if you read more of the suttas in the Pali Canon, you will find that elsewhere he defines it further, and says that he does not say that you cannot know the answer to those questions, and that on the contrary he says that you will know the answer to them as you progress on the noble path. It is a great pity that these other teachings on the topic are not equally well known !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agga%C3%B1%C3%B1a_Sutta a good overview of the sutta
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Acchantika » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:32 pm

Aemilius wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agga%C3%B1%C3%B1a_Sutta a good overview of the sutta

...

It teaches how mankind on Earth gradually appears through devolution


You know, with a bit of poetic licence, one could interpret this sutta to be a description - employing pre-scientific Indian language - of the development of pre-biotic acids ("Abbhasaras"), which, after gaining the ability to consume energy (via the "earth spread") from their environment, eventually develop sensory faculties such as light-receptive cells (hence the "beginning of night and day"). Over many thousands of years later these microorganism coalesce to create fungi-like super-organisms, such as cyanobacteria ("mushroom-like plants"). Much later developments lead to the hoarding of resources to benefit organised communities of organisms, or cultures, driven by reproductive priorities (as a result of the "arising of passion" etc.).

I.e. evolution
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:15 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Aemilius wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agga%C3%B1%C3%B1a_Sutta a good overview of the sutta

...

It teaches how mankind on Earth gradually appears through devolution


You know, with a bit of poetic licence, one could interpret this sutta to be a description - employing pre-scientific Indian language - of the development of pre-biotic acids ("Abbhasaras"), which, after gaining the ability to consume energy (via the "earth spread") from their environment, eventually develop sensory faculties such as light-receptive cells (hence the "beginning of night and day"). Over many thousands of years later these microorganism coalesce to create fungi-like super-organisms, such as cyanobacteria ("mushroom-like plants"). Much later developments lead to the hoarding of resources to benefit organised communities of organisms, or cultures, driven by reproductive priorities (as a result of the "arising of passion" etc.).

I.e. evolution


Yeah, that's how I read it, totally. :reading:
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Acchantika » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:04 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yeah, that's how I read it, totally. :reading:


Hahaha, yeah, that is pretty farfetched. Worth a try though. Just trying to show that there are multiple possible readings, naturally :D
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:37 am

If the issue were without significance I would say nothing, but it does affect your development of meditation, morality and wisdom. It is a limitation in your imaginative ability, and it has other consequences, if you can't envision or imagine the existence of previous yugas and previous kalpas. Satya yuga,Treta yuga, Dvapara yuga and Kali yuga exist in Buddhism and in Mahayana, they have tibetan & chinese equivalents. And so do the kalpas exist.
The "modern" buddhists are not really aware of them, and so if you search with the words "yuga" or "kalpa" what you get is mostly from teosophy or hindu sources, but don't mind about that, the important point is that it substantially affects your meditation.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The belief that the earth is flat is probably even older
than the belief in Mt. Meru, therefore whole lots righter.



Descriptive geometry is the branch of geometry which allows the representation of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions, by using a specific set of procedures. The resulting techniques are important for engineering, architecture, design and in art.

If you have a training in any of these fields you would be familiar with this. One of the basic exercises in it is to make a two dimensional representation of a sphere. This issue doesn't seem to be for the masses. As you seem to be an intelligent person I hope you can get the meaning of it.

In the same field of applied mathematics:
Mount Meru should be seen as the fourth axis in a picture of a four dimensional world.
The picture of the Mount Meru world is a three-dimensional representation of a four dimensional world.
The fourth axis is consciousness, or matter & consciousness.

best wishes !
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:09 pm

Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:The belief that the earth is flat is probably even older
than the belief in Mt. Meru, therefore whole lots righter.



Descriptive geometry is the branch of geometry which allows the representation of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions, by using a specific set of procedures. The resulting techniques are important for engineering, architecture, design and in art.

If you have a training in any of these fields you would be familiar with this. One of the basic exercises in it is to make a two dimensional representation of a sphere. This issue doesn't seem to be for the masses. As you seem to be an intelligent person I hope you can get the meaning of it.

In the same field of applied mathematics:
Mount Meru should be seen as the fourth axis in a picture of a four dimensional world.
The picture of the Mount Meru world is a three-dimensional representation of a four dimensional world.
The fourth axis is consciousness, or matter & consciousness.

best wishes !


Of course! Fourth dimensional consciousness! Oh, how silly of me!
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Kai » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:31 pm

Careful, people, very soon, he will start saying that theory of relativity, quantum theory and big bang theory actually originated from Buddhist sutras.........

:woohoo: :woohoo:
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:59 am

Aemilius wrote:I've never read the Vedas myself, except maybe some short excerpts, but a friend of mine who works in the University Library said that in Vedas there is a description of Earth being like an iron ball in space, that is held in place by invisible magnets.



As far as I know, this cosmological description is found in the Surya Siddhanta, which cannot be later the 5th century. But I don't think it is found in the Vedas.

In the Surya siddhanta, the earth is described as round, suspended in space like a peice of iron held in place by the forcefield of two magnets. Mt Meru is at the North Pole, where the gods live, and the anti-Meru is at the south pole, where the asuras live.

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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:44 pm

Here is a hindu world picture that I found in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I think you could interpret the snake, turtle and the six elephants that hold the half sphere of water and earth symbolically ?
http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/images/mlw_0001_0002_0_img0101.jpg
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:28 pm

Aemilius wrote:Here is a hindu world picture that I found in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I think you could interpret the snake, turtle and the six elephants that hold the half sphere of water and earth symbolically ?
http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/images/mlw_0001_0002_0_img0101.jpg


Interesting but I thought it was supposed to be "turtles all the way down". :popcorn:

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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:45 pm

In the hindu version of this widely known creation myth Turtle is resting on a world serpent that is called Shesha or Ananta, The Endless. That prevents the infinite regress you are referring to.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakes_in_mythology
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby jikai » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:43 pm

Wow there is a lot of hot air going on here!

In my humble opinion there is no contradiction between the scientific theory of evolution and descriptions of 'kalpas' in Buddhism. The numbers are not to be taken literally, they are supposed to convey the intensity of practice, the far-reaching capacity of Buddha-nature and fill us with a sense of awe in regards to the power of the Dharma. In a personal sense, it works to 'broaden our persepective' and connects us to the infinite past- perhaps it even helps us break attachment of the self. It fills us with the sense that through all times and all places, the Buddha and Dharma have been 'lights' in the dark if you will. it is a device used to comfort, motivate and inform us that the potential for Buddha-hood can never be extinguished.
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Re: Evolution of humans and Mahayana Buddhism

Postby jikai » Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:16 pm

Also if we want to work with semantics, a Kalpa is said to contain four parts:
1) period of world dissolution
2) period of chaos
3) period of world formation
4) and a period of world continuation.

There is said to be an infinite number of kalpas stretching back without beggining. If this is taken, the Buddha's on previous world's, that is worlds before our own would not contradict our evolutionary cycle.

In regards to wether the process of rebirth defies evolutionary logic, only if we suggest that the Buddha-heart mind has to be embodied to exist.
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