Science-Big fish?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
rahula80
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:39 pm

Science-Big fish?

Postby rahula80 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:55 pm

Hi,

Now, how about this?

“And again, monks, the great ocean is the abode of great beings; these beings are there: the timis, the timingalas, the timitimingalas, asuras, nagas, gandhabbas. There are in the great ocean individualities a hundred yojanas (long), individualities two hundred…three hundred…four hundred…five hundred yojanas (long).” (The Book of Discipline, Volume V, p.333)

Any help in understanding this passage is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes,
Rahula

Shonin
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Shonin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:09 pm

Well given that one Yojana is "between 6 to 15 kilometers (4 to 9 miles)." long () - I wouldn't take it as strictly scientifically accurate. A Naga is a serpent btw. Not sure about the others. But REALLY big fish would be a good guess.

lojong1
Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:20 pm

Rahula80, you tickle! It's all true, but they died after the Gulf spill.

rahula80
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:39 pm

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby rahula80 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:24 am

The deepest ocean is said to be about 7-8 miles. If one yojanas is about 4-9 miles, 500 yojanas would be equivalent to about 2000 to 4500 miles.
Those big fish would be too big for the sea.

Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:30 am

Its the same as your earthquake question Rahula...either we accept these things literally and leave our rational mind at the door..or we realise that the Suttas include more than one world view. Which includes the poetic and metaphorical as well as down to earth descriptions of the workings of our consciousness. Its a matter of discrimination...horses for courses.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

rahula80
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:39 pm

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby rahula80 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:37 am

Hi,

Thanks Sanghamitta. Exactly, but I would like to know how Buddhists understand or view these passages? How shall we response to critics who point out such passages to us?

Perhaps, this passage should be understood poetically, or metaphorically, in the sense that there are big creatures in the sea?

Thanks,
Rahula

Shonin
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Shonin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:13 am

If these critics are using said passages to demonstrate that the suttas are fallible, that they contain some inaccurate information, then these critics are correct.

If these critics are using said passages to demonstrate that the suttas are false, that this shows that the wisdom and practices described are invalid, that is not a valid argument, it doesn't follow.

If you build a house on unstable ground you will have to work hard to protect it. But if you build it on solid ground it will support itself.

rahula80
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:39 pm

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby rahula80 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:29 pm

Hi,

Shonin wrote:

"If these critics are using said passages to demonstrate that the suttas are false, that this shows that the wisdom and practices described are invalid, that is not a valid argument, it doesn't follow."

Can you elaborate why you said it is not a valid argument?

Thanks,
Rahula

Shonin
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Shonin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:29 pm


User avatar
Sobeh
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:35 am
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US
Contact:

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Sobeh » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:28 pm

The Buddha wasn't responding to the question, "Tell me about oceanography", he was responding to some other contextual topic to do either with suffering or the cessation thereof. Chances are he was taking or making an example of "infinitely large"; today we might say something about the vast sizes of stars, or the gargantuan distances between them, but the point about "infinitely large" as pertains to the Dhamma at hand would still hold.

It's a non-issue.

Euclid
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Euclid » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:04 pm

The short answer is that either Buddha was talking literally and he was wrong, or he was talking figuratively and what he is saying is a metaphor. Either way, it doesn't matter. Nobody claims Buddha to be an established scientist of the (material) world. It's tangential to suffering and the cessation of suffering.

lojong1
Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:15 am


User avatar
Rui Sousa
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:02 am

When reading a text we must try to differentiate metaphors from literal references.

In the case of Buddhist Cosmology this is not as easy as with other cases. The Buddha makes several references to the different planes of existence and the different types of beings that exist in each plane, and some of the literal references within the Suttas are to non visible planes. Then there are metaphoric references such similar to "if we would pile the bones of our previous existences it would be a huge mountain". Also there are reference that fit in a borderline (at least for) between the two, this is were I fit most references I see regarding cosmology.

I believe many types of beings have existed in our planet, I also believe there are many planets on the universe, some of them may be inhabited by beings beyond our ability to conjecture, therefore I accept my inability to determine the accuracy of such statements in the Sutta.

It is my failing, not of the Buddha, or the Dhamma.
With Metta

lojong1
Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:35 pm


lojong1
Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:48 pm


User avatar
Sobeh
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:35 am
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US
Contact:

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Sobeh » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:05 pm

It's all of it a non-issue, as I stated earlier in this thread.
:heart:
Very simple.

Terasi
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:47 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Terasi » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:14 am


Shonin
Posts: 583
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:11 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Shonin » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:22 am

That comes from the Kalama Sutta.

User avatar
Hanzze
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:54 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

lojong1
Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Science-Big fish?

Postby lojong1 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:19 pm



Return to “Discovering Theravāda”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine