"Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

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"Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Nighthawk » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:33 am

This is an article by a fellow named Bodhipaksa who runs the site www.wildmind.org

"Some people evidently regard Avalokiteshvara, Tara, etc., as actually existing entities, and in fact in Tibetan Buddhism they’ve been coming to blows over whether one of these figures is in fact a force of good or otherwise. But to me they are symbolic archetypes through which experiences of compassion, wisdom, etc., can manifest themselves to us. To give a mild flavor of this, psychology experiments have shown that if someone is asked to think about a professor before they take a quiz, they perform better. The idea of a professor seems to help people get in touch with their own intelligence. Similarly, I believe, the archetypal bodhisattvas and Buddhas can help us get in touch with our own wisdom and compassion.

I’ve had bodhisattvas appear to me in my dreams, but I don’t take that as a “visitation” from a actually existing entity. I’ve even had “communication” from bodhisattvas, but again I take that as being one part of my brain communicating with another through an imagined image and voice.

As Roshi Bernie Glassman says, in Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen, “Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is the manifestation, or embodiment, of both prajna wisdom and compassion. Who is this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva? It is nothing other than us, it is nothing other than who we intrinsically are … We must realize that Avalokitesvara is not separate — it’s us!”

Any thoughts? Do you agree with his assessment?
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby ground » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:39 am

Nighthawk wrote:"Some people evidently regard Avalokiteshvara, Tara, etc., as ...

What's the purpose of speculating about other people? What's the purpose of speculation at all?
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Fa Dao » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:48 am

Not all things have to be either/or...sometimes the answer is:
D. All of the above
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:13 am

Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Nighthawk » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:46 am

mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:55 am

Nighthawk wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.


Personally I am comfortable with either interpretation. I think that it can be a quite unnecessary obstacle in a person's practice if they are required to accept one of these versions that they may feel uncomfortable with. We generally work with these figures quite often, and it is important that a practitioner finds an answer, even if it is provisional, that allows her or him to continue effectively with that practice.
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Anders » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:30 am

Fa Dao wrote:Not all things have to be either/or...sometimes the answer is:
D. All of the above


Yup.

One of my favourite stories is of a practitioner who was chanting the mantra of Guanyin, but was having doubts. So he went to his guru and said "I need to know - is guanyin real or not? If she is, I will continue this practise, but if she is not, I longer wish to do it." To which the guru smiled and said "she knows she is not real."
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Paul » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:45 am

Nighthawk wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.


Well this was written by someone from the FWBO so that shouldn't be a surprise.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:06 am

Nighthawk wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.
I think you will find that mindyourmind meant: "How real are we? That's how real the Bodhisattvas are!"
: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: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby mindyourmind » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:30 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.
I think you will find that mindyourmind meant: "How real are we? That's how real the Bodhisattvas are!"
:namaste:


Got it in one :cheers:
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Nighthawk » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:38 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Maybe they are as real as we are :juggling:


It seems a lot of westerners have the same mindset as the author of the article. Being brought up in a secular modern educational system seems to be why.
I think you will find that mindyourmind meant: "How real are we? That's how real the Bodhisattvas are!"
:namaste:


Greg, I was saying it in a general manner even though I quoted her but yes I know what she was trying to say.
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:20 am

Sorry, just from your answer it was not clear that you understood the statement, better to err on the side of caution...
: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: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Nighthawk » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:58 am

Did some further reading of his posts, the guy doesn't believe in rebirth either.
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:38 am

We believe in past events, although they don't exist. The reason we think there is a past is our memory, which is only a matter of mental functioning. We also find explanation in "past events" for our present situation.

The same works with any "uncommon" beings. We don't see them out there as we do people, but there are other forms of experience we have. We can also identify effects to relate to those beings. And then we can also ask why it is Guanyin and not Jesus, why Vairocana and not Allah? From a Buddhist perspective, all of them exists, but in different realms and with different functions. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings, gods are not.

Materialists like to say that it's all in people's minds. But aren't interpretations and explanations are all mental creations? Why some people get better and some don't? Materialists believe it's all about biology, but the scientists have not discovered the cause yet. That's a big faith in research, and they can show many results of research to prove their point. So, should we try to prove that there are invisible beings throughout the galaxy? Absurd.

What the difficulty is for modern people is that they have little idea of the existence of the mind and the mental realms. They are taught that there is only matter and everything is made of matter. So they become ignorant of their own mind and their own perception of the world. Meditation teaches people to become aware of it. However, old views and old habits die hard.
"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: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Nighthawk » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:02 pm

Astus, thanks for your reply. I guess its pretty common for modernists to believe that enlightened beings do not exist at all which is false and reveals arrogance, but it would also be incorrect to say that they do exist. It's all about the middle way...
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:09 pm

If someday you become Bodhisattva Nighthawk, are you symbolic?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Paul » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:26 pm

Nighthawk wrote:Did some further reading of his posts, the guy doesn't believe in rebirth either.


Like I mentioned - that's the FWBO for you. All very :quoteunquote:western and rational.:quoteunquote:
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

-Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:48 pm

"western" and "rational" isn't a problem in itself. It becomes problematic when it becomes reductive, as when one concludes that things one doesn't understand must not exist or must be false.
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Re: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:49 pm

Jikan wrote:"western" and "rational" isn't a problem in itself. It becomes problematic when it becomes reductive, as when one concludes that things one doesn't understand must not exist or must be false.
Ignorance parading as logic! I think many problems also start to arise when we confound logic with materialist explanations. Like something cannot be logical if it is not based on materialistic notions.
: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: "Myth busting" the Bodhisattvas

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:53 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jikan wrote:"western" and "rational" isn't a problem in itself. It becomes problematic when it becomes reductive, as when one concludes that things one doesn't understand must not exist or must be false.
Ignorance parading as logic! I think many problems also start to arise when we confound logic with materialist explanations. Like something cannot be logical if it is not based on materialistic notions.
:namaste:


I think we're saying the same thing in different ways, Greg. I'm saying that people get in trouble when they make reductive claims on the basis of faulty premises and call that reason. That's not too far from your position if I understand you correctly.
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