General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Nighthawk wrote:Did some further reading of his posts, the guy doesn't believe in rebirth either.
I just can't take those Buddhists seriously. None of Buddhist philosophy or spiritual practice matters if there is not continuum of consciousness, reproductive consciousness. That's nihilism, and the Master refuted that. There'd be no spiritual evolution across lives, almost zero chance for Enlightenment, and no real point in Nirvana.
Anti-rebirth views are bad jokes.
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.
Yes, exactly! One can have his Buddhist sutras and his Stephen Hawking books, too! Lol
The Dalai Lama holds many traditional Buddhist viewpoints, yet he still delights in new scientific information.
Back to the original quote in the OP:
The author simply points out that deity yoga has some ordinary benefits which can be explained in terms of western psychology, but this doesn't disprove the fact that deity yoga can also have extraordinary benefits.
There are a variety of views one could have about deities being "part of oneself": some are beneficial; some are not.
1) One could have the view that the author of the original quote has (that a Buddhist deity is just a symbol of something positive in his mind). This view is slightly positive and might, therefore, be slightly beneficial, but this view doesn't give a person much power to transform his or her mind.
2) One could have the view that one's ordinary personality and body is really a Buddhist deity (like a schizophrenic person might believe). Such delusions will probably only have negative effects.
3) One could have the traditional Vajrayana viewpoint that a Buddhist deity represents one' inner Buddha-nature. This allows more positive transformation of the mind to occur, especially when seeing one's guru as a Buddhist deity.
4) One could take the more simple Buddhist viewpoint that the Buddhist deity exists outside oneself and that benefits can be obtained by meditating on the deity or from giving offerings to the deity. Whether the deity in question is "Real" or "not real," such practices are still beneficial.
So perhaps it's sometimes more useful to view things from a "harm vs. benefit" perspective, instead of a "real vs. unreal" perspective. And in regard to the OP, will "myth-busting the bodhisattvas" bring your mind closer to permanent happiness or bring it farther from it?
Nighthawk wrote:Any thoughts? Do you agree with his assessment?
I personally find it a lot more satisfying making prayers to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions and honouring them than seeing them as allegorical teachings to use as symbols for personal cultivation.
When I make offerings I do it sincerely and beg for their blessings so that I might better benefit others. I find that through such genuine offerings and prayers I feel empowered to cultivate myself and be of benefit to others. Having made such requests I will avoid turning around and doing foolish deeds, which would be disgraceful.
Also, the more you think of yourself as a "son/daughter of the Buddha", the more likely you are to set a good example and like an obedient child do what you are told for your own good (not harming others, cultivating all good deeds and benefiting others).
You might ask what proof I have for the existence of buddhas and bodhisattvas. It would largely come down to personal experience and the authoritative testimony of scripture and masters.
Ajahn Brahm for example loves telling ghost stories and once when I attended his talk he spoke about real life deva stories as well. If someone like him is sure about the existence of deva and other non-material beings, then non-manifest bodhisattvas and so on are not out of the question.
I think a quote from Shakespeare might be appropriate here:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (Hamlet, I.5)