Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby seeker242 » Thu May 02, 2013 11:28 pm

tiltbillings did not wrote: an object of knowledge which is the goal, or is it sheer destruction of afflictions"?
To what extent do you see the path in terms of gnosis?


I would say it's both because they are both the same thing, not separate things. Ignorance about 5 aggregates causes clinging, clinging to 5 aggregates causes afflictions, with knowledge of things as really are, ignorance is removed thereby simultaneously destroying afflictions because without ignorance there can be no clinging.

Or something like that. :anjali:
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 03, 2013 1:08 am

porpoise wrote:...the OP seems more about the nature of the goal of practice, ie awakening - or am I missing the point?


Yes, that was pretty much my intent in the OP.

Interesting that people use various terms for that goal, each of which has a slightly different connotation. "Enlightenment" implies some sort of knowledge. "Awakening" is more like an experiential state. "Nibbana", the Buddha's term, is a metaphor referring to extinguishing, cooling or cessation; suggesting the path is simply about divesting oneself of ignorance, rather than gaining knowledge.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Nyana » Fri May 03, 2013 1:54 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Interesting that people use various terms for that goal, each of which has a slightly different connotation. "Enlightenment" implies some sort of knowledge. "Awakening" is more like an experiential state.

"Enlightenment" and "awakening" are both translations of the term bodhi.

Lazy_eye wrote:"Nibbana", the Buddha's term, is a metaphor referring to extinguishing, cooling or cessation; suggesting the path is simply about divesting oneself of ignorance, rather than gaining knowledge.

There is no realization of nibbāna without knowledge/gnosis of nibbāna (nibbāna ñāṇa), which in the suttas is sometimes also called the knowledge/gnosis of elimination/destruction (khayeñāṇa), that is, the knowledge that the outflows, fetters, etc. have been terminated.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Fri May 03, 2013 2:51 am

I imagine it's difficult to really distinguish gnosis leading to Nibbana versus gnosis of Nibbana itself-- if you know what leads to Nibbana surely you have some idea of what Nibbana itself is.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby reflection » Fri May 03, 2013 3:32 am

When an enlightened being dies, the aggregates cease, so there is no more knowledge. So in the 10-fold version of the 8-fold path, which happens in some places in the suttas, the last two factors are stated "knowledge leads to liberation", not the other way around. Thus the final goal really is liberation, not wisdom.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 03, 2013 8:19 am

reflection wrote: Thus the final goal really is liberation, not wisdom.


Though doesn't liberation result from wisdom?
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 03, 2013 8:23 am

tiltbillings wrote:
porpoise wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Gone to the beyond of becoming,
you let go of in front,
let go of behind,
let go of between.
With a heart everywhere let-go,
you don't come again to birth
& aging.
Dhp 348


Interesting quote. You seem to be pointing to "letting go" as a method of practice, but the OP seems more about the nature of the goal of practice, ie awakening - or am I missing the point?
Since one cannot willfully "let go," I do not read "letting go" in this passage as a practice; rather, it is in the insight that arises from the causes and conditions cultivated by one's practice that the letting go happens. But the idea of letting go certainly can be a guide for practice.


Yes, I see. For me "letting go" feels like a result of practice rather than a method of practice. But IMO this means letting go of craving and grasping, not letting go of wisdom.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 03, 2013 8:43 am

Viscid wrote:Buddhist gnosis is fundamentally pragmatic: if it is a gnosis which leads to liberation, then it's valuable.


The Buddha made a pragmatic decision to just teach on the problem of suffering - that doesn't mean all his other realisations weren't of value.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 03, 2013 8:59 am

porpoise wrote:Yes, I see. For me "letting go" feels like a result of practice rather than a method of practice. But IMO this means letting go of craving and grasping, not letting go of wisdom.
Don't forget, wisdom is not a thing. Truths are cognitions.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby reflection » Fri May 03, 2013 10:43 am

porpoise wrote:
reflection wrote: Thus the final goal really is liberation, not wisdom.


Though doesn't liberation result from wisdom?

I would think so. But that in term would result from all the other factors of the path, sila & samadhi. But those aren't the goal either. There is a sutta somewhere that discusses it, in MN I think, but I can't find it.
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Re: Is there a gnostic element to the goals of Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Fri May 03, 2013 6:39 pm

porpoise wrote:
Viscid wrote:Buddhist gnosis is fundamentally pragmatic: if it is a gnosis which leads to liberation, then it's valuable.


The Buddha made a pragmatic decision to just teach on the problem of suffering - that doesn't mean all his other realisations weren't of value.


True, it matters how we define what's valuable and what's not. The knowledge of the fact his birth place would become a destination people pilgrimage to was valuable in legitimizing this faith-invigorating act. But generally what we should consider 'valuable gnosis' is that gnosis which is universally valuable, i.e., not gnosis which is valuable to the Buddha's dispensation in particular.
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