Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 9:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:Who determines what is an odd view?
Tilt you do.

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 9:28 am

David2 wrote:
The Buddha taught us to not spent too much time thinking on the bad qualities of others.
So did the Roman Catholic Church.
:anjali:

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by David2 » Sun May 06, 2012 9:30 am

Mr Man wrote:
David2 wrote:
The Buddha taught us to not spent too much time thinking on the bad qualities of others.
So did the Roman Catholic Church.
:anjali:
Yeah, that doesn't mean that it's wrong...

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Cittasanto
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Cittasanto » Sun May 06, 2012 10:17 am

Mr Man wrote:
David2 wrote:
The Buddha taught us to not spent too much time thinking on the bad qualities of others.
So did the Roman Catholic Church.
:anjali:
The Buddha also taught us to be judicious about who we associate with!
but that didn't mean only looking at the poor qualities of others, Ajahn Brahm has some good and bad qualities, as does the Roman Catholic Church (although I do not know why they are being mentioned, as it doesn't show or prove anything here, although guilt by association is a possibility)
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 11:10 am

Cittasanto, I think you need to refer to my original post. :)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Cittasanto » Sun May 06, 2012 11:29 am

Mr Man wrote:Cittasanto, I think you need to refer to my original post. :)
your original post?
sorry I the roman catholic church is not evidence of what you are saying here, nor does the use of any external to Buddhasm groups show trends related to Ajahn Brahm, as an individual teacher who is not part of a group, and any controversy or percieved unconvential, or inappropriate teachings he is apart of. nor does it demonstrate any trends in buddhism or this forum. Sorry Mr Man, but neither does claiming Tilt does decide things prove anything. these are arguments of association.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 11:45 am

Cittasanto, why I said refer to my original post was because it seems the "catholic church" is a distraction. What my point was is that to ignore bad qualities is not in my opinion always good advice.

PS It is not my opinion that Tilt should be the final arbiter on what is an odd view ;)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Cittasanto » Sun May 06, 2012 12:28 pm

Mr Man wrote:Cittasanto, why I said refer to my original post was because it seems the "catholic church" is a distraction. What my point was is that to ignore bad qualities is not in my opinion always good advice.

PS It is not my opinion that Tilt should be the final arbiter on what is an odd view ;)
then there was no need for comparison or comment there then! please read my signature.

The Buddha advised people to ignore the bad and take the good, he himself demonstrated this on several occasions by atering even if it was simply one word, of anothers doctorine, but if someone says... something is good, bad, neither, or both and you do not know yourself it is good, bad, neither, or both or you are uncertain about it being so, it is best not to do it, but if you do, and you see it is bad, or both, then to stop doing it, even if it did agree with your own initial sense, speculation or anything else, the fact is an odd view is relative, by all accounts these views of Ajahn Brahms are not odd, they are just not in agreement with scientific truth as you some understand it, or with modern western ideas of what is and is not possible.
as I understand it it is unlikely that many peoplr would reach the necessary Jhanic attainment to find out for themselves whether or not the stories are true, but accepting them as Ajahn Brahm obviously is seen to of, can strengthen faith, and even in some cases increase the drive to practice certain kinds of meditative techniques, Jhana after all may not be 100% necessary for entering the stream but it is necessary for awakening.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Alex123 » Sun May 06, 2012 1:56 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:My main point was simply that it is clear human beings cannot touch the sun and it seems highly highly highly improbable that the human mind is capable of bending the laws of physics like we're in the matrix. Furthermore, we can't be sure that the Buddha actually said people could do those things as opposed to them being added to entice those people who won't follow a teaching unless it proclaims supernormal powers have been developed by its adherents or that perhaps that verse was figurative
You are right. To speak bluntly, the Buddha left no books and no audio recordings. The suttas were compiled and edited by "500" Arhants after Buddha's death if we are to believe one recession of Vinaya. We have NO certain proof that the historical Buddha has said anything that is in the Suttas. While I believe that they are close and at least are VERY wise, and I like many things in them - we can never be certain for sure that some things were not added for some reason, or some metaphors were taken too literally. Also perhaps some people paid too much attention to words, and not enough to the intention behind them. Anyhow, I believe that one should put whatever one can into practice.

There are suttas where sun is said to rotate around the Earth, fish the size of 500 yojanas (5,000km!!!)... There are suttas that talk about city that existed for 100,000s of years. If we study when previous Buddha's have lived in India, we would have to totally rewrite and throw out the theory of evolution. If I am correct, Buddha Kassapa lived more than 500 millions of years ago. Yeh, right... Also, there doesn't seem to be any reference to the importance of the brain for sense cognition. Sense cognition does NOT happen in the organs themselves, it happens in the brain. There is no such thing as "Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness", etc. There is seeing, hearing, etc, and it all is consciousness (as complex neural process) that happens in the brain - not in the sense organs themselves.

As Ven. Paññobhāsa Bhikkhu has said:
a) It is readily apparent that the authors of Abhidhamma philosophy were completely ignorant of the function, even the existence, of the human nervous system. Sensory consciousness is claimed to occur in the sense organs themselves, not in the brain; for example, visual consciousness supposedly arises in seven layers of (elemental and ultimately real) visually sensitive matter located on the anterior surface of the eyeball. Rather than relying upon the presence of sensory nerve endings, the material basis of tactile sensation (also one of the 82 “ultimate realities”) is said to uniformly pervade the body like oil soaking a tuft of cotton wool, being everywhere except in hair, nails, and hard, dry skin. The Pali word “matthaluṅga,” i.e., “brain,” is conspicuously absent in the canonical Abhidhamma texts (while in the commentarial literature the brain is declared to be a large lump of inert bone marrow and the source of nasal mucus); according to the Abhidhamma scholars, thought arises not in the brain but in a small quantity of variously colored blood contained in a chamber of the heart. This belief is closely interrelated with the fundamental concept that all mentality is strictly linear, only one specific image at a time existing in the mind, arising and passing away spontaneously through the metaphysical power of kamma. The generally prevalent and empirically consistent concept of a complex, physical generator of feeling and thought is quite foreign to Abhidhamma, and modern attempts to reconcile the two result in what is essentially doublethink.

b) The classical abhidhammic theory of matter primarily deals with 28 supposed elemental qualities which are never found alone, but are always combined in or associated with quasi-atomic particles called “rūpakalāpas.” The naïve realism underlying this philosophy is manifest, and furthermore has been scientifically obsolete for centuries. As an example the four (“ultimately real”) secondary material qualities supposedly present in all rūpakalāpas—color, odor, flavor, and nutritional essence—will be very briefly considered. The formulators of the theory evidently did not perceive that color, as such, exists only in the mind and is merely a symbolic interpretation of a certain bandwidth of electromagnetic radiation; and that furthermore the hypothetical rūpakalāpa is much smaller than the smallest wavelength of visible light. An individual rūpakalāpa, unless, perhaps, it could somehow be identified with a photon, could be endowed with color only potentially and even then in a very abstract sense. The formulators also evidently did not perceive that odor and flavor exist only in the mind, and are the result of molecules and ions of certain configurations interacting with specific neurosensory receptor sites. And the formulators quite obviously did not perceive the vast complexity of human nutrition. A hydrogen atom, for example, if contained in a molecule of sucrose is endowed with a certain nutritional value; if in a molecule of ascorbic acid, another; if in a molecule of cholesterol, yet another; if in a molecule of cellulose, is non-nutritive; and if in a molecule of cyanide, is poisonous. In the case of nutrition, even more markedly than in the preceding cases, the configuration and interaction of complex groups of elementary particles is of primary importance in determining the attributes in question. Just as a single nail does not contain within it the absolute element of “houseness,” even so a single subnuclear quantum of matter does not contain within it odor, flavor, or nutritional value. And finally, although rūpakalāpas are declared by the authorities to be ubiquitous and of appreciable size by modern scientific standards (roughly the size of an electron according to one authority), no physicist or chemist in a normal, waking state of consciousness has ever experimentally isolated or otherwise verified the existence of one.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 3:41 pm

Cittasanto wrote: then there was no need for comparison or comment there then! .
What do you mean? I shouldn't comment? It is my opinion that you have compleatly misunderstood what I wrote, which is odd because it is actually, in my opinion, very simple. Can you focus on my original post (if you like)?: "The idea that we should ignore the bad qualities/odd views of those in position of authority is really, in my opinion, not great advice".
:anjali:

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by suttametta » Sun May 06, 2012 3:55 pm

Greetings all,

How can we not take unconventional positions? It seems to me when the Buddha described iddhi, he was talking in a realm science would call the power of suggestion. For example, the Samaññaphala Sutta mentions the "mind-made body" and what it can do, i.e., touch the sun. So, the Buddha is not talking about his physical body. He is talking about his mind. Thus, the laws of physics do not apply here. The question is whether it is possible to have a direct perception in this way? By way of evidence, all we have today are the anecdotal reports from those who have died on the operating table to be revived, and they have reported memories of sensory experiences that should not have been possible given they were clinically dead. We can't just reject this, the jury is still out. I personally had an out of body experience. I understand out one can have a body one place and a mental-body somewhere else, and that body can fly into the universe. Though that universe may be only in my mind, somehow it turns out to have all the right contents of the universe, as if they were identical (mental and physical), indistinguishable, where valid knowledge could be had.

This experience led me to delve deeply into accounts of iddhi, or siddhis in the Hindu and Buddhist world. What I have surmised for myself is that we are dealing with the power of suggestion. Actually, this turns out to be profound, as the mind can basically do perfect simulations and in certain settings those holographic representations can be perceived by others. One telling account that always haunts me is the story of a Tibetan woman from the 11th Century named Achi Chokyi Drolma. She was believed to be the incarnation of the Vajrayana deity called Vajradakini. In Tibetan history there are many such believed incarnations. When Achi was ready to exit life on Earth, she gathered her disciples in a cave where she had placed a human corpse. Then she "transformed" the corpse into a sumptuous feast and most of her disciples ate wonderful Tibetan delicacies and even more other wordly delicacies from the dakini's realm. That was, of course, the case only for those who had "pure view" and faith in Achi as an incarnation of Vajradakini. A few other of her disciples only saw these folks eating the flesh of a human corpse, and, disgusted, left. The others, who stayed and enjoyed then witnessed Achi get on her horse and fly into the sky. By all accounts, Achi was gone, and her body was never seen again, except by those who could see her as a pure manifestation of wisdom who could call on her in ecstatic visions.

I believe this story accounts for two critical issues in dhamma. 1) How iddhi really work. and 2) Our existential dilemma regarding them. It is clear from this account, and there any many many others like it, that iddhi are brought on by the power of suggestion, and that power is quite powerful. And how we view the world, what lens we decide to use, will alter our experience; our experience is all we have to call an existence, it seems. In the Pali resources, the Buddha mentions that some of his disciples wouldn't see any special qualities like light, etc. The counter to this are the suttas where Buddha displayed miracle powers to even non-believers, but I believe the power of suggestion extends to many other phenomena, i.e., when the Buddha halted the elephant with loving-kindness. Modern research has identified "mirror-neurons" that mirror states of others. It would seem some have a power to suggest so strong, that if you are in their presence, you may not be able to avoid the suggestion. Or it may be that our brains are built this way, so that when one person has a transcendent mind, we will reflect that to some extent.

Incidentally, I feel this fact resolves the so called "hinayana-mahayana" debate. Liberating oneself is the act of liberating all sentient beings. The Dzogchen tantras bear this out. Iddhi are for those who are okay with "nonordinary" experiences. I feel that while developing these iddhi may not be useful for our own liberation, letting go of ordinary thought patterns and allowing ourselves to experience iddhi in others, may be useful in our own liberation. Being open minded.

For me, the boundaries between traditions are porous. That might be bothersome to some. I will try to speak Latin in Rome. For me, this is about a Buddha "mandala" or lens. To see through this different lens, rather than trying to filter Buddhism through the lens of modern science. Thank you for your time.

Metta

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by befriend » Sun May 06, 2012 4:44 pm

what do you expect buddhist teachers to say when one of there students enters the 4th jhana. which is the level one reaches and obtain the divine eye, and sees the transmigration of beings due to there karma. siddhis are taught as real things in buddhism. buddhism is about reality not about what one wants reality to be.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by tiltbillings » Sun May 06, 2012 4:56 pm

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Who determines what is an odd view?
Tilt you do.
Not at all oddly, that is a non-answer.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 6:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Who determines what is an odd view?
Tilt you do.
Not at all oddly, that is a non-answer.
Thank you :)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 06, 2012 6:44 pm

Mr Man wrote:The idea that we should ignore the bad qualities/odd views of those in position of authority is really, in my opinion, not great advice.
As I've pointed out, the views Ajahn Brahm expresses would hardly be unconventional or odd in Theravada circles (apart from the Bhikkhuni ordination saga...).

Which "bad qualities" are you talking about? His bad jokes?

Of course, exactly how we interpret and make use of the content of the suttas in our development is, ultimately, our responsibility, and there are various ways of making use of those passages, not necessarily by taking them as literal, "scientific" discourse. After all, the Buddha is talking about how we interpret our personal experience...

:anjali:
Mike

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