Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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DNS
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by DNS » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:27 am

clw_uk wrote: Interestingly I can't seem to define Buddhas ethics, be it deontological, consequentialist, natural ethics, sceptical or subjective etc.
Perhaps all of the above.

Much of the Vinaya --> deontological
Skillful means --> consequentialist
4NT, DO, kamma --> natural ethics
Investigation, energy vicaya, viriya --> skeptical
Vinaya changing over time and circumstances --> subjective

But mostly natural ethics. Living beings are naturally subject to pain and suffering and there is a way to the end of suffering. Kamma and DO are natural events that can be observed and experienced.

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:26 am

:goodpost:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:25 am

Hi clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
I would be careful of inductive reasoning
It is direct observation from the rebirth thread.

As I said, be careful of inductive reasoning dear


Just because the sun arose today, it doesn't mean it will tomorrow (which was the implication of your flimsy post)


:)
Inductive reasoning is only a problem when we forget that it is about probability and not about a uniformity principle. In all likelihood, the sun will rise tomorrow. Likewise, Tilt merely proposed you're likely to behave like he's observed you behaving in the past. From what I know of Tilt, he has strong obersvational powers and a fairly accurate track-record. It is in your power and your power only to provide a counterinductive example via your behavior and perform well--by his standards--in debate.
Kindly,
dL
Last edited by danieLion on Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:39 am

Hi David, clw_uk,
David N. Snyder wrote:
clw_uk wrote: Interestingly I can't seem to define Buddhas ethics, be it deontological, consequentialist, natural ethics, sceptical or subjective etc.
Perhaps all of the above.

Much of the Vinaya --> deontological
Skillful means --> consequentialist
4NT, DO, kamma --> natural ethics
Investigation, energy vicaya, viriya --> skeptical
Vinaya changing over time and circumstances --> subjective

But mostly natural ethics. Living beings are naturally subject to pain and suffering and there is a way to the end of suffering. Kamma and DO are natural events that can be observed and experienced.
Which is another way of saying that the closest thing Buddhist ethics comes to in Western philosophy is humanist and pragmatist ethics.
Kindly,
dL

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:42 am

Hi clw-uk,
clw_uk wrote:
I suppose its because he did not try to compose some unifying ethical theory.
There is a section in Peter Harvey's An Introduction to Buddhist ethics p49 on Comparisons with Western ethical systems.
Interesting point

Would you see western ethical theories as a failure as they try to reduce morality to one concept?
There are several Western ethical theories that reject such reductionism. Again, humanism and pragmatism come to mind.
Kindly,
dL

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:06 am

Hi clw-uk,
clw_uk wrote:
Samma wrote:So the answer to "Is then murder justified in Buddhism, if it saves lives?"

Would be it depends on the circumstance. What kind of murder. How many lives. And so on. Of course this is all in the speculative realm and perhaps best put aside...

Hitler and Stalin ...


Or to put it another way

Would you be violent, and possibly kill, a gang that was gang raping a woman if you had access to a gun. Or would you be mindful and remain in equanimity and let it continue to its conclusion?


I realise these aren't nice things to think about, but they seem to be important


I will be honest, I think I would shoot and possibly kill if faced with such a situation, even if I don't know the woman. Yet is this ethical in Buddhism? Would Buddha approve or disapprove?
It's too speculative to play situational ethics/"What Would the Buddha Do?" to be helpful and I'm struggling to see how it's on topic. Wouldn't it be more helpful to look at what the Buddha actually did in some ethically complex situations? For instance, look at his involvement among the monks of Kosambi and his intervention between Koliyan and Sakyan states. He seems to have been a peacemaker in these instances. On the other hand, his whole former clan (Sakyan) was killed in his presence after his peacemaking interventions failed (he was imperfect, afterall). The Sakyans had given a bride to a neighbouring king they thought was a Saykan noble but was in actuality a mere slave or some other kind of "lowlife." The Buddha refrained from interving twice, but on the third occassion, practiced equanimity, considering the dishonest actions of the Sakyans and the anger of the neighbouring king unstoppable by virtue of the karmic "strength" of both parties. Hence, he stood by and witnessed the total destruction of his former clan.
See for instance: The End of the Shakyans
Also of interest: Getting the Message by Thanissaro
Kindly,
dL

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by BlackBird » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:23 pm

post removed, please regard the opening of my mouth as a momentary lapse of reason. As for your questions Dan

A) Suttas have been all I've been reading lately and I have always had a habit of copying literary styles from that which I have been reading. Call it archaic if you want, but it's only Venerable Bodhi's choice of words, and I would have pegged you a fan of his work...

B) Nibbling on your bait would not be of benefit to anyone. So I won't, and it bares bringing up that were anyone to ever achieve anything in this, nobody would believe him. In fact such a person would be regarded as a kook - So we reach a delicate catch 22 with regards the effacy of the practice whereupon the community is in dire need of proof, but any such notions would be taken with volumes of criticism disbelief and name calling. It's all very counter productive, but please don't take my words too seriously, I'm just musing :)

We want our ariyans anonymous, but we need to know the path is efficacious as concerns the end goal, and the only proof you're ever going to get is from A) personal experience (which my post advocated) and B) From some kind of declaration or inference from some other member of our community. But your average man hasn't achieved A and won't believe B - In fact he positively counts any such inference as proof that someone's either gone off the deep end or is vastly over estimating themselves and caught up in some form of egoism. A beautiful catch 22 worthy of a page in a Heller book imo.

I am sorry you took my post to be bombastic and arrogant when showing up arrogance was the intended point of it, but you have given me further pause for concern and I think I shall make this departure permanent.

All the best Dan :)
Last edited by BlackBird on Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:09 pm, edited 5 times in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by Dan74 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:41 pm

Jack, is there a reason why you use archaic language and this bombastic tone in your posts?
_/|\_

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by equilibrium » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:09 pm

danieLion wrote:Can Buddhism be improved upon? Was the Buddha perfect?
Why would one wish to "improve" Buddhism if one doesn't understand what it is yet?
What exactly is a Buddha anyway?.....if we don't know what it is, then how can we say it is perfect or imperfect?

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by Aloka » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:41 pm

equilibrium wrote:
danieLion wrote:Can Buddhism be improved upon? Was the Buddha perfect?
Why would one wish to "improve" Buddhism if one doesn't understand what it is yet?
What exactly is a Buddha anyway?.....if we don't know what it is, then how can we say it is perfect or imperfect?

Yes, exactly. This is what I was trying to say in my "shallow stab" on page 2....
Aloka wrote:Maybe if we practice more and speculate less, we'll develop the wisdom to be able fully understand the Buddha's teachings first.

:)

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:55 pm

Hi equilibrium,
equilibrium wrote:
danieLion wrote:Can Buddhism be improved upon? Was the Buddha perfect?
Why would one wish to "improve" Buddhism if one doesn't understand what it is yet?
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "understanding," but there are plenty people who understand what Buddhism is, many of which frequent this forum.
equilibrium wrote:What exactly is a Buddha anyway?.....if we don't know what it is, then how can we say it is perfect or imperfect?
This has been adressed alredy in this topic.
Kindly,
dL

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by danieLion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:59 pm

Aloka wrote:
equilibrium wrote:
danieLion wrote:Can Buddhism be improved upon? Was the Buddha perfect?
Why would one wish to "improve" Buddhism if one doesn't understand what it is yet?
What exactly is a Buddha anyway?.....if we don't know what it is, then how can we say it is perfect or imperfect?

Yes, exactly. This is what I was trying to say in my "shallow stab" on page 2....
Aloka wrote:Maybe if we practice more and speculate less, we'll develop the wisdom to be able fully understand the Buddha's teachings first.

:)
Hi Aloka,
Please explicate the connection between what you said and what equilbrium said. It's not clear to me how the two are connected. As far as I could tell you were merely speculating about why we shouldn't speculate about such things. Which part of what you said corresponds to what equilibrium said?
Kindly

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by BlackBird » Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:59 am

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi in Jetas Grove, Anathapindika's Park. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One: "Does master Gotama too claim, 'I have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment'?

"If, great king, one speaking rightly could say of anyone, 'He has awakened to this unsurpassed perfect englightenment,' it is of me that one might rightly say this. For I, great king, have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment."...
- SN. I Kosala Samyutta, 1,1 - 'Young'
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Nalanda in Pavarika's Mango Grove. Then the Venerable Sariputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: 'Venerable Sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been, nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment."
- SN. IV Satipatthanasamyutta, 2, 12 'Nalanda'
"But is it possible, lord, to point out yet another fruit of the contemplative life, visible in the here and now?"

"Yes, it is, great king. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak.

"There is the case, great king, where a Tathagata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure.

"A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathagata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?'

"So after some time he abandons his mass of wealth, large or small; leaves his circle of relatives, large or small; shaves off his hair and beard, puts on the ochre robes, and goes forth from the household life into homelessness.

"When he has thus gone forth, he lives restrained by the rules of the monastic code, seeing danger in the slightest faults. Consummate in his virtue, he guards the doors of his senses, is possessed of mindfulness and alertness, and is content.
- DN 2: Fruits of the holy life - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
2. "Monks, this Teaching[47] so well proclaimed by me, is plain, open, explicit, free of patchwork.[48] In this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork; for those who are arahants, free of taints, who have accomplished and completed their task, have laid down the burden, achieved their aim, severed the fetters binding to existence, who are liberated by full knowledge, there is no (future) round of existence that can be ascribed to them.

43. "Monks, in this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork, those monks who have abandoned the five lower fetters will all be reborn spontaneously (in the Pure Abodes) and there they will pass away finally, no more returning from that world.

44. "Monks, in this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork, those monks who have abandoned three fetters and have reduced greed, hatred and delusion, are all once-returners, and, returning only once to this world, will then make an end of suffering.

45. "Monks, in this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork, those monks who have abandoned three fetters, are all stream-enterers, no more liable to downfall, assured, and headed for full Enlightenment.

46. "Monks, in this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit, and free of patchwork, those monks who are mature in Dhamma, mature in faith,[49] are all headed for full Enlightenment.

47. "Monks, in this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork, those who have simply faith in me, simply love for me,[50] are all destined for heaven."

48. This said the Blessed One. Satisfied, the monks rejoiced in the words of the Blessed One.
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el048.html

Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained. [1]

"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The very nature of this Dhamma is perfection. It has perfection as it's source and perfection is it's goal. This Dhamma is free of patchwork, the doctrine cannot be improved upon, to suggest otherwise is arrogance that will lead to harm and suffering. Unfortunately for some, it is not seen that a starting point of real progress in this Dhamma is the admission of one's own blindness to the true nature of existence. One cannot make progress if one thinks one already knows best... This is the point I was trying to make last night when I got called out for being bombastic by a certain member.

Another portion of an above quoted sutta comes to mind and should be oft remembered by those who engage in debates here, so as not to fall into wrong doing (as I once did a lot in my discussions here):
10.[8] "There are here, O monks, some foolish men who study the Teaching; having studied it, they do not wisely examine the purpose of those teachings. To those who do not wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will not yield insight. They study the Teaching only to use it for criticizing or for refuting others in disputation. They do not experience the (true) purpose for which they (ought to) study the Teaching. To them these teachings wrongly grasped, will bring harm and suffering for a long time. And why? Because of their wrong grasp of the teachings.

"Suppose, monks, a man wants a snake, looks for a snake, goes in search of a snake. He then sees a large snake, and when he is grasping its body or its tail, the snake turns back on him and bites his hand or arm or some other limb of his. And because of that he suffers death or deadly pain. And why? Because of his wrong grasp of the snake.

"Similarly, O monks, there are here some foolish men who study the Teaching; having studied it, they do not wisely examine the purpose of those teachings. To those who do not wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will not yield insight. They study the Teaching only to use it for criticizing or for refuting others in disputation. They do not experience the (true) purpose for which they (ought to) study the Teaching. To them these teachings wrongly grasped, will bring harm and suffering for a long time. And why? Because of their wrong grasp of the teachings.

11. "But there are here, O monks, some noble sons who study the Teaching;[13] and having studied it, they examine wisely the purpose of those teachings. To those who wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will yield insight. They do not study the Teaching for the sake of criticizing nor for refuting others in disputation. They experience the purpose for which they study the Teaching; and to them these teachings being rightly grasped, will bring welfare and happiness for a long time. And why? Because of their right grasp of the teachings.

"Suppose, monks, a man wants a snake, looks for a snake, goes in search of a snake. He then sees a large snake, and with a forked stick he holds it firmly down. Having done so he catches it firmly by the neck. Then although the snake might entwine with (the coils of) its body that man's hand or arm or some other limb of his, still he does not on that account suffer death or deadly pain. And why not? Because of his right grasp of the snake.

"Similarly, O monks, there are here some noble sons who study the Teaching; and having learned it, they examine wisely the purpose of those teachings. To those who wisely examine the purpose, these teachings will yield insight. They do not study the Teaching for the sake of criticizing nor for refuting others in disputation. They experience the purpose for which they study the Teaching; and to them these teachings being rightly grasped, will bring welfare and happiness for a long time. And why? Because of their right grasp of the teachings.

12. "Therefore, O monks, if you know the purpose of what I have said, you should keep it in mind accordingly. But if you do not know the purpose of what I have said, you should question me about it, or else (ask) those monks who are wise.
Ultimately, if one reads these quotes and still doesn't agree, then either one has not got faith in the Buddha, one does not believe him to be telling the truth, or one thinks he is overestimating himself, or one thinks the Suttas are made up by some person or other. But the Buddha has said one can directly realize the Dhamma for oneself and go beyond any doubt in all of the above passages. One does not even need to become an heir in Dhamma, one can by solid reasoning and deduction alone through one's experience, arrive at the conclusion that the Blessed One is truly enlightened, that such a Dhamma as this could only be discovered by a Buddha - A fully enlightened being, and that the Dhamma is well expounded and free of patchwork.

Very likely either this post will be ignored, or people will take offence to it thinking: Who is he to tell us what to do... How arrogant and bombastic he is! But it one person sees the wisdom in the Buddha's teachings and comes to think that Danielion is misguided in his assumption that the Dhamma is not complete and that the Buddha was not perfect, then this will have achieved it's goal.

The amount of skepticism towards the Buddha's teachings on these forums is what led me to leave this place as well as realizing that it was leading to an unjustifiable amount of passion in me that was hindering my own practice. When one is disparaged for thinking that the Suttas should be taken at their word and that the Buddha was a real human being who was fully enlightened it becomes evident that the environment is one that is hostile to those who have strong faith in the Buddha and those who believe (or know) the Buddha & Dhamma to be perfect. Not to say that I am so arrogant as to think one person leaving here makes an iota of a difference, I do not think highly of my posts or anything... But the point is this: The skeptical humanists and naysayers have won, this environment is not friendly towards those who wish to express a view that the Buddha was a real person who was really enlightened - At least that was my experience.

with metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by Dan74 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:18 am

Jack, I have no gripes with your views and I think that most people here accept that the Buddha was fully enlightened.

My last comment was simply because I was puzzled by your style. Besides that I was concerned that you are OK, that's all.

My reading of this discussion is that it is more around tangential points and interpretations rather than doubting what the Buddha taught. We have all taken refuge here, I think, and I assume that we all mean it. But what that implies is of course different to each one of us.
_/|\_

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Post by BlackBird » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:31 am

Thank you for your concern Dan, you can rest easy, for I am not a kook who has gone mad and thought himself an arahant...

But if I were a non returner, or an arahant bound to die within 7 days or even a sotapanna for that matter (which I am not - As far as I know) and was foolish enough to declare it to you, you would undoubtedly think I was mad, or at the very least confused and over estimating, and that was a point I moaned about earlier. But thinking further on the topic, it is to be expected that such is the case. We live in a boy who cried wolf situation in this case, at least for those of us who have been around the Sangha-block so to speak.

Finally, I think you might be jumping the gun in assuming that everyone here has taken refuge, even with the proviso that refuge might mean different things to different people (despite the Buddha being quite categorical about what it should mean) - At least in my eyes it is clear that there is more than one person here who does not think the Buddha was real, or indeed fully enlightened/perfect (the two are quite synonymous).

Now at the risk of becoming a hypocrite (for I have said multiple times that I'm going, and returned to address a certain point or post) I must act in accordance with my statements and depart :)

metta
Jack
Last edited by BlackBird on Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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