Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Dinsdale
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:46 am

Aloka wrote:Ok guys, I'm a woman in the minority here, getting the message loud and clear, as always.
:strawman:

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Aloka
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:03 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Aloka wrote:Ok guys, I'm a woman in the minority here, getting the message loud and clear, as always.
:strawman:

:redherring:

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:26 pm

Aloka wrote:
zengen wrote: Buddha said that unless we attain the enlightenment of an Arahant, we will continue to be reborn in the six realms.
To avoid any confusion, Zengen, having six realms is a Tibetan Buddhist teaching.

http://www.buddhanet.net/wheel2.htm

In Theravada there are thirty one realms:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html
Same idea. Those 31 realms are because of many levels of heaven.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:32 pm

Katarzyna wrote:Hi zengen,
zengen wrote:Dear Aloka, with all due respect, I must point out that the description of the sufferings in hell are not mere speculation, but are explicitly stated in the Sutta. The Sutta also leaves no room for interpretation. The Buddha described the hell realms as he saw them with his Divine Eye.

Did you not read the quotations from Gombrich and Gethin that were posted by Aloka?

The argument that in the Suttas the Buddha is reported to have credited his divine eye for his knowledge of the features of other realms may be persuasive to those who view the Sutta Pitaka as a flawlessly transmitted verbatim record of the the Buddha’s teachings (like the Buddhists of Myanmar commonly do). But you can’t expect it to have so much weight for those who hold to the modern scholarly consensus that the Pitaka is a collection that evolved over time, with its contents being determined in part by outside cultural influences.
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Hi Katarzyna,

I don't know. I don't pay much attention to what scholars say. Many of them don't practice the Dhamma anyway. They rely only on their intellect, which is very limited, and cannot penetrate deep into the Dhamma.

Have you read the quotation from Ajahn Maha Bua which I posted in this thread?
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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Aloka
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:25 pm

.... Many of them don't practice the Dhamma anyway. They rely only on their intellect, which is very limited, and cannot penetrate deep into the Dhamma.

Can you provide some evidence to support these statements please, Zengen ?


.

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cappuccino
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by cappuccino » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:06 pm

Does Rebirth Make Sense?
by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

The teaching of rebirth crops up almost everywhere in the Canon, and is so closely bound to a host of other doctrines that to remove it would virtually reduce the Dhamma to tatters. Moreover, when the suttas speak about rebirth into the five realms … they never hint that these terms are meant symbolically. To the contrary, they even say that rebirth occurs "with the breakup of the body, after death," which clearly implies they intend the idea of rebirth to be taken quite literally.
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:14 pm

Aloka wrote:
.... Many of them don't practice the Dhamma anyway. They rely only on their intellect, which is very limited, and cannot penetrate deep into the Dhamma.
Can you provide some evidence to support these statements please, Zengen ?
It's true of the vast majority of western academics who study religion. They won't say it in their academic papers, since it's just assumed, but read, for example, Gombrich's books intended for wide consumption for example.

:anjali:
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The Thinker
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by The Thinker » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:06 pm

https://youtu.be/4oC_AEOJWCY" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - Is there heaven and hell, short 6 minute video.
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Katarzyna » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm

zengen wrote:I don't know. I don't pay much attention to what scholars say. Many of them don't practice the Dhamma anyway. They rely only on their intellect, which is very limited, and cannot penetrate deep into the Dhamma.
That scholars don't practise the Dhamma does not prevent them from having astute and insightful things to say about Buddhist texts. To assert otherwise would be to commit the genetic fallacy.

zengen wrote:Have you read the quotation from Ajahn Maha Bua which I posted in this thread?
I've read it but can't really see its relevance. I don't myself dispute the doctrine of rebirth, the existence of hell or the possibility of some yogis being able to remember past lives. But this doesn't seem to have any bearing on the question of whether there is any truth in the links that Aloka posted, i.e. in Gombrich's suggestion that the Pali Canon's cosmology was a later addition or Gethin's suggestion that the details of it were in part culturally determined.

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_anicca_
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by _anicca_ » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:41 pm

Aloka wrote:My personal experience is that "hell realms" can be understood and experienced mentally in the here and now, rather than speculated about as being something terrible in another dimension, with people being tortured and prodded with red hot pokers and so on. That's very similar to the Christian hell portrayed in the paintings of the 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. I'm afraid that just doesn't work for me, I need to relate to this life in the present moment, which is all I have.

What other people believe is up to them and I wish everyone happiness and good health.


:anjali:
This is pretty much my view on it and really the incessant prodding of Aloka wasn't needed
However, I will say that this has definitely made for an interesting read :rofl:

I don't particularly believe or disbelieve in hell realms or anything of the sorts. I am inclined to believe in rebirth, but pondering these things like "is there a hell realm" is really just playing with your own mind and indulging in thoughts. There is also a sutta on that :tongue:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

There ya go!!!

It's great to think about such things, but a lot of people are beginning to become passionately involved with their opinions and views, and I can certainly say that the Buddha would be against that. ;)

Let's all take some deep, pleasing breaths.

Bud...... dho.....

:meditate:

:rofl:
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:55 am

Katarzyna wrote: I've read it but can't really see its relevance. I don't myself dispute the doctrine of rebirth, the existence of hell or the possibility of some yogis being able to remember past lives. But this doesn't seem to have any bearing on the question of whether there is any truth in the links that Aloka posted, i.e. in Gombrich's suggestion that the Pali Canon's cosmology was a later addition or Gethin's suggestion that the details of it were in part culturally determined.
Those were just speculations made by Gombrich and Gethin. How are these speculations relevant to the practice of Dhamma? One can say they're just a waste of time.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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Aloka
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Aloka » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:51 am

zengen wrote: Those were just speculations made by Gombrich and Gethin. How are these speculations relevant to the practice of Dhamma? One can say they're just a waste of time.
Richard Gombrich is an Indologist and scholar of Sanskrit, Pāli, and Buddhist Studies. He was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford from 1976 to 2004. He is currently Founder-President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is a past President of the Pali Text Society.

Rupert Gethin is a practising Buddhist in the UK, who is a Professor of Buddhist studies and the president of the Pali Text society.

For internet Buddhists to claim that whatever these men have to say is irrelevant, I find quite astonishingly closed minded.

But it is as it is. :shrug:

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:04 am

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:30
Dhamma is karma & rebirth.

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Katarzyna
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Katarzyna » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:38 am

zengen wrote:Those were just speculations made by Gombrich and Gethin.
Did you actually read them?

I find it hard to believe that someone who had read (and understood) Gombrich's article and Gethin's chapter would describe them as "just speculations". To speculate is to conjecture without evidence, which is quite the antithesis of what these scholars are doing. Though I myself have rather strong reservations about Gombrich's views and minor ones about Gethin's, these are entirely to do with their interpretation of the textual evidence they cite, not with any supposed failure to offer evidence.


zengen wrote:How are these speculations relevant to the practice of Dhamma?
Their interesting and thoughtful non-speculations are relevant to determining what the Dhamma is and what the practice of the Dhamma is. To familiarize oneself not only with the Theravada tradition's received opinion on what the canon is and how it should be read, but also with modern insights into the formation of the canon and the evolution of the tradition's way of interpreting it allows one to steer a middle course between two extremes: the one extreme of sceptical distrust of what one reads in the texts and the other of an unthinking fundamentalist literalism in interpreting them.


zengen wrote:One can say they're just a waste of time.
Yes, one may say that if one wishes. But one would hardly be saying it with a voice of authority if one hadn't even bothered to examine the output of modern scholars.

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:10 am

Katarzyna wrote:Their interesting and thoughtful non-speculations are relevant to determining what the Dhamma is and what the practice of the Dhamma is. To familiarize oneself not only with the Theravada tradition's received opinion on what the canon is and how it should be read, but also with modern insights into the formation of the canon and the evolution of the tradition's way of interpreting it allows one to steer a middle course between two extremes: the one extreme of sceptical distrust of what one reads in the texts and the other of an unthinking fundamentalist literalism in interpreting them.
I broadly agree, though the difficulty I see is that "modern insights" generally support a sceptical stance, and they are often quoted for that reason.
People can become attached to a particular position, and then repeatedly quote the people who agree with them in order to bolster their position. This is hardly a balanced approach.
I'm not convinced that modern interpretations are necessarily superior or more objective. These modern views are no less a product of a particular place and time than the traditional views which preceded them. It's all rather subjective.
In my view a balanced approach would include traditional interpretations like the Visuddhimagga, as well as more modern views of the suttas.

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Kusala
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Kusala » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:11 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:
Aloka wrote:
Khalil Bodhi wrote:
Aloka,

I've found the teachings which point to the possibility of rebirth in the lower realms as a truly valuable contribution to my daily life and practice. Obviously this may not be the case for you but there is no denying it is in the suttas and is of value to a number of lay followers and monastics. Ajahn Achalo just put out a video discussing the skillfulness of belief in becoming that might interest you and others in this thread: https://youtu.be/Xw5dj1Yrt2I

Best wishes,

KB

Khalil Bodhi,

I didn't mention rebirth, and I'm sorry but I don't have time to watch a 50 minute video called " Belief In Rebirth Is Skillful".

What I did mention was speculation about what happens in hell realms - and also I posted quotes about ancient Indian cosmology being absorbed into Buddhism.

Kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:
Aloka,

I'm sorry if my post was confusing but rebirth in the hell realms is just one of the possibilities when you take on the belief in rebirth. Hence my post. I'm not personally a fan of the academic and secularist view that the Lord Buddha simply made use of ancient Indian cosmology and, thus, rebirth is just a cultural accretion. Ven. Thanissaro and others have pointed out in the past that there was no singular or monolithic cosmological worldview in India at the time. If you have the time, I 'd be happy provide you with links to these.

For some of us, it is the speculation, one may even say contemplation, about the length and types of suffering in the hells that helps to keep us on course when our faculties of reason fail us or the carrot just isn't working.

Best wishes,

KB
Very illuminating...I was listening to Thanissaro the other day and was reminded by your post. Thanissaro is pretty spot on when it comes to the academic and secularist view of Buddhism...

Thanissaro:

"I was given a lecture a while back by someone who was quoting an academic, saying that 'to say that there is a right Dharma and a wrong Dharma is very dangerous thing'. The analogy they gave was, 'the Dharma is like a map, everyone's Dharma is like a different map and as we know all map's distort to one extent or another, so there's no one true map. There's no one map that corresponds to all of reality. We have to accept the fact that everybody's map distort in one way or another'. But that's a false analogy.

What the Buddha's giving is instructions on how to find the fire escape. And you can go anywhere in the world, any hotel in the world, and the maps to the fire escape are all the same regardless of the culture, regardless of fancy or un-fancy the hotel is...

They don't have to tell you how the hotel was built or what's in the walls or what's in the foundations, all they have to tell you where you go to get out. No types of information are all very standard. And there are good and bad maps to the fire escape. Some diagrams will put you in a dead end corridor where you'd be consumed by flames, or asphyxiated by the smoke, others take you to a door and then you open the door and it drops for 50ft. So you want to avoid those maps... "
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He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:55 pm

Kusala wrote:
Thanissaro:

"I was given a lecture a while back by someone who was quoting an academic, saying that 'to say that there is a right Dharma and a wrong Dharma is very dangerous thing'. The analogy they gave was, 'the Dharma is like a map, everyone's Dharma is like a different map and as we know all map's distort to one extent or another, so there's no one true map. There's no one map that corresponds to all of reality. We have to accept the fact that everybody's map distort in one way or another'. But that's a false analogy.

What the Buddha's giving is instructions on how to find the fire escape. And you can go anywhere in the world, any hotel in the world, and the maps to the fire escape are all the same regardless of the culture, regardless of fancy or un-fancy the hotel is...

They don't have to tell you how the hotel was built or what's in the walls or what's in the foundations, all they have to tell you where you go to get out. No types of information are all very standard. And there are good and bad maps to the fire escape. Some diagrams will put you in a dead end corridor where you'd be consumed by flames, or asphyxiated by the smoke, others take you to a door and then you open the door and it drops for 50ft. So you want to avoid those maps... "
Great quote! Thank you for this. Do you have a link too? Be well! :anjali:
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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by Katarzyna » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:27 pm

Kusala wrote:Thanissaro is pretty spot on when it comes to the academic and secularist view of Buddhism...

What Thanissaro says is no doubt a valid critique of the words that he attributes to the academic. But what kind of academic was it? I mean the quotation is hardly representative of the sort of things that indological textual scholars are in the habit of saying in their professional work. It sounds more like something from a pop Zen book or from a talk by one of the more freewheeling American vipassana teachers.

And so though Thanissaro’s criticism may (for all I know) be “spot on” regarding secular Buddhism, it doesn’t seem to have any obvious bearing on the academic study of Buddhist texts.

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:08 pm

Katarzyna wrote: Did you actually read them?

I find it hard to believe that someone who had read (and understood) Gombrich's article and Gethin's chapter would describe them as "just speculations". To speculate is to conjecture without evidence, which is quite the antithesis of what these scholars are doing. Though I myself have rather strong reservations about Gombrich's views and minor ones about Gethin's, these are entirely to do with their interpretation of the textual evidence they cite, not with any supposed failure to offer evidence.
They are speculations, or at best, suggestions, as you have mentioned. Why rely on suggestions made by these scholars?

Why not rely on the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.

The Sangha holds correct view of the Dhamma, not professors and academics in colleges and universities. Rely on the words of the Ajahns, not those that write papers for a living.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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Re: Lifespan of beings in the hell realm

Post by zengen » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:35 pm

Aloka wrote:
zengen wrote: Those were just speculations made by Gombrich and Gethin. How are these speculations relevant to the practice of Dhamma? One can say they're just a waste of time.
Richard Gombrich is an Indologist and scholar of Sanskrit, Pāli, and Buddhist Studies. He was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford from 1976 to 2004. He is currently Founder-President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is a past President of the Pali Text Society.

Rupert Gethin is a practising Buddhist in the UK, who is a Professor of Buddhist studies and the president of the Pali Text society.

For internet Buddhists to claim that whatever these men have to say is irrelevant, I find quite astonishingly closed minded.

But it is as it is. :shrug:
These two professors are no doubt very highly educated and highly intellectual. But I doubt they are serious Dhamma practitioners. They can rely on their sharp intellect for eons, but fail to attain enlightenment.

There are internet Buddhists that are very good practitioners. Don't look down on them.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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