Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:14 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:When I was 24, like you, I thought history was what offical texts say. But in my late 20s I realized that the official texts are written by government officials, and are in reality cover-up documents. But if you know how to read between the lines, with a combination of the misinformation they spew, the nuggests of truth hidden in the misinfo, and intuition, you can arrive at a general outline of the truth of what happened. Now at 34, I'm not going to go back to being a naive tween with explicit faith in goverment writers, paid liars.
Without these documents we have no access to history at all. You didn't invent the search for bias in history. Is this an appeal for authority based on your relatively advanced age or something? I read this as an admission of your tendency toward unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, which lead to the dissemination of misinformation from you.
Ironically, if I were an ancient writer your former self would be defending me against your present self and attacking your present self for trying to apply "materialist-historical" presuppositions to a writer who didn't follow the "materialist-historical" mode of writing.

But I think the disagreement is easier to explain than that. Most of my knowlege of church history comes from a direct reading of the church fathers. When you're reading a wiki or a history book, you don't know the trustworthiness of the original souce. The author may say "According to Tertullian, Marcion taught X." You accept that as fact, exactly as its presented. The person reading Tertullian's Five Books Against Marcion has a different perspective. They know how wiley Tertullian is in dealing with opponents, they see firsthand the way in which he twists what someone said here or there, etc. They have a different perspective. They have more information. Naturally this can lead to a difference in opinion about whether a particular "fact" really is a fact just because good ole Tert said so.
I have been citing the Church Fathers the entire course of our disagreement vis-a-vis your proliferation of misinformation concerning Christianity on this forum. I have been citing primary documents, not the interpretations of oftentimes questionable historians who want to sell books and thus peddle in controversy. To the best of my immediate recollection I have not cited a single historian's work to you. I go you wikipedia when someone is so absurd it is easily disproven. Look at the citations on the wiki pages I send you. It is you who have been citing contemporary historians, who often disprove the allegations you claim they support.

Such as your invocation of Christ in Celtic Christianity by Michael W. Herren. A search for every single instance of the word "Gaul" in the text turns up nothing that supports your claims that monasticism predated mainstream Christianity in Gaul. The first record we have of Gaulish Christians is an account of a persecution in Lyon. These wooden structures, are you talking about these? Where in the book to you find this information? Monasticism is not defined solely by the practice of austerities.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:29 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Definitely by the time of state-sponsored Christian hegemony in Rome, which also predates cloistered monasteries
Why are you so big on cloistered monasteries? Buddha and his disciples lived in the forest without an actual building complex. The earliest Christian monks lived in hut cities. So what?
The earliest Christian monks lived in caves in the desert.

The reason I go on about cloistered monasteries, in the context of Christianity, is because
Coëmgenu wrote:When Christianity eventually did develop its earliest mainstream monasticism, it was not a sāvakasaṅgha (assembly of followers) model à la Buddhism, but rather, "desert asceticism", done in imitation of the practice set forth by St. Anthony of the Desert. There could have been desert and forest hermits in Christianity before this, whom Anthony himself was following the example of, but there is no historical record of them. Surely, however it was not a sāvakasaṅgha situation of monasticism, as was the case in Buddhism monasticism. The reason I say it was not a a sāvakasaṅgha model of monasticism is because these monks did not live in a "community" (assembly, saṅgha) originally, and did not engage in monastic practice for the primary purpose of propagating and disseminating "Christian Dharma/Teaching". They were aware of each other existing, and presumably interacted with each other on occasion, but they sought out solitary lives to contemplate God alone, not forming closely interconnected communities within themselves.
[...]
Western Christianity only really develops a monasticism that resembles the sāvakasaṅgha in the 500s, when cloistered monasticism within urban centres becomes a mainstream practice, which coincides with the rise of urban centres in Europe in general, after the fall of Rome and Europe's de-urbanization.
Early Pauline Christianity definitely has much more practice of austerities, but it is missing other key aspects of monasticism that would make it uniformly a monastic movement. It is the cloistered monasteries of the post-500s in the West that resemble Buddhist monasteries more than the caves of the desert ascetics.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:24 am

:focus:

In the interest of actually posting something that is on-topic, and pertaining to interreligious dialogue and general ecumenism, this is Father Archimandrite Zacharias, who was a disciple of Elder Sophrony, who was a disciple of Saint Silouan of the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos), and who is also a practitioner of hesychast meditation (if one can call hesychasm meditation, which I don't think is too far a stretch, given its similarity to buddhānussaṭi).



I am not a Christian, nor am I posting this to evangelize, but I found this talk very illuminating, if one mentally replaces "God" with "the soteriological goal" and "hell" with "samsara/ignorance". As is to be expected, the soteriological goal is given undue agentification and athropomorphization, but that is standard issue with Christian-Buddhist dialogue. There are parts useful to Buddhists, there are parts useless to Buddhists, particularly parts relating to the participation in the mysteries of the Church. The part relevant to Buddhists (particularly meditators) starts moreso around 8:18, when he talks about the vain-glory that St. Silouan struggled with on account of his spiritual attainments. The demon that St. Silouan fights with, which appears before the icon, need not be interpreted as a spirit from hell, but instead as an "internal demon" of vain-glory. The injunction "keep your mind in hell" has two interpretations: it is either an appeal to tariki/他力 ("other-effort", a non-Theravada concept), or it is a statement that all things are hellish (like in the Fire Sermon?), coupled with a call to not despair on account of this. Even the glory of the contact with God, in the teaching of Father Zacharias, is subject to fall as it arose.

A discourse on the Three Stages of the Spiritual Life is given at 13:11. The term "grace" used here refers to the linking of the soteriological goal with the practitioner, and is described as a "foretaste" of said soteriology. Note the way in which even the stages of spiritual attainment in life are described, uniformly, as "impermanent", and they are subject to fall as they arose.

25:19 is a discourse on the "heart" (nous, which is similar to citta but not identical to it *lets not start that conversation again*) and the purification of said heart, which I found very illuminating.
The 33:00 polarity between "things eternal" and "things of this world" can be read as "unconditioned" and "things conditioned".

Obviously Buddhists and Christians are going to have disagreements over "God", but if one considers "God" simply to be "uncreated light" (to use phraseology put forward by Father Zacharias), perhaps we can suspend for the moment the notion that this God is also described as "jealous", "wanting", "wrathful", etc, and see that there is some attainment and progress being made here, very possible far beyond our own (certainly beyond my own), towards something, if not towards the realization of the Buddhist path in the eventual future. His talk about vain-glory probably has a parallel in the suttas warning against boasting of one's meditational attainments, if there wasn't a parallel I would be surprised.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:39 am

Coëmgenu wrote::focus:

In the interest of actually posting something that is on-topic, . . .
Thanks. That was interesting and informative. I hope that the moderators can keep this on topic.
>> 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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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:43 am

Coëmgenu wrote:A discourse on the Three Stages of the Spiritual Life is given at 13:11. The term "grace" used here refers to the linking of the soteriological goal with the practitioner, and is described as a "foretaste" of said soteriology. Note the way in which even the stages of spiritual attainment in life are described, uniformly, as "impermanent", and they are subject to fall as they arose.
Since this is in "Connections to Other Paths", I just came across the third part of a Mahayana Dharma talk from Thích Nhất Hạnh which addresses basically the same phenomenon (i.e. the stages of spiritual attainment, which fall as they arose, enumerated by Father Archimandrite Zacharias in his story about the blossoming vain-glory of Saint Silouan).

Coincidentally, the talk is called "Awakening the Heart", which has an imperfect parallel in Christianity to purification of the heart/nous.

If this is an inappropriate post, on account of the Mahayana teaching, feel free to have the moderators delete it, I wont be/feel offended at all. This is not a proselytizing effort.
:anjali:

Here is a transcript, as best as I can transcribe:
Happiness is like a flower. You should learn how to nourish it, to make it last long. In the beginning, your love may be very beautiful, very precious, but if you do not know how to handle that love, it will turn to be something else, like anger or hate, and that is why the practice of mindfulness and concentration help you to nourish your love, and if it happens that a flower has become a piece of garbage, love has turned into hate, we should not be despaired, because in the Buddhist teaching both happiness and suffering are of an organic nature. If you know how, you could use the suffering, you can transform the suffering back into happiness again. Just like an organic gardener. If the flower is on her way to the heap of garbage, then the heap of garbage can also be on her way back to the flower.

An organic gardener does not throw the garbage away, she knows how to keep the garbage and make it into compost in order to nourish flowers, and that is why to learn how to handle pain and suffering is very important. It is also [important?] to regulate happiness and love, and when suffering is there, a practitioner does not allow himself to be a victim of despair, because if he knows how to handle suffering, he can then very well transform suffering back into happiness. You know that in order to grow lotus flowers, we need the mud. The mud does not smell very good. The mud is not clean. But without the mud, no lotus flowers are possible.

Usually we have a dualistic view concerning happiness and suffering. We only want happiness. We don't want suffering. But suffering and happiness, they always go together. It's like the left and the right, above and below, like life and death.


The parellel I am pointing out is from here, transcribed from Father Archimandrite Zacharias's video above:
With all this, he [Saint Silouan], with all these descriptions of what followed his experience of the vision of Christ, we can see someone who truly encountered God, who truly met God, who truly united with His Spirit.

This took place in his life relatively early, at six months after he entered the monastery, and of course at the beginning, in this state of grace, he feasted. He was [unintelligible], passing from death to life, from darkness into the Uncreated Light, but as he was not yet ascetically trained, he couldn't maintain this state, and later on, he lost it because of thoughts of vanity. Of course, to this, contributed the praise he received from his spiritual father to whom he related his experience.

This spiritual father was amazed at the experience of Saint Silouan, and said to him: "If you are like that now, when you are so young, how will you be when you become old?" And that threw Saint Silouan into a battle with thoughts of vain-glory, and for fifteen years, he had a very intense battle with the spirit of vain-glory until he came into despair one night, as he was praying, he got down to make a prostration before the icon of Christ and the demon stood in between to receive the prostration, and Saint Silouan sat back on his stool.

He was in a dialogue with the Lord, saying to him: "Lord, you see I want to pray to Thee, but the evil thoughts to not let my mind free."

And at that moment, God spoke to his heart, and said to him: "The proud people are always tormented by the thoughts of the enemy."

And then Saint Siluoan, again, spoke to the Lord and said: "Lord, teach me how to humble my mind, how can I pray with a pure mind?"

And at that moment, the Lord said to him: "Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not."


Relating to the talk by Thích Nhất Hạnh, concerning the flower and the garbage: "Hell" appears in the New Testament of Christianity as Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, which was used as a garbage dump in the time of Jesus. The parallel is not strong here, since universal reconciliation is believed, in some Christian thought, to circumvent freewill, but it is an interesting coincidence nonetheless.

-Caoimhghín
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Javi
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by Javi » Sun Sep 25, 2016 4:36 pm

The Kingdom of Heaven is apatheia [imperturbable calm, dispassion] of the soul along with true knowledge of existing things.

The proof of apatheia is had when the spirit begins to see its own light, when it remains in a state of tranquillity in the presence of the images it has during sleep, and when it maintains its calm as it beholds the affairs of life.

The spirit that possesses health is the one which has no images of the things of the world at the time of prayer.

The ascetic life is the spiritual method for cleansing the soul..."
- Abba Evagrius Ponticus (345-399 AD), Early Desert Father​
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

boundless
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by boundless » Fri May 04, 2018 8:56 pm

Greetings all,

very interesting thread!

This article by Lance Cousins might be of interest: The stages of Christian mysticism and Buddhist purification

:anjali:

paul
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Re: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID)

Post by paul » Fri May 04, 2018 9:46 pm

"The Stages of Christian Mysticism and Buddhist Purification" constitutes chapter seven in "The Yogi and the Mystic", edited by Karel Werner, first published 1989, Curzon Press.

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