Value of interfaith studies

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Will » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:53 pm

A summary of the philosophy & metaphysics of Yoga Vasistha by B.L. Atreya - the last 3 lectures in particular.

https://archive.org/details/Yogavasisth ... phy_201709
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

Upeksha
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Upeksha » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:01 pm

Someone earlier in the thread mentioned that the Buddha himself was versed in other doctrines - which is of course undoubtedly true. I think it's also true that his own doctrine is nonsensical without the broader Vedic and Upanishadic context of his times (and this implies critique of those systems as much as adoption of certain features of them).

Beyond the Buddha, I think we need to consider the unfolding of Buddhism per se, as a distinct tradition in India. This was an overwhelmingly dialectical unfolding, as Buddhist thinkers explained and clarified their positions in relation to other Buddhist schools and non-Buddhist schools.

So, the value seems unmissable: it's how Buddhism becomes Buddhism. i.e. the very premise of an isolated Buddha-dharma is incoherent.

chownah
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by chownah » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:36 am

Upeksha wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:01 pm
Someone earlier in the thread mentioned that the Buddha himself was versed in other doctrines - which is of course undoubtedly true. I think it's also true that his own doctrine is nonsensical without the broader Vedic and Upanishadic context of his times (and this implies critique of those systems as much as adoption of certain features of them).

Beyond the Buddha, I think we need to consider the unfolding of Buddhism per se, as a distinct tradition in India. This was an overwhelmingly dialectical unfolding, as Buddhist thinkers explained and clarified their positions in relation to other Buddhist schools and non-Buddhist schools.

So, the value seems unmissable: it's how Buddhism becomes Buddhism. i.e. the very premise of an isolated Buddha-dharma is incoherent.
I have no understanding of the vedic or upanishaic anything.....I guess then my understanding of buddhist doctrine must be garabage.....is that right?
chownah

Upeksha
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Upeksha » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:36 am

chownah wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:36 am
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:01 pm
Someone earlier in the thread mentioned that the Buddha himself was versed in other doctrines - which is of course undoubtedly true. I think it's also true that his own doctrine is nonsensical without the broader Vedic and Upanishadic context of his times (and this implies critique of those systems as much as adoption of certain features of them).

Beyond the Buddha, I think we need to consider the unfolding of Buddhism per se, as a distinct tradition in India. This was an overwhelmingly dialectical unfolding, as Buddhist thinkers explained and clarified their positions in relation to other Buddhist schools and non-Buddhist schools.

So, the value seems unmissable: it's how Buddhism becomes Buddhism. i.e. the very premise of an isolated Buddha-dharma is incoherent.
I have no understanding of the vedic or upanishaic anything.....I guess then my understanding of buddhist doctrine must be garabage.....is that right?
chownah
That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying, the Buddha's doctrine is non-sensical without reference to the pre-Buddhistic (i.e. Vedic) context in which it arose. i.e. Concepts such as "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc were existent before the Buddha was born. So if you have an understanding of Buddhist doctrine, you automatically pick up this context.

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DooDoot
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by DooDoot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:05 am

Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:36 am
I'm saying, the Buddha's doctrine is non-sensical without reference to the pre-Buddhistic (i.e. Vedic) context in which it arose. i.e. Concepts such as "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc were existent before the Buddha was born. So if you have an understanding of Buddhist doctrine, you automatically pick up this context.
Hi Upeksha

The Pali suttas only mention the Four Vedas (and not the Upanishads). I think you would need to study the Vedas thoroughly to see if they had any systematic doctrines about "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc. Extensive discussion about these matters between the Buddha & Brahmans are not found in the Pali suttas. Generally, the Pali suttas depict the Brahmans as concerned with being the Superior Caste ("Chosen People") and going to heaven. Generally, its the Buddha who lectures the Brahmans about kamma & morality and declares a person is noble due to kamma rather than due to caste birth.

Kind regards

Upeksha
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Upeksha » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:39 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:05 am
Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:36 am
I'm saying, the Buddha's doctrine is non-sensical without reference to the pre-Buddhistic (i.e. Vedic) context in which it arose. i.e. Concepts such as "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc were existent before the Buddha was born. So if you have an understanding of Buddhist doctrine, you automatically pick up this context.
Hi Upeksha

The Pali suttas only mention the Four Vedas (and not the Upanishads). I think you would need to study the Vedas thoroughly to see if they had any systematic doctrines about "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc. Extensive discussion about these matters between the Buddha & Brahmans are not found in the Pali suttas. Generally, the Pali suttas depict the Brahmans as concerned with being the Superior Caste ("Chosen People") and going to heaven. Generally, its the Buddha who lectures the Brahmans about kamma & morality and declares a person is noble due to kamma rather than due to caste birth.

Kind regards
Hello DooDoot,

Are you suggesting that there was no influence of Vedic ideas on the Buddha?

How then - just as one example - would you interpret the Buddha studying with Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, finding their respective meditative realisations lacking and thus moving on to an ascetic path, before rejecting that?

Are you proposing that these other systems - the very fact that it was possible to be a yogi of some kind, aspiring to liberation of some kind - had no bearing on the Buddha's life and subsequent teachings?

I find such a proposition so difficult to countenance. And I suppose the point is that the Pali suttas do not - cannot - occur in a historical vacuum. I am simply gesturing at this history.

:anjali:

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DooDoot
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by DooDoot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:50 am

Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:39 am
Are you suggesting that there was no influence of Vedic ideas on the Buddha?
Based on the higher teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths (1st sermon), Three Characteristics (2nd Sermon) & Three Defilements Affecting Six Sense Spheres (3rd Sermon) and Nibbana, yes, I would say there is no influence, otherwise the Buddha could not be the Self-Enlightened-Buddha. In his 1st sermon, the Buddha said the Four Noble Truths were ideas he had never heard before.

However, as for the lower teachings for laypeople, these include Brahmanistic doctrines, such as: "this world & the other world".
How then - just as one example - would you interpret the Buddha studying with Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, finding their respective meditative realisations lacking and thus moving on to an ascetic path, before rejecting that?
The fact that Gotama rejected their doctrine & used the 4th jhana shows he was not positively influenced by them.
Are you proposing that these other systems - the very fact that it was possible to be a yogi of some kind, aspiring to liberation of some kind - had no bearing on the Buddha's life and subsequent teachings?
Sure. But Gotama did not follow Brahmanism (later called Hinduism) but followed the Samana wandering tradition, which obviously did not have any systematic doctrines.
I find such a proposition so difficult to countenance.
Sure. Gotama has influences but his final realisation was original; according to Buddhist doctrine.

Kind regards

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:02 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:05 am
Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:36 am
I'm saying, the Buddha's doctrine is non-sensical without reference to the pre-Buddhistic (i.e. Vedic) context in which it arose. i.e. Concepts such as "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc were existent before the Buddha was born. So if you have an understanding of Buddhist doctrine, you automatically pick up this context.
Hi Upeksha

The Pali suttas only mention the Four Vedas (and not the Upanishads). I think you would need to study the Vedas thoroughly to see if they had any systematic doctrines about "samsara" "karma" "moksha" etc. Extensive discussion about these matters between the Buddha & Brahmans are not found in the Pali suttas. Generally, the Pali suttas depict the Brahmans as concerned with being the Superior Caste ("Chosen People") and going to heaven. Generally, its the Buddha who lectures the Brahmans about kamma & morality and declares a person is noble due to kamma rather than due to caste birth.

Kind regards
Have a look at What the Buddha Thought by Richard Gombrich - he shows very well that the Buddha was taking account of Vedic and Upanisadic thought, particularly the BrhadAranyaka and Chandogya Upanisads, as well as standard Vedic Brahminism.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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DooDoot
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by DooDoot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:07 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:02 am
Have a look at What the Buddha Thought by Richard Gombrich - he shows very well that the Buddha was taking account of Vedic and Upanisadic thought, particularly the BrhadAranyaka and Chandogya Upanisads, as well as standard Vedic Brahminism.
Thanks but whatever I have read from Gombrich shows he is very confused about Dependent Origination (and many other matters). Regards

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:26 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:07 am
Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:02 am
Have a look at What the Buddha Thought by Richard Gombrich - he shows very well that the Buddha was taking account of Vedic and Upanisadic thought, particularly the BrhadAranyaka and Chandogya Upanisads, as well as standard Vedic Brahminism.
Thanks but whatever I have read from Gombrich shows he is very confused about Dependent Origination (and many other matters). Regards
Assuming you are correct about DO, and other matters.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

Upeksha
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Upeksha » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:32 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:50 am
Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:39 am
Are you suggesting that there was no influence of Vedic ideas on the Buddha?
Based on the higher teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths (1st sermon), Three Characteristics (2nd Sermon) & Three Defilements Affecting Six Sense Spheres (3rd Sermon) and Nibbana, yes, I would say there is no influence, otherwise the Buddha could not be the Self-Enlightened-Buddha. In his 1st sermon, the Buddha said the Four Noble Truths were ideas he had never heard before.

However, as for the lower teachings for laypeople, these include Brahmanistic doctrines, such as: "this world & the other world".
How then - just as one example - would you interpret the Buddha studying with Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, finding their respective meditative realisations lacking and thus moving on to an ascetic path, before rejecting that?
The fact that Gotama rejected their doctrine & used the 4th jhana shows he was not positively influenced by them.
Are you proposing that these other systems - the very fact that it was possible to be a yogi of some kind, aspiring to liberation of some kind - had no bearing on the Buddha's life and subsequent teachings?
Sure. But Gotama did not follow Brahmanism (later called Hinduism) but followed the Samana wandering tradition, which obviously did not have any systematic doctrines.
I find such a proposition so difficult to countenance.
Sure. Gotama has influences but his final realisation was original; according to Buddhist doctrine.

Kind regards
1. Rejecting a doctrine does not imply 'not being influenced but it.' In fact, it clearly implies the opposite.
2. I am not asserting that the Buddha taught Vedic or Upanishadic 'truths' or that he did not make an extraordinary and original contribution. I am merely saying 'the historical context in which he existed, was one which every historian recognises to be - broadly - Vedic in character.' Just as, for example, Socrates taught original truths which were - irrefutably - Greek in character.'
3. You freely admit that Gotama followed the Samana wandering tradition - it is bordering on the absurd to suggest that this was entirely independent from Vedic and Upanishadic context or influence.
:anjali:

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DooDoot
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by DooDoot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:36 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:26 am
Assuming you are correct about DO, and other matters.
I personally have no doubts about DO.
Upeksha wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:32 am
You freely admit that Gotama followed the Samana wandering tradition - it is bordering on the absurd to suggest that this was entirely independent from Vedic and Upanishadic context or influence.
As I said, the Buddha said in many suttas his core teachings were things he had never heard before. To suggest otherwise infers the Buddha was a liar. Also, if you can find equivalents in Vedic and Upanishadic context; please quote them. Please provide evidence. Thanks

Kind regards
This is the noble truth of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn56.11
Cessation, cessation!' — At this thought, monks, there arose in me, concerning things unheard of before, vision, knowledge, understanding, light."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .wlsh.html
Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.

“The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.136
He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that two Accomplished Ones, Fully Enlightened Ones, could arise contemporaneously in one world-system ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that one Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One, might arise in one world-system ― there is such a possibility.’

http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/con ... ments.html

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:31 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:36 am
Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:26 am
Assuming you are correct about DO, and other matters.
I personally have no doubts about DO.
Whether you have doubts is a separate matter from whether you are correct or not.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Sam Vara
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:59 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:31 pm
DooDoot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:36 am
Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:26 am
Assuming you are correct about DO, and other matters.
I personally have no doubts about DO.
Whether you have doubts is a separate matter from whether you are correct or not.
:goodpost: :thumbsup:

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Will
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Re: Value of interfaith studies

Post by Will » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:36 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:20 pm
Will wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Good topic, Will. The Swami is right, but I have known a lot of people who are desperate to uncover some kind of universal spirituality or philosophia perennis, and then decontextualise and distort the meaning of different texts and traditions in order to make them fit. Our motives will condition what we find in our studies.
True enough Sam, yet any bright intellect can 'desperately' analyze distinctions into differences and thus produce islands of views, schools and paths. Perhaps that is why Buddha praised non-attachment so much. A truly impartial motivation toward truth is possible.

The last couple of chapters in the Suttanipata make that pretty clear.
Yes, I agree. There are probably different pitfalls for different defilements, and at least those who look for similarities are motivated by the desire to build bridges, and their endeavours usually end in less conflict.

I'll check out the Suttanipata reference later this evening - thanks!
This thread seems to be veering off-topic.

Here are some of the Sutta-Nipata verses (ch. IV) I was thinking of. The key appears to be that thinking or cognizing conceptually will not take one beyond samsara. It often just tangles us up even more. Yet there is a way knowing directly, which interfaith studies discover in many non-Buddhist paths.
5 The man who, having undertaken certain holy practices himself, attached to ideas, passes from superior to inferior states. But the wise man, having understood the Truth by the [supreme] means of knowledge does not pass from superior to inferior states.
(792)
6 He who has dissociated himself from whatever is seen, heard or cognized. How can one have doubts about such an insightful person who conducts himself openly?
(793)
7 They do not speculate, they do not esteem any views and say ‘This is the highest purity’. They release the knot of dogmatic clinging and do not long for anything in the world.
(794)
8 The brahmin who has transcended the limits of mundane existence; he has no grasping after knowing or seeing. He delights neither in passion nor in dispassion. For him there is nothing here to be grasped as the highest.
Excerpt From: Saddhatissa, H. The Sutta-Nipata

See also Paramaṭṭhakasutta
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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