Doubts: cosmology, etc.

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new
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Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by new » Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:55 pm

:namaste:
There are a few points that cause doubts in me. Sorry, I don't have the exact sources at the moment, but I think you all have come across them in the suttas.

1. Does the Buddha imply that the moon shines by itself?
Monks, there are these three things which shine forth for all to see, which are not hidden. Which three?

The disc of the moon shines for all to see; it is not hidden. The disc of the sun does likewise. The Dhamma-Discipline [dhamma-vinaya] of a Tathagata [Buddha] shines for all to see; it is not hidden. These are the three things.
2. There are suttas where the Buddha says that rain is caused by some god or gods.

3. That the nāgas really exist(ed).

4. I'm not sure about this one, because I haven't looked that much into it. The way the Buddhists saw the geography of their continent, the planet etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambudvipa#In_Buddhism, is it compatible with our modern understanding?

There may be a few other things, but these are the ones I remember now. If you haven't come accross these I can try to look them up, just ask.

How do you see these things? How should one undestand them?
:anjali:

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by binocular » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:32 pm

new wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:55 pm
How do you see these things? How should one undestand them?
I've never felt bothered by them, and they don't seem important to me. To me, they have the lowest priority of possible issues to resolve.
I think that if I were to see a naga, or someone performing "supernatural powers" and such, I would shrug my shoulders, and say, "Duh. Any halfwitted yogi can do that. But can you solve the problem of suffering?"

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:48 pm

Throw all that in the garbage. You don't need it, Buddhism doesn't need it, and it's nonsense if you read it literally. The scriptures were re-written many times over the centuries, and lots of additional material crept in.
And if by chance it was actually said by the Buddha, it may be because he was talking to people who believed that kind of stuff, and so he was just using mythic ideas to teach his listeners in a way they would understand.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by 2600htz » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:15 pm

Hello:

At least the sutta that you quoted doesnt contradict science, its just stating that it shines and doesnt go further explaining the reasons.

In the parinibbana sutta, when the Buddha explains the causes of earthquakes, its a good example of some explaining that goes against current science. But even in that case, the truth is that earthquakes are not fully understood yet, so i wont go on stating its completely wrong.

Devas and nagas dont go against science, if they exist or not its out of the domain of common knowledge for the moment.

Regards.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by paul » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:25 pm

There are many peripheral subjects in the Pali Canon but they should be passed over and the central issue in practice should be established as the study of mindfulness from the Sattipatthana sutta by commentators such as Thanissaro or Bikkhu Bodhi, which demands full attention, for example turning the mind to understanding the last part of this quote:

“But above all, the canonical description is fully in keeping with the Buddha’s stated focus for his teaching. Instead of trying to provide an objective description of all reality, he focused on only two things: stress and the ending of stress (SN 22:86). Instead of denying the purposeful nature of all experience—or searching for a purely passive awareness, receptive to scientific or objective Truth—he took up the purposeful nature of experience, already aimed at happiness, and harnessed it to the purpose of finding a true happiness, a true end to stress. The difference in these two approaches may be subtle, but it’s important. Mindfulness, as defined in the Canon, helps to accomplish the Buddha’s purpose not only by keeping it in mind, but also by remembering what to do and what not to do, and how to see things in order to actually bring that purpose about. At the same time, mindfulness as memory helps to keep in mind the standards by which the results of the practice are to be assessed in a truly reliable way.”—-‘Right Mindfulness”, Thanissaro Bikkhu.

The other thing which at the beginning should be given attention is an assessment of one’s own temperament as to which of the three unwholesome roots most regularly arise in the mind, ignorance, greed or aversion, and then working on structuring a practice to oppose that particular defilement.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by Stiphan » Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am

Buddhism is not about scientific knowledge such as astronomy, geography, meteorology, geology, prehistory, evolution, etc.

Buddhism is mainly about suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the path of practice that leads to its cessation. In other words, if you are going to say it is a science, then it is a science about the mind, a psychology and a psychiatry far superior than Western psychology/psychiatry. You could also say it is a philosophy and a religion.

This is the Buddhist province, not physical sciences. For physical science, trust Western physical science - it's quite good. For the a description and evaluation of suffering, for an investigation into the causes of suffering and how to remove them, for a Supreme Goal such as the highest happiness and liberation from all suffering, and for a profound and detailed set of practices that if put into action in your daily life lead to the aforementioned goal of the highest happiness, peace and freedom from suffering, then trust the Buddha's teachings as best as we have them recorded in the Pāḷi Canon.

That there is some material in there which doesn't fit modern scientific thought, that may well be the case, but we do not know whether the Buddha really taught them. The Buddha was lokavidū - Knower of the World. I believe he was omniscient and knew things largely in accordance with modern science - and much more (I say "largely" because science is only still improving, whereas the Buddha knew everything, just that he didn't teach everything - only what is important to be free from suffering.) But who can say that what he said has been preserved verbatim? People may have interpreted things the wrong way when they heard him explain advanced science since they couldn't understand it, or how could the Buddha even put into words and specialized terms so that they can understand them 2500+ years ago?

Regarding things like rebirth and various realms of existence and beings which we haven't seen, then we can't either prove or disprove them. Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean they don't exist. Just like aliens. When you say "aliens" you immediately jump to conclusions and say they don't exist or at least they're not among us, but who knows?

I'm more curious as to where those beings live to be quite honest. Is heaven on the Moon, for example? And hell in the centre of the Earth or in the Sun? Imagine the devas living on the Moon, and maybe the asuras on the far side of the Moon, fighting with the devas for a view of the Earth? Hungry ghosts perhaps amongst us, sometimes caught on camera. Or maybe the devas float in the various levels of the atmosphere far above? Or maybe the hell beings are on Venus. Or perhaps the various supersensory realms are in different dimensions (physics speculates there might be 11 dimensions, IRC).

But anyway, this is just out of curiosity. As is your question. But these are all sidetracks to the main teaching on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to Nibbāna. And then once you are advanced enough, helping other people along the path as well - out of compassion. That's the heartwood of Buddhism. Contemplate these teachings and see if they make sense. To me, there is nothing more profound. Science is just a heartless teaching about the material world. It cannot solve the problem of suffering, it does not lead to wisdom or understanding of life - but just theoretical knowledge about the world. It doesn't concern itself with love and compassion. It does help technology make life more comfortable or convenient - which is great - but that's nothing compared to the benefit coming from practicing the Buddha's teachings.

It's good to know the world, though, which is why I love science, but Buddhism is about becoming a better person and helping others; about attaining true happiness and putting an end to suffering and helping others become happy and free from suffering as well. What could be better than that? So forget about the few things that are in the Canon that make little sense, because they are not important. After all, the Buddha lived 25 centuries ago, within a completely different culture; plus, no one has recorded the Buddha on audio, video, or even transcribed his talks. We don't even know how exactly he looked like or even when exactly he was born, how much more whether everything he is said to have said he really did say. It doesn't even matter: put the teachings into practice after carefully examining them and see whether they lead to an increase of happiness and a reduction of suffering - if they do, chances are the teachings of the Buddha have been preserved well enough to help us attain the main goal.
Call me Stephen, please. May you be well and happy. :heart:

Know right from wrong — and their consequences — and act accordingly, always doing your very best.

The Path begins with the acknowledgement of Truth; it ends in Freedom; and in between is a huge amount of Effort.
Meanwhile, care about others.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by dylanj » Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:44 am

1. Does the Buddha imply that the moon shines by itself?
No. The quote doesn't say anything like that.
2. There are suttas where the Buddha says that rain is caused by some god or gods.
Yes that's right. Assuming this is what you're getting at, I don't think that's necessarily in contradiction with what we know of water cycles.
3. That the nāgas really exist(ed).
Yes, but not past-tense. They exist.
4. I'm not sure about this one, because I haven't looked that much into it. The way the Buddhists saw the geography of their continent, the planet etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambudvipa#In_Buddhism, is it compatible with our modern understanding?
I think it's unlikely that this cosmology actually refers to Earth the planet - there's nothing in the suttas suggesting it. It could refer to the Galaxy, or some perspective completely independent of physical space.
susukhaṃ vata nibbānaṃ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṃ;
asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ,
yattha dukkhaṃ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ panītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by paul » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:02 pm

“One seeks not factual knowledge, but insight or wisdom, a personal knowledge, inescapably subjective, whose whole value lies in its transformative impact on one’s life. Concern with the outer world, as an object of knowledge, arises only insofar as the outer world is inextricably implicated in experience. As the Buddha says: “It is in this body, with its perception and thought, that I declare is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way to the cessation of the world.”

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... say_42.pdf

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by JMGinPDX » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:37 pm

I can't add anything useful that hasn't already been said, but to me the more "supernatural" references are metaphor, the Buddha taking poetic license to make a point. And, as others have said, doing so while talking to people who likely did put faith in such things and considered them important.

I guess I would turn your question on its head a bit in a bit of a psychiatric way...
What is it about you that needs these things to be proven true or false?
Right now, it's like this...

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by Stiphan » Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:30 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:37 pm
I guess I would turn your question on its head a bit in a bit of a psychiatric way...
What is it about you that needs these things to be proven true or false?
I can't answer for new (the OP), but I suppose it is being pedantic with everything about Buddhism being true. Since truth is of primary importance in Buddhism, and is also Truth is what made me convert to Buddhism when I was still 17, I was also picky about little things that seemed untrue - but those were things in the Visuddhimagga! I didn't mind things such as those raised in the OP. As a "psychiatrist" surely you can't diagnose us as being "pedantics" concerning truth in classical scriptures?!
Call me Stephen, please. May you be well and happy. :heart:

Know right from wrong — and their consequences — and act accordingly, always doing your very best.

The Path begins with the acknowledgement of Truth; it ends in Freedom; and in between is a huge amount of Effort.
Meanwhile, care about others.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by JMGinPDX » Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:00 pm

Stiphan wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:30 pm
JMGinPDX wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:37 pm
I guess I would turn your question on its head a bit in a bit of a psychiatric way...
What is it about you that needs these things to be proven true or false?
I can't answer for new (the OP), but I suppose it is being pedantic with everything about Buddhism being true. Since truth is of primary importance in Buddhism, and is also Truth is what made me convert to Buddhism when I was still 17, I was also picky about little things that seemed untrue - but those were things in the Visuddhimagga! I didn't mind things such as those raised in the OP. As a "psychiatrist" surely you can't diagnose us as being "pedantics" concerning truth in classical scriptures?!
I'm not sure I completely understand your point, but I assume you are inferring that the Suttas are infallible while later teachings are suspect, and therefore anything that seems a little - "OFF" - in the Suttas is reason for concern?

I don't believe that at all.
The Suttas, like any religious texts, are completely fallible in terms of the words used and their exact meaning.
What is NOT fallible is the general truth of the Buddha's teachings and the path to liberation.

So pondering things like whether or not the Buddha thought the moon was plugged in to a cosmic electrical socket or reflected the sun's light or was made of fluorescent cheese, based on one line of text, seems overly particular and misses the larger point.

And to that end, I would say it's important to ask ourselves "why am I worried about this?"
If it were me, I might be concerned that I'm clinging too much to literal truth, rather than letting go of trying to define things in terms of the subject/object of conventional "small mind."

Faith in the Buddha's teachings comes from practicing and seeing results, not from what his views were on the existence of nagas, etc.
Right now, it's like this...

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by new » Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:55 pm

Thank you for all your responses! :thanks:
Now, let me try to answer... :juggling:
binocular wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:32 pm
I've never felt bothered by them, and they don't seem important to me. To me, they have the lowest priority of possible issues to resolve.
I think that if I were to see a naga, or someone performing "supernatural powers" and such, I would shrug my shoulders, and say, "Duh. Any halfwitted yogi can do that. But can you solve the problem of suffering?"
I'm rather bothered by the possiblity that the Buddha (or the suttas) could teach false things, which automatically would make me doubt the rest of the teaching too.
JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:48 pm
Throw all that in the garbage. You don't need it, Buddhism doesn't need it, and it's nonsense if you read it literally. The scriptures were re-written many times over the centuries, and lots of additional material crept in.
And if by chance it was actually said by the Buddha, it may be because he was talking to people who believed that kind of stuff, and so he was just using mythic ideas to teach his listeners in a way they would understand.
Maybe that is the case. The problem is: how can I know which parts were true and which were not. I can't throw away everything I don't like?
2600htz wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:15 pm
Hello:

At least the sutta that you quoted doesnt contradict science, its just stating that it shines and doesnt go further explaining the reasons.

In the parinibbana sutta, when the Buddha explains the causes of earthquakes, its a good example of some explaining that goes against current science. But even in that case, the truth is that earthquakes are not fully understood yet, so i wont go on stating its completely wrong.

Devas and nagas dont go against science, if they exist or not its out of the domain of common knowledge for the moment.

Regards.
I believe there is also a sutta comparing the light from the moon to the light from the stars, and saying that moonlight is much stronger? Maybe, the Buddha means how it looks for an observer looking at the sky: the moon may seem brighter and bigger than the stars.

I either haven't read, or don't remember that part about earthquakes.

I don't know exactly the principles of science and how it works. Maybe, devas and nagas don't go strictly against science. And, devas seem more believable, they could live in some realm science doesn't understand yet, although few scientists would take that idea serious, I think. But, nagas seem very unlikely to me: magic mythical snake creatures living on earth. Wouldn't that be a bit like believing in fairies? :roll:
paul wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:25 pm
There are many peripheral subjects in the Pali Canon but they should be passed over and the central issue in practice should be established as the study of mindfulness from the Sattipatthana sutta by commentators such as Thanissaro or Bikkhu Bodhi, which demands full attention, for example turning the mind to understanding the last part of this quote:

“But above all, the canonical description is fully in keeping with the Buddha’s stated focus for his teaching. Instead of trying to provide an objective description of all reality, he focused on only two things: stress and the ending of stress (SN 22:86). Instead of denying the purposeful nature of all experience—or searching for a purely passive awareness, receptive to scientific or objective Truth—he took up the purposeful nature of experience, already aimed at happiness, and harnessed it to the purpose of finding a true happiness, a true end to stress. The difference in these two approaches may be subtle, but it’s important. Mindfulness, as defined in the Canon, helps to accomplish the Buddha’s purpose not only by keeping it in mind, but also by remembering what to do and what not to do, and how to see things in order to actually bring that purpose about. At the same time, mindfulness as memory helps to keep in mind the standards by which the results of the practice are to be assessed in a truly reliable way.”—-‘Right Mindfulness”, Thanissaro Bikkhu.

The other thing which at the beginning should be given attention is an assessment of one’s own temperament as to which of the three unwholesome roots most regularly arise in the mind, ignorance, greed or aversion, and then working on structuring a practice to oppose that particular defilement.
You shared a quote from Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
1. It says that science doesn't pursue any goal but finding the truth, while Buddhism has a purpose to end dukkha.
2. That mindfulness helps
1) to keep in mind that the purpose of Buddhism is to end dukkha
2) to remember what one should do to end dukkha and what one should not do
3) to understand things correctly to end dukkha.
4) to keep in mind the standards by which to assess the results of the practice

I think my temperament contains these three unwholesome roots, all very strong, and in that order:
1. aversion (this one is way stronger than others, I think)
2. ignorance
3. greed

To summarize your post: you said that the study of mindfulness is the central issue in practice?
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
Buddhism is not about scientific knowledge such as astronomy, geography, meteorology, geology, prehistory, evolution, etc.

Buddhism is mainly about suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the path of practice that leads to its cessation. In other words, if you are going to say it is a science, then it is a science about the mind, a psychology and a psychiatry far superior than Western psychology/psychiatry. You could also say it is a philosophy and a religion.
Yes, Buddhism is all about dukkha. I'd say Buddhism is a religion, but a very special one, maybe.
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
This is the Buddhist province, not physical sciences. For physical science, trust Western physical science - it's quite good. For the a description and evaluation of suffering, for an investigation into the causes of suffering and how to remove them, for a Supreme Goal such as the highest happiness and liberation from all suffering, and for a profound and detailed set of practices that if put into action in your daily life lead to the aforementioned goal of the highest happiness, peace and freedom from suffering, then trust the Buddha's teachings as best as we have them recorded in the Pāḷi Canon.
Yes, I agree that the world is dukkha, and that Nibbāna is the ultimate goal; this is the reason why I'm interested in Buddhism.
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
That there is some material in there which doesn't fit modern scientific thought, that may well be the case, but we do not know whether the Buddha really taught them. The Buddha was lokavidū - Knower of the World. I believe he was omniscient and knew things largely in accordance with modern science - and much more (I say "largely" because science is only still improving, whereas the Buddha knew everything, just that he didn't teach everything - only what is important to be free from suffering.) But who can say that what he said has been preserved verbatim? People may have interpreted things the wrong way when they heard him explain advanced science since they couldn't understand it, or how could the Buddha even put into words and specialized terms so that they can understand them 2500+ years ago?
That's almost the same argument JamesTheGiant gave, and a few things to consider. It's important to find what the Buddha really taught.
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
Regarding things like rebirth and various realms of existence and beings which we haven't seen, then we can't either prove or disprove them. Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean they don't exist. Just like aliens. When you say "aliens" you immediately jump to conclusions and say they don't exist or at least they're not among us, but who knows?
The existence of these realms and beings (and aliens), I find easier to entertain, than these things I mentioned.
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
I'm more curious as to where those beings live to be quite honest. Is heaven on the Moon, for example? And hell in the centre of the Earth or in the Sun? Imagine the devas living on the Moon, and maybe the asuras on the far side of the Moon, fighting with the devas for a view of the Earth? Hungry ghosts perhaps amongst us, sometimes caught on camera. Or maybe the devas float in the various levels of the atmosphere far above? Or maybe the hell beings are on Venus. Or perhaps the various supersensory realms are in different dimensions (physics speculates there might be 11 dimensions, IRC).
If, they exist at all, it must be in some realms really beyond current knowledge, or maybe as a metaphor for more advanced species in this universe. Are you serious about the Moon etc? How do you imagine that?
Stiphan wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:37 am
But anyway, this is just out of curiosity. As is your question. But these are all sidetracks to the main teaching on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to Nibbāna. And then once you are advanced enough, helping other people along the path as well - out of compassion. That's the heartwood of Buddhism. Contemplate these teachings and see if they make sense. To me, there is nothing more profound. Science is just a heartless teaching about the material world. It cannot solve the problem of suffering, it does not lead to wisdom or understanding of life - but just theoretical knowledge about the world. It doesn't concern itself with love and compassion. It does help technology make life more comfortable or convenient - which is great - but that's nothing compared to the benefit coming from practicing the Buddha's teachings.

It's good to know the world, though, which is why I love science, but Buddhism is about becoming a better person and helping others; about attaining true happiness and putting an end to suffering and helping others become happy and free from suffering as well. What could be better than that? So forget about the few things that are in the Canon that make little sense, because they are not important. After all, the Buddha lived 25 centuries ago, within a completely different culture; plus, no one has recorded the Buddha on audio, video, or even transcribed his talks. We don't even know how exactly he looked like or even when exactly he was born, how much more whether everything he is said to have said he really did say. It doesn't even matter: put the teachings into practice after carefully examining them and see whether they lead to an increase of happiness and a reduction of suffering - if they do, chances are the teachings of the Buddha have been preserved well enough to help us attain the main goal.
Yes, I agree, science, even though it has improved a lot of things, offers nothing like Nibbāna. Although there may be some major improvements to life in the future, with transhumanism and whatnot, but this is probably not for this lifetime, and that's another topic too.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by JohnK » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:42 pm

new wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:55 pm
...
I think my temperament contains these three unwholesome roots, all very strong, and in that order:
1. aversion (this one is way stronger than others, I think)...
...
Yes, I agree that the world is dukkha, and that Nibbāna is the ultimate goal; this is the reason why I'm interested in Buddhism...
Interesting. If you have not read already this from Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... isnt.html
Quoting just the first couple of sentences:
"He showed me the brightness of the world."
That's how my teacher, Ajaan Fuang, once characterized his debt to his teacher, Ajaan Lee. His words took me by surprise. I had only recently come to study with him, still fresh from a school where I had learned that serious Buddhists took a negative, pessimistic view of the world. Yet here was a man who had given his life to the practice of the Buddha's teachings, speaking of the world's brightness.
Good luck.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by paul » Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:12 pm

Thank you for your considered comments. It is good you have a clear idea of what your temperament is, that will make planning your practice much easier. This book (no online version) has an orientation towards dealing with anger:
"The Buddha’s Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony", by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Mindfulness should be positioned as the central study of the practice, and is currently undergoing a rigorous examination by Buddhist scholars to establish exactly what it means as it is not just simple attention, but includes memory and effort (ardency) according to the Satipatthana sutta. I suggest you familiarise yourself with these different components of mindfulness to understand how it operates in practice:

http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documen ... i_2011.pdf

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by budo » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:50 pm

The moon and the sun are independent because they exist independently. They have an illusion of rising and falling because the Earth is spinning, but this is just an illusion, they really aren't rising and falling or born and dying. Likewise, that is the nature of reality things appear to rise and fall, but these things are not real, they are void, they are empty. Anything that rises and falls, born and dies is not real, it is an empty perspective, an illusion.

Birth and death, rise and fall, are simply effects of perspective, delusion and illusion.
Energy flows where attention goes

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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by seeker242 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:46 pm

new wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:55 pm
:namaste:
There are a few points that cause doubts in me. Sorry, I don't have the exact sources at the moment, but I think you all have come across them in the suttas.

1. Does the Buddha imply that the moon shines by itself?
I think he is implying here that it's not hidden. :smile: Anyone can see it. Doesn't matter if you are black or white, rich or poor, high born or low born, etc. AKA the dhamma is for everyone to see, just like the moon is for everyone to see.

4. I'm not sure about this one, because I haven't looked that much into it. The way the Buddhists saw the geography of their continent, the planet etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambudvipa#In_Buddhism, is it compatible with our modern understanding?
Our modern, aka scientific, understanding is not capable of even investigating it to begin with.
The other three continents of Buddhist accounts around Sumeru are not accessible to humans from Jambudvīpa...Jambudvīpa is the region where the humans live
If it's not accessible to humans, then humans of course can't investigate it and therefore can't prove it or disprove it. If something is worthy of scientific investigation, it has to first be "investigatable" to begin with. Buddhist cosmology is not "investigatable", aka it's unfalsibiable, via modern scientific understanding. If something is unfalsibiable, then modern scientific understanding is not even applicable or relevant.

One could say it's not compatible with our "modern understanding" because our modern understanding is inherently materialistic and Buddhism is not materialistic. A scientist cannot prove or disprove the existence of a deva or deva realm. However, simply because that is the case does not make it false. It doesn't make it true, but it doesn't make it false either. The only legitimate conclusion science can offer is "not applicable" because such things don't even fall within the realm of scientific investigation.

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binocular
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Re: Doubts: cosmology, etc.

Post by binocular » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:09 pm

new wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:55 pm
I'm rather bothered by the possiblity that the Buddha (or the suttas) could teach false things, which automatically would make me doubt the rest of the teaching too.
/.../
The problem is: how can I know which parts were true and which were not. I can't throw away everything I don't like?
/.../
It's important to find what the Buddha really taught.
All I can say right now is, Welcome to the club!

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