Some questions and points on Buddhism

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Vimokand
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Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Vimokand » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:19 am

I have been wandering around now for a fair aul chunk of my life without being attached to any sort of real religious group which I suppose is the best way to put it. Now the philosophy of Buddhism interests me alot due to the lack of belief in a God like figure, so I decided pick up a book and do me some reading because I dont want to barge into something half assed without understanding it properly

Now the first thing that struck me and actually made me stop reading the book and come on here and start typing was the section on the concept of "The Eight Great Narakas". I had a vague understanding of the concept of rebirth in Buddishm but I didnt understand that there was a belief in a hell here are some quotes from it and I am taking these from the Penguin published "Buddisht Scriptures"
By force they make the adulterer climb that simbali tree of metal, flaming, sharp-pointed and with thorns sixteen finger-lengths long.

Metal-toothed, huge bodies, blazing fearsome females, embracing him, feed on the one who steals another's wife
Those who steal others' property again and again feed on the red-hot iron balls, they drink molten copper
Theres plenty more in that particular section the rest of it is divided into sections on Animals, Ghosts, Ghouls, Human Beings, Demi Gods and Gods which I wont bother going into at the moment. The thing that initially attracted me to Buddhism was its sense of it being a philosophy to live your life through without being chained down by silly fairytales that make me turn away from Christianity but surely these are just as bad? So I suppose really I want to know what Buddishts on this forum think of the quotes, whether they believe them to be true, whether they believe in the concept of hell or if they turn away from the nastier side of Buddishm and leave out these bits?

According to the book the writing is entitled "Illumination of the five realms of existence" and is "perhaps" written in Cambodia around the 14th century. In the introduction to the writing it appears to be saying that it is pretty much a dictation of what "The Completley Awakened One" said.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:27 am

The short answer to your question is that Buddhism is really diverse, with schools which developed largely in isolation from each other for hundreds of years and absorbed local religions wherever they went. In the last hundred years or so they have all met western science and religion, and changed again in response to them. Oh, and the scriptures come as a library of 80-something volumes. So ... anything goes, somewhere. :rolleye:
The bits you're looking at are far from mainstream for any school but you will find similar things in both Theravada (this forum) and Mahayana (Dharma Wheel - see link at bottom of page).
For a better idea of core Theravada teachings, try "What the Buddha Taught" or "Access to Insight". For Mahayana, which is itself split into numerous schools, try the Dalai Lama's "Art of Happiness" or anything by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Good luck!

:reading:
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:51 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:27 am
The short answer to your question is that Buddhism is really diverse, with schools which developed largely in isolation from each other for hundreds of years and absorbed local religions wherever they went. In the last hundred years or so they have all met western science and religion, and changed again in response to them. Oh, and the scriptures come as a library of 80-something volumes. So ... anything goes, somewhere. :rolleye:
The bits you're looking at are far from mainstream for any school but you will find similar things in both Theravada (this forum) and Mahayana (Dharma Wheel - see link at bottom of page).
For a better idea of core Theravada teachings, try "What the Buddha Taught" or "Access to Insight". For Mahayana, which is itself split into numerous schools, try the Dalai Lama's "Art of Happiness" or anything by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Good luck!

:reading:
Kim
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Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Antaradhana
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Antaradhana » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:24 pm

All Buddhist schools believe in 5 spheres of birth: devas, people, animals, ghosts and naraks (creatures of hell), and births in these spheres according to the fruits of the deeds.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

santa100
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by santa100 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 5:12 pm

Vimokand wrote:Now the first thing that struck me and actually made me stop reading the book and come on here and start typing was the section on the concept of "The Eight Great Narakas". I had a vague understanding of the concept of rebirth in Buddishm but I didnt understand that there was a belief in a hell here are some quotes from it and I am taking these from the Penguin published "Buddisht Scriptures"
Might be a good idea to start with a solid but more gentle intro. to Buddhism book like Ven. Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words. At ~ $16, it's an excellent investment for those who want a solid coverage of all the key doctrines in Buddhism. No worries for the destitutes, there's also the open source version here. Now back to the gruesome description of the various hell realms, what's so surprising? There were tons of things not any less gruesome that humans did to their own fellow human beings back in the medieval period. And well into the modern time, the punishment for committing adultery is still extremely horrific in some countries. So, it's not farfetched at all to have the possibility that some place somewhere other than earth where sentient beings also suffer greatly. And conversely, humans realm is certainly not the only realm where some sentient beings are able to enjoy all the worldly merits like health, wealth, beauty, fame, etc. The universe is simply way too huge to say that we're the only realm of existence.

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Nicolas
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:03 pm

The below is my understanding (which appears to have turned into somewhat of a ramble, perhaps):

Buddhism hinges on the concept of an "afterlife". If there is no "afterlife", then by committing suicide, there is the cessation of all feeling (vedanā). The Bahuvedanīya Sutta (MN 59) describes various kinds of "pleasures", citing "cessation of perception & feeling" as a "pleasure" higher/more refined than all others, even though there is no feeling.
Similarly, the Nibbānasukha Sutta (AN 9.34) speaks of Nibbana/Nirvana as pleasant, even though nothing is felt there.

Buddhism describes a continuum of experience or mindstream, but there is no absolute self to be found there. You are not the same person that you were ten years ago. It is also not just saying that the self you were back then is different than the self that you are now, since that is assuming a certain self in the first place. Assuming a self won't lead to liberation.

Assuming the Buddha's teaching is true, if one commits suicide with some craving left, the mindstream does not cease, and the mindstream continues into a different configuration (which can conceptually be referred to as a sense of being in a space, the "I am" conceit attached to a body in a "world", "realm", or "dimension", like "a hell", "a heaven", "human realm", "what it's like to be XYZ", etc.).

I trust there is such an "afterlife", not necessarily in terms described in the suttas or Christianity (e.g. swallowing red-hot iron balls--though I'm open to that being the case), but in more fundamentally mind-driven ways: hell could be a place of utter madness and chaos where the mind is tormented and despaired trying to make sense of a shattered and overwhelming experience, while heaven could be a place of greater subtletly, purity, silence, peace, benevolent intention, while a "lesser heaven" could simply be more ecstatic/hedonic.

Some will say that hell and heaven are "purely mental". I think they are purely mental in the same exact way that this present human existence is "purely mental" (whether it is or not). We are interested in phenomenology here, so whether things are purely mental or not doesn't really matter.

Buddhism is about how to lead your life in the present moment to be freed from suffering now and "for the rest of your life", but it is also about finding the absolute end of aging, sickness, and death (cf. MN 26). This dreadful trio doesn't simply vanish upon death itself. When "birth is ended" upon full awakening, it is both in the present moment and "forever".

Buddhism thus teaches the afterlife and the cessation of the afterlife. Now this concept of an afterlife is difficult to be open to for most people brought up within the West (at least), within the consensus atheist-materialist-scientist paradigm; not only because it is difficult to prove, but more importantly because those within that paradigm tend to have a positive belief that there is no such thing as an afterlife, and the concept is often dismissed by principle as nonsensical. Small pieces of evidence are discarded as delusion or coincidence, with another "reasonable" yet undescribed reason being given. Shakespeare writes "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy". The universe is indeed strange and vast, with mind-boggling breadth of possibilities.

The good news for you is that you don't need to believe in all this afterlife thing. You can practice Buddhist teachings and have them be immensely beneficial in the here-and-now. Having mundane right view (more or less: there is an afterlife, various "realms", and karma/kamma and its fruit) is beneficial as it encourages one to practice, but you can still practice without this mundane right view.

The Kālāma Sutta (AN 3.65) mentions something that resembles Pascal's wager:
This noble disciple, Kālāmas, whose mind is in this way without enmity, without ill will, undefiled, and pure, has won four assurances in this very life.
- The first assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is another world, and if there is the fruit and result of good and bad deeds, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I will be reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’
- The second assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is no other world, and there is no fruit and result of good and bad deeds, still right here, in this very life, I maintain myself in happiness, without enmity and ill will, free of trouble.
- The third assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil comes to one who does evil. Then, when I have no evil intentions toward anyone, how can suffering afflict me, since I do no evil deed?’
- The fourth assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil does not come to one who does evil. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects.’
but also this famous passage:
Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’ But when you know for yourselves: ‘These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if accepted and undertaken, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should live in accordance with them.
So, in the end, yes, Buddhist teachings include "heavens" and "hells", but that is not the most important point, and if you are not open to these aspects (or their descriptions), I hope it won't deter you from seeing the value in the rest of the teachings, the more important ones, which are visible here-and-now for yourself through direct experience.

I hope this is helpful and not misrepresentative of the Buddha's teachings.

2600htz
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by 2600htz » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:13 pm

Hello

The short answer is: i don´t know about the quote you posted but yes, the Buddha did taught there are hell realms or "bad destinations".
Only this are not eternal, or a single place in the universe, but many places where unpleasant feelings are the most common experience of living beings. Actually you dont need to believe that, you can just go to a slaughterhouse and see how unpleasant is the life of those animals. Thats a bad destination, a kind of hell according to dhamma.

Of course because among westerns Buddhism usually appeals intellectuals and rational people , buddhists try to avoid talking about it at first, because they think about the Christian hell.

Regards.

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Antaradhana
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Antaradhana » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:32 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:03 pm
The good news for you is that you don't need to believe in all this afterlife thing. You can practice Buddhist teachings and have them be immensely beneficial in the here-and-now. Having mundane right view (more or less: there is an afterlife, various "realms", and karma/kamma and its fruit) is beneficial as it encourages one to practice, but you can still practice without this mundane right view.
Without faith in kamma and the births caused by it, the practice will not have a motivational support. Why would a person follow any rules and limit himself if he believes that after death there will be nothing?

Faith in kamma and the births caused by it are the foundation of Buddhist practice. Without this, a person can of course simply restrict himself from doing the negative and develop good qualities (by virtue of education), but this will not be a full-fledged Buddhist practice, although this is better than nothing.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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cappuccino
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by cappuccino » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:35 pm

silly fairytale is a wrong view

right view is karma & rebirth


"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

:shrug:

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Nicolas
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:48 pm

Antaradhana (& cappuccino): agreed, but I phrased things the way I did taking into consideration our audience, thinking that emphasizing those points too strongly might not have a beneficial effect and would just lead to more resistance to these concepts from Vimokand.

I've heard of some teachers who started off without this mundane right view, and gradually opened up to it after realizing some of the teachings, thus trusting that these other teachings were also true. This will certainly be the case for most people within the atheist-materialist-scientist paradigm -- they can't be expected to completely switch paradigms all of a sudden, paradigm shifts happen under certain special conditions.

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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by seeker242 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:45 am

Vimokand wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:19 am
So I suppose really I want to know what Buddishts on this forum think of the quotes
They are just a description of the reality of kamma and it's consequenses.
whether they believe them to be true, whether they believe in the concept of hell
Yes and yes, as do most all Buddhists.
or if they turn away from the nastier side of Buddishm and leave out these bits?
I would not call it the "nasty side of Buddhism" but simply the consequences of doing evil actions. The consequences of doing evil are not pretty because doing evil is not pretty. It's just the fruit of kamma. If you do evil actions, that will not leave you with just flowers and sunshine. :meditate:

ehensens
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by ehensens » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:12 pm

Antaradhana wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:32 pm
Without faith in kamma and the births caused by it, the practice will not have a motivational support. Why would a person follow any rules and limit himself if he believes that after death there will be nothing?
Hi Antaradhana :hello: ,

A person might "follow rules and limit himself" even if he believes that "after death there will be nothing" simply because he recognizes that doing so still yields positive results and decreased suffering right here and now in this very life.

We see this argument over and over again on this forum, and I never understand it. Regardless of whether or not one believes in rebirth, there can still be plenty of motivation to practice just for benefits in this life.

:namaste:
Erik

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Antaradhana
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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Antaradhana » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:04 pm

ehensens wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:12 pm
Hi Antaradhana :hello: ,

A person might "follow rules and limit himself" even if he believes that "after death there will be nothing" simply because he recognizes that doing so still yields positive results and decreased suffering right here and now in this very life.

We see this argument over and over again on this forum, and I never understand it. Regardless of whether or not one believes in rebirth, there can still be plenty of motivation to practice just for benefits in this life.

:namaste:
Erik
Hi.

This may be sufficient motivation in favorable conditions, but in a critical situation, this motivation may not be enough.

It should also be borne in mind that this is due to good upbringing in this life, and in the next life, there may not be a good environment and upbringing. Strong faith in kamma-driven birth and the Three Jewels is the best motivator.

In addition, the materialistic view (disbelief in the continuation of existence after death and kamma) is one of the worst views that sooner or later it leads to hell, see AN 10.211 and SN 24.5.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by SarathW » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:01 pm

As Santa said, I don't know about the hell after death, but I can see the hell realm here in animal and human world.
That is enough for the time being.
Isn't it great if you can escape from the hell realm in this world at least?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Some questions and points on Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:51 pm

Vimokand wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:19 am
I have been wandering around now for a fair aul chunk of my life without being attached to any sort of real religious group which I suppose is the best way to put it. Now the philosophy of Buddhism interests me alot due to the lack of belief in a God like figure, so I decided pick up a book and do me some reading because I dont want to barge into something half assed without understanding it properly

Now the first thing that struck me and actually made me stop reading the book and come on here and start typing was the section on the concept of "The Eight Great Narakas". I had a vague understanding of the concept of rebirth in Buddishm but I didnt understand that there was a belief in a hell here are some quotes from it and I am taking these from the Penguin published "Buddisht Scriptures"
By force they make the adulterer climb that simbali tree of metal, flaming, sharp-pointed and with thorns sixteen finger-lengths long.

Metal-toothed, huge bodies, blazing fearsome females, embracing him, feed on the one who steals another's wife
Those who steal others' property again and again feed on the red-hot iron balls, they drink molten copper
Theres plenty more in that particular section the rest of it is divided into sections on Animals, Ghosts, Ghouls, Human Beings, Demi Gods and Gods which I wont bother going into at the moment. The thing that initially attracted me to Buddhism was its sense of it being a philosophy to live your life through without being chained down by silly fairytales that make me turn away from Christianity but surely these are just as bad? So I suppose really I want to know what Buddishts on this forum think of the quotes, whether they believe them to be true, whether they believe in the concept of hell or if they turn away from the nastier side of Buddishm and leave out these bits?

According to the book the writing is entitled "Illumination of the five realms of existence" and is "perhaps" written in Cambodia around the 14th century. In the introduction to the writing it appears to be saying that it is pretty much a dictation of what "The Completley Awakened One" said.


Why do you think they are fairytales?

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