materialism

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Dhammarakkhito
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materialism

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:26 am

is it just me or does it seem like a lot of early buddhists have materialist views. like piya tan said we could safely assume the hell realms were not real and that the deva messengers' sutta was an allegory. heard also bhikkhu sujato didn't believe devas were real (i'm not just making this up but i can't pin down a source for this). he also says the marks of a great man were added or were probably added later when i don't see evidence that they were. the marks are shown in another sutta not to be visible to the untrained eye, this is why buddha wasn't readily distinguishable from other monks


science is only a map of the territory; it is utter conceit to say we have all the answers
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— Ud 5.5

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Re: materialism

Post by DooDoot » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:19 am

Contrary to the materialistic view that hell is a material place with boiling bots & ovens, there are suttas that appear to plainly describe a non-materialistic view of hell, such as:
I have seen a hell named 'Six Spheres of Contact.' Whatever form one sees there with the eye is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable. Whatever sound one hears there with the ear... Whatever aroma one smells there with the nose... Whatever flavor one tastes there with the tongue... Whatever tactile sensation one touches there with the body... Whatever idea one cognizes there with the intellect is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Therefore it is probably not wise to cling to a materialistic or non-materialistic position, even though the non-materialistic position can be verified as true, according to the definition of Dhamma:
The Dhamma is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.

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Re: materialism

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:25 am

curious why you say that is non materialistic
but i thought there was a sutta where it was said there are immaterial realms and material realms. and the devas and yakshas and nagas and all are featured so commonly and explicitly in the suttas i feel like people are really jumping through hoops to offer a rational explanation
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Nicolas
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Re: materialism

Post by Nicolas » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:31 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:26 am
is it just me or does it seem like a lot of early buddhists have materialist views. like piya tan said we could safely assume the hell realms were not real and that the deva messengers' sutta was an allegory. heard also bhikkhu sujato didn't believe devas were real (i'm not just making this up but i can't pin down a source for this). he also says the marks of a great man were added or were probably added later when i don't see evidence that they were. the marks are shown in another sutta not to be visible to the untrained eye, this is why buddha wasn't readily distinguishable from other monks
In my opinion, it is just you. I have found the opposite to be true: very few if any early Buddhists have materialist views. Only "secular Buddhists" have materialist views. I don't know where you got those ideas about Piya Tan and Ven. Sujato from, but from what I've read, they are incorrect. Please provide sources. Everything that I've read from them both indicates that they have right view (kamma, rebirth, etc.).

The question of the marks of a great man is a different matter altogether that has nothing to do with materialism.

P.S. For example, the recent Why Secular Buddhism is Not True by Ven. Sujato.

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Re: materialism

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:56 am

ok well i can hook you up with piya tan and if you follow him on facebook you see the same things like he is saying that mara doesn't manifest physically when there are examples where he does. "The (Yama) Deva,dūta Sutta is an allegorical text on how bad-doers face their desserts in
the hereafter in the hells." http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 5-piya.pdf
another quote below in picture form from http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... -s36.4.pdf
as far as sujato and devas: "it's in authenticity paper (https://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... ticity.pdf)

he doesn't explicitly express disbelief, but he on more than one occasion suggests that devas & supernatural elements in the suttas lack evidence of being early
"For instance,
the Buddha is rarely portrayed as displaying supernormal powers, and
when he is they often have the hallmarks of being later insertions."

p73
"Apart from the significant evidence from the Dīgha and Majjhima
Nikāyas, an analysis of one of the main sections of the Canon that deals with
supernormal beings, the Sagāthā Vagga of the Saṁyutta Nikāya, shows that
they are almost exclusively confined to circumstantial material found in
the narrative sections. he Sagāthā Vagga contains over 200 Suttas in which
the Buddha is seen in conversation with divine beings. However, in only 21 of these does the actual conversation, as opposed to the surrounding
material, suggest that one of the parties is non-human.
35
Further, 15 of
these 21 are conversations with Māra. But since Māra in the ࠤ࡜ৎs is often
a name for a psychological state,
36
it is likely that this is so in the majority
(perhaps all) of these cases too. This leaves us with only six Suttas out of
more than 200. But even this number does not give a fair representation
of the state of affairs. All of these six Suttas consist of no more than the
exchange of a few inspirational verses. They either lack doctrinal content
completely or it is very limited. That is, we are probably not dealing with
the sort of core doctrinal material that might be considered untouchable."
p94 & 95
The fact that he is only analyzing the Sagaathaa Vagga is problem imo" im using quotes around the whole thing because my friend found this after i brought it up with him
so don't get me wrong these are two great buddhist scholars who i use extensively for the fact that they compile and present early buddhist texts for free it just strikes me as odd how they come to these conclusions after poring over this much doctrine
""They either lack doctrinal content completely or it is very limited"

also not true imo, but if so, why does that suggest nonearly?"
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"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: materialism

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:58 am

yeah the marks may be a different question but still he is using logic in a way that resembles materialism. 'he would have looked grotesque' it's a very physicalist view but i could concede to you
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Nicolas
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Re: materialism

Post by Nicolas » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:27 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:56 am
[...]
Thank you for the references you quoted.
The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts wrote: "The supernormal aspects of the EBTs can be explained as due partly to the world-view integral to EBT doctrine and partly to editorial decisions made to enhance the relative prestige of Buddhism." (p. 94)

"We do not mean to deny that the EBTs express a world-view in which supernormal phenomena are a part. Indeed, it is likely that this very worldview was partly responsible for the inclusion of such material in the narrative sections." (p. 96)
Ven. Sujato & Ven. Brahmali do not deny supernormal elements as integral to EBT doctrine. What they do say is that there may have been supernormal elements added to pre-existing ones to enhance the relative prestige of Buddhism. They say that some (presumably secular) modern critics consider that if there was an addition of supernormal elements as inventions, then one could consider the central doctrines to be potential inventions as well. This is the argument that Ven. Sujato and Ven. Brahmali refute, saying that the central doctrines are authentic in either case.

In addition to Ven. Sujato's Why Secular Buddhism is Not True
, see Ven. Brahmali's Rebirth, rebirth, rebirth (since he is co-author of The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts).


As for Piya Tan, I guess that—based on the material you quoted—I should stand corrected for now. It seems odd that he talks of hell-realms as allegorical in some of his texts, yet elsewhere says: "Rebirth is one of the pillars of Buddhist doctrine." (Is Rebirth Immediate?)
See also Have We Met Before? where literal rebirth is clearly acknowledged.
I'll have to read more of his texts.

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Re: materialism

Post by DooDoot » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:18 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:25 am
curious why you say that is non materialistic
Its sounds psychological to me, where it is taught there is a 'hell' at sense contact, manifesting as disagreeable feelings. This is why I called it non-materialistic. Where as the idea of a hell with spears, knives, whips, boiling pots & fires sounds materialistic to me because metal & fire are material things. So why do you label as 'materialistic' those Buddhists who believe in psychological interpretation of Dhamma? I don't understand how people who believe in psychological interpretation can be materialistic? Please explain. Thanks
Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:25 am
but i thought there was a sutta where it was said there are immaterial realms and material realms.
The eight jhanas seem to be examples of material & immaterial realms. These are meditation experiences.
Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:25 am
and the devas and yakshas and nagas and all are featured so commonly and explicitly in the suttas i feel like people are really jumping through hoops to offer a rational explanation
I recall Bhikkhu Bodhi was unable to explain what nagas are in his SN. What to you think nagas are? Personally, I don't know.
The ascetic Gotama is indeed a naga, sir! And when bodily feelings have arisen that are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, harrowing, disagreeable, through his naga-like manner he endures them, mindful and clearly comprehending, without becoming distressed.

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn1.38

Having approached you, we ask a question
Of the slender hero with antelope calves,
Greedless, subsisting on little food,
Wandering alone like a lion or naga,
Without concern for sensual pleasures:
How is one released from suffering?

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn1.30

This pole-toothed elephant Nāga’s mind agrees with the Buddha Nāga’s mind:
that a Nāga delights in being solitary in the wood.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/ud4.5

The Gracious One heard with his divine ear-element, which is purified, and surpasses that of normal men, the fitting talk and conversation of these two Great Nāgas (Sariputta & Moggallana).

https://suttacentral.net/en/ud4.4
As for devas, they often sound like rich & powerful people to me. If devas lived in heavens in clouds or in outer space and did not have material/physical bodies, why would devas use material heavy sticks, swords & weapons & build material palaces with rooms, parks & gardens, as described in the suttas? :shrug:
Now on that occasion Sakka, ruler of the gods, was furnished and endowed a hundredfold with the five, kinds of heavenly music, and he was enjoying it in the Pleasure Park of the Single Lotus. ... When I had won that war and returned from it as a conqueror, I had the Vejayanta Palace Built. Good sir Moggallana, the Vejayanta Palace has a hundred towers, and each tower has seven hundred upper chambers, and each tower has seven nymphs and each nymph has seven maids.

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books9/Bhik ... _Sutta.htm
Vepacitti the asura-king recited this verse:

'Fools would flare up even more
if there were no constraints.
Thus an enlightened one
should restrain the fool
with a heavy stick.'

When this was said, Sakka recited this verse:

'This, I think,
is the only constraint for a fool:
When, knowing the other's provoked,
you mindfully grow calm.'

When Sakka had said this verse, the devas applauded but the asuras were silent. Then the deva & asura panel of judges said, 'The verses said by Vepacitti the asura-king lie in the sphere of swords & weapons — thence arguments, quarrels, & strife. Whereas the verses said by Sakka the deva-king lies outside the sphere of swords & weapons — thence no arguments, no quarrels, no strife. The victory through what is well spoken goes to Sakka the deva-king.' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/tip ... .than.html
If devas were 'mind-only', without a physical body, how could devas indulge in divine sensual pleasures when sensual pleasures appear to be defined in the suttas as pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes & touches? Do you think devas have sexual organs?
What do you think, Māgandiya? Would that young god surrounded by the group of nymphs in the Nandana Grove, enjoying himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of divine sensual pleasure, envy the householder or the householder’s son for the five cords of human sensual pleasure or would he be enticed by human sensual pleasures?”

“No, Master Gotama. Why not? Because divine sensual pleasures are more excellent and sublime than human sensual pleasures.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn75

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Re: materialism

Post by ToVincent » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:55 pm

Sovatthika wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:26 am
....
Well, try to get out of the kama loka in your meditation; and you'll understand what demons and lower gods mean.
This world is full of maras and brahmas, says Buddha. And He does say that often, in texts that are pretty early, as far as parallels are concerned.

“There is a snare moving in the sky,
Something mental which moves about
By means of which I’ll catch you yet:
You won’t escape me, ascetic!”

“Forms, sounds, tastes, odours,
And delightful tactile objects—
Desire for these has vanished in me:
You’re defeated, End-maker!”
SN 4.15

Breathe - breathe to the point of making of this kāya, a vedāna.
Have a glimpse of utter peace, and they'll be there alright.

Man is the only creature that can escape. How do you think they like us?
In this world with its ..., Māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
------
https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Nicolas
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Re: materialism

Post by Nicolas » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:04 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:18 am
[...]
I think the issue here is semantical, or rather that Sovatthika has issue with those that don't believe in the literal existence (in mundane/relative terms) of devas (in a wider sense, including brahmas and immaterial beings), not so much whether belief in devas etc. makes one a materialist or not.

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Re: materialism

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:32 am

there are devas of form and devas of no form i think i just read a sutta on this
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Re: materialism

Post by Pseudobabble » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:16 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:32 am
...
I don't think it's just you.

The suttas have a remarkably 'modern/scientific/skeptical' feel to them. But I don't think they promote materialism, because there are several places where the Buddha refuses to answer ontological questions, and materialism is an ontological position.

By the way, why do you keep changing your name, its confusing.
"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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Re: materialism

Post by santa100 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:53 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:i can hook you up with piya tan and if you follow him on facebook you see the same things like he is saying that mara doesn't manifest physically
Not sure I see any issue based on the quotes you provided: Piya used words like: "Mara is often a name for a psychological state", or "In this form, Mara is little more than..." which indicates he's open to possibility of Mara manifesting in other "forms". Quite often whenever a Buddhist teacher in his live lecture seemingly implies that Mara, supernormal powers, hell realms, deva realms, etc. are psychological states, I'd immediately ask him to clarify his position on whether he meant those as strictly and exclusively psychological states. And all of them would reply with the same exact answer: no, it is not strictly and exclusively. So, if you still have doubts, try this approach to see it for yourself.

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Re: materialism

Post by thomaslaw » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:48 pm

santa100 wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:53 pm
Dhammarakkhito wrote:i can hook you up with piya tan and if you follow him on facebook you see the same things like he is saying that mara doesn't manifest physically
Not sure I see any issue based on the quotes you provided: Piya used words like: "Mara is often a name for a psychological state", or "In this form, Mara is little more than..." which indicates he's open to possibility of Mara manifesting in other "forms". Quite often whenever a Buddhist teacher in his live lecture seemingly implies that Mara, supernormal powers, hell realms, deva realms, etc. are psychological states, I'd immediately ask him to clarify his position on whether he meant those as strictly and exclusively psychological states. And all of them would reply with the same exact answer: no, it is not strictly and exclusively. So, if you still have doubts, try this approach to see it for yourself.
About Mara, the following article by Choong Mun-keat, may be of interest to you:

2009. 'A comparison of the Pali and Chinese versions of the Mara Samyutta, a collection of early Buddhist discourses on Mara, the Evil One', in The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, Number 10, pp. 35-53.

According to Choong:

"for a proper understanding of Mara in the three versions of Mara Samyukta, the personal and mythical aspect of Mara should not be entirely ignored, and the impersonal and symbolic aspect of Mara should not be over-emphasized" (p. 42).

"However, Mara being regarded as an entirely psychological cause of bondage is indicated clearly in the following texts: SN 22. 63-65 (III 73-76) = SA 21 (T 2, 4b-c; CSA i 28-9; FSA 1, 27-8); and SN 35.65 (IV 38-9) = SA 230 (counterpart of SN 35.65-66, 68) (T 2, 56a-b; CSA i 275; FSA 1, 364); SN 35.114-5 (IV 91-3) = SA 243 (T 2, 58c; CSA i 292; FSA 1, 378) (Cf. Choong, 2000: 80, n. 39). These texts state in common that the nature of attachment, such as craving, to the five aggregates or to the six contacts is Mara, however, these texts belong to the Sutra-anga portion of SA and SN." (p. 42, note 11).

Regards,

Thomas
Last edited by thomaslaw on Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: materialism

Post by cappuccino » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:16 pm

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:26 am
is it just me or does it seem like a lot of early buddhists have materialist views.
karma and rebirth is right view

materialism is not right

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