Hi, Retro.Is Theravada "Realist"?
by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:46 am
Friends, is Theravada Realist? If so, in what form?
To start with, here's a definition from our friends at Wikipedia...
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Realism, Realist or Realistic are terms that describe any manifestation of philosophical realism, the belief that reality exists independently of observers, whether in philosophy itself or in the applied arts and sciences. In this broad sense it is frequently contrasted with Idealism.
My concerns are with the way your question was formulated:
Question: Is Theravada Realist?
reference: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... avada.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
As you well know we deal with two "realities" in Buddhist study and practice. The first is mundane, our day to day reality in samsara. The second is absolute, the true nature of reality once the veil of delusion and deceit has been lifted through enlightenment.
From a mundane view we as practitioners must first learn to discern beneficial from nonbeneficial means of coping with the mundane world in which we live. Each of our thoughts, words, and deeds are subject to kamma and generate kamma vipakha. This is very real, and Buddha gave us the means with which to deal with such realities.
First he gave us The Four Noble Truths which define for us the true nature of life as we experience it in samsaric existence. Second and thirdly he gave us a means to identify the underlying causes of the dukkha which results from that existence and revealed that it could be negated and neutralized with the appropriate education, training and application of those means. Last, he gave us an exact prescription by which to deal with any aspect of samsaric existence.
He also gave us a means to evaluate and test the quality and efficacy of our choices in light of their karmic consequences, and a means by which we can readily evaluate the quality of our intentional actions by assessing the beneficiality or harm caused as a result.
Buddha revealed to us the (real) underlying cause and dependence of all of existence, and pointed out that any reliance upon any of it, on any mental or physical level or aspect hoping for security and satisfaction would lead only to more dukkha.
He also gave us the means to transcend our mundane reality, this samsaric world full of distortions and perversions of things as they actually are, across all planes of samsaric existence from hell realms to the highest Jhanas, and provided the correct and complete instructions of transcendence (The Noble Eight Fold Path). He lastly provided the example and the instructions of the practices by which our skills leading to transcendence could be honed to perfection to the point that we can learn to become unaffected by any of Mara's samsaric diversions of our necessary and unwavering focus upon the unchanging and dependable reality of nibbana, release and unbinding, a state exempt and unaffected by all of pitfalls of mundane reality: kamma, dependent origination, impermanence, and all of their samsaric effects and resultants, including the unending cycle of death, aging, disease and rebirth.
But, you already knew that.