The Pros and Cons of Mythology

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
genkaku
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by genkaku » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:48 pm

Dear retro -- I agree with your caution about tale-telling. Many have been stung unnecessarily by the demand that they take various mythological tales as the god's honest truth.

But I guess I would argue as well: Everyone tells themselves stories, whether they watch TV or not. What is this ordinary mind, after all, if not a great story-teller? And to the extent that the tales told open the heart and mind to a wider landscape -- a landscape that might be worth actualizing -- then this old fabricating mind may do us a great kindness.

Still, going back to what I take as your frequency, I agree that myths as reality can cause some pretty deep wounds. As you say, perhaps it's the ego-investment that defines the scene.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19972
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:55 pm

Greetings Genkaku,

In Pali there's a word called "papanca", which means mental or conceptual proliferation. Telling one's self stories would fall into the category of papanca. I've seen the dangers of papanca. When you get really agitated about something, you realise it's because your mindfulness has been lost and you've been telling yourself stores. For example... "Damn Mrs. X calling me such-and-such when she doesn't know what she's talking about. I had nothing to do with what happened, it was Mr. Y who had been doing all those things etc.etc." When the stories take over, in conjunction with negative mindstates, it's a sure road to sadness, if not depression.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
genkaku
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by genkaku » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:10 pm

Dear retro -- ... and simultaneously, the same mind that whines and complains and blames others is the very mind that may find comfort and sense and inspiration in The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path ... which, at the moment of admiring their wonders, would qualify as stories, I imagine... stories that may lead to a wonderful effort ... and in that effort, the story/myth/wonder drops away. If, by contrast, no effort were exerted on behalf of such stories, then the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path would remain a myth ... and we'd all be hip-deep in another religion.

Just my take obviously.

User avatar
Will
Posts: 987
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm
Location: So Cal

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by Will » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:19 pm

Retro gave a couple of examples of "myths" in the Dhamma - invisible beings like devas etc. and psychic powers.

How about more specific items that anyone else feels are "mythological" ie. just plain false or highly improbable.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

User avatar
genkaku
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by genkaku » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:04 pm

Dear Will -- Well, I think it is said that Shakymuni Buddha was born from his mother's armpit or side and that after birth he took seven steps in each of the cardinal directions and then said, with his right index finger pointed to the sky and his left index finger pointed at the ground, "Above the heavens and below the earth, I alone am the world-honored one." I think there are variations on the tale, but it seems likely that it would qualify as a myth.

User avatar
Will
Posts: 987
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm
Location: So Cal

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by Will » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:40 am

genkaku wrote:Dear Will -- Well, I think it is said that Shakymuni Buddha was born from his mother's armpit or side and that after birth he took seven steps in each of the cardinal directions and then said, with his right index finger pointed to the sky and his left index finger pointed at the ground, "Above the heavens and below the earth, I alone am the world-honored one." I think there are variations on the tale, but it seems likely that it would qualify as a myth.
Myth, as in false or symbolic? Seems I recall one of the traditional commentaries gave a symbolic rendering to this passage.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

piper
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:45 pm

Re: The Pros and Cons of Mythology

Post by piper » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:03 am

I was just thinking how unremarkable Buddhism would have to be to have acquired no mythology since it's inception.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Laurens and 28 guests