the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5750
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Aloka » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:57 pm

porpoise wrote: Some argue that this was all just skillful means, ie the Buddha was just using the belief system of the time. But would a teacher of the Buddha's stature basically make up a load of stuff in order to reach a wider audience? It doesn't seem likely to me.
Again, I prefer to pay attention to the words of Ajahn Sumedho - who from personal experience I regard as a most excellent teacher.

“ These are categories we can all relate to. We all have these six realms within ourselves, so it isn’t a matter of trying to decide if there is a Brahma-realm somewhere in the sky. –- ‘Can you get to it by rocket ship or shuttle? Should the Americans spend a lot of money trying to discover where the Brahma-world is ?’ These are really about human conscious experience. If you look at these six realms of existence, I am sure each of you will be able to relate them to experiences you have already had. “

(from his book: “Don’t Take Your Life Personally”)

:anjali:

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by daverupa » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:28 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Because, among other things, I've yet to see any textual example of an agnostic arahant.
That isn't necessary.
porpoise wrote:But would a teacher of the Buddha's stature basically make up a load of stuff in order to reach a wider audience?
"Make stuff up" is a wholly inadequate description of the processes involved in textual transmission; it sets up a false dichotomy, and it ignores the chronological development which can be seen in the Nikayas, something which continued for some time after the Buddha' death.

Additionally, every Vinaya has statements by the Buddha which are in all likelihood later than his lifetime; the Buddha said none of it, but were these compilers lying? No - this was a common technique in ancient literatures. Be wary of imposing anachronistic values here. The Nikayas are a literary product, not courtroom dictation.
porpoise wrote:So are you arguing that the cosmology described in the suttas is redundant for modern Buddhists? And if so, are you arguing a case for Secular Buddhism?
I'm saying the Dhamma is not tied to metaphysical claims.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

alan...
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by alan... » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:57 pm

it really doesn't matter. the dhamma is not about rebirth or realms or any of that stuff. the buddha taught again and again that that speculation on that stuff is pointless and that we should simply practice practice practice, tame the mind and use it to see through reality itself. one can reach nibbana without any knowledge of rebirth/realms! in the suttas that knowledge is actually called "mundane", meaning it falls in with knowledge of books or outer space, what's in the deep trenches of the oceans, and so on. only nibbana is "supramundane" and one can seek it while leaving everything else aside.

trying to work out rebirth/realms is chasing your own tail, only nibbana is going in the right direction.

for example a yogi who has seen his past lives, the history of the universe, gods, etc. would be considered enlightened in almost all other traditions, but in buddhism that alone is not enlightenment. only nibbana is and it's not even related to that stuff. all of the mystical knowledge, be it real or fake, is useless in the long run. even the "gods" with their supposed MASS amounts of knowledge and absurdly long life spans are said to be deluded and beneath nibbana.


nibbana and the hell, hungry ghost realms (and heavenly, etc. etc.) are totally separate and unrelated. the buddha taught the path to nibbana as the main and most supreme goal. that is all we need. if the realms spur some people on then great. if others don't want to believe but still want to seek nibbana, equally great. actually one could argue that one who is tied up with the realms and always seeking information on them or meditating and trying to experience them is running astray and should be focusing on nibbana instead and should forget that stuff.

nibbana is. everything else is irrelevant, unrelated, a flash in the pan, a bubble of foam, a lightning strike, an illusion, a dream about to vanish.

TO THE OP: i'm not even talking to you directly at this point, just so you know. just addressing this issue as a whole and the discussion it has become. i don't want you to think i'm trying to lecture you or implying that you are running astray by learning about the realms or whatever or any of the things discussed above, they are just examples and nothing to do with you or anyone in particular, just a hypothetical imaginary practitioner(s) :heart:.

Papashaw
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:09 am

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Papashaw » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:26 am

I feel a lot of compassion for beings in hell if there was a place, the torture wouldn't hurt as much as the boredom of being there for a 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000..... years.

I feel strong fury whenever i see someone hurt anyone in this world. If I were to encounter hell as a observer I would be extremely driven to any sort of action possible, I would stand between a torturer and a hellbeing and refuse to even move. I understand actions sends someone to a lower place for a disproportionate time, but it should not be that way. Yama is so easily mistaken for some torturer god willing to please himself and his minions with the sights of horrible cruel slasher movie scenes. :stirthepot:

The attitude i notice here is that of "Oh sucks for that guy, lucky I found buddhism" instead of strong sympathy or pity if somewhere to go to a lower realm. In tibetan buddhism prayers are said for those in the lower realms to relieve their suffering, I guess in theravada though if someone ends up there they are fudged and worth forgetting as they have their intestine ripped out and blood fried longer than they have lived as a human.

Oh i feel so much passion, I must let go of it and not indulge it. I am spouting drivel for provoking other peoples replies to my views to better understand what is right and wrong. This must be the last time.

I do not see how even killing a single parent is equal to being in avici for 10^18 years having your skin burned and torn apart for a trillion trillion trillion years, I know my father or mother would forgive me but karma is blind and unfair, it is the way it is.

alan...
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by alan... » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:51 am

Papashaw wrote:I feel a lot of compassion for beings in hell if there was a place, the torture wouldn't hurt as much as the boredom of being there for a 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000..... years.

I feel strong fury whenever i see someone hurt anyone in this world. If I were to encounter hell as a observer I would be extremely driven to any sort of action possible, I would stand between a torturer and a hellbeing and refuse to even move. I understand actions sends someone to a lower place for a disproportionate time, but it should not be that way. Yama is so easily mistaken for some torturer god willing to please himself and his minions with the sights of horrible cruel slasher movie scenes. :stirthepot:

The attitude i notice here is that of "Oh sucks for that guy, lucky I found buddhism" instead of strong sympathy or pity if somewhere to go to a lower realm. In tibetan buddhism prayers are said for those in the lower realms to relieve their suffering, I guess in theravada though if someone ends up there they are fudged and worth forgetting as they have their intestine ripped out and blood fried longer than they have lived as a human.

Oh i feel so much passion, I must let go of it and not indulge it. I am spouting drivel for provoking other peoples replies to my views to better understand what is right and wrong. This must be the last time.

I do not see how even killing a single parent is equal to being in avici for 10^18 years having your skin burned and torn apart for a trillion trillion trillion years, I know my father or mother would forgive me but karma is blind and unfair, it is the way it is.

ever heard of dizang (ksitigarbha)? sounds like something you would like :smile:

Dinsdale
Posts: 5686
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:58 am

Aloka wrote:
porpoise wrote: Some argue that this was all just skillful means, ie the Buddha was just using the belief system of the time. But would a teacher of the Buddha's stature basically make up a load of stuff in order to reach a wider audience? It doesn't seem likely to me.
Again, I prefer to pay attention to the words of Ajahn Sumedho - who from personal experience I regard as a most excellent teacher.

“ These are categories we can all relate to. We all have these six realms within ourselves, so it isn’t a matter of trying to decide if there is a Brahma-realm somewhere in the sky. –- ‘Can you get to it by rocket ship or shuttle? Should the Americans spend a lot of money trying to discover where the Brahma-world is ?’ These are really about human conscious experience. If you look at these six realms of existence, I am sure each of you will be able to relate them to experiences you have already had. “

(from his book: “Don’t Take Your Life Personally”)
:anjali:
OK, but you've quoted this before and it doesn't address the questions we're currently discussing. In particular it doesn't address the question I raised above, is it credible that the Buddha would have made up all the cosmology, rebirth, the realms etc?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Dinsdale
Posts: 5686
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:04 am

daverupa wrote:
porpoise wrote:So are you arguing that the cosmology described in the suttas is redundant for modern Buddhists? And if so, are you arguing a case for Secular Buddhism?
I'm saying the Dhamma is not tied to metaphysical claims.
The sutta you're referring to is basically a reminder that mindfulness is a way to access Dhamma in the here and now. It's neutral in terms of our current discussion.

I do get the impression that you're arguing for the redundancy of cosmology in the suttas, and for a secular approach to Buddhism. It's fine if you do, I'm just trying to understand your position.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5750
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Aloka » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:10 am

porpoise wrote:

.... is it credible that the Buddha would have made up all the cosmology, rebirth, the realms etc?

I didn't say that he did, I think these were beliefs that already existed 2,500 years ago. Please read my post written 9.09am yesterday.

Dinsdale
Posts: 5686
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:25 am

Aloka wrote:
porpoise wrote:

.... is it credible that the Buddha would have made up all the cosmology, rebirth, the realms etc?
I didn't say that he did, I think these were beliefs that already existed 2,500 years ago.
You seem to be suggesting he just made use of existing beliefs without personal belief, insight or verification. But is that idea credible, given the sophistication of early Indian thought, given that the Buddha was from a high-status family and presumably well-educated, given that he explored the various spiritual traditions of the time in great depth, given the Buddha's willingness to challenge the orthodoxies of the time?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5750
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Aloka » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:36 am

porpoise wrote:
Aloka wrote:
porpoise wrote:

.... is it credible that the Buddha would have made up all the cosmology, rebirth, the realms etc?
I didn't say that he did, I think these were beliefs that already existed 2,500 years ago.
You seem to be suggesting he just made use of existing beliefs without personal belief, insight or verification. But is that idea credible, given the sophistication of early Indian thought, given that the Buddha was from a high-status family and presumably well-educated, given that he explored the various spiritual traditions of the time in great depth, given the Buddha's willingness to challenge the orthodoxies of the time?

I haven't suggested anything that you're implying, porpoise . Now if you'll excuse me, life goes on - and I have important things to do in the world outside my computer.

:anjali:

Dinsdale
Posts: 5686
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:47 am

Aloka wrote:
porpoise wrote:You seem to be suggesting he just made use of existing beliefs without personal belief, insight or verification. But is that idea credible, given the sophistication of early Indian thought, given that the Buddha was from a high-status family and presumably well-educated, given that he explored the various spiritual traditions of the time in great depth, given the Buddha's willingness to challenge the orthodoxies of the time?

I haven't suggested anything that you're implying, porpoise . Now if you'll excuse me, life goes on - and I have important things to do in the world outside my computer.

:anjali:
Haven't we all!
If you don't want to discuss these points, that's fine. I assumed you did because you keep showing up in these debates.
;)
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5750
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by Aloka » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:31 am

porpoise wrote:
Haven't we all!
Ah yes, but there's an old saying here in the UK : "A woman's work is never done !"


:alien:

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by daverupa » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:40 pm

porpoise wrote:The sutta you're referring to is basically a reminder that mindfulness is a way to access Dhamma in the here and now. It's neutral in terms of our current discussion.
"To what extent is the Dhamma visible here-&-now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves?"

The answer the Buddha gives cannot apply to cosmology, but it applies to the Dhamma. That's quite germane.
porpoise wrote:I do get the impression that you're arguing for the redundancy of cosmology in the suttas, and for a secular approach to Buddhism. It's fine if you do, I'm just trying to understand your position.
Yes, the cosmologies seem redundant to me. "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence..." is possible without them, and beyond this motivating role they do not seem practically significant. It is, in the main, not a component of the gradual training; where cosmological referents can be found in a training context, they function exclusively as motivators.

I argue here simply for it being non-essential (e.g. sense-restraint is essential, rag-robe-wearing is not). It isn't absent, it isn't wrong or right, it isn't necessarily just literal or just figurative - but it can be left alone.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

User avatar
imagemarie
Posts: 420
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by imagemarie » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:15 pm

:goodpost:
Ah yes, but there's an old saying here in the UK : "A woman's work is never done !"
Nor a man's either it would seem :popcorn:

:anjali:

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:22 pm

This thread is a tail-chaser:Image
MN 100; ii 212-3; MLDB 821: ”But how is it, Master Gotama are there gods [devas]?”

“It is known to me
[the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”

“But how is this, Master Gotama, that when you are asked, ‘Are there gods?’ you say: ‘It is known to me to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods?’ If that is so, isn’t what you say empty and false?”

Bharadvaja, when one is asked, ‘Are there gods? Whether one answers, ‘There are gods,’ or ‘It is known to me to be the case [that there are gods],” a wise man can draw the definite conclusion that there are gods”

“But why didn’t Master Gotama answer me in the first way?”

It is widely accepted in the world, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”
I would imagine if there are devas, then there are various immaterials realms to which they belong, which also opens the door for other immaterial beings and realms. The point of this is that this sort of thing is very much part of the fabric of what we find in the suttas. It is simpy there. Accepting that does not mean that one must believe it to be the devas are real, but certainly the Buddha said it was so and certainly those that followed him believed it to be so. It does the suttas no justice to try to deny that. The only real question here, in my esteemed opinion, is how does one, then, relate to this fabric of the suttas without doing an injustice to the suttas?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Google Feedfetcher, JohnK, KiwiNFLFan, mikenz66, rightviewftw and 68 guests