what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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cooran
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by cooran » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:22 am

vinasp wrote:Hi mawkish1983,
The most complete exposition of what statements the Buddha would or would not make is found in the Abhayarajakumara Sutta ( M. 58 ) but it is complicated . The essense of it is that whether or not a statement is made depends not just on its truth but also whether it is usefull and pleasant , there are eight combinations in total. I am looking for a simpler account or some cases where this is taught by example. I remember there is a sutta where the Buddha meets Vacchagotta and does not teach the no-self doctrine ( even though it is true ) because Vacchagottas mind is too disturbed on that occasion. But this is really an example of refraining from teaching the truth which is not quite what we need.
Kind regards, Vincent.
Hello Vincent,

The Buddha did not lie. He, like any skillful teacher, taught at the level his students could understand. This link below, with a compilation of his words on Right Speech may be helpful.

metta
Chris

1. EXPLANATION OF SAMMAVACA
2. NOBLE & IGNOBLE WAYS OF SPEAKING
3. TWO MODES OF SAMMAVACA: LOKIYA & LOKUTTARA
4. STANDARD FOR SCRUTINIZING "SPOKEN KARMA"
5. POINTS OF PRAISE & BLAME CONCERNING SAMMAVACA
6. ELABORATION OF THE FOUR SAMMAVACA
7. WELL-SPOKEN WORDS ARE SAMMAVACA
8. WELL-SPOKEN WORDS ARE SAMMAVACA
(another angle)
9. SPEECH OF NOBLE & IGNOBLE PERSONS
10. STANDARD OF HIGHEST SAMMAVACA
11. HIGHEST LEVEL OF SAMMAVACA (Buddha-level)
12. EXAMPLES OF FRIVOLOUS SPEECH IN TEACHERS
13. RESULTS OF WRONG SPEECH
SUTTA REFERENCES
1. EXPLANATION OF SAMMAVACA
2. NOBLE & IGNOBLE WAYS OF SPEAKING
3. TWO MODES OF SAMMAVACA: LOKIYA & LOKUTTARA
4. STANDARD FOR SCRUTINIZING "SPOKEN KARMA"
5. POINTS OF PRAISE & BLAME CONCERNING SAMMAVACA
6. ELABORATION OF THE FOUR SAMMAVACA
7. WELL-SPOKEN WORDS ARE SAMMAVACA
8. WELL-SPOKEN WORDS ARE SAMMAVACA
(another angle)
9. SPEECH OF NOBLE & IGNOBLE PERSONS
10. STANDARD OF HIGHEST SAMMAVACA
11. HIGHEST LEVEL OF SAMMAVACA (Buddha-level)
12. EXAMPLES OF FRIVOLOUS SPEECH IN TEACHERS
13. RESULTS OF WRONG SPEECH
SUTTA REFERENCES

http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/rtspch1.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Cittasanto
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:26 am

retrofuturist wrote: I just meant that it wasn't a must in the sense of it being an inevitability.

They say that there's only two certainties in life... death and taxes... yet the arahant avoids both!
Hi Retro,
I think that may fall into the realm of no answerable!
Arahants still die whether they exist or not after is not something which I have seen explained in the suttas or anywhere exept it is an irrevelent question in the Buddhas eyes (according to the suttas)
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Ben
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by Ben » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:39 am

Chris wrote:The Buddha did not lie. He, like any skillful teacher, taught at the level his students could understand.
Excellent, Chris!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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genkaku
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by genkaku » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:42 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,
What is "esoteric buddhism"? I believe the word esoteric is latin and means something like private in contrast to public.
So a buddhist teaching which was given only to selected individuals and never in public would be an esoteric teaching ?
Is this correct ? Are there other ways in which a teaching can be considered to be esoteric ? Are all buddhist teachings esoteric ?
Regards, Vincent.
Dear Vincent -- The Hindus, who probably have a better sense of humor than the Buddhists (at least on the surface), tell the tale of a student who went to his teacher to receive a mantram. The teacher told him the mantram, but then warned him that he should always keep it secret. "You must be careful," the teacher said. "If you reveal this teaching, the whole world would be saved."

The student, who didn't really understand his teacher's words, promptly went out to the village market place, gathered the village residents around him, and told them the teaching.

My two cents' worth on 'hidden' teachings is this: There can be no secrets in Buddhism. If there were secrets, that would imply limitation and Buddhism is not limited by anything whatsoever. Nevertheless, there are teachings which are not offered. This has nothing to do with creating a special club with special handshakes and rituals -- something a student might be dying to join. It has to do with the capacity of the student. In the same way that a child might see the wondrous results of a bullet hitting an unopened can of tomato juice and then long to shoot a rifle himself ... still, the ramifications of firearms are too poorly understood for an instructor to hand over a weapon.

Well, maybe that's a poor metaphor, but I think you get the drift. The interesting part about what may be 'withheld' in Buddhism is that, even if no one ever told you the deep, dark secrets, still, with practice, those 'secrets' would reveal themselves automatically, as surely as sunrise follows the night. And of course once they revealed themselves, whatever 'secrecy' they had once held would disappear.

Practice is the key.

FWIW.

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Jechbi
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by Jechbi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:35 pm

vinasp wrote:One must therefore deviate from the truth for a good reason. It seems that moral issues take precedence over truth. I presume the Buddha acted accordingly. That is why it is called right speech not true speech.
You might want to examine that viewpoint, Vincent.
Dhammanando wrote:From the Manorathapūraṇī:
  • duve saccāni akkhāsi
    sambuddho vadataṃ varo
    sammutiṃ paramatthañca
    tatiyaṃ nupalabbhati


    The Awakened One, best of speakers,
    Spoke two kinds of truths:
    The conventional and the ultimate.
    A third truth does not obtain.

    tattha:
    saṅketavacanaṃ saccaṃ
    lokasammutikāraṇaṃ
    paramatthavacanaṃ saccaṃ
    dhammānaṃ tathalakkhaṇan ti


    Therein:
    The speech wherewith the world converses is true
    On account of its being agreed upon by the world.
    The speech which describes what is ultimate is also true,
    Through characterizing dhammas as they really are.

    tasmā vohārakusalassa
    lokanāthassa satthuno
    sammutiṃ voharantassa
    musāvādo na jāyatī ti


    Therefore, being skilled in common usage,
    False speech does not arise in the Teacher,
    Who is Lord of the World,
    When he speaks according to conventions.
    (Mn. i. 95)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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BlackBird
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by BlackBird » Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:29 am

genkaku wrote: My two cents' worth on 'hidden' teachings is this: There can be no secrets in Buddhism. If there were secrets, that would imply limitation and Buddhism is not limited by anything whatsoever. Nevertheless, there are teachings which are not offered. This has nothing to do with creating a special club with special handshakes and rituals -- something a student might be dying to join. It has to do with the capacity of the student. In the same way that a child might see the wondrous results of a bullet hitting an unopened can of tomato juice and then long to shoot a rifle himself ... still, the ramifications of firearms are too poorly understood for an instructor to hand over a weapon.

Well, maybe that's a poor metaphor, but I think you get the drift.
I'd just like to nip in here and say I thought it was a good metaphor, and I am also enjoying very much reading your book, Genkaku.

Cheers
and I'll nip on out again so this topic doesn't derail :smile:

:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by vinasp » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:39 pm

Hi everyone,
I am not sure what to do at this point. I have just found even stronger evidence that the Buddha tells porkies.
Is anyone still following this thread ? Do you want to see this evidence ?
Several posters have made strong assertions of the kind : " The Buddha does not lie ". Are they just expressing their opinion, or are they telling me to shut up ? Several posters have suggested that I need to change my views . If I present this evidence are some people going to go bananas ?

Or can we have a calm rational enquiry here ? Please tell me what you think.
Regards, Vincent.

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BlackBird
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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by BlackBird » Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:41 pm

Dear Vincent.

Nobody is telling you to shut up my friend, from what I've seen everyone is simply posting scriptual evidence that Buddhism is founded upon truth.

May you be well

:heart:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by genkaku » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:34 pm

Dear Vincent -- Gautama, if I am not mistaken, encouraged us all to investigate and find out. So, whether we work ourselves into a credulous dither about his "telling the truth" or "telling a lie," still, as those willing to follow a Buddhist path, we simply commit ourselves to finding out. It takes some courage, it takes some patience and it takes some doubt ... but that's what we do: Find out.

Just my two cents.

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:35 pm

Hi Vincent,
A long time ago you wrote:
vinasp wrote: I actually started this thread in order to reveal ( in due course ) that Theravada teachings are in fact an esoteric system. ...
We're still waiting for you clarify what you mean...

Mike

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by vinasp » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:56 pm

Hi everyone,
Here is an outline of the key section of M. 58 taken from :

Author : K. N. Jayatilleke.
Title : Early Buddhist Theory Of Knowledge.
Publisher : Motilal Banarsidass - Delhi Original 1963 Reprinted 1980.

Jayatilleke gives a good overview of the Abhayarajakumara Sutta - in truth table form as follows :

1. True Useful Pleasant YES
2. True Useful Unpleasant YES
3. True Useless Pleasant NO
4. True Useless Unpleasant NO
5. False Useful Pleasant
6. False Useful Unpleasant
7. False Useless Pleasant NO
8. False Useless Unpleasant NO

The true or false in the first collum is based on a correspondence theory of truth ie conforming to what is factually the case.
I would prefer that the Pali terms translated here as Useful / Useless in collum 2 be replaced with Beneficial / Detrimental.
The last collum shows whether the Buddha would make such a statement.

Jayatilleke gives his tranlation of the relevant passage and says: "We may observe that possibilities 5 and 6 are ommited".

Conclusion : The Buddha does not want to say whether or not he would make false - beneficial statements. Why is this ?

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:28 pm

vinasp wrote: Conclusion : The Buddha does not want to say whether or not he would make false - beneficial statements. Why is this ?
Presumably because anything that is untrue is also unbeneficial.

In other places it is said that that anyone with any attainments (stream entry and above) can not lie, kill, etc.
e.g. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta
Mike

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by Jechbi » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:28 pm

vinasp wrote: Or can we have a calm rational enquiry here ? Please tell me what you think.
Vincent, where has there been a lack of calm? Who has been going bananas, as you put it?

This perceived turbulence comes from within, don't you think? If you hold the viewpoint that the Buddha was a liar, then that's your choice. At some point in the future if you take refuge in the Buddha, then you may hold a different viewpoint. But these are all viewpoints. I don't see the point of arguing them back and forth.

You're probably familiar with the Cula-hatthipadopama Sutta.
"Sir, suppose an elephant hunter were to enter an elephant forest and were to see there a large elephant footprint, long in extent and broad in width. He would come to the conclusion, 'What a big bull elephant!' In the same way, when I saw four footprints in Gotama the contemplative, I came to the conclusion, 'The Blessed One is rightly self-awakened, the Dhamma is well-taught by the Blessed One, the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples has practiced rightly.'
Metta
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by Mawkish1983 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:40 pm

Jechbi wrote:You're probably familiar with the Cula-hatthipadopama Sutta.
"Sir, suppose an elephant hunter were to enter an elephant forest and were to see there a large elephant footprint, long in extent and broad in width. He would come to the conclusion, 'What a big bull elephant!' In the same way, when I saw four footprints in Gotama the contemplative, I came to the conclusion, 'The Blessed One is rightly self-awakened, the Dhamma is well-taught by the Blessed One, the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples has practiced rightly.'
Metta
At the risk of using a smiley when words would suffice: :thumbsup: :heart: :clap: :jumping: :bow:

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Re: what is "esoteric buddhism"?

Post by vinasp » Sat Aug 22, 2009 4:10 pm

Hi everyone,

I think that some of the problems that people are having in understanding what I am saying here are due to the following :

Many people here in the West seem to think that a lie is always wrong. But is it ? Most of the lies that we see are wrong but it does not follow that all lies are wrong.
If I lie to you in order to steal money from you then I have done harm to you by means of the lie. The act of the lie is wrong because of its consequence - the harm done to you. It does not follow that every lie is - in itself - wrong.
A lie which benefits someone else thus becomes a good lie. Do we need a new category in the West - the good lie ?

Does anyone here have any observations about how these things are understood in other cultures and times ?
Regards, Vincent.

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