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Grand Buddhist worldview, inclusive of other religions

Discussion in 'Buddhism DIR' started by buddhist, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    In early Buddhism and the texts of the Tipitaka, we perceive the wheel of samsara (the round of existence, the "universe") vs nibbana (non-"universe"). Lord Buddha, along with his innumerous predecessors and other arahant disciples, have transcended samsara and entered into nibbana.

    As we understand, Lord Buddha taught that within samsara exists different realms, including the various grades of exalted heavenly planes, the earthly/human/animal plane, the ghostly plane, and the hellish planes.

    It is said in the Tipitaka that there are also innumerous deities - beneficient and maleficent - inhabiting the heavenly realms. I don't see that it would be outside the realm of possibility that the various religions might actually be worshiping various deities existing on different heavenly planes. The various planes are thought to be relatively isolated from other planes, so the deities on one plane might not even be aware of the existence of deities on other planes, or even of their own mortality. This was the case with the deity Mahabrahma, one example provided in the canon.

    Within samsara, the Buddha also acknowledged the existence of "paranormal powers", having possessed them himself after reaching the higher levels of personal spiritual development.

    Perhaps Buddhism can be seen as a grand framework within which practically all of the other religions can comfortably exist ... the Brahman concept of Hinduism, the Tao of Taoism, the Moksha of Jainism, are perhaps identical to the essence of samsara, or the highest levels of samsara, itself; the deities of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, paganism, etc. perhaps dwell in their own respective heavens within samsara; the mystic, occult, and pagan traditions focusing on understanding and harnessing the various energies and laws governing samsara, to achieve "paranormal powers" in order to gain personal mastery over the worlds.
     
    #1 buddhist, Jan 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
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  2. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    This is a fascinating and indeed revolutionary idea. I may be wrong but it seems that any non Buddhist who accepts this idea is effectively converting to Buddhism (as it is described in the OP).
     
  3. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it would be in effect a conversion to Buddhism. Perhaps it might help more people to work together in harmony, with the understanding that we are all trapped in samsara!
     
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  4. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    Hmmmm.......is it all one way or are Buddhists going to have to do a little re-thinking too? For example some religions indicate a somewhat closer relationship between humans and the inhabitants of 'other realms' than I feel conventional Buddhism indicates.
     
  5. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    I don't think Lord Buddha put those relationships out of the realm of possibility for Buddhists. It's simply that he taught the most direct Way out of suffering and samsara, and that everything else are just various distractions on that path, and that's why most Buddhists don't really explore those detours. IMO that's why he didn't speak much about any other topic, except what was immediately relevant to the Way. Even most supernatural, "paranormal" powers which Buddha and his arahant disciples possessed were regarded as distractions, except those which were only used to facilitate the teaching of the Way.


    (Paranormal powers are simply the application of higher laws to (apparently) countermand lower laws in samsara. They simply appear miraculous because they seem impossible to who don't understand the higher laws. In that sense, I believe that various laws exist on various planes of existence.)
     
    #5 buddhist, Jan 12, 2016
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  6. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    It helps to get all the deity stuff out of the system. Go for it. Full steam ahead. One could always go back to Hinduism too.
     
  7. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    There are deities (devas and Brahmas) who undoubtedly exist, as found in the Nikayas in early Buddhism.
     
  8. Osal

    Osal Active Member

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    Quite right. Always have been, always will be.

    I find the deities presented in Buddhism to be quite helpfull, in that they represent qualities of enlightened being and remind us of we aspire to.
     
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  9. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    If your referring to a metaphorical approach, I would agree with the presence of existing deities as being such, being it's an aspectual component of who we are in that regard. Pure Land comes to mind.

    Otherwise, how is something like literal deification or theism reconciled with the engaged practices synchronized with the guidelines prescribed in the eightfold path and the four noble truths with your particular form of Buddhism ?
     
  10. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Do you contact them?
     
  11. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    The various deities - devas and Brahmas - are not metaphorical in the earliest recorded form of Buddhism, in either the Nikayas or the Tipitaka. For example: "Wander forth, O bhikkhus, for the welfare of the multitude, for the happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. Let not two go the same way. Teach, O bhikkhus, the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing.” Samyutta Nikaya 4.453

    Monastics were instructed by Lord Buddha to teach both humans and devas, as he himself also did. There are many other examples in the Nikayas where Buddha interacted with various devas and Brahmas as independent beings within samsara. If they were simply metaphorical, I believe that Lord Buddha would have instructed his disciples to ignore them as another variation of delusional attachments - but he didn't. They are beings also in need of the freedom of nibbana, like humans.

    They are deities - but not in the sense of a god as understood in the Abrahamic religions. The deities are described as enjoying far more happiness and pleasure, life-spans far greater, with more abundant powers than humans, but they are still limited. If they were merely mental manifestations of our mind, these descriptions of them by Lord Buddha wouldn't make sense.

    IMO they fit quite nicely in the eightfold path and four noble truths because their existence explains quite nicely the effects of kamma. Those who are good and reach exalted states as humans are expected to reach exalted states as deities in a subsequent life, and vice versa, into the hellish realms. Beings moral in behavior reach the lower heavens. Moral beings and those who achieve good states of heart (loving-kindness, etc) reach the middle heavens. Moral beings with good states of heart and high levels of mental discipline reach the highest heavens. Unfortunately, being still in samsara, they are still subject to rebirth, and will still die after their long lifespan.


    I suppose the real question should be, "how are deities incompatible with the core Buddhist doctrine of kamma, along with the eightfold path and four noble truths"?
     
    #11 buddhist, Jan 13, 2016
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  12. Osal

    Osal Active Member

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    Deity practice is most common on the Mahayana, which, as I'm sure you know, goes beyond the practices you describe.
     
  13. Osal

    Osal Active Member

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    No.
     
  14. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    That's true regarding the Mahayanists. I think it surprises most early and other Theravadins to learn that Lord Buddha actually encouraged the respect of the devas in our scriptures, and that many of them serve as Dhamma and Sangha protectors.
     
  15. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Zen Buddhism and Zazen is engaged and direct, as well as empty. Like the zendo as it stands.

    I've come across symbolic representations
    expressing just that as well. Some of which are iconic depictions of gods and demons of which I refer to as it applies with practice and life, including the six realms of existence.

    I don't personally take such as as being seperate living deities nor of which requires praying or worship , yet duly venerated reflecting those times such deities pay me a visit in whatever realm I happen to be traversing.

    What's beyond practice?

    ;0)
     
  16. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about Zen ... I'm curious, does Zen attempt to reconcile their texts with the texts of early Buddhism, or are the earlier texts ignored?
     
  17. Osal

    Osal Active Member

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    You mentioned 4nt, 8fp, etc.

    These fall under the heading of Hinayana and relate to individual enlightenment. This is fine, but with Mahayana's focus enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings, there's a whole raft of different practices that come with it.
     
  18. buddhist

    buddhist Well-Known Member

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    If all of samsara is the equivalent of Brahman and the Atman in Hinduism, then it could be reasonably said that the samsaric universe itself could be considered the equivalent of "God" or collective "Creator".

    As fragments of the collective Creator, we as men and women are then living out an imaginary life as finite creatures, attempting to transcend the collective Creator itself. Just like spiritually minded men and women are in a constant state of growth, always attempting to become more than who he or she is, perhaps the collective "Creator" is also attempting to become more than itself (e.g. achieving nibbana, where a fragment of the collective Creator - Buddha - did just that).
     
    #18 buddhist, Jan 16, 2016
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  19. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Well. Lineage of all texts I would think draws back from the Tathagatha by which there's a commonality with all Buddhist traditions and schools.

    Some since are clearly progressive but can still remain identifiable as in the case of Zen as being part of Mahayana. There is Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, the mainstay text of Soto Zen and the Blue Cliff Records of which I started with when first interested in Zen. Since, I've become privy with the Heart Sutra primarily over a kensho moment, and the Diamond Sutra of which I can't penetrate as of yet.

    I would think there remains a synchronicity, yet with understanding brought about from each text and writing, there has been and is, an ongoing progressive work from the onset coupled with various direct experiences from meditations and life itself of which all remains vulnerable to aging and constant change as with anything else affecting how early texts and writings are approached.

    Its not so much a reconciliation of early texts, but discernment, with practice and ritual itself.
    That is how I view it.

    Recently I've been getting into reading more of the works of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, him being rather unusual for a Theravada monk and teacher attracted me, and much of those concerns over preservation and nature of the earliest texts seem to mirror the defilement of theism into early Buddhism which clearly hold an impact not only in Mayahana but Thereavada as well. It's well defined in his work, "A Handbook for Mankind" among the first several chapters.
     
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  20. von bek

    von bek Well-Known Member

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    I love Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. His writings on how to understand dependent origination have made a huge impact on my thinking. I do think he goes a little too far in his criticism of Buddhaghosa, however.
     
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