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The role of the poetic-mythic in Buddhism

KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest?Europe Veteran

When we choose what we connect with, what role does the poetic or mythic dimension have? Undoubtedly things with a strong poetic or mythic element to it are popular in film or books - look at the Lord of the Rings for example, or Shakespeare. But in religion there are also many things which have a mythic element.

Take say Joseph Campbell. His work examined mythic strands in many of the world's cultures and beliefs, including their religions. If you look at say Aztec culture, it has extensive myths about the underworld. Hindu culture is another strong exemplar, with the Bhagavad Gita and other tales. Christianity too, if you look at the bible some of it seems to be semi-mythic, like Genesis or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, while some of it is more historical.

So to what extent do you find the poetic-mythic elements of Buddhism a powerful draw? Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

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Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 22

    No.
    Admittedly, I occasionally recite mantras to malas, like the Tara Mantra or the Blue Medicine Buddha Mantra... but even if I do visualise these Buddhas as images, I don't envisage them as real entities, but as aspects or parts of myself that I want to develop in a positive way, and manifest via an improved compassionate, loving and understanding attitude.
    For the most part, I follow Theravada, which is a far more... "WYSIWYG" tradition. I like the 'telling it like it is' attitude to its suttas, even though I don't entirely believe or agree that they are always the Buddha's authentic teachings, or what he might have actually said.

    Of course, as we all know, seeing something written down is infinitely different to actually seeing and hearing a person speak... The body language, tone and original words used, all help to give a better picture of what is actually intended.

    I mean, if I write that I called my friend " a silly bitch", that sounds rude and offensive. However, the whole situation was humorous and totally amicable, and we were laughing at the time. So no offence was intended, and none was taken. However, in B&W, it doesn't seem like a very nice thing to say...

    I digress....
    I like words, plain and simple.
    Embellishments, add-ons, complications, 'flights of fancy' and elaborations?

    Not my pot of tea. Although occasionally I do indulge in a cuppa....

    Although I am obviously aware it has its appeal, and many people are drawn to such 'extras' and that's absolutely fine, I'm really happy for them and have nothing against it, or anything to the contrary to argue.

    lobsterKeromeSnakeskinShoshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited September 22

    It does not appeal, it is part of Tantra and is made use of. That makes it pragmatic. That appeals.

    These mythic elements are evoked and dismissed. Diety yoga has an emotional, psychological impact. Just as I can believe in dragons or suspend disbelief whilst watching a film ...

    Snakeskinelcra1go
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited September 22

    @Kerome said:> So to what extent do you find the poetic-mythic elements of Buddhism a powerful draw? Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Some find it inspiring - whatever works, as far as I'm concerned. What I find inspiring is the natural world, looking at waves and stars and all that stuff.

    As for Buddhist texts, I tend to think of the suttas as prose and the sutras as poetry.

    lobsterSnakeskinShoshin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    I see it as a left-brain/right-brain thing. One breaks stuff down and infers; the other takes it all in and intuits. Neither has the whole picture, just a perspective. I like to think that both sets of faculties, like samatha and vipassana, can be developed, balanced and used constructively. As somebody said, “the broader the perspective, the closer the truth.”

    Shoshinlobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @federica said:
    but even if I do visualise these Buddhas as images, I don't envisage them as real entities, but as aspects or parts of myself that I want to develop in a positive way

    This is something I struggle with, sometimes. From a personal experience I've more or less had to admit that people do seem to continue past death, which raises some difficult questions. If people, then why not devas? Yet if I look at the path of evolving the mind, it seems to be healthier to assume it's just the mind-body.

    For the most part, I follow Theravada, which is a far more... "WYSIWYG" tradition. I like the 'telling it like it is' attitude to its suttas, even though I don't entirely believe or agree that they are always the Buddha's authentic teachings, or what he might have actually said.

    Agreed, i like Theravada too, except I have no local temple. I find much that is useful in the words of the Buddha, but can't accept all of the sutra's literally.

    Although I am obviously aware it has its appeal, and many people are drawn to such 'extras' and that's absolutely fine, I'm really happy for them and have nothing against it, or anything to the contrary to argue.

    It's a difficult area to talk about. In one way the fact that buddhism has all these strands and can be so inclusive is a good thing, on the other hand it's a kind of dilution of the original lore, the teachings of the enlightened man who was Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said: ... It's a difficult area to talk about. In one way the fact that buddhism has all these strands and can be so inclusive is a good thing, on the other hand it's a kind of dilution of the original lore, the teachings of the enlightened man who was Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha.

    Then I would suggest you lean heavily upon the kalama Sutta, and rely upon your own thorough investigation, research, perusal, reference and thought process.
    What happens in Buddhism, all these strands, all the dilution you believe is diffusing, is not for you to change, wish to change or treat with contempt, disdain and ridicule.
    (I'm not saying you do any of those things, I'm advising you keep your guard and evaluate matters according to your own comprehension and understanding.)

    It is what it is: You may not like it, agree with it or adhere to it.
    Don't focus on what doesn't sit well with you; focus on what does, and leave others to follow their own path.
    Your choice is to leave it aside and merely focus on what makes YOU a 'better Buddhist'.

    lobsterDhammika
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    That's good advice. But I do think we should be clear about what form of Buddhism we stand for. Everyone here brings a unique view to the table, but we should talk about what we support and why, so that it's clear what way the community is looking.

    lobsterDavid
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    That's good advice. But I do think we should be clear about what form of Buddhism we stand for. Everyone here brings a unique view to the table, but we should talk about what we support and why, so that it's clear what way the community is looking.

    I don't dispute that. What is unacceptable - and unskilful, in Buddhist terms - is to try to decide what 'you' think others should adhere to, discard, adopt or support.

    By all means be 'clear' about what form of Buddhism you stand for.
    But do not mistake that clarity of your own perception, to be a presumed yardstick for others.

    David
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    For an introductory while, the mythic and poetic was kool and tasty.

    Now I stick with the graffito I once saw: "Man without God/ Is like a fish without a bicycle."

    Snakeskin
  • @Snakeskin said:
    I see it as a left-brain/right-brain thing. One breaks stuff down and infers; the other takes it all in and intuits. Neither has the whole picture, just a perspective. I like to think that both sets of faculties, like samatha and vipassana, can be developed, balanced and used constructively. As somebody said, “the broader the perspective, the closer the truth.”

    Well said.

    Whole brain thinking/mind-body experiencing/logic-emotion being is our potential. It can indeed be 'developed, balanced and used constructively'. Healthy integration. I'll join.

    http://liveanddare.com/types-of-meditation/

    Snakeskin
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited September 24

    @Kerome said:> It's a difficult area to talk about. In one way the fact that buddhism has all these strands and can be so inclusive is a good thing, on the other hand it's a kind of dilution of the original lore, the teachings of the enlightened man who was Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha.

    Yes, it's like we have all these different Buddhist schools pointing back to the original teachings. Different schools emphasizing different aspects, with different assumptions and different methods.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @genkaku said:> Now I stick with the graffito I once saw: "Man without God/ Is like a fish without a bicycle."

    "Man without Cod?..." :p

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Kerome said:> Agreed, i like Theravada too, except I have no local temple.

    There is quite a lot of stuff online. One of my favourites is Ajahn Brahm, who in another life might have been a stand-up comedian. :p
    Some of the discussions on Dhamma Wheel might be of interest too, there are some very knowledgeable people over there.

    lobster
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 24

    @Kerome said:
    When we choose what we connect with, what role does the poetic or mythic dimension have? Undoubtedly things with a strong poetic or mythic element to it are popular in film or books - look at the Lord of the Rings for example, or Shakespeare. But in religion there are also many things which have a mythic element.

    Take say Joseph Campbell. His work examined mythic strands in many of the world's cultures and beliefs, including their religions. If you look at say Aztec culture, it has extensive myths about the underworld. Hindu culture is another strong exemplar, with the Bhagavad Gita and other tales. Christianity too, if you look at the bible some of it seems to be semi-mythic, like Genesis or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, while some of it is more historical.

    So to what extent do you find the poetic-mythic elements of Buddhism a powerful draw? Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Sometimes myth is alright depending but I think it can actually be harmful if it is used to explain something we lack an objective understanding for.

    The Jataka tales I like though. I like to fancy that we are all living a tale of Jataka.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 24

    @federica said:

    @Kerome said:
    That's good advice. But I do think we should be clear about what form of Buddhism we stand for. Everyone here brings a unique view to the table, but we should talk about what we support and why, so that it's clear what way the community is looking.

    I don't dispute that. What is unacceptable - and unskilful, in Buddhist terms - is to try to decide what 'you' think others should adhere to, discard, adopt or support.

    By all means be 'clear' about what form of Buddhism you stand for.
    But do not mistake that clarity of your own perception, to be a presumed yardstick for others.

    I'd like to awesome that remark a few more times. Claims of exclusivity of truth are annoying.

    Snakeskin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited September 25

    @genkaku said:
    For an introductory while, the mythic and poetic was kool and tasty.

    Now I stick with the graffito I once saw: "Man without God/ Is like a fish without a bicycle."

    :)

    Indeed.

    We can do without myth and stories, elephant headed dharma protectors, garuda breeding programs (genetic splicing has its privileges/abuse potential) and live with a bald head in a saffron soaked sheet ... However the beneficial emotional potential, psychological peace and other skillful usage means some will be dependent on the alternative cycle path ...

    Davidsilver
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @David said:

    @federica said:

    @Kerome said:
    That's good advice. But I do think we should be clear about what form of Buddhism we stand for. Everyone here brings a unique view to the table, but we should talk about what we support and why, so that it's clear what way the community is looking.

    I don't dispute that. What is unacceptable - and unskilful, in Buddhist terms - is to try to decide what 'you' think others should adhere to, discard, adopt or support.

    By all means be 'clear' about what form of Buddhism you stand for.
    But do not mistake that clarity of your own perception, to be a presumed yardstick for others.

    I'd like to awesome that remark a few more times. Claims of exclusivity of truth are annoying.

    That may be, but the scientific method is preferred because it's based on empirical evidence, logic, and objectivity. It also has a self-correcting mechanism, which is why outdated theories are replaced by newer ones. Contrast this with religion where there are usually two extreme positions:

    1) My interpretation alone is correct
    2) Any interpretation is correct.

    So the scientific method may not be perfect, but it's the best that we've got at the moment.

    Snakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 26

    Hold on a moment here....

    Why would science have anything to do with the Role of the Poetic-Mythic in Buddhism?
    That's like comparing Einstein's Theory of Relativity to Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 ....

    Snakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 26

    I'd tend to agree.

    Also, claims of exclusivity of truth are called such because they lack empirical evidence.

    Odd comment @techie.

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @federica said:
    Hold on a moment here....

    Why would science have anything to do with the Role of the Poetic-Mythic in Buddhism?
    That's like comparing Einstein's Theory of Relativity to Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 ....

    The dalai lama once said he would choose science over buddhism if science were to prove buddhism wrong. Many times we also see religions change as scientific knowledge evolves further. Buddhists no longer accept buddhist cosmology, nor do catholics believe that the sun goes around the earth. They have reinterpreted their religions in terms of the latest scientific knowledge.

    I am just expanding on this. If scientific evidence tilts towards a certain strand of Buddhism, then we may have to accept it at the risk of appearing exclusivist. So an exclusivist claim is not always wrong, provided it's backed by science.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    What H.H. said was that Buddhism would adapt, not that he would choose science over Buddhism. Two very different statements.

    lobster
  • Indeed @techie B)

    Buddhist cosmology is epic drivel, to put it politely. As is the traditional theory of evolution over lifetimes. No evidence. Just imaginary nonsense based on earlier 'knowledge'. Saying 'thus spoke the Buddha' is no emperically different to, 'it says so in the Bible', '... the Koran' or 'Lord of the Rings'.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

    The Dalai Lama is not a scientist, he is a guru and deposed theocrat. Buddhism is not science. The Kalachakra initiation is an example of superstitious fortune telling. Many other examples can be found throughout Tantric Buddhism, which is closer to magic or alchemy than science ...

    Secular Buddhism is perhaps the beginning of a mythic free dharma.
    https://secularbuddhism.com

    The benefits of deity yoga, chanting, mindfulness and the paths and methodologies used by many Buddhists are often confirmed and adapted because they have benefit.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471247/

    @Kerome said:
    So to what extent do you find the poetic-mythic elements of Buddhism a powerful draw? Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    No but I make use of it. Cherry picking dharma ... :3
    OM MANI PEME HUM as I said to my imaginary dharma bodhi friend this morning ...

  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    I thought this pruned-as-best-I-could snippet from the Canki Sutta relevant. In it the Buddha lays out a method culminating in the repetition of direct personal experience of "truth." In other suttas he boils this down to filtering experience through the lenses of anicca, dukkha and anatta. But I think it relevant to devas too, because the higher heavenly realms in which these "mythic" beings reside correspond to different levels of jhana. Born and raised a westerner, I automatically assume that refers only to states of mind and automatically reject that were I to die in such a state there'd be spontaneous rebirth in a corresponding plane of existence. But there is no actual discipline of critical thought I go through to arrive at that. I think I jump to that conclusion only out of cultural inculcation, no different than those superstitious ancients with their -- from my perspective -- ridiculous beliefs. But the Buddha outlined a different method:

    There are five things ... that may turn out in two different ways.... What five? Faith, approval, oral tradition, reasoned cogitation, and reflective acceptance of a view.... Now something may be fully accepted out of faith [or the rest], yet it may be ... false; but something else may not be fully accepted out of faith [or the rest], yet it may be ... true.... Under these conditions it is not proper for [one] who preserves truth to come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong....’

    How is truth discovered?

    ... When he has investigated [a teacher] and has seen that he is purified from states based on delusion, then he places faith in him ... he hears the Dhamma [from him] ... he memorises it and examines the meaning ... he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings ... zeal springs up ... he applies his will ... he scrutinises ... he strives ... he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way ... there is the discovery of truth.... But as yet there is no final arrival at truth....

    “The final arrival at truth ... lies in the repetition, development, and cultivation of those same things. In this way ... there is the final arrival at truth....

    p.s. Sorry for the length. I spent way too much time on this. lol

    lobster
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    does it appeal to me?yes.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 28

    @Snakeskin said:
    I thought this pruned-as-best-I-could snippet from the Canki Sutta relevant. In it the Buddha lays out a method culminating in the repetition of direct personal experience of "truth." In other suttas he boils this down to filtering experience through the lenses of anicca, dukkha and anatta. But I think it relevant to devas too, because the higher heavenly realms in which these "mythic" beings reside correspond to different levels of jhana. Born and raised a westerner, I automatically assume that refers only to states of mind and automatically reject that were I to die in such a state there'd be spontaneous rebirth in a corresponding plane of existence. But there is no actual discipline of critical thought I go through to arrive at that. I think I jump to that conclusion only out of cultural inculcation, no different than those superstitious ancients with their -- from my perspective -- ridiculous beliefs. But the Buddha outlined a different method:

    There are five things ... that may turn out in two different ways.... What five? Faith, approval, oral tradition, reasoned cogitation, and reflective acceptance of a view.... Now something may be fully accepted out of faith [or the rest], yet it may be ... false; but something else may not be fully accepted out of faith [or the rest], yet it may be ... true.... Under these conditions it is not proper for [one] who preserves truth to come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong....’

    How is truth discovered?

    ... When he has investigated [a teacher] and has seen that he is purified from states based on delusion, then he places faith in him ... he hears the Dhamma [from him] ... he memorises it and examines the meaning ... he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings ... zeal springs up ... he applies his will ... he scrutinises ... he strives ... he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way ... there is the discovery of truth.... But as yet there is no final arrival at truth....

    “The final arrival at truth ... lies in the repetition, development, and cultivation of those same things. In this way ... there is the final arrival at truth....

    p.s. Sorry for the length. I spent way too much time on this. lol

    Geez, don't apologize for that. Personally, I appreciate the effort.

    I have a slightly different take on all this and as far as I know this is not a Buddhist teaching as it would probably count within the leaves of the tree Buddha did not offer (if it were true).

    See, I don't think we can dismiss everything we witness exclusively in the mind as non-existent.

    For me, not only does the deva exist, but so does every different version of said deva ever conceived. I don't go as far as to believe it to be true but it makes the most sense to me so I treat it as if it were so.

    The same seems to hold water for the planes of existence. Could be that this one is the real one simply because it's the one we're in.

    I digress but the mind is a funny thing and is there really any competition or is it the only game in town?

    Sorry, took a train for a change this morning and it's so comfortable.

    Snakeskin
  • For me, not only does the deva exist, but so does every different version of said deva ever conceived. I don't go as far as to believe it to be true but it makes the most sense to me so I treat it as if it were so.

    If I can add to your point @David:
    The multiverse is one of the less popular physics theories. I rather like it ...
    https://futurism.com/new-evidence-about-cold-spot-in-space-could-support-case-for-a-multiverse/

    The way I was taught Buddhist deity yoga, that some will be familiar with, is the external visualization of a deity, the entering or resonating with the qualities of the deity and the dismissal of the deity. We are developing a relationship, inviting and amplifying for example the quality of compassion.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deity_yoga

    The important thing for me is useful (use) or not (find what works) ...

    When some of us talk about our interpretation of reality, we of course believe or use it as a model. The ideal of a mind so fluid it does not solidfy or cling, does not mean that focus or attention need be devalued ... :)

    DavidSnakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited September 28

    @lobster said:

    For me, not only does the deva exist, but so does every different version of said deva ever conceived. I don't go as far as to believe it to be true but it makes the most sense to me so I treat it as if it were so.

    If I can add to your point @David:
    The multiverse is one of the less popular physics theories. I rather like it ...
    https://futurism.com/new-evidence-about-cold-spot-in-space-could-support-case-for-a-multiverse/

    The way I was taught Buddhist deity yoga, that some will be familiar with, is the external visualization of a deity, the entering or resonating with the qualities of the deity and the dismissal of the deity. We are developing a relationship, inviting and amplifying for example the quality of compassion.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deity_yoga

    The important thing for me is useful (use) or not (find what works) ...

    When some of us talk about our interpretation of reality, we of course believe or use it as a model. The ideal of a mind so fluid it does not solidfy or cling, does not mean that focus or attention need be devalued ... :)

    I would imagine it is a multiverse style universe because I can't imagine there being only one expanding anomaly which we call the universe. We can't see past the big bang but if we could zoom out past it, I'm thinking eventually we would see there are countless big bangs going on all the time.

    Not only that but each one of those big bangs could theoretically have an infinite amount of possible alternate timelines.

    Not only that but from the other side, if there can be said to be distance between the big bangs then they would also have a unifying timeline which could also theoretically have an infinite amount of alternates.

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited September 28

    @Kerome said:
    Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Yes, because I don't consider them myths to begin with. =)

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Yes, because I don't consider them myths to begin with. =)

    How can they be anything other than myths?

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @techie said:

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Yes, because I don't consider them myths to begin with. =)

    How can they be anything other than myths?

    I don't entertain such questions.

  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @seeker242 said:

    @techie said:

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    Things like the cosmology, deva's, the many colourful bodhisattvas, the Jataka tales, all have strong aspects of the poetic and mythic. Does it appeal to you?

    Yes, because I don't consider them myths to begin with. =)

    How can they be anything other than myths?

    I don't entertain such questions.

    To answer @techie's question, the Lohicca Sutta describes the supernormal powers developed through jhana. Those include the recollection of one’s own past lives and the observance of other beings wandering through samsara. That is how they could be something other than myth.

    The powers themselves could be myth, but the list also includes Nibbana. What’s more, in the Vakkali Sutta, the Buddha equates himself with Dhamma and Dhamma with him. Is the Buddha a myth? Is the Dhamma just the philosophical rationalizations of people who had to justify giving up all their stuff? Where do I draw the line? Why there? On what basis do I draw it there? I like entertaining such questions, especially when I'm done meditating, but it's not time to get up.

  • @seeker242 said:
    I don't entertain such questions.

    [Lobster faints.] Buddha, Sangha, Dharma uber alles? Mahayana madness? Extremism? What am I missing?

    meanwhile ... @Snakeskin superpowers do exist, which is something many of us experience in time. On the whole they are not talked about because of the very real dangers of ego inflation. Jhana like many concentration bases can alter our experience, effect our environment.

    Despite my best efforts, I still can't fly. I iz rubbish!

    Snakeskin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    Participating in this thread led me to verbalize my views on this subject in writing. (I should prolly do that more often.) I wanted to share it:

    Buddhism is predicated on the metaphysical reality of samsara. Its cosmology includes the additional metaphysical elements of kamma, rebirth, otherworldly beings and planes of existence, along with the aim of Buddhism: nibbana, the escape from or ending of samsara. This metaphysical reality of samsara is mind made through kamma, i.e., intentional bodily, verbal and mental actions. Hence, specific states of mind such as the divine abodes and jhana resonate with and may even create corresponding planes of existence such as the Brahma world and higher heavenly realms and may result in rebirth in them. The multiplicity of planes range from degrees of heavenly bliss to hellish misery.

    But this metaphysical cosmology is not dogma. The Buddha implicitly and explicitly instructs his followers to delay a final conclusion until they see for themselves through purified vision that is complete in scope and correctly understood. Hence, this cosmology should be examined both literally and figuratively, but no final conclusion should be drawn by means other than the Noble Eightfold Path, which leads to clear vision through "the dust-free, stainless eye of truth."

    lobsterKeromeDavidelcra1go
  • ah @Snakeskin you are right - express your thoughts BUT do not cling to criticism, challenge or praise. In other words dharma debate is to clarify ones butter into ghee.

    That was a good read. It gives an idea of the construction of Purelands/mandalas/fish heaven :3/Disneyland. All of these have a purpose and I would suggest the Buddhist higher realms are more inspiring and skilful for those of us more poetic/fantastical/dream-dharma inclined ...

    As you mention, nirvana is the goal and focus ... and very nice it is too ... it kinda coexists with Disneyworld/Samsara/Human realm ...

    Good post.

    Snakeskin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @lobster said:
    ... dharma debate is to clarify ones butter into ghee.

    Seconding that, I change "my views" to "present understanding". ;)

  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    two cents worth,the metaphysics ,whether real or imagine,is based on karmaic virtue-moral causality to be more than you are.for theravada arahant.for mahayanna,buddhahood.personally cant aspire to be arahant,got to be a monk,i assume.layperson bodhisatva aspirent , is pheaseable.

  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    example of karmaic causality where we dwell in our head. do good,pleasent heaven.do bad,hell...unpleasant.good news of karma ,imperminant states of being.

    Snakeskin
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    hence,the summary of dharma,refrain from bad,do good,and my interject word,ease the mind.the teachings of the awaken ones.

    Snakeskin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Snakeskin said:
    Seconding that, I change "my views" to "present understanding". ;)

    Sounds like a plan, understanding the present or vice versa is a better use of words. Words are very important, as our beloved moderator @federica reminds us. That is especially true in this communication modality. Can we be drawn through the mythic into the real world by forum-sangha alone? If we so choose ...

    @paulyso said:
    hence,the summary of dharma,refrain from bad,do good,and my interject word,ease the mind.the teachings of the awaken ones.

    Exactly so.
    It is important to use every tool we can to awaken. As ever more awake people aids our realm. As many know, we have to engage in whatever strategy works for us. In essence the path is as simple as @paulyso suggests. Find the Ease ..l

    Engage!
    Capt. Picard (Star Trek)

    Snakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Some interesting discussion. I like @Snakeskin's idea that no ultimate conclusion should be drawn about cosmology until you can test the teaching, it firmed up some unformed thinking in the back of my mind too.

    It's a difficult quandary about whether to pay attention to cosmology and such. On the one hand it takes focus away from the Eightfold Path, on the other it's a powerful mythic device which can inspire - as evinced by the fact that it's in the teachings at all.

    DavidSnakeskin
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Snakeskin said:> But this metaphysical cosmology is not dogma. The Buddha implicitly and explicitly instructs his followers to delay a final conclusion until they see for themselves through purified vision that is complete in scope and correctly understood.

    In the suttas the Buddha frequently advises against metaphysical speculation.

    Snakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Snakeskin said:> But this metaphysical cosmology is not dogma. The Buddha implicitly and explicitly instructs his followers to delay a final conclusion until they see for themselves through purified vision that is complete in scope and correctly understood.

    In the suttas the Buddha frequently advises against metaphysical speculation.

    It is very much about perspective. For a meditator who does not have access to the jhanas it all seems like speculation, except that the metaphysical information in other suttas is held in abeyance until such time that it can be verified.

    But that applies not only to cosmology. Many things in Buddhism seemingly can only be tested when you reach certain levels of attainment.

    From that point of view, a movement like secular Buddhism may end up discarding quite a few things which are valued teachings. It's definitely food for thought.

    Snakeskin
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Kerome said:> It is very much about perspective. For a meditator who does not have access to the jhanas it all seems like speculation, except that the metaphysical information in other suttas is held in abeyance until such time that it can be verified.

    I think it's more that views and beliefs are a hindrance:

    "When those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about the past and the future together, who hold settled views about the past and the future, assert on sixty-two grounds various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future — that too is only the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving."
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html

    Snakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited October 1

    @Kerome said:
    Some interesting discussion. I like @Snakeskin's idea that no ultimate conclusion should be drawn about cosmology until you can test the teaching, it firmed up some unformed thinking in the back of my mind too.

    It makes sense. Wondering and questioning the universe and it's workings is one thing but conjecture can lead to making a belief out of the wondrous unknown and clinging to views.

    I think that's why agnosticism is the way to go with this kind of stuff rather than embracing or rejecting.

    Snakeskin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Snakeskin said:> But this metaphysical cosmology is not dogma. The Buddha implicitly and explicitly instructs his followers to delay a final conclusion until they see for themselves through purified vision that is complete in scope and correctly understood.

    In the suttas the Buddha frequently advises against metaphysical speculation.

    No argument there. He admonishes entanglement in views in general. In the Kalama Sutta he gives criteria for evaluating any kind of view and poses kamma and rebirth as hypotheticals. Those Kalamas then become lay followers. Then the Paramatthaka Sutta exemplifies those further along. There he contrasts those holding views with enlightened ones holding none. A final example is the Mogharaja-manava-puccha, where the Buddha instructs a brahmin to “look upon the world as empty….”, but the metaphysical references there are not posed hypothetically.

    These kinds of references occur all through the Pali Canon from those suttas believed among the oldest to those added later. In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha speaks of his enlightenment with such references:

    But when my knowledge and vision … was thoroughly purified..., then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Mara, and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is the liberation of my mind. This is my last birth. Now there is no more renewed existence.’

    Some things I can easily regard as metaphor, but taking “last birth” here other than on face value seems tricky. Still, these things, despite the Buddha’s instructions regarding views, are here. I think examining them may be regarded more as reading comprehension than speculation. Adopting them and clinging to them, granted, is another story. But even there I've found that entertaining the possibility caused a resistance, a mental tension not rooted in logic and reason. Instead, it exposed views so deeply entrenched I hadn’t seen them for what they were: beliefs. Like @David, those include agnostic views, but also some nihilism and existentialism too. One of those is antithetical to Buddhism. They haven’t been dislodged, but giving them the company of such things as kamma seems better than not because, speaking only for myself, to say I’ve transcended views or cling to none would be another form of the lifelong self-deception that I don’t really have any beliefs. Total lie. And I think, in one way at least, that’s what’s meant by “wagging the finger at Mara.” I see you.

    I wrote another long one. To wrap it up, let go of the raft, ok, but first let me get to the far shore. ;)

    lobsterDavid
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited October 2

    @Snakeskin said: But even there I've found that entertaining the possibility caused a resistance, a mental tension not rooted in logic and reason. Instead, it exposed views so deeply entrenched I hadn’t seen them for what they were: beliefs. Like @David, those include agnostic views, but also some nihilism and existentialism too. One of those is antithetical to Buddhism. They haven’t been dislodged, but giving them the company of such things as kamma seems better than not because, speaking only for myself, to say I’ve transcended views or cling to none would be another form of the lifelong self-deception that I don’t really have any beliefs.

    Sure, we all have such beliefs, and some of them go deep. I think of it as craving and aversion to different ideas - so for example I am an atheist essentially because I don't like the idea of "God". What simplifies things for me is viewing BuddhaDharma as a path of practice and discovery, rather than viewing it as a set of beliefs.

    lobsterKeromeSnakeskinShoshin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    Rephrased, a single word shows our difference:

    Viewing BuddhaDharma as a path of practice and discovery and not as a set of beliefs.

    Viewing BuddhaDharma as a path of practice and discovery and as a set of beliefs.

    But really it’s the same boat:

    The mindful apply themselves;
    They don’t amuse themselves in any abode.
    Like swans flying from a lake,
    They abandon home after home.

    That single word? Viewing. (That was a little trick I did. :p)

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    If we don't have faith in beliefs are they really beliefs?

    Just because something makes the most sense going by the information we do have is no reason to make a belief out of it... is it?

    (Asking for a friend)

  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @David said:
    If we don't have faith in beliefs are they really beliefs?

    A faithless belief seems a contradiction in terms to me, so I’d go with no.

    Just because something makes the most sense going by the information we do have is no reason to make a belief out of it... is it?

    Assuming “something” is philosophical or religious I could answer both ways.

    On the one hand, the possibility that life is a random, meaningless phenomenon makes the most sense to me. Yet, I’m a Buddhist and, though the Buddha rejects this notion, I have no problem with that. Means to me that, as @SpinyNorman alluded to, my belief in Buddhism is based more on a “most sense” that feels right than on available information. So, in this case, no.

    On the other hand, what reasons would there be for beliefs? They influence our behavior is one. I think most here have found Buddhism, as individually understood, makes the most sense somehow, and have accordingly put faith in it. That then influences our behavior, which, apart from the work of the mods, I find evident among the community here. So, I could also say yes, that’s at least one reason to make a belief out of something that makes the most sense.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited October 2

    Interesting @Snakeskin

    I have a few "could be" beliefs but I think having faith in any one would make it harder to let go of them if they're wrong. In a way I feel having faith in metaphysical type beliefs limits my options.

    Also, the belief that makes the most sense now may not make as much sense in light of new information.

    I find it fun to contemplate these things but having faith seems too much like conjecture.

    To each their own of course.

    Snakeskin
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