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Why does Buddhism waste so much time on esoteric philosophical speculation?

opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

Here is a question the Buddha was once asked: "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not." I mean, who gives a rat's ass? If you see a homeless person, are you going to lecture him on the merits of duality v. non-duality? Most people don't even know what terms like these mean. It's stuff like this that makes Buddhist sutras unreadable, unlike the Bible or Koran, which are just straight-up stories that anyone can follow. Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

Comments

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Veteran

    I must confess, I too have often wondered why some people (not aiming this at people on this forum mind you) are more focused on appearing intellectual by out-quoting the dharma or focusing on the theory of dharma rather than just practising the dharma and discussing it in lay terms for everyone to understand.

    opiumpoetryAlex
  • 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 July 14

    Takes all sorts to make a world. You can't clothe the world in leather. Wear shoes instead. Sorted.
    "You go your way and I'll go mine" is a good motto to live by.
    Or if you want a Biblical quote, ".. first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." *Mattherw 7:5. Straight up enough for you?

    SuraShine
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I think a lot of those esoteric questions are asked by monks of supposedly wiser monks. Whether the answer is a valid piece of wisdom is a different matter, it certainly doesn’t sound like most Lay people would take anything from a question like that.

    Also there is the matter of proliferation, of not going so deeply into the world of ideas that you can’t see the forest for the trees anymore. Not all questions are equal or lead to the truth, and it is the teachers responsibility to give an answer that brings you back to the path.

    There is a famous story about a man who became a monk and who was only allowed to ask one question every ten years. Now that is maybe a bit extreme as a way to limit the proliferation of ideas, but it would teach certain skills, such as a sharp perception and a tendency to answer questions for yourself. Though it might also mean that some people contemplate the wrong questions in vain for a long time…

    opiumpoetry
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited July 14

    The Buddha spoke to and taught all intellects. From the simplest to the most brilliant.
    As @federica said, find the teachings aimed at yours and get stuck in! =)
    For example, at the monastery I attend, one of the nuns recently relocated to Sydney to be close to Ajahn Sujato (who retranslated the tipataka for SuttaCentral) as she is loves studying the Suttas and wanted to be near like minded people.
    She wasn’t getting that at Newbury

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @federica said:
    Takes all sorts to make a world.

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @federica said:
    Takes all sorts to make a world.

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

    Oh no! Here we go…

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @Bunks said:
    The Buddha spoke to and taught all intellects. From the simplest to the most brilliant.

    OK, then point to a sutra that teaches the basics in the form of a beautiful story. The closest I know of is the Gandavyuha. I will say that as a reader and a poet, the Gandavyuha is very poor as literature. Not as bad as the Dhammapada, but still bad. Could it be that India just didn't have storytellers on a par with the writers of the Bible or the Norse Sagas?

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @Bunks said:

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

    Oh no! Here we go…

    Well, I read that Tibetan lamas are the most fearful of death and the most selfish of different monastic communities, according to a Newsweek article. I guess meditating on why you should be unselfish is not the same as actually going out and raising money for the poor and running food pantries.

  • 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

    So from that, we can gather that you don't meditate, but you're out providing support on the streets and in the soup kitchens? The two are not mutually exclusive. As one great sage replied when asked when he meditates, "When am I NOT meditating...?!"

    lobsterJeffrey
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:
    Well, I read that Tibetan lamas are the most fearful of death and the most selfish of different monastic communities, according to a Newsweek article. I guess meditating on why you should be unselfish is not the same as actually going out and raising money for the poor and running food pantries.

    Different Buddhist organisations are variously involved with caring for the needy. Buddhist monks are usually dependent on the gifts of others so they could be said to be needy themselves.

    But I’ve always liked the example set by the Zen Peacemakers, who do a lot for the poor.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Why does Buddhism waste so much time on esoteric philosophical speculation?

    Good question.
    I won't be answering as I am about to have some soup. Then I will be wasting my time.

    Yours in Bad Buddhism
    CS. Lobster :p

    federica
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 14

    It could be simply said that Buddha taught about the mind. And as we receive a teaching about the mind the method is to formulate questions to ask of whomever is giving us teachings. To clarify the understanding of the mind.

    So in that line of thinking I think it's a good question to ask "what is the use of the concept of non-duality?"

    I think a lot could be said (by my teacher) about that and I would be curious what she would say. A lot of written materials may be individual questions someone had. And they might not be comparable to the Qaran or Bible.

    "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not."

    That's a quite different question from the usual fare in the Bible. But nonetheless it was probably someone's question in response to the teaching of their teacher. Asking them for clarity. I think that 'Non-duality' is a bit of a "very much in the head/thinking" sort of topic. But would you have it that such questions would be excluded entirely from consideration by students and teachers?

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

    I don’t think that was what the Buddha was trying to achieve. He was trying to take those disciples in whom he saw potential, and take them to the next level.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    "When am I NOT meditating...?!"

    Ah ha! If we know how to meditate, then we gets to Love Everything and do good. That is my kinda story. Why it stirs my soul … not that I have one anymore …

    Now what is the story of the next level that @Kerome mentions? Might it be the end of story telling?

    meanwhile … once upon a time …
    https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page/previous-lives-jataka-stories

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:
    Here is a question the Buddha was once asked: "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not." I mean, who gives a rat's ass? If you see a homeless person, are you going to lecture him on the merits of duality v. non-duality? Most people don't even know what terms like these mean.

    I don't think I've heard of Buddhists lecturing the homeless instead of helping in some way. Now if the homeless were to ask, that would be another matter, no?

    It's stuff like this that makes Buddhist sutras unreadable, unlike the Bible or Koran, which are just straight-up stories that anyone can follow. Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    lobsterShoshin1
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 15

    Thanks @David Thanks @person <3

    Buddhists have a plan! I knew it! =)

    • in the initial stages be kind to ourselves, so that our impediments are not interfering with our effective capacity to be of service to the whirled world.
    • Go mahayana. Feed them lambs …

    I'll join. B)

    BunksKerome
  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @David said:
    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    My objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism. For instance, the Heart Sutra states "Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form."

    "So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body,
    mind;
    No colour, sound, smell, taste,
    touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.

    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness."

    This is all mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited 6:09PM

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @David said:
    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    My objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism. For instance, the Heart Sutra states "Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form."

    "So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body,
    mind;
    No colour, sound, smell, taste,
    touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.

    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness."

    This is all mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

    It's only mumbo-jumbo BS if you don't understand it. 😋
    But seriously, if you don't like all the philosophy, that's fine, just put it to one side.
    Just maintain a simple practice, and see where it leads.
    It could also be that Buddhism isn't for you. But that's fine too. "No worries", as they say down-under.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    It's all fingers pointing to the moon. You don't like the shape and size of one finger, there's always another than will be more to your liking and still point the way.

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