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Why does one need to convert to Buddhism?

buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
edited April 2006 in Buddhism Today
Just a question open for discussion. This has been brought up, in a round about manner, in other threads, but for new people, I thought I would define this as a point of discussion with the group.

Why does one need to convert to Buddhism?

-bf
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Comments

  • edited September 2005
    If I understand it correctly, one does NOT actually need to convert to Buddhism. I think that is just what people are used to since so many other religionns actually have you "convert" to their religion, and most religions have a process you need to follow.
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited September 2005
    The term "convert" comes from our (westerners) culture of having strict, "from-birth" religious upbringing. Just like most polar western thinking, we tend to feel that in order to "become" a buddhist you have to convert to one and STOP being whatever you were before.

    It's just a misconception based on our ignorance. You can't blame us for it, we were raised this way! :D
  • 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 2005
    I used to use the term 'convert' when I spoke of my own decision to 'become' Buddhist.
    As has been so ably pointed out by Jason in the FAQ Thread, (very bottom of Forum index) Buddhism may be referred to either as a religion, or not, and either as a philosophy, or not. Nice 'arguments' for/against.... :)
    Since reading this thread, and clarifying things for myself, I choose to term myself as "following the Buddhist Path"......
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2005
    From a Buddhist perspective, one needs not "convert" to anythng. Buddhism is not truly a religion.

    Buddhism is a way of life, a training if you will, to achieve one main goal - the complete understanding and consequential cessation of dukkha (unsatisfactorinesss/suffering).

    All one is expected to do is to live a wholesome life, avoid what is unwholesome, and follow the Eightfold Path. Anyone of any religion, nationality, or gender can do this regardless of who they are and how they were brought up.

    Jason
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited September 2005
    IMHO it makes as little sense to talk about "converting" to Buddhism as to say that is converting to geometry!

    But I understand the question, not just from those who have a Christian background but also because a lot of the externals of various Buddhist traditions have many of the trappings of religion.

    It might be interesting to note that one also does not convert to Islam: one reverts.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited September 2005
    Now for the second part of the discussion....

    "I know my friends and family are going to have a hard time with this. They're <insert religious group> and I'm worrying about telling them that I'm converting to Buddhism."

    Is there a need to state that you are a Buddhist? What are you gaining by stating "I'm a Buddhist."
    When you were <insert religious belief> - did you feel the need to say, "I'm a <insert religious group name>"?

    -bf
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2005
    (Fede might recognize some of this ;) )

    To answer the second part,

    I myself dislike labels or titles altogether. I don't find them to be important. I don't think promoting myself as a Buddhist makes me any better than anyone else. I don't care if anyone knows I practice the Dhamma. (The only reason anyone at my job ever knew was because I needed to take time off to stay at a Thai Wat. They were quite surprised.) A label is for advertising. I don't feel the need to advertise.

    I never say I am a Theravadin Buddhist anymore either. I do keep mainly to the Pali Canon, practice at Thai Theravadin Wats and such, yet I do not try to trap myself behind some cookie-cutter label. If I were to have a label 'Theravadin Buddhist' would be the closest one, but those are just words. Words can be tricky. I am me. A simple, ordinary person. I have my flaws, as well as my good points. It's hard enough in this world to be a good, decent, humble person. The more labels and titles you place on yourself the harder it becomes. It strengthens the ego and self-view. I used to be so proud to say, "I'm a Theravadin Buddhist", but then later on I saw the draw backs of my intentions. I just wanted people to know what I was because I thought I was so important. "Oh, you're a Christian? Well, I am a Theravadin Buddhist." "Oh, you're a Pagan? Well, I'm a Theravadin Buddhist." "Oh, you're a whatever. Well, I'm a Theravadin Buddhist." How silly!

    I see that a lot of people here see it the same way as I do. They do not care about 'being' anything. They are here to learn. If it's learning about Theravada, Zen, Ch'an, Tibetan, or whatever they are doing it for their own benefit, not to be something that makes them special or better than someone else.

    I personally don't care if a person is a 'Buddhist' or not. The Buddha wasn't a Buddhist. He was a man who lived his life by the Dhamma and not avijja (ignorance). That is what all of his followers attempt to do. I hope that all people can benefit from his teachings, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. They are very good teachings, important ones I believe.

    There is nothing to "gain" by stating that you are a "Buddhist". What you really have to "gain" from is how you live you life. It is not by swimming in the Ganges that you purify your mind, it is by Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration that you purify your mind.

    If a person would cause their family suffering by telling them that they are following the Buddha's Path then perhaps it may be better to just keep it in their heart and not on their sleeve, if you get my meaning. :)

    Jason
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2005
    There is a time for Right Speech, and there is also a time for Noble Silence.
  • 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 2005
    .... yes, she might....!! ;) Thank you Jason, nice post.
















    (Me & my big mouth....!! :lol: )
  • edited September 2005
    I was born Buddhist but never took it seriously till a year or so ago... So I used the word "took it seriously".
  • edited October 2005
    Well i was fortunate, I had denounced the catholicism and baptist religions i was born into at an early age and had room to fill in me when i chose nichiren buddhism. Most interestingly, I think people, when they choose, choose philosophies/religions, which concur with the things they already believe in, hence no true conversion and if one believes in karma, than we probably are picking up where we last lifetime left off. One does not have to convert to buddhism, since buddhism is all things, one merely adds the practice of buddhism to their lives. Tina Turner, in her book, I Tina, says that she would say the our father and chant Nam myoho renge kyo five times. Buddhism is a manner of enhancing all things. Of course I still have a novices mentalityin regard to something that I have found that works, that is, why waste your time doing anything else?
  • edited October 2005
    Elohim, I have seen it said several times on this site that buddhism is not a religion. Would that not depend upon what school of thought or sect of buddhism one focused on. Some schools of thought are merely a life philosophy, while others worship ritualistically as many other religions do. I understand that some my just have issues with the word "religion" and don't want to apply it to anything that they involve themselves in or for some other reason. I consider my practice of Nichiren Buddhism, both a religion and a philosophy. Religiously, I have an altar in my home which i chant before twice daily. Philosophically, I try to take what I learn out into the world and apply it in both a macro and micro manner. Granted, I worship nothing in the traditional sense of worship, but on the other hand I have a specific ritual that I follow daily as most religions do. Whether I choose to call it a religion or a philosophy depends sometimes on whom I am speaking with. And no I do not worship the lil fat guy. I pray or chant before a mandala that represents the working of the ten worlds in my life and throughout the universe. There I develop clarity, strength of purpose and reaffirm my determinations, the same as most who practice other religions do. The only difference is that I'm not relying on an omnipotent being to form my destiny or asking to have my prayers answered. Instead, I ammaking the determination to accomplish my goals thru self empowerment based on the Law of Nam myoho renge kyo. Perhaps one might perceive it as self worship.
  • edited October 2005
    In reply to the second part of the discussion Iwould like to say that I think it is important to let family know that you are chosing a different religion or philosophy, however, timing is the thing. I have always been self directed so never cared what my family thought of what i did, no matter what it is. However, perhaps the clue is to wait a while, especially if you are one of those persons who is forever trying something new. As your study of buddhism manifest in your life, they will notice something different. About 16 yrs ago, my mother had a life threatening health issue. As a Nichiren buddhist, I made the determination to get as many of my family members to a Soka Gakkai ( www.sgi-usa.org )buddhist meeting in order to change my family's karma and therefore extend my mothers life. I managed to get 5 family members to meetings during a weekend trip to New Orleans (I was living in CT at the time) My father was asked by someone else if he would like to chant Nam myoho renge kyo and begin practicing Nichiren Buddhism, to which he replied yes (blew me out of the water). When asked why, he said it was because of the vast change he had noticed in me. My history with my father was such that at 15.5 yrs old I ran away from home and changed my name so that I wouldn't have to bear his. The point is, someone is always watching, even when it seems impossible that they could be or would have the ability to understand if they did. Therefore, my suggestion would be add buddhism to your life and see what the results will be, prior to telling your family, unless you are Nichiren Buddhist, than you will need to tell them prior to receiving Gohonzon.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2005
    Tracey,

    To answer your question simply - sure, Buddhism can be whatever you want it to be. However, what the Buddha taught was no mere "religion", nor was it a "philosophy" by their commonly accepted definitions. I suppose that the teachings of the Buddha have aspects of both a "religion" and a "philosophy", but beyond those aspects it is an ethical system — a way of life — that leads to a very specific goal, Nibbana/Nirvana.

    I myself do not really care what people call it, but I do discourage the practice of the purely ritualistic aspects of modern day Buddhism. (I doubt that the Buddha would care as much about people offering fruit to metallic statues of him than he would about those same people practicing wholesome living and meditation.) What the Buddha taught was a very active and purposeful thing. Praying, wishing, chanting, worshipping, debating, argueing, speculating, etc. in and of themselves do not produce very much "spiritual" fruit compared to the actual practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. While some of those things may be benefitial and good for people's practice ( i.e. chanting, debating, offering, etc.), they do not go as far as meditation, contemplation, and wholesome living.

    Basically, those things are just tools that we may use to further our progress, but they should not be attached to in some "religious" or "ritualistic" way. They are merely tools. You don't worship or revere a hammer that you are using to pound in a nail do you? In the same way you do not need to worship or revere anything you use to free yourself from suffering. Even the very words of the Buddha are to be let go of when the time comes. Religions are not things that people "let go" of, they are things that people cling to.

    That's just my view of the matter anyway.

    Perhaps it is all just semantics that I really have trouble with, who knows. It's not something that anybody should trouble themselves with anyway, as long as their practice is working for them. I just like to ramble on from time to time - verbal diarrhea if you will. Take no notice of me. I'm empty of inherent existence anyhow.

    :lol:

    Jason
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited October 2005
    Elohim wrote:
    ... but I do discourage the practice of the purely ritualistic aspects of modern day Buddhism. (I doubt that the Buddha would care as much about people offering fruit to metallic statues of him than he would about those same people practicing wholesome living and meditation.)...


    Jason,

    That's a good point.

    I feel that, as humans, we have some odd desire to wrap ourselves with various trinkets and baubles that we associate with things we believe in.

    While, if looking back at the thing we actually believe in, trinkets and baubles had nothing to do with it, the person or the teaching at that time.

    Christ was supposed to have carried a cross. I don't think he was enamored with it at all, at the time.

    I never read where Buddha set up a shrine to himself to help him meditate.

    I'm not discounting these things - because if it helps one to focus more firmly on their beliefs - that's fine. But the trinkets and baublse are just that if one never sets foot on the Path.

    My $0.02

    -bf
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited October 2005
    I notice that the great teachings, be they from the Awakened Shakyamuni or Jesus the Anointed, take place under the open sky and not in temples of wood or stone.

    Some of my most comforting meditations are made ou-of-doors and the most powerful are, without doubt, in the desolation of a prison cell or a hospital ward, without idols or candles or offerings.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited October 2005
    I agree Simon.

    While I think these types of things are fine - it is the "action" that is important.

    There are many stories of people who come to the point where they no longer have anything of value and have been reduced to the basest of humanity - and then they finally see clearly. The story of Job comes to mind at the moment.

    Historically or fictionally, this type of enlightenment or clarity has never come while in an oppulent palace, or because of some new mala beads that have been delivered by post, or while sitting in a brand new BMW.

    -bf
  • edited October 2005
    Well we all have our own perspective of what is valuable.The important thing is the benefit of what you do to yourself and others. One of the most interesting things to me about theravada buddhism is that it teaches that men should observe 250 precepts while women observe 500. It also teaches that women can not acheive enlightenment until they are reborn as men. Yet in Shakyamuni's Lotus Sutra it teaches that offerings should be made to those who teach the Law as well as to those who practice it. As a matter of fact, if i recall correctly, it teaches that only thru servinig a multitude of Buddhas through many kalpas of existence is how one is to attain enlightenment. The earlier buddhist teachings speak of how some removed their skin to use as parchment to write down the teachings, how women used their hair to make lamps to burn, how the gods tested persons by having them do all kinds of things as offerings for the sake of hearing the buddhist teachings. Are these not offerings? In modern times, since paper is available readily we don't have to peel of our skin, etc. or sacrifice our lives. If one were to practice exactly as the buddha teaches in his earlier teachings, we would in fact have to denounce all our worldly goods and walk around with a begging bowl. Since we all have pc's I don't think any of us are doing that. I think it is the way of humanbeings to accept those teachings with agree with not relinquishing our creature comforts. Fortunately for us, there is an easier way to practice buddhism at this time as shown in the Lotus Sutra teaching. In Nichiren Buddhism, we do not have an object of worship in the strictess sense. The scroll we chant before, no to. It is in fact the manifestation of the 10 worlds in our individual lives as inscribe by nichiren. It was nichiren's way to show that buddhahood lives in all of our other life conditions, that is each state from hell to buddha all inherently possess the other nine.The offerings of candles (some use lights), greens (some use artificial ones), water, incense, fruit and the sound of the bell are in fact offerings to the buddha nature within our own lives. In a sense, I guess this might be termed self worship, if any. The same way we offer, without thinking of it as offerings, food and drink to sustain our physical bodies. I think offering is not a demand of what or whomever we believe, but an acknowledgement of our appreciation and respect to those forces we have chosen to honor with our life. They are merely a physical manifestation of our appreciation.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2005
    Tracey,

    I must say that I strongly diagree with you. Much of what you have posted is actually incorrect information. I would like to suggest that perhaps you may want to do some more research about the Theravada tradition before you cast it in such a negative light. I personally do not appreciate the use of false and completely fabricated information which degrades another Buddhist tradition.

    In Theravada Buddhism it is true that there are extra rules for women, but only 8 extra rules. Men have 227 precepts, and women have 236 precepts. The eight extra rules were: (1) any nun, no matter how senior, must respectfully salute a monk, no matter how junior; (2) aspiring nuns must undergo a two-year training period, and then be ordained by both the communities of monks and nuns; (3) nuns must not criticize monks; (4) nuns maynot receive alms before monks; (5) nuns who violate rules of conduct are subject to disciplinary action for a fortnight and must then seek restitution from the communities of monks and nuns; (6) every fortnight the nuns should ask the monks for instruction; (7) nuns may not spend the rainy season retreat in the company of monks; and (8) after finishing the rainy season retreat, nuns should request the ceremony marking the end of the retreat from the communities of monks and nuns.)

    There is no such teaching in the Pali Canon that states women cannot attain the fruits of the holy life, i.e. Nibbana/Nirvana, and must be born as a man first. That is just nonesense. In fact, there is a Sutta where Ananda asks the Buddha if women too can achieve Awakening and become arahants. The Buddha answers that they indeed can. He explains that gender has nothing to do with it, in spiritual matters men and women are considered equal:

    "Then the Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: `Blessed One, the four fruits of monastic life--namely, the fruit of a stream-winner, the fruit of a once-returner, the fruit of a non-returner,and the highest fruit of arhatship--can a woman who is earnest and zealous and who dwells in seclusion realize any of these?'

    The Buddha replied: `Yes Ananda, a woman who is earnest and zealous and who dwells in seclusion can realize any of these four fruits of the monastic life.'"


    There were many, many women arahants named in the Pali Canon. Just a couple are Bahiya, Queen Khema, and Vissakha.

    Please see this thread if you have any more questions about this subject: Post #29

    Also, "Enlightenement" or "Awakening" can be attained in any life, by men or women. All that it takes is effort and practice. A quote from the Satipatthana Sutta clearly shows this:

    "Assurance of Attainment

    "O bhikkhus, should any person maintain the Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge (arahantship) here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of nonreturning (the Third Stage of Supramundane Fulfillment).

    "O bhikkhus, let alone seven years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for six years... for five years... four years... three years... two years... one year, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of nonreturning.

    "O bhikkhus, let alone a year. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in the manner, for seven months, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of nonreturning.

    "O bhikkhus, let alone seven months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for six months... five months... four months... three months... two months... one month... half-a-month, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of nonreturning.

    "O bhikkhus, let alone half-a-month. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for a week, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of nonreturning.

    "Because of this was it said: 'This is the only way, O bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely, the Four Arousings of Mindfulness."

    Thus spoke the Blessed One. Satisfied, the bhikkhus approved of his words.


    If you need any additional Suttas and references from the Pali Canon for any of these points, I will gladly provide them to you. And, just to let you know, I have at a few points in my life given up everything I had except some clothes, and lived at a Buddhist monastery. While I am currently not doing this, I have at least had that experience. It does not make me any better or worse than anyone else, but I can say from experience that I believe such a lifestyle is much more spiritually benefitial than just offerings and chants by themselves. I never said they shouldn't be done at all mind you, just not exclusively. I believe that the practice of meditation, as well as the observance of the five precepts are also integral parts of the Buddha's Path.

    I only wish to offer this information so that you do not think that I am just some random guy talking about things which I have no real understanding of. I take my study and practice of Buddhism very seriously.

    Jason
  • edited October 2005
    Jason thank you so much. I am not aware of many of the buddhas teachings, other than the Lotus Sutra and this is the only one I study. I can't even name the place where I read the number of precepts to be adhered to by males and females. I deeply appreciate your lending clarity to my errors and determine not to speak those things which I am not positive of again. I'm sure we both know how false statements can shine negative light and give false repesentation. Since I know nothing of most schools of buddhist thought, I will try to refrain from offending you or anyone else. Thank you again. Tracey
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2005
    Tracey,

    It's no problem. I'll admit that I was a little defensive, but I'm also happy to just be able to clear up any misconceptions that you might have had about Theravada Buddhism. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate it.

    Jason
  • edited October 2005
    I am not aware of many of the buddhas teachings, other than the Lotus Sutra and this is the only one I study.

    Since I know nothing of most schools of buddhist thought . Tracey[/QUOTE]


    I am only just taking the first tentative steps towards studying Buddhism, however I am a little surprised that you have felt the need to narrow your fields of interest and belief. I would have thought that being in receipt of knowledge from the various "Schools" of Buddhism, would enable you to make an informed choice, if only then to go on to choose one as your preferred choice.

    I believe that one has to broaden the mind before narrowing the vision. I have read with interest some of the posts over the last few days, you strike me as receptive, enthusiastic and flexible.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited October 2005
    Tracey,

    You might be interested to know that Danzan Ravjaa, the "crazy yogi of the Gobi", who was a great Mongolia master of the first half of the 19th century, was of the opinion that women were better suited for practice and therefore better able to attain enlightenment more quickly than men are - a very radical view at the time in Mongolia, in fact, still a very radical view in Mongolia (and most other places)! I myself have a woman teacher and consider her to be a Living Buddha. So I think that the notion of women being incapable of attaining enlightenment is, as Brother Elohim pointed out, fictitious at best and malicious at worst.

    Palzang
  • edited February 2006
    Becoming a Buddhist isn't a conversion. It's an awakening to me, at least.
  • edited March 2006
    buddhafoot wrote:
    Just a question open for discussion. This has been brought up, in a round about manner, in other threads, but for new people, I thought I would define this as a point of discussion with the group.

    Why does one need to convert to Buddhism?

    -bf


    Our choices of spiritual Path are karmically determined. We don't determine these things with our egoic choices.

    So, when it's the real thing, your Path, Buddhist or otherwise, finds you. Seriously, the Masters come looking for you with a vengeance, and there's no way out for you any more.

    Of course, meanwhile, we can do a lot of stuff, putzing back and forth to every teacher and religion available, and it is all is perfectly meaningless.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited March 2006
    So... some of us are predestined to be on this Path while others are not?

    -bf
  • edited March 2006
    buddhafoot wrote:
    So... some of us are predestined to be on this Path while others are not?

    -bf

    Looks like a koan to me!

    I'm out of here, good buddy. Check you next week.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2006
    buddhafoot,

    Incase you are interested, the Buddha did not teach a doctrine of pubbekatavada (past kamma determinism). In fact, he refuted this very idea, along with three others, as really being a doctrine of inaction:
    Having approached the priests & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential (pubbekatavada), monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my first righteous refutation of those priests & contemplative who hold to such teachings, such views. - AN III.61

    While it is true that what we have done in the past has created the conditions for certain possibilities to ripen in the present, to hold the view that everything is determined by our past actions is not Right View.

    :)

    Jason
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited March 2006
    Jason,

    ;)

    -bf
  • 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 March 2006
    Elohim wrote:
    buddhafoot,

    Incase you are interested, the Buddha did not teach a doctrine of pubbekatavada (past kamma determinism). In fact, he refuted this very idea, along with three others, as really being a doctrine of inaction:



    While it is true that what we have done in the past has created the conditions for certain possibilities to ripen in the present, to hold the view that everything is determined by our past actions is not Right View.

    :)

    Jason

    Not sure I completely understand this....
    I have personally not met anyone who remembers a past life, so how can we know what has happened in the past for us to determine what is happening to us today...?
    The Buddha remembered his past lives... we don't have the priviledge, but what of the past then, DOES determine our present?
    Sorry to sound vague, Elohim... could you elaborate? I'm a bit unclear here.... as you can tell....!!
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2006
    Fede,

    To be honest, I am unsure what it is that you find unclear. Perhaps you could rephrase your question so that I can offer a more suitable answer. What I can offer in the mean time is that you don't need to remember your past lives to understand what I am trying to say. Past actions influence the present, but they don't determine everything to the point of being unable to affect any change. If this were the case, liberation would not be possible. We must keep this in mind, otheriwse we will misunderstand the Buddha's teachings and simply fall into Wrong View.

    People are inclined towards a particular choice, but they are not predestined to make it; events are inclined towards a particular outcome, but it is not predetermined to happen. The present is always open for the possibility of change. This is precisely where the doctrine of kamma comes in. It is only the present where our intentional actions are made. It is only in the present that we can follow the Buddha's guidance, or follow our own desires. What we have done in the past has opened up certain possibilites to us, but what we do now is entirely up to us.

    :)

    Jason
  • edited March 2006
    I do quite agree with Elohim, summarizing, while the present questions are written by the past answers, the future questions are written by the present answers.
  • 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 March 2006
    Elohim, you may not have understood the question, but your answer is very clear, and what I was looking for.

    Thanks.:grin: :thumbsup: :bigclap:

    (OK. That's enough with the smilies now....!!)
  • 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 March 2006
    I would therefore presume that nothing about Karma and re-birth is set in stone then... Our previous existence cannot determine what realm or 'body' we shall be re-born into, unless Enlightenment occurs...

    Would that also be right?
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2006
    Fede,

    Oh boy. I would have to say yes and no. Rebirth will usually depends on the type of kamma that the rebirth is conditioned upon. Some types of kamma produce immediate results, while others will take many, many lifetimes to ripen. Certain types of kamma can be overriden or made so that they will not ripen, while others cannot. The various kinds are garuka kamma (weighty kamma), asanna kamma (proximate kamma), acinna kamma (habitual kamma), and katatta kamma (reserve kamma). Garuka kamma (weighty kamma) produces its results in this life or in the next for certain. Garuka kamma can either be wholesome or unwholsome. The five unwholesome actions are creating a schism in the Sangha, wounding a Buddha, murdering an arahant, matricide (killing your mother), and parricide (killing your father). These acts are said to guarantee one a low rebirth in a hell realm. However, the length of time spent there may be affected by another type of kamma. It is a very difficult subject to get into, and I do not have the time to elaborate right now. Perhaps in a few days I can write more. However, somewhere in Bhikkhu Bodhi's lecture series The Buddha's Teaching As It Is he mentions kamma and rebirth in a little more detail.

    :)

    Jason
  • 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 March 2006
    Trust me - I had to ask, didn't I...?

    Thanks for your explanation... i'm now going to go away and ruminate, cogitate, meditate and probably come to the conclusion that the best way to go, is just to do the best I can with what I've got now,, and like the lilies of the field, not worry too much about it all.

    I certainly cannot see myself performing any one of the 5 unwholesome actions, so that at least, is a comfort....! ;)
  • 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 March 2006
    Things I wish, sometimes, I hadn't done....!!:rolleyes: :D

    of course, eager to know more, I found this site.....

    It details (a good way down the page, i might add) the different kinds of Kamma (or karma) Elohim mentions in his post.....

    I'm not sure how good it is...the little stars following the cursor everywhere are a bit irritating, but I think, if you can "see" past all the 'floweryness' of it, it's a good source of info....
    for one as simple-minded as I, it's still boggling tho'......!!
  • edited March 2006
    That's a great link Fede! :rockon:
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2006
    Fede,

    Here is a site that I found listing the different types of kamma. The list appears to be derived from the Abhidhamma Pitaka. It gives a brief explanation of the various forms of kamma, and I am sure that this will help to give you a brief overview of the complexity the workings of kamma can present.

    :)

    Jason
  • 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 March 2006
    Remind me again....









    Didn't somebody once say....










    Ignorance is Bliss....??
    maybe I should just stay ecstatic....!!:lol: :p :thumbsup:
  • edited March 2006
    If no one minds my jumping in on the original idea:

    I personally think that the the hardest part of learning about Buddhism...is simply to be accepted by Buddhists. I didn't go looking for a guru...I ran smack dab into him. The hardest part of trying to integrate this roller coaster of an experience is simply approaching other Buddhists in order to learn more. If it doesn't fit their framework...then the experience isn't valid.

    While there may not be an actual conversion, learning does require an assimilation of concepts, and that isn't easy when Buddhists cling to their territories.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2006
    harlan,

    I think I understand what you are saying, and it is definitely something that needs to be addressed. I personally dislike most organized groups for the above mentioned reasons. They often take what they want to take as their basis for practice, and one is expected to adhere to those ideas to the exclusion of all others. However, one should only do this in regards to what the Buddha himself taught. If an idea cannot be traced directly to the Buddha, then such an idea should be held in suspicion--or perhaps set aside altogether. Yes, the Buddha did say that we must not blindly follow him, that we need to put his methods into practice, but we must have a foundation secure in Right View to even begin a fruitful practice. Otherwise, our practice will not lead us anywhere skillful. I follow the teachings in the Pali Canon, however, I do not completely argree with all of the subsequent commentarial literature that came aftewards. I see problems with some of the information presented in them simply because I cannot trace their origins directly to the Buddha, either in the Suttas themselves or the Vinaya. Buddhism is not about being territorial, it is about seeing the true nature of existence--and that nature remains as it regardless of our views about it.

    :)

    Jason
  • edited March 2006
    Actually I have got a question...

    Why would I wish to be reborn in a higher realm, if being just a human will be the best rebrith I can ever get for my practice of the Dharma?
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2006
    Ajani,

    That's a very good question. I wonder about that myself.

    Brigid
  • 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 March 2006
    Ajani, this is something that puzzled me for a while, but you are born from realm to realm due to the different attachments or conditions you succumb to....ignorance, greed, pride, anger and jealousy. Therefore, to be born in the God realm, you have to have been influenced by one of these conditions, namely Pride. It's incorrect to think that the God realm is preferable, because the fall as it were, that you have to the other realm, hurts even more!

    Find out all about it, as I did, here......
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2006
    Fede,

    I don't know how to take the information in that link. I've read most of it before but I'm verging on panic after having read it. If anyone has any words of comfort for me, I'd like to hear them.

    Thanks.
    Brigid
  • XraymanXrayman Veteran
    edited March 2006
    Dear Brigid,

    As with all the usual, textual "evidence" posted on the Internet, here's my advice, go to the pantry, extract the Sodium Chloride-take one measured pinch and digest the information.

    kind regards,
    Xray
  • edited March 2006
    LOL!
  • 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 March 2006
    Brigid, in two words: Kalama Sutra.

    Chill....

    Nothing's worth panicking about.




    Except if the whole roast dinner is ready, and you find you've forgotten to make any gravy.



    Is this one any better.....?
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2006
    Yes, Fede, it is. Thank you.

    I know it may sound silly to people who have never experienced panic like mine but I was very serious. It came on like a tidal wave and I started to lose my bearings. I went to the page that Genryu gave us of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche talking about the Lion's Roar and how to work with our emotions and came down a bit after I read it over. And then I spent the rest of the time trying to reinforce the things in my head that keep it from coming back because it hangs around for a long time afterwards and it's easy to fall back into it while it's still hanging around. But I caught it quickly and reading the Rinpoche article put me, and kept me in a place where I could tentatively work on it while it was happening and although it wasn't a resounding success at least it was a good step.

    These realms and life after death are the only things that can bring on the panic. Nothing mundane is fearful to me. It's all about after death.

    So, according to the second link, Fede, these realms are just representations of human states of mind? Because that I can deal with. Probably better than some because my panic attacks are a hell world and I have a lot of experience in that one. And now that I have the Dharma I'm learning of ways to beat it by embracing it and using it for practice. But I'm still pretty new to dealing with it in this way so I'm still vulnerable.

    I'm hoping that these realms really are metaphorical. The description in the first link sounded almost ridiculous to me in it's typos and simplistic understanding. It was almost like reading a fairy tale or listening to a sermon about the horrors of hell. I didn't want anything that sounded that ludicrous to be real. The problem was that I've come across similar descriptions, though never as stark.

    So the realms of existence are representations of human states of mind. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If anyone wants to argue with me about this I'll knock them into the fighting realm so fast they won't know what hit them. Fair warning. You're dealing with a desperate woman here. LOL! :buck:

    Love,
    Brigid
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