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Some people take ideas like rebirth, karma, Pure Lands, etc. as literal truth. Others interpret them figuratively. How about YOU?
I take karma as cause and effect and so as a matter of fact. Even when we take into consideration things like intent I can't help but figure it's all the logistics of causation.
Rebirth and pure lands may be literal but serve as good illustrations for moral stories.
My stance is an agnostic one.
I’ve always assumed they were meant to be taken literally, which is why i’ve always found them problematic.
I’ve had different stances, but I tend towards the skeptic.
Karma - literal.
Six realms - figurative
Rebirth - literal. With a soupçon of figurative.
Karma - literal and mutable
10 Worlds - Literal when taken as condition of life, not fixed relms
(Hell, Hunger...Humanity..Bodhisattva, Buddha)
Figurative if viewed as states of being or relms in which one resides
"Rebirth" or "Reincarnation" - Literal (life continues but specific memory is impermanant)
I don't believe in reincarnation and I didn't in my past life either.
The rest of it, I don't know. I'll find out eventually. I'm sure there are arguments to be made on both sides of the equation.
... + "Insightful".....
So, I see rebirth and karma as largely the same thing. I believe in karma, so I believe in rebirth, but does that mean I believe everything the Buddha is supposed to have said about karma and rebirth?
There are so-called "early Buddhist texts" where the Buddha says that all dancers, musicians, and entertainers, are hell-bound assuredly, to a special hell for those to encourage frivolity. There are also so-called "early Buddhist texts" where the Buddha says you can become a God just by wishing for it hard enough. Do I believe this?
Similarly, some famous Mahāyāna texts (I am thinking of the Lotus Sūtra in particular) double down and focus on jugglers: jugglers are going to hell. Do I believe this? More troublingly, there are many Buddhist texts that say homosexuals and the effeminate are going to be reborn in hell. Do I believe this?
Do I believe musicians are destined to their own particular hell for having a good time? Not really. So, we all pick and choose what seems reasonable amidst the storm of things the Buddha "supposedly" said.
There are also many, many, Buddhists texts who say that being born in a woman's body is unfortunate karma on account of their menstrual bleeding, that they need to reborn as men to attain awakening. Do I believe this? Also no.
Would you be kind enough to cite sources for the above? I personally have honestly never seen this written anywhere... but that's not to say I'd be surprised...
I've heard reference to this in Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Nothing specific but just the odd comment. No mention of it having anything to do with menstrual bleeding though.
Sorry, doesn't help much haha!
I wouldn't say there are many, but they do exist. One example from the Pali Canon is MN 115:
On the Mahayana side, there's the five obstructions in the twelfth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which is similar to the above (although the Dragon King's daughter seemingly proves this to be bullshit by instantly becoming a Buddha, but she turns male first, so...), and the Japanese Ketsubon kyo.
Sadly, even Buddhist texts aren't free from sexism. But as Vimalajāti asks, do I believe them? No. There are many more that contradict these kinds of texts and highlight the abilities of women and their attainments, and I chalk these up to patriarchal and sexist biases towards women by insecure men and those seeking to maintain their positions of authority and power.
Certainly. Its going to take me a few, because I have to dig through some Abhidharma texts and Āryopāsakaśīlasūtra, etc., but I will say now that I misspoke in the above: there are "many, many texts" that say a woman's birth/body is impure, has latent defilement not present in the male, etc., and that Supreme Buddhas cannot be women, and there a few texts that take this to the level of menstruation taboos. I can have another post within the week following up on this.
Thank you @Vimalajāti by all means seek if you would like, but I am - and always have been - of the same opinion as @Jason :
This is why the Buddha's stance on the ordination of women, and his alleged comments regarding how the Dhamma will be curtailed by their inclusion, leave me to doubt that they are his words. And Enlightened being does no contradict him - or her - self.
The caveats are additions from later contributors, of this I am certain.
There are other texts where clearly, the Buddha not only allowed, but enjoyed the inclusion of female followers, as he did not discriminate.
Thus, he spoke of Subha:
I am fanatically unfanatical. Therefore believe Nothing and Everything ... and what is in between you and me ...
To put it another way, ridiculous, outdated fantasies/delusions the Buddhas are unfeminine etc belong in the Christmas Cracker form of dumber dharma.
There is Silence and it speaks to us. 🙊
"There are also many, many, Buddhists texts who say that being born in a woman's body is unfortunate karma on account of their menstrual bleeding, that they need to reborn as men to attain awakening. Do I believe this? Also no."
"Would you be kind enough to cite sources for the above? I personally have honestly never seen this written anywhere... but that's not to say I'd be surprised..."
There's also the 8th vow of the Medicine Buddha in the Medicine Buddha Sutra: "I vow that in a future life, when I have attained Supreme Enlightenment, those women who are extremely disgusted with the ‘hundred afflictions that befall women’ and wish to abandon their female form, will, upon hearing my name, all be reborn as men. They will be endowed with noble features and eventually realize Unsurpassed Supreme Enlightenment."
Yeah. That's bollocks, frankly. I am entirely, 100% convinced that was never said, by the Medicine Buddha or indeed, any other one.
That's so misogynistic as to defy any credence whatsoever.
I appreciate your finding a source, but it just confirms my suspicions.
I guess that proves that every Buddhist should choose for themselves what to believe and what not to. Luckily for us, no Buddhist is dumb enough to believe that they or other Buddhists are going to hell for what they believe or don't.
Well found @opiumpoetry ... this to me confirms the view that there is a lot of cultural and superstitious junk still to be found in any ancient scripture. It’s very difficult to guarantee the source of transmission, and monks in olden times seem to have just added things.
[quote above originally in responce to @opiumpoetry ]
When you wrote "by all means seek if you would like," I figured you were perhaps not as interested as I had originally read you as (the lack of tone is the eternal dilemma of internet communication, as we all know).
There is also the Bahudhātukasutta at Majjhimanikāya 115, the standard narrative: It’s impossible for a woman to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha. But it is possible for a man to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.
But instead of more of this, I would like to instead quote from the Accounts of the Elder Nuns, the Therīpadāna, in particular, one of my favourites, the Yasodharāpamukhāṭṭhārasabhikkhunīsahassāpadāna (try to say that five times fast!), or Eighteen Thousand Buddhist Nuns Headed Up by Yasodharā, a dialogue between the elder nuns and the Buddha presented as a hymn:
I don't think the Buddha would say to these women, "What more can I say to women who are going to nirvana? Pacifying conditioned flaws, you should attain the deathless state,” if it were impossible.
I actually have something I like more from a similar body of literature. I am rather partial to Venerable Muttātherī's list of five things she is thankful for after joining the order of nuns:
-Therīgāthā 1.11, Hymns of the Elder Nuns
'My mortar, my pestle, my husband.'
I collect Mortar and pestles....
Great posts, thank you, @Vimalajāti.
It reminds me of growing up learning about religion (mainly Catholicism and Judaism, which IMNSHO is the better of the two). You have the teachings and the halacha/laws. The teachings will ALWAYS be debated, twisted, re-interpreted to suit people's wants and desires to make them feel better about themselves. We see that in all paths everywhere - even here at times.
The "laws" of Buddhism - precepts, 4NT and 8foldNP I take literally. As do some others. It makes for "interesting" posts in relations to taking drugs VS 5th precept.
Laws eh? Morals eh?
Thank Buddha I am a heretic. I feel she would have approved. Probably just after starving herself bonkers as the Way to the Truth Fairy ...
I totally agree with a disciplined or literal adherence to a modus operandi as essential. It also means that for example not taking intoxicants, means not being drugged by our habitual responses ...
And if that is too hard, we can always use right speech to at least talk the walk ...
Something else occurred to me, while re-reading that hymn above:
Remember that odd little Bahudhātukasutta?
@Jason , my own lack of mindfulness prevented me from seeing that you had already cited it as an example for the sake of the @federica 's inquiry before I wrote my own post a little bit above this. But notice the small section that I've rendered in bold in the above quotation, a section shortly after It’s impossible for a woman to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha. But it is possible for a man to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.
Compare the bolded section in the quote from Jason with this section of the gāthā/hymn from Therīpadāna:
Indeed. How about me or You?
We iz Buddha Nature? Literally and figuratively! See next ‘funny’ post ...
“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency,” Thunberg said while barely holding back tears. “But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that, because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”
Bodhi Greta Thunberg
It's funny @lobster I was going to post the same quote after reading it this morning..
Great minds don't think alike
Life is - beyond that.....
There’s a related question I’ve been thinking about: When we dedicate merit to someone at the end of sitting practice, or we offer them our loving-kindness during metta practice, do we believe anything happens for them?
I’ve heard some teachers describe it as a way of consciously aligning ourselves with our ideals. This sounds very worthwhile and doesn’t require a supernatural explanation, but it also has no direct results for the intended recipient. It could, and I believe does, have the indirect result that we are nicer to them. But do we believe positive karma accrues to them? Ajahn Achalo, whose talks I’ve been listening to recently, believes it does, but more mainstream teachers tend to avoid saying so, I suppose because they worry it will be alienating.
What’s your take?
I think this ^^ hits the nail on the head...
Before and after meditation I say..
May all beings be happy
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be well
May all beings be liberated
I guess it reminds me to look for ways of fulfilling these desires/aspirations as I go about daily life, interacting with other sentient beings...Minding my Ps & Qs so to speak
@Shoshin, thanks for your answer; this is mostly the way I approach it too. But personally, I do leave space for the literal understanding. It doesn't feel definitely true, but the Buddha was uniquely right about the world in so many ways, it seems likely he'd be right about this too.
I gave my take to the Buddha or was it ye lucifer?
I wish I could give more. I regularly give my defilements to the hell realm dwellers (yep it is the kind thing to do).
The Buddha accepts Nothing.
In a sense prayer is karma yoga as an abstraction. Action is better.
What action can we really give? We can care for the mental well being of our cyber family and our actual friends and family if available. We can care for our planet, our unrulers, our sangha and teachers if available.
Mostly we can pray for me because I need it more than most.
Heaven and Hell help lobster. An absolute disaster. Eh ma ho!
Puir wee @lobster... I don’t usually pray but for you I make an exception. I’m not usually into devotional practice you see, which is why Buddhism and meditation suits me well. So I am far from certain how efficacious any prayer of mine is going to be, but what the hell.
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
Thoughts and prayers for everyone on this auspicious and early morning!
Metta practice seems to me to be a kind of counter-programming to the easy habits of dislike and annoyance, especially when wishing metta to people with whom we hold grudges. Do they benefit? Who knows. But our mind does—and how we move into the day (or night) after metta well-wishing may make us easier to take.
There are ignorant arguments and experiential gnosis. In other words actual knowledge and wisdom are superior to fantastical claims.
I read it in the Bible/sutras/tantras/facebook. One set of nonsense replaced by another more believable nonsense is not to our benefit. 😳
When we practice metta, it is helpful. 😍 It is a worthy attitude and approach. 🤩 The greater our capacity and intent to good, the more we resonate with transforming thought and integrity. The will to good ... We are reborn in the purelands with a new karmic footprint. Obvious really ... 👐🏼
Having thought about it a little more, there is some truth in a figurative approach. It can help you to try and examine a normal life and find in it the figurative part of rebirth, karma and so on.
But on the other hand, there are sutras where the Buddha says very plainly that it is wrong view to not believe in these things as truth, and to try and dodge that by introducing a literal versus figurative argument seems a little unnecessarily complicating.
One way we seek security is to label things, and this includes our beliefs. The path of Buddhism is supposed to take us away from seeking security .. instead into being fully IN the moment and relaxing into it and accepting it.
I have no idea if rebirth happens. I prefer to think it does but since I do not remember being born, let alone living before, I have no knowledge. And a belief is merely a preference ... another form of attachment that binds us in ignorance.
I hold all things as "possible", some things as "probable", but the only things I KNOW are those which I have experienced and which do not have more than one possible explanation.
That is a good or right attitude, right view if you will. 👍🏻🙏🏽✅
In Tantra just as in getting emotional ease/fulfilment from a book/play/movie we can have wholistic/healing/motivational experiences from mind creations. Using our very tendencies/attachments as managed fantasies.
... think I am getting the hang of this Buddhism 😉💗🥰
Indeed, taking things too seriously leads to greyness in mind, you will become like those bankers in Michael Ende’s beautiful story Momo and the Time-savers.
both can coexist,literal and figerative.middle view,its an art,in subject of inquary.both can be true