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Author Topic: The Many Forms of Buddhism  (Read 6976 times) Average Rating: 0
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Marc1152
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« Reply #45 on: September 08, 2010, 09:24:07 AM »

Very interesting! Thanks for the insightful responses.
Where does "Dhamma the Eternal Law" come from?
The problem would be that, if the law does not come from a personal being, there is no reason one ought to follow it - in other words, there is no such thing as moral obligation.
One Theravada teacher translated the Bible into Thai; when the Bible had "God", he wrote "Dhamma". So, in many ways, Dhamma is analogous to God, especially in the sense that both Dhamma and God are eternal, and asking where Dhamma comes from is like asking where God comes from. Likewise, if you follow Dhamma, you find your life becoming richer. The ability to be moral is simply the ability to do what creates a richer life for yourself as well as for others. (And 'richer life' does not necessarily mean 'easier life'.)

Quote
I mean, we HAVE to follow gravity, but theres no reason, or telos, one would choose to be moral or not without a moral law giver.
I find that being moral creates a richer life for me and those around me, so that's reason enough to be moral. I'm pretty sure that when God tells the Jews to follow the 10 commandments, He is telling them to do something that has real, positive benefits in their lives on earth.

Becoming Buddhist means adopting the moral responsibility of doing good, renouncing evil, and purifying the mind. That's a pretty heavy, challenging, and rewarding obligation.

Quote
Also, the ground of all existence is what then? If its no-thing, then it's not a personal God.
According to some Orthodox Fathers, God is in fact "no thing".



Just like Christianity, there are many differing forms of Buddhism. Many sects that follow the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo)  as their primary scripture do believe in a  Supreme Being, The Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. They say that in the second half of the Sutra ( "Honmon") the Buddha reveals his Eternal Nature, saying that his enlightenment under the Bohdai Tree and his passing away are merely an expedient means of teaching. In Truth, his enlightenment/existence has no beginning and no end. His Dharma, or essential teaching ( His "Word" in Christian parlance) is of course then Eternal as well  the "Buddha-Dharma".

Chapter 16, verse:

From the time I attained Buddhahood,
The eons that have passed
Are limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads
Of kotis of asamkhyeyas in number.
I always speak the Dharma to teach and transform
Countless millions of living beings,
So they enter the Buddha Way.
And throughout these limitless eons,
In order to save living beings,
I expediently manifest Nirvana.
But in truth I do not pass into quiescence.
I remain here, always speaking the Dharma.
I always stay right here,
And using the power of spiritual penetrations,
I cause inverted living beings,
Although near me, not to see me.
The multitudes see me as passing into quiescence.
They extensively make offerings to my sharira.
All cherish ardent longing for me,
And their hearts look up to me in thirst.
Living beings, then faithful and subdued,
Straightforward, with compliant minds,
Single-mindedly wish to see the Buddha,
Caring not for their very lives.
At that time I and the Sangha assembly
All appear together on Vulture Peak,
Where I say to living beings
That I am always here and never cease to be.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 09:26:05 AM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: September 08, 2010, 09:34:37 AM »

Very interesting! Thanks for the insightful responses.
Where does "Dhamma the Eternal Law" come from?
The problem would be that, if the law does not come from a personal being, there is no reason one ought to follow it - in other words, there is no such thing as moral obligation.
One Theravada teacher translated the Bible into Thai; when the Bible had "God", he wrote "Dhamma". So, in many ways, Dhamma is analogous to God, especially in the sense that both Dhamma and God are eternal, and asking where Dhamma comes from is like asking where God comes from. Likewise, if you follow Dhamma, you find your life becoming richer. The ability to be moral is simply the ability to do what creates a richer life for yourself as well as for others. (And 'richer life' does not necessarily mean 'easier life'.)

Quote
I mean, we HAVE to follow gravity, but theres no reason, or telos, one would choose to be moral or not without a moral law giver.
I find that being moral creates a richer life for me and those around me, so that's reason enough to be moral. I'm pretty sure that when God tells the Jews to follow the 10 commandments, He is telling them to do something that has real, positive benefits in their lives on earth.

Becoming Buddhist means adopting the moral responsibility of doing good, renouncing evil, and purifying the mind. That's a pretty heavy, challenging, and rewarding obligation.

Quote
Also, the ground of all existence is what then? If its no-thing, then it's not a personal God.
According to some Orthodox Fathers, God is in fact "no thing".



This is what I originally thought , that Buddhism has no foundation of morals.
If your definition of moral is whatever makes life "richer" for you, than that is not objective but differs person to person.
The richest life (to push things to a somewhat silly extreme)  for a Nazi is to live in a world without Jewish peoples, since their existence is a bane to his life, and, according to Buddhism, the Nazi has no moral obligation to care about others; no reason to want a richer life for others.

Even if these moral rules are objective - and without revelation how in the world do you know that! - there's no obligation to follow them.

And whatever else God is or isn't, one can have a personal relationship with Him. Are you saying Dhamma IS God? Or that God did not create Dhamma? In which case God is not the Christian God, Who created all.
  
But as I say, there are no room for moral agents in Buddhism, plus one has no moral obligation to follow a path to a 'richer life.'

In Mahayana Buddhism ( which has been the most practiced form of Buddhism for long time) the Nature of Practice is indeed based on what is called The Bodhisattva Way, which is a type of Golden Rule philosophy, living for others. The Bodhisattva pledges not to enter heaven ( Nirvana) until all Sentient Beings are saved before him.
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« Reply #47 on: September 08, 2010, 12:50:03 PM »

This is what I originally thought , that Buddhism has no foundation of morals.
If your definition of moral is whatever makes life "richer" for you, than that is not objective but differs person to person.
In Buddhism, what makes life richer for me is what also makes life richer for you. For instance, the Five Precepts outline the practical actions that make for a richer life, and these actions are based upon an eternally existing, objective moral order.

Quote
Even if these moral rules are objective - and without revelation how in the world do you know that! - there's no obligation to follow them.
In Buddhism, the Buddha is the realizer and the embodiment of the revelation. One does have an obligation to follow the objective moral order -- that is, if one wants a richer life. Of course, not everyone wants that, and so not everyone follows Dhamma.

Quote
And whatever else God is or isn't, one can have a personal relationship with Him. Are you saying Dhamma IS God? Or that God did not create Dhamma? In which case God is not the Christian God, Who created all.
The Buddha is the embodiment of Dhamma on earth: "If one has seen me, one has seen the Dhamma", said the Buddha. And the Buddha's disciples had a personal relationship with him, and that personal relationship continues today in anyone who follows Dhamma.
  
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« Reply #48 on: September 08, 2010, 01:26:41 PM »

This is what I originally thought , that Buddhism has no foundation of morals.
If your definition of moral is whatever makes life "richer" for you, than that is not objective but differs person to person.
In Buddhism, what makes life richer for me is what also makes life richer for you. For instance, the Five Precepts outline the practical actions that make for a richer life, and these actions are based upon an eternally existing, objective moral order.

Quote
Even if these moral rules are objective - and without revelation how in the world do you know that! - there's no obligation to follow them.
In Buddhism, the Buddha is the realizer and the embodiment of the revelation. One does have an obligation to follow the objective moral order -- that is, if one wants a richer life. Of course, not everyone wants that, and so not everyone follows Dhamma.

Quote
And whatever else God is or isn't, one can have a personal relationship with Him. Are you saying Dhamma IS God? Or that God did not create Dhamma? In which case God is not the Christian God, Who created all.
The Buddha is the embodiment of Dhamma on earth: "If one has seen me, one has seen the Dhamma", said the Buddha. And the Buddha's disciples had a personal relationship with him, and that personal relationship continues today in anyone who follows Dhamma.
  


For a moral obligation to exist one must be obligated TO someone, your talking about a personal preference - some people like chocolate some like vanilla - some like killing people some like saving people, some people like a 'richer' life some don't.
A Nazi's version of a richer life actually might differ from what you or the Buddha consider 'richer' - (freer or less suffering; which is also contrary to what Christians are told to desire ie to know God, freedom comes through submission etc)

Obviously to have a personal relationship with someone they have to be in some sense a person and existing - are you saying Buddha is still around? Objective moral laws are not people, you can't have a personal relationship with them.
I was always told the Dhamma was not a person or being but just the way things are - impersonal.

Also, if Buddha realized the Dhamma, it was not a revelation, it was not revealed to him by some other person/god/being.
So I guess unless one realized this objective moral order one must just take Buddha's word on it, and even then there's no reason to follow it, especially if it conflicts with ones personal preferences.

Finally, as endless evolutionary biologist's have pointed out, unless the universe was created specifically with humans in mind, it is utterly impossible to explain the existence of objective morals - I mean, if objective, what use would they have before people were around!
Only a moral law giver could make sense out of objective morals.
 as Richard Taylor explains,

"A duty is something that is owed . . . . But something can be owed only to some person or persons.  There can be no such thing as duty in isolation . . . . . "

Really all ethics begin with the proposition that people are objectively and intrinsically valuable, but unless we are made in the image of God - why think that?

So, with Buddhism there are no moral duties or moral accountability, for to whom are you accountable to?
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« Reply #49 on: September 08, 2010, 02:44:40 PM »

For a moral obligation to exist one must be obligated TO someone, your talking about a personal preference - some people like chocolate some like vanilla - some like killing people some like saving people, some people like a 'richer' life some don't.
The moral obligation is to the Buddha, and to the Sangha (the community of practitioners and realizers).
Quote
A Nazi's version of a richer life actually might differ from what you or the Buddha consider 'richer' - (freer or less suffering; which is also contrary to what Christians are told to desire ie to know God, freedom comes through submission etc)
From a Buddhist perspective, the Nazi would be mistaken, and sorely deluded. There is a distinct path that constitutes the richer life, and many people mistakenly think that they are headed towards that richer life. 

Quote
Obviously to have a personal relationship with someone they have to be in some sense a person and existing - are you saying Buddha is still around? Objective moral laws are not people, you can't have a personal relationship with them.
I was always told the Dhamma was not a person or being but just the way things are - impersonal.
Yes, the Buddha is still present. The Dhamma is not a person, but neither does the Dhamma exclude the person.

Quote
Also, if Buddha realized the Dhamma, it was not a revelation, it was not revealed to him by some other person/god/being.
The Buddha is a revelation to the disciples of the Buddha. The Buddha himself reveals the path of Dhamma. The Dhamma revealed itself to the Buddha. All these statements are true.
Quote
So I guess unless one realized this objective moral order one must just take Buddha's word on it, and even then there's no reason to follow it, especially if it conflicts with ones personal preferences.
The Buddha often stated that the effects of following the Dhamma are visible "here and now". Yes, faith, or trust (Pali: saddha) in the teachings of the Buddha is often necessary in the beginning stages, but as one practices, one finds out the truth of the Buddha's statements more and more. However, even from the very beginning, one can gain personal experience and verification of the truth of the Dhamma. But, yes, for most Buddhists, the Buddhist path begins with faith and, I would add, a sense of adventure.

Quote
Finally, as endless evolutionary biologist's have pointed out, unless the universe was created specifically with humans in mind, it is utterly impossible to explain the existence of objective morals - I mean, if objective, what use would they have before people were around!
Only a moral law giver could make sense out of objective morals.
Since we are humans, with a body and a mind, we often think in terms of nature as being the product of someone with a body and a mind (well, at least with a mind, or spirit). Theravada Buddhism doesn't use the idea of "person" to describe the source of objective moral law, because such an idea does not necessarily follow from the existence of an objective moral law. However, insofar as the Buddha himself revealed the Dhamma, then one can say that, for all practical purposes, the Buddha is the "law giver" since he revealed something that was not discoverable by the average person.
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« Reply #50 on: September 08, 2010, 03:59:01 PM »

For a moral obligation to exist one must be obligated TO someone, your talking about a personal preference - some people like chocolate some like vanilla - some like killing people some like saving people, some people like a 'richer' life some don't.
The moral obligation is to the Buddha, and to the Sangha (the community of practitioners and realizers).
Quote
A Nazi's version of a richer life actually might differ from what you or the Buddha consider 'richer' - (freer or less suffering; which is also contrary to what Christians are told to desire ie to know God, freedom comes through submission etc)
From a Buddhist perspective, the Nazi would be mistaken, and sorely deluded. There is a distinct path that constitutes the richer life, and many people mistakenly think that they are headed towards that richer life. 

Quote
Obviously to have a personal relationship with someone they have to be in some sense a person and existing - are you saying Buddha is still around? Objective moral laws are not people, you can't have a personal relationship with them.
I was always told the Dhamma was not a person or being but just the way things are - impersonal.
Yes, the Buddha is still present. The Dhamma is not a person, but neither does the Dhamma exclude the person.

Quote
Also, if Buddha realized the Dhamma, it was not a revelation, it was not revealed to him by some other person/god/being.
The Buddha is a revelation to the disciples of the Buddha. The Buddha himself reveals the path of Dhamma. The Dhamma revealed itself to the Buddha. All these statements are true.
Quote
So I guess unless one realized this objective moral order one must just take Buddha's word on it, and even then there's no reason to follow it, especially if it conflicts with ones personal preferences.
The Buddha often stated that the effects of following the Dhamma are visible "here and now". Yes, faith, or trust (Pali: saddha) in the teachings of the Buddha is often necessary in the beginning stages, but as one practices, one finds out the truth of the Buddha's statements more and more. However, even from the very beginning, one can gain personal experience and verification of the truth of the Dhamma. But, yes, for most Buddhists, the Buddhist path begins with faith and, I would add, a sense of adventure.

Quote
Finally, as endless evolutionary biologist's have pointed out, unless the universe was created specifically with humans in mind, it is utterly impossible to explain the existence of objective morals - I mean, if objective, what use would they have before people were around!
Only a moral law giver could make sense out of objective morals.
Since we are humans, with a body and a mind, we often think in terms of nature as being the product of someone with a body and a mind (well, at least with a mind, or spirit). Theravada Buddhism doesn't use the idea of "person" to describe the source of objective moral law, because such an idea does not necessarily follow from the existence of an objective moral law. However, insofar as the Buddha himself revealed the Dhamma, then one can say that, for all practical purposes, the Buddha is the "law giver" since he revealed something that was not discoverable by the average person.

So the Buddha is a living transcendent being? And we have a moral duty to follow these laws he discovered?
If he merely discovers the law I see no reason to be obligated to him.
Also why would I be obligated to the community of practitioners - I don't even know any!
Does he or they hold me morally accountable?

Before you said one only follows the Buddha IF he wants  to live a richer life (and only the Buddha gets to decide what a richer life consists in) now you say we have a duty, weather we want a richer life or not, to follow the Buddha?

So your saying something is 'wrong' only if it does not lead to a richer life? And that is why Nazi's are 'wrong' not because it is objectively evil.

As I keep saying, if the Buddha did not create the Dhamma, then he is not the moral law giver, but the moral law 'discoverer' and there is no such thing as a moral obligation to an impersonal law.

I mean, it is not EVIL to say 2+2 = 5, it is simply wrong. According to Buddhism the Nazi's are not EVIL for slaughtering people, they are simply wrong in the sense that they don't see thing cleerly.

But as you say, IF they don't want a "richer life" (whatever that means) then they have no reason to stop - Nazi's would rather have a jew-free planet than a richer life I imagine.

An objective moral law need not come from a person/being, but as I say, a duty to follow that law DOES necessitate a person  -
 Why is it that we ought to do certain things and ought not to do other things?  Where does this ‘ought’ come from?  as Richard Taylor explains,

"A duty is something that is owed . . . . But something can be owed only to some person or persons.  There can be no such thing as duty in isolation . . . . The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough . . . . Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, and referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawmaker higher . . . . than those of the state is understood.  In other words, our moral obligations can . . . be understood as those that are imposed by God.  This does give a clear sense to the claim that our moral obligations are more binding upon us than our political obligations . . . . But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account?  Does the concept of a moral obligation . . . still make sense? . . . . the concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart form the idea of God.  The words remain, but their meaning is gone."

 The best answer to the question as to the source of moral obligation is that moral rightness or wrongness consists in agreement or disagreement with the will or commands of a holy, loving God.
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« Reply #51 on: September 08, 2010, 04:17:15 PM »

So the Buddha is a living transcendent being?
"If you have seen the Dhamma, then you have seen me". Theravada leaves it at that.
Quote
And we have a moral duty to follow these laws he discovered?
"We" who? If you're Buddhist, then, yes, that is your duty.

Quote
I mean, it is not EVIL to say 2+2 = 5, it is simply wrong. According to Buddhism the Nazi's are not EVIL for slaughtering people, they are simply wrong in the sense that they don't see thing cleerly.
The Theravada term for "evil" is "akusala". The Nazis practiced actions that were akusala, "evil".

Quote
The best answer to the question as to the source of moral obligation is that moral rightness or wrongness consists in agreement or disagreement with the will or commands of a holy, loving God.
The qualities of "holy" and "loving" that in Christianity are attributed to "God", are in Buddhism attributed to the Triple Gem: the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. Dhamma is, to use a Western philosophical term, "transcendent (ultimately beyond all language)"; the Buddha and the Sangha would be "personal" and describable (in many ways) in terms of language.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 04:18:34 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #52 on: September 10, 2010, 09:54:17 PM »

So the Buddha is a living transcendent being?
"If you have seen the Dhamma, then you have seen me". Theravada leaves it at that.
Quote
And we have a moral duty to follow these laws he discovered?
"We" who? If you're Buddhist, then, yes, that is your duty.

Quote
I mean, it is not EVIL to say 2+2 = 5, it is simply wrong. According to Buddhism the Nazi's are not EVIL for slaughtering people, they are simply wrong in the sense that they don't see thing cleerly.
The Theravada term for "evil" is "akusala". The Nazis practiced actions that were akusala, "evil".

Quote
The best answer to the question as to the source of moral obligation is that moral rightness or wrongness consists in agreement or disagreement with the will or commands of a holy, loving God.
The qualities of "holy" and "loving" that in Christianity are attributed to "God", are in Buddhism attributed to the Triple Gem: the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. Dhamma is, to use a Western philosophical term, "transcendent (ultimately beyond all language)"; the Buddha and the Sangha would be "personal" and describable (in many ways) in terms of language.

Thanks for clearing that up!
So the Buddha and Sangha are literally, not metaphorically, living and in some way personal, and places moral obligations on people, but morality only becomes binding when and if you believe in them - is this more or less correct?

The only thing though is that you say one only has moral duties to the Buddha IF one is a Buddhist, so the Nazi's - the non-buddhist ones - did evil, but, morality is wholly non-binding for them.
 Even with objective moral values, they are irrelevant because there is no moral accountability (for non-buddhists), although they obviously do have consequences.

Plus I still don't see how Buddhism offers reason to consider Human beings intrinsically valuable

If moral duties are conditional on a persons beliefs than they -the DUTIES -are NOT objective.

Objective duties would apply, just like the objective law of gravity, to all people's, regardless of their religious orientation - so again, Buddhism may have 'objective morals' but there is no such thing as a duty to follow them, its up the person.

So you could say the Nazi did evil things, but you couldn't say they "OUGHT" to have done different, since they have no moral obligation. 

A Christian could say the Nazi's did evil AND they would be morally justified to stop the Nazi's, since the Nazi's OUGHT not be doing such things, since it goes against God's personal command, even if the Nazi's do not believe in such commands. etc

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« Reply #53 on: September 10, 2010, 10:25:25 PM »

Thanks for clearing that up!
So the Buddha and Sangha are literally, not metaphorically, living and in some way personal, and places moral obligations on people, but morality only becomes binding when and if you believe in them - is this more or less correct?
The moral laws are always in effect, or "binding", whether you are Buddhist or not.

Quote
The only thing though is that you say one only has moral duties to the Buddha IF one is a Buddhist, so the Nazi's - the non-buddhist ones - did evil, but, morality is wholly non-binding for them.
The Nazis will experience the effects of their actions, based upon whether their actions are consistent or inconsistent with the eternal Dhamma. So, in that sense, morality is "binding" for Nazis.

Quote
Plus I still don't see how Buddhism offers reason to consider Human beings intrinsically valuable.
Not considering humans as intrinsically valuable means that you would violate basic laws of Dhamma, including, for instance, the law regarding violence or harm.

It's a common Buddhist understanding that being born as a human is the most precious type of birth, because only as a human, may one realize Nibbana. So, humans are definitely intrinsically valuable.

Quote
So you could say the Nazi did evil things, but you couldn't say they "OUGHT" to have done different, since they have no moral obligation.
Well, usually people define something as "evil", with the understanding that people "ought" not to do it. Wink

Quote
A Christian could say the Nazi's did evil AND they would be morally justified to stop the Nazi's, since the Nazi's OUGHT not be doing such things, since it goes against God's personal command, even if the Nazi's do not believe in such commands. etc
You're speaking about maintaining social stability, by means of defensive war and criminal punishment. Such things are not incompatible with Dhamma. Indeed, the Buddha often advised kings and government officials who had to deal with the criminals, wrong-doers, and aggressive invading armies. The Buddha, for instance, supported wars of self-defense, but he was also careful not to imply that war should be glorified.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2010, 10:27:23 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: September 10, 2010, 11:21:25 PM »

Quote
The moral laws are always in effect, or "binding", whether you are Buddhist or not.

Before I asked if one has a moral duty to follow the laws, you said only if one is a buddhist.

In Zen, which I used to do, there are really no morals, moral laws are akin to impersonal natural laws - the difference being you have no choice weather you obey gravity or not, but you do have a choice with morality.

In Zen there is no "OUGHT" - because that would require a moral obligation. Rather it is like math - IF you hurt someone X Y & Z will happen - such as you will yourself end up suffering more and be less free.
But there is no moral obligation NOT to kill - in Zen Buddha was just a man, there is no obligation to him. 

Quote
The Nazis will experience the effects of their actions, based upon whether their actions are consistent or inconsistent with the eternal Dhamma. So, in that sense, morality is "binding" for Nazis.

But they have no duty to follow the Dhamma if they do not believe in Buddha, so as long as they are willing to live with the consequences it is morally neutral whether they obey or not.

Many Nazi's reported they were damming themselves for some of the things they did - but they did it for a greater cause - Hitlers germany.

Quote
Not considering humans as intrinsically valuable means that you would violate basic laws of Dhamma, including, for instance, the law regarding violence or harm.

I thought you said if you are not a Buddhist you have no duty to uphold the Dhamma,so a non-Buddhist could violate the Dhamma if they didn't care about the natural consequences - they are not obligated to follow it.

Quote
It's a common Buddhist understanding that being born as a human is the most precious type of birth, because only as a human, may one realize Nibbana. So, humans are definitely intrinsically valuable.

Why does that make a living thing intrinsically valuable? In philosophy that is usually called speciism - some other may say the ability to have large muscles is what makes a thing intrinsically valuable, or being able to run fast etc

Quote
Well, usually people define something as "evil", with the understanding that people "ought" not to do it. Wink

Thats part of my point, since Buddhism has no 'ought' nothing is really evil or good. Saying evil is 'that which obstructs people living richly as defined by Buddha' is a completely arbitrary notion of evil.

However! Many Nazi's considered murdering children evil - they accepted it was really objectively evil - but they said they did it for a greater 'good' which they defined as a humanity without Jewish peoples.

Quote
You're speaking about maintaining social stability, by means of defensive war and criminal punishment. Such things are not incompatible with Dhamma. Indeed, the Buddha often advised kings and government officials who had to deal with the criminals, wrong-doers, and aggressive invading armies. The Buddha, for instance, supported wars of self-defense, but he was also careful not to imply that war should be glorified.


Oh no, picture a man about to smash a child in the head. What would you say? "Hey, 'you' are going to feel consequences that will make you live a less rich life!"

But if he is not Buddhist he has no obligation to Budddha to stop, and it would be unintelligible if you would stop him. On what grounds? Does he owe you a duty?

One of the reasons I left Zen was because it lacked this very telos.
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« Reply #55 on: September 11, 2010, 05:32:44 PM »

Before I asked if one has a moral duty to follow the laws, you said only if one is a buddhist.

In Zen, which I used to do, there are really no morals, moral laws are akin to impersonal natural laws - the difference being you have no choice weather you obey gravity or not, but you do have a choice with morality.

In Zen there is no "OUGHT" - because that would require a moral obligation. Rather it is like math - IF you hurt someone X Y & Z will happen - such as you will yourself end up suffering more and be less free.
But there is no moral obligation NOT to kill - in Zen Buddha was just a man, there is no obligation to him.
Well, being "just a man" in Buddhism is to have a greater potential than the greatest Deity. This is one example of how Buddhist and Christian language often say different things, but with similar words, leading to misunderstanding.

Theravada monks have an obligation to follow the Patimokkha Rules, violation of which may lead to expulsion from the monastic order. That seems like obligation to me. In addition, lay people are given responsibilities and obligations as well. Yes, the Buddha was a "man", but he was also more than a man -- and it's that "more" that is the reason for someone voluntarily undertaking the obligations of following the Dhamma.

Buddhism in the West often stresses the "impersonal" aspects of Buddhism, thus Western Buddhism is often attractive to Westerners seeking to escape the "theistic" aspects of their Christian or Jewish heritage. The "impersonal" aspect is certainly there, but it has been over-emphasized, and the devotional, "personal", and -- dare I even say it? -- "theistic" aspects of Buddhism (even Theravada Buddhism) have been neglected in the West.

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But [the Nazis] have no duty to follow the Dhamma if they do not believe in Buddha, so as long as they are willing to live with the consequences it is morally neutral whether they obey or not.
Actually, it is morally harmful if the Nazis decide to not follow the Dhamma. That is, not following the Dhamma will harm the Nazi's moral and spiritual state.

Quote
I thought you said if you are not a Buddhist you have no duty to uphold the Dhamma,so a non-Buddhist could violate the Dhamma if they didn't care about the natural consequences - they are not obligated to follow it.
If you are not a Buddhist, then you have no duty to follow the Dhamma as understood by Buddhists. That does not mean that you will not suffer the negative moral consequences of not following the Dhamma. For instance, if you are Christian, then you have a duty to follow the Dhamma (or "Truth") as understood by Christians, but that doesn't mean that if you  are not Christian, you can escape the negative effects of not following the Dhamma.

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Why does that make a living thing intrinsically valuable?
Each living thing, including yourself, is capable of happiness and wants happiness, so increasing the happiness of living beings leads to one's own happiness. This is one of the eternal laws of Dhamma.

As far as human life being especially precious, that is due to the unique ability of humans to realize Nibbana, the "highest Happiness".

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Thats part of my point, since Buddhism has no 'ought' nothing is really evil or good. Saying evil is 'that which obstructs people living richly as defined by Buddha' is a completely arbitrary notion of evil.
It's not arbitrary for someone who has taken Refuge in the Buddha. In that case, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha provide the visible proof of the efficacy of the Path. Commitment to the Dhamma is, by definition, a commitment to the "oughts" that lead to greater understanding and devotion to the Dhamma.

Quote
Oh no, picture a man about to smash a child in the head. What would you say? "Hey, 'you' are going to feel consequences that will make you live a less rich life!"

One of the reasons I left Zen was because it lacked this very telos.
Another over-emphasis in Western Buddhism is the monastic emphasis. Western Buddhists often think that they are capable of really being radical renunciating monastics, whereas oftentimes that is not the case at all. That's why in Japan, the samurai balanced their militant/aggressive/protective side with the practice of Zen.

But, in the West, Western Buddhism has a decidedly "liberal" slant, which tends to be wary of the masculine/aggressive aspect of life. That's an imbalance that should be corrected, if Buddhism is to flourish in the West.
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« Reply #56 on: September 11, 2010, 07:05:39 PM »

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Theravada monks have an obligation to follow the Patimokkha Rules, violation of which may lead to expulsion from the monastic order. That seems like obligation to me. In addition, lay people are given responsibilities and obligations as well. Yes, the Buddha was a "man", but he was also more than a man -- and it's that "more" that is the reason for someone voluntarily undertaking the obligations of following the Dhamma.

Yes, you keep repeating that. I absolutely understand that if a person chooses to follow rules that he has an obligation to do so, which he can then choose not to. This really stretches the definition of 'obligation' since it is self-imposed and not objective, as in Christianity, but Ok.
But since it is conditional upon weather you are a Buddhist or not, The DUTY is not objective. As I keep saying, unless I'm mistaken, a non-buddhist has no obligation to restrain himself from killing or raping etc
Also, a Buddhist wouldn't try to put a stop to it, as long as it is a non-buddhist doing the raping, a buddhist has no ground to object.
He could only point out it will lead to suffering. 

Quote
Actually, it is morally harmful if the Nazis decide to not follow the Dhamma. That is, not following the Dhamma will harm the Nazi's moral and spiritual state.

Yes, I said that if you look back. I actually even pointed out the Nazi's realized they were damning themselves in certain cases, but were willing to do so for their stated ends.
Again, they have no obligation or duty to stop - so a Buddhist has no argument of why they OUGHT not to commit genocide etc

Quote
If you are not a Buddhist, then you have no duty to follow the Dhamma as understood by Buddhists. That does not mean that you will not suffer the negative moral consequences of not following the Dhamma. For instance, if you are Christian, then you have a duty to follow the Dhamma (or "Truth") as understood by Christians, but that doesn't mean that if you  are not Christian, you can escape the negative effects of not following the Dhamma.

Actually, in Christianity there are no negative effects, God is conceived not in some mechanical fashion, like Karma is perceived. There is no cause and effect - God is free in that specific sense, He can forgive a Nazi completely and the Nazi would not suffer the 'effects' - which is a difference of Christianity.
Plus there is the matter of Grace.

However, even if a person is NOT a Christian, from the Christian viewpoint, that person is still responsible because we believe God has writ the moral law on every persons heart, that he may know right and wrong.
Because of that, every person is born knowing the moral law and has a duty to follow it
I'm not sure how a non-buddhist, from yr view, would even know what right and wrong is, unless they are as intelligent as the Buddha.

So Christians would stop a rape or murder since it violates the law and we have a personal duty to God.
 
Quote
Each living thing, including yourself, is capable of happiness and wants happiness, so increasing the happiness of living beings leads to one's own happiness. This is one of the eternal laws of Dhamma.

I do believe that! Although, with Kierkagaard, I am really not interested in happiness or peace for myself, it seems a rather selfish petty thing.

Quote
As far as human life being especially precious, that is due to the unique ability of humans to realize Nibbana, the "highest Happiness".

You seem to keep changing the terms slightly! Twisting words around and there meaning to fit you.
However I said the very beginning of ethics rests not with things being "especially precious" but intrinsically valuable.
We can use that term though. For whom is this ability to be happy precious too? I must say a Nazi probably wouldn't care how happy a Jew could be. So, again, it it not intrinsic but arbitrary and conditional.
In Buddhism there is no ground for people to be objectively intrinsically valuable in themselves.
Unless I've misapprehended you! Then I apologize.

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It's not arbitrary for someone who has taken Refuge in the Buddha. In that case, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha provide the visible proof of the efficacy of the Path. Commitment to the Dhamma is, by definition, a commitment to the "oughts" that lead to greater understanding and devotion to the Dhamma.

IF it depends on a person taking refuge in the Budddha then it is conditional and does not apply to anyone else, as I keep pointing out.
It is up to individuals. Unlike Christianity where ALL ought to be good - which is set forth by God's will and known through conscience.
So a Buddhist OUGHT not rape, but a non-buddhist has no obligation, and a Buddhist would not stop him and be coherent.

Quote
Another over-emphasis in Western Buddhism is the monastic emphasis. Western Buddhists often think that they are capable of really being radical renunciating monastics, whereas oftentimes that is not the case at all. That's why in Japan, the samurai balanced their militant/aggressive/protective side with the practice of Zen.

But, in the West, Western Buddhism has a decidedly "liberal" slant, which tends to be wary of the masculine/aggressive aspect of life. That's an imbalance that should be corrected, if Buddhism is to flourish in the West.

That's an interesting analysis - Zen and the art of War is a good book on it. Traditionally I've always thought of Zen as very militaristic.
Anyway, I'm not sure what that has to do with my point, which was as follows :

Picture a man about to smash a child in the head. What would you say? "Hey, 'you' are going to feel consequences that will make you live a less rich life!"

Buddhism has no grounds to stop that person (IF he is a non-buddhist) but Judaism/Christianity/ and Islam do, having a personal moral lawgiver which one is obligated to follow.

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« Reply #57 on: September 12, 2010, 03:29:17 PM »

Also, a Buddhist wouldn't try to put a stop to it, as long as it is a non-buddhist doing the raping, a buddhist has no ground to object.
He could only point out it will lead to suffering.

I'll just quote a tale from The Jataka, a collection of narratives describing the Buddha's past-lives as the Bodhisatta, in which the Bodhisatta not only objects to evil among people who are non-Buddhist (in fact, the Bodhisatta himself is a non-Buddhist in many of his past-lives), but he actually finds a creative way to stop such evil.

This is from the Dummedha-Jataka:

Quote
Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was reborn in the womb of the Queen Consort. When he was born, he was named Prince Brahmadatta on his name-day. By sixteen years of age he had been well educated at Takkasilā, had learned the Three Vedas by heart, and was versed in the Eighteen Branches of Knowledge. And his father made him a Viceroy.

Now in those days the Benares folk were much given to festivals to 'gods,' and used to shew honour to 'gods.' It was their wont to massacre numbers of sheep, goats, poultry, swine, and other living creatures, and perform their rites not merely with flowers and perfumes but with gory carcasses. Thought the destined Lord of Mercy [i.e., the Bodhisatta] to himself, "Led astray by superstition, men now wantonly sacrifice life; the multitude are for the most part given up to irreligion: but when at my father's death I succeed to my inheritance, I will find means to end such destruction of life. I will devise some clever stratagem whereby the evil shall be stopped without harming a single human being."
  
In this mood the prince one day mounted his chariot and drove out of the city. On the way he saw a crowd gathered together at a holy banyan-tree, praying to the fairy who had been reborn in that tree, to grant them sons and daughters, honour and wealth, each according to his. heart's desire. Alighting from his chariot the Bodhisatta drew near to the tree and behaved as a worshipper so far as to make offerings of perfumes and flowers, sprinkling the tree with water, and pacing reverently round its trunk. Then mounting his chariot again, he went his way back into the city.

Thenceforth the prince made like journeys from time to time to the tree, and worshipped it like a true believer in 'gods.'

After his father dies, and he becomes king, the Bodhisatta tells his ministers that he had made a promise to the tree gods, that if he becomes king, he would perform a sacrifice to the tree gods:

Quote
"My vow," said the king, "was this:--All such as are addicted to the Five Sins, to wit the slaughter of living creatures and so forth, and all such as walk in the Ten Paths of Unrighteousness, them will I slay, and with their flesh and their blood, with their entrails and their vitals, I will make my offering. So proclaim by beat of drum that our lord the king in the days of his viceroyalty vowed that if ever he became king he would slay, and offer up in a sacrifice, all such of his subjects as break the Commandments...."

The news of the king's vow was proclaimed to the citizens of the country, all of whom, of course, were guilty of committing the "Five Sins" and following the "Ten Paths of Unrighteousness".

Quote
Such was the effect of the proclamation on the townsfolk that not a soul persisted in the old wickedness. And throughout the Bodhisatta's reign not a man was convicted of transgressing. Thus, without harming a single one of his subjects, the Bodhisatta made them observe the Commandments. And at the close of a life of alms-giving and other good works he passed away with his followers to throng the city of the devas.

There are many ways to stop evil being done by another person. The best way is do stop evil without violence. Non-violence not being possible, then violence may be the best way to stop evil. But, clearly, the preferred way among Buddhists is non-violence.
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« Reply #58 on: September 13, 2010, 01:38:00 AM »

Also, a Buddhist wouldn't try to put a stop to it, as long as it is a non-buddhist doing the raping, a buddhist has no ground to object.
He could only point out it will lead to suffering.

I'll just quote a tale from The Jataka, a collection of narratives describing the Buddha's past-lives as the Bodhisatta, in which the Bodhisatta not only objects to evil among people who are non-Buddhist (in fact, the Bodhisatta himself is a non-Buddhist in many of his past-lives), but he actually finds a creative way to stop such evil.

This is from the Dummedha-Jataka:

Quote
Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was reborn in the womb of the Queen Consort. When he was born, he was named Prince Brahmadatta on his name-day. By sixteen years of age he had been well educated at Takkasilā, had learned the Three Vedas by heart, and was versed in the Eighteen Branches of Knowledge. And his father made him a Viceroy.

Now in those days the Benares folk were much given to festivals to 'gods,' and used to shew honour to 'gods.' It was their wont to massacre numbers of sheep, goats, poultry, swine, and other living creatures, and perform their rites not merely with flowers and perfumes but with gory carcasses. Thought the destined Lord of Mercy [i.e., the Bodhisatta] to himself, "Led astray by superstition, men now wantonly sacrifice life; the multitude are for the most part given up to irreligion: but when at my father's death I succeed to my inheritance, I will find means to end such destruction of life. I will devise some clever stratagem whereby the evil shall be stopped without harming a single human being."
  
In this mood the prince one day mounted his chariot and drove out of the city. On the way he saw a crowd gathered together at a holy banyan-tree, praying to the fairy who had been reborn in that tree, to grant them sons and daughters, honour and wealth, each according to his. heart's desire. Alighting from his chariot the Bodhisatta drew near to the tree and behaved as a worshipper so far as to make offerings of perfumes and flowers, sprinkling the tree with water, and pacing reverently round its trunk. Then mounting his chariot again, he went his way back into the city.

Thenceforth the prince made like journeys from time to time to the tree, and worshipped it like a true believer in 'gods.'

After his father dies, and he becomes king, the Bodhisatta tells his ministers that he had made a promise to the tree gods, that if he becomes king, he would perform a sacrifice to the tree gods:

Quote
"My vow," said the king, "was this:--All such as are addicted to the Five Sins, to wit the slaughter of living creatures and so forth, and all such as walk in the Ten Paths of Unrighteousness, them will I slay, and with their flesh and their blood, with their entrails and their vitals, I will make my offering. So proclaim by beat of drum that our lord the king in the days of his viceroyalty vowed that if ever he became king he would slay, and offer up in a sacrifice, all such of his subjects as break the Commandments...."

The news of the king's vow was proclaimed to the citizens of the country, all of whom, of course, were guilty of committing the "Five Sins" and following the "Ten Paths of Unrighteousness".

Quote
Such was the effect of the proclamation on the townsfolk that not a soul persisted in the old wickedness. And throughout the Bodhisatta's reign not a man was convicted of transgressing. Thus, without harming a single one of his subjects, the Bodhisatta made them observe the Commandments. And at the close of a life of alms-giving and other good works he passed away with his followers to throng the city of the devas.

There are many ways to stop evil being done by another person. The best way is do stop evil without violence. Non-violence not being possible, then violence may be the best way to stop evil. But, clearly, the preferred way among Buddhists is non-violence.

Well, that was an interesting story!
The Bodhisatta gained power over everyone and then threatened to slaughter everyone who disobeyed his will...There are many similarities to Stalin. I strain to kind a corollary in Christian literature...

I'm afraid I saw no justification in his actions. His justification to force his will on people is...a vow he made? To whom? It seems to himself!
 Why should (OUGHT) others submit to his "vow" -(other than out of fear from his political power to destroy them)

The fact that he had to rely on sheer political Power and brute threats clearly demonstrates that in fact he had no justification of Moral authority.

Yes, as a former Zen student we did much good. And most  Buddhists I know are definitely extremely moral people and God bless them all!

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations, no Telos, no moral justification, no moral authority and indeed offers no ground of morality at all.

I don't deny Buddhist do good! They certainly even recognize objective good and bad - along with atheist and all other people (The bible tells us this information is written on every heart)

I did read the Pali texts 15 yrs ago or so and recall some stories, and like the above story most Buddhists act inconsistent with Buddhist beliefs and act AS IF there were really moral obligations that apply to everyone (even to the above superstitious tree worshipers) but this only makes sense in a Christian context - if you had a personal Moral law giver to whom everyone ought to obey because we are all made in his image etc

The Boddhisata's, the Zen friends I have, and even the Buddha himself - all their moral actions only make sense within a Christian context/worldview.

Every Buddhist must act either inconsistent with their own beliefs, remain intellectually dishonest, or fail to understand the full impact of their worldview to act morally.

Every time a Buddhist does good, or prevents evil, for others, he betrays Buddhism but affirms Christianity.

As i keep saying, Buddhism offers no grounds, no justification for preventing evil, or upholding objective moral obligations.

The above Bodhisatta acted like a Christian - as if there was an objective moral law that everyone can know and that everyone OUGHT to obey.

For nonbuddhists - like the tree worshipers - according to Buddhism who imposes moral duties upon them?  Why is it that they ought to do certain things and ought not to do other things?  Where does this ‘ought’ come from?  Traditionally, moral obligations were thought to be laid upon us by God’s moral commands.  But if we deny a Christian personal law-giving God, then it is difficult to make sense of moral duty.
After all, the Bodhisatta even says he gave himself the vow!
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« Reply #59 on: September 13, 2010, 11:10:52 AM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel
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« Reply #60 on: September 13, 2010, 03:40:45 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.
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« Reply #61 on: September 15, 2010, 05:04:41 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel


The Zen  teacher Chozen Bays said, "We just keep on working, we are patient with ourselves, and on and on it goes. Little by little our life comes more into alignment with the wisdom that gives rise to the precepts. As our minds get clearer and clearer, it's not even a matter of breaking or maintaining the precepts; automatically they are maintained."

http://buddhism.about.com/od/theprecepts/a/preceptsintro.htm
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« Reply #62 on: September 15, 2010, 05:07:10 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate
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« Reply #63 on: September 15, 2010, 05:31:10 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate
Buddhists Behaving Badly. Sounds like a Reality show. Grin
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« Reply #64 on: September 15, 2010, 05:57:51 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate

There's a book out called Zen at War which details how the various Zen sects became enthusiastic propagandists for the war effort (of course, all of the major Buddhist sects did this). I believe a tiny handful of Buddhists protested the war and, predictably, ended up in jail. Among them was the founder of Sokka Gakkai. Maybe that's the only positive thing that can be said about SG.

For more examples of "Buddhists behaving badly," have a look at Tibetan history (REAL history, not the romantic nonsense that's usually peddled). Few people know that the Dalai Lamas became the theocrats of Tibet thanks to a bloody intervention by Mongol troops after years of war between the various Tibetan Buddhist sects and their supporting political factions. The rival "red hat" sects were all suppressed, and the Jonang sect was virtually wiped out, surviving only because of monks who fled to remote, inaccessible mountains.
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« Reply #65 on: September 19, 2010, 01:10:59 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate

There's a book out called Zen at War which details how the various Zen sects became enthusiastic propagandists for the war effort (of course, all of the major Buddhist sects did this). I believe a tiny handful of Buddhists protested the war and, predictably, ended up in jail. Among them was the founder of Sokka Gakkai. Maybe that's the only positive thing that can be said about SG.

For more examples of "Buddhists behaving badly," have a look at Tibetan history (REAL history, not the romantic nonsense that's usually peddled). Few people know that the Dalai Lamas became the theocrats of Tibet thanks to a bloody intervention by Mongol troops after years of war between the various Tibetan Buddhist sects and their supporting political factions. The rival "red hat" sects were all suppressed, and the Jonang sect was virtually wiped out, surviving only because of monks who fled to remote, inaccessible mountains.

I hate to be the one to burst your only positive opinion of the Soka Gakkai but their leaders, Toda and Magaguchi did not oppose the War.

They went to jail based on their refusal to accept a Shinto Talisman in their homes. The Japanese Government required all citizens to place this Talisman on all alters, home and Temple, in support of their troops. They did not reject the Talisman because they did not support the Japanese War effort, they rejected it based of a long standing Nichiren Buddhist doctrine called " Fuju Fuse".    

"Fuju Fuse" means "no give or take" from heretics. Strict Nichiren Buddhists can not accept anything from other religions or Buddhist sects nor donate anything to them. Accepting a Talisman is a cause for falling to Hell. Toda and Magaguchi refused because of this doctrine, not based on any objection to the War.

The Soka Gakkai was most popular in the USA in the 1970's when many young people still viewed politics through the experience of opposing the Vietnam War. The Gakkai, ever dishonest, changed the story of Toda and Magaguchi a bit to play into their recruiting efforts. They falsely posed them as Anti-War activists, which they certainly were not.

However, in and of itself, the upholding of Fuju fuse ( to the death in Magaguchi's case) was commendable IMHO

 
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« Reply #66 on: November 29, 2010, 06:58:36 PM »

The main thing to understand about practicing Buddhists is that ..they practice. This entails many hours of either sitting or chanting or bowing or numerous other methods. Theoretical discourse is something that supports practice, it is not the actual practice of Buddhism.

Occasionally while I was practicing Buddhism I would be approached by folks claiming to be Buddhists too. Most often they would say they were Zen Buddhists. I would inquire about their meditation, Rinzai or Soto etc etc. 90% of the time they would say "Oh I don't actually meditate, I have just read some books and agree with what  Buddhism teaches".

Zen Masters are known to occasionally hit people  Smiley
And pull their noses. They do this to other masters, too. (See Gateless Gate, Case 2 Hyakujo's Fox)
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« Reply #67 on: November 29, 2010, 07:01:42 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate


The Japanese weren't--and aren't--"Buddhists all," but the Buddhists, particularly the hierarchy, did indeed behave exceptionally badly.
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« Reply #68 on: November 29, 2010, 07:18:51 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate


The Japanese weren't--and aren't--"Buddhists all," but the Buddhists, particularly the hierarchy, did indeed behave exceptionally badly.

Today Japan is about 70% Buddhist. I bet higher during WW 2.
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« Reply #69 on: November 29, 2010, 07:20:53 PM »

However, as this story quite clearly shows, Buddhism has no moral obligations....
Well, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree. angel

I certainly love how nice, polite, and loving Buddhists are !

If you think of any reasons why you disagree let me know.

If we can find the justification for moral duties/obligations within a Buddhist worldview it would go a long way to opening dialogue between Christian and Buddhists in the philosophical circles.

Er....................  The Japanese, Buddhists all, behaved rather badly in WW 2.  Unfortunate


The Japanese weren't--and aren't--"Buddhists all," but the Buddhists, particularly the hierarchy, did indeed behave exceptionally badly.
At least some Zen leaders saw Japan's expansionism as a type of "holy war", partly a defense against the imperialism of Western countries (which itself was often supported by various ecclesiastical hierarchies). Zen in Japan has long had close ties with the martial spirit of bushido.
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« Reply #70 on: November 29, 2010, 07:26:41 PM »

I'm not sure why you are 'pointing out'  what you term as evils of Tibetan practice to me--chanting; As I mentioned, Tibetan Buddhism, as all Buddhist practice can be divided into two segments: (1) a philosophy and (2) as a religion.  I don't recall stating which one I practiced.  However, I did stress the fact that the sitting practice is VERY beneficial for everyone and it would be very silly (ignorant) to brush it aside when so much wisdom can be gathered from it.

There is no dissolving of the Self; but rather the UN-real self.  In that, Buddhism is much closer to Jungian psychology.  There's a LOT of misinformation out there, believe me.

By the way, the Dalai Lama isn't a form of Chenrezig; that's what other people (basically, the traditional Tibetan public) term him.  The Dalai Lama considers himself simply a monk.  He told me so!  :-)

The very last sentence is so important. Buddhism isn't primarily something to think about. It is an active practice. Chatelaa can tell you first-hand how HH the Dalai Lama refers to himself, whatever books may say.

Imagine someone speaking in a definite way about Orthodoxy who had never attended an Orthodox liturgy or spoken with an Orthodox priest? They might have interesting things to say, but they wouldn't be based on first-hand experience. All forms of Buddhism, whether of Hinayana, Mahayana, or Vajrayana schools, stress the primacy of first-hand experience. I am most familiar with Zen, and I can say there is nothing in Zen practice would necessarily undermine your Christianity. And the practice of zazen could help. At the very least, some of the stabilization exercises (especially the Tibetan Lojong teachings) could help anyone wishing to deepen whatever form of meditation they do practice.

To me, large portions of the church fathers read very much like they are people deeply familiar with Buddhism. The region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent, occupied at one time by troops of Alexander the Great, was from the first century BCE on an area of exceptionally deep spiritual unfolding. It was also an area with a lot of caravan traffic and trade of various kinds. So it would be very surprising to me if there had never been any contact among all the esoteric practitioners--Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and later Muslim--of the Eastern Mediterranean and along the Silk Route.
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« Reply #71 on: November 29, 2010, 07:37:13 PM »

I'm not sure why you are 'pointing out'  what you term as evils of Tibetan practice to me--chanting; As I mentioned, Tibetan Buddhism, as all Buddhist practice can be divided into two segments: (1) a philosophy and (2) as a religion.  I don't recall stating which one I practiced.  However, I did stress the fact that the sitting practice is VERY beneficial for everyone and it would be very silly (ignorant) to brush it aside when so much wisdom can be gathered from it.

There is no dissolving of the Self; but rather the UN-real self.  In that, Buddhism is much closer to Jungian psychology.  There's a LOT of misinformation out there, believe me.

By the way, the Dalai Lama isn't a form of Chenrezig; that's what other people (basically, the traditional Tibetan public) term him.  The Dalai Lama considers himself simply a monk.  He told me so!  :-)

The very last sentence is so important. Buddhism isn't primarily something to think about. It is an active practice. Chatelaa can tell you first-hand how HH the Dalai Lama refers to himself, whatever books may say.

Imagine someone speaking in a definite way about Orthodoxy who had never attended an Orthodox liturgy or spoken with an Orthodox priest? They might have interesting things to say, but they wouldn't be based on first-hand experience. All forms of Buddhism, whether of Hinayana, Mahayana, or Vajrayana schools, stress the primacy of first-hand experience. I am most familiar with Zen, and I can say there is nothing in Zen practice would necessarily undermine your Christianity. And the practice of zazen could help. At the very least, some of the stabilization exercises (especially the Tibetan Lojong teachings) could help anyone wishing to deepen whatever form of meditation they do practice.

To me, large portions of the church fathers read very much like they are people deeply familiar with Buddhism. The region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent, occupied at one time by troops of Alexander the Great, was from the first century BCE on an area of exceptionally deep spiritual unfolding. It was also an area with a lot of caravan traffic and trade of various kinds. So it would be very surprising to me if there had never been any contact among all the esoteric practitioners--Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and later Muslim--of the Eastern Mediterranean and along the Silk Route.
Clement of Alexandria knew about the Buddha. How much he knew, though, is up for debate:

Quote
The Christian intellectual, Clement of Alexandria (d. c. 215), mentions Buddhism briefly in his Strom. 1.15.71(6):

εἰσὶ δὲ τῶν Ἰνδῶν οἱ τοῖς Βούττα πειθόμενοι παραγγέλμασιν. ὃν δι’ ὑπερβολὴν σεμνότητος ὡς θεὸν τετιμήκασι.

Among the Indians are some who follow the precepts of Buddha, whom for his extraordinary sanctity they have honored as a god. (tr. John Ferguson).

On this passage, John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria: Stromateis Books 1-3 (Fathers of the Church 85; Washington, D.C.: CUA, 1991), 76, n.338, notes:

The reference to Buddha is exceptionally interesting: Pantaenus [Clement’s predecessor in Alexandra] may have travelled in the East. But the veneration of the Buddha does not give him the title of a god, although he is the Lord.

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« Reply #72 on: July 16, 2011, 01:34:34 PM »

At least one Orthodox priest has argued (starting at 9:20) that the Renaissance produced, in a very practical sense, a form of Buddhism for Europeans. His characterization of Buddhism, I would suggest, is a bit misleading (but it's an interesting thesis). For instance, the good priest states that early Buddhism (the Buddhism of the Pali texts) taught that there was no "intermediary" needed between the unenlightened human being, and Nibbana/Nirvana. That's a common misunderstanding in the West. In fact, the Pali texts show that whoever realizes Nibbana/Nirvana, realizes it by studying under a living Buddha. No one becomes a Buddha, without studying under a Buddha.
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« Reply #73 on: July 16, 2011, 04:07:14 PM »

At least one Orthodox priest has argued (starting at 9:20) that the Renaissance produced, in a very practical sense, a form of Buddhism for Europeans. His characterization of Buddhism, I would suggest, is a bit misleading (but it's an interesting thesis). For instance, the good priest states that early Buddhism (the Buddhism of the Pali texts) taught that there was no "intermediary" needed between the unenlightened human being, and Nibbana/Nirvana. That's a common misunderstanding in the West. In fact, the Pali texts show that whoever realizes Nibbana/Nirvana, realizes it by studying under a living Buddha. No one becomes a Buddha, without studying under a Buddha.

Sorry, Jetavan, but I believe the good priest is correct on this one. Studying with a sangha, and if possible under a meditation master, is certainly the ideal in Buddhism. But Gotema himself achieved Nibbana on his own! If the need for an intermediary exists anywhere in the Pali text, I'd very interested to see it.
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« Reply #74 on: July 16, 2011, 10:49:29 PM »

At least one Orthodox priest has argued (starting at 9:20) that the Renaissance produced, in a very practical sense, a form of Buddhism for Europeans. His characterization of Buddhism, I would suggest, is a bit misleading (but it's an interesting thesis). For instance, the good priest states that early Buddhism (the Buddhism of the Pali texts) taught that there was no "intermediary" needed between the unenlightened human being, and Nibbana/Nirvana. That's a common misunderstanding in the West. In fact, the Pali texts show that whoever realizes Nibbana/Nirvana, realizes it by studying under a living Buddha. No one becomes a Buddha, without studying under a Buddha.

Sorry, Jetavan, but I believe the good priest is correct on this one. Studying with a sangha, and if possible under a meditation master, is certainly the ideal in Buddhism. But Gotema himself achieved Nibbana on his own! If the need for an intermediary exists anywhere in the Pali text, I'd very interested to see it.
The Buddhavamsa (and the Commentaries to the Buddhavamsa) is part of the Pali canon, and it describes the lives of the previous 24 Buddhas, as well as the past-lives of Shakyamuni.

The first Buddha described in the Buddhavamsa is the Buddha Dipankara. It was during the lifetime of Dipankara that a rich merchant named Sumedha (Sumedha #1: a past-life of Shakyamuni, when Shakyamuni was a bodhisatta) was also alive. It was in the presence of Dipankara that Sumedha decided, not to merely realize nibbana as an arhat, but to realize full Buddhahood, as Dipankara had done. Dipankara, likewise, prophesied that Sumedha, eons in the future, would realize Buddhahood, by practicing the ten bodhisatta virtues (from generosity to equanimity). In his subsequent lifetimes, Sumedha (Shakyamuni) would re-asssert his vow to realize Buddhahood, and the Buddha alive at that time, would prophesy his eventual realization of Buddhahood.

Theravada Buddhism holds that what Sumedha/Shakyamuni went through, everyone (who wants to realize Buddhahood) must also go through: that is, anyone can aspire to Buddhahood, but one's actual success in realizing Buddhahood must be confirmed by a prophesy proclaimed by a living Buddha, while one is in the company of that living Buddha.

So, yeah, Shakyamuni did realize Buddhahood "on his own" -- but in the sense that he realized Buddhahood when no other living Buddha existed (but, then again, that's how all Buddhas before Shakyamuni, and all Buddhas after Shakyamuni, realized or will realize Buddhahood). But Shakyamuni did not do all this "on his own" once one takes into account the previous lifetimes of Shakyamuni -- and that would be true for all other Buddhas as well: if you want to become a Buddha, you need to enter into the personal presence of a living Buddha who then would confirm and prophesy one's future realization of Buddhahood. You can't "do it alone".
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« Reply #75 on: July 17, 2011, 12:02:22 AM »

I understand that in the Pali canon there are stories of the Buddha Shakyamuni in his past lives meeting up with previous Buddhas, but I don't think there is any place in the canon where the Buddha insists that one cannot reach Nibbana without him (or another Buddha). When he was asked who his successor would be, the Buddha said: "Let the Dhamma be your guide." Digha Nikaya 16

Then there is this from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha:
 
33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

"And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?

34. "When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.

35. "Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, [20] if they have the desire to learn."

Sounds like alone is the way it's done, enchanting tales of prophecy aside. And even if one needed to know a Buddha in a past life (according to the teachings of Buddhism), one likely wouldn't know he had met one in a past life until he was enlightened already!
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« Reply #76 on: July 17, 2011, 12:41:24 AM »

I understand that in the Pali canon there are stories of the Buddha Shakyamuni in his past lives meeting up with previous Buddhas, but I don't think there is any place in the canon where the Buddha insists that one cannot reach Nibbana without him (or another Buddha).
The texts do contain discourss in which the Buddha teaches, either implicitly or explicitly, that nibbana is realized only via the teachings of the Buddha.

For instance, before the Buddha's parinibbana (passing away into final nibbana), a wanderer named Subhadda wanted to ask the Buddha one final question before he passed away: do any of the many teachers, or teachings, or groups of recluses, that exist in the world, really know what they are talking about, do they really have direct knowledge of reality? The Buddha replied that true knowlede is found only where the noble eightfold path is found, and the noble eightfold path is only found in the teachings of the Buddha. Non-Buddhist teachings are empty of true knowledge.

Quote
When he was asked who his successor would be, the Buddha said: "Let the Dhamma be your guide." Digha Nikaya 16

Then there is this from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha:
 
33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

"And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?

34. "When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.

35. "Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, [20] if they have the desire to learn."
All these quotes presuppose that one knows what "Dhamma" actually and truly is, where the true teachings of Dhamma are taught; and the Buddha revealed the answers to those questions in his response to Subhadda.

Quote
Sounds like alone is the way it's done, enchanting tales of prophecy aside. And even if one needed to know a Buddha in a past life (according to the teachings of Buddhism), one likely wouldn't know he had met one in a past life until he was enlightened already!
I don't see how anyone who knows about the Buddhist teaching of pratitya-samutpada (dependent origination) could argue that anyone does anything alone, or that anything happens in total isolation from anything else. If "doing it alone" were truly the case, then there would be no need for the Buddha, the Dhamma, and no need whatsoever for the Sangha; there would be no need for the scriptures, no need for the "spiritual friendship" which the Buddha said was half of the holy life, no need for humility in going for refuge in the Triple Gem; no need for saddha, or faith/trust, in the possibility of freedom from dissatisfaction and frustration.
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« Reply #77 on: July 17, 2011, 08:14:17 AM »

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For instance, before the Buddha's parinibbana (passing away into final nibbana), a wanderer named Subhadda wanted to ask the Buddha one final question before he passed away: do any of the many teachers, or teachings, or groups of recluses, that exist in the world, really know what they are talking about, do they really have direct knowledge of reality? The Buddha replied that true knowlede is found only where the noble eightfold path is found, and the noble eightfold path is only found in the teachings of the Buddha. Non-Buddhist teachings are empty of true knowledge.

Indeed, the Buddha had discovered the 4NT and the 8FP, and his mission was to teach them to others so that others could experience the freedom of awakening.  He was confident in his teaching. His path alone worked for him, so I don't find it surprising that he would say this.

Quote
I don't see how anyone who knows about the Buddhist teaching of pratitya-samutpada (dependent origination) could argue that anyone does anything alone, or that anything happens in total isolation from anything else. If "doing it alone" were truly the case, then there would be no need for the Buddha, the Dhamma, and no need whatsoever for the Sangha; there would be no need for the scriptures, no need for the "spiritual friendship" which the Buddha said was half of the holy life, no need for humility in going for refuge in the Triple Gem; no need for saddha, or faith/trust, in the possibility of freedom from dissatisfaction and frustration.

I never argued that anything happens in total isolation from anything else. When you speak in terms of dependent origination, and in regards to the need for the Buddha's teachings, the importance of Sangha, and spiritual friendships, and so on, I am totally in agreement with you that, in a manner of speaking, one doesn't "do it alone". But saying that everything is somehow interconnected, or saying that without the Buddha's teachings put into practice one cannot achieve Nibbana, is much different than saying a Buddhist cannot achieve Nibbana without practicing under a living Buddha. With all due respect, it is with this latter statement that I remain in disagreement.
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« Reply #78 on: July 18, 2011, 09:34:52 AM »

But saying that everything is somehow interconnected, or saying that without the Buddha's teachings put into practice one cannot achieve Nibbana, is much different than saying a Buddhist cannot achieve Nibbana without practicing under a living Buddha. With all due respect, it is with this latter statement that I remain in disagreement.
I agree (as the Pali texts indicate) that someone can realize Buddhahood without contemporaneously (in that particular lifetime) studying under a living Buddha.


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« Reply #79 on: July 18, 2011, 10:37:09 AM »

What form of Buddhism do most Cambodians practice? Theravada or Mahayana?

My "sort of" adopted brother and former neighbor is a Cambodian and a Buddhist, but we've never discussed religion (his family came to the US from Cambodia in the 1970s to escape the Khmer Rouge; his father was so emotionally shattered that he could not raise him, so my family did.) We attended the funeral for his father a few years ago, which was held in a Buddhist temple (that used to be my childhood synagogue...talk about culture shock!), but I still don't really know much about their specific form of Buddhism.
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« Reply #80 on: July 18, 2011, 10:38:39 AM »

What form of Buddhism do most Cambodians practice? Theravada or Mahayana?

My "sort of" adopted brother and former neighbor is a Cambodian and a Buddhist, but we've never discussed religion (his family came to the US from Cambodia in the 1970s to escape the Khmer Rouge; his father was so emotionally shattered that he could not raise him, so my family did.) We attended the funeral for his father a few years ago, which was held in a Buddhist temple (that used to be my childhood synagogue...talk about culture shock!), but I still don't really know much about their specific form of Buddhism.
Cambodians mostly practice Theravada.
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« Reply #81 on: July 18, 2011, 10:40:29 AM »

What form of Buddhism do most Cambodians practice? Theravada or Mahayana?

My "sort of" adopted brother and former neighbor is a Cambodian and a Buddhist, but we've never discussed religion (his family came to the US from Cambodia in the 1970s to escape the Khmer Rouge; his father was so emotionally shattered that he could not raise him, so my family did.) We attended the funeral for his father a few years ago, which was held in a Buddhist temple (that used to be my childhood synagogue...talk about culture shock!), but I still don't really know much about their specific form of Buddhism.
Cambodians mostly practice Theravada.

Thanks!
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« Reply #82 on: July 18, 2011, 11:15:06 AM »

Quote
For instance, before the Buddha's parinibbana (passing away into final nibbana), a wanderer named Subhadda wanted to ask the Buddha one final question before he passed away: do any of the many teachers, or teachings, or groups of recluses, that exist in the world, really know what they are talking about, do they really have direct knowledge of reality? The Buddha replied that true knowlede is found only where the noble eightfold path is found, and the noble eightfold path is only found in the teachings of the Buddha. Non-Buddhist teachings are empty of true knowledge.

Indeed, the Buddha had discovered the 4NT and the 8FP, and his mission was to teach them to others so that others could experience the freedom of awakening.  He was confident in his teaching. His path alone worked for him, so I don't find it surprising that he would say this.
That's one way to interpret what the Buddha said here, though I don't think one can ignore the role of Subhadda himself. To some persons who were not his followers, the Buddha did not claim that his teaching was the one true teaching; but to Subhadda, the Buddha did make that claim. I think this points to the idea that the Buddha knew that Subhadda (even though not yet a follower of the Buddha) already had faith in him, and thus Subhadda could 'handle' such 'exclusivistic' statements and use them to grow spiritually; whereas, many other persons, not followers of the Buddha, and not having deep enough faith in the Buddha, were best served by statements that they could understand from whatever spiritual level they were currently at.
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« Reply #83 on: July 18, 2011, 02:14:23 PM »

As I read this thread only one thing strikes my mind. So THIS is what man trying to save himself looks like.......

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« Reply #84 on: July 18, 2011, 02:18:46 PM »

As I read this thread only one thing strikes my mind. So THIS is what man trying to save himself looks like.......

primuspilus
Well, one's own effort is certainly part of Buddhism. Whether that counts as "saving yourself" is an interesting question. Smiley
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Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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« Reply #85 on: July 18, 2011, 10:45:15 PM »

The fourteenth Dalai Lama this week appeared on the Australian version of Masterchef.

Discuss.
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« Reply #86 on: July 18, 2011, 10:56:19 PM »

Some people who are virulently secular in a Western context seem to have no problem with old Tibet's theocracy. I guess if it's an "enlightened" theocracy in a far away, enchanted land... 
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« Reply #87 on: July 18, 2011, 11:05:24 PM »

The fourteenth Dalai Lama this week appeared on the Australian version of Masterchef.

Discuss.
I thought you were just kidding:

Quote
The Dalai Lama yesterday made a bizarre appearance as guest judge on the Aussie version of MasterChef.
 
Stunned contestants prepared lunch for the Tibetan spiritual leader – but he refused to rate their offerings, saying it would be against his Buddhist principles.
 
In a special episode of the hit TV show, the religious figurehead was presented with several sweet and savoury veggie dishes as he took time out from his official duties on a visit Down Under.
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Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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« Reply #88 on: July 19, 2011, 10:40:14 AM »

Dalai Lama = A guy with sweet looking clothes that needs Christ just as bad as everyone else.

primuspilus
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« Reply #89 on: July 19, 2011, 03:57:08 PM »

Dalai Lama = A guy with sweet looking clothes that needs Christ just as bad as everyone else.

primuspilus

The Dalai Lama was good friends with Thomas Merton, and he wrote about their friendship and religious understanding in a NYTimes op-ed:

"....
Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.

An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.

A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.

I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us."

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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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