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« Reply #135 on: August 15, 2011, 04:54:51 PM »

But since you have invoked Ansgar's opening post, it's worth mentioning that he said quite clearly:

Quote
I mostly bought them because they were pretty but now when I have found Orthodoxy I have come to realize that I cannot have in my room anymore, but I am not sure what to do with them.

So your "third option" is not an option at all. You might be able to make that argument about using objects from other religions as ornaments in a general sense, but seeing as you yourself mentioned "the OP" then I think its right to pull you up on this point: Ansgar doesn't want to display these objects as "objet d'art".

Therefore Liza's options are really the only credible options that have been presented so far: dispose of the statues, donate them to a temple, or sell them. There may be other ideas, but using them as ornaments isn't one of them - that is Ansgar's current situation and he doesn't feel comfortable about it.

Does he only have one room?

You have continually missed the point in this thread.  J.M.C. stated that Ansgar (rightfully in my opinion) no longer wants to have the statues nearby.  Why is this so difficult to grasp? 

While some, from both sides of the argument, have criticized suggestions for disposal, I'm confident Ansgar could've figured out your apparent "put them in another room" solution. 
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« Reply #136 on: August 15, 2011, 05:09:46 PM »

From my experience in Tibetan Buddhism, a statue of the Buddha which is used in worship is typically "consecrated" in such a way that the Buddha or other deity depicted is supposed to actually inhabit the statue. The texts on taking refuge will often say something to the effect that images of the Buddha are to be worshiped as the Buddha himself, as expressions of his 'nirmanakaya'. In this sense I think it could be argued that some Buddhist images really are idols.

This is not my experience from my undergraduate and graduate studies, or years in Asia. Buddha is not worshipped.


Yes he is. My studies and time in Asia are better than yours.

This is not the case. However, you may make your argument. First, you may begin by describing which sect(s) of Buddhism worship the Buddha. Being a fellow Asia hand, you know that "Buddhism" is as broad a term as "Christianity".


I did specify Tibetan Buddhism. But what I said is basically true of all mainstream Buddhist sects. Buddhists see the Buddha as superior to all other beings, even the Gods, and the Mahayana see him as the ultimate cosmic principle, omniscient and even omnipotent. Buddhists of pretty much all sects make offerings to the Buddha, prostrate to images of him, and pray to him. I'm really trying to conceive of how one knowledgeable about Buddhism might argue that Buddhists do NOT worship Buddha and I admit I'm at a loss.

I would say Buddhism on the whole is much more cohesive than Christianity across the sects. The doctrinal disagreements that have arisen are seldom as hard and fast as in Christianity. I once visited a Chinese Mahayana monastery with a famous Theravada scholar as its co-abbot, and no one is shouting about "heresy" or "ecumenism" because of the mingling. A few years ago a bunch of Theravada nuns went to a Chinese Chan master to get the full bhiksuni ordinations. There was some uproar from Theravadin monks but nothing truly serious. Buddhist traditions are really holographic- they reflect each other with varying emphases on different aspects.

Big tent sects like Tiantai and modern Chinese Chan Buddhism tend to see the different traditions as complementary and the varying practices as suitable for different kinds of people.
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« Reply #137 on: August 15, 2011, 05:29:57 PM »

From my experience in Tibetan Buddhism, a statue of the Buddha which is used in worship is typically "consecrated" in such a way that the Buddha or other deity depicted is supposed to actually inhabit the statue. The texts on taking refuge will often say something to the effect that images of the Buddha are to be worshiped as the Buddha himself, as expressions of his 'nirmanakaya'. In this sense I think it could be argued that some Buddhist images really are idols.

This is not my experience from my undergraduate and graduate studies, or years in Asia. Buddha is not worshipped.


Yes he is. My studies and time in Asia are better than yours.

This is not the case. However, you may make your argument. First, you may begin by describing which sect(s) of Buddhism worship the Buddha. Being a fellow Asia hand, you know that "Buddhism" is as broad a term as "Christianity".


I did specify Tibetan Buddhism. But what I said is basically true of all mainstream Buddhist sects. Buddhists see the Buddha as superior to all other beings, even the Gods, and the Mahayana see him as the ultimate cosmic principle, omniscient and even omnipotent. Buddhists of pretty much all sects make offerings to the Buddha, prostrate to images of him, and pray to him. I'm really trying to conceive of how one knowledgeable about Buddhism might argue that Buddhists do NOT worship Buddha and I admit I'm at a loss.

Well, Tibetan Buddhism is in itself a group of schools. I disagree that the Buddha is worshiped. Statutes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are certainly venerated, but they are not worshiped. Do you worship icons? I am likewise at a loss as to how an Orthodox Christian can make such an error about these externalities when charges of worshiping Mary, saints, and icons are so often directed at Orthodox Christians.

The phrase "above the Gods" does not even make sense to me in regard to Buddhism. Devas aren't immortal, don't create, and are caught up in the same cycle of death and rebirth as humans. (then again, as I have previously explained at this forum, "gods" doesn't make sense in Shinto, either, but I digress) There's no creator or personal god. It is perfectly possible to be a Buddhist atheist. In fact, I would say that most Buddhists are.
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« Reply #138 on: August 15, 2011, 07:14:54 PM »

From my experience in Tibetan Buddhism, a statue of the Buddha which is used in worship is typically "consecrated" in such a way that the Buddha or other deity depicted is supposed to actually inhabit the statue. The texts on taking refuge will often say something to the effect that images of the Buddha are to be worshiped as the Buddha himself, as expressions of his 'nirmanakaya'. In this sense I think it could be argued that some Buddhist images really are idols.

This is not my experience from my undergraduate and graduate studies, or years in Asia. Buddha is not worshipped.


Yes he is. My studies and time in Asia are better than yours.

This is not the case. However, you may make your argument. First, you may begin by describing which sect(s) of Buddhism worship the Buddha. Being a fellow Asia hand, you know that "Buddhism" is as broad a term as "Christianity".


I did specify Tibetan Buddhism. But what I said is basically true of all mainstream Buddhist sects. Buddhists see the Buddha as superior to all other beings, even the Gods, and the Mahayana see him as the ultimate cosmic principle, omniscient and even omnipotent. Buddhists of pretty much all sects make offerings to the Buddha, prostrate to images of him, and pray to him. I'm really trying to conceive of how one knowledgeable about Buddhism might argue that Buddhists do NOT worship Buddha and I admit I'm at a loss.

Well, Tibetan Buddhism is in itself a group of schools.

And all 4 (or 5 if you count Jonangpa) basic schools are the same in this regard. All of them accept the same Mahayana scriptures which give the foundation for their worship of the Buddha.

Quote
I disagree that the Buddha is worshiped. Statutes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are certainly venerated, but they are not worshiped. Do you worship icons? I am likewise at a loss as to how an Orthodox Christian can make such an error about these externalities when charges of worshiping Mary, saints, and icons are so often directed at Orthodox Christians.

Veneration and worship are synonyms. Hence the troparion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy is sometimes translated "We worship thine immaculate icon..." Some folks get up in arms about this because of all the apologetic literature saying we venerate icons, but don't worship them, but the distinction is really unsupportable from the standpoint of English usage.

Yes, Buddhists worship/ venerate/ reverence the Buddha and his images. Take your pick. Do they worship him like we worship God? Well, that would be on one hand a nonsensical statement since there is no being equivalent to our God in the Buddhist framework. On the other hand it would fit because the Buddha, like God, is regarded as the fundamental cosmic principle, the ground of truth- dharmakaya, tathagatagharba, etc., at least in the Mahayana.  

Quote
The phrase "above the Gods" does not even make sense to me in regard to Buddhism. Devas aren't immortal, don't create, and are caught up in the same cycle of death and rebirth as humans.

The Nordic/ Germanic gods are also basically mortal and yet that's where our English word "god" comes from.

Quote
There's no creator or personal god. It is perfectly possible to be a Buddhist atheist. In fact, I would say that most Buddhists are.

Atheist in the sense that they deny the existence of a God like ours? Sure. In this sense all the polytheists are atheists too (Church Fathers called pagans "atheists"- but then again pagans called us "atheists" too).

In the sense of espousing materialism and denying the existence of any "supernatural" beings/ forces, no, Buddhists can't be atheists, though some Westerners would like to think so.
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« Reply #139 on: August 15, 2011, 07:54:11 PM »

In the sense of espousing materialism and denying the existence of any "supernatural" beings/ forces, no, Buddhists can't be atheists, though some Westerners would like to think so.

Thank you. I am quite tired of skeptical Westerners trying to remake Buddhism in their own image by saving it from the "superstition" of admitting the world beyond the material.
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« Reply #140 on: August 16, 2011, 12:04:19 AM »

In the sense of espousing materialism and denying the existence of any "supernatural" beings/ forces, no, Buddhists can't be atheists, though some Westerners would like to think so.

Thank you. I am quite tired of skeptical Westerners trying to remake Buddhism in their own image by saving it from the "superstition" of admitting the world beyond the material.

Ditto..This has been my constant refrain for years now. Westerners have reformulated Buddhism into a Gnostic style "everyone is a Buddha on the inside" fraud. The great sages at least in the lineage I was associated with Master Tendai and Nichiren etc. were certainly not Atheists. Far from it as it turns out. But you could spend your life in the western Buddhist groups and never know it.

My teacher ( an American scholar and translator) once had it out with a high ranking Japanese Priest and asked him  "Why dont you tell people the Truth" ( about what Nichiren really taught) . His reply was simple and probably correct. He said "They would never beleive it" 
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« Reply #141 on: August 16, 2011, 10:36:12 AM »

I disagree that the Buddha is worshiped. Statutes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are certainly venerated, but they are not worshiped. Do you worship icons? I am likewise at a loss as to how an Orthodox Christian can make such an error about these externalities when charges of worshiping Mary, saints, and icons are so often directed at Orthodox Christians.

Veneration and worship are synonyms. Hence the troparion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy is sometimes translated "We worship thine immaculate icon..." Some folks get up in arms about this because of all the apologetic literature saying we venerate icons, but don't worship them, but the distinction is really unsupportable from the standpoint of English usage.

Yes, Buddhists worship/ venerate/ reverence the Buddha and his images. Take your pick. Do they worship him like we worship God? Well, that would be on one hand a nonsensical statement since there is no being equivalent to our God in the Buddhist framework. On the other hand it would fit because the Buddha, like God, is regarded as the fundamental cosmic principle, the ground of truth- dharmakaya, tathagatagharba, etc., at least in the Mahayana.

If the problem is one of English usage, that is the language's problem, not the concept's. The reverence that the faithful give to icons and other created things is certainly different from that paid to the uncreated God. Buddha himself said that he should not be worshiped, so any Buddhist who does simply is not paying attention.

And, the idea certainly doesn't make sense in the Japanese schools of Mahayana that I am most familiar with, such as Zen, which rejects the idea of  scriptures.

Quote
Quote
The phrase "above the Gods" does not even make sense to me in regard to Buddhism. Devas aren't immortal, don't create, and are caught up in the same cycle of death and rebirth as humans.

The Nordic/ Germanic gods are also basically mortal and yet that's where our English word "god" comes from.

Actually, that is not necessarily linguistically sound. The etymology goes back into Proto-Indo-European, which I find to be a speculative field. The actual first known use of the word is in Gothic bibles, not collections of Norse tales.

Quote
Quote
There's no creator or personal god. It is perfectly possible to be a Buddhist atheist. In fact, I would say that most Buddhists are.

Atheist in the sense that they deny the existence of a God like ours? Sure. In this sense all the polytheists are atheists too (Church Fathers called pagans "atheists"- but then again pagans called us "atheists" too).

In the sense of espousing materialism and denying the existence of any "supernatural" beings/ forces, no, Buddhists can't be atheists, though some Westerners would like to think so.

Does the Dalai Lama count as a Buddhist?
http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article=Ocean+of+wit+and+wisdoms&id=18719

"I'm Buddhist, I'm a Buddhist practitioner. So actually I think that according to nontheistic Buddhist belief, things are due to causes and conditions. No creator. So I have faith in our actions, not prayer. Action is important. Action is karma. Karma means action. That's an ancient Indian thought. In nontheistic religions, including Buddhism, the emphasis is on our actions rather than god or Buddha. So some people say that Buddhism is a kind of atheism. Some scholars say that Buddhism is not a religion — it's a science of the mind."

In response to the question, "do you agree with that [that Buddhism is a kind of atheism]?"

"Oh, yes. I even consider Buddha and some of his important followers like Nagarjuna (one of Buddha's leading disciples) to be scientists. Their main method is analytical. Analyze, analyze — not emphasis on faith."

Would you concede that the Dalai Lama may know a bit more about Buddism that you? Perhaps just a skosh?

By the way, have you ever had the pleasure? I was fortunate to attend a university that has a partnership with Tibet. The Dalai Lama is actually a professor at my alma mater.

Learn more here if you are so inclined:
http://tibet.emory.edu/academics/index.html
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« Reply #142 on: August 16, 2011, 11:23:13 AM »

I disagree that the Buddha is worshiped. Statutes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are certainly venerated, but they are not worshiped. Do you worship icons? I am likewise at a loss as to how an Orthodox Christian can make such an error about these externalities when charges of worshiping Mary, saints, and icons are so often directed at Orthodox Christians.

Veneration and worship are synonyms. Hence the troparion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy is sometimes translated "We worship thine immaculate icon..." Some folks get up in arms about this because of all the apologetic literature saying we venerate icons, but don't worship them, but the distinction is really unsupportable from the standpoint of English usage.

Yes, Buddhists worship/ venerate/ reverence the Buddha and his images. Take your pick. Do they worship him like we worship God? Well, that would be on one hand a nonsensical statement since there is no being equivalent to our God in the Buddhist framework. On the other hand it would fit because the Buddha, like God, is regarded as the fundamental cosmic principle, the ground of truth- dharmakaya, tathagatagharba, etc., at least in the Mahayana.

If the problem is one of English usage, that is the language's problem, not the concept's. The reverence that the faithful give to icons and other created things is certainly different from that paid to the uncreated God. Buddha himself said that he should not be worshiped, so any Buddhist who does simply is not paying attention.

And, the idea certainly doesn't make sense in the Japanese schools of Mahayana that I am most familiar with, such as Zen, which rejects the idea of  scriptures.

Quote
Quote
The phrase "above the Gods" does not even make sense to me in regard to Buddhism. Devas aren't immortal, don't create, and are caught up in the same cycle of death and rebirth as humans.

The Nordic/ Germanic gods are also basically mortal and yet that's where our English word "god" comes from.

Actually, that is not necessarily linguistically sound. The etymology goes back into Proto-Indo-European, which I find to be a speculative field. The actual first known use of the word is in Gothic bibles, not collections of Norse tales.

Quote
Quote
There's no creator or personal god. It is perfectly possible to be a Buddhist atheist. In fact, I would say that most Buddhists are.

Atheist in the sense that they deny the existence of a God like ours? Sure. In this sense all the polytheists are atheists too (Church Fathers called pagans "atheists"- but then again pagans called us "atheists" too).

In the sense of espousing materialism and denying the existence of any "supernatural" beings/ forces, no, Buddhists can't be atheists, though some Westerners would like to think so.

Does the Dalai Lama count as a Buddhist?
http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article=Ocean+of+wit+and+wisdoms&id=18719

"I'm Buddhist, I'm a Buddhist practitioner. So actually I think that according to nontheistic Buddhist belief, things are due to causes and conditions. No creator. So I have faith in our actions, not prayer. Action is important. Action is karma. Karma means action. That's an ancient Indian thought. In nontheistic religions, including Buddhism, the emphasis is on our actions rather than god or Buddha. So some people say that Buddhism is a kind of atheism. Some scholars say that Buddhism is not a religion — it's a science of the mind."

In response to the question, "do you agree with that [that Buddhism is a kind of atheism]?"

"Oh, yes. I even consider Buddha and some of his important followers like Nagarjuna (one of Buddha's leading disciples) to be scientists. Their main method is analytical. Analyze, analyze — not emphasis on faith."

Would you concede that the Dalai Lama may know a bit more about Buddism that you? Perhaps just a skosh?

By the way, have you ever had the pleasure? I was fortunate to attend a university that has a partnership with Tibet. The Dalai Lama is actually a professor at my alma mater.

Learn more here if you are so inclined:
http://tibet.emory.edu/academics/index.html

People need to be careful not to look at the Dali Lama as if he is the Pope of Buddhism. His opinions are based on his own particular brand of Buddhism. Like Christianity, Buddhism has many different sects and very different World Views and ways to practice within it.

In fact, the most advanced practitioners of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) understand that Buddhism is in fact solely dependent upon Faith.

Here is a link to a few essays by my teacher H.G. Lamont. They are a little 'inside baseball' but if you are so inclined, enjoy.

 http://www.kempon.net/lamont%20writting.htm
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« Reply #143 on: August 16, 2011, 11:29:26 AM »

In response to the question, "do you agree with that [that Buddhism is a kind of atheism]?"

"Oh, yes. I even consider Buddha and some of his important followers like Nagarjuna (one of Buddha's leading disciples) to be scientists. Their main method is analytical. Analyze, analyze — not emphasis on faith."

Would you concede that the Dalai Lama may know a bit more about Buddism that you? Perhaps just a skosh?
I don't think HHDL was defining "atheism" in the same way, say, Richard Dawkins would. Dawkins' "atheism" would deny any sort of "supernatural reality".  

HHDL's "atheism" is not really "atheism" as usually defined in the West, because Buddhism does accept the reality of devas and brahmas, as well as asuras and other supernatural beings and supernatural realms of existence.

For HHDL, "atheism" is the denial not of a supernatural being, but a denial of a very specific type of supernatural being: a supernatural being (1) who is the creator of all things (and, thus, controls all things, to the point of negating the karma-vipaka process) and (2) who, thus, may be resorted to, so that one may become free from dissatisfaction and enjoy total happiness, independent of any action on one's own part.

Even so, the HHDL (in this particular quote) is de-emphasizing the role that faith plays in all forms of Buddhism, not because faith isn't important in Buddhism, but because faith is just the beginning of the process of becoming a Buddha.
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« Reply #144 on: August 16, 2011, 11:42:36 AM »

People need to be careful not to look at the Dali Lama as if he is the Pope of Buddhism. His opinions are based on his own particular brand of Buddhism. Like Christianity, Buddhism has many different sects and very different World Views and ways to practice within it.

In fact, the most advanced practitioners of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) understand that Buddhism is in fact solely dependent upon Faith.

Here is a link to a few essays by my teacher H.G. Lamont. They are a little 'inside baseball' but if you are so inclined, enjoy.

 http://www.kempon.net/lamont%20writting.htm

I certainly never meant to imply that he was. To the extent that Iconodule was speaking to Tibetan Buddhism, however, HHDL is an appropriate authority to cite in response.

I also agree with your points regarding the diversity found within Buddhism, contrary to Iconodule's claim that they are oh-so-cohesive.
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« Reply #145 on: August 16, 2011, 11:44:46 AM »

I don't think HHDL was defining "atheism" in the same way, say, Richard Dawkins would. Dawkins' "atheism" would deny any sort of "supernatural reality".  

HHDL's "atheism" is not really "atheism" as usually defined in the West, because Buddhism does accept the reality of devas and brahmas, as well as asuras and other supernatural beings and supernatural realms of existence.

For HHDL, "atheism" is the denial not of a supernatural being, but a denial of a very specific type of supernatural being: a supernatural being (1) who is the creator of all things (and, thus, controls all things, to the point of negating the karma-vipaka process) and (2) who, thus, may be resorted to, so that one may become free from dissatisfaction and enjoy total happiness, independent of any action on one's own part.

Even so, the HHDL (in this particular quote) is de-emphasizing the role that faith plays in all forms of Buddhism, not because faith isn't important in Buddhism, but because faith is just the beginning of the process of becoming a Buddha.

I agree that unlike Richard Dawkins, HHDL likely acknowledges spiritual realities.

Faith in what?
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« Reply #146 on: August 16, 2011, 12:03:47 PM »

It was also common practice for Christians in Tokugawa Japan to make statutes of Mary and saints that look stylistically Buddhist so they could avoid punishment. (the Tokugawa government strictly punished the practice of Christianity after an unsuccessful rebellion led by Japanese Catholics)
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« Reply #147 on: August 16, 2011, 12:24:15 PM »

I agree that unlike Richard Dawkins, HHDL likely acknowledges spiritual realities.

Faith in what?

For all Buddhists, faith in the Buddha, faith in the Truth that the Buddha realized, and faith in the community of practitioners around the Buddha.

For Vajrayana Buddhists, this is supplemented by faith in the Guru as well.
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« Reply #148 on: August 16, 2011, 12:26:09 PM »

I agree that unlike Richard Dawkins, HHDL likely acknowledges spiritual realities.

Faith in what?

For all Buddhists, faith in the Buddha, faith in the Truth that the Buddha realized, and faith in the community of practitioners around the Buddha.

Which one?
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« Reply #149 on: August 16, 2011, 12:29:27 PM »

I agree that unlike Richard Dawkins, HHDL likely acknowledges spiritual realities.

Faith in what?

For all Buddhists, faith in the Buddha, faith in the Truth that the Buddha realized, and faith in the community of practitioners around the Buddha.

Which one?

That depends upon the Buddhist tradition. Theravada Buddhists emphasize faith in Shakyamuni Buddha, as well as the future-Buddha Mettaya Buddha. I think Pure Land focuses on Amitabha/Amida/Adida Buddha.
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« Reply #150 on: August 16, 2011, 02:13:46 PM »


If the problem is one of English usage, that is the language's problem, not the concept's. The reverence that the faithful give to icons and other created things is certainly different from that paid to the uncreated God. Buddha himself said that he should not be worshiped

Where?

The below passage from the Lotus Sutra is very typical of the Mahayana attitude.
Quote
"... After Buddhas passed into Parinirvana, there were people who made offerings to Buddhas' relics by constructing trillion kinds of stupas. With gold, silver and crystal, giant clam shells and agates, assorted gems of carnelian and vaidurya, they extensively adorned and secured the stupas with various first-rate treasures in utmost devotion.

There were also some people who built stone mausoleums, of sandalwood and aloe-wood, of hovenia and other timbers, of bricks, tiles, clay, and the like. Moreover, some people piled up the soil in the outdoors to form Buddha-shrines, even some children playfully built up Buddha stupas from sand. Such people and so on have now attained the Buddhahood.

Out of a deep devotion to Buddhas, people who built, sculpted or even carved out Buddha images, have now attained the Buddhahood.

Some made Buddha statues from seven jewels, or with nickel, copper, white tin, or with alloys of lead and tin, or with iron, wood, or again, with clay. Some even coated the statues with resin and lacquer. All of them conscientiously made the Buddha images. Such people and so on have now attained the Buddhahood.

People produced Buddha paintings with diverse colors, meticulously bringing out the noble qualities of Buddhas with artistic skills, either by themselves or by others through their instructions. They have all now attained the Buddhahood.

Even children while playing, might use grass, sticks, brushes, or their finger nails, to draw Buddha images. Such people and so on would gradually be accumulating virtues, fully harnessing their great compassionate hearts. They have now either attained the Buddhahood, or become Bodhisattvas who have liberated incalculable sentient beings ..."


Quote
And, the idea certainly doesn't make sense in the Japanese schools of Mahayana that I am most familiar with, such as Zen, which rejects the idea of  scriptures.

Which is pure nonsense, since Zen teaching is very much scripture-based, and there is a monumental amount of Zen literature. Even the oft-cited Zen emphasis on the limitations of language can be traced to the Lankavatara Sutra. Pretty much all of the great Zen teachers were well-read in the scriptures. The discourses of Dogen make no sense unless someone is well familiar with the sutra teachings. The "beyond the scriptures" stuff was addressed to people who depended too much on scriptures, people who put great weight in scholarship without minding experience. Unfortunately some western teachers who hadn't read any of the scriptures took this out of context and made it an excuse to make stuff up as they went along.

To go beyond the scriptures you have to know what's in them first.

Quote
Actually, that is not necessarily linguistically sound. The etymology goes back into Proto-Indo-European, which I find to be a speculative field. The actual first known use of the word is in Gothic bibles, not collections of Norse tales.

Regardless, the word "god" is applied in the English language TODAY to many beings which would not qualify as "gods" if immortality and creation ex nihilo are considered defining traits.

Quote
Does the Dalai Lama count as a Buddhist?
http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article=Ocean+of+wit+and+wisdoms&id=18719

"I'm Buddhist, I'm a Buddhist practitioner. So actually I think that according to nontheistic Buddhist belief, things are due to causes and conditions. No creator. So I have faith in our actions, not prayer. Action is important. Action is karma. Karma means action. That's an ancient Indian thought. In nontheistic religions, including Buddhism, the emphasis is on our actions rather than god or Buddha. So some people say that Buddhism is a kind of atheism. Some scholars say that Buddhism is not a religion — it's a science of the mind."

In response to the question, "do you agree with that [that Buddhism is a kind of atheism]?"

"Oh, yes. I even consider Buddha and some of his important followers like Nagarjuna (one of Buddha's leading disciples) to be scientists. Their main method is analytical. Analyze, analyze — not emphasis on faith."

The Dalai Lama really good at telling people what they want to hear. Such people will be disappointed when they delve into the Vajrayana texts and read all about the necessity of faith and devotion, toward the Buddha and toward one's guru.

Quote
Would you concede that the Dalai Lama may know a bit more about Buddism that you? Perhaps just a skosh?

I would concede that folks like Gampopa, Tsongkapa, etc. know a great deal more about Buddhism that you or I do and that they are more authoritative from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective than the current Dalai Lama. Go to a Gelug monastery and I bet that the works of Tenzin Gyatso make up very little of their course of study.

Since I was a Kagyupa, not a Gelugpa, the Dalai Lama's teaching was never high on my list.
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« Reply #151 on: August 16, 2011, 03:02:59 PM »

And, the idea certainly doesn't make sense in the Japanese schools of Mahayana that I am most familiar with, such as Zen, which rejects the idea of  scriptures.

Which is pure nonsense, since Zen teaching is very much scripture-based, and there is a monumental amount of Zen literature. Even the oft-cited Zen emphasis on the limitations of language can be traced to the Lankavatara Sutra. Pretty much all of the great Zen teachers were well-read in the scriptures. The discourses of Dogen make no sense unless someone is well familiar with the sutra teachings. The "beyond the scriptures" stuff was addressed to people who depended too much on scriptures, people who put great weight in scholarship without minding experience. Unfortunately some western teachers who hadn't read any of the scriptures took this out of context and made it an excuse to make stuff up as they went along.

To go beyond the scriptures you have to know what's in them first.

Pure nonsense? Then what do you make of this?

神光闻是语已,则取利刀,自断左臂,置于师前。师语神光云“诸佛菩萨求法,不以身为身,不以命为命。汝虽断求法,亦可在。”遂改神光名惠可。又问:“请和尚安心。”师曰:“将心来,与汝安心。”进曰“觅心了不可得。”师曰“觅得岂是汝心?与汝安心竟。”达摩语惠可曰:“为汝安心竟,汝今见不?”惠可言下大悟。惠可白和尚:“今日乃知,一切诸法,本来空寂。今日乃知,菩提不远。是故菩萨不动念而至萨般若①海,不动念而登涅槃岸。”师云:“如是,如是。”惠可进曰 “和尚此法有文字记录不?”达摩曰:“我法以心传心,不立文字。”
                                                                ———初祖菩提达摩语录  引自《祖堂集》卷二

What does "不立文字" mean to you? Now, if you are like me, and your Japanese is better than your Chinese, check out:
http://www.rinnou.net/cont_01/subwindow/subwin01.html

文字、言説を立てず、文字言説による教説の外に、別に直ちに心から心に(以心伝心)仏祖の悟りを伝えること。
不立文字(真の仏法は経典や教理によらず、以心伝心 [いしんでんしん] であるとする立場)というのは、文字に耽 [ふけ] り捕らわれないことをいうのです。ぜひ、達磨大師の説かれた悟性論 [ごしょうろん] ・血脈論 [けちみゃくろん] ・破相論 [はそうろん] ・二入四行論 [ににゅうしぎょうろん] ・安心法門 [あんじんほうもん] などの書を読みなさい。そうすることによって、六宗を降伏 [ごうぶく] された祖師方が、徹底的に仏教教理に通達されていたこと、また、今日のような不知文字(基本的な仏教知識すら知らないこと)を禅というのではないことを知るべきです。

Official site of the Rinzai/Obaku council, so I imagine it is has some level of authoritativeness. It certainly does not contradict what I learned during my years in Japan.

Quote
Quote
Actually, that is not necessarily linguistically sound. The etymology goes back into Proto-Indo-European, which I find to be a speculative field. The actual first known use of the word is in Gothic bibles, not collections of Norse tales.

Regardless, the word "god" is applied in the English language TODAY to many beings which would not qualify as "gods" if immortality and creation ex nihilo are considered defining traits.

Like Eric Clapton?

Quote
The Dalai Lama really good at telling people what they want to hear.

Frankly, that is not a response.
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« Reply #152 on: August 16, 2011, 03:51:50 PM »


Sauron, can you give us a translation of what that says?  I don't read Chinese nor Japanese.  Thanks.
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« Reply #153 on: August 16, 2011, 03:52:22 PM »

People need to be careful not to look at the Dali Lama as if he is the Pope of Buddhism. His opinions are based on his own particular brand of Buddhism. Like Christianity, Buddhism has many different sects and very different World Views and ways to practice within it.

In fact, the most advanced practitioners of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) understand that Buddhism is in fact solely dependent upon Faith.

Here is a link to a few essays by my teacher H.G. Lamont. They are a little 'inside baseball' but if you are so inclined, enjoy.

 http://www.kempon.net/lamont%20writting.htm

I certainly never meant to imply that he was. To the extent that Iconodule was speaking to Tibetan Buddhism, however, HHDL is an appropriate authority to cite in response.

I also agree with your points regarding the diversity found within Buddhism, contrary to Iconodule's claim that they are oh-so-cohesive.


I knew you were not saying that. I just thought it was appropriate to issue the standard warning Smiley
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« Reply #154 on: August 16, 2011, 07:10:26 PM »

And, the idea certainly doesn't make sense in the Japanese schools of Mahayana that I am most familiar with, such as Zen, which rejects the idea of  scriptures.

Which is pure nonsense, since Zen teaching is very much scripture-based, and there is a monumental amount of Zen literature. Even the oft-cited Zen emphasis on the limitations of language can be traced to the Lankavatara Sutra. Pretty much all of the great Zen teachers were well-read in the scriptures. The discourses of Dogen make no sense unless someone is well familiar with the sutra teachings. The "beyond the scriptures" stuff was addressed to people who depended too much on scriptures, people who put great weight in scholarship without minding experience. Unfortunately some western teachers who hadn't read any of the scriptures took this out of context and made it an excuse to make stuff up as they went along.

To go beyond the scriptures you have to know what's in them first.

Pure nonsense? Then what do you make of this?

神光闻是语已,则取利刀,自断左臂,置于师前。师语神光云“诸佛菩萨求法,不以身为身,不以命为命。汝虽断求法,亦可在。”遂改神光名惠可。又问:“请和尚安心。”师曰:“将心来,与汝安心。”进曰“觅心了不可得。”师曰“觅得岂是汝心?与汝安心竟。”达摩语惠可曰:“为汝安心竟,汝今见不?”惠可言下大悟。惠可白和尚:“今日乃知,一切诸法,本来空寂。今日乃知,菩提不远。是故菩萨不动念而至萨般若①海,不动念而登涅槃岸。”师云:“如是,如是。”惠可进曰 “和尚此法有文字记录不?”达摩曰:“我法以心传心,不立文字。”
                                                                ———初祖菩提达摩语录  引自《祖堂集》卷二

What does "不立文字" mean to you?

Not relying on the scriptures. I'll make a few observations about this famous quote.

1. It doesn't mean rejecting the scriptures as you claim.  To say "Zen rejects the idea of scriptures" is manifestly silly. It means not depending on writings and language. This concept can of course be traced to the Lankavatara Sutra, as I previously noted.

2. Your use of this passage is similar to iconoclasts pointing at the 2nd commandment. We know their interpretation is false by looking at the context in which the commandment was given and followed. Moses was also commanded to make depictions of Cherubim on the ark and other places. Likewise, any notion that Chan rejects scriptures is immediately shattered on visiting pretty much any Chan monastery and seeing how the scriptures are studied, read, chanted, and copied with great reverence. Listen to or read any Chan discourse and it will be full of scriptural allusions- all the discussion of the limitations of language is itself a scriptural allusion. Most of the Chan masters urging their disciples to not be so dependent on scriptures were at the same time intimately familiar with the content of the scriptures.

3. Where's this passage from? A written record, the Zutangji, one of the many, many written Chan texts which have been faithfully copied, quoted, and memorized throughout the Chan tradition, alongside the more general Buddhist sutras. It's said that Chan has the most voluminous written output of any of the Chinese Buddhist sects.

Quote
Quote
The Dalai Lama really good at telling people what they want to hear.

Frankly, that is not a response.

Right, my response was this: "Such people will be disappointed when they delve into the Vajrayana texts and read all about the necessity of faith and devotion, toward the Buddha and toward one's guru." The current Dalai Lama's opinions are simply not as authoritative as the sutras, tantras, lam rim texts, and commentaries which form the scriptural basis of the Vajrayana traditions.
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« Reply #155 on: August 16, 2011, 07:17:29 PM »

At least Toll House threads are usually somewhat relevant to the Orthodox faith.

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« Reply #156 on: August 16, 2011, 11:33:12 PM »

I'm sorry, Sauron, but I don't see how a statue of a man that non-Christians bow down to, etc., can be anything but an idol. The distinction between different kinds of worship which has developed within Orthodoxy is only relevant to Christianity.
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« Reply #157 on: August 18, 2011, 05:35:08 PM »

I'm sorry, Sauron, but I don't see how a statue of a man that non-Christians bow down to, etc., can be anything but an idol. The distinction between different kinds of worship which has developed within Orthodoxy is only relevant to Christianity.

Drop "Statue" and consider a drawn icon. Buddhists have a very similar view of Icons (Mandalas). They are a window to the spiritual realm. A Re-Presentation of the thing itself. A means to aid in practice, not something to be "Worshiped" like Hindu deities.......etc.

Should a Christian have one? Absolutely not IMHO. I got rid of my Mandala ( Icon) an expensive statue of the founder of the sect ( Nichiren) and a pretty complete library of Buddhist scriptures and commentaries.  

At my first Parish they have a rummage sale every year. They store the stuff downstairs until the sale.  I noticed one item was a Buddhist Mandala.
I pointed it out to the Priests and asked him;

"Do you know what that is?"

he said:"Pretty Picture?"

"Yes, yes, indeed it is. But it's also a Buddhist Mandala"

I proceeded to decode it for him the best I could. He decided to get rid of it once he understood what it was.
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« Reply #158 on: August 18, 2011, 09:25:55 PM »

I'm sorry, Sauron, but I don't see how a statue of a man that non-Christians bow down to....
Is there something un-Christian about "bowing"?
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« Reply #159 on: August 19, 2011, 10:37:16 AM »

I'm sorry, Sauron, but I don't see how a statue of a man that non-Christians bow down to....
Is there something un-Christian about "bowing"?

No. Obviously not. There is however, something idolatrous (as in, by definition) about bowing down to something that depicts a false 'god'.

Marc,

In my opinion, which granted is just my opinion, the distinction between icons and idols, like the distinction between latreia, dulia, and proskynesis, is only relevant to Christian theology and practice. All representations, whether 2-D or 3-D, used in non-Christian worship or contemplation are inherently idolatrous. There can be no re-presentation of a thing-in-itself that doesn't exist or is a fantastic misinterpretation of something that does exist. A depiction of a false theology is not spiritually beneficial insofar as it reinforces that false theology. Pagan drawings and statues are "the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell".

I am not trying to say there is no truth in Buddhism, or that Buddhists are evil or anything like that. Also not defending Taliban-style art destruction. Just saying that I see absolutely no reason to excuse idolatry.
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« Reply #160 on: August 19, 2011, 08:44:58 PM »

I'm sorry, Sauron, but I don't see how a statue of a man that non-Christians bow down to....
Is there something un-Christian about "bowing"?

No. Obviously not. There is however, something idolatrous (as in, by definition) about bowing down to something that depicts a false 'god'.

Marc,

In my opinion, which granted is just my opinion, the distinction between icons and idols, like the distinction between latreia, dulia, and proskynesis, is only relevant to Christian theology and practice. All representations, whether 2-D or 3-D, used in non-Christian worship or contemplation are inherently idolatrous. There can be no re-presentation of a thing-in-itself that doesn't exist or is a fantastic misinterpretation of something that does exist. A depiction of a false theology is not spiritually beneficial insofar as it reinforces that false theology. Pagan drawings and statues are "the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell".

I am not trying to say there is no truth in Buddhism, or that Buddhists are evil or anything like that. Also not defending Taliban-style art destruction. Just saying that I see absolutely no reason to excuse idolatry.

I guess I wasn't very clear.

1.Buddhist have a familiar theory about their Mandala's. It is the same as how we view our icons. They beleive them to be a representation of the thing itself. That is a true statement. That is what Buddhists believe.

2. I agree with you. The various spiritual realms and heavens and cosmic arrangements envisioned by Buddhists are false by a Christian understanding of spiritual reality. Therefore, you will notice that I got rid of every trace of them in my home when I converted and I also advised my Priest to quickly get rid of a Mandala that turned up at our rummage sale, if you read back a few posts.

 
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« Reply #161 on: August 19, 2011, 10:15:42 PM »

From my experience in Tibetan Buddhism, a statue of the Buddha which is used in worship is typically "consecrated" in such a way that the Buddha or other deity depicted is supposed to actually inhabit the statue. The texts on taking refuge will often say something to the effect that images of the Buddha are to be worshiped as the Buddha himself, as expressions of his 'nirmanakaya'. In this sense I think it could be argued that some Buddhist images really are idols.

I am sure that I have read on some occasions that our theology of icons also teaches that in some way the presence of the saint can manifest in an icon. Myrrh-streaming icons bring healing and blessing, and are usually understood to be the saint working through the image in his deified state. Such actions always come from Christ as the source, but the saint is at work by his deified power. So it seems to me that you could just as easily interpret what we believe as saying that the power of the God (Christ) is manifest in his icons or in icons of his holy ones. We wouldn't make the leap to say the the saint or God himself inhabits the images per se, but their power is made manifest through them. The same is true of bodily remains of saints after death. Their bones often almost ooze holy power, and in some sense the power of the saint and the God inhabit those bones. Also, the power of our God is made present in the Eucharist, which we bow before and adore as God. This is a clear example of not only the power of our God being made manifest in bread and wine, but bread and wine actually becoming our God.

So I would agree that it can be argued that some Buddhist images really are idols, but it can also be argued that some Christian images, Christian rags and relics and even some Christian foodstuffs really are idols based on the same rationale.

As far as those who are arguing that Buddhism can be considered atheistic in a certain sense, I would argue that the same is true of Orthodoxy, but in a different way. Most atheists argue that God does not exist as if there were some deity or sky-god residing on a cloud or in another galaxy. We would agree in that God is not a creature. His lack of "created-ness" points to a lack of "existence", as that term usually connotes a state of being in the created order, at least the way that most people use it. So in that sense, God does not exist.

edit: After I wrote this I looked up "existence" for kicks in a dictionary. Most of the definitions were actually quite good, but I did see traces of what I suggested in the listed synonyms, as one was "corporality". This also has a broad range of meanings, but the aspect that focuses on "body" in terms of matter and not so much essential substance seems to point towards an implication that existence is tied in with the corpus, or the body of a creature. Whatever!
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« Reply #162 on: August 19, 2011, 11:08:18 PM »

I have witnessed several "Consecrations" and was in-training to be able to do this myself.

I am sure this varies but in my sect it had nothing to do with the deity inhabiting the mandala (icon).

The ritual is called Kai gen ku yo which means "Opening of the Eyes" of an inanimate object. It is a bit more like a Christian Blessing but on steroids.

The metaphysics has a lot to do with the Buddhist view of the enlightenment of inanimate objects which I won't go into here. But the main idea is that the Priest places his personal "Faith" into the Object, a statue or a Mandala. The object is then "Animated" in a sense or to be banal, switched on. That is the reason the ritual is reserved for the most trustworthy Priests. If their Faith and understanding is faulty, the Object will be flawed in the same way.

I would have been the only American authorized to do this. There is a license sort of thing that they issue saying you are qualified.
Then I quit... Good thing I hadn't gone further with that training.... Someone responsible for me would have had to cut their abdomen open. 
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« Reply #163 on: August 20, 2011, 01:24:46 PM »

Someone responsible for me would have had to cut their abdomen open. 
That's some hard-core Nipponsei.
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« Reply #164 on: August 20, 2011, 02:28:25 PM »

Someone responsible for me would have had to cut their abdomen open. 
That's some hard-core Nipponsei.

You have no idea....

The most Senior guy I ever dealt with was an infantryman in China during the War. Hard core doesn't begin to describe him. 

I almost wrecked a young Priest's career with a minor complaint about him. He and his girlfriend and two female cousins were staying with me for a week. They wanted to go up to see New York which is about a five hour drive from DC. They split one morning without any plans where they would end up once they got there or where they would stay.. There is no such thing as street crime where they live in Japan so I was concerned.

Their senior called and I off highhandedly mentioned that they hopped up to New York and that I was worried.............. WRONG. They had "Worried" their American host. He was recalled to Japan and put out of his Temple. He eventually got back on track after a year or so.

He had caused his Senior to lose face. He had to apologize for him because I was made to worry... Well shoot me in the head. I thought I was just making small talk.

So yes, these guys will kill themselves if you give them the chance. Japanese etiquette is a bit more important than it is here.   
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« Reply #165 on: August 20, 2011, 04:18:31 PM »

Someone responsible for me would have had to cut their abdomen open. 
That's some hard-core Nipponsei.

You have no idea....

Have you had any experience with Won Buddhism, from Korea?
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Posts: 12,597


Probiotic .. Antibiotic


« Reply #166 on: August 21, 2011, 10:34:07 PM »

Someone responsible for me would have had to cut their abdomen open. 
That's some hard-core Nipponsei.

You have no idea....

Have you had any experience with Won Buddhism, from Korea?

There was a Won center close to where I live. I had a brief chat with the Monk once.
As I recall it appeared to me to be a polyglot inauthentic religion. It was in the vein of many of that type of "New Buddhism" that appeared around the turn of the 20th Century. Not my type of Green Tea.

Korean Zen on the other hand has more to speak for it.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
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