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if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Chordal
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Post: #1
if you thought you no longer had any choice...
If you were certain that you took bodhisattva vows in a past life, what would you do about it?

I'm not yet at the point of certainty, but recently the evidence has been...enough to make me think that maybe if I commit to any spiritual path in this life (with vows), it should be one which complements, or is, this.

I've been doing some reading in the shamanism book by Mircea Eliade that I think I mentioned some time ago. It's fairly clear from what I've read so far, that the types of "shamans" he's talking about (I don't clearly recall him defining the term yet, and I'm a good way into the book), concerned themselves with physical maladies; my specialization is psychological and mental.

I know I have beginner's skill at relieving my own psychosomatic problems via biofeedback. I know that, given enough time and experience, I can find ways around mental problems -- particularly of the type where someone is blocked by a question that may be unanswerable. I know now that it takes energy to tear oneself down, and that this energy can be rerouted. I can feel energetic impressions emanating from people and certain objects. At times I have felt other spirits working through me. I know that what my body wants to do is not necessarily the best thing for it, or me. (Interesting, that phrasing.)

But, at least at this point, I would not let anyone entrust me to cure their purely physical illnesses via some spiritual power. This is in the same way as I do not predict the future, or read people's auras or palms or tarot spreads, or intentionally work bilocation, or work as a communicative link between the living and the dead. I am not a miracle worker, and though I do have crystal spheres, I don't try to see anything in them -- I just think they're pretty, and may use them to focus my intent, or use them as learning tools (they often feel strange in my hands, which can motivate me to try and gain some idea of why).

There are reasons why I am reluctant to call myself "psychic" or "a medium" or "a shaman". Hell, I'm not even an "energy worker" yet, though I have trained in an art which could prepare me for energy manipulation.

But this...with the Buddhism, seems like it may have been decided, by myself, prior to birth. I feel like I'm waking up to a reality that's been there all along. Some teachings make sense. Some of them are just crazy...though maybe they were derived to help specific people with specific, life-hating temperaments...

My drive in my own healing has been to decrease suffering for myself and to increase my own functionality. In learning the roots of my own duhkha ("suffering"), and working to eliminate or understand them, I gain knowledge of the states of suffering. I can use my own experiences to help others out of their own pits...if they ask. Offering help when they are not ready to help themselves, and look to others to heal them, is futile.

I don't think it's best for me to be a magic worker in this life. I don't have the constitution.

But maybe I can help people in their own healing, if they can recognize that it is they who are on the front line to heal themselves first, and that I am only there to assist.

All of that...why am I writing this?

I don't entirely know everything that's going on. I think I will know, eventually...just, not now.

I have suspicion that I took bodhisattva vows in a past life and this is...possibly not a cause of my suffering in this life (suffering is ubiquitous), but...perhaps it helps me use that suffering in a productive way -- to end the cycle.

I'm not saying that I'm an authority on Buddhism (to anyone other than myself, anyway). I'm not saying that I'm highly spiritually advanced. I'm not saying I believe everything attributed to "Buddha".

I'm saying that I think this is just the latest chapter in a long series of chapters, and I just haven't been aware of the fact that I'm in a book. And...well, is it reasonable to think, when healing yourself, that you've been through this before and that you can use your experiences to help others cease their own self-destruction?

I've gotten to the point where I'm seeing esoteric meanings in the words of Buddhist teachers -- at least double meanings, that are sitting there in plain sight but undisclosed and unexplained. I've gotten to the point where I am not certain that there is any end to the cycle of reincarnation, but there is a possible end to the massive amounts of unnecessary suffering we undergo while incarnated.

I don't know if it makes sense because the teachings of Buddhism are universal, as everyone suffers; I don't know if it makes sense because of my ethnic background; I don't know if it makes sense because of accumulated training in prior lives, or because of assistance from others in-spirit and incarnate.

And if I'm right; and I have taken bodhisattva vows in the past; I don't know what's become of everyone else. I don't know what will happen as the historical record moves on and Mahayana becomes seen as something dead and gone, while those of us who took vows to remain incarnate and work for the sake of all sentient beings, continue to be bound by those vows, and continue to work toward the ideal. A world without unnecessary pain; without beings using each other as tools for their own gain; without beings destroying themselves from the inside out. What happens when the historical record erases our schools, perverts what we've learned? We carry the school within our hearts? Pure?

If you believed that you had once taken these vows, to continue on for as long as possible in the world of samsara -- the world of suffering -- to assist beings in ending the patterns that cause suffering for themselves and others...and you realized this, in this life...what would you do?

(I should note that this, I [presently] believe, is the outcome of my Awakening...)
2011-07-24 8:07
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Post: #2
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Chordal Wrote:If you were certain that you took bodhisattva vows in a past life, what would you do about it?

Chop wood.

Quote:I know that what my body wants to do is not necessarily the best thing for it, or me. (Interesting, that phrasing.)

I'm wondering how you know this. I'm not saying your wrong, but I far more often see people thinking that their body doesn't know what is best for them, but they do, when it is often reversed. The trouble is people are afraid of what will happen without their control.

Quote:And if I'm right; and I have taken bodhisattva vows in the past; I don't know what's become of everyone else. I don't know what will happen as the historical record moves on and Mahayana becomes seen as something dead and gone, while those of us who took vows to remain incarnate and work for the sake of all sentient beings, continue to be bound by those vows, and continue to work toward the ideal. A world without unnecessary pain; without beings using each other as tools for their own gain; without beings destroying themselves from the inside out. What happens when the historical record erases our schools, perverts what we've learned? We carry the school within our hearts? Pure?

You're confusing yana with dharma. What happens with Mahayana is dead and gone? What happened in the centuries and countless eons before Mahayana? The vehicle is not the dharma If Mahayana is gone, if the world has descended into the impurity that is foretold, then it makes no difference. It's like enjoying baking, you bake to make people feel better, what do you do when baking is outdated, either too technologically advanced (foodpiles, I don't know, shut up and listen!) or technologically regressive. What do you do? Well it depends, were you in it for baking, or making people feel better. If it's all about flour, sugar, eggs and 175C then you're screwed. If it's about helping people, then you'll find a way. Yana no yana, the dharma is there, the path is there. If history corrupts it, if you corrupt it in yourself, all that is left is you and your work. If you took the vows even if you get them dirty, you'll clean them off and keep working.

[Image: neverforgetm.png]

When we first begin all things simply are.
As we grow all things are external.
As we learn all things are internal.
As we understand all things are not.
2011-07-24 23:58
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Post: #3
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Gesigewigus Wrote:
Chordal Wrote:I know that what my body wants to do is not necessarily the best thing for it, or me. (Interesting, that phrasing.)
I'm wondering how you know this. I'm not saying your wrong, but I far more often see people thinking that their body doesn't know what is best for them, but they do, when it is often reversed. The trouble is people are afraid of what will happen without their control.
It was simpler before I began medications. I'm on two of them right now; they both alter my brain chemistry so that I'm more apt to want to sleep, even though I'm not certain (that is to say, I doubt) my body needs, say, 10-14 hours of sleep a night. Before I began medications, though, I was getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night...which is probably what made me vulnerable to depression.

Part of the reason I'm working on this is that it would be...a great help to learn to manage the mood symptoms and the (at times) disconnection from reality, without needing the medications, or at least without needing them as much. I've been on antidepressants since I was seventeen and the other medication since I was 21; I'm nearing 30, and I have seen others who have been in a similar situation (they were told they will need to be on medication for life), but no medication will work any longer. So, now that they are quite old...they have to work on managing their symptoms without the assistance of the medication, which they have not done before.

It makes sense for me to commit to learning to manage my symptoms now, so that I am no longer dependent, or as dependent, on the medications. As for whether I actually will need to be on them for life...I can at least work on needing to be on less. For now, that's a likely attainable goal.

I'm cutting out a couple of paragraphs here because they may make my illness identifiable. If you'd like to read them, I can PM them to you.

There is a different condition I have, which is likely controllable without medication, but which causes me to obsess over minute details and not always realize that no one else cares about them. This can be helped with reality-checking, though; measuring my own reactions against the reactions of others.

I also have problems controlling my blood sugar, though I am not (yet) diabetic or pre-diabetic. Hence, the food issue is fairly apparent...I used to crave sweets. Especially, when I was depressed and pre-medication, I would crave chocolate, peanut butter, and potatoes. All of these have psychological effects -- I was essentially attempting to medicate myself through food, though I wasn't conscious of doing this.

Now I know that sweets (refined sugars and refined flours, plus honey and maple syrup) make me feel bad (anxiety, mood lability [instability]), or make me sleep, and that they're addictive. The less I eat them, the healthier I am -- my blood sugar is more stable, which helps the anxiety and mood symptoms, and I tend to eat things that are more nutritious. When the sugar is gained from fruit rather than candy, my mood remains stable, I don't get the urge to sleep, and I'm getting more fiber and nutrients. But I know that candy -- and sodas -- are addictive. The more they're eaten, the more they're desired.

So there is a kind of balance here...between addiction, habit, and medication side effects; and feeling better because of doing something that legitimately boosts health. One has to discriminate between the feelings.

Gesigewigus Wrote:
Chordal Wrote:And if I'm right; and I have taken bodhisattva vows in the past; I don't know what's become of everyone else. I don't know what will happen as the historical record moves on and Mahayana becomes seen as something dead and gone, while those of us who took vows to remain incarnate and work for the sake of all sentient beings, continue to be bound by those vows, and continue to work toward the ideal. A world without unnecessary pain; without beings using each other as tools for their own gain; without beings destroying themselves from the inside out. What happens when the historical record erases our schools, perverts what we've learned? We carry the school within our hearts? Pure?
You're confusing yana with dharma. What happens with Mahayana is dead and gone? What happened in the centuries and countless eons before Mahayana? The vehicle is not the dharma If Mahayana is gone, if the world has descended into the impurity that is foretold, then it makes no difference. It's like enjoying baking, you bake to make people feel better, what do you do when baking is outdated, either too technologically advanced (foodpiles, I don't know, shut up and listen!) or technologically regressive. What do you do? Well it depends, were you in it for baking, or making people feel better. If it's all about flour, sugar, eggs and 175C then you're screwed. If it's about helping people, then you'll find a way. Yana no yana, the dharma is there, the path is there. If history corrupts it, if you corrupt it in yourself, all that is left is you and your work. If you took the vows even if you get them dirty, you'll clean them off and keep working.
Thank you. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I'm happy you came along and responded to my post. *s*

What does one do with all the ideas and attributes that are supposed to be marks of bodhisattvas (as versus simply wanting to help people heal and feel better)?
2011-07-25 2:32
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Post: #4
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Chordal Wrote:I'm cutting out a couple of paragraphs here because they may make my illness identifiable. If you'd like to read them, I can PM them to you.
I should note that I did not mean to try and make you feel obligated to read what I wrote. It's just that there are things I'd share specifically with you that I would not share with the public at large...and I had to nip off my reply once I realized that.

So, no pressure. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
2011-07-25 3:44
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Post: #5
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Chordal Wrote:It was simpler before I began medications. I'm on two of them right now; they both alter my brain chemistry so that I'm more apt to want to sleep, even though I'm not certain (that is to say, I doubt) my body needs, say, 10-14 hours of sleep a night. Before I began medications, though, I was getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night...which is probably what made me vulnerable to depression.

You could have left it at that. Yes, medicine putting your body into deviant patterns, I can see that. It can still be argued that's what your body needs while on the medicine, but yeah, you're working on getting off them, so that's different. Don't need more background than that, that actually makes sense. In general a lot of people think they know what is better for their bodies but really it's just fear and attachment.

Quote:What does one do with all the ideas and attributes that are supposed to be marks of bodhisattvas (as versus simply wanting to help people heal and feel better)?

Arguably, chop wood. While some of the ideas and attributes may have some...objective nature to them, for the most part their guidelines. The physical marks, arguably superstition, and the mental ones are vague guidelines. To speak in the manner of Kundun for a moment (with no disrespect intended) the ideas/attributes of the Bodhisattva are a Buddhist construction around someone who is a right person, of right action, of right path, but have no reality (ha!) outside of the tradition. Meaning it doesn't matter if these traits are there due to having taken the vows, there due to the ripening of merit and karma, or just there. What matters is making use of them.

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When we first begin all things simply are.
As we grow all things are external.
As we learn all things are internal.
As we understand all things are not.
2011-07-25 23:51
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Post: #6
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Thank you. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I'm not entirely sure why I tend to overexplain...I have some clue, but ...probably best not to get into it. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> It has a long history. XD

I'm not sure if I should ask yet -- but people have a way of sifting into and out of my life, so maybe I should not assume I'll remain in contact with you long enough...I am interested in reading more translated source texts. The ones I'm now on are highly abridged and meant to give an overview. (The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions, by Philip Novak.)

Note here: I write the next paragraph out for myself, to outline the steps I'll need to take...I do not realistically expect to find all of this in one place.

What I'm looking for are translations, at least of Sutras and Abhidharma works (I'm not as concerned about Vinaya), which would ideally give a notice of the titles pre-English-translation (to assist in looking up more information about the work), and which give the time and place and, ideally, context of their writing (to give a clue as to the cultures of influence on the writer -- but when is anything ever ideal?). If the text is by one school's author in response to another school's teachings...I suppose that Kogen Mizuno's work Essentials of Buddhism would help on seeing which schools were around when (he includes schools which no longer exist)...it would just take a bit of study for each question. Maybe an enlarged timeline map, or something. ^_^

The reason for the first, likely most important beginning step: I found a text seemingly meant for a general reader (for my own reasons, I shouldn't name it) which gives translations of works, but these are across historical settings (time and place) and do not give the original names of each text. Essentially, if I'm right in what I've inferred (I only found the book today -_-; ah, impatient!...) this treats all of Buddhism as a non-time-and-place dependent phenomenon, isolating it from history and cultural context, and mixing up later works with former; I get the sense it is also mixing writings of different schools together. I know I've talked to you before about the same problem on Wikipedia, with people of many different schools writing different articles on Buddhism, without saying what school they were taught by. This leads to internal doctrinal contradiction, if this Buddhism is looked upon as a whole and expected to be internally consonant. (I hope "consonant" is the opposite of "dissonant"...)

This does not help in establishing continuity, which matters if a person wants to know, say, what Sutras were more likely actual accounts of the Tathagata and which Sutras were written far after he had passed. (Though we could say that is a moot point, all oceans tasting of salt and whatnot, see if it tastes like salt.) Nor does it give a hint of reasons the texts may have been written. If a certain work was written in response to the teachings of a rival school, it would be good to be able to understand that the reason for its inception was dialectic or defensive, when evaluating whether to utilize its teachings or not (I find words spoken out of a defensive place to often be hyperbolic and shortsighted).

Example. In the general-reader text I mention above, the Prajnaparamita Sutra is given under the heading "The Perfection of Wisdom". Because of prior study (the beginning of The Heart Sutra [a study by Red Pine; what is given of the Heart Sutra itself is two pages, and it almost fits on one page in Novak's text]) I know what this work is; but if I were a general reader I would not know precisely where to look next (Google? then we've got to find reputable sites) for more information on this Sutra, if I were interested in it. I don't think I'd even know it was a Sutra.

I can sense a likely workaround here in attempting to look up the text by the title online...but that's if I can find no other way.

Knowing the time and place of the writing helps because it gives someplace to look for the cultural context surrounding the thinking of the piece...for instance, Ch'an Buddhism being influenced by Daoism, and the two of them coexisting with Confucianism -- totally not the case at Buddhism's arisal in India, where we're looking at co-existence and influence with Hindu schools and Jains. Or, again, we could have the Confucian ideal of filial piety gone into ancestor worship and existing alongside Shinto, alongside Zen, and this plus Western contact giving rise to a different outlook. Different zeitgeists.

At the least, cultural context gives an idea as to what could be injected into the writings. Why do I care...? I'm not sure if this would be considered a mistake, but I would like to know what is Buddhism and what is people trying to add in extraneous messages under the heading of "Buddhism". Taste of salt? <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Sorry for writing so much. XD I spoke with someone earlier about this, and they told me I should likely ask a monk. Thing is that there are many schools, and I really am not at the stage yet where I know who's who, other than that Tibetan Buddhism seems to jive with me better than, say, Pure Land; and that one of the temples I've run into is known for being cultish (saying you should leave your friends and family and join them, this type of thing).

Okay. So, one more time: I'm looking for translations of original texts, hopefully with searchable titles (transliterated is fine, translated only?...not so fine) and the time, place and cultural context in which they were written -- but, I don't expect to find all of this in one place. It seems more like an ongoing course of study than anything I'd find conveniently stashed, all together. The reasons I'm asking...because I won't have a chance at all of getting your input if I don't ask; because I know you read a lot <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->; because I'm not sure how long we'll be in contact. Reasons not to ask: I don't want you getting irritated with me <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->; and I feel this may be a bit premature, but, you know, people evaporate from my life.

Onegai shimasu? <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->
2011-07-26 6:58
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Post: #7
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Ah, good -- I got here before I seem to have troubled you.

I couldn't sleep last night, and so did some reading in the "general reader" text I mentioned before. The book actually does give the original names of the texts, and doesn't treat Buddhism as one great big ahistorical blob. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

As a side note, I can try and explain what Ges and I are referencing (to the best of my knowledge) if people are lost. <!-- sBig Grin --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- sBig Grin --> It's just fun to be able to talk to someone like this, hee. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->
2011-07-27 21:42
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Post: #8
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Chordal Wrote:What I'm looking for are translations, at least of Sutras and Abhidharma works (I'm not as concerned about Vinaya), which would ideally give a notice of the titles pre-English-translation (to assist in looking up more information about the work), and which give the time and place and, ideally, context of their writing (to give a clue as to the cultures of influence on the writer -- but when is anything ever ideal?). If the text is by one school's author in response to another school's teachings...I suppose that Kogen Mizuno's work Essentials of Buddhism would help on seeing which schools were around when (he includes schools which no longer exist)...it would just take a bit of study for each question. Maybe an enlarged timeline map, or something. ^_^

In most cases you won't get all of that in one place you're right. You can try checking out <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.fodian.net/world/">http://www.fodian.net/world/</a><!-- m --> it has a good collection of sutras, couple languages often with original titles. The trouble (?) is sometimes something is listed twice (or more) because it will have the English title in one section, the Pali in another, the Sanskrit in another. As for the titles, depending on the school (I know this is exceedingly popular in mid-Vajrayana sutras and sadhanas) sometimes the title is actually just the first line or first few words. So if you have an untranslated, or a transliterated text, you can look up the first bit of it, and that might give you more sources.

I know of no collection like one that would suit you. Your best choice would probably be to get academic texts on the philosophy and beliefs in various schools (which should give timelines and x responding to y type information) and from in the text, and the bibliography you should be able to find the sutras.

Quote:this treats all of Buddhism as a non-time-and-place dependent phenomenon, isolating it from history and cultural context, and mixing up later works with former

This is less a problem in...what I guess I'd call upper level academic texts and more so a problem in intro level books on Buddhism, but you're completely right. If you treat all forms of Buddhism as being the same thing, then by combining essentialist Mayahana (all things are Buddha-nature) with Zen de-centralizing to practice (if you meet the Buddha on the side of the road stab him) them you have a recipe for Buddhist genocide...after all everyone is Buddha, and you're supposed to stab him <!-- s;-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";-)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;-) --> Less snarky/silly examples though, it is a problem in Buddhist studies. What I would recommend is take the book your and check out the sources, especially if they're broken down by chapter. While your book may be a more general mish-mash it will have drawn from more specific works and those will be more clear. This is something I find myself doing all the time, after a few years when you read a book you'll know some of the sources right off, heh.

Quote:I'm not sure if this would be considered a mistake, but I would like to know what is Buddhism and what is people trying to add in extraneous messages under the heading of "Buddhism". Taste of salt? <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

If you're worried about the extraneous stuff under the heading of Buddhism you can drop all your silly Boddhisattva and reincarnation talk right here, and this weird idea that you can be Buddhist and talking online, get thee to a monastery! Buddhism has gone through a lot of changes since it's formation, to the point that opposite ends of Buddhism bare almost no resemblance to each other. That's a trouble for me because most people learn about Theravada Buddhism in world religion courses and stuff like that, but I'm Vajrayanist. So when I say something about a God, or a Soul they're all confused "But that's not Buddhism?!" Well, yes and no...it's very different from what we know of the original form of Buddhism, and I occasionally argue it might be easier to be considered a separate religion altogether, but it's just what happens.

We know enough of the history to know Theravada is the closest we have to what Siddartha taught (if he existed, if not what the later monks cobbled together) and that Mahayana, with more ideas on the soul, Boddhisattva, and compassion came later. So the question is are you looking for the original stuff, or the relevant stuff? There are three spinnings (and then Zen, which doesn't get counted for some reason) and then multiple schools, all with their own historical reason for arising. If you want the original stuff, it's very irrelevant for life now (as the average person would think of it) as there is (and I argue this for all turnings of the Wheel, but especially the first one) no such thing as a lay-Buddhist. If you read the original teachings you can't be in "this world" and a Buddhist, you have to be a renunciate. Part of the reason for Mahayana being created (turned) was to attempt to bring Dharma to those who didn't want to live in a temple silently. Depending on how nice you want to be that makes it no more or less Buddhism, just a very different application.

[Image: neverforgetm.png]

When we first begin all things simply are.
As we grow all things are external.
As we learn all things are internal.
As we understand all things are not.
2011-07-29 14:51
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Post: #9
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
Ack! Sorry, I hit "Edit" instead of "Quote" when I began writing the entry after this one. I believe this is a full restored copy of the text...

--Chordal (6:38 PM, August 2, 2011)

***

Hi,

Sorry for the wait...aside from wood-chopping <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->, my Circadian rhythms are off. Thank you for the advice and for the link!

Gesigewigus Wrote:
Chordal Wrote:I'm not sure if this would be considered a mistake, but I would like to know what is Buddhism and what is people trying to add in extraneous messages under the heading of "Buddhism". Taste of salt? <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->
If you're worried about the extraneous stuff under the heading of Buddhism you can drop all your silly Boddhisattva and reincarnation talk right here, and this weird idea that you can be Buddhist and talking online, get thee to a monastery!
Heh -- I realized that "extraneous messages under the heading of 'Buddhism'" would probably include a majority of what I was talking about, about a day after I sent this. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> I'm not sure if it would make any difference here, but what I was thinking of was partially the idea that the later Sutras were attributed to "Buddha"...and the fact that Siddhartha Buddha actually taught them is questionable. This wouldn't really be a concern for me except for the factor of ethics ("Buddha said it, so that means you should listen [as opposed to my saying it]"), though I believe that at least Mahayana makes a caveat that we all have Buddha-nature (buddhagotra?) and thus a later being writing something and attributing it to Buddha, isn't actually being deceptive. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

I don't know, however, whether that idea or the hidden texts came up first, and nor do I know the religious climate which might have moved someone to "find" hidden texts, or whether they were actually "found" or "ghostwritten".

Then there's all the other cultural stuff like, to just draw an example off the top of my head, Narakas... I don't know enough about this to really go making a claim on it, but the "realm of intense suffering" thing is...a bit odd. I am really talking out of my element here, but it would seem like the Narakas may have originated outside of Buddhism -- my first instinct on where to look is Religious Daoism, but again, I'm not certain on that. Hmm.

Gesigewigus Wrote:So the question is are you looking for the original stuff, or the relevant stuff?
Likely, the relevant stuff. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

I think that if, for example, I had been asked to accept the entirety of a certain Buddhist school as an all-or-nothing thing (as I've seen being demanded of people in other religions, particularly of Pagans...though that has its own historical specificity and probably a lot to do with Llewellyn <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->), I probably would have set this aside. Instead, it was presented to me as a healing thing, and that if something helped me, then to use it. Eventually enough of it helped me that the bits started reinforcing and deepening each other and forming a coherent system.

In the same manner...I do not yet entirely understand the idea of Nibbana. I've read that it is not the extinguishment of being, but the extinguishment of the defilements (klesha)... though both of those readings have been from Japanese sources (I know one was Pure Land; the other was Mizuno), and I have not yet followed up on them deeply. It seems to be related to the idea of positive and negative karma, which I don't yet fully understand, either. I understand that karma is cause and effect -- the valuation of positive or negative is what I do not understand (in addition to the idea of ripening of karma, which I only mention because I like learning m>^_^<m <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->).

Anyhow. I'm not yet ready to say goodbye to the world, though I'm not sure if this is what I've been told I should be after, or if I just misunderstood, or if I had many Western sources to begin with that did not understand their material. I am, however, ready to put into action more teachings which will reduce my own level of duhkha. Total obliteration (?) is not what I'm after, at least not now, but the ending of needless suffering seems a worthy goal. Learning from and using this life's (and future lives') pain to end the cycle of needless pain is something that is very attainable. Plus the idea of throwing a wrench into the mechanism of samsara is kind of funny. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

-- got to go. more to say, but got to go. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I hope I wasn't too offensive. <!-- sBig Grin --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- sBig Grin -->
2011-08-01 2:06
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Chordal
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Post: #10
Re: if you thought you no longer had any choice...
aHAA!
Chordal Wrote:I'm not sure if it would make any difference here, but what I was thinking of was partially the idea that the later Sutras were attributed to "Buddha"...and the fact that Siddhartha Buddha actually taught them is questionable. This wouldn't really be a concern for me except for the factor of ethics ("Buddha said it, so that means you should listen [as opposed to my saying it]"), though I believe that at least Mahayana makes a caveat that we all have Buddha-nature (buddhagotra?) and thus a later being writing something and attributing it to Buddha, isn't actually being deceptive. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->
I was doing some more reading last night in Essentials of Buddhism and found that the Mahayana texts apparently *weren't* essentially attributed to Shakyamuni.

"After Mahayana developed, vaipulya was adopted as an epithet for Mahayana sutras. Thus the full title of the Flower Garland Sutra is Buddha-avatamsaka-nama-maha-vaipulya-sutra." (Mizuno 74)

Hence, the confusion between Mahayana sutras and the earlier sutras is an English convention!!! Ugh.

Chordal Wrote:Anyhow. I'm not yet ready to say goodbye to the world, though I'm not sure if this is what I've been told I should be after, or if I just misunderstood, or if I had many Western sources to begin with that did not understand their material. I am, however, ready to put into action more teachings which will reduce my own level of duhkha.
Given that I began reading this stuff when I was in my early twenties, and that I was reading in a University library with a lot of old books (that is, books from the early period of Western Buddhology...if that's an accurate description), it's likely that either I misunderstood, the books were sensationalist/exoticizing [if the latter is a word <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->], the authors were only dealing with Theravada, or the authors really didn't know what they were talking about. Or, all four. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

So...I get the idea that nirvana is supposed to be a pleasant thing. I haven't gotten to the "nirvana" section of Mizuno's text yet (the fourth section of the fourth chapter, "The Seals of the Law"). I've known it's a helpful text for a while, but I have the rather frustrating habit of beginning to read a book and then stopping to do something else, and not coming back to it for a long time.

This book in particular is difficult because he does not translate out the terms he's using -- though I actually prefer this. (He defines them, but he doesn't translate them.) I spent a long time reading texts which translated out terms (like "duhkha" into "suffering"), but the original term and the translated term differed in meaning. "Suffering" in a Buddhist context does not mean "suffering" in simply a mundane context. "Duhkha" is not the same thing as the English term, "suffering", though "duhkha" definitely includes what we think of as "suffering". So...Mizuno is talking about concepts which have names in both Pali and Sanskrit (which he uses in lieu of translated terms -- probably a necessity for a multinational book translated into English out of Japanese), and now I've noticed Chinese references (differing Dynasties!). I can see why I bought the book -- because this is not going to reveal all of its meaning on a single read-through.

But I can try and wait until I can read through the section on nirvana and see what it gets me, and then try and come back more prepared. I know there is "nirvana without fixed abode" (apratisthita-nirvana) which is the state of a bodhisattva who has attained enlightenment and remains in the world by choice to help beings...there is also...the idea that nirvana is the cessation of the defilements which are never to rise again (the main defilements [the "Three Poisons"] being anger, greed, and ignorance [of the Dharma])...then there is nirvana-with-residue and nirvana-without-residue, which I won't understand without studying more...

It is rather odd to have shifted into this viewpoint. Someone whose words I used to follow elsewhere, I recall saying something to the extent that we know that extreme asceticism is crazy, and we know that going to the other extreme of indulgence brings pain, so how do we negotiate a middle path...but the asceticism s/he (I can't remember hir gender) referred to was of the type of not killing anything ever (like insects), not eating meat...in the past I've brought up the idea that we can't even survive without killing something, or we would be overrun by microorganisms very quickly. So how do we decide which moral transgressions are okay and which are not?

I know that I don't want to kill insects and spiders, but I also know that if I don't, they will overrun me. I know that an entirely vegetarian diet is not what my body is built for. I know that I will quickly die if my immune system stops working. I would like to not ever have to kill anything, but I also would like to survive. Buddhist morals say it is wrong to harm or kill sentient beings. What is the boundary which determines which beings are sentient, and how can we judge that? Is it the more itself that is unrealistic, untenable? If so, do we modify it? Should we?

(I suppose no one knew that illnesses were caused by living things in 500 BCE.)

This is one of those things about Buddhism that seems...so altruistic as to be impractical, and this, along with the sexual aspects (which I may be misunderstanding -- I'm not certain if it is supposed to be good not to desire, period; or good not to desire out of delusion), is largely what has been a barrier between myself and this philosophical system in this life. This seems like a question it might be best to dialogue on, as versus read out of a book...
2011-08-03 1:37
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