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Thread: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

  1. #1
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    We have a lot of Shinto stuff, but not too much Buddhism...and I saw this decent documentary the other day with Chickadee and thought I'd share it.




    I'm not Buddhist, but I find a few things in the practice and philosophy to be useful...so I'll probably post those at some point too.

    Feel free to add stuff!
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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  2. #2
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    I like this,I have studied some of their beliefs and find them interesting.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    To me, the most amazing thing that the Buddhists have discovered is that, while we all know that our minds affect our bodies, they have found that it is also possible for the mind to affect itself.

    And they have developed a whole suite of techniques to do this.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    Newbie Thoth's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    Continue in the abyss of buddhism, and one will encounter the Bardo Thodol translated as the book of the dead. It is sacred, and an intricate guide through the afterlife as a spirit. Very interesting indeed.

  5. #5
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    The key concepts of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path.

    There are many different ways of understanding these things. I'll explain the Four Noble Truths, but won't be at all surprised if other's understand them differently.

    The first is:
    Life is Suffering (Dukkha). Now, the first reaction I had to this was "Hey! Wait a minute! Sure, there is suffering, but life is other things as well." But there is a problem with the translation.

    As I understand it, the word "Dukkha" means both "suffering" and "anything which is temporary."

    So the way to understand this is actually - in life, a person will suffer. Even when one is happy, it is a temporary state which will inevitably turn to suffering. The health you have now will fade in old age. The money you have now will be lost through the vagaries of economics. The people you love will go away or die.


    The Second Noble Truth is:
    The cause of suffering is desire. We want - we want to be healthy, we want to have money, we want to love and be loved, we want to be right. We want the things we believe to be true to be true, we want to teach others what we have learned, we want the world to be a better place. When we have something good, we want to keep it - and continue to enjoy it.

    There is no end to what we want.

    We suffer because we don't get what we want, or, when we do, we eventually lose it.


    The Third Noble Truth is:
    Suffering can end. Once a problem has been identified, and the cause of the problem is known, the problem can be solved. This is what I like about Buddhist thought - the perfect logic.

    We identify the problem - suffering, we know the cause - desire. And the cure for suffering is now obvious. End desire and one ends suffering.

    Easier said than done though. One also needs to know how to end desire in a manner that does not require a lobotomy.

    So...

    The Fourth Noble Truth is:
    The Eightfold Path is the way to end desire (without brain surgery).

    As a Westerner, I'd say that The Four Noble Truths are the theory, while the Eightfold Path is application. If I get a chance, I'll come back to the Eightfold Path soon - although this is where it can get complicated...
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  6. #6
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    The Eightfold Path:

    So the Eightfold Path, then, is how you think, act, and what you do in order to overcome suffering. It's kind of like Buddhist morals and ethics, but it is also more than that because, rather than being a mere list of do's and don't's which one is supposed to follow "for the good of (humanity, one's self, god)" it is intended to change one's "head space" (way of thought). By changing one's way of thought, one changes one's relationship to all things in existence - including the self and others.

    It should not be thought of as a step-by-step approach. A person works at doing all at the same time. But - it is progressive, in the sense that as one moves forward in any of the eight categories, one will find the other seven easier to move forward in.

    The parts of The Eightfold Path are:

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention
    3. Right speech
    4. Right action
    5. Right livelihood
    6. Right effort
    7. Right mindfulness
    8. Right concentration

    When I get back, I'll take a look at my understanding of the first two - Right View and Right Intention, which constitute "Wisdom."
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  7. #7
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    The first two items listed in The Eightfold Path fall under the category of “Wisdom.”

    Wisdom sounds like such a high-falutin’ thing… I feel much more comfortable regarding them as “thinking clearly and seeing/understanding things as they really are.” With that understanding, let’s take a look at number 1 – Right understanding, or “Perfect Vision.”

    At first, this one seems like a cheap trick, the kind of cheap trick that every two-bit cult leader pulls on the gullible.

    Right understanding means (to begin with. I’m just a beginner. These things deepen as you move forward) accepting the Four Noble Truths as both noble and true. In other words, to achieve enlightenment, a person must believe that what the Buddha said is good is good, and what he said is true is true.
    Or, to put it cynically, “I have the answers you are looking for. Trust me and do as I say, Buddy!”

    However, it’s not quite like that – no, not like that at all.

    The Buddhist is often quoted as saying ““Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

    So not only is blind faith not required, it is an error.

    The upshot of all this is that a person cannot just buy into Buddhism. It needs to be inspected, evaluated, and judged. Those Four Noble Truths are laid out in the form of a logical argument which arrives at a conclusion. The rule (this is pretty Western of me) in evaluating logical arguments is that if any one step is incorrect, the entire argument is invalid. Therefore: if life is not made up of suffering (either directly, or indirectly), AND if the cause of that suffering is not due to desire, AND if it is not possible to end that suffering, then the remedy – The Eightfold Path - cannot serve as a cure.

    Think carefully and choose wisely!
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  8. #8
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    Number 2 in the Wisdom category is Right Intention, or the desire to put what one has learned into practice.

    To paraphrase the Buddha on this: It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to know what to do if you continue to act like a jerk. In other words, a person has to want suffering to end, and act on it, needs to forgive self and others for mistakes or bad behavior - which does NOT mean making excuses for one's self or for others, but understanding that everybody is suffering, and that everybody is at a different point on the path to becoming better - and that the practice of "compassion" (kind-hearted understanding) is far superior to anger and revenge - if one wants to rid one's self of suffering.

    To put it another way, our inherent imperfection is something we need to try to rise above, but also need to accept as a fact of life. And, like other facts of life (gravity, for instance) we need to accept it, deal with it, work with it, while simultaneously avoiding falling off a cliff, or pushing someone else over...
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  9. #9
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    Warning! This will quickly devolve into an essay on Karma. Be forewarned!

    The next section in the Eightfold Path is generally referred to as Ethics - What concrete physicals actions to do, or to not do, in your relations with others. This constitutes three parts: Right Speech (how to talk and when to keep one's mouth shut) , Right Action (what to do or not do), and Right Livelihood (how to earn a living. Buddhism is very practical...).

    Before I get into details, let's take a look at the magic word "Karma." Most religions have ethical codes, either explicitly stated, or implicitly implied. Frequently, you find that there are penalties for violating those ethical codes - for instance, covet your neighbor's wife once too often and go to hell. Engage in hubris and get squashed like a bug. In Buddhism, it's Karma.

    The word "Karma" means something like "action; work." It is also the mechanism that determines whether you will be reincarnated as a planarian or drug addict or king of the universe. It also gives you paybacks for your actions in the here-and-now - whether that is good or bad.

    Now I have some serious problems with this.

    The first problem I have is that I can't quite swallow the idea of reincarnation. Sorry - I can't. I'm not going to go all Eastern and reject what I am pretty sure is true - I don't have to worry about being reincarnated as a turnip because I won't be reincarnated at all.

    On the other hand, I really have a great deal of respect for the logic and reason of the Buddhist thinkers, and it may well be that I am wrong about this. Maybe I’ll figure it out someday, but, for now, the upshot of this is that my hypothetical next life has nothing to do with my interest in Buddhism. I’m looking for something to make the pain go away, in this life…

    The other serious problem I have with Karma is that it would seem to require some kind of great cosmic bookkeeper, keeping track of the doings and the effect of the doings of every living thing, and figuring out just rewards and punishments – which will, also, miraculously, all out work together in some kind of unimaginably complex dance – and this thing would be following me around? Talk about hubris!

    I can’t quite bring myself to believe in a consciousness that is capable of doing that. See, I also suffer from atheism.

    Fortunately, that doesn’t matter.

    Nope, not at all.

    Despite all this, I do accept the idea of Karma. In fact, it is obvious and clearly true. The reason for the existence of Karma is that we live with/in/through Maya, or Illusion.

    I’ll be back to finish this little essay on Karma when I can, then I can get on with the main show.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  10. #10
    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Re: Big Thread of Buddhism Info

    I'm gonna take a different approach and talk about Buddhist history and culture, which should compliment Corbin well. It's been a long time since I studied this so if I miss some small details, feel free to fill in the gaps.

    Buddhist teachings say that we're simply in another cycle, that all of this has happened in some way, shape, or form before. And it will end and come again. So, we'll stick with the history of this particular cycle.

    The Buddha's Enlightenment

    Buddhism was created by a man named Siddhartha Guatama. He was a prince and at his birth (which is a pretty interesting story I'll get to later if someone reminds me), his father was told he would be a great leader or a great priest. Since his father wanted him to be a great leader he sheltered him and let him see no suffering. When Siddhartha reached an age he demanded he be allowed to see the city and so he went out. While among his people, he saw suffering for the first time. Illness, old age, and death. This set him on a path to discover enlightenment.

    For some time he travelled as an ascetic. Lore holds that he ate only one grain of rice and drank only one drop of water a day for months. This is where the image of the emaciated buddha comes from. Finally, Siddhartha realized that he wasn't coming any closer to enlightenment through his efforts and determined, he sat beneath the Bodhi tree and waited for enlightenment to come to him.

    While he sat, he was tempted by Mara and his daughters in an account that is strikingly similar to the temptation of Jesus. When Mara had exhausted himself Siddhartha put one hand to the ground and called on the Earth to bear witness to him. That is when Siddhartha became the Buddha and enlightened.

    From there, the Buddha developed a following and taught others the path to enlightenment. One particularly fascinating aspect of Buddhist history is that it is believed the Buddha himself allowed women into the order. The term Buddha refers to "enlightened one" so, depending on the sect, there are seen to be many Buddha's that have followed the original Buddha.

    The Buddha's Past Lives

    Buddhist around the world recognize that the Buddha lived previous lives. It is core to their teaching, reincarnation on the path to enlightenment. I want to share a couple stories about the Buddha's past lives.

    There are several stories about the Buddha's sacrifice. In one, he came upon a tiger (or lion or wolf depending on the version) who had cubs to feed and was starving herself. Seeing her need, the Buddha laid down his weapon and gave himself as a meal to the tiger so she and her cubs could live. This teaches a core value of self-sacrifice that is important in Buddhist belief.

    Another interesting story of the Buddha's past lives explains why some Buddhists are okay with going to war. At one time, the Buddha was on a barge with three other passengers and he came upon the knowledge that one passenger was planning to kill the other two. The Buddha made the decision to kill the murderous passenger and save the lives of the other two. In doing so he took the bad karma of the murder upon himself, but also the good karma for his intent was to save two lives and to prevent the murderer from incurring more karma himself.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Buddhist Culture

    Monastic vs Lay

    Buddhist monastics are the priestly class. Buddhist monks and nuns typically live in a monastery, separated from society in general. Generally, they are initiated as children. In some cultures, it is typical for all male children to be ordained and spend some time living the monastic life. It is a right of passage, in which they eventually return to there families. Monastics that stay face a challenging life.

    Their 8 main rules include:
    They cannot have intercourse, steal, kill a human being, or falsely claim enlightenment (or supernatural powers)
    They cannot touch a woman sexually, speak lewdly, complement sexually, or help another break the rules.

    They have many more rules that this (a couple hundred I believe) but the first set will automatically get them expelled from the monastery and the second set will get them in serious trouble.

    Monastics are not allowed to accept money. In the strictest monasteries, they still walk down to the community every day with offering bowls that people put food and drink in for them.

    The lay followers of Buddhism use the monastic class to perform the rituals of life and as advisors and in some cases confidants. The monastic class performs rituals of birth, rights of passage, and rituals of death for the lay community. They also teach them about karma and how to live a good life, so they can hopefully be reborn in a way that will help them to become enlightened.

    Lay followers sometimes take up some of the vows of a monastic. For instance, they may make a vow not to steal. Or they may make a vow not to have intercourse for a month. This is believed to bring them good karma. However, they almost never take up all the vows of a monastic, and rarely do they make any vows for life, it's usually only for a short period of time.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The Spread of Buddhism

    Buddhism started in India and spread to Sri Lanka around the 300 BCE. From there it spread into Asia, to Tibet, China (100AD), and then Japan (500AD). When Europe started to colonize Asia, the ideas started their move West, though aspects of Buddhism had already worked their way into Western culture before that (see the story of Josephat and Barlaam).

    During this process, Buddhism underwent many changes. The biggest one was the split between Mahayana and Theravada (you may see Theravada referred to as Hinayana. This is not the preferred reference of the practitioners. Hinayana literally means "small vehicle" to Mahayana's "big vehicle". It's kind of insulting.)

    The main difference between the two is the ultimate goal. Mahayana Buddhists have to goal to become bodhisattvas (future Buddha's) with the ability to set up there own mini worlds where people will reincarnate and live forever until they have gained enough knowledge for enlightenment. Theravada sticks to the enlightenment goal. Their views on the Buddha also differ, but I'm going to have to find my notes on the flash drive my photographer has and get back to the cause the details are vague right now and I don't trust the internet...

    Theravada Buddhism is pretty much the same across the board and is mostly found close to India (though Buddhism isn't very common in India anymore). Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, etc. Mahayana Buddhism is what you will find in Tibet, China, Japan and generally elsewhere. Mahayana Buddhism has many different schools and ways of thought, many different paths to enlightenment. This is why when people try to generalize the teachings of Buddhism I tend to get my panties in a twist

    The Mahayana schools of Buddhism include the Tantric school, which is different than Hindu Tantra, just to be clear, the Pure Land school (which believes in chanting Amitabha's name to reach his world as a reincarnation), and the Zen schools to name a few. They are many and varied. Many and varied. Many and varied. Can I say this enough times?

    Buddhism has a tendency to mesh with the religion of the place it is found. Due to this, many people say that Buddhism isn't a religion so much as a way of life. In some ways that's true. However, they do hold specific beliefs about deity and the afterlife so I don't feel it's completely accurate. More to the point, the monastics don't care what you believe specifically because they are detached from it. This had led to even more variations in the practice and customs surround Buddhism.

    An interesting example is Buddhism in Japan. There, Buddhism coexists right alongside Shinto. Generally, people go to Shinto temples for rites that affirm life, while they go to Buddhist temples for rites that affirm death. That is the main distinction. One interesting aspect of this is the mizuko rituals performed at some designated Buddhist temples in Japan. The most well known one is the Purple Cloud temple. Mizuko rituals are made to an aborted fetus, in apology and to make amends that they lost their opportunity in this life. It's an interesting topic to read up on and a new spin. More on that later...
    Last edited by Shahaku; 28 Oct 2014 at 19:48.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

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