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Old 08-09-2015, 05:00 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Quote:
But you are the one implying this is a description of God.
No. The Buddhist text is. My starting point for understanding a religion in this thread is its ontology.
Look. If you want to superimpose a Baha'i interpretation on a Buddhist (or a Catholic or whichever) text, you obviously have the right to do that.

I'm in this discussion because I find such superimpositions to be something that I could not do, and therefore, this is one of the factors that impedes me from becoming Baha'i.

I don't feel like going over actual scriptures of various religions with a red marker and correct them, or add or subtract to them.

But apparently Bahai's do just that, and I'm not comfortable doing that myself.

And saying that you're not the ones doing that, but that you're just following your Baha'i authorities -- if you freely chose the Baha's faith, and are practicing it freely, then you are the ones going over actual scriptures of various religions with a red marker and correct them, or add or subtract to them. Even if you pretend to be hiding behind your authorities.
 
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:00 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
It is an imposition if you take a Buddhist text and then interpret it in a way that Buddhists decidedly do not.

And it is an imposition if you then expect that Buddhists would accept that interpretation.

The founders of your faith had no qualms about declaring supremacy over other religions, they had no qualms about declaring monopoly over other religions.

But I see that some Baha'is do have such qualms, being all politically correct, trying to weasel their way around actually declaring their superiority. It's this political corectness that is so grievous.

If you believe that you are the one who knows "what the Buddha really meant" or that you are the one who knows "what Jesus really meant" -- then why on earth not say so right away?!?
A good reason not to say such things is that there is much we don't know and can't know. We can and should ask questions, listen to our hearts and and use our rational powers to decide what we believe to be true.

To me, what Buddha meant and what Jesus meant can't possibly be referring to two different realities because there is only one Reality. If there are conflicts, there must be a resolution to those conflicts. I don't accept the possibility that one or both are based on falsehoods, so there must be a universal reality that encompasses both.
 
Old 08-09-2015, 06:45 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
Thich Nhat Hanh should read the Pali Canon.
Read what Thich Nhat Hanh said again:

"If we are aware when we use the word 'nirvana' or the word 'God' that we are talking about the ground of being, there is no danger in using these words . . . "

You quoted the following words:
"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of a supreme being's act of creation. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of a supreme being's act of creation.' When one falls back on creation by a supreme being as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my second righteous refutation of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views."
Does this refute a God understood as the ground of being?

Last edited by ahanu; 08-09-2015 at 07:00 AM.
 
Old 08-09-2015, 07:14 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Read what Thich Nhat Hanh said again:

"If we are aware when we use the word 'nirvana' or the word 'God' that we are talking about the ground of being, there is no danger in using these words . . . "

You quoted the following words:
"Having approached the brahmans & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of a supreme being's act of creation. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of a supreme being's act of creation.' When one falls back on creation by a supreme being as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my second righteous refutation of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views."
Does this refute a God understood as the ground of being?
It's not about "refuting". It's about discerning the perils of believing in creation by a supreme being.

Secondly, "ground of being" is a phrase that some Mahayanists like to use, and is also problematic.
Do read the translator's introduction here (Mulapariyaya Sutta: The Root Sequence).

Search ATI for "ground of being" to get more input on this.


Clearly, your allegiance is to Mahayana Buddhism, and decidedly not Theravada. Perhaps Mahayana can readily be creatively aligned with your religion, while Theravada cannot.

But beware: Many Mahayanists believe that the Buddha taught there is a self, but that this was a "skillful lie", in order to spare people from the painful truth that there is no self.

Last edited by Sophia; 08-09-2015 at 07:19 AM.
 
Old 08-09-2015, 07:25 AM   #45
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A good reason not to say such things is that there is much we don't know and can't know. We can and should ask questions, listen to our hearts and and use our rational powers to decide what we believe to be true.
Sometimes, this then means to not join any existing religion.

Quote:
To me, what Buddha meant and what Jesus meant can't possibly be referring to two different realities because there is only one Reality.

If there are conflicts, there must be a resolution to those conflicts.
It's not clear that there _must_ be such a resolution.
People have been killing eachother over religion for millennia, and yet the sun is still shining, and the proverbial show goes on.

Quote:
I don't accept the possibility that one or both are based on falsehoods, so there must be a universal reality that encompasses both.
But then again, why would one have to figure out whether one, the other, or both are false, or partly false, or whichever?

If you have your religion, you believe what you believe, there's no need for anything further.

Trying to justify or explain one's beliefs seems like an entirely secular endeavor.
 
Old 08-09-2015, 07:56 AM   #46
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Sometimes, this then means to not join any existing religion.
Very true, if someone is satisfied with their beliefs outside of any religion, then there is no point in joining one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
It's not clear that there _must_ be such a resolution.
People have been killing each other over religion for millennia, and yet the sun is still shining, and the proverbial show goes on.
Personally, I am not satisfied with a world that goes on like that and I don't think God intends it to go on like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
But then again, why would one have to figure out whether one, the other, or both are false, or partly false, or whichever?

If you have your religion, you believe what you believe, there's no need for anything further.

Trying to justify or explain one's beliefs seems like an entirely secular endeavor.
I think there is good in evaluating one's beliefs. There is bad in being judgmental about other's beliefs, but judging for yourself is not the same as being judgmental concerning others. We all need a healthy dose of humility, and the realization that none of us will ever know everything.
 
Old 08-09-2015, 08:16 AM   #47
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Very true, if someone is satisfied with their beliefs outside of any religion, then there is no point in joining one.
I'm not talking about being satisfied with one's beliefs outside of any religion; I'm talking about how it is sometimes impossible to join any existing religion.
Just because someone doesn't join an existing religion doesn't mean they are satisfied with their own beliefs.


Quote:
Personally, I am not satisfied with a world that goes on like that and I don't think God intends it to go on like that.
It's a dog-eat-dog world, and for some people, it is demoralizing to take on a dog-eat-dog attitude themselves or to try to escape.


Quote:
I think there is good in evaluating one's beliefs. There is bad in being judgmental about other's beliefs, but judging for yourself is not the same as being judgmental concerning others.
What bad do you see in being judgmental about other people's beliefs?

There's plenty of people who are judgmental about other people's beliefs, and yet they seem to suffer no adverse consequences from that.


Quote:
the realization that none of us will ever know everything.
That's quite the proud thing to say!
 
Old 08-09-2015, 10:51 AM   #48
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Sophia wrote:
"ground of being" is a phrase that some Mahayanists like to use, and is also problematic.
Do read the translator's introduction here (Mulapariyaya Sutta: The Root Sequence).
Ok. I read it. I can't search the website from China, however. Would all Mahayana Buddhists find a problem with Thich Nhat Hanh's understanding of ground of being in your translator's introduction? After all, it is a website dedicated to learning Theravada.

You say Thich Nhat Hanh is "some politically correct new-age Mahayana Buddhist."

Asvaghosa, another "Mahayanist" or perhaps a "Mahāsāṃghika" (which seems to be related to the development of Mahayana), wasn't new age, seeing how he existed in the century of Christ, and has no clear connection to our politics today, yet he asserts a ground of being exists. Kluge cites the scholarly work on this here:
Lest it be thought that Dharmakaya is not ontologically real, Asvaghosa himself says that 'suchness or Dharmakaya in its self-nature [svabhava] is not a nothing [shunyata]' which is why Suzuki, in his notes to Asvaghosa, concludes that 'Dharmakaya … signifies that which constitutes the ultimate foundation of existence, one great whole in which all forms of individuation are obliterated, in a word, the Absolute. 'In his history of the concept of the Buddha, contemporary scholar Guang Xing notes that

'the eternal and universal Dharmakaya became the basis of the infinite world as well as the pure nature of all phenomena … Thus the dharmakaya ontologically became the principle of the universe since it is identified with the tatha, the true nature of all dharmas.'

Later he adds, 'First, the dharmakaya is the non-dual reality, the impersonal principle of the universe and ontologically the foundation and support of everything.' From this it is clear that the Dharmakaya is or functions positively as a ground of being, as that which must necessarily exist in order for all other things to be. This, of course, is precisely the ontological function of God in the Bahá’í Writings, and, for that matter in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Thich Nhat Hanh also provides a history of the ground of being in Buddhist thought:
"The second gem is the Dharma. Dharma is what the Buddha taught. It is the way of understanding and love-how to understand, how to love, how to make understanding and love into real things. Before the Buddha passed away, he said to his students, 'Dear friends, my physical body will not be here tomorrow, but my teaching body will always be here to help. You can consider it as your own teacher, a teacher who never leaves you.' That is the birth of 'Dharmakaya.' The Dharma has a body also, the body of the teaching. The meaning of Dharmakaya is quite simple, although some people in Mahayana have made it very complicated. Dharmakaya just means the teaching of the Buddha, the way to realize understanding and love. Later it became something like the ontological ground of being."
You wrote:
Perhaps Mahayana can readily be creatively aligned with your religion, while Theravada cannot.
I don't know why you say creatively. It appears Theravada can't.

Last edited by ahanu; 08-09-2015 at 12:09 PM. Reason: correct grammar and a misunderstanding on my part
 
Old 08-10-2015, 12:33 AM   #49
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Ok. I read it. I can't search the website from China, however. Would all Mahayana Buddhists find a problem with Thich Nhat Hanh's understanding of ground of being in your translator's introduction?
No.


Quote:
After all, it is a website dedicated to learning Theravada.
Theravada is closest to the Pali Canon.
I hold the Pali Canon is the authoritative resource on what the Buddha taught.

Of course, there are people, some of whom claim to be Buddhists, who don't care about the Pali Canon and who have not read it.


Quote:
You say Thich Nhat Hanh is "some politically correct new-age Mahayana Buddhist."

Asvaghosa, another "Mahayanist" or perhaps a "Mahāsāṃghika" (which seems to be related to the development of Mahayana), wasn't new age, seeing how he existed in the century of Christ, and has no clear connection to our politics today, yet he asserts a ground of being exists.
New Age ideas aren't new; they've been around for millennia.


Quote:
Kluge cites the scholarly work on this here:
Lest it be thought that Dharmakaya is not ontologically real, Asvaghosa himself says that 'suchness or Dharmakaya in its self-nature [svabhava] is not a nothing [shunyata]' which is why Suzuki, in his notes to Asvaghosa, concludes that 'Dharmakaya … signifies that which constitutes the ultimate foundation of existence, one great whole in which all forms of individuation are obliterated, in a word, the Absolute. 'In his history of the concept of the Buddha, contemporary scholar Guang Xing notes that

'the eternal and universal Dharmakaya became the basis of the infinite world as well as the pure nature of all phenomena … Thus the dharmakaya ontologically became the principle of the universe since it is identified with the tatha, the true nature of all dharmas.'

Later he adds, 'First, the dharmakaya is the non-dual reality, the impersonal principle of the universe and ontologically the foundation and support of everything.' From this it is clear that the Dharmakaya is or functions positively as a ground of being, as that which must necessarily exist in order for all other things to be. This, of course, is precisely the ontological function of God in the Bahá’í Writings, and, for that matter in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Given that some Abrahamic religions posit the person God, what you say above does not hold.
Unless, of course, you're operating with your own parallel Baha'i versions of those Abrahamic religions.


Quote:
Perhaps Mahayana can readily be creatively aligned with your religion, while Theravada cannot.
I don't know why you say creatively. It appears Theravada can't.
Why should it?
 
Old 08-10-2015, 12:37 AM   #50
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And if you fancy Mahayana so much, then perhaps you should read up on the Secondary Bodhisattva Vows. Especially that part about justifying killing, raping, and pillaging in the name of spiritual advancement.

Last edited by Sophia; 08-10-2015 at 12:48 AM.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 07:15 AM   #51
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And if you fancy Mahayana so much, then perhaps you should read up on the Secondary Bodhisattva Vows. Especially that part about justifying killing, raping, and pillaging in the name of spiritual advancement.
Dear Sophia,

It seems like I've arrived in the middle of quite a heated argument. Is there anything that we agree upon?

gnat
 
Old 08-10-2015, 08:41 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
Look. If you want to superimpose a Baha'i interpretation on a Buddhist (or a Catholic or whichever) text, you obviously have the right to do that.

I'm in this discussion because I find such superimpositions to be something that I could not do, and therefore, this is one of the factors that impedes me from becoming Baha'i.

I don't feel like going over actual scriptures of various religions with a red marker and correct them, or add or subtract to them.

But apparently Bahai's do just that, and I'm not comfortable doing that myself.
Dear Sophia,

Greetings!

As a non-Baha'i myself, I thought it might be germane for me to add my own perspective on this issue of 'superimposition'.

On the one hand, I do sympathise with what your saying. If a religion teaches x', say on reincarnation and rejection of a creator deity or supreme being, and another religious body comes along to say that 'x' actually amounts to 'y', belief in a creator deity and an understanding of reincarnation compatible with those who believe only in one life, even though the first religion would reject this 'superimposition' as a corruption of their doctrines, then I agree that such 'superimposition' can appear offensive at best and a fruitless endeavour otherwise.

On the other hand, I don't think it is quite fair to see 'superimposition' as a uniquely Baha'i activity.

Christianity regards Jesus as the Messiah prophesied by the Hebrew prophets of the Tanakh. Jews would adamantly state that Christian interpretations of Isaiah's "suffering servant" narrative misinterpret a text that originally had nothing to do with messianic eschatology but was merely describing Israel metaphorically. Indeed the entire epistemological foundation of the Christian Faith is prefixed on an interpretation of another religion's scriptures emphatically rejected by that religion.

Islam, in like fashion, regards the 'People of the Book' - Jews and Christians - as, in effect, misunderstanding the core principles of their respective religions and having strayed from a true interpretation of their holy books (indeed mainstream Islamic theology actually considers the Bible to be "corrupted" textually speaking) which if correctly understood is in accordance with Islam. Muslims often use the Last Supper discourse in the Gospel of John, where Jesus predicts the coming of the "comforter", as a prophesy of Muhammad whereas Christians are emphatic that this passage is a statement concerning the Holy Spirit.

The Buddha, once again, preached to Hindus in India that their conception of the gods described in the Vedas and worshipped by the Brahmins through sacrificial offerings was flawed. He told them that the 'gods' were not divine beings in the sense they understood them to be but rather temporal entities subject to samsara like all other living beings. Note, he did not reject the existence of these gods as described in the Vedas and therefore sought to "correct" his hearers understanding of their own religion in light of his new one.

What Christianity has did vis-a-vis Judaism, Islam vis-a-vis Christianity/ Judaism and Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism, is in many respects akin to what the Baha'i Faith teaches vis-a-vis the so-called 'great religions' that it regards as having had Manifestations of God as their founders.

While a Jew would certainly reject Christian 'superimposition' and a Christian likewise reject Muslim 'superimposition', I don't really have any problem with a Muslim believing what they will about my scriptures, just as most Jews I know don't have a problem with Christian "misuse" of the Tanakh to back up the claims underlying our religion.

There is nothing terribly odd about what the Baha'i are doing, except their more ambitious scope, perhaps.

Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims are free to, and do, disagree with certain Baha'i interpretations of our scriptures. I don't object to them doing it, however, in fact I welcome such debate since it can lead to greater understanding of the texts in question on both sides as we seek to buttress our respective arguments.

So, I am sort of at a "crossroads" on this issue.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 09:01 AM   #53
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Dear Sophia,

It seems like I've arrived in the middle of quite a heated argument. Is there anything that we agree upon?

gnat
See my first reply in this thread:
"God-like attributes can be seen in the transcendent concepts of Tathagatagarbha (Buddha-nature) or the Buddhas. For example, in the Lotus Sutra (which is popular in Mahayana) the Buddha says, "I am the father of this world" and "the father of all living being." These worlds are called by different names, such as "Buddha fields." This is similar to the Creator in the Baha'i Faith.
Now look at Sophia's reply:
"Mahayana is not the whole of Buddhism. It certainly isn't how Buddhism started.

The numerous Buddhist denominations vary greatly among eachother, but one thing they do have in common is that they are not monotheistic (in an Abrahamic sense).

Imposing monotheistic interpretations on Buddhism in general is a dubious undertaking, to say the least."
Did Sophia address the issue? No. In the first post I was talking about God-like attributes seen in the Buddha in parts of Mahayana. The Lotus Sutra is clear:
"by an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here, preaching the Law [Dharma]
I am always here
through my transcendental power."
When I said this idea was the same as the creator God of the Baha'i Faith, Sophia seems to confuse what I meant with a personal Creator God. Baha'i scholar Abdu'l-Fadl explains "creation" here:
he writes about ". . . the real meaning of such words as creating, fashioning and molding, which were mentioned from all eternity in the words of the messengers and prophets but were meddled and tampered with by the misconceptions of the sages and philosophers. You will also know the meaning of all that we have said above. God has never stopped creating and fashioning new communities and religious laws through sending the Manifestations of His Cause and the Dawning-Places of His command. Thus might the world reach the peak of balance and ascend to the zenith of glory and perfection."
Yeshua, do you see me imposing Baha'i meaning on the Lotus Sutra here?

Last edited by ahanu; 08-10-2015 at 09:40 AM.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 09:16 AM   #54
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So, I am sort of at a "crossroads" on this issue.
Kinda? I welcome your opinion. I'll give some thought to it.

 
Old 08-10-2015, 02:11 PM   #55
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The Buddha, once again, preached to Hindus in India that their conception of the gods described in the Vedas and worshipped by the Brahmins through sacrificial offerings was flawed. ....

There is nothing terribly odd about what the Baha'i are doing, except their more ambitious scope, perhaps.
Nice to see you Yeshua.

The evolution of religions does necessarily involve a Teacher who appropriates what was already there, and makes it new. But it seems to me he does not take it away from its owners: they still have it. He appropriates it and shows what it means in a new context. So we have Abdu'l-Baha saying, this is what the story of Adam and Eve tells us today, in a Bahai context. This is not what it meant 3000 years ago when the story was written down, which is probably not the same as what it meant when it was first told, and so on.

The same appropriation goes on within a religious tradition, for example when the British Evangelicals went back to the scriptures and found them saying that slavery was evil and should be abolished. It was a new meaning for the time, that had not been seen by the millions of Christians over a hundred generations who had used those scriptures previously. The Evangelicals who supported the movement to abolish slavery were not saying that all the previous Christians had got it wrong and now they had discovered the true meaning -- rather they said that the church was a pilgrim community and new meanings were unfolding before it.

This is easy to see for the development of new understandings within one historical tradition, such as within Christianity. Thing is, for Bahais, "this is the ancient Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." That is, the entire world religious-system is the community and tradition in which we stand. The Buddhist saints are no less than Augustine and Ireneus our "Fathers."
 
Old 08-10-2015, 09:29 PM   #56
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Did Sophia address the issue? No. In the first post I was talking about God-like attributes seen in the Buddha in parts of Mahayana.
You are persistently defending the Baha'i interpretation; which, to you, and so many others, isn't merely an interpretation, but The Truth.

I don't really have anything much left to say here.

This now is a battle of wills.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 09:34 PM   #57
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On the other hand, I don't think it is quite fair to see 'superimposition' as a uniquely Baha'i activity.
I never said it was a uniquely Baha'i activity.
All major religions do this, in some way, to some extent.


Quote:
There is nothing terribly odd about what the Baha'i are doing, except their more ambitious scope, perhaps.
Exactly.

Which is why people are justified to expect more of the Baha'is than from others.

If someone claims to have the most exclusive, supreme knowledge, they cannot just crawl back into the crowd and claim to be "just one among many."


Hic Rhodos, hic salta.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 10:52 PM   #58
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Dear Sophia,

Greetings!

As a non-Baha'i myself, I thought it might be germane for me to add my own perspective on this issue of 'superimposition'.

On the one hand, I do sympathise with what your saying. If a religion teaches x', say on reincarnation and rejection of a creator deity or supreme being, and another religious body comes along to say that 'x' actually amounts to 'y', belief in a creator deity and an understanding of reincarnation compatible with those who believe only in one life, even though the first religion would reject this 'superimposition' as a corruption of their doctrines, then I agree that such 'superimposition' can appear offensive at best and a fruitless endeavour otherwise.

On the other hand, I don't think it is quite fair to see 'superimposition' as a uniquely Baha'i activity.

Christianity regards Jesus as the Messiah prophesied by the Hebrew prophets of the Tanakh. Jews would adamantly state that Christian interpretations of Isaiah's "suffering servant" narrative misinterpret a text that originally had nothing to do with messianic eschatology but was merely describing Israel metaphorically. Indeed the entire epistemological foundation of the Christian Faith is prefixed on an interpretation of another religion's scriptures emphatically rejected by that religion.

Islam, in like fashion, regards the 'People of the Book' - Jews and Christians - as, in effect, misunderstanding the core principles of their respective religions and having strayed from a true interpretation of their holy books (indeed mainstream Islamic theology actually considers the Bible to be "corrupted" textually speaking) which if correctly understood is in accordance with Islam. Muslims often use the Last Supper discourse in the Gospel of John, where Jesus predicts the coming of the "comforter", as a prophesy of Muhammad whereas Christians are emphatic that this passage is a statement concerning the Holy Spirit.

The Buddha, once again, preached to Hindus in India that their conception of the gods described in the Vedas and worshipped by the Brahmins through sacrificial offerings was flawed. He told them that the 'gods' were not divine beings in the sense they understood them to be but rather temporal entities subject to samsara like all other living beings. Note, he did not reject the existence of these gods as described in the Vedas and therefore sought to "correct" his hearers understanding of their own religion in light of his new one.

What Christianity has did vis-a-vis Judaism, Islam vis-a-vis Christianity/ Judaism and Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism, is in many respects akin to what the Baha'i Faith teaches vis-a-vis the so-called 'great religions' that it regards as having had Manifestations of God as their founders.

While a Jew would certainly reject Christian 'superimposition' and a Christian likewise reject Muslim 'superimposition', I don't really have any problem with a Muslim believing what they will about my scriptures, just as most Jews I know don't have a problem with Christian "misuse" of the Tanakh to back up the claims underlying our religion.

There is nothing terribly odd about what the Baha'i are doing, except their more ambitious scope, perhaps.

Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims are free to, and do, disagree with certain Baha'i interpretations of our scriptures. I don't object to them doing it, however, in fact I welcome such debate since it can lead to greater understanding of the texts in question on both sides as we seek to buttress our respective arguments.

So, I am sort of at a "crossroads" on this issue.
Thank the LORD for Yeshua and his Godly attributes of justice and fair-mindedness.

God bless you

Kam

Last edited by Kam; 08-20-2015 at 01:29 AM.
 
Old 08-10-2015, 10:57 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
If someone claims to have the most exclusive, supreme knowledge, they cannot just crawl back into the crowd and claim to be "just one among many."
That is the base of the Exclusive Supreme Knowledge which we have told. We have also said it is Inclusive.

We crawl back into the crowd, as instructed we should, when some one says rubbish it is not!

As we are not perfect, we will most likely keep trying to show this from many other angles, this also usually backfires

Now why we do that here is that it is a Baha'i Belief Based Forum, thus we share those Ideas not because we think we are superior, but this is the message we have been given and this is the message we have chosen to believe.

Thus I now return
 
Old 08-10-2015, 11:03 PM   #60
Kam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
I never said it was a uniquely Baha'i activity.
All major religions do this, in some way, to some extent.



Exactly.

Which is why people are justified to expect more of the Baha'is than from others.

If someone claims to have the most exclusive, supreme knowledge, they cannot just crawl back into the crowd and claim to be "just one among many."


Hic Rhodos, hic salta.

At some point in history Sophia, we will all reach a crossroads. You either turn left or you turn right.

Murder was a crossroads for many at one stage. Those that thought it ok, and those that didn't.

Morality and ideology are no different. I'm really not sure what you expected from the Baha'is but if you expected us to say: "it's ok you can rape children and murder strangers and pillage homes!!" well, you're in the wrong place.

Baha'u'llah has brought with Him a strict framework of principles which, as is SEEN today in the global Baha'i community as a means for the unification of the world. Baha'is today are from every religious background. Some felt they needed more answers to their religious traditions, and found them in the Baha'i Faith. Some are attached to their current ideology and attached to the name of Jesus, or the name of Buddha, or the name of democracy, or the name of capitalism, which we are all entitled to do, but if you want the Baha'is to say "capitalism is okay....go get rich and screw your neighbour" or "Baha'is really don't care about God, whether He exists or not", then I think you are in the wrong place and you will never find God's creation ever being able to unite and reach fulfillment.

Unity in diversity is such an important need for society today (yes that is an opinion, not fact) and those that strive earnestly to resist it are denying the reality that we are all born equal and should be given a societal environment where we can all live in harmony, without injustice, and without oppression.

Baha'is are working to sustainably eliminate oppression and injustice, problems which are the symptoms of disunity, and to reject the work that needs to be done is to me at least, unfathomable.

Kam

Last edited by Kam; 08-20-2015 at 01:30 AM.
 
Old 08-11-2015, 10:04 AM   #61
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"He doeth what He willeth"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
I never said it was a uniquely Baha'i activity.
All major religions do this, in some way, to some extent.

Which is why people are justified to expect more of the Baha'is than from others.

If someone claims to have the most exclusive, supreme knowledge, they cannot just crawl back into the crowd and claim to be "just one among many."


Hic Rhodos, hic salta.
. Sophia,
. There is an important point to be considered which lies within the words:

. "He doeth what He willeth"

. God reveals "the knowledge of God" in portions according to our capacity, over the ages, to receive it. This gradual process inevitably means that as we grow, our capacity increases. Then the portion is increased and further richness added.

. The means of the "Revelation" of this knowledge of God is the Manifestation of "He doeth what He willeth". as in: "No one cometh to the Father buy by Me (Jesus), Who is a Manifestation of "He doeth what He willeth"... that is, we have no access to God other than His current Manifestation, of which Jesus was a couple of thousand years ago. Then Muhammad, the Bab, and currently Baha'u'llah.

. That each of these is the gold mine full of fresh nuggets should not be surprising. The gold is still real which has been mined previously, but each was divinely limited by the order of "He doeth what He willeth".

. "I have yet many more (nuggets) things to say unto you, but you cannot bear it now." Jesus So Jesus Himself limited the portion. He had more, but we needed a greater receptacle, and perhaps a few more mules.

. So here we are, a couple of thousand years later, and three more Manifestations of God have appeared, each directing us to Their mine. Indeed, Baha'is believe, that the Lord of the Vineyard has come.
 
Old 08-11-2015, 10:29 AM   #62
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I'm more curious about the appropriate Baha'i approach to Buddhist texts in the light of Abdu'l-Baha's statements in SAQ:
Buddha's "original precepts were gradually forgotten and displaced by primitive customs and rituals."
And:
"Our meaning is that the followers of Buddha . . . have become entirely unaware of the oneness of God."
It deserves some investigation.
 
Old 08-11-2015, 04:16 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
Really??

A decidedly atheistic religion like Buddhism, and you think they will agree with a statement like 'What more glorious fate is there than this, to die for the glory of God?" And the Buddha said: "Well done!"'?

Really?

Do read these:

Buddhism and the God-idea by Nyanaponika Thera:
/.../
In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected, along with other causes wrongly adduced to explain the origin of the world; as, for instance, world-soul, time, nature, etc. God-belief, however, is placed in the same category as those morally destructive wrong views which deny the kammic results of action, assume a fortuitous origin of man and nature, or teach absolute determinism. These views are said to be altogether pernicious, having definite bad results due to their effect on ethical conduct.
/.../


* * *
A Journey into Buddhism by Elizabeth J. Harris
/.../
A professor of Theravada Buddhism once asked me, "Why is it assumed, at all the interfaith gatherings I attend, that God is the uniting factor among the religions? We should be concentrating on humanity rather than divinity."

When it is taken for granted that all people of faith worship a Supreme Creator and Sustainer God, Buddhists and Jains are excluded. Although Buddhists believe that there are gods living in heavens, they do not ascribe creative power to them, nor do they believe that these gods have any influence over ultimate human liberation.

Belief in God cannot, therefore, provide common ground between Buddhists and religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
/.../


* * *

Fundamentals of Buddhism. Four Lectures by Nyanatiloka Mahathera

No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits.
Empty phenomena roll on.
This only is the correct view.
No god nor Brahma can be called
The maker of this wheel of life:
Empty phenomena roll on,
Dependent on conditions all.


* * *
A Simple Guide to Life by Robert Bogoda

Buddhism denies the existence of a Creator-God.

* * *

Or some Buddhist forum discussions: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Buddha and the Supreme Creator God

* * *



For starters, you could also just read what Buddhists have to say on the topic of "God." There's plenty.




Really?
The Buddhist sutta makes no mention of God, but you insist that it actually does or intends to?

A Buddhist sutta says:



Clearly, according to the Pali suttas, Buddhism does not teach that all religions teach the same thing or aim for the same thing.



Omitting any reference to God is, for you, an unimportant detail?

One story talks about God, and the other doesn't, but you say they are actually talking about the same thing??



Only if you impose that on Buddhism and Christianity. Neither Buddhism nor Christianity teach unity.
'Sup. Theology geek here. Something to note: What you essentially are speaking of is Therevada Buddhism. Therevada is the tradition which believes in no God, and in which there are scriptures refuting the idea of God. Many, many people make the mistake of thinking that Therevada Buddhism is the only Buddhism, but this is not true: Siddhartha's followers, upon his death, split and went separate ways teaching separate things. I can see where this idea that Therevada is the One True Buddhism comes from, though, as I've seen a disappointing number of Therevada online who talk as if their Buddhism is the only one.

The Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan, Yogacara, and Zen Buddhists do not share Therevada's non-theistic views. Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism all contain devas similar to Hinduism, and have a more ... "divine" (for lack of a better word) interpretation of what being a Buddha means. Zen Buddhist Masters tend to insist that Buddhism is theistic, such as Master Soyen Shaku, who says "It [Buddhism] has certainly a god, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience". According to Sokei-An, "Dharmakaya [is] the equivalent of God". Zen Buddhists seem almost monotheistic, though they simply do not use the word "God" to refer to "Dharmakaya" often, for it often brings along with it the assumption that it possesses all the attributes of the Christian God.

The Baha'i view of Buddhism is most similar, mainly, to Mahayana Buddhism, I think, though we also share the idea that dharmakaya is God as espoused by certain Zen sects. Our views do not line up to the Therevada much at all, but we share quite a bit with the Mahayana, which is the older Buddhist sect. Lots of Westerners equate Buddhism with the Therevada tradition, and for sure our ideas on Buddha are very non-Therevada. But they are not non-Buddhist, for Buddhism is much more diverse in belief then many realize.

Some more Zen:
"dharmakaya [is] the equivalent of God ... The Buddha also speaks of no time and no space, where if I make a sound there is in that single moment a million years. It is spaceless like radio waves, like electric space - intrinsic. The Buddha said that there is a mirror that reflects consciousness. In this electric space a million miles and a pinpoint - a million years and a moment - are exactly the same. It is pure essence ... We call it 'original consciousness' - 'original akasha' - perhaps God in the Christian sense. I am afraid of speaking about anything that is not familiar to me. No one can know what IT is ..." -Sokei-An

"The creative power of the universe is not a human being; it is Buddha. The one who sees, and the one who hears, is not this eye or ear, but the one who is this consciousness. This One is Buddha. This One appears in every mind. This One is common to all sentient beings, and is God." -Sokei-An

"At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience ... To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, 'panentheism', according to which God is ... all and one and more than the totality of existence .... As I mentioned before, Buddhists do not make use of the term God, which characteristically belongs to Christian terminology. An equivalent most commonly used is Dharmakaya ... When the Dharmakaya is most concretely conceived it becomes the Buddha, or Tathagata ..." -Soyen Shaku

Some Tibetan:
"I am the core of all that exists. I am the seed of all that exists. I am the cause of all that exists. I am the trunk of all that exists. I am the foundation of all that exists. I am the root of existence. I am "the core" because I contain all phenomena. I am "the seed" because I give birth to everything. I am "the cause" because all comes from me. I am "the trunk" because the ramifications of every event sprout from me. I am "the foundation" because all abides in me. I am called "the root" because I am everything." -Kulayarāja Tantra

Some Yogacara:
"The Absolute is a non-dual consciousness. The duality of the subject and object does not pertain to it. It is said to be void (sunya), devoid of duality; in itself it is perfectly real, in fact the only reality ...There is no consciousness of the Absolute; Consciousness is the Absolute." -AK Chatterjee

Some Mahayana:
"Mahayana Buddhism is not only intellectual, but it is also devotional... in Mahayana, Buddha was taken as God, as Supreme Reality itself that descended on the earth in human form for the good of mankind. The concept of Buddha (as equal to God in theistic systems) was never as a creator but as Divine Love that out of compassion (karuna) embodied itself in human form to uplift suffering humanity. He was worshipped with fervent devotion... He represents the Absolute (paramartha satya), devoid of all plurality (sarva-prapancanta-vinirmukta) and has no beginning, middle and end... Buddha... is eternal, immutable... As such He represents Dharmakaya." -CD Sebastian

"The essential nature of the whole of samsara and nirvana is the absolute space (dhatu) of the tathagatagarbha, but this space is not to be confused with a mere absence of matter. Rather, this absolute space is imbued with all the infinite knowledge, compassion, power, and enlightened activities of the Buddha. Moreover, this luminous space is that which causes the phenomenal world to appear, and it is none other than the nature of one's own mind, which by nature is clear light." -B Alan Wallace

"Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha whose nature is identical with the tathagatagarbha within each sentient being, is the ultimate ground of samsara and nirvana; and the entire universe consists of nothing other than displays of this infinite, radiant, empty awareness. Thus, in light of the theoretical progression from the bhavanga to the tathagatagarbha to the primordial wisdom of the absolute space of reality, Buddhism is not so simply non-theistic as it may appear at first glance." -B Alan Wallace

Some Vajrayana
"... space dwells in all appearances of forms .. similarly, the body of the one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha] also thoroughly dwells in all appearances of sentient beings ... For example, all appearances of forms are included inside space. Similarly, all appearances of sentient beings are included inside the body of the one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha as Dharmakaya]." -Dolpopa

Therevada has no monopoly on Buddhist thought. It just seems that way for Therevada is the most popular tradition in the Western World.

Last edited by Walrus; 08-11-2015 at 04:33 PM.
 
Old 08-11-2015, 04:55 PM   #64
Jcc
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As I understand it, there are no surviving Buddhist scriptures older than about 400 years after the Buddha's passing, as all teachings were in the oral tradition before that. Both the Pali Canon and the literature that survives in Chinese, Tibetan and Sanscrit are from roughly that period, although many Chinese translations of the original texts occurred a few centuries later. I know of no unbiased evidence that the Pali texts as a whole are more "original" than the other texts, only that they were written and maintained by different Buddhist traditions. Some scriptures in each tradition accurately represent early teachings transmitted through oral traditions, and others may be later additions.

Last edited by Jcc; 08-11-2015 at 06:06 PM.
 
Old 08-11-2015, 08:02 PM   #65
Kam
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Joined: Jun 2015
From: Perth, Australia
Posts: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
'Sup. Theology geek here. Something to note: What you essentially are speaking of is Therevada Buddhism. Therevada is the tradition which believes in no God, and in which there are scriptures refuting the idea of God. Many, many people make the mistake of thinking that Therevada Buddhism is the only Buddhism, but this is not true: Siddhartha's followers, upon his death, split and went separate ways teaching separate things. I can see where this idea that Therevada is the One True Buddhism comes from, though, as I've seen a disappointing number of Therevada online who talk as if their Buddhism is the only one.

The Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan, Yogacara, and Zen Buddhists do not share Therevada's non-theistic views. Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism all contain devas similar to Hinduism, and have a more ... "divine" (for lack of a better word) interpretation of what being a Buddha means. Zen Buddhist Masters tend to insist that Buddhism is theistic, such as Master Soyen Shaku, who says "It [Buddhism] has certainly a god, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience". According to Sokei-An, "Dharmakaya [is] the equivalent of God". Zen Buddhists seem almost monotheistic, though they simply do not use the word "God" to refer to "Dharmakaya" often, for it often brings along with it the assumption that it possesses all the attributes of the Christian God.

The Baha'i view of Buddhism is most similar, mainly, to Mahayana Buddhism, I think, though we also share the idea that dharmakaya is God as espoused by certain Zen sects. Our views do not line up to the Therevada much at all, but we share quite a bit with the Mahayana, which is the older Buddhist sect. Lots of Westerners equate Buddhism with the Therevada tradition, and for sure our ideas on Buddha are very non-Therevada. But they are not non-Buddhist, for Buddhism is much more diverse in belief then many realize.

Some more Zen:
"dharmakaya [is] the equivalent of God ... The Buddha also speaks of no time and no space, where if I make a sound there is in that single moment a million years. It is spaceless like radio waves, like electric space - intrinsic. The Buddha said that there is a mirror that reflects consciousness. In this electric space a million miles and a pinpoint - a million years and a moment - are exactly the same. It is pure essence ... We call it 'original consciousness' - 'original akasha' - perhaps God in the Christian sense. I am afraid of speaking about anything that is not familiar to me. No one can know what IT is ..." -Sokei-An

"The creative power of the universe is not a human being; it is Buddha. The one who sees, and the one who hears, is not this eye or ear, but the one who is this consciousness. This One is Buddha. This One appears in every mind. This One is common to all sentient beings, and is God." -Sokei-An

"At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience ... To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, 'panentheism', according to which God is ... all and one and more than the totality of existence .... As I mentioned before, Buddhists do not make use of the term God, which characteristically belongs to Christian terminology. An equivalent most commonly used is Dharmakaya ... When the Dharmakaya is most concretely conceived it becomes the Buddha, or Tathagata ..." -Soyen Shaku

Some Tibetan:
"I am the core of all that exists. I am the seed of all that exists. I am the cause of all that exists. I am the trunk of all that exists. I am the foundation of all that exists. I am the root of existence. I am "the core" because I contain all phenomena. I am "the seed" because I give birth to everything. I am "the cause" because all comes from me. I am "the trunk" because the ramifications of every event sprout from me. I am "the foundation" because all abides in me. I am called "the root" because I am everything." -Kulayarāja Tantra

Some Yogacara:
"The Absolute is a non-dual consciousness. The duality of the subject and object does not pertain to it. It is said to be void (sunya), devoid of duality; in itself it is perfectly real, in fact the only reality ...There is no consciousness of the Absolute; Consciousness is the Absolute." -AK Chatterjee

Some Mahayana:
"Mahayana Buddhism is not only intellectual, but it is also devotional... in Mahayana, Buddha was taken as God, as Supreme Reality itself that descended on the earth in human form for the good of mankind. The concept of Buddha (as equal to God in theistic systems) was never as a creator but as Divine Love that out of compassion (karuna) embodied itself in human form to uplift suffering humanity. He was worshipped with fervent devotion... He represents the Absolute (paramartha satya), devoid of all plurality (sarva-prapancanta-vinirmukta) and has no beginning, middle and end... Buddha... is eternal, immutable... As such He represents Dharmakaya." -CD Sebastian

"The essential nature of the whole of samsara and nirvana is the absolute space (dhatu) of the tathagatagarbha, but this space is not to be confused with a mere absence of matter. Rather, this absolute space is imbued with all the infinite knowledge, compassion, power, and enlightened activities of the Buddha. Moreover, this luminous space is that which causes the phenomenal world to appear, and it is none other than the nature of one's own mind, which by nature is clear light." -B Alan Wallace

"Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha whose nature is identical with the tathagatagarbha within each sentient being, is the ultimate ground of samsara and nirvana; and the entire universe consists of nothing other than displays of this infinite, radiant, empty awareness. Thus, in light of the theoretical progression from the bhavanga to the tathagatagarbha to the primordial wisdom of the absolute space of reality, Buddhism is not so simply non-theistic as it may appear at first glance." -B Alan Wallace

Some Vajrayana
"... space dwells in all appearances of forms .. similarly, the body of the one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha] also thoroughly dwells in all appearances of sentient beings ... For example, all appearances of forms are included inside space. Similarly, all appearances of sentient beings are included inside the body of the one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha as Dharmakaya]." -Dolpopa

Therevada has no monopoly on Buddhist thought. It just seems that way for Therevada is the most popular tradition in the Western World.

Thanks for this Walrus

What is your source for Mahayana being the older Buddhist sect?

Kam
 
Old 08-12-2015, 03:52 AM   #66
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Ahanu referred to the Mahasamghika in passing, an early Buddhist school. They are an interesting 'sect' deserving of further scrutiny.

The Second Buddhist Council was convened 110 years after the Buddha's paranirvana (death). Virtually every scholar agrees that this was a genuine historical event (the first truly historical synod of Buddhist grandees according to some). It is therefore no doubt of significant interest to this discussion that the First Schism within the Sangha occurred at this council, between two prominent sects: Sthaviras (Tradition of the Elders) and the Mahasaṃghikas (Tradition of the Great Assembly).

Neither the Therevada or the Mahayana existed at this time, the latter we know given the late development of 'Mahayana proper' but the former seems to have been overlooked by Sophia. On the connection between the Sthaviras and the Therevadins:
The term sthavira (meaning "elder") is the Sanskrit version of the term better known today in its Pali version thera, as in Theravāda, the "Teaching of the Elders." The original Sthaviras, however, are by no means identical with the modern school called Theravāda. Rather, the Sthaviras are the ancestor of a group of related schools, one of which is the Theravāda.

- Bhikkhu Sujato. "Why Devadatta Was No Saint".
On the connection between the Mahasamghika and later Mahayana traditions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4...C4.81y.C4.81na
According to A.K. Warder, it is "clearly" the case that the Mahāyāna teachings originally came from the Mahāsāṃghika branch of Buddhism.[46] Warder holds that "the Mahāyāna originated in the south of India and almost certainly in the Āndhra country."[47] Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that "historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite some time that such pivotally important Mahayana Buddhist thinkers as Nāgārjuna, Dignaga, Candrakīrti, Āryadeva, and Bhavaviveka, among many others, formulated their theories while living in Buddhist communities in Āndhra."
As their name implies, a century after the Buddha's death the Mahasamghika were actually in the "majority".

The Therevada school claims direct descent from the Sthaviras. However there is no historical evidence of this since the Therevada emerged two centuries after the Great Schism. Therefore, its 'descent' from the Sthaviras is similar to the 'descent' of the Mahayanists from the Mahsamghika, which scholars regard as proto-Mahayana. Since most recent scholars regard the Mahsamghikha-Mahayana link as stronger, there has been a decisive tilt towards the view that there is not as wide a divergence between early Mahayana and Early Buddhism, at least not as much as was previously thought.

The Mahasaṃghika Sariputraparipṛccha is the earliest surviving account of the schism and scholars now generally concur that the account of the Mahasaṃghikas is bolstered by the vinaya texts themselves, as vinayas belonging to the Sthaviras contain more rules than those of the Mahasaṃghika Vinaya, which is therefore presumably the earlier version of the Buddha's Vinaya.

The fact that the Mahsamghikas interpreted the Sthaviras as the breakaway sect attempting to change the Buddha's Vinaya with innovations, is therefore more likely than the reverse. As a result:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sthavira_nik%C4%81ya
Modern scholarship therefore generally agrees that the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya is the oldest.[4] According to Skilton, future scholars may determine that a study of the Mahāsāṃghika school will contribute to a better understanding of the early Dharma-Vinaya than the Theravāda school
What was the cause of the split between these two main movements in Early Buddhism?

While it is difficult to know for certain given the sectarian biases of the sources on both sides, as stated scholars now reject the earlier idea that it was caused by the Mahsamgikhas introducing additional rules to the Buddha's Vinaya, with recent research has proven that the reverse is true: the Mahsamghikhas in fact refused to accept innovations in the rules proposed by the Sthaviras.

To compound this further, the Sthaviras and the Mahsamghikas had developed different "theologies" to an extent, while both agreeing on such basic fundamentals as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

While the Sthaviras believed in limited historical appearances of Buddhas who were simply "men", human beings like any other, the Mahsamghika taught that the Buddha had a "supramundane nature" that was not merely human, in addition to his human nature:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4...C4.81y.C4.81na
The Mahāsāṃghikas held that the teachings of the Buddha were to be understood as having two principal levels of truth: a relative or conventional (Skt. saṃvṛti) truth, and the absolute or ultimate (Skt. paramārtha) truth.[14] For the Mahāsāṃghika branch of Buddhism, the final and ultimate meaning of the Buddha's teachings was "beyond words," and words were merely the conventional exposition of the Dharma...

The Mahāsāṃghikas advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats...

According to Guang Xing, two main aspects of the Buddha can be seen in Mahāsāṃghika teachings: the true Buddha who is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifested forms through which he liberates sentient beings through his skillful means (Skt. upāya).[21] For the Mahāsāṃghikas, the historical Gautama Buddha was merely one of these transformation bodies (Skt. nirmāṇakāya), while the essential real Buddha was equated with the Dharmakāya.[22]

Like the Mahāyāna traditions, the Mahāsāṃghikas held the doctrine of the existence of many contemporaneous buddhas throughout the ten directions.[23] In the Mahāsāṃghika Lokānuvartana Sūtra, it is stated, "The Buddha knows all the dharmas of the countless buddhas of the ten directions."[23] It is also stated, "All buddhas have one body, the body of the Dharma."
The reason that earlier scholars were at first loath to accept the Mahasamghikha and by implication the later Mahayana as perhaps closer to the original Vinaya of the Dharma is for the same reason that many New Testament scholars, such as Bart Ehrman, were bitterly opposed to endorsing the idea that Jesus actually believed that he was a divine being and that the earliest Christians who authored Q and the Gospel of Mark believed this too. Secular scholars just don't like to think this, it isn't "PC". They would rather the Buddha and Christ had seen themselves as mere sages (in Jesus' instance an apocalyptic sage) as opposed to divine figures manifesting a pre-existent reality.

There has been a change in Jesus studies now as well, however, towards taking seriously the idea that Jesus and the Early Christians really did think that Jesus was a divine being.

Bart Ehrman, an agnostic and pre-eminent New Testament scholar, made his "change of heart" on the issue public on his blog last year:

Jesus as God in the Synoptics (For members) – Christianity in Antiquity (CIA): The Bart Ehrman Blog
This, I believe, will be my final post on an issue that changed my mind about while doing the research for How Jesus Became God. This last one is a big one – for me, at least. And it’s not one that I develop at length in the book in any one place, since it covers a span of material. Here’s the deal:

Until a year ago I would have said – and frequently did say, in the classroom, in public lectures, and in my writings – that Jesus is portrayed as God in the Gospel of John but not, definitely not, in the other Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke...

But more than that, in doing my research and thinking harder and harder about the issue, when I (a) came to realize that the Gospels not only attributed these things to him, but also understood him to be adopted as the Son of God at his baptism (Mark 1:9-11), or to have been made the son of God by virtue of the fact that God was literally his father, in that it was the Spirit of God that made the virgin Mary pregnant (Luke 1:35), and (b) realized what “adoption” meant to people in the Roman world (as indicated in a previous post), I finally yielded. These Gospels do indeed think of Jesus as divine. Being made the very Son of God who can heal, cast out demons, raise the dead, pronounce divine forgiveness, receive worship together suggests that even for these Gospels Jesus was a divine being, not merely a human.
However, I now bring in a caveat.

Nothing that the Mahasamghika taught, even if it is the closest doctrine to the historical Buddha, amounts to a belief in the "Oneness of God". A similarity is evident vis-a-vis the Baha'i Faith with regards to the historical Buddha being one of many earthly manifestations of a transcendental, omnipotent "Truth-Body", yet there is no indication that the basic 'atheism/agnosticism' inherent in all forms of Buddhism is being rejected. The transcendental Buddha principle is not identified with the Abrahamic God.

You could say, quite legitimately, that the way in which the transcendental unmanifested Buddha is described has stark similarities with the apophatic view of God as inexpressible, unknowable and defined by negation rather than positive attributes as expressed by Abrahamics. Yet it still isn't quire "theism" and I'm sure that the Mahasamghika would tell you as such themselves were they still in existence.

It is intriguing nonetheless and it does make me question those who are two quick to elevate the Therevada (its merits not being questioned by me stating this) above all the others, when the evidence may point towards a more nuanced reality.

What I think we can state with a relative degree of certainty is that the idea of Siddartha Gautama possessing a super-mundane nature; that is a transcendental and ultimate essence behind the 'mundane' or human persona of the Buddha, is a very ancient one that can be traced back to the very origins of the Buddhist religion and actually pre-dates the Therevada tradition, in its present form, by two centuries. It is not an innovation, neither is it in discordance with Early Buddhism. Indeed it is very plausible that this was in fact the original "majority" belief, certainly a hundred years after the Buddha's paranirvana at the time of the Second Council and Great Schism.

That aside, I do agree that the Pali Canon is the most ancient record of the Buddha's actual words that we have.

Last edited by Yeshua; 08-12-2015 at 04:22 AM.
 
Old 08-12-2015, 06:43 AM   #67
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The Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is well aware of the Pali cannon. I am familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh. I have walked with Thich Nhat Hanh, I have set with him, I have listened to him. He is the most peaceful human being I have ever met. I said I would be quiet on this forum, but to say something to someone I regard as one of my greatest helpers and teachers I have met in my life, does make me want to speak up and just offer a little helpful thought on it. I think he would smile at you right now. Personally I found his commentary on the Anapanasati Sutta to be very useful. It is a book I refer to now and again.

One thing when you have a lot of knowledge, that is easy to do, is stepping in with preconceptions where being an observer would fare one better. I am like that, so what little I know has been from bumbling into things as much as concentrating. Monkey mind.

I was educated by Vietnamese monks of both Pure Land and Tien, some of whom were in turn students of Thich Nhat Hanh, but I can tell you this, though they are Mahajana, the situation in Vietnam is not always as sectarian as you may find elsewhere, or may find in your own mind, from your suppositions. There are Theravadins in Vietnam, and certainly next-door, so to speak. It is not at all uncommon for both groups to converse freely and to read scripture from either cannon.

If we are stuck at this impasse that the Pali cannon is more correct than the Sanskrit, we can really struggle to find the truth. Honestly, neither are wholly correct, for neither were written by the Buddha, or within His lifetime. This is why those who recorded the sutras were very careful to begin each with "thus I have heard." If you think about it, that is a lovely caveat.

As to the nature of monotheism in Buddhism, again I am not going to get enmired into a discussion of how much the two vehicles were affected by outer sources. It is clear that both were affected by Greek symbolism coming from the Greek holdings in modern Afghanistan. Buddhism was certainly more iconoclastic before the arrival of the Greek-cultured monks. Buddhism in the north was affected by early Taoism, traditional relgiions, and so forth, and really by every culture it touched. I think, personally, that Theravada was heavily influenced by the early Jains.


What I am saying is, you can look for pure Buddhism, but you won't find it. hence Buddhists, north and south, look for the Maitreya. I believe the Maitreya to be Baha'u'llah. You may not. We can still agree on the find points of the Dhamma.

As far as monotheism goes, I think we need to first off remove what we think of when we say monotheism, inasmuch as Baha'i faith goes. In this context, of the cosmology laid out in the Baha'i teachings, God exists, but is unable to be comprehended by the human mind. It is beyond, as a Mahayana buddhist would say, the five skandhas.

D.T. Suzuki once wrote a very good discourse that related Zen to Pure Land. This was a bit of a suprise. It was not some appeasement to empty syncreticism. This might seem odd to some, especially Western Buddhists who tended to prefer the more austere forms of Thereavada practise, or Zen, and saw Pure Land as (one Monk told me with a perfectly calm expression) "dharma for peasants." I will not relate the entirety of his discussion, but it came down to the fact that behind it all, both practices related to an underlying "other power."

Admittedly I know little about the subjects. I do not know necessarily there is a great deal of "wiggle room" within Theravada philosophy for other power. I find it unfortunate. Since, as I understand it, (within Theravada teachings) only monastics may eventually gain enlightenment, and in countries like Sri lanka, all the bhikhkunis went extinct, and were only revived very recently within great protest, and in Thailand, where they are illegal. Doesn't leave much room for women to gain enlightenment on self-power, to me.

Again, thinking hypothetically. I suspect Theravada, which one would suspect might have been the version of Buddhism to survive in India, at least, may have failed because it could not offer insight into "other power." It could co-mingle in nearby countries with traditional animist and polytheistic belief, but in India it ran headlong into a resurgent Vedic tradition, and the teachings of Krishna. Buddha, at least in the north of India, was incorporated into another avatar of Vishnu, and the Buddha dharma more or less died out in the country of its birth.

Well, thanks for giving me some things to think about, and expatiate about. I still will try not to reply too much on this forum. I find much of the discussion here unpleasantly self-righteous and gloomy, but this is interesting.

With Metta,

Noogan
(not a hippy)

Last edited by noogan; 08-12-2015 at 06:47 AM.
 
Old 08-12-2015, 06:49 AM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeshua View Post
Ahanu referred to the Mahasamghika in passing, an early Buddhist school. They are an interesting 'sect' deserving of further scrutiny. ..
I just wanted to say I really appreciated reading your post. It is the sort I have to rearead to get all out of it. Thank you for putting so much thought into it.
 
Old 08-14-2015, 10:18 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
I'm not sure it's an adequate summary, though. I cannot in good faith endorse such a summary.
What for you, is the key difference?
 
Old 08-14-2015, 10:24 PM   #70
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Look. If you want to superimpose a Baha'i interpretation on a Buddhist (or a Catholic or whichever) text, you obviously have the right to do that.

I'm in this discussion because I find such superimpositions to be something that I could not do, and therefore, this is one of the factors that impedes me from becoming Baha'i.

I don't feel like going over actual scriptures of various religions with a red marker and correct them, or add or subtract to them.

But apparently Bahai's do just that, and I'm not comfortable doing that myself.

And saying that you're not the ones doing that, but that you're just following your Baha'i authorities -- if you freely chose the Baha's faith, and are practicing it freely, then you are the ones going over actual scriptures of various religions with a red marker and correct them, or add or subtract to them. Even if you pretend to be hiding behind your authorities.
Sophia,

It is not like it is a requirement in the Baha'i Faith to do this, nor are Baha'is 'hiding behind' their authorities when they do it. The truth is that not many Baha'is have studied other religions independent of their authoritative sources. Yeah, I know most religions pretty well. Buddhism might well be the one I understand the least and I study religions for a living! It is hard enough to know one or two traditions thoroughly. Give Baha'is are break if they don't know them all.

warmest, Susan
 
Old 08-14-2015, 11:10 PM   #71
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As usual, Yeshua, well done!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeshua View Post
.
yet there is no indication that the basic 'atheism/agnosticism' inherent in a
principle is not identified with the Abrahamic God.
But let's keep in mind that the concept of the Abrahamic God was not even on the table for either Buddha or His followers.

Quote:
You could say, quite legitimately, that the way in which the transcendental unmanifested Buddha is described has stark similarities with the apophatic view of God as inexpressible, unknowable and defined by negation rather than positive attributes as expressed by Abrahamics. Yet it still isn't quire "theism"
But no apophatic view of God really is. What is theistic is Jesus and the Buddha Themselves. And Baha'u'llah for that matter. They are all we can know about God humanly speaking.

By the way, Moojan Momen wrote an article on Buddhism from his perspective as a Baha'i:

Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith
 
Old 08-15-2015, 06:47 AM   #72
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It can be added that there should be no expectation that Baha'i teachings conform to any school of Buddhist thought or practice, any more than they conform with Christian, Muslim or other current religious teachings. If we believed the same as Buddhists do, we would be Buddhists, which we are not.

Baha'u'llah makes an extraordinary claim that was not made directly by previous religions, although I believe is foreshadowed by many ancient scriptures. All of the religions are not discordant sounds in a sea of noise, they are notes in a symphony, or "concordent letters that form a single word". To be a Baha'i is to believe that this is true.

It is undeniably true that the ancient religions conflict with each other in many ways, if you hold strictly to their traditional teachings. New religions always reinterpret older ones. Baha'u'llah explains clearly why this is the case, and why this is not a denial of the older religions but their fulfillment.

Last edited by Jcc; 08-15-2015 at 07:01 AM.
 
Old 08-15-2015, 07:41 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by Jcc View Post
It is undeniably true that the ancient religions conflict with each other in many ways, if you hold strictly to their traditional teachings. New religions always reinterpret older ones. Baha'u'llah explains clearly why this is the case, and why this is not a denial of the older religions but their fulfillment.
Well stated!

"... the purpose of the divine messengers and the revelation of the heavenly books and the establishment of the religion of God has been none other than to create amity and justice between the children of the races. True religion is the foundation of spiritual union, the union of thought, the union of susceptibilities, the unity of customs and the ideal chain binding together all the children of men." -Abdu'l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy, p 159
 
Old 08-15-2015, 09:27 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by Josh View Post
Well stated!

"... the purpose of the divine messengers and the revelation of the heavenly books and the establishment of the religion of God has been none other than to create amity and justice between the children of the races. True religion is the foundation of spiritual union, the union of thought, the union of susceptibilities, the unity of customs and the ideal chain binding together all the children of men." -Abdu'l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy, p 159
Yes well stated both Jcc and Josh Each new Messenger of God brings fresh knowledge of truth for the time of their coming.

One either accepts this truth or rejects, only God judges and knows the reward of denial, the writings of each faith carry warnings, but people have the right to choose.

Love and peace to all.
bill
 
Old 08-15-2015, 12:16 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Okay. But Mahayana tells us the Buddha says there is something eternal:
There is, monks, an unborn, a not-become, a not-made,
a not-compounded. If, monks, there were not
this unborn, not-become, not-made, not-compounded,
there would not here be an escape from the born, the
become, the made, the compounded….
.
This statement does not come from the Mahayana. In suggesting this, you provided our friend Sophia with unwarranted "ammunition" to deride the Mahayana tradition.

It is actually a teaching attributed to the Buddha himself in the Digha Nikaya section of the Pali Canon, namely the Nibbana Sutta, Udana 80:

Nibbna Sutta: Parinibbana (3)
Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Lord was instructing... the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk connected with Nibbana, and those bhikkhus... were intent on listening to Dhamma.

Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:

There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not-made, not-conditioned, no escape would be discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. But since there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned.
The Udana is a Buddhist scripture, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.

Scholars regard it as exhibiting an "earlier", pre-canonical understanding of Nibbana as an "absolute" that must be described through negation. This conflicts with other elements of the Pali Canon that represent a later "revised" understanding which rejects an Absolute.

In the Pali Canon we find at least two sets of views concerning Nirvana, a more ancient and a newer one. The old conception is represented by Digha Nikaya I 233 and Udana 80. Many of these passages are in verse. They refer to the existence of something permanent and unconditioned. This has not failed to attract the attention of Buddhist scholars, realizing it is difficult to reconcile the two trends in the Canon: an older absolutist one in many ways reminiscent of the oldest Upanishad and other passages reflecting later developments in the Therevada, especially the doctrine of universal impermanence.

Mahayana appears from such a reading to be less an innovation in Buddhism than a conservative, mystical reform movement attempting to return to earlier ideas and preserve certain older elements more faithfully than the Therevada.

Recall that both the Therevada and Mahayana recognize the Pali Canon, differing in interpretation.

Last edited by Yeshua; 08-15-2015 at 12:20 PM.
 
Old 08-18-2015, 06:17 AM   #76
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This statement does not come from the Mahayana. In suggesting this, you provided our friend Sophia with unwarranted "ammunition" to deride the Mahayana tradition.
Yes, I didn't realize it until post number 48.

Yeshua wrote:
It is actually a teaching attributed to the Buddha himself in the Digha Nikaya section of the Pali Canon, namely the Nibbana Sutta, Udana 80:

Nibbna Sutta: Parinibbana (3)

Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Lord was instructing... the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk connected with Nibbana, and those bhikkhus... were intent on listening to Dhamma.

Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:

There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not-made, not-conditioned, no escape would be discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. But since there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned.
Agreed. Moojan Momen also mentions it in his article (see smaneck's post above). In a review by Jonah Winters in bahai-library.com, Winters reminds us the Baha'i interpretation, from a Buddhist's standpoint, isn't more persuasive than other interpretations. Thich Nhat Hanh, however, shares the Baha'i interpretation.

Yeshua wrote:
The Udana is a Buddhist scripture, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
I've got it now.
Mahayana appears from such a reading to be less an innovation in Buddhism than a conservative, mystical reform movement attempting to return to earlier ideas and preserve certain older elements more faithfully than the Therevada.
Sounds interesting.
Recall that both the Therevada and Mahayana recognize the Pali Canon, differing in interpretation.
Okay.

By the way, when it comes to Buddhism, I'm only familiar with a few of Thich Nhat Hanh's books.

Last edited by ahanu; 08-18-2015 at 06:20 AM.
 
Old 08-20-2015, 01:24 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
By the way, when it comes to Buddhism, I'm only familiar with a few of Thich Nhat Hanh's books.
That could be problematic.

If for nothing else, it's because Thich Nhat Hanh didn't actually author all of his books (nor did the Dalai Lama author the books published as supposedly being authored by him). Some teachers have ghostwriters do much work for them, and so there's room for misrepresentation.

You might want to check out this website: Fake Buddha Quotes |
 
Old 08-20-2015, 08:31 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by Sophia View Post
That could be problematic.

If for nothing else, it's because Thich Nhat Hanh didn't actually author all of his books (nor did the Dalai Lama author the books published as supposedly being authored by him). Some teachers have ghostwriters do much work for them, and so there's room for misrepresentation.

You might want to check out this website: Fake Buddha Quotes |
Thanks for your suggestion.

With Thich Nhat Hanh's interviews and videos floating around the internet, it isn't hard to confirm the ideas in his books - even if one concedes he "didn't actually author all his books." It isn't problematic for this thread. For example, he answers a child's question - "What is God?" - in the video here. Nothing different there from what I quoted from his book Living Buddha, Living Christ. To be sure, a more detailed talk can be found here. He talks about "the ground of being" or "God" there. He confirms what I quoted from Living Buddha, Living Christ.

Last edited by ahanu; 08-20-2015 at 11:08 AM.
 
Old 08-20-2015, 08:57 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Thanks for your suggestion.

With Thich Nhat Hanh's interviews and videos floating around the internet, it isn't hard to confirm the ideas in his books - even if one concedes he "didn't actually author all his books." It isn't problematic for this thread. For example, he answers a child's question - "What is God?" - in the video here. Nothing different there from what I quoted from his book Living Buddha, Living Christ. To be sure, a more detailed talk can be found here. He talks about "the ground of being" or "God" there. He confirms what I quoted in Living Buddha, Living Christ.
Ahanu, my own position is that if you wish to understand a religion it is best not to go through "intermediaries". Go directly for the source material and start reading the Sutta Pitaka
 
Old 08-20-2015, 09:19 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Yeshua View Post
Ahanu, my own position is that if you wish to understand a religion it is best not to go through "intermediaries". Go directly for the source material and start reading the Sutta Pitaka
Of course. I do this with Islam, Christianity, the Babi Faith, and the Baha'i Faith. To take on another religion with the same amount of in-depth study I give these would prove too much for me. I don't have a strong desire to go beyond Thich Nhat Hanh in understanding Buddhism. Perhaps I would like to learn more about Chan Buddhism. Besides that, I'm not so interested.

As a side note, unless you speak the original language of the scriptures, I believe it is impossible to see the religion without intermediaries coloring it to some degree. Translators are intermediaries too.

Last edited by ahanu; 08-20-2015 at 09:25 AM.
 
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