A hammer?

Mar 2015
25
North America
#21
Moonshadow, you may find this article of interest.

Relativism
I did find the article of interest. I agree that there is one “goal” whatever label we choose to ascribe to it, whether it is nibbana or heaven or moksha or whatever. And my perspective is that all of these different mental constructions and interpretations that different people use in describing the path to this goal are just conventions, not truth in and of themselves. One person says “God,” and another says “the Unconditioned,” and then they argue about how they are not talking about the same thing because of this disagreement or that disagreement about the characteristics each attributes to that which they have labeled. But all of these differences are the mere overlay that each of us, from our own perspective, applies in attempting to make sense of or understand that which evades our attempts to capture it in this way.

And what is the end result of such bickering and the prideful assertion of the rightness of ones' own belief over that of another? Will such an attitude bring this world away from the precipice which it now walks and is about to topple over?
Certainly it will not. I find it so discouraging when people like tiltbillings/Bruce Burrill choose to misrepresent other faiths, choose to put down others who see an underlying unity, and choose to attempt to conform other faiths into an inferior position relative to their own faiths. Theravada certainly does this, unfortunately. If you look, you will find Theravada discussions about how Christians and those of other faiths may be able to attain to one of the heavens discussed in Theravada, but not to Nibbana. In this way, some within Theravada unfortunately are guilty of exactly the behavior that tiltbillings/Bruce Burrill accuse the Baha’i of engaging in: Re-interpreting other faiths to hammer them into the Theravada form.

"There is, O monks,
an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed.
Were there not, O monks,
this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed,
there would be no escape from the world
of the born, originated, created, formed.
"Since, O monks, there is an
unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,
therefore there is an escape
from the born, originated, created, formed."
It is worth noting that in Bikkhu Bodhi’s “Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma,” the Unconditioned is classified as a conditioning state. (See, e.g., Table 8.3 in that book, available here.) Some within Theravada do not like the possible implications, and some go so far as to discount or reject the Abdhidhamma because of this, or to sharply put down those who suggest that this may point to an underlying unity with other faith traditions.

The Revelation, of which Bahá'u'lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man's allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose.
It is unfortunate that many adherents of other faiths do not follow this example of generosity, kindness, and tolerance.
 
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#22
Yes, Theravada recognizes samsara. But I do not believe it is viewed as an eternal existence.
Ah, from the link provided it seems the Theravada view is quite different from the Mahayana. I cannot broker comparisons with Samsara in that form, so I'll not continue that thread of thought

I would welcome an elaboration.
Okay!! Wait... looking up my sources on Anatta it seems the majority of my understanding of the concept comes from Mahayana... do you have a helpful link to the Theravada view on the concept that I can look at before I go into details??

I suspect that many do, but it is not my place to say.
Unfortunate, if that is the case. There are so many teachings attributed to the Buddha and many views on his person attributed to him with different sects. It seems odd to me that any one group(even the Baha'is) could claim perfect knowledge on who he was. It seems odd to me that anyone could claim another was thus misrepresenting his person.

Edit: Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if the schools of Buddhism have their own methods of validating scriptures, similar to the way the schools of Islam do??

I imagine that the underlying unity among these faiths has more to do with how they help followers understand reality than how best to overlay that reality with concepts, labels, and interpretations.
That's pretty much how we view unity of religions. (Well, one way we view it. I can think of two ways in total we view the concept.)
 
Oct 2013
697
Glenwood, Queensland, Australia
#24
Good morning to all, and a welcome also to Monday, which early morning it now is in my location

@gnat - Glaysher has been around for quite some time. Despite appearances and despite any intention of his own, his efforts are used by God to bring people to an awareness of His Cause. When I consider at any time those who oppose the Revelation of Baha'u'llah in any way, am reminded of the love that Baha'u'llah had for those who professed to be His enemy. His efforts went into attempting to demonstrate to them the proper path that they may be saved from the consequences of their action. He had no recriminations, had no ill-will, and was content with His lot. His concern remained for the welfare of all, including those who perpetrated ill. A perusal of Summons of the Lord of Hosts highlights this continuously.

@Moonshadow

Those here and yourself are on the same playing field. If I may make some sort of a generalisation here (knowing full well that as in all such generalisations there are glaring inaccuracies), many who follow any of the Revelations do so for one (or on occaision both) of two reasons:

1. They were born into a family practicing that Faith, and have automatically, without any other consideration than family tie, blindly bonded themself to that Faith
2. They follow a Faith or following which accords with their own wishes and desires.

The Truth is always the Truth. It does not require our recognition or acceptance to still be the Truth. Truth thus does not aquiese to our views, but our views must aquiese to Truth.

But this can often take great courage. Sometimes, to aquiese to the Truth can mean ostracision from ones' family and/or circle of friends. It often means change - in ones views and outlook, in one's behaviour, and these alone are sufficient to make many afraid. It will, in some circumstances, result in others pointing their fingers at them in derision, and many quail at that thought. Aye, courage, and sometimes great courage.

And then we have our comfort zone, from which many are intensely reluctant to depart. That too, takes courage.

When we understand the many pressures which people place on themselves, and which others also place on a person, we find it impossible to regard them in any other but a light of love and kindness. For many (if not all), to try to change them at ones' own will and determination is akin to pushing them off the edge of a high cliff, and who in their right mind would wish to cause pain and hurt and injury to another. Rather, the Truth is shared without the intention to change their view, but to encourage them to understand that the Truth has many facets, and leave acceptance or rejection entirely in their hands. Truth is not lessened by rejection, nor is it enhanced by acceptance, and neither is the bearer of good news.

The true battle lies not with each other, but with our own self - the insistent self who is ruled by passions, desires and wants. Sadly, so many translate that into a battle with others - it is percieved as easier to change another, and thus the course of least resistance is followed and the effort that should be put into the generation of a new being is transferred into attempting to generate a being like our self.

My father once defined "conversion" as often occurs in the world of today as : "pushing ones' own words down another's throat till they start coming back out again." Insecurity in one's own belief causes one to find others to concur with that belief, and once those words begin coming out of another's throat there is the feeling of reinforcement of their own belief, a confirmation of one's own rightness, so to speak. And the group of like-believers feel also vindicated in their belief, for yet another speaks in words of the group's making.

Thus it is clearly seen that, if we look only at the externals of a situation, differences and conflicts can be easily seen, but when one delves below the surface an entirely different picture appears, one which aids in joyfull association with them, for we work then from a basis of understanding and love rather than the surface discrepancies which can form barriers.

With most warm greetings

Romane
 
Last edited:
Mar 2015
25
North America
#26
When we understand the many pressures which people place on themselves, and which others also place on a person, we find it impossible to regard them in any other but a light of love and kindness. For many (if not all), to try to change them at ones' own will and determination is akin to pushing them off the edge of a high cliff, and who in their right mind would wish to cause pain and hurt and injury to another. Rather, the Truth is shared without the intention to change their view, but to encourage them to understand that the Truth has many facets, and leave acceptance or rejection entirely in their hands. Truth is not lessened by rejection, nor is it enhanced by acceptance, and neither is the bearer of good news.

The true battle lies not with each other, but with our own self - the insistent self who is ruled by passions, desires and wants. Sadly, so many translate that into a battle with others
Words of wisdom indeed.
 
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#27
Thanks. This is in agreement with Mahayana views on anatta.

I wouldn't say that anatta is similar to Baha'i "detachment", I'd actually say that they are the same concept, described and named differently among Buddhists, Baha'is, and Taoists. Buddhists call it "anatta" or "not-self". Baha'is call it "detachment". And Taoists call it "wei wu wei" or "action without action".

Buddhist Anatta said:
Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging — the residual sense of self-identification — that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that's left is limitless freedom.
The link you nicely provided defines "the residual sense of self-identification" as attachment and clinging. Likewise the Baha'i goal of detachment is to chip away at attachment to the temporal.

Bahai Detachment said:
"The earth life lasts but a short time, even its benefits are transitory; that which is temporary does not deserve our heart’s attachment…. Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one’s house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one’s fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one’s possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us."

"One who is imprisoned by desires is always unhappy; the children of the Kingdom have unchained themselves from their desires. Break all fetters and seek for spiritual joy and enlightenment; then, though you walk on this earth, you will perceive yourselves to be within the divine horizon. To man alone is this possible. When we look about us we see every other creature captive to his environment."
Goal and method are both the same: eliminate stress by eliminating attachment.

Taoist Wei Wu Wei said:
"Having disregarded his own existence, he (Pu Liang I) was enlightened ... gained vision of the One ... was able to transcend the distinction of past and present... was able to enter the realm where life and death are no more. Then, to him, the destruction of life did not mean death, nor the prolongation of life an addition to the duration of his existence. He would follow anything; he would receive anything. To him, everything was in destruction, everything was in construction. This is called tranquillity-in-disturbance. Tranquillity in disturbance means perfection."
The Taoists have this concept too, though it is a bit harder to explain, since Taoism revels in seeming paradox, though the quote I provided should show wei wu wei's identity as anatta nicely, and shows its equivalence to detachment for anyone who has read Seven Valleys.

Comparative Seven Valleys Quotes said:
"He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life."
"Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger. "
 
Mar 2015
25
North America
#28
Thanks, Walrus. These are insightful comparisons.

There are many within Theravada who would reject any similarity out of hand as merely superficial, but it is more than that. You are right, detachment can be a true underlying unity, depending on how it is understood and practiced, and that, I think, is the key.

Those who reject the possibility of underlying unity often pin their arguments on the difference in the details and characteristics. For example, the concept of a "soul" seems to be very much at odds with the teaching of the not-self, anatta nature of reality. After all, a soul is thought to be eternal, individual, personal, and perhaps the only thing that is truly the "self." It is atta, the opposite of anatta.

But that is only one way of understanding what we might call "soul." Another core feature of some traditions that seem to adopt the concept of a "soul" is self abnegation. I mean this not in an abusive sense, but in the sense of some mystics, for example, who practice to defeat the self and all that selfishness entails. The "old Adam" that dies and is no more. Whatever we might call it.

In this sense, the soul is not the self. The soul, instead, represents that potentiality within that shines through only when self finally makes way. And this, in some respects, bears similarities to the Theravada notion that it is only through chipping away at the delusion of self that we might see things as they really are. In Mahayana, we might have Buddha nature. Theravada rejects this, too, yet Theravada accepts that extinction of the delusion of self is a necessary step toward utter bliss. Different words. Different details. Different labels and characteristics. But the same underlying path and goal.

You may be surprised to learn how big an obstacle words like "soul" and "God" are for some. It is a shame that these words cannot be understood for what they are: symbols or pointers that indicate the highest ideals to which we aspire from our common human condition. Dogmatically, some insist on "God" or "soul" according to their individual understanding, which might be the right path for them, while others, equally dogmatically, reject "God" or "soul" or any variation, failing to recognize the possibility that there is a different way of viewing things.

Within each beautiful religion there are these signposts and suggestions, and I believe it is possible for a person to find the path and goal in the context of ardent faith and practice in any one of these, depending on the disposition of the person, their capacity for wisdom, and other factors.

Many utterly reject the Christian notion of salvation by grace, arguing that it merely absolves people of any sense of responsibility for their actions. But this entirely misses the point. The notion of salvation by grace is an expression of the abnegation of self. It is at its core an anatta understanding, and what most critics fail to comprehend is that salvation by grace is intertwined with good works as well, as the fruit of faith and its natural companion.

There is nothing to fear in underlying unity. There is nothing to lose. Truth will not cease being truth if we should (correctly) recognize that our personal perspective is not the only valid perspective. Those who fight so hard against any recognition of this underlying unity are, in all likelihood, very much stuck in the delusion of self, very much opposed to the anatta point of view. They fail to understand anatta.
 
Jun 2014
1,044
Wisconsin
#29
You may be surprised to learn how big an obstacle words like "soul" and "God" are for some. It is a shame that these words cannot be understood for what they are: symbols or pointers that indicate the highest ideals to which we aspire from our common human condition. Dogmatically, some insist on "God" or "soul" according to their individual understanding, which might be the right path for them, while others, equally dogmatically, reject "God" or "soul" or any variation, failing to recognize the possibility that there is a different way of viewing things.
Aye. People are silly the way they'll agree on a concept existing, and will agree with all the attributes of that concept, yet they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different name for the same thing.

There is nothing to fear in underlying unity. There is nothing to lose. Truth will not cease being truth if we should (correctly) recognize that our personal perspective is not the only valid perspective. Those who fight so hard against any recognition of this underlying unity are, in all likelihood, very much stuck in the delusion of self, very much opposed to the anatta point of view. They fail to understand anatta.
Indeed. It seems to me that realizing things like not-self or detachment require the abolition of dichotomies (a Unity of "opposites"). I don't think one could attain such a state while holding on to the Us/Others Dichotomy.

One of our more mystic books, the Seven Valleys details abandoning this dichotomy (and the others) as an important step in spiritual development.
 
May 2013
1,786
forest falls california
#30
Being and Nothingness

Aye. People are silly the way they'll agree on a concept existing, and will agree with all the attributes of that concept, yet they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different name for the same thing.



Aye... they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different thing for the same name... ;-)

.