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    Thread: Ask me about Buddhism.

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      Ask me about Buddhism.

      I'm studying the Pali Canon which is the oldest known original teachings of the buddha. I'm currently reading the Majjhima, Digha, and Samyutta Nikayas and i'm coming across so much information that I didn't know before and it's answering a lot of questions for me. I figured I would offer to share this information with anyone who is interested

      So any questions about Buddhism? I'd be happy to answer them for you if i can
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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      What is the sound of one hand clapping? Sorry couldn't resist.
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      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      What did the Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor?

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      God, all my moms friends tell me that one every time I see them.
      I like this one better(I hope you don't mind me polluting your thread with humor)
      Q: How do you describe a schizophrenic Zen Buddhist?
      A: A man who is at two with the universe
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Seriously, I don't know what to ask, but I know that there is a ton that I don't know. There are all these numbers. Like there is the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the five mental poisons, the ? immeasurables. The 16 bhumis, the 5 skandhas, etc. etc. What are some others? Maybe you should just tell us what you are learning! Teach us, then let us ask questions!

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      Quote Originally Posted by stonedape View Post
      What is the sound of one hand clapping? Sorry couldn't resist.
      soundless sound. next! that actually is the answer that was given by the person that koan was invented for i've read that story. to be fair that's chan buddhism which came about way later in history. i'm reading and studying the oldest stuff, the original. although i have found a few stories that were supposedly chan koans in origin but clearly existed long before chan. i love chan stuff too. i studied that for years and even had tutelage at a chan temple. i got lost among the many many sects and bought books from different ones without knowing it and started noticing conflicting information and oddities so i did some studying and decided to find out what the buddha himself said about all these things. in the end i found that the core teachings are the same but each sect is very unique from original buddhist teachings.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      What did the Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor?
      he said that hot dog vending is wrong livelihood. the buddha specifically listed "meat trader" as one of the jobs a buddhist cannot have. how literal this should be taken i do not know. he may have meant that owning, slaughtering and then selling meat is wrong. in which case if you have nothing to do with any of that part of it it might be okay. i would imagine it's a debatable issue but taken literally one should not vend hot dogs if one is buddhist.

      oh wait, that was a joke wasn't it? lol, took me a minute, okay then my answer is: "i don't know? what did he say?"
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-14-2011 at 07:28 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by stonedape View Post
      God, all my moms friends tell me that one every time I see them.
      I like this one better(I hope you don't mind me polluting your thread with humor)
      Q: How do you describe a schizophrenic Zen Buddhist?
      A: A man who is at two with the universe
      lol that's pretty funny

      why do they say that too you? are you a buddhist?

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      the basics

      very well then i'm starting with the basics. even if you already know them read them anyway as they are different from later versions. everyone has heard so many different versions and is has muddied the water for most. presented below is a distillation of what i have read on these topics. the buddha said so much more on these topics, teaching them over and over again but here is the gist.

      this information comes from the pali canon through these books:
      "the life of the buddha" translated from pali by Bhikkhu Nanamoli (BPS pariyatti editions) copyright 1972, 1992 buddhist publication society
      "the samyutta nikaya, connected discourses of the buddha" translated by bhikkhu bodhi (wisdom publications) copyright 2000 bhikkhu bodhi
      "the long discourses of the buddha a translation of the digha nikaya" tranlated by maurice walshe (wisdom publications) copyright maurice walshe, 1987, 1995
      "the middle length discourses of the buddha a translation of the majjhima nikaya" translated by bhikkhu bodhi and bhikkhu nanamoli (wisdom publications) copyright 1995 bhikkhu bodhi

      key:
      S=samyutta nikaya
      M=majhimma nikaya
      D=digha nikaya
      A=anguttara nikaya

      also "bhikkhu" is the pali word for "monk". "bhikkhuni" is nun (although that word isn't used in this post).


      a lot of this text is somewhat repetitive as it was originally remembered mnemonically. when you see "..." it means i have simply bridged the gap created by the omission of repeated text.

      all of the following is from the previously listed nikayas through the first listed source, "the life of the buddha" translated by bhikkhu nanamoli. everything in quotes is taken from the book, the only differences should be where you see "..." which as mentioned earlier are where texts have been shortened to omit repetition. things not in quotes are my interpretations of the teachings based on my readings. to save time i didn't capitalize anything and so everything is in lower case.

      a quote by the buddha:

      "in the world i see this generation racked by craving for being;
      wretched men gibbering in the face of death,
      still craving, hoping for some kind of being.
      see how they tremble over what they claim as "mine",
      like fishes in the puddles of a failing stream."

      siddhartha gautama, the buddha: 483-563 BC
      born a prince on the border of modern day india and nepal. he left his rich life to seek the meaning of life, the truth, enlightenment. he struggled for six years under different teachers not finding what he wanted. he went on his own and lived in the woods starving himself, eating sometimes nothing but a single bean or grain of rice a day and doing other ascetic practices thinking that self denial would lead to awakening. he nearly died. a woman found him, collapsed at a rivers edge, and fed him rice with milk, or rice pudding. having eaten, he regained his strength and meditated for a long time, finally reaching enlightenment. he realized all of his past practices were wrong and learned all of this (plus a whole lot more):

      the four noble truths
      1. life is suffering.
      2. suffering is caused by desire.
      3. there is an end to suffering.
      4. the end of suffering is the eightfold path.

      the eightfold path
      1. right view- seeing clearly the world in terms of the four noble truths.
      "when one understands how form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness are impermanent, one therin possesses right view."
      S.22:51;35:155

      2. right intention- "...intention of renunciation, the intention of non ill will, the intention of non-cruelty."
      S.45:8,D.22

      3. right speech-"abstention from lying, slander, abuse, and gossip."
      S.45:8, D.22

      4. right action- "abstention from killing living beings, stealing, misconduct in sexual desires: this is called right action."
      S.45:8, D.22
      in other places he makes it clear that using intoxicants is also forbidden. this is definitely an action and so should be explained here.

      5. right livelihood- no trading in weapons, living beings, meat, liquor, or poisons. (these are the rules for a lay person).
      paraphrased from A.5:177

      6. right effort- "a bhikkhu awakes desire for the non-arising of unarisen evil unwholesome states, for which he makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind, and endeavours...abandoning arisen evil unwholesome states...desire for arising of unarisen wholesome states. he awakens desire for the continuance, non-corruption, strengthening, maintenance in being, and perfecting, of arisen wholesome states, for which he makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind, and endeavors: this is called right effort."
      S.45:8;D.22

      7. right mindfulness- "here a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. (repeat replacing "body" with "feelings", "consciousness", and "mental objects")"
      S.45:8, D.22
      so essentially one is supposed to pay close attention to everything going on in and around him/herself. constant mindfulness.

      8. right concentration- "what is right concentration?
      "here, quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome state, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion."

      frequently taught by him was mindfulness of breathing which is sitting at the foot of a tree or in an empty hut and simply being mindful of the breath as you breathe in and out. basically sitting somewhere quiet, eyes half open and on the floor or something else within about four feet of you. sit with your back straight and unsupported and focus on your breath where it comes into and out of your nose. don't block out thoughts but don't interact with them either. just let them pass and keep your attention on your breathing. some count each out breath from one to ten. starting over when ten is reached or if count is lost. this is a good beginning practice that is stopped once the mind can remain on the breath without it. do this for five minutes at first at least once a day and gradually work your way up to at least thirty minutes, twice a day.

      right concentration is meditation. he then goes on to explain the different levels one travels through in meditatation: "seclusion, concentration, pleasant abiding, equaniminty." these are the four meditative states. from what i gather if one accomplishes these then they have completed buddhist training for the most part but can still go higher to "the four formless states". refinements of the fourth meditation: "with the surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, by not giving attention to perceptions of difference, (aware of) infinite space, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base consisting of infinity of space...by surmounting the base consisting of infinity of space...he abides in the base consisting of infinity of consciousness... again...aware that "there is nothing at all"...base consisting of nothingness... again... consisting of neither perception nor non perception..."
      M.8
      D.2;D.22;M.39;S45:8

      these are the core of the buddha's teachings. if a person learned and accomplished these things perfectly then they have become a perfect buddhist.

      don't get me wrong, he taught so much more than that it will make your head spin. but these things he taught consistently over and over throughout his life after enlightenment. in the three books i have, totaling 4,140 pages he teaches these things throughout and in many different ways. what i have presented here is a brief condensation and some selected lines of the collection found in "the life of the buddha", the ones i think are the most accessible, clear and easy to understand. although it would be best to read them all and as well read all the entire pali canon, but this is a good start it is safe to say that you cannot separate these teachings from the entirety of his teachings. there may be no buddhism without these core teachings, they pervade everywhere.

      however like i said there is a lot more to it than that, so if anyone has any questions about or outside of these things feel free to ask.

      some key words to be defined

      karma- every action has an equal reaction. these reactions happen in this life or in the next depending on what kind of actions they are. each karma has a different time of ripening. therefore when bad things happen to good people it is bad karma from a previous life affecting them.

      rebirth- consciousness after death is re-ignited and a person is reborn based on their karma. they cycle through the six realms of existence (see below under "numbered lists") ceaselessly. this has been going on for an unknowable and very long, seemingly infinite amount of time.

      nibbana (nirvana)- a person who has extinguished all desire in life and therefore disposed of all karma reaches enlightenment or nibbana. they can see exactly how the world works and come to understand ultimate reality. they are happy and content no matter what for the rest of their life and after death are free from the cycle. never to be reborn and never to suffer again. in buddhism this is done by following the eightfold path.

      as for numbered lists dannon there are so many it's amazing. here are a few taken from "buddhism for dummies" by jonathan landaw with stephen bodian (wiley publishing inc.) copyright 2003 by wiley publishing inc. indianapolis, indiana.

      all of this is directly quoted from that book. again i didn't capitalize anything.

      numbered lists

      3 jewels
      buddha
      dharma
      sangha

      3 higher trainings
      morality, concentration, wisdom

      4 marks of buddha's teachings
      compounded phenomena are impermanent
      ordinary phenomena are unsatisfactory
      all phenomena are unsatisfactory
      all phenomena are insubstantial (selfless)
      nirvana is peace

      5 aggregates (same as skandhas)
      form, feeling, recognition, karmic formations, consciousness

      10 theravada perfections
      generosity
      moral discipline
      patience
      effort
      meditative concentration
      wisdom
      renunciation
      truthfulness
      loving kindness
      equanimity

      12 links of dependent arising
      ignorance
      karmic formations
      consciousness
      name and form
      six senses
      contact
      feeling
      craving
      grasping
      becoming
      birth
      aging and death

      these lits are just from my memory:

      the six realms of existence
      hell-people are reborn here after leading wicked lives. it is a place of suffering and horror. people live here as long as their bad karma lasts and then move up to another realm depending on other karmas.

      hungry ghost- people are reborn here after leading lives full of greed and stinginess. beings here live very long and only find food once every 200 years or so. they suffer great hunger and thirst and have huge bellies and tiny necks and mouths so even when they do find food it is painful to eat. after so long based on karma people die here and move up or down somewhere based on other karmas.

      animal- people are reborn and live as an animal if they were inattentive to the important things in life, kind of just moving along going through the motions not helping people or doing good. the live and die for so many lifetimes until their bad karma is spent and they move up based on other karmas.

      human- self explanatory, one lives here and can experience all the range of the realms. some believe that the other realms are simply metaphors for different experiences on earth. one can be reborn as a human multiple times or move to a lower or higher realm based on karma.

      demi brahma- one is born here who was very good in life but who was jealous and strove for better things often. a demi brahma lives for an extremely long time but is always jealous of the brahmas and frequently suffer defeat in battle with the brahmas because they cannot win. one will live here for a long time and then die and move up or down based on other karma.

      brahma- one who is very good, pure, selfless, and kind is reborn as a brahma. zero suffering, everything is great. however brahmas think they are immortal and when one of them is dying the others all ignore it and leave them to die alone because admitting that one of them can die would be admitting that they all die. they live for billions of years. then they die and are reborn somewhere below based on other karmas.

      5 precepts
      no killing
      no stealing
      no sexual misconduct
      no lying
      no use of intoxicants

      there are so many more lists! they are everywhere in the buddha's teachings. to list them all would take days of research and i would have to go back and re read all the ones i have passed by already and so i used that other book since it has a bunch on the first page whereas the others are scattered among huge amounts of pages. the samyutta nikaya for example is 2,072 pages!

      any questions about any of this or anything else, i'm all ears.
      Last edited by Xei; 01-21-2011 at 09:28 PM. Reason: OP wanted 'God' to be read as 'Brahma'

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by somniumrex View Post
      lol that's pretty funny

      why do they say that too you? are you a buddhist?
      Sort of. I don't consider myself a buddhist but I practice meditation with a zen buddhist group. I might have once told them I was a buddhist to get out of going to church, but I don't think so, I think I just said that I don't believe that your rituals do anything so isn't it sacrilegious for me to take part in them?
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Spoiler for Author's note: this contains many errors:
      Last edited by Xei; 01-21-2011 at 09:25 PM. Reason: OP requested

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      Quote Originally Posted by stonedape View Post
      Sort of. I don't consider myself a buddhist but I practice meditation with a zen buddhist group. I might have once told them I was a buddhist to get out of going to church, but I don't think so, I think I just said that I don't believe that your rituals do anything so isn't it sacrilegious for me to take part in them?
      lol

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      oh no! nobody cares about buddhism lol! i misjudged the climate around here. i thought with all the talk of meditation floating around there would be more people who wanted to know about buddhism. oops! oh well. i hope at least a few people get some use out of this thread

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Well, I am interested in learning more. Give it time. You could post the link in your signature so that it doesn't get lost. That is what I did with my favorite thread I started.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      Well, I am interested in learning more. Give it time. You could post the link in your signature so that it doesn't get lost. That is what I did with my favorite thread I started.
      yeah i already put it in my sig. thanks for the advice. your thread had a crazy amount of interested people! i read most of it when i joined. i found it in looking for dream yoga stuff. while being very informative about karma, bardo, and tibetan buddhist themes it's also totally dream related though which helped i'm sure. i bet if mine had some dream relation it would have gotten more interest but the canon is almost devoid of any kind of dream related things save from a few references here and there and the dreams the buddha had right before he reached enlightenment. at least you and stonedape saw it oh well. maybe i'll post those dreams as they are very cool.

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      the dreams had by the buddha the night before his enlightenment

      1. he dreamed that he was enormous. so huge that he lay sleeping and his body spread out over so much of the earth that his head was on a mountain like a pillow, his feet and hands all in different oceans. this dream predicts enlightenment.

      2. he dreamed that a vine grew out of his belly, from his navel, so incredibly high that it mingled with the clouds. this predicted him knowing the eightfold path.

      3. he dreamed that little grubs with white bodies were wriggling up his shins, covering them starting from his feet and going toward his knees. this predicted that a large amount of laymen clothed in white would come to learn from him.

      4. he dreamed four birds of different feathers came to land at his feet and as they landed they all became the same feather. this predicted that the four castes; warrior-nobles, brahmin preists, merchants, and artisans would reach supreme liberation when the dharma had been taught by him. this is very significant as, in the buddha's time, only brahmins and sometimes warrior-nobles were allowed to practice special practices and join groups like the buddha taught. the buddha accepted anyone and everyone, any caste at all and he even allowed women to join his sangha which was unheard of at the time. he was progressive to say the least!

      5. he dreamed about walking up a huge mountain made of nothing but dirt and somehow remained completely clean. this predicted that he would accept robes, food, housing and medicine from people but not succumb to greed, delusion, or clinging knowing the dangers in these things.
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-18-2011 at 03:14 AM.

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      Why do you first say that 'buddhism is not a religion' only to later claim that 'buddhism is not only a religion, but has multiple gods, even? O_o

      It makes me confuzzled ;p

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      Quote Originally Posted by CryoDragoon View Post
      Why do you first say that 'buddhism is not a religion' only to later claim that 'buddhism is not only a religion, but has multiple gods, even? O_o

      It makes me confuzzled ;p
      i don't recall saying "buddhism is not only a religion, but has multiple gods..." in fact i'm positive i did not say that. i said it is not a religion by the definition i listed "worship, prayer, belief, ritual, magic, and/or faith in a higher power...". the buddha said that gods are mortal and therefore not really much "higher" in power than us. we have all been gods at one time or another according to buddhism. in fact this kind of defeats the use of the word "god" doesn't it? maybe that's the problem. the buddha used the word "brahma" which, in his usage, is not the same as our usage of "god". so just pretend i said "the buddha taught that there are beings who live in other realms, they are mortal and cycle through life death and rebirth just like everyone else." that doesn't sound so religious does it? more like science fiction. in fact it's possible that this is going on, there could be life on other planets and maybe that's what he was talking about. who knows. it's a bad habit from reading lots of buddhist works other than the pali canon, they translate "brahma" as "god" frequently. the canon (in my readings anyway) doesn't use the word god at all. i then said that since nibbana is left unexplained that it could be anything which means the non religious practices in buddhism can fit into anyone's religion. basically imagine someone says "i believe in aliens." that's not a religious belief, just a belief. they could still be any religion and keep that belief.

      because buddhism requires no worship of any god(s), it is not a religion in that sense. and because of this, it is not wrong for a religious person to practice it. that was my main point.

      actually thanks man, i'll ask the mod if i can edit all this to take out the word: god(s) as it is clearly confusing.
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-18-2011 at 08:03 PM.

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Correct me if I am wrong,
      The Buddha said that even though there are "Gods", the Universe wasn't created by any God, and even if there were a creator God, or any god for that matter, they cannot intervene to liberate us, they have no power over our own liberation. Our liberation is our own responsibility and ours alone. It is us that creates the Universe with our minds, much like how we dream. Somniumrex, why don't you tell us how the Buddha explains the nature of the world, or samsara. Isn't it like rainbows, soap bubbles, dreams, etc.?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      Correct me if I am wrong,
      The Buddha said that even though there are "Gods", the Universe wasn't created by any God, and even if there were a creator God, or any god for that matter, they cannot intervene to liberate us, they have no power over our own liberation. Our liberation is our own responsibility and ours alone. It is us that creates the Universe with our minds, much like how we dream. Somniumrex, why don't you tell us how the Buddha explains the nature of the world, or samsara. Isn't it like rainbows, soap bubbles, dreams, etc.?
      i'll have to get back to you on that dannon. i haven't read anywhere the buddha says anything about who created the universe and i've never heard him talk about a god doing anything really. he tells a creation story but it says nothing about any god or gods. it is that there was nothing and then the world came to be similar to the way skin appears on soup. then there were beings who had no substance and they made the world and started living. he goes on to tell stories about how the behavior of these first beings being greedy and lazy made the world what it is today. in the early times he says rice just grew constantly, there was always enough. then the beings got lazy and would pick enough to last them two days then three and so on. this made the rice stop being always ready. there's more to this but it's not really answering your questions. from my readings thus far i have seen nothing else similar to what you are saying. however like i said there are (i'm estimating) over 20,000 pages of text in the pali canon. i only have a little over 4,000 of these pages in my possession. so it could be somewhere else in the canon. when he talks about bubbles and rainbows it is usually in a brief metaphor to explain how temporary our exitstence is in comparison to nibbana. since our lives and all life in general is temporary, in the scope of things, it is like a tiny bubble about to pop and nothing more. a flash of lightning in the sky. we think our lives are so long and important but they are a blink of an eye by comparison.

      i will go back and find an exact time he talks about this and give you a more in depth explanation
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-19-2011 at 07:43 PM.

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      If you're familiar with Ajahn Bramavhamso he says that the Buddha described multiple big bangs, and multiple universes. He also said that he touched on life existing elsewhere in the universe. Pretty interesting stuff.

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      I was just repeating something I heard where the Buddha was saying that there are Gods (or a better translation) in the realm of the Gods, but they did NOT create the Universe. But even IF they could create the Universe, there is no point in praying to them, because they cannot do anything about your prayers, nor would they care to if they could. But, I have heard so many things to keep track of and... well, you know how it is.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      I was just repeating something I heard where the Buddha was saying that there are Gods (or a better translation) in the realm of the Gods, but they did NOT create the Universe. But even IF they could create the Universe, there is no point in praying to them, because they cannot do anything about your prayers, nor would they care to if they could. But, I have heard so many things to keep track of and... well, you know how it is.
      yes i absolutely do know how it is lol! a lot of times these things come from people paraphrasing or interpreting what they think the buddha meant by certain things. however what you heard definitely could be in there somewhere as a direct quote. just because i haven't seen it doesn't mean much considering i'm only reading three of the fifteen books of the canon.

    24. #24
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      Quote Originally Posted by dreamsickle View Post
      If you're familiar with Ajahn Bramavhamso he says that the Buddha described multiple big bangs, and multiple universes. He also said that he touched on life existing elsewhere in the universe. Pretty interesting stuff.
      i haven't heard of that person but i've heard of ajahn chah and i think it's his student. yes the buddha frequetnly referred to a "ten thousand fold world system" which is frequently taken to mean ten thousand universes. he says that the universe expands and contracts. he even talks about planets! he says that there are spaces of gloom where the suns light doesn't reach between "worlds". essentially he seems to have understood space to some degree. so multi-verse theory and expanding contracting universe theory which are talked about today he was talking about 2,500 years ago! very cool.
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-20-2011 at 05:30 AM.

    25. #25
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      revised and updated


      this is also a good time and place to dispel some myths that have become associated with buddhism.


      sorry about the following disclaimers but in my experience talking about any kind of doctrine or belief system can start arguments and i do not want that so please read these next paragraphs.

      all of this information is found in the pali canon which is the oldest surviving and original teachings of the buddha. many different versions came about after the original, adding and changing a lot of things around. if any of this doesn't agree with some other version of buddhism you know of then that is why. please keep it to yourself as i am not trying to say any versions of buddhism are wrong, they are all good in different ways, i am simply repeating what the original, oldest known teachings say. i will not answer any posts arguing about what other sect says what.

      also historians, scientists, and archeologists agree that the pali canon is the oldest and are the original teachings of the buddha. i have done my research and this view is nearly unanimous in the secular world. a lot of later sects claim that their canon is the original but history, archeology and science do not support these ideas. there are other canons that share some of the same text but that also have texts that were composed later in history by various authors such as mahayana texts or tantric (vajrayana) texts. the pali canon is the only one surviving today that only uses the original texts. so if you think that your version is the original good for you, there is nothing wrong with that but please keep it to yourself, i will not answer any posts about that topic.

      if someone notices that i am wrong about something in direct reference to the pali canon then by all means correct me. give me the passage that proves me wrong followed by what book it came from and what chapter and verse and i will edit my post or add a post to supplement it. like if you find i'm wrong about something and you found the correct info in the samyutta nikaya section 50 verse 6 then you would post the passage and follow it with that info or shorten it to "S. 50:6". i will however not respond to any posts that just claim i'm wrong without a valid reference. my information comes from my study of the pali canon so if your information does too then that's great, however if it is just hear-say or from another source it is not directly relevant to the pali canon and i wouldn't be able to double check my information.

      myths about buddhism


      1. buddhism is a religion- if religion is defined as "worship, prayer, belief, ritual, magic, and/or faith in an omniscient, omnipotent higher power" then buddhism is not in any way a religion as it is devoid of all of these things. there is no rule against being a buddhist and doing these things either. thus one can be any religion and also a buddhist (as long as your religion does not promote and require non-buddhist ideals such as violence or other things). in buddhism there are things that some people may feel go against their religion but the buddha clearly states that we shouldn't practice things just because he teaches them but because we know they are right in our hearts. this means that one should practice what they feel is true and right in their hearts and not anything they think is wrong, non-functional or incorrect. to give a couple of examples: it would be perfectly fine if someone only wants to practice the four noble truths and eightfold path but deny the six realms and rebirth. or if someone accepts the concept of rebirth and the eightfold path but doesn't accept the existence of brahmas. this further makes it clear that buddhism is not a religion as one defining feature of most religions is adherence to the rules based on threats of negative consequences inflicted by a higher power. in buddhism there are no such threats. the closest thing is the idea of karma which taken literally and applied to this life is simple cause and effect, can be seen in direct and factual ways requiring no faith, and is no more of a "threat being inflicted" than gravity (see post # 26 for explanation of karma) or any other natural laws. the idea presented is similar to a challenge and is that practice of the eightfold path has direct results and few who practice them diligently would decide they are wrong or non-functional and so these most important parts of the teachings will come through and if people reject other aspects of buddhism that is not a problem. just practicing the eightfold path is buddhism and so that's all that is really needed. some sects have turned it into a religion involving prayer, rituals, magic, belief in deities and other things, however none of these practices can be found in the original teachings. if these kinds of ideals and practices work for you that is fantastic, there is nothing wrong with them. i'm just stating what is and is not in the original teachings.

      2.buddhists pray to the buddha- the buddha specifically said that he is not a god and that he should not be prayed to. he never claimed to be anything but an enlightened man. further more he made it clear that after his death he is utterly gone from any kind of existence and therefore could never affect our world(s) ever again. praying to the buddha or other buddhas is something that is done by certain sects of buddhism that use contradicting scriptures that were created long after the original buddhist teachings and are not of the same source. these sects usually have these practices because buddhism combined with their indigenous religion when it entered whatever country they lived in. in the original buddhist teachings coming directly from the buddha there is zero prayer. any sects that involve prayer to him are going against the buddha's original teachings and require a different version or completely different scriptures to justify this. any sects that pray to other "buddhas" have usually simply renamed deities from previous religions. like saying you are buddhist and that zeus is a buddha and you pray to him. this is all well and good, there is nothing wrong with going with a sect that prays to the buddha or buddhas if that works for you. i'm just stating what is and is not in the original teachings.

      3.buddhists worship gods- there are a large amount of stories where the buddha transports himself to certain brahma worlds simply to tell the brahmas there that they are not immortal. that they too will die and be reborn and that they need to practice buddhism to escape. the buddha taught that none of these brahmas are immortal. furthermore he taught that rebirth has been going on for infinite time so that means that every one of us has been a brahma before. the closest thing to talk of "god" or "gods" in buddhism is the talk of these brahmas and since there is zero worship of them found in the buddhas teachings and they are described as mortal it is safe to say that the buddha definitely did not teach to worship any gods. he did not say that one is forbidden to worship a god or gods either but left it up to the student to decide. basically he taught in a secular way and gave no more information on whether one should or should not worship a god or gods than a modern psychologist would. there are many sects of buddhism that worship certain deities, usually called "buddhas" or "bodhisattvas" but these practices have nothing to do with and are not found in the original teachings of the buddha and are usually the result of the merging of buddhism with another religion. as is stated above, it would be like worshiping zeus, becoming a buddhist and deciding to continue to worship zeus but now calling him "zeus the buddha" so that it fits in with your new practice. if you practice some kind of buddhism similar to this that's fine, there's nothing wrong with this, i'm not saying it's bad. i'm only stating what is and is not in the original teachings.

      4.buddhism is an atheistic belief system- the buddha didn't specifically say that there is no supreme creator god or gods. he talks about nibbana (sanskrit nirvana) in many metaphorical ways. frequently they are interpreted as extinction, nothingness. some of them could be taken to imply that outside of our reality and the six realms is a supreme creator god(s) inside of which all this exists and that nibbana is becoming one with such god(s). any of these inferences would be totally up to the reader as they are very, very vague and in no way directly say any of this. but since it is so vague and open these things can be assumed or rejected based on the readers preference. essentially the reader has to invent an explanation of exactly what nibbana is beyond the information about it that is clear and consistent. so frequently it sounds like nothingness but then you will come across a quote where the buddha specifically says it is not "annihilation" and so the reader has to decide what it is then. it is always described as escape from the cycle of life death and rebirth but if it's not nothingness then the next part is wide open. one common view is that an enlightened person upon reaching parinibbana (sanskrit: parinirvana) at the time of death becomes one with all the energy of the universe. so the cycle is broken and they are liberated but not annihilated either. they cease to exist in any form in the six realms but they are not completely gone either. they are never again conscious and forever one with pure energy, never to suffer again. and if someone wants to say that this is becoming one with god then it's completely open to that interpretation. so for multiple reasons it is not atheistic by definition. so once again a person can be buddhist and also whatever religion they want. he describes it in many ways and it's open to interpretation which leads to great freedom and broadness of practice.

      4. buddhists are vegetarian- seriously i have no idea where this comes from. i thought the same thing as a lot of modern monks/nuns are and then i read a direct quote from the buddha saying it's perfectly fine to eat meat as long as the animal wasn't killed directly for you and you didn't see or hear it being killed. the buddha and all of his monks/nuns ate meat. they fed themselves by going into towns and accepting food offerings from people and so it would be unreasonable and unrealistic to think they would be able to pick and choose what they wanted to eat, rejecting any dishes containing meat. so the idea was that a family may have eaten a dish containing meat and give a monk or nun the leftovers. since the food was prepared and the animal slaughtered with no thought of the monk or nun it would be okay for them to eat. there were times where people prepared food specifically for the buddha and his monks and nuns and they were informed of the rules and would serve no meat at all or purchase only meat that had been sold in the market without any specific order. similar to deli meat today that is stocked regardless of interaction with any specific customer.

      5.the buddha was a big fat guy-no, the statues depicting a big fat guy are of a person named budai who supposedly lived in china around 907 AD more than a thousand years after the buddha's death(paraphrased from wikipedia). he has nothing to do with the historical buddha other than that he was a buddhist monk. the historical buddha is siddhartha gautama who lived in india from 563-483 B.C. and early in his practice he was extremely emaciated for a few years and then for the rest of his life he was of a thin, average build. the statues you see of a thin meditating person are the historical buddha.
      Last edited by somniumrex; 01-22-2011 at 06:19 AM.

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