Author Topic: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution  (Read 3727 times)

Offline francis

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2016, 08:58:49 pm »
The striking similarities between placental mammals and marsupials, such as marsupial mice and placental mice, etc., suggest that similarities between species aren't due to Darwinian mechanisms.

Hi Dharma Flower,

Convergent evolution doesn’t negate DNA evidence and marsupials are still mammals. The more genes organisms have in common, the more closely they are related. So, while marsupials and placenta mammals are similar to look at, their genes are different. This doesn’t destroy the “Darwinian mechanisms” it’s just another opportunity to learn more about evolution.

Marsupials and placenta mammals do share a common ancestor, as do we all. Mammalian diversification began approximately 250 million years ago, marsupial and placental mammals diverged about 125-190 million years ago.

Hsuan Hua didn't understand the science of evolution, so he made up a story. If you want to discuss Buddha nature, then start a topic on Buddha nature. Don’t confuse it with stories about creationism and de-evolution.

I always thought the main message of the Agganna Sutta related to the Buddha’s rejection of the cast system. Nevertheless, his explanation of world's beginning has been shown to be pretty accurate, in many respects.

The important thing to remember is the Buddha taught the way to break the cycle of samsara.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 09:01:20 pm by francis »
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Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2016, 09:10:14 pm »
Please delete my account. I didn't join this forum for others to call me names for presenting the Buddha's teaching as written. I don't expect others to agree with me, but I was hoping for at least some respect shown for the Buddha's teachings as written in the sutras and echoed by Dharma masters throughout history, rather than cheap personal attacks. I am not here to cause trouble or a disturbance, so please delete my account. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 09:16:51 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline francis

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2017, 03:07:52 am »
Hi Dharma Flower,

Sorry you feel that way. I don’t think anyone purposely set out to offend you.

Buddhism has always supported robust debate. Topics that include evolution or vegetarianism for example, are hotly debated as there are strong views on both sides.  However, in this case science is on the side of evolution, because the theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, has been proven scientifically. 

As the Dalai Lama said “If there's good, strong evidence from science that such and such is the case and this is contrary to Buddhism, then we will change.” 

Not that I think Buddhism needs to change, because digging deeper into the Agganna Sutta, the Buddha’s description of the shrinking expanding universe, evolution, agriculture, the move to close knit social communities and the development of the caste system on the Indian subcontinent has proved fairly accurate. 

At the end of the day, each sentient being contains a Buddha nature, original mind or luminous mind which enables them to become enlightened, and it doesn’t matter so much where it originated from as how to get back to it ie. original mind. 



« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 10:58:10 pm by francis, Reason: added \'original mind\' for clarity »
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #33 on: January 01, 2017, 04:44:19 am »
Please delete my account. I didn't join this forum for others to call me names for presenting the Buddha's teaching as written. I don't expect others to agree with me, but I was hoping for at least some respect shown for the Buddha's teachings as written in the sutras and echoed by Dharma masters throughout history, rather than cheap personal attacks. I am not here to cause trouble or a disturbance, so please delete my account. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

If you came for debate, this really is a good place to air views. Don't forget there are many more people viewing than posting, so perhaps your view will be taken up by some of those people. It really is useful to talk with people who have opposing views- not much point in everyone saying exactly the same thing is there? I think the problem some people have is that they are only interested in putting their own versions forward, like some politicians who think that everyone who isn't for them is the enemy.

The saving grace of science is that it is in a state of continual change, with arguments raging back and forth continually. It has to be, otherwise there would never be any progress. If there really was any convincing hard evidence for a creationist interpretation of how we came about, as opposed to evolution, I for one would always keep an open mind. Any scientist would.

As a scientist, I became a Buddhist because of the truth of the path to enlightenment, and for me, there is not a jot of contradiction between science and the Buddha's teaching of the path. However, anything else written about Buddhism, whenever it took place, is open to interpretation. Later suttas and sutras can be interpreted in innumerable ways, and everyone is free to do so. But they are hardly full of hard scientific fact, and have little relevance for interpreting facts coming out of a scientific tradition.

There is a famous saying along the lines of 'I don't agree with you, but would fight for your right to have your opinions'. If they are the truth they will eventually show themselves as such, so keep pushing them. Just don't expect people not to push back with alternatives, and try not to take this as a personal attack. It isn't. How could it be when are all working towards the same wonderful end?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2017, 11:30:35 am »
Oh well.

In Tibet Buddhists used to have debates that were held in a something like a mixed martial arts ring. Talk about robust! It's claimed that participants sometimes died from those debates, despite the fact that there was no bodily contact.

Here most folks are anonymous and far removed from the action, yet they still quickly get personally identified with what they post. Interesting.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2017, 11:55:46 am »
After reading over this thread I’m sorry Dharma Flower chose to get involved in a scientific debate, instead of focusing on his/her sincere devotion to Amida and how that devotion figures in the Agganna Sutta’s description of higher beings beyond this world of form. The use of meditation deities and disincarnate Buddhas as meditation subjects is an interesting topic.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2017, 04:32:28 am »
After reading over this thread I’m sorry Dharma Flower chose to get involved in a scientific debate, instead of focusing on his/her sincere devotion to Amida and how that devotion figures in the Agganna Sutta’s description of higher beings beyond this world of form. The use of meditation deities and disincarnate Buddhas as meditation subjects is an interesting topic.

I was taught that they were useful as a focus for visualizing the qualities they represented, rather than as actual beings. One of the problems I had at the start was finding an emotional connection with images from another culture, particularly when dealing with somewhat androgynous portrayals. Westernized images were easier, although maybe less 'authentic'.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2017, 09:37:16 am »
After reading over this thread I’m sorry Dharma Flower chose to get involved in a scientific debate, instead of focusing on his/her sincere devotion to Amida and how that devotion figures in the Agganna Sutta’s description of higher beings beyond this world of form. The use of meditation deities and disincarnate Buddhas as meditation subjects is an interesting topic.

I was taught that they were useful as a focus for visualizing the qualities they represented, rather than as actual beings. One of the problems I had at the start was finding an emotional connection with images from another culture, particularly when dealing with somewhat androgynous portrayals. Westernized images were easier, although maybe less 'authentic'.

I agree.  Getting our heads around the cultural  aspects can be a challenge, but like you I was taught to use the imagery for practice.  It's  the only way it really makes sense.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2017, 02:17:05 pm »
I’ve only read about those practices. I think the meditation deity is usually visualized up above and in front, and is consciously absorbed back into the practitioner to close the meditation. Without a given tradition and a teacher it appears there would be a lot of room for creativity, but whether that’s good, or dangerous, is outside my experience.

When I get sleepy sitting, I continue to gaze in the usual zen manner (relaxed eyes open) at the scene slightly downward and about three feet away, while simultaneously directing my attention upward into the space behind my forehead. For some reason that combination wakes me up. I think I could easily visualize something up there, even with my eyes still open.

My basic practice is Shikantaza (just sitting) and mindfulness -- which doesn't include visualization. I’ve gotten to the point where I often feel I can actually “see” emptiness or the universal Void/Mind, True Self (whatever name) with my “mind’s eye.” It wouldn’t be a big leap to turn that into an image like a Buddha, but I see no reason to do that.

The primary Pure Land practice is to chant the name of Amitabha Buddha, usually something like “Namo Amida Butsu”  but it can also include visualizations. Pure Land and Zen often overlap in China and Japan, with some claiming that chanting produces a quicker samadhi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Land_Buddhism

I got the impression DharmaFlower was trying to reify Amida Buddha to the point where science could verify his existence as an actual step in physical evolution, which, as in the case of Creationists, requires current evotutionary science to be wrong. That struck me as losing proposition, but I’d be interested to know if DF‘s practice included visualiztion.






My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2017, 02:37:26 pm »
Quote
francis:  "Not that I think Buddhism needs to change, because digging deeper into the Agganna Sutta, the Buddha’s description of the shrinking expanding universe, evolution, agriculture, the move to close knit social communities and the development of the caste system on the Indian subcontinent has proved fairly accurate.  "


Hi, francis.  Thank you for the WIKI link to the commentary regarding The Agganna Sutta.  The author came to the same conclusion as did you and I, that the Buddha was trying to expose the fallacies of the sect system in the then current caste culture in that what a person earns from their kamma is the true measure of their status totally unrelated to their birth origins.

Like yourself, I am still confused as to why DF felt that he/she was being called names.  All anyone in the thread seemed to be doing was to guide DF in terms of their personal understanding and Buddha's scant teachings regarding the origins of samsaric life..  The sutta, as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with the origins of mankind, and more to do with correcting the haughtiness of those, who held to be superior due to their birth status and lineage as described in the caste system of the time.

According to my memory there were many teachings given by Buddha regarding, "Who was a brahman", and none other regarding the origins of mankind, other than as the consequences of karmic results.


reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/

With regard to the reference above, I am particularly interested in this footnote:

Quote
Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:
"Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"

"On the western wall, lord."

"And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"

"On the ground, lord."

"And if there is no ground, where does it land?"

"On the water, lord."

"And if there is no water, where does it land?"

"It does not land, lord."

"In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food ... contact ... intellectual intention ... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."

In other words, normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.

This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time.

Some have objected to the equation of this consciousness with nibbana, on the grounds that nibbana is nowhere else in the Canon described as a form of consciousness. Thus they have proposed that consciousness without surface be regarded as an arahant's consciousness of nibbana in meditative experience, and not nibbana itself. This argument, however, contains a flaw: If nibbana is an object of mental consciousness (as a dhamma), it would come under the all, as an object of the intellect. There are passages in the Canon (such as AN 9.36) that describe meditators experiencing nibbana as a dhamma, but these passages seem to indicate that this description applies up through the level of non-returning. Other passages, however, describe nibbana as the ending of all dhammas. For instance, Sn V.6 quotes the Buddha as calling the attainment of the goal the transcending of all dhammas. Sn IV.6 and Sn IV.10 state that the arahant has transcended dispassion, said to be the highest dhamma. Thus, for the arahant, nibbana is not an object of consciousness. Instead it is directly known without mediation. Because consciousness without feature is directly known without mediation, there seems good reason to equate the two.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 03:12:21 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
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Offline VincentRJ

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2017, 07:35:02 pm »
When reading the Agganna Sutta I was reminded of that ancient civilization known as the Indus Valley Civilization, or Harrapan Culture, the memory of which I assume would still have influenced the narratives and myths that were prevalent during the times of Gautama.

The time-scales relating to this civilization are quite remarkable. As I understand, there existed no organised written text during the times of the Buddha, around 2,500 years ago. Yet, if we go back a further 2,500 years, to around 3,000 BCE, there existed in the regions of what are now Pakistan, Afghanistan, and North-West India, a remarkable civilizations that appears to have developed its own written text, which has not yet been deciphered.

Furthermore, this civilization appears to have been very egalitarian. There was no caste system (which was later introduced by the Aryan immigration). There does not appear to have been numerous kings and warlords in constant conflict with each other. The cities were very well designed for those times, with roads, pavements, sewerage systems and irrigation systems, and the farming appears to have been also very well developed, to support the fairly large urban populations in the cities.

The Indus people  apparently kept cattle, sheep and goats, milked cows, and grew crops such as wheat, barley, peas, dates, grapes, melons and presumably many other types of fruit and vegetables, although some of this archaeological evidence is largely speculative.

What's also quite fascinating is the evidence that the culture of Yoga practices and the wandering ascetic had their origins in this civilization. One can easily imagine that Gautama, in his quest for enlightenment, was actually harking back to this former, ideal, egalitarian society, free of the caste system and the continual conflicts between warlords and kings which beset his own times.

https://www.harappa.com/content/was-there-peace-and-egalitarianism-ancient-indus

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2017, 07:46:05 pm »
Like yourself, I am still confused as to why DF felt that he/she was being called names.

I think it was this passage posted by stillpointdancer back on page 2:

Quote
Wow, such nonsense. You really are anti-science, and trying to disguise it with this errant nonsense about Buddhism. You have every right to declare yourself a creationist and having a belief in creationism, I just don't agree in using Buddhism to push your views. There is nothing creationist about Buddhism, simply because it was developed before the whole question began. Unlike other religions, Buddhism is not a revealed knowledge religion. There is no new knowledge to gain from enlightenment. You see the same things in a different way. The Buddha did not gain any knowledge of creation or creationism.

Probably a bit heavy-handed,  especially on a site called "Free" Sangha.

Offline francis

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2017, 12:44:57 am »
Quote
francis:  "Not that I think Buddhism needs to change, because digging deeper into the Agganna Sutta, the Buddha’s description of the shrinking expanding universe, evolution, agriculture, the move to close knit social communities and the development of the caste system on the Indian subcontinent has proved fairly accurate.  "


Hi, francis.  Thank you for the WIKI link to the commentary regarding The Agganna Sutta.  The author came to the same conclusion as did you and I, that the Buddha was trying to expose the fallacies of the sect system in the then current caste culture in that what a person earns from their kamma is the true measure of their status totally unrelated to their birth origins.

Like yourself, I am still confused as to why DF felt that he/she was being called names.  All anyone in the thread seemed to be doing was to guide DF in terms of their personal understanding and Buddha's scant teachings regarding the origins of samsaric life..  The sutta, as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with the origins of mankind, and more to do with correcting the haughtiness of those, who held to be superior due to their birth status and lineage as described in the caste system of the time.

According to my memory there were many teachings given by Buddha regarding, "Who was a brahman", and none other regarding the origins of mankind, other than as the consequences of karmic results.


reference:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/

With regard to the reference above, I am particularly interested in this footnote:

Quote
Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:
"Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?" .....


Thanks Ron,

I’m glad you liked the wiki commentary. I think it puts the Agganna Sutta into the perspective of the Buddha’s understanding of science, social structure and perhaps shows his humour, which is lost in translation.  I also think it was a good discussion with opportunities for learning on both sides.

The Buddha talks about a contracting/expanding world in the Brahmajāla Sutta: DN1. See paragraph 38, 2. Partial-Eternalism (Ekaccasassatavāda).

What’s my take on viññanam anidassanam as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu in footnote 9 of the Brahma-nimantanika Sutta: MN 49

Ron, that’s a tough one to answer and one that is been hotly debated.  My view is there is no consciousness that is not dependently arisen or outside the aggregates. And some would say Thanissaro’s translation leans towards eternalism.

Vinnanam Anidassanam, Thanissaro vs. Orthodoxy.

Nibbana is not viññāṇa.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2017, 03:47:26 am »
Like yourself, I am still confused as to why DF felt that he/she was being called names.

I think it was this passage posted by stillpointdancer back on page 2:

Quote
Wow, such nonsense. You really are anti-science, and trying to disguise it with this errant nonsense about Buddhism. You have every right to declare yourself a creationist and having a belief in creationism, I just don't agree in using Buddhism to push your views. There is nothing creationist about Buddhism, simply because it was developed before the whole question began. Unlike other religions, Buddhism is not a revealed knowledge religion. There is no new knowledge to gain from enlightenment. You see the same things in a different way. The Buddha did not gain any knowledge of creation or creationism.

Probably a bit heavy-handed,  especially on a site called "Free" Sangha.

You're probably right, for which I apologize,  although I did post to say say that  I would defend his right to publish such views on a free Sangha. The more the merrier, since there is no point in a discussion where everyone has the same views. In my defense, it was part of a 'robust' discussion, and useful as a whole as it illuminated as interesting interpretation of the Sutta. I hope he understands that there was nothing personal and that he is welcome to publish any views.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The Agganna Sutta and Human Evolution
« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2017, 09:53:31 am »
Like yourself, I am still confused as to why DF felt that he/she was being called names.

I think it was this passage posted by stillpointdancer back on page 2:

Quote
Wow, such nonsense. You really are anti-science, and trying to disguise it with this errant nonsense about Buddhism. You have every right to declare yourself a creationist and having a belief in creationism, I just don't agree in using Buddhism to push your views. There is nothing creationist about Buddhism, simply because it was developed before the whole question began. Unlike other religions, Buddhism is not a revealed knowledge religion. There is no new knowledge to gain from enlightenment. You see the same things in a different way. The Buddha did not gain any knowledge of creation or creationism.

Probably a bit heavy-handed,  especially on a site called "Free" Sangha.

You're probably right, for which I apologize,  although I did post to say say that  I would defend his right to publish such views on a free Sangha. The more the merrier, since there is no point in a discussion where everyone has the same views. In my defense, it was part of a 'robust' discussion, and useful as a whole as it illuminated as interesting interpretation of the Sutta. I hope he understands that there was nothing personal and that he is welcome to publish any views.

Yes, you are free to post, but a more reasoned, and gentler response, would have been the wiser course, think.  To call another person's  belief nonsense, even if that's  what you really think, demonstrates a certain hubris, that many would find more objectionable than errant belief.

 


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