Author Topic: 'Theism' and Pure Land  (Read 3367 times)

Offline t

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'Theism' and Pure Land
« on: May 12, 2011, 02:37:40 am »
Quote
You do realize that there are forms of Buddhism that are theistic, such as the Pure Land school. And most forms of Buddhism "Take Refuge" in the Buddha.
Taken from http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=2557.0

1. Define 'theistic'
2. Please append and explain the context from the following for 'theistic' elements in the Pure Land Dharma Door:
a. The Threefold Pure Land Sutras, Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra, Chapter 40 Avatamsaka Sutra, Shurangama Sutra's Chapter on Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva's Enlightenment, the collection of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva's Sutras,
b. Mahayana Treatises on the Pure Land by Arya Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu et al.
c. The writings of the Chinese Mahayana 13 Pure Land Patriarchs and the Jodo Shu/Shinshu's Honen and Shinran
d. Tibetan Vajrayana practice of Amitabha's Dewachen and phowa

OR

3. It was just a passing personal opinion...not reflective of the Pure Land Tradition at all...

Thank you  :pray:

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 03:27:22 am »
Quote
You do realize that there are forms of Buddhism that are theistic, such as the Pure Land school. And most forms of Buddhism "Take Refuge" in the Buddha.
Taken from http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=2557.0

1. Define 'theistic'

the·ism   
[thee-iz-uhm]  Show IPA
–noun
1. the belief in one god as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).

I was using definition #2.

People pray to Amitaba to be saved and reborn in His Pure Land. How is that not theistic?
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 03:34:01 am by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Yeshe

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 05:58:59 am »
Quote
You do realize that there are forms of Buddhism that are theistic, such as the Pure Land school. And most forms of Buddhism "Take Refuge" in the Buddha.
Taken from http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=2557.0

1. Define 'theistic'

the·ism   
[thee-iz-uhm]  Show IPA
–noun
1. the belief in one god as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).

I was using definition #2.

People pray to Amitaba to be saved and reborn in His Pure Land. How is that not theistic?


Well, a prayer is literally the expression of a wish, as opposed to a plea which is a request.  I think it still possible that such activities are meant to bring the mind to an enlightened state and to a Pure Land, since there is nothing else of our being which can actually do so.  This would be very different from the role of prayer in, for example, a Christian or Moslem plea for God's mercy to allow them (their soul etc.) entry to heaven. 

Just my punt at it, but only a guess.  After all, how could karma be reflected in future life if we could instantly overrride it? Through purification maybe? Don't know.

It may  ot describe ALL acts of prayer, as we have to allow for the fact that in every religion there are those who I call 'saviour seekers' who require an object of worship in which to place trust and also maybe praise or blame for their life experiences, which they may see as divine blessing or divine retribution.   

Offline t

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 07:22:56 am »
Quote
I was using definition #2.
People pray to Amitaba to be saved and reborn in His Pure Land. How is that not theistic?
Looks like there are a few 'issues' here...
1. People do lots of things but are all of it in conformity with what is taught in Dharma?
There are those who think praying to a rock is also 'Buddhist' but is that so? 
Let's not confuse the actions of individuals with what the Buddha taught as reflected in the Sutras and Sastras.
See: Recitation according to the Buddhas' Intentions

2. The word 'pray' is used but in what context? Petitioning for goodies? Reliance? Praise? Thanks? Aspiration?
If it was the first, that is not found in Pure Land's teaching nor Dharma practice. 
The second? Don't Buddhists generally take refuge/rely in/on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha until one is enlightened?
The third? Isn't there countless of praises in Sutras/Sastras in honor of the excellent qualities of the Triple Gem?
The fourth? Aren't Buddhists grateful for the Dharma taught by the compassionate Buddhas?
The fifth? Don't Buddhists have aspirations?
 
I don't recall at all in any teaching of the Sutras/Sastras nor the Venerable Masters that this word is used in the way it is used by the worldly or by other religions and it is understood in Dharmic contexts as it is quite specific within sraddha, pranidhana and patipatti and in Pure Land, as found within Sakyamuni Buddha's teaching on Amitabha Buddha.

3. What is 'salvation' in Buddhism? One Pure Land response is.. 
Quote
http://replay.web.archive.org/20080828085022/http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#ordinary
The aim of the Pure Land method is the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, achieving, in totality, our Self-Nature Amitabha -- the realm of the "Ever-Silent Illuminating Pure Land." However, the most urgent and immediate aim is rebirth in the Pure Land.
This ensures an end to transmigration, and then, through the excellent environment of the Land of Bliss, progress in cultivation and swift attainment of Buddhahood. For this reason, Pure Land cultivators should recite the name of Amitabha Buddha.
This is the principal approach of Pure Land; it does not consist of rapidly reaching the realm of No-Thought and becoming enlightened to our Original Nature, as in Zen.
However, while working toward that goal, the practitioner should recite until he reaches the state of one-pointedness of mind. Thus, although he does not seek the realm of "No-Thought," that realm will nevertheless appear naturally. Moreover, it will appear that much sooner, thanks to the virtues accumulated through Buddha Recitation, which help to erase bad karma swiftly. Here we can see a new ray of light, a new vista: to achieve "No-Thought" swiftly, to become enlightened to the Original Nature speedily, we should recite the Buddha's name all the more.
'Cessation of stress', some say, 'Buddhahood', say others... but how many can attain this in one lifetime, in the conditions of this Saha World where retrogression is a norm, never mind the flippant mind and practice of sentient beings. With these in mind, if one has read how Amitabha Buddha has conceived the Pure Land, it's a powerful expedient and alternative for those who want to practice for Enlightenment in an environment where there is no retrogression and excellent Dharmic conditions to attain that goal. In fact, one can choose if one wants to leave halfway through the 'training' or complete it all the way. Once attained, one can fulfill one's vows for rescuing of all sentient beings.
And no, it does not give one an excuse not to practice in the here and now, as stated in the Sutra:
Without a stock of goodness from past lives,
One cannot hear this Sutra;
But those who have strictly observed the Precepts
Can hear the right Dharma.

Arrogant, corrupt and indolent people
Cannot readily accept this teaching.
But those who have met Buddhas in their past lives
Rejoice to hear it.

Neither has any Pure Lander claimed that attainment is not possible in one lifetime, just being realistic.
What is all this for?
As one alternative to rolling on in samsara, without any certainty of obtaining a human birth again, of opportune conditions for encountering and practicing Dharma again.
It's a choice, another option, an alternative...one can take or leave it..

Is this a Mahayana fiction? Lets look at one near parallel: what our Theravada brethren have... Suddhavasa & Akanittha
See a Vajrayana take: Akanishta & Buddhafield
The Buddha said to Ananda, "Sentient beings who are born in that Buddha-Land all reside among those assured of Nirvana.
The reason is that in that Land there are neither beings who are destined to adverse conditions nor those whose destinies are uncertain. "All Buddhas, Tathagatas, in the ten quarters, as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus.
All sentient beings who, having heard His Name, rejoice in faith, remember Him even once and sincerely transfer the merit of virtuous practices to that Land, aspiring to be born there, will attain birth and dwell in the Stage of Non-retrogression.
But excluded are those who have committed the five gravest offenses and abused the Right Dharma."

 
4. Now, as an addendum, when 'Pure Land' is used, it's not referring only to the Amitabha's Sukhavati but also to the myriads of Pure Lands of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the Ten Directions of Space. In the Sutras and Sastras, Amitabha's Sukhavati has been spoken of as the most comprehensive and viable. It is also the most popular in terms of adherents of this Dharma Door.  Its chief practice is buddhanusmrti

5. Seeking rebirth in a Pure Land...posted here are Q&As...but in particular this one:
Question V:
The nature of all dharmas is "emptiness," from time immemorial, ever non-arising, equal, serene and still. When the mind is pure, though we may be living in an impure world, the mind is just as pure. On the other hand, if the mind is not pure, even if we are living in a "pure land," it will be full of afflictions and disturbances. If there is "arising," there is "extinction;" where there is birth, there is death. Thus, is it not contrary to the Dharma to leave the Saha World and seek rebirth in the Pure Land?
Answer:
This question can be answered on two levels. I will follow the explanations of the T'ien T'ai Patriarch Chih I in his treatise Ten Doubts about the Pure Land and add a few explanatory comments of my own, from the two viewpoints of generality and specificity.

On the level of generality, if we consider that seeking rebirth in the Pure Land means "leaving here and going there," which is inconsistent with the principle of Equal True Thusness, then what about remaining in the Saha World and not seeking rebirth in the Pure Land? Is that not also making the mistake of "leaving there and grasping here"? Now, if we say that "I neither seek to go there nor am I attached to here," we are also caught in the error of nihilism. For this reason, the Diamond Sutra states:
Subhuti, do not think that to develop the Bodhi Mind is to annihilate all the marks of the dharmas. Why is this so? It is because developing the Bodhi Mind with respect to phenomena is not the same as nihilism.

On the level of specificity, I will now explain the truth of No-Birth and the Pure Mind.
"No-Birth" is precisely the truth of No-Birth No-Death. No-Birth means that dharmas are born of illusory combinations of causes and conditions, with no Self-Nature and thus, no true mark of birth. Because they are illusory, they are not really born nor do they appear from anywhere. Therefore, they are said to have No-Birth.

"No-Death" means that when dharmas disintegrate, there is no Self-Nature remaining. Since they have no true place of return, no place of extinction, they are said to be "undying." The truth of No-Birth, or neither Birth nor Death, cannot exist outside of conditioned dharmas. Thus, No-Birth does not mean not seeking rebirth in the Pure Land, or that being reborn in the Pure Land is to be subject to death and extinction (which is contrary to the truth of No-Birth). This is from the viewpoint of principle or noumenon.

On the level of phenomena, those who are reborn in the Pure Land have reached the stage of non-retrogression, with a life extending over innumerable eons. During that period, they will have ample opportunity to progress toward the fruit of No-Birth. Thus, the issue is moot: there is no arising, no extinction, no Birth and no Death to worry about!

The principle of the Pure Mind is similar. Practicing with a Pure Mind in the Saha World, and "anchoring" the Pure Mind in the Pure Land to progress in cultivation are not contradictory. The Vimalakirti Sutra states:
Although he knows that Buddha lands
    Are void like living beings
    He goes on practicing the Pure Land (Dharma)
    To teach and convert men.
   
(Charles Luk, tr., p. 88.)
Therefore, the wise, while diligently reciting the Buddha's name seeking rebirth in the Pure Land, do not grasp at the mark of Birth, because that mark does not really exist. Although they are clearly aware that dharmas from time immemorial are ever pure, empty and still, they do not hesitate to seek rebirth in the Pure Land. This is because they rely on the supremely auspicious environment there to progress in their cultivation and to teach and enlighten others. This is true No-Birth and also the true meaning of a Pure Mind in accord with a pure environment.

On the other hand, those who lack knowledge and true understanding are caught up in the mark of Birth. Hearing of Birth, they immediately think that it really exists, along with death and extinction. Hearing of No-Birth, they immediately become attached to the notion that there is no rebirth anywhere. Little do they realize that Birth is really No-Birth, No-Birth is not incompatible with Birth. With a Pure Mind, where is the worry about seeking rebirth in the Pure Land? Not understanding this truth, they develop a contentious and discriminatory Mind, belittling those who seek rebirth in the Pure Land. How mistaken and lost can they be?

Others: Explanation on Points of Doubt

Quote
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).
Is Amitabha a 'god'?
How does the Buddha Dharma define a 'god' or 'deva'?
Quote
http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/glossary.html#D
Deva
Lit., "A shining one". An inhabitant of the heavenly realms, which is characterized by long life, joyous surroundings and blissful states of mind. In the Buddhist tradition, these states are understood to be impermanent, not eternal.

Another one...
Quote
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.036.than.html
"Master, are you a deva?"
"No, brahman, I am not a deva."
"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.
Here's the Pure Land response... see Link

The Buddha said to Ananda,
"Having spoken these verses, the Bhikshu Dharmakara said to the Buddha Lokeshvararaja,
'Respectfully, World-Honored One, I announce that I have awakened aspiration for the highest, perfect Enlightenment.
I beseech you to explain the Dharma to me fully, so that I can perform practices for the establishment of a pure Buddha-land adorned with infinite excellent qualities. So please teach me how to attain Enlightenment quickly and to remove the roots of afflictions of birth-and-death for all.'"
The Buddha said to Ananda,
"At that time the Buddha Lokeshvararaja replied to the Bhikshu Dharmakara,
'You yourself should know by what practice you can establish a glorious Buddha-land.'
The Bhiksu said to the Buddha,
'That is far too vast and deep for my comprehension. I sincerely beseech you, World-Honored One, to explain in detail the practices by which Buddhas, Tathagatas, established their pure lands. After I hear that, I wish to practice as instructed and so fulfill my aspirations.'   

Ananda asked the Buddha,
"Has the Bodhisattva Dharmakara already attained Buddhahood and then passed into Nirvana? Or has he not yet attained Buddhahood? Or is he dwelling somewhere at present?"
The Buddha replied to Ananda,
"The Bodhisattva Dharmakara has already attained Buddhahood and is now dwelling in a western Buddha-land, called 'Peace and Bliss,' a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here."
Ananda further asked the Buddha,
"How much time has passed since he attained Buddhahood?"
The Buddha replied, "Since he attained Buddhahood, about ten kalpas have passed."
     
See: Pure Land: A Buddhist Heaven? & Beyond God

In closing...from Asvaghosha's 'The Awakening Of Faith In Mahayana'
Quote
http://www.fodian.net/world/1666.htm
Next, suppose there is a man who learns this teaching for the first time and wishes to seek the correct faith but lacks courage and strength. Because he lives in this world of suffering, he fears that he will not always be able to meet the Buddhas and honor them personally, and that, faith being difficult to perfect, he will be inclined to fall back.

He should know that the Tathágatas have an excellent expedient means by which they can protect his faith: that is, through the strength of wholehearted meditation on the Buddha, he will in fulfillment of his wishes be able to be born in the Buddha-land beyond, to see the Buddha always, and to be forever separated from the evil states of existence.

It is as the Sutra says: "If a man meditates wholly on Amitabha Buddha in the world of the Western Paradise and wishes to be born in that world, directing all the goodness he has cultivated toward that goal, then he will be born there." Because he will see the Buddha at all times, he will never fall back. If he meditates on the Dharmakaya, the Suchness of the Buddha, and with diligence keeps practicing the meditation; he will be able to be born there in the end because he abides in the correct samádhi.

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 08:07:21 am »
t,

You seem to object to the term "theistic" when applied to Pure Land Buddhism. I think any sober, objective assessment of PLB would describe it as theistic.

In PLM Amitabha is said to have made aspirational vows that led to his establishing his own Buddha Realm. Through his power (not the practitioner's) one may be reborn there through prayer (suplication) and faith..

That scenario is theistic, pure and simple. Yes, there are more esoteric forms of it where his realm is metaphorical, but those too realizations are accessed through prayer and faith, and it is Amitabha's power that bestows realization. It is still theistic.

The only reason to object to the term is a reaction to our own rejection of our own Judao-Christian traditions. Anything that share any relationship to those traditions is rejected with hysterical intensity. Add to that the fact that Pali Buddhism really is not theistic, and the subsequent dogma that all forms of Buddhism are therefore not theistic, and you get a type of double-think that lets people look at something and not see what it is.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck--it's a duck!
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline t

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 08:11:52 am »
My job is not to convince anyone, just within this sphere...as in the Brahmajala Sutta:
"For this or that reason this is not the fact, that is not so, such a thing is not found among us, is not in us." 

Be well  :namaste:

Offline Rael

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2011, 10:08:48 am »
We know Buddha said "Do not look to any gods or demons or even Me for help"

Praying "To" Amitabha as opposed to praying"With" Amitahba is the thing...

i feel if you catch the eye of some god and make them laugh or something...yeah they can "do things" for you....even some Rinpoche's admit they can "Do Things " for you...or as The Tulku i study under once said "We can do small majiks"

but groveling and hoping and waiting....thats a mug's game....
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 10:12:42 am by Rael, Reason: capitilazation and spelling for respect »

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 10:52:43 am »
Quote
We know Buddha said "Do not look to any gods or demons or even me for help"
As I said, the original Pali Buddhism was not theistic. That does not mean that all schools of Buddhism, separated by the thousands of years and thousands of miles from Sakyamuni, can have the same thing said of them.


Quote
Praying "To" Amitabha as opposed to praying "With" Amitahba is the thing...

i feel if you catch the eye of some god and make them laugh or something...yeah they can "do things" for you....
According to Pure Land Buddhism one is reborn in Amitabha's Pure Realm through Amitabha's power, which the practitioner accesses through faith and supplication.
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Rael

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 10:59:57 am »
supplication as in petition the Lord with Prayer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplication

Jim said it best in the beginning of this very lucid song...

if you care to listen to it all you might find other means of what you seek to employ....

The Doors: The Soft parade

Yeshe

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 11:12:40 am »
Quote
We know Buddha said "Do not look to any gods or demons or even me for help"

As I said, the original Pali Buddhism was not theistic. That does not mean that all schools of Buddhism, separated by the thousands of years and thousands of miles from Sakyamuni, can have the same thing said of them.


Quote
Praying "To" Amitabha as opposed to praying "With" Amitahba is the thing...

i feel if you catch the eye of some god and make them laugh or something...yeah they can "do things" for you....

According to Pure Land Buddhism one is reborn in Amitabha's Pure Realm through Amitabha's power, which the practitioner accesses through faith and supplication.



Leaving aside the 'original' assertion which is beyond proof, what of the realms of existence, gods and demi-gods?
Whilst not objects of worship, their existence is within Buddhist cosmology.

And what about Buddha's own assertion that positive acts of veneration lead to rebirth, after death and the breaking up of the body, ina heavenly realm? :

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html

22. "And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness."

''28-31. "And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And so also at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Paccekabuddha!' or 'This is the stupa of a disciple of that Tathagata, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' or 'This is the stupa of that righteous monarch who ruled according to Dhamma!' — the hearts of many people are calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And it is because of this, Ananda, that these four persons are worthy of a stupa."[/i]

Looks pretty specific to me. ;)

Offline Rael

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 11:19:54 am »
Yeshe i don't get your point ...

whats specific...that there are heavenly realms...that gods do exist...

u yeah...i think so.....

asking to get there or trying to make friends with gods for favors is a lil lame....

it's like some smelly homeless person covered in piss....wanting to have sexual favors with Brad and Angelina at the same time...cause he asked them....

lol....

Buddha's are all compassionate and they like ignore most of your pleas...for your own good....


they want you to become god like ....

you know this Yeshe....

it's like up to you.....



Yeshe

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 11:29:11 am »
Yeshe i don't get your point ...

whats specific...that there are heavenly realms...that gods do exist...

u yeah...i think so.....

asking to get there or trying to make friends with gods for favors is a lil lame....

it's like some smelly homeless person covered in piss....wanting to have sexual favors with Brad and Angelina at the same time...cause he asked them....

lol....

Buddha's are all compassionate and they like ignore most of your pleas...for your own good....


they want you to become god like ....

you know this Yeshe....

it's like up to you.....





I'm challenging the assertion that the Pali canon is not theistic, albeit that I know very little about it.

Simply that the cosmology recognises the presence of gods and demi-gods and is thus theistic in that respect.

Secondly, Buddha is saying that those who venerate his memory will attain a fortunate rebirth, hence placing himself in the position of the Blessed One with powers to grant such a rebirth.  Of course the merit of building a stupa to someone who is not a Blessed One may also lead to a wonderful rebirth, but this is specifically about venerating another being and receiving a reward,  Whether it is called karma or not, Buddha is promising this outcome.

Offline Rael

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 11:38:42 am »
when i had one i used to really enjoy cleaning my alter and the stuff on it...

i felt good....

cleaning the Gompa was the Big One.....

meh....your annoying yourself with basic 101 basic....

move on....who cares....We know the Buddha did not care whether there was a God or Not...

there is a God....we all know that...even though Buddhism Dictates there is no God....and if you say there is a God it gives everyone an exuse to dismiss you on buddhist forums...lol.....It's Kenner It's fun!!!!!

hey kids hurry to your nearest Gompa and declare God is !!!!!!

We know that defining God euphemistically or theistically  doesn't work....

but there still is God.....

Pantheism dude ...allan watts and pantheism ...and forged aboud id and do the DO....

pitch a Ball Tonight down at the union hall....there's snuff juice and fried chicken....and sawdust on the floor.......howling wolf on the juke.....

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 11:41:40 am »
I'm challenging the assertion that the Pali canon is not theistic, albeit that I know very little about it.

Simply that the cosmology recognises the presence of gods and demi-gods and is thus theistic in that respect.
In that respect, yes, it acknowledges the existence of gods and demi-gods. However Buddha was clear that one should not expect him to do things for you or to 'save you', you have to do it one your own. In that sense, since the Buddha did not set himself up as a god, it is not theistic.

Quote
Secondly, Buddha is saying that those who venerate his memory will attain a fortunate rebirth, hence placing himself in the position of the Blessed One with powers to grant such a rebirth. Of course the merit of building a stupa to someone who is not a Blessed One may also lead to a wonderful rebirth, but this is specifically about venerating another being and receiving a reward,  Whether it is called karma or not, Buddha is promising this outcome.
Maybe not. In the Tibetan traditions there is the Seven Branch Prayer, where one rejoices in the merit of others. It is not as if those others are thereby granting him good karma, it's just a karmically skillful thing to do. I think the same principal with stupas and the Buddha's memory.
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Yeshe

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Re: 'Theism' and Pure Land
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 12:16:15 pm »
I'm challenging the assertion that the Pali canon is not theistic, albeit that I know very little about it.

Simply that the cosmology recognises the presence of gods and demi-gods and is thus theistic in that respect.
In that respect, yes, it acknowledges the existence of gods and demi-gods. However Buddha was clear that one should not expect him to do things for you or to 'save you', you have to do it one your own. In that sense, since the Buddha did not set himself up as a god, it is not theistic.

Quote
Secondly, Buddha is saying that those who venerate his memory will attain a fortunate rebirth, hence placing himself in the position of the Blessed One with powers to grant such a rebirth. Of course the merit of building a stupa to someone who is not a Blessed One may also lead to a wonderful rebirth, but this is specifically about venerating another being and receiving a reward,  Whether it is called karma or not, Buddha is promising this outcome.
Maybe not. In the Tibetan traditions there is the Seven Branch Prayer, where one rejoices in the merit of others. It is not as if those others are thereby granting him good karma, it's just a karmically skillful thing to do. I think the same principal with stupas and the Buddha's memory.

Yup, I concur with your points.

Theism involves two aspects - existence and veneration.  I'll accept that the existence within the realms is not an indicator that worship of them is involved, as that was my understanding as well.  Buddhas are omniscient but not omnipotent, so asking them to act in one way or anothr may be futile.

The second could be interpreted as the Blessed One promising a fortunate rebirth, but I'll accept that it may be a celebration of merit as it is consistent with my understanding of karma.

 


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