Author Topic: The Way to the Divine  (Read 1437 times)

Offline Buster Brown

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The Way to the Divine
« on: March 24, 2012, 04:48:39 am »
There is a sutta that makes me think that Buddha believed in Brahma, and so I would like the Theravadin take on it:

DN 13 Tevijja Sutta (On Knowledge of The Vedas)
Tevijja Sutta
The Threefold Knowledge
The Way To Brahma

THUS HAVE I HEARD. Once the Lord was touring Kosala with a large company of some five hundred monks. He came to a Kosalan Brahmin village called Manasakata, and stayed to the north of the village in a mango-grove on the bank of the River Aciravati.
And at that time many very well-known and prosperous Brahmins were staying at Manasakata, including Canki, Tarukkha, Pokkharasati, Janussoni, and Todeyya.
And Vasettha and Bharadvaja went strolling along the road, and as they did so, an argument broke out between them on the subject of right and wrong paths.
The young Brahmin Vasettha said: “This is the only straight path, this is the direct path, the path of salvation that leads one who follows it to union with Brahma, as is taught by the Brahmin Pokkharasati!” 1
And the young Brahmin Bharadvaja said: “This is the only straight path ... as taught bv the Brahmin Tarukkha!”
And Vasettha could not convince Bharadvaja, nor could Bharadvaja convince Vasettha.
Then Vasettha said to Bhadradvaja : “This ascetic Gotama is staying to the north of the village, and concerning this Blessed Lord a good report has been spread about ... (as Digha Nikaya 4,verse 2). Let us go to the ascetic Gotama and ask him, and whatever he tells us, we shall accept.” And Bharadvakja agreed.

So the two of them went to see the Lord. Having exchanged courtesies with him, they sat down to one side, and Vasettha said : “Reverend Gotama, as we were strolling along the road, we got to discussing right and wrong paths. I said : “This is the only straight path ... as is taught by the Brahmin Pokkharasati”, and Bharadvaja said : “This is the only straight path ... as is taught by the Brahmin Tarukkha.” This is our dispute, our quarrel, our difference.

“So, Vasettha, you say that the way to union with Brahma is that taught by the Brahmin Pokkharasati, and Bharadvaja says it is that taught by the Brahmin Tarukha. What is the dispute, the quarrel, the difference all about?”

“Right and wrong paths, Reverend Gotama. There are so many kinds of Brahmins who teach different paths : the Addhariya, the Tittiriya, the Chandoka, the Chandava, the Brahmacariya 2 Brahmins - do all these ways lead to union with Brahma? Just as if there were near a town or village many different paths - do all these come together at that place? And likewise, do the ways of the various Brahmins ... lead the one who follows them to union with Brahma?”

You say: “They lead”, Vasettha?” I say: “They lead”, Reverend Gotama.
You say: “They lead”, Vasettha?” I say: “They lead”, Reverend Gotama.
You say: “They lead”, Vasettha?” I say: “They lead”, Reverend Gotama.

But, Vasettha, is there then a single one of these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas who has seen Brahma face to face?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“Then has the teacher's teacher of any one of them seen Brahma face to face?”
“No, Reverend Gotama.”

“Then has the ancestor seven generations back of the teacher of one of them seen Brahma face to face?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“Well then, Vasettha, what about the early sages of those Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, the makers of the mantras, the expounders of the mantras, whose ancient verses are chanted, pronounced and collected by the Brahmins of today, and sung and spoken about - such as Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, Bhagu 3 - did they ever say : “We know and see when, how and where Brahma appears?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“So, Vasettha, not one of these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas has seen Brahrna face to face, nor has one of their teachers, or teacher's teachers, nor even the ancestor seven generations back of one of their teachers. Nor could any of the early sages say : “We know and see when, how and where Brahma appears.” So what these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas are saying is : “We teach this path to union with Brahma that we do not know or see, this is the only straight path ... leading to union with Brahma.” “What do you think, Vasettha? Such being the case, does not what these Brahmins declare turn out to be ill-founded?” “Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.”

“Well, Vasettha, when these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas teach a path that they do not know or see, saying : “This is the only straight path …,” this cannot possibly be right. Just as a file of blind men go on, clinging to each other, and the first one sees nothing, the middle one sees nothing, and the last one sees nothing - so it is with the talk of these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas : the first one sees nothing, the middle one sees nothing, the last one sees nothing. The talk of these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas turns out to be laughable, mere words, empty and vain.”

“What do you think, Vasettha? Do these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas see the sun and moon just as other people do, and when the sun and moon rise and set do they pray, sing praises and worship with clasped hands?” “They do, Reverend Gotama.”

“What do you think, Vasettha? These Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, who can see the sun and moon just as other people do … can they point out a way to union with the sun and moon, saying : “This is the only straight path ... that leads to union with the sun and moon?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“So, Vasettha, these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas cannot point out a way to union with the sun and moon, which they have seen. And, too, none of them has seen Brahma face to face … nor has even the ancestor seven generations back of one of their teachers. Nor could any of the early sages say : “We know and see when, how and where Brahma appears. Does not what these Brahmins declare turn out to be ill-founded?” “Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.”

Vasettha, it is just as if a man were to say : “I am going to seek out and love the most beautiful girl in the country.” They might say to him : “... Do you know what caste she belongs to?” “No.” “Well, do you know her name, her clan, whether she is tall or short … dark or light-complexioned ..., or where she comes from?” “No.” And they might say : “Well then, you don't know or see the one you seek for and desire?:” and he would say : “No.” “Does not the talk of that man turn out to be stupid?” “Certainly, Reverend Gotama.”

Verse 20 “Then, Vasettha, it is like this: not one of these Brahmins … has seen Brahma face to face, nor has one of their teachers …” “Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.” Verse 20
“That is right, Vasettha. When these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas teach a path that they do not know and see, this cannot possibly be right.”

“Vasettha, it is just as if a man were to build a staircase for a palace at a cross-roads. People might say : “This staircase for a palace - do you know whether the palace will face east or west, north or south, or whether it will be high, low or of medium height?” and he would say : “No.” And they might say : “Well then, you don't know or see what kind of a palace you are building the staircase for?” and he would say : “No.” “Does not the talk of that man turn out to be stupid?” “Certainly, Reverend Gotama.”
(as verse 20)

“Vasettha, it is just as if this River Aciravati were brimful of water so that a crow could drink out of it, and a man should come along wishing to cross over, to get to the other side, to get across, and, standing on this bank, were to call out : “Come here, other bank, come here!” “What do you think, Vasettha? Would the other bank of the River Aciravati come over to this side on account of that man’s calling, begging, requesting or wheedling?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“Well now, Vasettha, those Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas who persistently neglect what a Brahmin should do, and persistently do what a Brahmin should not do, declare : “We call on Indra, Soma, Varuna, Isana, Pajapati, Brahma, Mahiddhi, Yama.” But that such Brahmins who persistently neglect what a Brahmin should do, … will, as a consequence of their calling, begging, requesting or wheedling, attain after death, at the breaking-up of the body, to union with Brahma - that is just not possible.

“Vasettha, it is just as if this River Aciravati were brimful of water so that a crow could drink out of it, and a man should come wishing to cross over, … but he was bound and pinioned on this side by a strong chain, with his hands behind his back. What do you think, Vasettha? Would that man be able to get to the other side?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”
“In just the same way, Vasettha, in the Ariyan discipline these five strands of sense-desire are called bonds and fetters. Which five? Forms seen by the eye which are agreeable, loved, charming, attractive, pleasurable, arousing desire; sounds heard by the ear …; smells smelt by the nose … ; tastes savoured by the tongue … ; contacts felt by the body which are agreeable, … arousing desire. These five in the Ariyan discipline are called bonds and fetters. And, Vasettha, those Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas are enslaved, infatuated by these five strands of sense-desire, which they enjoy guiltily, unaware of danger, knowing no way out.”

“But that such Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, who persistently neglect what a Brahmin should do, … who are enslaved by these five strands of sense-desire, … knowing no way out, should attain after death, at the breaking-up of the body, to union with Brahma - that is just not possible.”

“It is just as if this River Aciravati were brimful of water so that a crow could drink out of it, and a man should come along wishing to cross over ... and were to lie down on this bank, covering his head with a shawl. What do you think, Vasettha? Would that man be able to get to the other side?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“In the same way, Vasettha, in the Ariyan discipline these five hindrances are called obstacles, hindrances, coverings-up, envelopings. Which five? The hindrance of sensuality, of ill-will, of sloth-and-torpor, of worry-and-flurry, of doubt. These five are called obstacles, hindrances, coverings-up, envelopings. And these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas are caught up, hemmed in, obstructed, entangled in these five hindrances. But that such Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, who persistently neglect what a Brahmin should do … and who are caught up, … entangled in these five hindrances, should attain after death, at the breaking-up of the body, to union with Brahma - that is just not possible.”
“What do you think, Vasettha? What have you heard said by Brahmins who are venerable, aged, the teachers of teachers? Is Brahma encumbered with wives and wealth,” 4 or unencumbered?” “Unencumbered, Reverend Gotama.”

“Is he full of hate or without hate?” “Without hate, Reverend Gotama.”

“Is he full of ill-will or without ill-will?” “Without ill-will, Reverend Gotama.”

“Is he impure or pure?” “Pure, Reverend Gotama.”

“Is he disciplined 5 or undisciplined?” “Disciplined, Reverend Gotama.”

“And what do you think, Vasettha? Are the Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas encumbered with wives and wealth, or unencumbered?” “Encumbered, Reverend Gotama.”
“Are they full of hate or without hate?” “Full of hate, Reverend Gotama.”
“Are they full of ill-will or without ill-will?” “Full of ill-will, Reverend Gotama.”
“Are they impure or pure?” “Impure, Reverend Gotama.”

“Are they disciplined or undisciplined?” “Undisciplined, Reverend Gotama.”
“So, Vasettha, the Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas are encumbered with wives and wealth, and Brahma is unencumbered. Is there any communion, anything in common between these encumbered Brahmins and the unencumbered Brahma?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“That is right, Vasettha. That these encumbered Brahmins, learned in the Three Vedas, should after death, at the breaking-up of the body, be united with the unencumbered Brahma - that is just not possible.”

“Likewise, do these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas and full of hate …, full of ill-will …, impure …, undisciplined, have any communion, anything in common with the disciplined Brahma?” “No, Reverend Gotama.”

“That is right, Vasettha. That these undisciplined Brahmins should after death be united with Brahma is just not possible. But these Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas, having sat down on the bank, sink down despairingly, thinking maybe to find a dry way across. Therefore their threefold knowledge is called the threefold desert, the threefold wilderness, the threefold destruction.”

At these words Vasettha said : “Reverend Gotama, I have heard them say : “The ascetic Gotama knows the way to union with Brahma.”

“What do you think, Vasettha? Suppose there were a man here born and brought up in Manasakata, and somebody who had come from Manasakata and and had missed the road should ask him the way. Would that man, born and bred in Manasakata, be in a state of confusion or perplexity?” “No, Reverend Gotama.” “And why not? Because such a man would know all the paths.”

“Vasettha, it might be said that such a man on being asked the way might be confused or perplexed - but the Tathagata, on being asked about the Brahma world and the way to get there, would certainly not be confused or perplexed. For, Vasettha, I know Brahma and the world of Brahma, and the way to the world of Brahma, and the path of practice whereby the world of Brahma may be gained.”

At this Vasettha said : “Reverend Gotama,” I have heard them say : “The ascetic Gotama teaches the way to union with Brahma.” “It would be good if the Reverend Gotama were to teach us the way to union with Brahma, may the Reverend Gotama help the people of Brahma!”

“Then, Vasettha, listen, pay proper attention, and I will tell you.” “Very good, Reverend Sir,” said Vasettha. The Lord said :

“Vasettha, a Tathagata arises in the world, an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, Teacher of Gods and humans, enlightened and blessed. He, having realised it by his own super-knowledge, proclaims this world with its Devas, Maras and Brahmas, its princes and people. He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and displays the fully perfected and purified holy life. A disciple goes forth, practises the moralities, attains the first jhana (as Digha Nikaya 2, verses 43-75).”

“Then, with his heart filled with loving-kindness, he dwells suffusing one quarter, the second, the third, the fourth. Thus he dwells suffusing the whole world, upwards, downwards, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, unbounded 6 without hate or ill-will.

“Just as if a mighty trumpeter were with little difficulty to make a proclamation to the four quarters, so by this meditation, Vasettha, by this liberation of the heart through loving kindness he leaves nothing untouched, nothing unaffected in the sensuous sphere.7 This, Vasettha, is the way to union with Brahma.”

“Then with his heart filled with compassion, … with sympathetic joy, with equanimity he dwells suffusing one quarter, the second, the third, the fourth. Thus he dwells suffusing the whole world, upwards, downwards, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with equanimity, abundant, unbounded, without hate or ill-will.”

“Just as if a mighty trumpeter were with little difficulty to make a proclamation to the four quarters, so by this meditation, Vasettha, by this liberation of the heart through cornpassion, …through sympathetic joy, … through equanimity, he leaves nothing untouched, nothing unaffected in the sensuous sphere. This, Vasettha, is the way to union with Brahma.”

“What do you think, Vasettha? Is a monk dwelling thus encumbered with wives and wealth or unencumbered?” “Unencumbered, Reverend Gotama.” “He is without hate …, without ill-will …, pure and disciplined, Reverend Gotama.”

“Then, Vasettha, the monk is unencumbered, and Brahma is unencumbered. Has that unencumbered monk anything in common with the unencumbered Brahma?” “Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.”

“That is right, Vasettha. Then that an unencumbered monk, after death, at the breaking-up of the body, should attain to union with the unencumbered Brahma - that is possible. Likewise a monk without hate …, without ill~will …, pure …, disciplined … Then that a disciplined monk, after death, at the breaking-up of the body, should attain to union with Brahma - that is possible.”

At this the young Brahmins, Vasettha and Bharadvaja said to the Lord : “Excellent, Reverend Gotama, excellent! It is as if someone were to set up what had been knocked down, or to point out the way to one who had got lost, or to bring an oil-lamp into a dark place, so that those with eyes could see what was there. Just so the Reverend Gotama has expounded the Dhamma in various ways.”

We take refuge in the Reverend Gotama, in the Dhamma, and in the Sangha. May the Reverend Gotama accept us as lay-followers having taken refuge from this day forth as long as life shall last!"


Offline dhammaseeker51

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 06:37:34 am »
Great posting.
It is my understanding that the Buddha acknowledged that Brahma existed but not that he was a supreme or creator god.
There is another sutta in which the Buddha admonished Brahma for thinking he was, I heard it in a talk by Ajahn Brahm. (BSWA)     

Offline t

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2012, 07:52:30 am »
This , this and this

Offline Buster Brown

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2012, 10:34:58 am »
This is interesting t.

And yet he says he is going to teach them to be in union with Brahma. I wonder who he considered Brahma to be if not the creator? In other words, In union with what?

Offline Gesar

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2012, 02:48:50 pm »
According to Stephen Batchelor, the Buddha used Hindu terms but gave them his own meaning.  So in Indian beliefs, Brahma = the ground of being.  To the Buddha, it meant the reality of life, which is: impermanence, and conditioned arising.   So perhaps by "union with Brahma" the Buddha meant simply "Enlightenment", or realization of impermanence.

Just a guess.

Yeshe

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2012, 03:07:14 pm »
Hindu deities represent such forces as those of Creation and Destruction.

I think Buddha meant merging with the ebb and flow of consciousness as the true nature of our own being, our true essence, which is perhaps something many generations of a lineage may never have actually experienced.

Buddha didn't teach cosmogenesis with a Creator God, as there is simply no evidence for creation or destruction of the mind. As the mind is uncreated it is free from destruction, and also free to create its own 'world'.

There is also the possibility that he really spoke of 'Brahman' and his words were not recorded correctly.

ON a related issue, I think words such as 'primordial', when attached to such natures, are part of the misrepresentation, since primordial requires there to be a 'first' creation of mind, which I reject.


Offline Hanzze

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2012, 06:30:06 pm »
Great thing, practicing can even bring you to your god. All realms up and down can be reached, even the way out. *smile* The destiny is up to yours.

Offline t

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2012, 07:33:59 pm »
My own worthless speculations...

Firstly, He is addressing a bunch of people whose attachment are strong to a concept and even a place: the bliss of being with their deity and its abode, yet they have no direct experience of either other than what is found in oral tradition/lineage and established holy writ of that period. So after much questioning and debating by the Buddha on their lopsided views and practices, they concede that they are lacking in direct experience and proper practice.

Secondly, the Buddha as a skilful teacher uses back their concept that they are familiar with BUT introduces a different essence to it.
a. He speaks firstly on His own ability of direct experience on what these Brahmins are accustomed with yet have no direct insight on, and then goes on to elucidate on the portfolio attributes of a Buddha, the mission of a Buddha and the path of Discipleship.
b. Then He introduces the practice of the Four Immeasurables or Sublime Attitudes (Brahma Viharas)
c. Then He explains that by the practice of the Four Immeasurables, one is purified and disciplined, gaining the fruits of such, one can attain the very attributes of the very Brahma that they as Brahmins are so fond of, they can even gain birth where similar beings imbued with the Four Immeasurables dwell.
This is the way the Buddha taught them at their level of understanding, on what they are used to and yet superior than their former ways:
i. that they are introduced to a truly Worthy Guide, Teaching and Community,
ii. planting a cause to follow the path of Nibbana indirectly,
iii. practicing the Sublime Attitudes needed for one's purification and discipline
iv. and from that practice, thus having a direct experience of what is 'union/fellowship with Brahma' in terms of developing and gaining fruits of the Sublime Attributes, experiencing purification of the mind (rather than a nebulous deity concept as previously) and the fruits of that practice is experienced both here and thereafter. See from the earlier given commentary link:
Quote
http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/1.8-Tevijja-S-d13-piya-proto1.pdf
In this Sutta, the Buddha mentions only those teachings he deemed applicable to level of his audience. In the Udumbarika Sīhanada Sutta (D 25), for example, the Buddha stops his teaching at the “knowledge of the arising and disappearance of beings” (or karma) since his audience could only then understand up to that level (D 25.19).

It is evident from the Tevijja Sutta (D 13) and from teachings like those in the Maha Govinda Sutta (D 19) that “fellowship with Brahma“ (brahma,sahavyata) simply means rebirth amongst the host of Brahma, and not mystical union with Brahman, a notion that is totally alien to Indian Buddhism. Furthermore, “fellowship with Brahma” or rebirth in the Brahma heaven is never the final goal of Buddhist training (D 19.61).

Thirdly, why didn't the Buddha teach them directly the path of Nibbana rather than ending up in some peaceful abode? Well, I can only guess that based on Sutta precedents, this may be a form of skilful means of inserting an introduction to the path of liberation within the context of what people are familiar with at a certain stage of life instead of forcing them to swallow lock, stock and barrel.

These days, if one tries to force spirituality on anyone, that's like inviting for a lawsuit isn't it?
So, what some teachers do is introduce skilful means in order to attract and hook people onto the Path. For instance, social and charity drives, art classes, festivity galas and etc. as long as the moon is what people are led to and not lost in fascination with the pointing finger.

If one is forum savvy, is it not a consistent pattern that some have opined that they are learning the Dhamma for mere peace of mind and a happy life rather than practicing for the cessation of dukkha?   
 
Let me cite another example. In the Sigalovada Sutta, a young rich householder was clueless as to why his late daddy got him to venerate the sixfold directions other than just telling the Buddha that he is doing it out of filial piety rather than true understanding.
So the Buddha launched into a long discourse for what householders like himself can practice at their level and taught him a 'new version' of what are the sixfold directions and what each mean and represent. So the Buddha worked within the framework of what the young rich householder is used to yet infused with a new and Dhammic understanding/essence.                 

Offline Oliver

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 03:14:08 am »
Hello
My understanding of the role of Brahma in Theravada sutta is that there is more than one Brahma. Brahma (like everything else) is born, is maintained and then dies. However Brahma is/was born first and beings followed. This point is why the Brahmins come to state that they derive from Brahma. It is also why Brahma believes he is the creator (Brahma sees no other before him and sees all coming from him). This belief is a mistake arising from ignorance and this is touched upon in MN 49 and indirectly in MN 50 suttas.

According to the Srimad Bhatavata (a Hindu scripture) Brahma is indeed born. Although there are differences between Theravada and Vasihanvism (for example) there are some interesting similarities. One being that the 'birth' of Brahma implies impermanence in both schools of thought.

What is interesting here too, is the role of Mara, the Evil One, who likewise tricks Brahma and is subject to impermanence. Bhikkhu Bodhi notes that Mara is another name for Prajapati (the Creator). This has interesting implications.

The above is my reflection and I suggest further investigation should anyone be seeking facts. :)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 03:33:41 am by Oliver »

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 08:32:44 am »
Two points I found interesting:

1. The emphasis on compassion. Very Mahayana-esque. Good argument for non-sectarianism.

2. Even though he disparages the Vedic teachers in this sutta, in the Ariyapariyesana Sutta*, immediately after his enlightenment, he looks out to see who he can share his understanding with, people that had "a little dust on his eyes". His first candidate was one of his former teachers, Alara Kalama (from the town of Kalama**). However Alara Kalama had already died. So that tells me that he personally knew Vedic teachers that came close to his own realization. That gives some credibility to the Vedas in general.
 :twocents:

*****

*Optimus Prime posted it here at F.S. in the Beginner Zone under the title "The Buddhas own account of his search for enlightenment".

**That gives a little background to the famous "Kalama Sutra". The Buddha had lived in the town of Kalama before his enlightenment and was Alara Kalama's main disciple with 150 students of his own, but then he left. I think the meaning of the Kalama Sutra is him explaining to the Kalama people why he left, and why they should listen to him again now.

But that's just my idea. Nobody else sees it that way. :shrug:
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 09:29:58 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.

Offline Lobster

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Re: The Way to the Divine
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 11:25:00 pm »
Sometimes we have to use the noodle his divine sauce of all being gave us
That is right bra man and spaghetti monster his alter ego are super heroes - like Thor

Who believes in flying Buddhas as the source of all wisdom?
They arise, they fly man
They die

For a moment it was real :chill: :hug:

 


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