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Questions whilst reading 'What the Buddha never taught'


#41

I don’t find your questions offensive. There is no reason to stop asking critical questions, I find, unless nobody answers.


#42

thank you for this and for your other helpful replies. It’s true I did not specifically thank each participant when they were answering my questions (though I some ‘likes’). Perhaps my way of showing appreciation was that I often replied with more arguments and questions, meaning (to me at least) that I was indeed taking them seriously and that for this reason I wanted to engage in further discussion with them.
Personally I am at a stage in my life where instead of thinking ‘I am right’ I am constantly asking myself ‘how do I know I am right?’, and this concerns all areas, from politics to religion. This is why I like to find out the arguments from both sides (to avoid confirmation bias), and engage in discussions for the sake of reaching truth (a far as this is possible). But I understand that this may be offensive to people who have already made up their mind and who have ‘invested’ much (emotionally etc) in these teaching.


#43

can you please give an example of a sentence (or more) which I wrote and which is offensive to you? By offensive you can’t mean that I explicitly insulted anyone I think (as I am not aware I did) so can you please point out in a concrete way how I am offending you?


#44

Is this what this thread is for?
Can’t that conversation happen privately?
I don’t know how this line of dialogue is compatible with this forum. :man_shrugging:


#45

Ok thanks. I’ll leave this forum. I don’t think I fit in.
I appreciate the time everyone has taken to answer me.
Bye :nose:


#47

It saddens me that folks can’t be gentler with each other.


#48

@irene I hope you don’t feel the need to leave the D&D forum. It’d be like leaving a great concert because one song was not pleasing, or the person in front of you was jumping, when you wanted to sit.

Some of your posts were challenging to me, but I sensed that you have a style of discussion that is provocative, that invites comments. In a sense, you discussed that, in that you feel that by being provocative, you get responses, and this leads you to see some truths. I understand this.

Even Bhante Sujato offered comments, and you’ll note that on many threads, he lets the D&D members go back and forth on their own. So, your comments were effective in eliciting many voices here. That can be a good thing.

I guess my point here is that I always hate to see people leave D&D over controversies about provocative material. I feel that part of what we can do on D&D is being open, honest and interactive, even at the risk that some might take offense. If offense is taken, or given, one then has leave to explain or offer a better way to express the idea. One disadvantage to an online forum is that we can’t see faces, affect and demeanor, or hear subtle tones of voice, that can give us cues or clues as to what the speaker is intending. Sometimes, just adjusting our style, or explaining our intentions behind a style of writing, on an online forum is necessary.

So, my two baht is to say, stick around. Grab a cup of tea, and catch your breath. And then stay engaged here. We’re all here to learn and explore Dhamma. I’d hate to see anyone not be given a chance to do that.


#50

D&D can be a bit of an echo-chamber :wink: .

My advice is don’t take anything personally that is said on the internet or in real life for that matter(this statement is for everyone :anjal: ).

If people somehow feel slighted by your OP or your questions they are too sensitive IMO. What I read was mildly-blunt, but not crass or reckless. I read the whole thread and managed to not get my feathers ruffled. EBT study and practicing in-line with Theravada forest traditions is, like anything else, susceptible to becoming closely guarded within an individual’s identity view.

In regard to your OP, the only thing I have to add is that I believe the Thai King actually ordered that Ajahn Chah receive medical attention.


#51

Thank you, your message is kind; I like this forum and I am curious about the opinion of people here. I was not being sulky really; the reason I said I was leaving is that I thought I was not welcome here (for example it was pointed out that my posts were offensive, so when I asked to give an example to understand what kind of questions or comments I should avoid, I got a reply saying that this kind of message does not have a place in this thread). Anyway, I’ll try to learn more about what is acceptable here and then probably get back to this forum since as I find the discussions interesting. :slight_smile:


#52

Hi Irene,

Not a criticism and I did not find anything you said offensive, just a comment from someone reading the thread and wondering why these purported actions from presumably non enlightened beings from so long ago, are even being discussed.

In relation to this book and it’s claims, you cannot know the truth of events in the past in a location you were never at merely by reading a book and discussing it, you can only ever make assumptions based upon the perceptions of the person who wrote the book. Likewise you cannot determine the truth by asking other peoples opinions about the subject online, you will only get exactly what you have gotten here - opinions from those who have skin in the game.

Why you would think you can determine the actual truth from participating in an online conversation I do not understand. All this speculation about what did or did not happen is just clinging to a story. The events may or may not have happened as described, only those who were actually there and who were intimately involved would really ever know so there is no point in concerning yourself with what did or did not happen. Doing so only serves to distract you from what is of actual importance - your dhamma practice. What some Ajahn did or did not do or say thirty years ago is completely without relevance to the 2500 year old teachings of the Buddha.

Likewise these events have no relevance to your own practice. I urge you to practice walking meditation, practice sitting meditation, seek tranquility and insight. If you wish to read about the dhamma then read books written by or about the masters themselves rather than some a tourist who did not speak the language and only had a passing understanding of what was happening. If you wish to experience life in a monastary then go and get a first hand experience rather than trying to parse the truth buried somewhere within the speculations of someone else. Above all, spend your spare time in practice rather than speculation about events that actually have no relevance to you and your practice.

With metta.


#53

Hi David,

You make a lot of good points. I felt the same way about The Broken Buddha – Bhante Dhammika. Some of it is certainly true, but none of it is a particular “revelation” to anyone who has spent some time around real-life Buddhists, most of whom are obviously, as you say, not awakened. Frankly, I find books like that somewhat boring - I’ve never been able to finish one…

I feel somewhat lucky that my introduction to Buddhism was at a local monastery where clearly both lay people and monastics had a variety of levels of practice. It made me rather disinterested in such questions as: “Is such-and-such a place perfect?” and more interested in asking myself: “Is there someone I can fruitfully learn from, and what can they teach me?”

:heart:


#54

Thank you for these excellent points. I am trying to learn about the Buddha and Dhamma from EBT texts and my own practice; however since the triple gem includes the Sangha I was trying to learn about it from books such as these (describing a wat founded by a ‘top’ monk - Ajahn Chah - so to speak). Why? Because I have visited some real monasteries and did not like it there (for a number a of reasons that I will not explain here to avoid offending those who have skin in the game to use your excellent expression - I was trying to look for it yesterday). So I wanted to read about the ‘top’ ones (As I said I also tried a book by P Breiter but found it unreadable).
According to your post one can be a Buddhist according to EBT by practicing and studying the texts. Is faith in, and knowledge of, the Sangha such as it is today needed?


#55

Thanks for mentioning B. Dhammika’s work; I wouldn’t have been likely to happen across it otherwise. Though there’s always that thicket-of-views danger, I enjoy the heck out of critical examinations of complicated topics, and it’s proving to be interesting to me so far. Yampolsky, Cole, and McRae have been similarly ponder-provoking to me over on the Zen/Mahayana side of the fence as well.


#56

The only way I know of to find the answer to that is to go find the answer to that. :slightly_smiling_face: My view on it might be different from those of others here, but what I think comes only from my experiences, not yours or theirs. Question number one, to me, would be: what am I looking for?


#57

Simple answer: no

It’s legitimate, I find, to take a strict position of having faith in arahants only. Or, to make it more pragmatic, one can have faith in the ones who I find to be awe-inspiring intuitively. And if it so happens that these monastics exist only in suttas, or that there are only one or two contemporary ones then so be it.

I would just not make a strict rule out of it. For some years some particular monastic can be faith-inducing, and then one moves on to another one, or to an inspiring lay-teacher, or to a whole lineage. And I would distinguish respect and authority (which can easily radiate from the mere robe) from faith in dhamma (which is maybe more ‘transcendental’).


#58

I don’t know if I would really call myself a Buddhist as such. I don’t think of Buddhism as a religion, the Buddha didn’t practice Buddhism, he practiced dhamma. In the years since people have made a religion out of it but religion is not the truth taught by the Buddha.

So I don’t think of the practice in terms of faith other than having faith that the Buddha was the genuine article, that he did exist, that he spoke truthfully, that he taught the path to liberation and that as a result of his teachings some members of the Sangha have attained the goal. If that’s what you mean by faith then I have that, but I don’t worship the Buddha as a God though I don’t have faith in the christian or islamic sense of faith.

You ask specifically about faith in the Sangha. If you place all of your faith in a fallible human Sangha you are only going to experience disappointment when they fail to live up to your expectations. The Sangha is there to preserve the teachings of the Buddha, to teach and to guide and hopefully to act as an example to the lay community but at the end of the day the only way any practitioner is going to cultivate the mind, develop the path and free the mind from it’s perceptual filters is to actually do the practice. Just being a member of the Sangha does not mean enlightenment, many members of the Sangha are just as unenlightened as any other human being. If you expect them all to be without fault, without ego, conceit etc you are going to be disappointed.

Faith may help inspire you to do the practice, may help you to see that the path is valid, that the path works but if you practice you will gain that faith tenfold as you begin to see and experience for yourself the inner workings of the mind. Having faith is not worth much to you if you are unwilling to practice, faith can not bring you to liberation.

with Metta


#59

‘Magical-thinking’


#60

Arguably, in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta there is already the story of an enlightened being killing an enlightened being (that is himself). The Buddha knowingly ate some pork even though he knew it was going to kill him, so that is arguably not different from suicide (the Sutta also says the he would have been able to keep himself alive for much longer, if Ananda had asked him to stay around, so he chose to die when he could have kept on living, which is arguably the same as suicide). I don’t see a fundamental difference between killing oneself and killing another being who wishes to die. Ajahn Brahmavamso has several stories in which he teaches to behave as if oneself were another person (for example we shouldn’t steel when ‘nobody is watching’ because someone is always watching, that is oneself) , so this should apply to killing too.


#61

That’s an interesting reading of the story. I guess however it would mean to squeeze the story at the wrong end. If the story literally happened like this I’d agree, then the Buddha knowingly ended his life. What I find so problematic about the Buddhist discourse is that allegorical stories are taken literally when they were obviously composed with some purpose in mind.

Some people literally believe that the Buddha could have lived for an eon (for example until the contraction of the universe). In one sutta I remember that a past Buddha is said to have lived an eon for example. We obviously step into belief and faith here, but I personally don’t believe DN 16 and assume the Buddha’s body died just like most other bodies, either of old age or disease. But who knows…


#62

There have been a number of interesting discussions on the subject of the Buddha’s last meal and the illness that ended his life. Here’s a summary of one opinion that references another medical opinion that has been discussed.

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jjasas/2009/21/2009_21_133/_article