Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:54 am

I drew a couple of pictures to show how I used to think about this, and how I now think about this. [1]
See how this weighs up with your own understanding.

The first image shows a vertical 'hierarchical' interpretation of this whole cosmology business.
Image

Key:
- Red = Unpleasantness
- Blue = Pleasantness
- Green = The path to Nibbana

This is how us humans often interprete things in terms of a vertical structure.

An important thing to note is that Woman are placed lower than men on the scale. In terms of intrinsic suffering, I believe this is the case. You suffer less (albeit not much less) as a man. You suffer a little bit more as a woman. To put it simply, it's harder to be a woman than it is to be a man

It does not make one better than the other though, as you will see in the next picture.

This is how I like to see things now:

It's a horizontal structure, which shows that no being is actually better or worse than one another. One is simply differentiated by one's kamma-vipaka.

Image

Key:
- Red = Unpleasant
- Blue = Pleasant
- Green = Path to Nibbana
- Whole blue/red scale = Samsara
- Yellow circle = Nibbana

So we see from this second picture, that in fact no being better than one another. Beings are simply differentiated by their Kamma. You do bad deeds, expect to end up down the red end. You do good deeds, expect to end up down the blue end.

As soon as we start thinking in terms of:

"Oh I am better than a dog, it's much better to be a human than a dog, therefore humans are better than dogs."

We're conceited.

I - Blackbird, am no better than a dog.

I may have more fortunate circumstances, I may be closer to the blue end, but I'm not higher up than a dog, because there is no height to begin with.
Hierarchy serves a purpose in conventional reality, but as far as ultimate reality goes, it's not a factor - In my opinion.

To answer the question of "Well what about the Sangha, where to they fit in?"
Exactly where you and I fit in.
Those worthy of veneration are not worthy based upon how blue or red they are, but because of how far along that green path they have progressed.

I'll finish with a quote

Ven. Narada Mahathera wrote:"It was the Buddha who, for the first time in the known history of mankind, attempted to abolish slavery and "invented the higher morality and the idea of the brotherhood of the entire human race and in striking terms condemned" the degrading caste-system which was firmly rooted in Indian society at that time. The Buddha declared:

"By birth is not one an outcast
By birth is not one a brahmin
By deeds is one an outcast,
By deeds is one a brahmin"
- Sutta Nipata - Vasala Sutta

Vasettha Sutta relate that two young brahmins had a discussion with regards to what constitutes a brahmin. One maintained that birth made a brahmin, while the other contended that conduct made a brahmin. As neither could convince the other both of them agreed to refer the matter to the Buddha.

So they approached the Buddha and presented their case before Him.

The Buddha at first reminded the questioners that although in the case of plants, insects, quadrupeds, serpents, fishes and birds there are many species and marks by which they could be distinguished, yet in the case of men there are no such species and marks. Then He explained how men differentiated themselves according to their various occupations. In conclusion the Buddha commented:

"Birth makes no brahmin, nor non-brahmin makes;
'Tis life and doing that mould the brahmin true.
Their lives mould farmers, tradesmen, merchants [and] serfs;
Their lives mould robbers, soldiers, chaplains [and] kings."

- Narada, The Buddha and His teachings - Characteristics of Buddhism. Buddhism and Caste - Pages 308, 309.

Sorry about the silly-citation style, for those citationally inclined.

[1] This post was originally a response to this thread, however I feel it's application is a bit wider, so I have elected to post this here instead.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
User avatar
BlackBird
 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

Postby Pannapetar » Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:29 am

Hello BlackBird,

Nice map. :smile:

BlackBird wrote:An important thing to note is that Woman are placed lower than men on the scale. In terms of intrinsic suffering, I believe this is the case. You suffer less (albeit not much less) as a man.


Given the devastating effects of testosterone excess and the comparison of female vs. male mortality, that hypothesis may need rethinking.

Cheers, Thomas
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:07 pm

Hi Blackbird

It took me a while, but here is something i posted nearly two years ago, somewhere else...

I read the following notes to Abhidhammatthasangaha and thought I would share with you.

The compendium of process-freed consciousness opens with a survey of the topograpgy of the phenomenal world, charting the planes of existence and the various realms within each plane. The author (Acariya Anuruddha) undertakes this survey before examining the types of process-freed consciousness because the external universe, according to the Abhidhamma, is an outer reflection of the internal cosmos of mind, registering in concrete manifest form the subtle gradations in states of consciousness. This does not mean that the Abhidhamma reduces the outer world to a dimension of mind in the manner of philosophical idealism. The outer world is quite real and possesses objective existence. However, the outer world is always a world apprehended by consciousness, and the type of consciousness determines the nature of the world that appears. Consciousness and the world are mutually dependent and inextricably connected to such an extent that the hierarchical structure of the realms of existence exactly reproduces and corresponds to the hierarchical structure of consciousness.

-- Vithimuttasangaha, Bhikkhu Bodhi, 2000, Abhidhammatthasangaha: A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma, Pariyatti



Kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16145
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:45 pm

Pannapetar wrote:Given the devastating effects of testosterone excess and the comparison of female vs. male mortality, that hypothesis may need rethinking.


True, and the fact that 90% of all inmates in prison are male. There is suffering for both males and females. And there is the chance for liberation for both male and female. There are expectations placed on males and on females too. In general, through history women have been discriminated against, but these walls and barriers have been coming down in recent decades.

When the graph is put horizontally, it is much better, but I still wouldn't place women lower. When it is put horizontally it sort of shows that humans have the shorter path to enlightenment than some of the other realms. This is true because there is the correct mix of pleasure and pain. In the planes of existence, numbers 28-31 are the formless realms, but not necessarily desirable, "Beings" there cannot hear the Dhamma and live extremely long lives, thereby delaying for a long time the chance at liberation.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8113
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Fry your brain - Cosmology - Hierarchical?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:12 am

Thank you for the post Ben, that was very good reading.

The Dhamma, Pannapeter:
I think the question of whether Women suffer proportionately greater on average than men is fairly well a moot point. As there is little empirical evidence to suggest that either Women suffer more, or men suffer more, it would probably be better to just merge the two genders in the diagrams into "human."

Personally I still feel that Women suffer more on average than men, due to:
- Desire for children
- Pregnancy
- Dependence
- The fact that women aren’t equal in anywhere but the Western nations. Please remember that Western nations only make up about 20% of the world's population, at a generous estimate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population)

Again, being conservative with my figures, it would be fair to say that 3/5 women aren't equal in terms of rights, pay parity, and freedom - compared with their male counterparts.

From a 'Noble Truth of suffering perspective' this doesn't necessarily mean that Women suffer more. But from a conventional point of view, it does. Let's also remember what the Buddha had to say about the happiness of a layperson (I'll hunt out a source when I get home.)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
User avatar
BlackBird
 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: kiwi and 7 guests