What if everyone were Buddhist?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:11 pm

Paul, for 3 it would still be wrong livelihood to hunt and fish.... :thinking:
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:24 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:How might Buddhism be introduced to, say, Greenland?

Hope this isn't a frivolous question -- I was mulling it over the weekend. Life in Greenland is practically dependent on hunting and fishing. Abstaining from these activities would entail starvation. As a Greenlandic Buddhist, what would you recommend to your family/clan/people?

-- Move out of Greenland to some other environment? (This could entail conflict with other communities)
-- Import food from elsewhere while developing more wholesome local industries, perhaps artisan in nature, for trade with the rest of the world? (This is feasible in a globalized economy, but globalization presents its own perils)
-- Concentrate on developing the monastic sangha and a strong monastic/lay relationship...Laypeople would not be expected to give up their livelihood but at least they could build merit, and by supporting the sangha materially, they create the possibility for earnest practitioners to follow the path...?
-- Pure Land? :bow:

The third choice seems like the most realistic to me. What do you think?



The problem of this whole topic is it's speculative nature.

Our human karma is such, that some of us have more and some less favorable rebirths.

I consider the rebirth into a Buddhist family, serious Buddhists, a favorable rebirth. You're simply not confronted with circumstances as in Greenland.

I don't know, did the Buddha predict humankind would evolve to a "Golden Age", or Arcadia?
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby meindzai » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:31 am

PaulD wrote:where did these vinaya rules come from then if they weren't necessary? Didn't the Buddha put these rules down for the monks?


I didn't say they weren't necessary. I said they weren't necessary until the sangha grew.

-M
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby PaulD » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:31 pm

meindzai wrote:
PaulD wrote:where did these vinaya rules come from then if they weren't necessary? Didn't the Buddha put these rules down for the monks?


I didn't say they weren't necessary. I said they weren't necessary until the sangha grew.

-M


why weren't they necessary though before the sangha grew?
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby PaulD » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:38 pm

Annabel wrote:Paul, for 3 it would still be wrong livelihood to hunt and fish.... :thinking:


True but one who is a practicing Pure Land Buddhist won't be stopped form attaining birth in Pure Land. That's why in Japan this was very popular with fisherman and people in other wrong livelihoods.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:55 pm

I don't know much about Pure land, but I have a hard time with this notion. A link or quote, please?

Where are we with Buddhism anyhow, if we have all sorts of schools, and they contradict each other?

We have to agree on some basic stuff and the first precept seems crucial to me... :thinking:
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby PaulD » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:08 pm

Annabel wrote:I don't know much about Pure land, but I have a hard time with this notion. A link or quote, please?

Where are we with Buddhism anyhow, if we have all sorts of schools, and they contradict each other?

We have to agree on some basic stuff and the first precept seems crucial to me... :thinking:


In the larger Pure Land sutra, Buddha tells the story of Amitābha: many eons ago, as a monk, he learned from the 81st Buddha about the glories of innumerable Buddha Lands, whereupon he vowed to create his own Buddha Land (which he is now doing), making it 81 times more excellent than all the others and drawing into it all creatures who invoked his name. According to this sutra, in addition to calling upon Amitābha, one needs to accumulate merit and concentrate on Enlightenment. In the later, smaller Pure Land sutra, however, the Blessed Land is not a reward for good works but is accessible to anyone who invokes Amitābha at the hour of death.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... d-Buddhism

First precept is in all schools. What contradictions are you talking about? People are born in in Pure Land because Bodhisattvas have infinite compassion even for people who have done wrong livelihoods. The only requirement is that they have sincere faith.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:26 pm

Hi Paul,
PaulD wrote:why weren't they necessary though before the sangha grew?

I'm not expert on the Vinaya. There is a lot of detail here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/index.html

The simplistic answer is that as the Sangha grew, and not everyone was being personally instructed by the Buddha, he realised that some things that should have been obvious (such as that Bhikkhus should not have sex) were being misunderstood, so rules were put in place.

Metta
Mike
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby PaulD » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:40 pm

Thanks
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:12 pm

Annabel wrote:I don't know much about Pure land, but I have a hard time with this notion. A link or quote, please?

Where are we with Buddhism anyhow, if we have all sorts of schools, and they contradict each other?

We have to agree on some basic stuff and the first precept seems crucial to me... :thinking:


I don't think there's disagreement about the precepts, but in Mahayana there seems to be greater emphasis on the universality of the Buddha, the dharma rain (or, in Greenland's case, dharma ice?) touching everyone.

The Buddha is said to fill all time and space, inhabiting the entire cosmos. He has an infinite number of teachings and can speak to all beings according to their conditions and capacities. I'm studying the Flower Ornament sutra at the moment and this theme is repeated practically every other sentence. It clearly trumps all other considerations.

If people living in a hunting/fishing subsistence culture could not hear and practice the dharma, then this basic Mahayana principle wouldn't hold. The Buddha could not speak to the Inuit and if he did, they would be unable to hear him.

I guess the Pure Land movements took the idea of a universal Buddha and simplified things a little by giving it the name Amitabha. In any case, it's said that Pure Land (especially Shin Buddhism) is practiced not only by hunters and fishermen, as Paul pointed out, but also prostitutes and criminals...the dregs of society. Probably they are aware of the precepts, but their approach to them is conditioned by circumstances. They just do the best they can.

Maybe there is some basis for this Mahayana approach within the Theravada? Bhikkhu Bodhi writes somewhere that the Buddha is the "dhamma king", i.e., he has teachings for all.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Waterearth » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:22 am

If Buddhism is the truth about reality then everyone is already Buddhist!
When the mind only minds the mind,
reality stands alone and shines,
this is wisdom in action,
its expression is compassion...
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby meindzai » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:39 pm

PaulD wrote:
meindzai wrote:
PaulD wrote:where did these vinaya rules come from then if they weren't necessary? Didn't the Buddha put these rules down for the monks?


I didn't say they weren't necessary. I said they weren't necessary until the sangha grew.

-M


why weren't they necessary though before the sangha grew?


In the early years of the Buddha's career, the texts tell us, there was no need to formulate monastic disciplinary rules. All of the bhikkhus in his following — the Community of bhikkhunīs had not yet been started — were men of high personal attainments who had succeeded in subduing many or all of their mental defilements. They knew his teachings well and behaved accordingly. The Canon tells of how Ven. Sāriputta, one of the Buddha's foremost disciples, asked the Buddha at an early date to formulate a Pāṭimokkha, or code of rules, to ensure that the celibate life the Buddha had founded would last long, just as a thread holding together a floral arrangement ensures that the flowers are not scattered by the wind. The Buddha replied that the time for such a code had not yet come, for even the most backward of the men in the Community at that time had already had their first glimpse of the goal. Only when mental effluents (āsava) made themselves felt in the Community would there be a need for a Pāṭimokkha.

As time passed, the conditions that provided an opening for the effluents within the Community eventually began to appear. The Bhaddāli Sutta (MN 65) presents the Buddha at a later point in his career listing these conditions as five:

Ven. Bhaddāli: "Why is it, venerable sir, that there used to be fewer training rules and more bhikkhus established in the knowledge of Awakening? And why is it that there are now more training rules and fewer bhikkhus established in the knowledge of Awakening?" [Bhaddāli, who has been unwilling to abide by the training rules, seems to be suggesting that the rise in the number of training rules is itself the cause for fewer bhikkhus' attaining Awakening. The Buddha, however, offers a different explanation.]

The Buddha: "So it is, Bhaddāli. When beings have begun to degenerate and the true Dhamma has begun to disappear, there are more training rules and fewer bhikkhus established in the knowledge of Awakening. The Teacher does not lay down a training rule for his disciples as long as there are no cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the effluents have arisen in the Community. But when there are cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the effluents have arisen in the Community, then the Teacher lays down a training rule for his disciples so as to counteract those very conditions.

"There are no cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the effluents have arisen in the Community as long as the Community has not become large. But when the Community has become large, then there are cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the effluents arise in the Community, and the Teacher then lays down a training rule for his disciples so as to counteract those very conditions... When the Community possesses great material gains... great status... a large body of learning... When the Community is long-standing, then there are cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the effluents arise in the Community, and the Teacher then lays down a training rule for his disciples so as to counteract those very conditions."

Thus the rules themselves were not the cause for degeneracy in the Community, and the conditions that provided a foothold for the effluents were not themselves effluents. Rather, the growing complexity of the Community provided the opportunity for bhikkhus to act on the basis of their defilements in a growing variety of ways, and the rules — although they could not prevent any of the five conditions — had to become correspondingly complex to counteract the opportunities those conditions provided for unenlightened behavior.
Thanissaro Bhikku - The Buddhist Monastic Code - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc1/bmc1.intro.html#intro1

Now - this was still in the time of the Buddha. So you can imagine how much worse the conditions are now, and how much more so as the Sangha grows into the millions.

-M
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby chownah » Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:15 pm

So.....would there be alot more malaria because no one would kill mosquitos?
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby cooran » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:26 pm

No. They'd know the type of mosquitos which infect humans with malaria, and they'd take skilful action in remaining indoors at dawn and dusk and use strong repellents for those parts of the body not covered by clothes. You know .... like we do now.

metta
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby shjohnk » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:03 am

Annabel wrote:I don't know much about Pure land, but I have a hard time with this notion. A link or quote, please?

Where are we with Buddhism anyhow, if we have all sorts of schools, and they contradict each other?

We have to agree on some basic stuff and the first precept seems crucial to me... :thinking:


My wife is a 'Pure Land' Buddhist. They DON'T condone killing, in fact all pure land monastics are strict vegetarians and so are many lay-people. They take the sanctity of life extremely seriously. According to 'pure land' teaching, anyone who makes a SINCERE vow to be reborn in Buddha Amitabha's pure land will achieve this, but to achieve the necessary state of mind to make such a sincere vow cultivation of Sila and wisdom is very important.

I have listened to a lot of 'Pure Land' talks that my wife has downloaded and believe me their dharma teachers know their 'basic' Buddhism. including the 4NT, eightfold path etc. There is not as much difference between traditions as many people seem to make out. They are just different paths leading to the same goal.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby chownah » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:24 pm

Chris wrote, "No. They'd know the type of mosquitos which infect humans with malaria, and they'd take skilful action in remaining indoors at dawn and dusk and use strong repellents for those parts of the body not covered by clothes. You know .... like we do now.

Chris,
Unfortunately we don't do these things now and that's why a huge (a million?) people a year die from malaria. I don't think that being Buddhist makes one smarter...or are you coming from a place where everyone is an arahant?....this thread is sort of poorly defined now as to what is being discussed.......originally it was what if everyone was Buddhist of one sort or another....but that can already be seen by looking at contemporary Thailand where for all practical purposes everyone is already a Buddhist of one sort or another...as I described in a previous post. So, what are these people you envision who will populate the planet and who will be so wise and so skillful as to avoid malaria?.....Buddhists of any sort (like the ones in Thailand who do get malaria) or is it those who earnestly try to follow the five lay precepts (like many/most of the Buddhists in Thailand who do get malaria) or is it stream entrants (are they going to be wise enough to eradicate behavior with planet wide behavior changes) or is it those even more advanced (like arahants I guess)?
chownah

All,
If we were all Buddhists then if someone were unlucky enough to get an intestinal parasite then it would be a life long commitment I guess because the only way we have now to get rid of them violates the precept on killing I guess.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:38 pm

chownah wrote:If we were all Buddhists then if someone were unlucky enough to get an intestinal parasite then it would be a life long commitment I guess because the only way we have now to get rid of them violates the precept on killing I guess.
chownah


The OP was clarified to mean Buddhists who practice and keep the 5 precepts.

Medicine is allowed, so I don't think taking some anti-biotics or other medicine, even if it means killing the parasite, is any violation.
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby Laurens » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:25 pm

Interesting question. I am guessing you meant a world in which everyone would be practicing well and following the teachings closely rather than a world where everyone identified themselves as being Buddhist (because the two would be very different).

If everyone was practicing Buddhism then its easy to think that it would be some kind of paradise, but I don't think it would be, for one whether or not everyone is a Buddhist there would still be dukkha and also in our practice it is often the irritating un-Buddhist people that help to teach us patience, kindness and compassion.

In a completely Buddhist world we would be free from a lot of the challenges that life throws at us on a daily basis, and although this might be good in many respects, its often these challenges and obstacles that teach us the most dhamma.

Its certainly the case with me that in order to truely learn something I have to have the lesson firmly hit home by some kind of challenge or obstacle.

Remember that the Buddha said a human birth is the most conductive to attaining liberation because it has the right balance of suffering and happiness. I think maybe an entirely Buddhist world would tip that balance too far and make it harder to practice.

Best wishes,
Laurens
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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby chownah » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:28 pm

I don't know if killing parasites using medicine (or any other means for that matter) would be allowed in this world of everyone keeping the five precepts....I"m assuming that "keeping" them means completely and unerringly following them.....are we to assume that there will be no children in this world...or will the children keep the five precepts from birth and through adolescence too? Children using only right speech....hard to imagine.

Also, I guess there would be no use of agricultural pestsicides....I'm all for that since I'm an organic farmer!!!! One question though....would artificial fertilizers be allowed?.....they do kill alot of soil organisms but then using a chemical fertilizer is not done with the intent of killing anything; the intention being to enhance the growth of crops.

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Re: What if everyone were Buddhist?

Postby poto » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:29 pm

I don't think much would change if everyone was Buddhist. Even if they all followed the 5 precepts, some people would still do wrong things and break the precepts without realizing it. Others would be caught up in their own delusions and believe they were doing right when they were really doing wrong. History has many examples of this. Many people have done terrible things in the name of doing what they thought was good.

Now, if everyone was a Sotapanna or Arahant, then I think the world would be much a much better place.
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