Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

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Viriya
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Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Viriya » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:59 am

We hear a lot about interactions between humans and devas and humans and ghosts...especially in the Thai Forest tradition. Even in the wider Australian community, I often hear stories about experiences with ghosts, angels etc (of varying degrees of credibility). I have also heard of many encounters with spirits (devata? gandhabba?) from Aboriginal people in North Queensland.

So, why the apparent lack of human contact with asuras? Is it because of their lack of cultivation (i.e, not being as mobile as some of the other deva?) [Vepacitta, any ideas?]

Also, does the Western classification of 'ghost' correspond to the petaloka?
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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby 5heaps » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:16 am

theres some talk about it maybe having to do with electricity, especially for ghost realm beings. in general though titans and so on supposedly hate the stink of the part of the desire realm where humans tend to reside (because of their residing there). higher realm beings are in general virtuous objects so its not correct to think that meeting them is a matter of just bumping into them some place.
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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Sep 18, 2010 3:54 am

As the resident Asura here on Dhamma wheel - I will say that there is some evidence of human/Asura contact in that there are suttas where Asura do encounter the Tathagata - who was human - although some people will start shouting suttas at me where the Tathagata doesn't classify himself as 'human' per se - but he was - however - he had no 'stink of desire'.

As to titans generally - and it's interesting - there are certain parallels between the asura and the titans of the Greco/Roman milieu - and even the Nephilim spoken of in the Bible. These titans were actually helpful to humans (remember Prometheus - and look what the gods did to him). Although, I haven't (yet ) read any indications of the Asura having day to contact with humans in the vedic stories. But I certainly haven't read everything ...

I will now have to do some digging (and see if I can get some information out of my teacher about this as well.)

However, dredging up from memory - the Asuras were the older devas - the older gods - and some were worshiped by people - in fact there are some devas who - if you dig enough - used to be Asuras. They were just changed later on as the Indo-Ariyan tribes came in into devas - and I can't remember which ones - but I definately recall reading that. Those Asura must have had contact with humans as they were seen as friendly to humans.

On a personal - purely intuitive note - I think that most Asura are indifferent to humans - some are helpful - some are malevolent - there are not all of a piece (and one can say the same of the Devas as well).

O and as to mobility - the Asura are just as mobile as the Deva - "just as a strong man might unbend his flexed arm or flex his unbent arm, so the Asura Vepacitta (or Rahu, etc) went from the City of the Asuras to [whatever grove] in which the Tathagata was abiding ...

You also see the Asura chasing the Devas through the air - and vice versa -

they're pretty darn mobile those Asura - they also read minds and do other things the Devas can do - they are described in one of the suttas as "masters of magic" and their magical abilities and powers are attested to in sprinklings throughout the suttas (as well as the old stories pre-dating the suttas).

Can we get an Asura smiley?

Your friendly neighbourhood Asura,

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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:05 am

May wish to recall that in Indian Buddhism, the category of "asuras" was a disputed topic, as to whether or not they constituted a distinct "type" of existence or not, ie. 5 types or 6.

Note, too, the name "asura" is the opposite of "sura", which is a synonym for deva in many cases. In other words, some would consider them the same type, just of rather different personal disposition.
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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:12 am

Yes, there is some dispute - and sometimes people mix them up with hell beings which they most assuredly are not,

Let's just say that Asuras tend to be a bit testy, and don't take any bs.

In the SN you have Sakkha praising that anyone who is insulted or treated badly should, in effect, turn the other cheek - have patience - forbear.

The Asuras response (in one sutta it's Vepaccitti - in another - it's the same verse but spoken by another - the answer is - (this is the gist of it) if you do that - they will think you are afraid and take advantage - you have to squash that right away.

The sense I take from this - is not that the Asura want it to be that way - hell - it' d be great if you could turn the other cheek - but people can be real arsewipes - and will take advantage - and so - unfortunately - you have to nip that crap in the bud - but then - that's how I see things ... I don't start 'em - but I damn well finish them.

Just my two cents from Mt. Meru (and boy would Ven. Ananda tsk tsk me - my favourite disciple - and I'm nothing like him - irony),

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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Aloka » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:25 am

Viriya wrote:We hear a lot about interactions between humans and devas and humans and ghosts...especially in the Thai Forest tradition.


Could you give me some examples of this from teachers in the Forest Tradition, please?


Thanks,

Aloka

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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:39 pm

You can read a biography of Ajahn Mun by Ajahn Maha Boowa here:
http://www.forestdhammabooks.com/index.php?page=Books

Chapter 6, P330:
In summary, Ãcariya Mun stayed continuously in the area around
Ban Huay Kaen, Ban Na Sinuan, Ban Khok, and Ban Na Mon in the
Tong Khop district of Sakon Nakhon province for three successive years,
including three rainy season retreats. As usual he taught the nonphysical
beings who contacted him, though fewer devas came in Sakon Nakhon
and their visits were far less frequent than those of devas in Chiang
Mai. It was probably because the region was less remote, and thus less
secluded. They tended to come only on religious festival days, such as
Mãgha Pýjã, Visãkha Pýjã and the observance days at the beginning,
the middle, and the end of the rains retreat. Other than that, relatively
few devas came to visit him.

Mike

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Re: Anecdotal Evidence of Asuras & Assorted Cosmology

Postby Viriya » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:24 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:May wish to recall that in Indian Buddhism, the category of "asuras" was a disputed topic, as to whether or not they constituted a distinct "type" of existence or not, ie. 5 types or 6.

Note, too, the name "asura" is the opposite of "sura", which is a synonym for deva in many cases. In other words, some would consider them the same type, just of rather different personal disposition.


I'm really interested about this now. Who was doing the disputing and when and where? Do you think asuras should rightly get a category to themselves?

Anyone got any sutta references to human/asura interaction?

Thankyou very much everyone for your very informative responses. ^^
I'm not very good at right speech, although I try, so please guide and correct me if necessary so I don't make bad kamma for myself and cause others to be annoyed. (=


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