David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby yawares » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:52 pm

Dear Members,

The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra; Buddha on the Human Animal
[By Dr. David N. Snyder]


The Buddha was the first person in known history to recognize that humans are animals. The
Buddha stated that we are no different from animals in our ability and capacity to experience
emotions, pain, and suffering. The Buddha always presented his teachings and especially his
compassion for ―all sentient beings. He did not place a separation between humans and animals
and frequently commented on the positive qualities in animals, such as the independence of the
tiger or the courageousness of the lion (which we as humans should strive for). In the Buddhist
scriptures there are the following teachings which provide a direct connection to evolutionary
theory and the inter-connection of humans to animals, written nearly 2,500 years ago:


―Animals may live in water, on the earth, or in the sky. They originated in the ocean and later
moved from there to the land and sky. (Abhidharmakosa, which is the Mahayana version of the
Abhidhamma, quoted in Sadakata, 1997)


―After an evolving period in earth‘s formation, a time comes when the earth is fully covered with
water. Then, due to the heat effect of the sun a film forms on the surface of the water. An
asexual fluid animal is evolved when the elements needed for life are present, that is, heat,
moisture, air, etc. (Abeysekera, 2002)


Since the beginnings of civilization, humans have considered themselves separate from animals,
both biologically and spiritually. Today over 150 years after Charles Darwin published his
research in On the Origin of Species and in the later book, The Descent of Man, there is still a
huge controversy over the theory of evolution. Large religious groups have seen biological
evolution as a threat to their beliefs.


Brief history of humans

The following is a brief history of our human species which is based on a summary of the
introduction in my doctoral dissertation on the history of the treatment of animals: (Snyder,1989)

The species homo sapiens is a member of the animal kingdom, the class of mammals, the order
of primates, and the family of hominids. The first hominids or humans of five million years ago
lived a lifestyle not very different from other animals and other primates. The evidence we have
from the beginnings of human culture, such as cave paintings, illustrate the human species strong
interest in other animals from antiquity.


Today human culture is very complex, no longer living by nature‘s laws, but rather by man‘s
laws. Modern humans have separated themselves from nature and other animals and through
justifications such as intelligence, have proclaimed the human species to be the most superior
form of life. Today our world is so complex, living in high-rise buildings, flying airplanes from
one side of the planet to the other, that it is easy for us to forget where we came from. This is
exactly what has happened. We are really nothing more than a very intelligent animal, but when
we compare ourselves to other animals admittedly there appears to be a big difference. The
actual difference however, is solely intelligence.


Biological Evolution

Biological evolution has huge scientific support from the fossil records. Because it is a
controversial issue for some with dogmatic religious beliefs, debates have raised issues as to the
validity of the theory of evolution. In actuality, a theory that has such tremendous support
and physical evidence as is the case with biological evolution, is not even supposed to be
called ―theory‖ anymore, but rather, the ―law of biological evolution.‖ The voices of some
groups of people with dogmatic ideas are preventing the term to be correctly transferred from
―theory to ―law.


The full subject of biological evolution is too lengthy and holds too much evidence to be placed
in a book such as this. Therefore, I will just briefly touch on a few points.
The major driving force of biological evolution is natural selection. It is not that complicated, it
simply states that the gene pool of a species can make gradual changes as a species adapts to an
environment. For example, there are numerous species (nearly all) today that have different
kinds of defense mechanisms against their predators, be it the ability to change colors or some
other form of hiding. The species was not ―made‖ that way, but rather evolved to those
characteristics over millions of years. Members of the species which did not have those defense
mechanisms were more likely to be killed for food from their predators and thus, were not as
likely to pass on their genes.


The biggest misunderstanding that people have about biological evolution is that they expect to
see some sort of ―transitional‖ forms or they believe that evolutionary theory is that one species
becomes another. One species may gradually change over millions of years to produce another
species, but the old species still exists until some other later event leads them to extinction.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys are not on an evolutionary path to become human beings.
We as humans simply share common ancestors with other apes and much further in the past, to
all animals.


On the news we occasionally hear of a new ―hybrid‖ species or animal created by the interbreeding
of two animals of different species. For example, cats have been bred with dogs and
have created animals that are half-dog and half-cat. Recently a lion bred with a tiger and created
what is now called a ―liger.‖ Breeding across different species is rare and usually does not
produce a pregnancy or birth, but there have been cases of it happening. If evolution were not
true, this could not have been possible. These are examples of a ―new‖ species being created
right in front of us for the world to see.


Another issue is that of the ―missing link. Allegedly there is a missing link that has not been
found between other primates and humans. This simply is not true. It was created by people
who follow the creation theory to try and find fault with the principles of evolution. Scientists
have known for quite some time that a species that looked something like a tree shrew was the
common ancestor between monkeys, apes, and humans. The fossils of another ape like species,
known as ramapithecus, have been found to be a common ancestor between apes and humans.
What exactly is the definition of a transitional form? For most people, this means the
intermediate state between the physical form from one species to the next. People may not like
to hear this, but when you look into a mirror, you are looking at a transitional form. There is no
final, perfected state for any species, including humans. Everything is impermanent and always
changing. Our human gene pool is changing all the time. Assuming humans could still be
around one million years from now or more, our species would most likely look a little different.
Those humans of the future would look back on our fossils and call us the ―transitional form.‖
Currently there are over two million species of life on this planet. Most of the species on this
planet are insects or plants. This two million figure represents just one percent of all the species
that has ever lived. (Lewin, 1984) Therefore, 99% of all the species that have lived on Earth are
now extinct. Their fossil record remains, but there is no live specimen to view to see a
―transitional‖ form. If you really want to see a transitional form, just look in a mirror.


The Emotional and Intellectual Lives of Animals

Further evidence for our closeness to animals can be seen in the evidence we have for the
emotional and intellectual lives of animals.

For centuries humans believed that animals could not think or reason, but now scientific
evidence has shown that animals do think and reason. The difference is all just in the manner of
degree. Humans are clearly the most intelligent species on this planet, but other animals are
intelligent too, simply to a lesser degree.


Humans possess less than two percent overall genetic differences to chimpanzees, gorillas, and
other apes. (Lewin, 1984) Some chimpanzees and gorillas have been taught American Sign
Language and have been proven to be quite intelligent. Koko, for example, is a mountain gorilla
who lives at the Gorilla Foundation near San Francisco and has a sign language vocabulary of
approximately 1,000 words. She has taken I.Q. tests and has achieved scores as high as 70 to 90.
(Patterson, 1987-1989) This surpasses some mentally retarded humans.


Elephants, apes, wolves, and other animals have been seen on nature studies caring for
other animals in their community. These animals have been caught on film mourning the
loss of loved ones, crying, and displaying other emotions. Wounded animals have been cared for
by other animals in the family or community.


Like humans, animals are also capable of unethical behavior, besides the above-mentioned moral
behavior. Lions have been seen killing cheetah cubs. They have done this to prevent the
future competition for game-meat animals. The lions bite into the back of the baby cheetahs‘
necks and leave the bodies at the same place. There is no consumption of the cheetah flesh, the
killing is done simply to prevent the future competition for food. This is a deliberate, premeditated
murder in much the same way humans have killed each other over competition for
resources, such as money, land, etc.


Animals have also shown some amazing affection and ethical behavior for humans. Babies and
toddlers who have fallen into a gorilla habitat at zoos have been cared for and held by the gorillas
when the humans passed out from the fall. As one toddler awoke to see the gorilla holding him,
a loud shriek came out of the human and the gorilla immediately set the human child down to
allow zoo keepers to rescue him. (ABC News) In Ethiopia, a 12 year old girl was being
attacked by four men. A pride of lions came to her rescue and watched over the girl until the
police came. (BBC News, online edition, 6-22-2005)


************to be continued*************
yawares :anjali:
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:21 pm

I was dissapointed. From the title i thought the post might contain some commentary on the lanka, one of my favorite sutras.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby yawares » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:30 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I was dissapointed. From the title i thought the post might contain some commentary on the lanka, one of my favorite sutras.

Yawares: This topic is still going..going...please don't be disappointed :reading:
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby plwk » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:07 am

Theravāda for the modern world and the Lankavatara... what's the connection? Perhaps, the 'Open Dhamma' or 'Lounge' would be better?

I was dissapointed. From the title i thought the post might contain some commentary on the lanka, one of my favorite sutras.
On a Theravada Forum? :lol:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Hanzze » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:11 am

Image
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby plwk » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:48 am

Why hanzze...is it a Cambodian past time to watch burning houses or is it just you? :thinking:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby Hanzze » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:01 am

What makes you percept that the monkey is me? Does it seems that I am just watching? There are so many monkey stories, what about this? TIṆḌUKA-JĀTAKA

But maybe more useful in regard to your question and "Cambodian" ways:

If your house is flooded or burnt to the ground, whatever the threat to it, let it concern only the house. If there's a flood, don't let it flood your mind. If there's a fire, don't let it burn your heart. Let it be merely the house, that which is outside of you, that is flooded or burned. Now is the time to allow the mind to let go of attachments.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby yawares » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:33 pm

plwk wrote:Theravāda for the modern world and the Lankavatara... what's the connection? Perhaps, the 'Open Dhamma' or 'Lounge' would be better?

Yawares: It is David's decision :smile:

I was dissapointed. From the title i thought the post might contain some commentary on the lanka, one of my favorite sutras.
On a Theravada Forum?
:lol:

Yawares: This topic is still going going/Thank you for reading my post :thanks: ... :reading:
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Re: David's Book : The Eight Points in the Lankavatara Sutra

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:00 am

plwk wrote:On a Theravada Forum? :lol:



Ill take it where i can get it :)
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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