Social Action

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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:39 am

Ben wrote:It is not true that the Dhamma is "a teaching which ultimately no regard for the body"


Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.

"Spiritual reward" can only manifest in those who have a selfless motivation. If one is motivated to assist thinking they will get some benefit from it, then the motivation is based in greed and conceit.


They're not mutually exclusive.

Someone who has attained the Nibbana-element with residue

See my statement above regarding identifying those who are genuine arahants.

How about compassion, equanimity, sympathetic joy and loving kindness?


Okay, I will look into these. Does it get related in the suttas as a practice for practical action, or just a exercise to attain nibbana?
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Re: Social Action

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:01 am

contemplans wrote:
Ben wrote:It is not true that the Dhamma is "a teaching which ultimately no regard for the body"


Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.


Well, I disagree. Certainly the body is not-self, but so is the mind. The individual is namarupa (name/form; mentality/materiality, mind/body) not nama only. Body contemplations kayanupassana forms one of the four satipatthanas. There is no "I', soul, or personal essence that transmigrates one life to the next. The doctrine of rebirth is very subtle and very easy to misinterpret it as eternalism or annihilationism.

"Spiritual reward" can only manifest in those who have a selfless motivation. If one is motivated to assist thinking they will get some benefit from it, then the motivation is based in greed and conceit.


They're not mutually exclusive.

If you are talking about benefit to others than I agree. If, in fact, you are talking about 'spiritual reward', then it all depends on the motivation.
"Intention, I tell you, is kamma" (AN6.63)
Someone who has attained the Nibbana-element with residue

See my statement above regarding identifying those who are genuine arahants.

How about compassion, equanimity, sympathetic joy and loving kindness?


Okay, I will look into these. Does it get related in the suttas as a practice for practical action, or just a exercise to attain nibbana?[/quote][/quote]
See above to the example that Bodom provided.
Others will provide more, no doubt. Unfortunately time is not on my side at the moment.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Social Action

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:16 pm

contemplans wrote:Are there any well known cases of an arahant, or person people think are an arahant, who dedicated themselves to social action after their enlightenment? For instance, feeding the poor, establish a hospital, or other services to the needy?


contemplans,

I think you are seeing this from your Christian perspective. In Buddhism, there is no un-thinking worship of some deity in repetitive ritual for the sake of getting to heaven, where once there suffering will go away. According to Buddhism we can end suffering in the here and now. So an arahant will do more good to teach the Dhamma and lead people out of suffering than to get involved in feeding the homeless and other charitable acts.

According to Christian theology, you can just give the followers some rules, such as a catechism and let them say their repetitive prayers and then the founder of the religion or other Saint can focus on the charitable activities. But in Buddhism there is much work that can be done to end suffering in the here and now. Those charitable acts are very noble and clergy from Christianity and Buddhism do engage in them. But we live in a world of specialists and where the arahant or re-discoverer of the Dhamma can do the most good, is to teach the masses the Dhamma.

To use an analogy, let's say you like Barack Obama or another politician such as Gingrich or someone else. If they were president in the White House, would it do more good for them to do the work of a president, fixing the economy, restructuring health care, or other presidential activity or to go and feed the homeless 40 hours or more per week? Sure, they might do it on Thanksgiving to provide an example, but the day-in and day-out work, they are more effective doing the duties where they can do the most good.
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Re: Social Action

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:37 pm

contemplans wrote:It would be relevant in a sense, but that answer is pretty easy. I am more interested in someone who is free from clinging in a teaching which ultimately has no regard for the body, tending to the bodily needs of others in some way. This includes the fact that this person would not longer need to do it for any spiritual reward. Someone who has attained the Nibbana-element with residue left feels pleasure and pain, but I wonder what would propel him in his will to act if he wasn't "touched" by the sufferings of others in sympathy and/or empathy.

Hello, Contemplans,
You seem to want to frame your question in such a way that it is impossible for anyone to give you a positive answer to it (and you are certainly resisting positive answers and suggestions). I'm beginning to wonder whether you are conscious of doing so.

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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:46 am

David N. Snyder wrote:In Buddhism, there is no un-thinking worship of some deity in repetitive ritual for the sake of getting to heaven, where once there suffering will go away. According to Buddhism we can end suffering in the here and now. So an arahant will do more good to teach the Dhamma and lead people out of suffering than to get involved in feeding the homeless and other charitable acts.


I understand that that is the perspective. Christian would agree that the "spiritual works of mercy" are greater than the corporal ones. Buddhism, however, seems to have a history of which lack any great movement in this world of action. Trying to trace back and see which doctrines this stems from. It seems that it comes from the doctrine of rebirth. Interestingly, the one example given seems to support a view which is tantamount to soul, i.e., citta.

According to Christian theology, you can just give the followers some rules, such as a catechism and let them say their repetitive prayers and then the founder of the religion or other Saint can focus on the charitable activities.


And we can stereotype Buddhism too, right? Your vision of Christianity is distorted since we teach that we are saved by faith and good works. However, we don't seem to have corporal works of mercy as essentially outside of our path, whereas Buddhism seems to place it as something nice, but not necessarily part of the actual path.

But in Buddhism there is much work that can be done to end suffering in the here and now.


Christianity has a work, but different goals. We embrace suffering like Jesus did, because the goal of the path for Christians is perfect love. So going into the poor areas and feeding people is like being plunged into the 4th jhana.

To use an analogy, let's say you like Barack Obama or another politician such as Gingrich or someone else. If they were president in the White House, would it do more good for them to do the work of a president, fixing the economy, restructuring health care, or other presidential activity or to go and feed the homeless 40 hours or more per week? Sure, they might do it on Thanksgiving to provide an example, but the day-in and day-out work, they are more effective doing the duties where they can do the most good.


I understand, but by this analogy then Buddhists all want to be the president, while the people starve. People only hear the truth after the stomach is full.

Maybe it is jst an extreme of Western Buddhists, as the charity says in their description. Just trying to see if the attitude is rooted in the teachings of the Buddha, and if the whatever goes on inside an arahant is "touched" by the material sufferings of people. If arahants have been AWOL in this field, and Buddhism has really reached so few people in its history compared to the total people who have lived, I just wonder if this may be a factor.

Kim O'Hara wrote:You seem to want to frame your question in such a way that it is impossible for anyone to give you a positive answer to it (and you are certainly resisting positive answers and suggestions). I'm beginning to wonder whether you are conscious of doing so.


Well people can't answer because the arahant's inner state is ineffable according to Buddhists. Are they really anything like us? I think of qualities such as empathy and sympathy as involving suffering. That's because we identify with them. Back to the basis of love being the root, instead of freedom from suffering. Of course a Buddhist teacher may love his student, and that is his motive for teaching. Plunging the depths of the arahant's soul is no easy matter. And Buddhists don't help because it either is wrong view, ineffable, or against the monastic rules.
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Re: Social Action

Postby ground » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:16 am

contemplans wrote:Are there any well known cases of an arahant, or person people think are an arahant, who dedicated themselves to social action after their enlightenment? For instance, feeding the poor, establish a hospital, or other services to the needy?

Teaching the dhamma is feeding the poor and establishing a hospital for the suffering.

contemplans wrote:Also is there any presence in the Buddhist community in the pro-life movement?

To instruct why this life is precious and therefore should not be wasted with futile activity is "pro-life movement"

contemplans wrote:Are there any Buddhist silent meditation sit-in "protests" of the killing, or something like that?

Sitting in meditation is protest against afflictions, passion, hatred and ignorance.


Being a good example for others in these ways is what constitutes perfect social action.


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Re: Social Action

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:42 am

contemplans wrote:I understand, but by this analogy then Buddhists all want to be the president, while the people starve. People only hear the truth after the stomach is full.


Nah, arahants and re-discoverers of the Dhamma (samma-sam-buddhas) are rare beings, less than 0.000001% of all beings who have ever lived. Their task is to teach the Dhamma where they can do the most good. Others can and do engage in those other charitable activities.

contemplans wrote:If arahants have been AWOL in this field, and Buddhism has really reached so few people in its history compared to the total people who have lived, I just wonder if this may be a factor.


Reached so few people? According to who? You? That is a rather bold statement with no basis or support.

contemplans wrote:Your vision of Christianity is distorted since we teach that we are saved by faith and good works.


Thank you for admitting that you are a Christian. It has already been evident in your posts up to now and with your zealotry and attempts to proselytize. Now that your attempts to show "proof" for a God's existence have failed and your attempts to proselytize have not materialized, what do you do now? Do you return to posting on Christian forums or do you want to ask some serious questions here about Buddha-Dhamma, meditation, or some other subject?
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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:16 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
contemplans wrote:If arahants have been AWOL in this field, and Buddhism has really reached so few people in its history compared to the total people who have lived, I just wonder if this may be a factor.


Reached so few people? According to who? You? That is a rather bold statement with no basis or support.


I don't mean that as a put-down, but just a fact. Buddhism represents about 6% of the world population right now, and really it hasn't spread much from its original territories for the last 1500 years or so, so I was just observing what seemed to be a pretty solid piece of data.

Thank you for admitting that you are a Christian. It has already been evident in your posts up to now and with your zealotry and attempts to proselytize. Now that your attempts to show "proof" for a God's existence have failed and your attempts to proselytize have not materialized, what do you do now? Do you return to posting on Christian forums or do you want to ask some serious questions here about Buddha-Dhamma, meditation, or some other subject?


Maybe you were misunderstanding me. I never have been hiding that I am a Christian. And all I am doing is challenging Buddhism with my questions which are genuine. I am mainly interested in a deeper understanding of the Buddha's teachings, especially in those points which seem most counter intuitive to me, or I am trying to relate to my experience, and in relation to explanation that just seemed to answer the questions better. And I consider my question to be serious, and I am not the only one. It doesn't go a day or two for me that I don't see some Buddhist asking the same questions. Inquiring minds want to know. And Buddhists themselves have had problems with these perennial questions. I am just finishing up Thanissaro Bhikkhu's retreat on anatta, and the thing is laden with question all people ask about the self. He does a very good job with the material, but the Buddhist history itself has shown that most people find the doctrine hard to handle. And that is where I am also trying to relate the Buddhists teachings on some things to Catholic teachings, especially relating to the via negativa meditation tradition in Catholicism, which would tend to side with the ideas that anything outside of our mundane experience is beyond definition, i.e., question better set aside (although God and unique self are taken for granted). And lastly I have an interest of understanding the jhanas in comparison to Catholic meditation, such as the dark night of the soul, and other mystical teachings by St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila. I am sorry if these things don't interest you. Feel free to come by Fish Eaters if you want to grill us on our teachings. But I think I am being fair, and my interest is genuine. But I don't abide by some weird don't ask don't tell policy when I am on a religious discussion board. We're all grown-ups, right? Peace!
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Re: Social Action

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:00 am

contemplans wrote:... I am also trying to relate the Buddhists teachings on some things to Catholic teachings, especially relating to the via negativa meditation tradition in Catholicism, which would tend to side with the ideas that anything outside of our mundane experience is beyond definition, i.e., question better set aside (although God and unique self are taken for granted). And lastly I have an interest of understanding the jhanas in comparison to Catholic meditation, such as the dark night of the soul, and other mystical teachings by St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila.

I'm sure you will find plenty of fruitful discussion on these areas, Contemplans, and I hope you stay around to learn what our tradition has to offer. But that is not the topic of this thread, and I still think your OP was framed in such a way that it would be difficult to answer positively, and your rejection of our suggestions always tended to narrow it further, not let it run in more natural directions. If you want to learn (anything, anywhere), you need to be flexible enough to accept new information and adapt your questions accordingly.

:namaste:
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:45 pm

contemplans wrote:
danieLion wrote:Why is it important to you that they're an arahant?


Mostly to discern whether there is a trend throughout history in Buddhism of someone who achieved enlightenment tending to the material welfare of his fellow man, i.e., corporal works of mercy. Trying to analyze that state in which they are in, because if it is before enlightenment they may be swayed by "lower passions" / clinging. When the rubber meets the road, do any of them contribute to the material welfare of man either directly, or indirectly by the encouragedment of spiritual sponsorship?

You don't have to be an arahant (or even a stream enterer) to do "good" works as a Buddhist. In fact, some traditions teach generosity first.
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:51 pm

contemplans wrote:And lastly I have an interest of understanding the jhanas in comparison to Catholic meditation, such as the dark night of the soul, and other mystical teachings by St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila.

I've a soft spot for Catholic mystics myself, and one could argue that Ingatius' Spiritual Exercises, e.g., induce jhana, but Buddhist meditation has absolutely nothing to do with attempting union with God--the aim of Christian mystical practices.
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:57 pm

contemplans wrote:
danieLion wrote:Why is it important to you that they're an arahant?
...material welfare...

I'd suggest you orient (or re-orient) yourself to how Buddhists in general understand "matter" and "welfare." You'll get nowhere in your understanding if you continue to judge Buddhists with non-Buddhist standards.
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:01 pm

contemplans wrote:However, we don't seem to have corporal works of mercy as essentially outside of our path, whereas Buddhism seems to place it as something nice, but not necessarily part of the actual path.


Not true.

See also.

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=10924

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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:04 pm

contemplans wrote:
Ben wrote:It is not true that the Dhamma is "a teaching which ultimately no regard for the body"


Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.

Contemplans.
Avail yourself of a copy of Sue Hamiltion's Identity & Experience and read the chapter titled "The Attitude Towards the Body." You've completely missed the mark.
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Re: Social Action

Postby contemplans » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:46 am

danieLion wrote:Contemplans.
Avail yourself of a copy of Sue Hamiltion's Identity & Experience and read the chapter titled "The Attitude Towards the Body." You've completely missed the mark.
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I'll check it out. Thanks!
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Re: Social Action

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:18 am

danieLion wrote:
contemplans wrote:
Ben wrote:It is not true that the Dhamma is "a teaching which ultimately no regard for the body"


Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.

Contemplans.
Avail yourself of a copy of Sue Hamiltion's Identity & Experience and read the chapter titled "The Attitude Towards the Body." You've completely missed the mark.
D :heart:


According to who? You?
What is clear on this thread is that it is you that has and is consistently missing the mark
Thanks for the reference. I'll look at it if and when time permits.
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Re: Social Action

Postby sattva » Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:16 am

For those participating in this discussion, ---cool the mind, soften the heart.... :anjali:
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Re: Social Action

Postby santa100 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:58 am

Also if we don't get too carried away with the jargons specific to one's religion, then we'll find in a lot the cases, it's just a matter of sematics. We all agree on a higher plane of truth that is beyond words and description, and it could only be witnessed through personal effort and experience. Some will call it God, others call it Nibbana. As long as we leave enough moving room for the vocabulary, there would be more common ground instead of stark constrast. Who cares if we call a person who spent all their life in a foreign country taking care of the lepers as someone who is serving God or someone who is practicing a boddhisatta's paramis..
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Re: Social Action

Postby danieLion » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:24 am

Ben wrote:It is not true that the Dhamma is "a teaching which ultimately no regard for the body"


contemplans wrote:Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.

Daniel wrote:Contemplans.
Avail yourself of a copy of Sue Hamiltion's Identity & Experience and read the chapter titled "The Attitude Towards the Body." You've completely missed the mark.
D :heart:

Ben wrote:According to who? You?
What is clear on this thread is that it is you that has and is consistently missing the mark
Thanks for the reference. I'll look at it if and when time permits.

Okay Ben. I'll take it under advisement, as I respect your judgment. I didn't intend to raise your ire and apologize for causing you stress.
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Re: Social Action

Postby manas » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:29 am

contemplans wrote:Yes, it is. It says plainly stated that the body is not-self. And in every life we have different bodies, not to mention different types of bodies relating to other types of beings (animals, etc.), or no bodies at all! So the body is utterly superfluous ultimately in the Buddhist vision of life. They may call it a tool, but it's like borrowed good.


Contemplans, according the the suttas, none of the five khandhas are self - not form, feeling, perception, formations or consciousness! Why single out the body alone?

But just because it is not self, doesn't mean we shouldn't treat it with care, love and respect. Yes, the body is not our possession; it belongs to Nature and will return there. But shouldn't we treat Nature with respect?

with metta.
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