Agganna Sutta

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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:01 pm

yuttadhammo wrote:If we don't take this story as literal, we will have to come up with some other explanation as to where we all were before the earth became liveable... unless we're going to deny the core Theravada doctrine of rebirth.

There's an argument for you, Tilt.
Damdifino, but there is no reason to take that creation story as literal any more than Christians need to take the Flood story from the Old Testament as being literal to make a point. And certainly it is not a basis for criticizing science.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby yuttadhammo » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:11 pm

And as to the OP, it really depends what you mean by metaphysics... devas and brahmas are just as much a part of the causal universe as are we, they are just less physical.

It is important to distinguish between Abrahamic conceptions of God and creation and their corresponding Indic conceptions. The former are outside of the laws of nature, the latter are within them. This story is not discussing the creation of the universe, just the recent past. Nor is it discussing eternal supernatural beings, it is pointing out that no such beings exist.

Really, I think the point of the story is to show that we are on a downward slope based on our ever increasing attachment and clinging to the physical. This is very much in line with the Buddha's teaching that craving is the cause of suffering. If it is not true, how could it work as evidence to support the teaching?
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby yuttadhammo » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:14 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Damdifino, but there is no reason to take that creation story as literal any more than Christians need to take the Flood story from the Old Testament as being literal to make a point.

You mean there was a point to the flood story? How about the part where Noah gets drunk?
And certainly it is not a basis for criticizing science.

In what way does it conflict with science?
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:23 pm

Forgot about this thread :jumping:


I agree with Tilt


Also, I dont subscribe to Rebirth being a part of Buddhas teachings however I will say that one can take this sutta non-literally and still hold a view of rebirth
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:19 pm

yuttadhammo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Damdifino, but there is no reason to take that creation story as literal any more than Christians need to take the Flood story from the Old Testament as being literal to make a point.

You mean there was a point to the flood story? How about the part where Noah gets drunk?
Sure, within Xtian context, there is a point.
And certainly it is not a basis for criticizing science.

In what way does it conflict with science?
Time frame; the process of evolutions; the assumptions behind the sutta story; those things that cannot be measured and so forth.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:29 pm

yuttadhammo wrote:If we don't take this story as literal, we will have to come up with some other explanation as to where we all were before the earth became liveable... unless we're going to deny the core Theravada doctrine of rebirth.

There's an argument for you, Tilt.


If we do take it literally, how is it compatible with evolutionary theory? Or is it?

Darwinian theory asserts that lower life forms appeared first and that the process of evolution resulted in more sophisticated forms of life, including humans. The Agganna sutta teaches a theory of devolution, in which higher level beings were on the earth first and then degenerated into coarser beings as a result of their desires and hungers. While it doesn't mention animals, one may surmise that these appeared on earth separately from humans. Or, following the logic of the sutta, they should have appeared after humans as beings became even more degenerate. The sutta appears to suggest that humans invented sex, so did the animals learn it from us?

In evolution, the drives for food and sex are the engines of natural selection and hence evolution. Without these drives, no one would have the option of a precious human birth. But in the Agganna Sutta, "natural selection" leads to degeneration and without it all beings would exist in the heavenly realm.

The two theories lend themselves to contrasting philosophical viewpoints. From the Agganna Sutta, it follows logically that we should seek to curtail and finally eliminate "defilements" and "hindrances", since these are what caused us to fall from the harmonious heavenly realm.

If we follow evolutionary theory the issue becomes more complex, since without desire, differentiation and competition for resources we would never have developed to the point where we could understand or practice any higher-order or "wholesome" activities, including dhamma. So the idea of cessation/suppression might require some reworking.

It seems to me that both viewpoints might end up at a similar conclusion going by opposite routes, though. That is, in one model we seek liberation by eliminating defilements, and the in the other we seek it via "evolution of consciousness" -- but the desired end point is probably the same.

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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:46 pm

son of dhamma wrote: Why would we take most of the Buddha's teaching to be literal, and selectively claim the rest to be non-literal?


Because the Buddha said to take some Suttas literally and some to take by inference:

Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two? He who explains a discourse whose meaning needs to be inferred as one whose meaning has already been fully drawn out. And he who explains a discourse whose meaning has already been fully drawn out as one whose meaning needs to be inferred. These are two who slander the Tathagata.”

Anguttara Nikaya 2.25


Note the words in bold, which show that there are at least some discourses where the meaning is to be inferred and the literal meaning will be wrong. And then, also, there are some discourses which should be taken literally, but the point the Buddha makes, is that it is not all of them.

The Aganna Sutta should be taken somewhat allegorical. But in many ways, it still has it right. The first "beings" on the planet according to science were non-sexual, without gender. And it was craving that made them multiply. This fits with evolution and the Dhamma.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:55 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:If we do take it literally, how is it compatible with evolutionary theory? Or is it?


Evolution theory says it right there, a theory. It has never been and can never be (unless one has time machine or clairvoyant powers) directly observed.
All its evidence is an inference and a theory.


Since some lifeforms may not form fossils - they may not be found. Not because they didn't exist, but because they didn't leave any material remains. Even those lifeforms that do form fossils, the fossiles could all be destroyed through billions of years that this Earth has existed and shifted continents.

Maybe the Buddha was more correct in that regard because He didn't need to use inferences. He could use his omniscient knowledge.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:03 pm

Evolution theory says it right there, a theory


Its a SCIENTIFIC Theory. Theory does not mean a guess in science, rather it is something that has evidence for it

We still have the Theory of gravity or Germ Theory, you going to dismiss these to because they are "just a theory"

. It has never been and can never be (unless one has time machine or clairvoyant powers) directly observed.


Evolutionary change can be observed


All its evidence is an inference and a theory.


Nope. Fossil evidence as well as the geographic distribution of animals and genetic evidence

Since some lifeforms may not form fossils - they may not be found. Not because they didn't exist, but because they didn't leave any material remains. Even those lifeforms that do form fossils, the fossiles could all be destroyed through billions of years that this Earth has existed and shifted continents.


Fossils are only a part of the evidence, as I said there is genetic evidence as well. Also there is direct observation of evolution via natural selection, such as via moths

Maybe the Buddha was more correct in that regard because He didn't need to use inferences. He could use his omniscient knowledge


Sounds like "it cant be so because the bible says so", its just you have replaced Bible with Buddha (and your understanding of what he said)
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby pulga » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:15 pm

[quote="David N. Snyder
Note the words in bold, which show that there are at least some discourses where the meaning is to be inferred and the literal meaning will be wrong. [/quote]

If you were to tell me that you were going to the store, and I were to "infer" that you planned to buy something, does that mean that I would be taking your statement metaphorically? There were times when the Buddha gave his sermons in brief without elaborating on the details of their meanings (the Madhupindika Sutta is a prime example). He expected his disciples to infer such details, but that doesn't mean that they were expected to take what he had to say metaphorically.

~~~~~~

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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:Its a SCIENTIFIC Theory. Theory does not mean a guess in science, rather it is something that has evidence for it


But it is a a theory not a fact. It is also a theory that cannot be directly observed as it is happening. What happens to animals today, may not be what has happened in the past.

Scientists do not have a time machine or clairvoyance to see if evolution did occur in the way they think it did.


clw_uk wrote:We still have the Theory of gravity or Germ Theory, you going to dismiss these to because they are "just a theory"


Unlike evolution, gravity happens now. One doesn't need time machine or clairvoyance to experience its effects. Alive bacteria now can be seen in powerful microscopes. Scientists cannot see evolution as it happened 4 billions of years ago, or even millions of years ago.


clw_uk wrote:Evolutionary change can be observed


Modern one, over really short periods of times (thousands of years is nothing compared to billions). There is no guarantee that what has happened in the past is what that is happening today. What we see today is what has happened today. Scientists are not clairvoyant to know for sure, and to actually see what has happened over billions of years.

clw_uk wrote:Nope. Fossil evidence as well as the geographic distribution of animals and genetic evidence


INFERENCE. Some bits of information and a lot of theory, in the evolution theory. No direct observation is possible until time machine is invented or until scientists become clairvoyant.

clw_uk wrote:Fossils are only a part of the evidence, as I said there is genetic evidence as well. Also there is direct observation of evolution via natural selection, such as via moths


Evidence is not direct observation of something occurring as it is occurring. It is possible to misinterpret the evidence. Evidence could be incomplete. There could be other factors at work, which the scientists don't know yet.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:08 pm

Alex


But it is a a theory not a fact. It is also a theory that cannot be directly observed. What happens to animals today, may not be what has happened in the past.


A scientific theory that is supported by facts


Unlike evolution, gravity happens now. One doesn't need time machine or clairvoyance to experience its effects. Alive bacteria now can be seen in powerful microscopes. Scientists cannot see evolution as it happened 4 billions of years ago, or even millions of years ago.



So, we were not there at the time of the Big Bang, can still get a good picture of what happened


An when we view bacteria we see the process of evolution via natural selection (well more viruses)


Modern one, over really short periods of times (thousands of years is nothing compared to billions).



So you admit that Evolution occurs on the micro level, this is progress

Now since evolution on the micro level, such as with the wolves and dogs, can be known what do you think will happen given enough time, say a billion years? Speciation, now we cannot see this true but we do have the evidence for it in terms of genetic comparison and geographic distribution of animals over the planet as well comparison of Homologies. We also have the fossils in corresponding strata of rocks over geological time


This also means that Evolution is falsifiable , it would only take a bunny in the cambrian era to disprove it


INFERENCE. Some bits of information and a lot of theory, in the evolution theory. No direct observation is possible until time machine is invented or until scientists become clairvoyant.


Yet you just admitted that it does occur


Evidence is not direct observation of something occurring as it is occurring. It is possible to misinterpret the evidence.


If you like observation so much then fine, we have observed evolution occur at the micro level. Since we know the vast age of the earth, the genetic relatedness of all life and the geographic distribution of animals across the globe, its pretty strong to say that macro evolution does and has occured


Speciation has also been observed, so im failing to see your argument


On a side note have you ever studied Evolutionary Biology?
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:14 pm

clw_uk wrote:Alex
A scientific theory that is supported by facts


So it IS a theory, and the facts can be incomplete. They can also be faked, as in Piltdown man, and it has occured.

Theory, and the evidence can be incomplete.


clw_uk wrote:So, we were not there at the time of the Big Bang, can still get a good picture of what happened


Only inferentially and as a theory. Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.



clw_uk wrote:An when we view bacteria we see the process of evolution via natural selection (well more viruses)


Process happening TODAY. We don't know all the conditions before. Furthermore evolution happens over millions of years. Which scientist has lived that long to observe it?


clw_uk wrote:So you admit that Evolution occurs on the micro level, this is progress


Change occurs. Where it leads to, who knows. Dhamma doesn't deny change.


clw_uk wrote:Now since evolution on the micro level, such as with the wolves and dogs, can be known what do you think will happen given enough time, say a billion years?


That would be an inference unless one has clairvoyance or has a time machine. The point I am making is that scientists cannot refute what has happened according to the Agganna sutta.

Your original quote from the sutta:
clw_uk wrote:"There comes a time, Vasettha, when, after the lapse of a long, long period, this world died. And when this happens, beings have mostly been reborn into the Realm of Radiance [as devas]; and there they dwell, made of mind, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, traversing the air, continuing in glory; and thus they remain for a long, long period of time. There comes also a time, Vasettha, when sooner or later this world begins to re-evolve. When this happens, beings who had deceased from the World of Radiance usually come to life as humans...now at that time, all had become one world of water, dark, and of darkness that maketh blind. No moon nor sun appeared, no stars were seen, nor constellations, neither was night manifest nor day, neither months nor half-months, neither years nor seasons, neither female nor male. Beings were reckoned just as beings only. And to those beings, Vasettha, sooner or later after a long time, earth with its savours was spread out in the waters, even as a scum forms on the surface of boiled milky rice that is cooling, so did the earth appear."



clw_uk wrote:On a side note have you ever studied Evolutionary Biology?


no.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby son of dhamma » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:17 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Because the Buddha said to take some Suttas literally and some to take by inference:

Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two? He who explains a discourse whose meaning needs to be inferred as one whose meaning has already been fully drawn out.”


Inference doesn't mean in a completely non-literal way. I do think that applying it to evolution or modern science, not scientific theory but science involves much inference. The Agganna Sutta is definately an inferred sutta, but that doesn't mean we should infer that it is itself not credidle to be inferred in terms of the real processes. With the Adhibdhamma Pitaka also we have the means to infer about this Agganna Sutta.
Remember that the brahmas do not percieve the light of the sun, they see by their own light which they radiate from their fine-material bodies. When the world finally becomes visible to them, and the darkness clears, and the sun appears, there is the world and the savory nutriment spread on the water. They partake of it and continue to become grosser. Whilst this is happening, the nutriment is developing into mold, fungi, plant-life, and subsequently the degenerating beings are partaking in these things and diversifying, and they develop sex. At last, the beings who've become animals become gross organisms at the bottom of the ecosystem, and consecutively this beings follow up into the humans.
From this inferred interpretation I see that the Buddhadhamma presupposes something like the theory of evolution might take place, but that the real cause of earthly life in terms of cyclic cosmological processes is that beings in higher states are passing away into lower states as their kamma so directs, causing the world to reform from higher to lower planes, and a degeneration into biological beings which is a very long period of time, one of the four divisions of a kappa, the evolution phase. Thus the stable biological ecosystem is formed into the continued evolution phase.

I would advise humbly to look at scientific theory from a strong base in the Dhamma, and to speculate in that manner.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Kenshou » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.
How do you know?
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:25 pm

Kenshou wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.
How do you know?


I believe the suttas.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:29 pm

Alex


So it IS a theory, and the facts can be incomplete. They can also be faked, as in Piltdown man, and it has occured.



Oh not piltdown man please, the fact that this was faked doesnt discredit the powerful evidence



Also the whole point of piltdown man was that the forgery was brought to light and dismissed by scientists



Theory, and the evidence can be incomplete.


Yes otherwise it would be called a truth. This is what science is about, working it out



Only inferentially and as a theory. Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.


I dont know why you bother with him, I have a book called the Bible, tells you all you need to know :roll:



Process happening TODAY. We don't know all the conditions before. Furthermore evolution happens over millions of years. Which scientist has lived that long to observe it?


This is quickly turning into (even more) nonsense


Evolution is the survival of desired characteristics, which come from genes

You cannot have life, at least on earth, without genes since they code for life

Since Genes have been around for billions of years, so has evolution


Change occurs. Where it leads to, who knows. Dhamma doesn't deny change.


Change via natural selection acting upon the genes of an organism


That would be an inference unless one has clairvoyance or has a time machine. The point I am making is that scientists cannot refute what has happened according to the Agganna sutta.



It would requite a fundamental different understanding of what Biology is. It would go against the facts and furthermore, is a theory that cannot be proved at all with not one shred of evidence for it


And yes its an inference but seeing how evolution occurs now its rational to say speciation would occur long ago in the past. This inference is then supported via the evidence of genetics, distribution of animals, Homologies of animals and the fossil record. All consistent with the Scientific theory of evolution via natural selection over time and none of it consistent with the Agganna Sutta, not in a literal reading anyway


I have Dhamma. Evolutionary biology is a load of speculation, with only conventional validity.


I see so you have your "bible" and thats all you need to know. That also gives you arrogance enough to not even understand a subject that you are attacking

Would be as ridiculous as me attacking Quantum Mechanics without actually studying what its about
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Kenshou » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:31 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Kenshou wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.
How do you know?

I believe the suttas.

So, you don't know. You weren't there, after all.
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby clw_uk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:32 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Kenshou wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Buddha on other hands could clairvoyantly see.
How do you know?


I believe the suttas.




Are you really this credulous? I take it then you believe that spirits live in trees, or that the world is flat with a big mountain in the middle :rofl: :rofl:
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Re: Agganna Sutta

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:37 pm

clw_uk wrote:Oh not piltdown man please, the fact that this was faked doesnt discredit the powerful evidence

Also the whole point of piltdown man was that the forgery was brought to light and dismissed by scientists


How many more piltdown mans may be there? Or how many misinterpreted facts?


clw_uk wrote:Yes otherwise it would be called a truth. This is what science is about, working it out


Scientists are not omniscient and neither are they clairvoyant. Honest mistakes can be made.



clw_uk wrote:Evolution is the survival of desired characteristics, which come from genes


Thats an inference.


Again, all the facts all the fossile remains, are not the same thing as directly seeing the truth. Evolution as it was actually happening cannot be observed unless one has clairvoyant powers. It is all guess based on current understanding of biology, current events, and remains that are *found*. It could be almost like guessing the appearance of an intruder based only on the footprints.
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