Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby thornbush » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:13 pm

Apostasy: a simple definition here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/apostasy
What is the Buddhist view on this matter? Your thoughts please...thank you :anjali:

Namo Amitabha Buddha!
thornbush
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:22 pm

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:20 pm

Its a particularly cute characteristic of abrahamanic religions. Only fundamentalist Islam professes to maintain the traditional punishment of apostasy of inflicting some form of gruesome death on the wayward.
Thankfully, Buddhism is a little more enlightened.

B
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16315
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:36 pm

thornbush wrote:What is the Buddhist view on this matter?

I don't understand the question. What is the Buddhist view on "the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief"? Uh... sometimes a person decides to abandon or renounce their Buddhist beliefs and/or practice. Deevadatta is an example. :shrug:
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:23 pm

Peter,

I guess :shrug: is an excellent answer... :smile:
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:26 pm

The English term apostasy comes from the Latin apostata and means ‘to move away from,’ while the Arabic term riddah means ‘turning back.’ Apostasy is therefore to renounce one’s religion and adopt another or no religion. Buddhism does not have a legalistic approach to belief and thus never developed a concept of apostasy, nor did any Buddhist cultures have such a concept. In Buddhism, the individual is free to believe or not according to his or her own inclinations and understanding. The Buddha’s attitude to apostasy is epitomised by his encounter with a man named Sunakkhatta. He was a disciple of the Buddha, but after a while became dissatisfied with the Dhamma and decided to renounce the Teacher and the teaching. Sunakkhatta came to the Buddha and said; ‘Lord, I am leaving you, I am no longer living by your teachings.’ The Buddha responded to this declaration by asking Sunakkhatta some questions. ‘Did I ever say to you; come, live by my teachings’. ‘No Lord’. ‘Then did you ever say to me that you wished to live by my teachings’. ‘No Lord’. ‘That being the case, who are you and what are you giving up, you foolish man?’ (Digha Nikaya 3. 2-3). Neither in this case nor others did the Buddha suggest that apostates be punished; nor did he say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy.

from: http://www.BuddhismAtoZ.com/ Buddhism A to Z. by Ven. Dhammika, 2007.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8222
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:24 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Neither in this case nor others did the Buddha suggest that apostates be punished; nor did he say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy.

from: http://www.BuddhismAtoZ.com/ Buddhism A to Z. by Ven. Dhammika, 2007.

By his own misdirected mind, Sunakkhatta set himself on a course that would inevitably lead to rebirth in hell. The Buddha did not inflict any punishment on him, Sunakkhatta's path was one that he chose for himself. This is what the Maha-sihanada Sutta says regarding Sunakkhatta:

21. "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.13 Just as a bhikkhu possessed of virtue, concentration and wisdom would here and now enjoy final knowledge, so it will happen in this case, I say, that unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.

The statement “the Buddha did not say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy” is wrong. It was precisely because he denied the Buddha's Enlightenment that Sunakkhatta was destined to be reborn in hell.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)
User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
 
Posts: 2080
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Jechbi » Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:30 pm

My thoughts: Apostasy always seems to imply some social conduct. It's possible to conceive of private, individual apostasy, where a person goes through a process of self-inquiry and then quietly decides to change religions without announcing it to anyone or engaging others. But that's pretty much never what apostasy means. Instead, it seems to mean the person who publicly "changes sides." So it generally seems to include some desire to sway others, as well. It's probably important to understand all of the different motivations and actions involved in apostasy, since all of them can be different forms of kamma. Thanks for asking.
:juggling:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:46 pm

thornbush wrote:Apostasy: a simple definition here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/apostasy
What is the Buddhist view on this matter? Your thoughts please...thank you :anjali:

Namo Amitabha Buddha!

It sounds a bit cliche and fundamentalist Christians say the same thing, but it's definitely true that if you leave Buddhism, you were never a Buddhist to begin with. People who leave Buddhism tend to be what I'd call "fashionable Buddhists".

"I am a Buddhist" -- when it's fashionable.
"I am not a Buddhist" -- how can a Buddhist say either of these things, when there is no self?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:Neither in this case nor others did the Buddha suggest that apostates be punished; nor did he say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy.

from: http://www.BuddhismAtoZ.com/ Buddhism A to Z. by Ven. Dhammika, 2007.

By his own misdirected mind, Sunakkhatta set himself on a course that would inevitably lead to rebirth in hell. The Buddha did not inflict any punishment on him, Sunakkhatta's path was one that he chose for himself. This is what the Maha-sihanada Sutta says regarding Sunakkhatta:

21. "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.13 Just as a bhikkhu possessed of virtue, concentration and wisdom would here and now enjoy final knowledge, so it will happen in this case, I say, that unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.

The statement “the Buddha did not say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy” is wrong. It was precisely because he denied the Buddha's Enlightenment that Sunakkhatta was destined to be reborn in hell.

I agree with Ven. Pesala, except I'm not sure if "hell" here literally necessarily means the naraka realm, but could possibly mean any of the woeful realms. Also, this occurs, not because the "person left Buddhism and became an apostate" (incoherent because of anatta, hence the non-existence of any literal form of conversion or apostasy), but merely the result of cause & effect. Even people who adopt Buddhism superficially, who follow Sunakkhatta's practice their entire lives under the banner of Buddhism, if they don't follow the Buddha's practice of right morality, they are still bound for woeful realms.
Last edited by Individual on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:48 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The statement “the Buddha did not say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy” is wrong. It was precisely because he denied the Buddha's Enlightenment that Sunakkhatta was destined to be reborn in hell.

:thanks: , Venerable.

But perhaps Ven. Dhammika is referring to Sunakkhatta leaving of the "Buddhist" religion, not about the denying of the Buddha's enlightenment. The denial of the Buddha's enlightenment seems to be much more severe and may not be part of the definition of apostasy:

a⋅pos⋅ta⋅sy
   /əˈpɒstəsi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uh-pos-tuh-see] Show IPA
–noun, plural -sies.
a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, principles, party, cause, etc.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8222
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:00 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The statement “the Buddha did not say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy” is wrong. It was precisely because he denied the Buddha's Enlightenment that Sunakkhatta was destined to be reborn in hell.

:thanks: , Venerable.

But perhaps Ven. Dhammika is referring to Sunakkhatta leaving of the "Buddhist" religion, not about the denying of the Buddha's enlightenment. The denial of the Buddha's enlightenment seems to be much more severe and may not be part of the definition of apostasy:

a⋅pos⋅ta⋅sy
   /əˈpɒstəsi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uh-pos-tuh-see] Show IPA
–noun, plural -sies.
a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, principles, party, cause, etc.

The Buddhist "religion" existed at that time?

And how do you separate the Buddha's enlightenment from Buddhist religion? That is, how is it possible to adopt Buddhism without believing in the Buddha's enlightenment and how is it possible to reject Buddhism while believing in the Buddha's enlightenment? The two always seem to go together.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:09 pm

Individual wrote:The Buddhist "religion" existed at that time?

And how do you separate the Buddha's enlightenment from Buddhist religion? That is, how is it possible to adopt Buddhism without believing in the Buddha's enlightenment and how is it possible to reject Buddhism while believing in the Buddha's enlightenment? The two always seem to go together.

That's why I put it in quotes; it wasn't called Buddhism, of course, but it was some kind of religion, whatever name we want to attach to it, such as the Buddha-Dhamma, Vibhajjavada, etc.

I don't know, I suppose someone could reject a religion and leave it, but without insulting the founder or leader. For example, many of us left our birth religions, but we don't go back and trash the founders of our birth religions. Maybe it is that distinction that Ven. Dhammika was getting at in that article on apostasy.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8222
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:19 pm

What is the Buddhist view on this matter?


It depends upon which Buddhists are being talked about. Where concern about apostasy finds a home is in the Mahayana with sutras that tell you that if you say bad things about them you'll get bad breath and go to hell. Also, the various Mahayana vows that are taken and if broken result in really bad things happening to one. All of that is absent from the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali suttas.

21. "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.13 Just as a bhikkhu possessed of virtue, concentration and wisdom would here and now enjoy final knowledge, so it will happen in this case, I say, that unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.

The statement “the Buddha did not say that apostates would go to hell simply because of their apostasy” is wrong. It was precisely because he denied the Buddha's Enlightenment that Sunakkhatta was destined to be reborn in hell.


Horner's translation reads a bit differently (MIDDLE LENGTH SAYINGS): "Whoever, Sariputta, knowing that it is so of me, seeing that it is so, should speak thus: . . . ."

David Evans (DISCOURSES OF GOTAMA BUDDHA: MIDDLE COLLECTION): “If anyone knowing and seeing me thus, speaks (like Sunakkhata) then. . . .

I am inclined to agree with Horner’s translation. Though my Pali is very rusty, it seems to translate it better and is consistent with the text. Basically, Sunakkhata was deliberately lying about the Buddha, not merely disbelieving in the Buddha.

If Ven Dhammando could give MN I 71-2 a look at, it would be appreciated.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:20 pm

If the glove fits wear it, if it doesn't don't!

I don't really care if someone does or doesn't believe the same as me, or changes their mind.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5864
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:37 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Individual wrote:The Buddhist "religion" existed at that time?

And how do you separate the Buddha's enlightenment from Buddhist religion? That is, how is it possible to adopt Buddhism without believing in the Buddha's enlightenment and how is it possible to reject Buddhism while believing in the Buddha's enlightenment? The two always seem to go together.

That's why I put it in quotes; it wasn't called Buddhism, of course, but it was some kind of religion, whatever name we want to attach to it, such as the Buddha-Dhamma, Vibhajjavada, etc.

My understanding was that it was an informal community, whereas "religion" denotes some level of formality. The student-disciple relationship of ancient India seems identical as in Greece. Socrates' had students and followers -- they merely followed him around and they spoke to eachother. Plato was the same way and they called the place they hung out regularly, "Plato's Academy". Same relationship as with the Buddha. None of this has the same level of formality that today's universities, churches, or any form of organizations do. Sangha literally meant "community".

When the Greeks talk about gods, karma, and there are mystics like Plato and Zeno, I don't understand how anyone could talk of India's sramanas as "religious schools" and Greece's traditions as "philosophical schools", when the two are pretty heavily overlapping.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Ravana » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:06 pm

Individual wrote:"I am a Buddhist" -- when it's fashionable.
"I am not a Buddhist" -- how can a Buddhist say either of these things, when there is no self?

I don't think it's a problem, if one accepts the two-truths doctrine. Otherwise, we must also wonder how the Buddha could utter phrases like "Sariputta, when I know and see thus..." - when 'Sariputta 'and 'I' do not exist.

TheDhamma wrote:That's why I put it in quotes; it wasn't called Buddhism, of course, but it was some kind of religion, whatever name we want to attach to it, such as the Buddha-Dhamma, Vibhajjavada, etc.

In the Suttas, we find people who, after hearing a talk by the Buddha take refuge and ask the Buddha to accept them as disciples. Using our modern-day terminology, these are people we would call 'Buddhists'.

Individual wrote:..it's definitely true that if you leave Buddhism, you were never a Buddhist to begin with..

How come? One can only have perfect confidence in the triple gem when one is an ariya. So a non-ariya disciple's confidence can falter and may decide to seek refuge elsewhere.

Individual wrote:When the Greeks talk about gods, karma, and there are mystics like Plato and Zeno, I don't understand how anyone could talk of India's sramanas as "religious schools" and Greece's traditions as "philosophical schools", when the two are pretty heavily overlapping.

I think that's because the two terms belong to two different terminologies, with slightly different meanings. Applying the two terms which originated in two different contexts in a single context is the cause of the problem.
“The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One in the deer sanctuary at Isipatana, and no seeker, brahmin, celestial being, demon, god, or any other being in the world can stop it.”
User avatar
Ravana
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:33 pm

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:45 am

Hi Tilt,

If Ven Dhammando could give MN I 71-2 a look at, it would be appreciated.


Bhikkhu Bodhi’s rendering is correct. The passage reads:

yo kho maṃ ... evaṃ jānantaṃ evaṃ passantaṃ evaṃ vadeyya

The participles "jānantaṃ" and "passantaṃ" are both in the accusative case and so the actions they denote —knowing and seeing— cannot belong to the nominative 'yo', but must belong to the only other word in the accusative case, which is the pronoun 'maṃ' (i.e. the Buddha).

For a rendering like Horner's we should expect a "yo ... jānaṃ ... passaṃ" construction, like in the fourth pārājika rule (Vin. iii. 90-1) or the Abyākata Sutta (AN. iv. 67-70).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:19 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Tilt,

If Ven Dhammando could give MN I 71-2 a look at, it would be appreciated.


Bhikkhu Bodhi’s rendering is correct. The passage reads:

yo kho maṃ ... evaṃ jānantaṃ evaṃ passantaṃ evaṃ vadeyya

The participles "jānantaṃ" and "passantaṃ" are both in the accusative case and so the actions they denote —knowing and seeing— cannot belong to the nominative 'yo', but must belong to the only other word in the accusative case, which is the pronoun 'maṃ' (i.e. the Buddha).

For a rendering like Horner's we should expect a "yo ... jānaṃ ... passaṃ" construction, like in the fourth pārājika rule (Vin. iii. 90-1) or the Abyākata Sutta (AN. iv. 67-70).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Bhante,

Thanks. I would be interested to know why she translated the text the way she did, but being dead and all, it is just not going to happen.

I guess I have a hard time relating to this sentiment: "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:18 am

Hi Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:I would be interested to know why she translated the text the way she did, but being dead and all, it is just not going to happen.


Perhaps too much faith in "common sense". I have come across quite a few cases (especially in her Book of the Discipline) where Horner seems to have disregarded the grammar of the passage and translated according to what struck her as being a more "sensible" reading.

I guess I have a hard time relating to this sentiment: "Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him' — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.


One might compare the above with the teaching on the five anantariya-kamma. The kamma of killing an arahant, for example, is accrued regardless of whether the murderer knows his victim to be an arahant. The mere wish to kill a human who happens to be an arahant (even though one doesn't know it) is sufficient to fulfil the factor of volition for this anantariya-kamma.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:50 am

I like Horner. She was very nice to me when I wrote to her back in the very early 70's. I had not read the Ven Bodhi translation of this sutta before. About three line down she really gives a mixed up reading.

One might compare the above with the teaching on the five anantariya-kamma. The kamma of killing an arahant, for example, is accrued regardless of whether the murderer knows his victim to be an arahant. The mere wish to kill a human who happens to be an arahant (even though one doesn't know it) is sufficient to fulfil the factor of volition for this anantariya-kamma.


Killing is one thing, stating I do not believe that guy is this or that is another, and from there it is not a big step to the Lotus Sutra. Alas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Apostasy: A Buddhist View and Response

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:18 am

Hi Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Killing is one thing, stating I do not believe that guy is this or that is another, and from there it is not a big step to the Lotus Sutra. Alas.


I think there's a bit more to it than that. First of all, for the kamma in question to have full force four factors are needed:

    "Sāriputta, when I know and see thus, (1) should anyone say of me: 'The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma [merely] hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him’ - (2) unless he abandons that assertion and (3) that state of mind and (4) relinquishes that view, then as [surely as if he had been] carried off and put there he will wind up in hell."

So, we have:

1. Akusalā vācā — a speech denying the the Buddha's attainment.
2. Taṃ vācaṃ na pajahati — the non-retracting of that speech.
3. Taṃ cittaṃ na pajahati — the non-abandoning of the unwholesome citta that prompted the speech.
4. Taṃ diṭṭhiṃ na paṭinissajjeti — the non-relinquishing of the wrong view expressed in the speech.


What sort of akusala speech would it be? The commentary sees it as an instance of reviling noble ones (ariyānaṃ upavāda), and the sub-commentary compares it to the case of Kokālika, who was reborn in hell for denying the attainments of Sāriputta and Moggallāna, despite the Buddha remonstrating with him.

Now in all the commentarial definitions of "reviling ariyans" one of the necessary factors is anatthakāma, meaning a desire for the harm (lit. "non-welfare") of the person reviled.

In the Visuddhimagga Buddhaghosa defines “revilers of ariyans” thus:


    Revilers of noble ones: being desirous of harm (anatthakāmā) for noble ones consisting of Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and disciples, and also of householders who are stream-enterers, they revile them with the worst accusations or with denial of their special qualities; they abuse and upbraid them, is what is meant.

    Herein, it should be understood that when they say, 'They have no asceticism, they are not ascetics', they revile them with the worst accusation; and when they say, 'They have no jhāna or liberation or path or fruition etc.', they revile them with denial of their special qualities. And whether done knowingly or unknowingly it is in either case reviling of noble ones. It is weighty kamma resembling that of immediate result [meaning parricide, matricide etc.], and it is an obstacle both to heaven and to the path.

    [...]

    Reviling noble ones is greatly reprehensible because of its resemblance to kamma with immediate result. For this is said, 'Sāriputta, just as a bhikkhu possessing virtuous conduct, concentration and understanding could here and now attain final knowledge, so it is in this case, I say; if he does not abandon such talk and such thoughts and renounce such views, he will find himself in hell as surely as if he had been carried off and put there' [Mahāsīhanāda Sutta MN 12]. And there is nothing more reprehensible than wrong view, according as it is said, 'Bhikkhus, I do not see any one thing so reprehensible as wrong view' [AN. i. 33].
    (Path of Purification XIII 82-88; 90)

So, I think reading the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta in the light of the Pali commentaries will save us from the Lotus Sutra brand of bigotry and fanaticism.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
User avatar
Dhammanando
 
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Wat Pa Mieng Khun Pang, Chiang Mai

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Modus.Ponens and 7 guests