A Rare Opportunity

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A Rare Opportunity

Postby Ravana » Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:27 am

In the talk What is Wrong with Buddha Nature given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, he claims that the main goal for the development of the Buddha-nature doctrine is to inspire people to practice - give them the idea that 'anybody can do it' - and he argues that the doctrine of Buddha-nature doesn't really do the job well, and that it has many drawbacks.

From a Theravada point of view, I wonder whether the fact that we have been reborn as humans and have come into contact with the doctrine of a Buddha is simply enough to inspire one? Isn't having such a rare opportunity enough inspiration? What kind of kusala kamma do you think must we have done in our past lives to achieve this chance? And what do the Suttas say about all of this?

Thoughts?
“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.”
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby phil » Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:23 pm

Ravana wrote:From a Theravada point of view, I wonder whether the fact that we have been reborn as humans and have come into contact with the doctrine of a Buddha is simply enough to inspire one? Isn't having such a rare opportunity enough inspiration? What kind of kusala kamma do you think must we have done in our past lives to achieve this chance? And what do the Suttas say about all of this?

Thoughts?



Hi Ravana

Thanks for bringing this up. It reminded me of something that came to me a few months. When one considers how rare human birth is, we can reflect that all the people we deal with, no matter how frustrating they are, must have very good kamma at work in their (so to speak) past lives, that we are all of us very worthy beings in that sense. It's true that "the all" is burning with the fires of greed, hatred and delusion, but to have been born human with sensitivity to the Dhamma....wow! (I'm sure you know the sutta about the blind sea turtle who somehow rises up through the yoke floating on the great seas, that is how rare it is, how fortunate, to have achieved human rebirth...if I got that wrong, someone please correct.)



Metta,

Phil
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:52 pm

Ravana wrote:In the talk What is Wrong with Buddha Nature given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, he claims that the main goal for the development of the Buddha-nature doctrine is to inspire people to practice - give them the idea that 'anybody can do it' - and he argues that the doctrine of Buddha-nature doesn't really do the job well, and that it has many drawbacks.

From a Theravada point of view, I wonder whether the fact that we have been reborn as humans and have come into contact with the doctrine of a Buddha is simply enough to inspire one? Isn't having such a rare opportunity enough inspiration? What kind of kusala kamma do you think must we have done in our past lives to achieve this chance? And what do the Suttas say about all of this?

Thoughts?


I have heard the talk it is quite good, I think Buddha nature is as true as if we all have satanic Nature (something I don't hear many people claiming), just because we have a potential, doesn't mean that nature is anything else than an idea, a mental quality, which can or not be cultivated, I find it a useless consept to the practice.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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."
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby Ravana » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:03 am

phil wrote:I'm sure you know the sutta about the blind sea turtle who somehow rises up through the yoke floating on the great seas, that is how rare it is, how fortunate, to have achieved human rebirth...if I got that wrong, someone please correct.)

I don't remember which Sutta it is, but yes, that's a brilliant simile that really drives the point home.

Manapa wrote: I think Buddha nature is as true as if we all have satanic Nature (something I don't hear many people claiming)...

Lol yeah, thanks for that - I didn't think of it that way before you pointed it out.
“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.”
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby nathan » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:47 pm

It has been a puzzler. Well, it seems to me that this lacks the concern for disambiguation typical of either Ven. Thanissaro or Classical Theravada:

The Prajna Paramita Sutra on the Buddha-Mother's Producing the Three Dharma Treasures, Spoken by the Buddha
Chapter 17: ~ATTRIBUTES, SIGNS, AND TOKENS OF IRREVERSIBILITY ~
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=933

So, maybe it is a matter of taste after all? How can you know if you can't tell the difference in the taste? One would need to become a Buddha it seems. Only one way to find out in any case. If you get there before we do...drop us a line. Please print clearly. The mail from nibbana so far has been difficult for a lot of people to read.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:19 pm

I have heard the talk it is quite good, I think Buddha nature is as true as if we all have satanic Nature (something I don't hear many people claiming),


http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/StephenBatchelor.html Buddha Nature / Mara Nature The first talk is well worth listening to.
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
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:37 pm

Buddha Nature to me doesn't say anything about it being a possibility, it is inferring far more the intrinsic unchanging nuances of a soul, or in this case enlightenment, than if we practice and cultivate certain things enlightenment is possible, which is only slightly implied with the name.
the name in throwing to much of a self even if changing as our underlying default rather than whatever we cultivate we inherit the benefit of.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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."
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby SeerObserver » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:11 am

Manapa wrote:
Ravana wrote:In the talk What is Wrong with Buddha Nature given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, he claims that the main goal for the development of the Buddha-nature doctrine is to inspire people to practice - give them the idea that 'anybody can do it' - and he argues that the doctrine of Buddha-nature doesn't really do the job well, and that it has many drawbacks.

I have heard the talk it is quite good, I think Buddha nature is as true as if we all have satanic Nature (something I don't hear many people claiming), just because we have a potential, doesn't mean that nature is anything else than an idea, a mental quality, which can or not be cultivated, I find it a useless consept to the practice.
phil wrote:When one considers how rare human birth is, we can reflect that all the people we deal with, no matter how frustrating they are, must have very good kamma at work in their (so to speak) past lives, that we are all of us very worthy beings in that sense. It's true that "the all" is burning with the fires of greed, hatred and delusion, but to have been born human with sensitivity to the Dhamma....wow! (I'm sure you know the sutta about the blind sea turtle who somehow rises up through the yoke floating on the great seas, that is how rare it is, how fortunate, to have achieved human rebirth...if I got that wrong, someone please correct.)

This is a good dissection of the concept. It is a doctrine to inspire and encourage practice of the path. Instead of nature, the word potential should be used. Doing so would better reflect reality. That being said, it is not a useless practice if one can see their Buddha potential and parlay it into spiritual realization.

Regarding all humans as having good karma, that is not as simple as it seems. Someone may have been a virtuous ogre in the past life and is now reborn as a virtuous human being who discovers the path and continues to progress. Another person may have been a being in one of the heaven realms that formed a deluded mindset and is now reborn as a liar/cheat. They are within the same realm, but came from different directions and are continuing to move in different directions. While the intent of your interpretation was good, it would behoove you consider this as well, Phil.
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:27 am

Hi SO
While Phils quote on the surface seems more tibetan inspired it does have its basis in theravada texts (their is a thread asking about a quote from the suttas regarding this, I don't think any one has pin pointed where from though and I don't know exactly where myself).
If it was potential I would use it as a concept, and it is something mirrored within my current "philosophy", my life shows this in many, many ways and I am sure allot of others here at DW would of seen this also.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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."
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby phil » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:37 am

="SeerObserver"

Regarding all humans as having good karma, that is not as simple as it seems. Someone may have been a virtuous ogre in the past life and is now reborn as a virtuous human being who discovers the path and continues to progress. Another person may have been a being in one of the heaven realms that formed a deluded mindset and is now reborn as a liar/cheat. They are within the same realm, but came from different directions and are continuing to move in different directions. While the intent of your interpretation was good, it would behoove you consider this as well, Phil.


Hi Seer. Thanks, I like very much the way you put that - "it would behoove you consider this as well." That is what dhamma friends should always say to each other.

Yes, my interpretation is simplified. But it's an example of a simplified form of thinking that conditions harmlessness, friendliness, so I am comfortable with it. But you're right, kamma is not so simple. People are moving from light to darkness, darkness to light, light to light and dark to dark, is how a sutta puts it, I think. Nice example, a deva reborn as liar/cheat in human realm because of delusions formed in heavenly realm.

I heard a rather crude teaching in line with what I was saying today, Sayadaw U Pandita saying (though his interpretor) that anyone born in the United States, where there is plenty of pleasant objects (really?) must have had good kamma to be born there! So I am not the only who simplifies (or gets things a little wrong, I dare say!) :smile:

Metta,

Phil
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby SeerObserver » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:44 pm

phil wrote: Hi Seer. Thanks, I like very much the way you put that - "it would behoove you consider this as well." That is what dhamma friends should always say to each other.

Yes, my interpretation is simplified. But it's an example of a simplified form of thinking that conditions harmlessness, friendliness, so I am comfortable with it. But you're right, kamma is not so simple. People are moving from light to darkness, darkness to light, light to light and dark to dark, is how a sutta puts it, I think. Nice example, a deva reborn as liar/cheat in human realm because of delusions formed in heavenly realm.

I heard a rather crude teaching in line with what I was saying today, Sayadaw U Pandita saying (though his interpretor) that anyone born in the United States, where there is plenty of pleasant objects (really?) must have had good kamma to be born there! So I am not the only who simplifies (or gets things a little wrong, I dare say!) :smile:

Metta,

Phil

You're definitely not wrong. I just wanted to add value and background to the interpretation. If someone can use the mindset you have explained in order to view others in a better light and foster good relationships and interactions, then more power to it. It will lead to more good karma and energy created which will beget more of the same. That is most likely the intention of the Sayadaw as well.
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Re: A Rare Opportunity

Postby phil » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Manapa wrote:Hi SO
While Phils quote on the surface seems more tibetan inspired it does have its basis in theravada texts (their is a thread asking about a quote from the suttas regarding this, I don't think any one has pin pointed where from though and I don't know exactly where myself).
If it was potential I would use it as a concept, and it is something mirrored within my current "philosophy", my life shows this in many, many ways and I am sure allot of others here at DW would of seen this also.


Hi all

I came across that sutta today. (Samyutta Nikaya 56:48) Let me type out the Bhikkhu Bodhi translation. I love the imagery: "Bhikkhus, suppose that this great earth had become one mass of water, and a man would throw a yoke with a single hole upon it. An easterlywind would drive it westward; a westerly wind would drive it eastward; a northerly wind would drive it southward; a southernly wind would drive it northward. (Suppose) there was a blind turtle which would come to the surface once every hundred years. What do you think, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole?"
"It would be by chance, venerable sir, that the blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, would insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole."
"So too, bikkhus, it is by chance (in a footnote BB makes it clear that this is rhetoric, of course such rebirth is due to conditions) that one obtains the human state; by chance that a Tathaagata, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One arises in the world; by chance that the Dhamma and Discipline proaclaimed by the Tathaagata shines in the world. You have obtained that human state, bhikkhus; a Tathaagata, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One has arisen in the world; the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathaagata shines in the world.
Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: 'This is suffering...An exertion should be made to understand: 'This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.'"

(end quote)

Now, we could say that the Buddha is speaking to bhikkhus in his immediate presence, so the fortuitousness (sp?) of their birth can't be compared to our own and it can certainly be shown that the truth of Dhamma doesn't shine as brightly in the world as it once did. Nevertheless, I think we who spend our time hanging out on these Dhamma sites (it feels obsessive sometimes, doesn't it?) can feel that our compulsion to get closer and closer to the Buddha's teaching represents a sign of very good fortune in rebirth, that there has been great kamma at work. I think we can feel very encouraged by this rare opportunity we have! And if we can help a few other minds wake up to the Dhamma that they were born with an opportunity to know, all the better. (easier said than done, people are always so tied up by questions about kamma and rebirth that one rarely gets further!)

Metta,

Phil
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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