Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

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

Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:31 am

Greetings,

There's a website at http://www.justbegood.net/ with the tagline "Anyone can go to heaven, just be good"

What do you think of this tagline?

Is promoting heavenly realms as a future destination a good or bad way to promote the Dhamma in the 21st century?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:48 am

Hi Retro,

It reminds me of a gradual method of teaching the laity that the Buddha sometimes uses in the suttas. He teaches some lay followers first about giving, then about sila/ moral discipline, then about heavenly realms (sagga), then about the dangers in sense pleasures and the blessings of renunciation, then he teaches about the Four Noble Truths.

For many people today this (goodness & heaven doctrine) is a good way to begin to explore the Dhamma in my opinion, because it starts with beliefs that many people already share. For me it would have had the opposite effect (repulsion), if this had been my first exposure to Buddhism.

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:27 am

Greetings Ed,

sukhamanveti wrote:For me it would have had the opposite effect (repulsion), if this had been my first exposure to Buddhism.


Mine too, on account of the reliance on sheer faith.

In a world jaded by the unverifiable promises of religions, demonstratable here-and-now benefits seem a much more compelling opening gambit to me.

To quote U Ba Khin, "This is the age of science. Men today have no utopia. They will not accept anything unless the results are good, concrete, vivid, personal and here-and-now."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby salmon » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:"Anyone can go to heaven, just be good"

What do you think of this tagline?


Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. Then he addressed the monks saying, "Monks." — "Venerable Sir," said the monks, by way of reply. The Blessed One then spoke as follows:

"Monks, eleven advantages are to be expected from the release (deliverance) of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness (metta), by the cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice, and by establishing them. What are the eleven?

1. "He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.

"These eleven advantages, monks, are to be expected from the release of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness, by cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice and by establishing them."

So said the Blessed One. Those monks rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html

It's not wrong... :tongue:
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby Jechbi » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:"Anyone can go to heaven, just be good"

What do you think of this tagline?
I think it greatly oversimplifies things. "Just be good" sound like something a parent tells a 7-year-old. Kinda vague and unhelpful, in my opinion.

retrofuturist wrote:Is promoting heavenly realms as a future destination a good or bad way to promote the Dhamma in the 21st century?
Probably not a good way, because assuming the person is not familiar with Dhamma to begin with, this approach is misleading. It's like a bait-and-switch tactic. Ultimately, getting to heavenly realms doesn't help at all if afterward rebirth occurs in, for example, a hell realm when the kamma that got you to heaven is exhausted.

Just my 2 cents.
:smile:
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:15 am

Hi Retro

It is music to my eyes to read you quoting U Ba Khin!

Personally, I think its erroneous and misldeading to say that all one need do is be good in this life to secure a future life in a heavenly realm. It ignores the operation of past evil kamma which is not absolved sheerly by perfect sila.
If one were to define 'good' as to include the eradication of one's defilements, then I think one has a better chance of acquiring a future in the heavenly realms if that is what one has focused their energies on in this life.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby Jechbi » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:31 am

Just say no.

The battle cry of a generation.
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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.
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:43 am

i think it's aimed at singapore(ians?) who are being told many things about heaven from both islam and christianity, so this idea that one only needs to be a good person, not some zealot or whatever is probably a shock and maybe a relief to many
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:50 am

Greetings JC,

Interesting... so it presupposes a belief in heaven and a desire to go there.

To borrow a line from the Mahayana tradition, I can see how this could well be one of the 84,000 Dharma Gates.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:11 am

Jechbi wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:"Anyone can go to heaven, just be good"

What do you think of this tagline?
I think it greatly oversimplifies things. "Just be good" sound like something a parent tells a 7-year-old. Kinda vague and unhelpful, in my opinion.

retrofuturist wrote:Is promoting heavenly realms as a future destination a good or bad way to promote the Dhamma in the 21st century?
Probably not a good way, because assuming the person is not familiar with Dhamma to begin with, this approach is misleading. It's like a bait-and-switch tactic. Ultimately, getting to heavenly realms doesn't help at all if afterward rebirth occurs in, for example, a hell realm when the kamma that got you to heaven is exhausted.

Just my 2 cents.
:smile:


Hi Jechbi,

The website has more depth than it seems. It deals with the cultivation of positive mind states, deeds of body, speech, and mind, and does in fact address the exhaustion of kamma: "While existence in a Heavenly realm may be for an extremely long time, it is still not forever. Beings in such realms will also eventually pass away and be reborn once their positive kamma has been exhausted." It also addresses Nibbana. It is actually quite orthodox.

I would argue that some people do need a simplified encapsulation of a teaching, hence the success of "Jesus loves me."

This is all just my POV.

Metta,
Ed
Last edited by sukhamanveti on Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:26 am

Ben wrote:Hi Retro

It is music to my eyes to read you quoting U Ba Khin!

Personally, I think its erroneous and misldeading to say that all one need do is be good in this life to secure a future life in a heavenly realm. It ignores the operation of past evil kamma which is not absolved sheerly by perfect sila.
If one were to define 'good' as to include the eradication of one's defilements, then I think one has a better chance of acquiring a future in the heavenly realms if that is what one has focused their energies on in this life.
Kind regards

Ben


Hi Ben,

The website does address your concerns: "Which realm or plane we will be reborn in depends on the kamma which we have accumulated for ourselves in this life, as well the kamma accumulated in our previous lives." It also discusses the cultivation of wholesome mental states.

It is better than it may appear at first glance.

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ed,

sukhamanveti wrote:For me it would have had the opposite effect (repulsion), if this had been my first exposure to Buddhism.


Mine too, on account of the reliance on sheer faith.

In a world jaded by the unverifiable promises of religions, demonstratable here-and-now benefits seem a much more compelling opening gambit to me.

To quote U Ba Khin, "This is the age of science. Men today have no utopia. They will not accept anything unless the results are good, concrete, vivid, personal and here-and-now."

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

I have decided to modify my position. It occurs to me that I am being inconsistent. In another thread I wrote, "Blind faith has no place in Theravada Buddhism." I have made similar comments prior to that, including those in the post in which I introduced myself. Any Buddhist website ought to at the very least mention the many Buddhist truths that are observable right now (e.g., change, impermanence, happiness depending upon causes and conditions, clinging to impermanent phenomena leads to suffering, etc.) and the fact that one can come to know and see the truth of all Theravada Buddhist teachings for oneself. Much more can be said, of course.

I haven't noticed such things at the be good website so far.

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby appicchato » Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:34 am

Jechbi wrote:...assuming the person is not familiar with Dhamma to begin with...


Quite the contrary...the people (mostly one person) are based in Singapore and do many good works concerning Buddhism...including translating, and dispensing many books, CD's, and other material for free (postage too)...not everyone is 'on' the path, nor wants to be...these folks are reaching out, and I believe their hearts are in the right place...if I were asked... :heart:
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby nathan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:33 am

A heavenly rebirth is honestly what a lot of people want. Unskillful and skillful means both exist. Wherever and whenever that desire ripens in action and bears fruit in results, it is counterproductive to deny that the meritorious and/or liberating kamma supportive of heavenly rebirth are realizable through effort and practice. We could add a hundred compounded conditions as modifiers for this and probably most of us have read threads doing so a hundred times as well. This appears to be a silly way of putting things at first but people can often be silly too and speak a silly language. It would be ridiculous to dissuade the happy and virtuous people I know from being happy and virtuous people in any way regardless of what the future outcomes of that might be. Decent and meritorious lives is often a lot of what engaging in living to those kinds of aspirations turns out being like anyways. For the sincere and faithful of a lot of faiths. The ones who make the news are the same as everywhere as well, can be a little controversial, at least, communication is essentially attention seeking behavior.
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby salmon » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:22 am

Hi,

I do not understand why people feel that this website (justbegood) is bad for Buddhism? Does it address questions, worries and expectations of beginners? Yes, rather well in fact.

I am not ashamed to admit that what attracted me to Buddhism in the very beginning before I knew what Theravada teachings was about and that there was such a thing called Nibbana, was the simplicity of the religion. All I had to do was TRY to maintain the 5 precepts. No need to chant, no need to meditate. Just maintain the 5 precepts and I would be alright. I wouldn't be a bad person. So I decided to hang around to find out more. And then I found out that one had a better chance of a good rebirth if one did good. Cool. I can do that. Then I learnt that we should be trying to get out of even BEING BORN. Wow...what a challenge, but I could by now see the sufferings of being reborn. Step by step, little by little. I'm not born smart. And being overwhelmed with information like "There is suffering." in the beginning stages of learning about a religion would have completely befuddled me and made me lose confidence in myself to be a good Buddhist.

We need different levels of teachings for different people. We can't expect Primary School children to understand a University syllabus, right?

I apologize for this little rant, but I feel that the criticisms directed towards the intention of this person is rather sad. As more advanced pratitioners, should we not be expressing Mudita instead? There there are people out there trying to reach out to everyone to tell them, it's okay to be practitising ANY religion as long as you are doing good?

Bhante Appichato is right, the person who has written and distributed these books have done ALOT of dana. He builds schools in Burma, and distributes dhamma books for free. What have we done for the sasana?
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:52 am

Anyone can go to heaven, just be good, but the real work is more than that, which is what seems to the point of the website.
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: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:29 am

Greetings Salmon,

salmon wrote:I do not understand why people feel that this website (justbegood) is bad for Buddhism?


I do not think anyone has said it is.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby genkaku » Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:01 am

There are a hundred confusions that can arise out of notions like "heaven" and "being good." Likewise, some pretty good clarity and kindness may be born.

My own take is that those who call themselves Buddhists need to stop cringing when others mention "God" and "heaven" and "hell" and other notions that do not seem to accord with their own views and practices.

As Buddhists, I think we all need to get it straight: We too believe in heaven and hell and God and good and evil. We too strive for something else. We too make errors of thought, word and deed. No kidding. How did any of us begin our practice? Wasn't it with belief and hope? And isn't the world of "being good" and "heaven" and "hell" basically a way of expressing belief and hope? And didn't we too, at one time or another, become aware of what nitwits we could be? True, our nitwit-dom may not have led to a series of Crusades or shoving some "intelligent design" down school children's throats, but let's not pretend that what we have side-stepped makes us any the less nitwits. Our temples and texts and holy writ are every bit as capable of leading people -- people who suffer -- down a misguided path.

What saves Buddhists from their own nitwit-dom -- assuming they consent to practice -- is the injunction/imperative not to stop practicing, not to get caught up in the trickery of "goodness" or "heaven" or "hell" or "enlightenment" or "compassion" or "emptiness" or whatever. We are fortunate. Others -- some of them Buddhists -- may not be so fortunate. People may work day and night to explain why and how this happens (let's have another 'karma' discussion :)), but the important part is that it does happen.

Within this framework -- assuming it is true -- it is not enough to play the humble game ... "Ah yes, I too can be a nitwit!" And it is not enough to play the bright-light game ... "Ah, how fortunate I am to have found this upright and correct path!" The only thing that is enough is to persist in an attentive and responsible practice.

As Gautama is alleged to have said, "It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern. It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern."

Nitwit or sage ... what other choice is there?
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby thornbush » Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:13 am

genkaku wrote:Nitwit or sage ... what other choice is there?

The average and reasonably fool proof joe/jane in the street? :rolleye:
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Re: Anyone can go to heaven, just be good

Postby LuzdelaLuna » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:16 pm

Image

I identifiy with Mr. Natural. I don't qualify for heaven, having been so bad in my life and I continue to do bad things....and good things....and just plain ol' things....

:tongue:
If you can't find the truth right in front of you, where do you expect to find it? - Dogen

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