Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

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Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:42 pm

This quote from Frank Zappa popped up today:
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official) [on Facebook] wrote:Celebrate the birthday of Frank Zappa who said: "The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the Tree of Knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your f*** mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions."

Image

Here's a comment from Bhikkhadasa Bhikkhu on how the fruit might be interpreted in a different way.

In No Religion http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... ORELIG.HTM he writes:
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu wrote:The word "die" provides another example. In people
language, "to die" means that the bodily functions have stopped,
which is the kind of death we can see with our eyes. However, "die"
in the language used by God has quite a different meaning, such as
when he spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden telling them not
to eat the fruit of a certain tree, "for in the day that you eat of it
you shall die" (Gen. 2:17). Eventually, Adam and Eve ate that fruit,
but we know that they didn't die in the ordinary sense, the kind that
puts people into coffins. That is, their bodies didn't die. Instead,
they died in another way, in the Dhamma language sense, which is a
spiritual death much more cruel than being buried in a coffin. This
fate worse than death was the appearance of enormous sin in their
minds, that is, they began to think in dualistic terms--good and
evil, male and female, naked and clothed, husband and wife, and so on.
The pairs of opposites proliferated making the pain very heavy, so
much so that their minds were flooded by a suffering so severe that
it's impossible to describe. All this has been passed down through
the years and inherited by everyone living in the present era.

The consequences have been so disastrous that the Christians
give the name "original sin" to the first appearance of dualistic
thinking. Original Sin first happened with that primordial couple and
then was passed on to all their descendants down to this very day.
This is what God meant by the word "death"; whenever we partake of
this fruit of dualism (from the "tree of the knowledge of good and
evil") we must die right then and there. This is the meaning of
"death" in Christian language.

"Death" has the same meaning in the language of the
Buddha. Why is this so? Because both religions are pointing to the
same truth concerning attachment and dualism. Whenever
dualistic thoughts arise there is bound to be suffering, which is
death. Death means the end of everything good, the end of happiness,
the end of peace, the end of everything worthwhile. This is the
meaning of "death" in Dhamma language. Most of us die this way many
times each day.


Any comments about this interpretation of the Dhamma?
Whenever dualistic thoughts arise there is bound to be suffering...


:anjali:
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:51 pm

Any comments about this interpretation of the Dhamma?


1) Normally for very important subjects, we tend to be very clear about the exact meanings of terms, and we make sure that if we use analogies and metaphors they are understood as such. If dualistic thoughts are so important as to justify being linked to the idea of death, then we ought to be sure that we can also distinguish them from death. Fire in crowded buildings is a source of trouble and suffering; which is why we have clearly labelled "fire alarms", rather than "trouble and suffering indicators".

2) Knowing good from bad is a form of dualism. Even though it doubtless brings suffering, the suffering might be the least important thing about it.

3) What is non dualistic thinking like?

4) If "die" has at least two meanings according to whether it features in "people language" or "the language of God/the Dhamma", we can guess at the fun we are going to have with the word "dualism". Someone tell me what God thinks it means, because I don't want to be at a disadvantage here...
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:54 am

Thanks Sam,

Bhuddhadasa Bhikkhu does go on to explain:
We must always be aware of the true nature of Dhamma,
that in reality there is no duality of any sort--no gain, no loss,
no happiness, no suffering, no good, no evil, no merit, no sin, no
male, no female. There is absolutely nothing at all that can be
separated and polarized into opposites. Rather than buy into them, we
ought to transcend.

The dualistic pairs are the basis of all attachment, so don't
fall for their tricks. Don't attach to any of them. Try to
understand that these things can never be seized and held onto because
they are impermanent, lack any real substance, and are not-self. Try
to go about your business with a mind that is unattached. Work with
a mind that clings to nothing and is free from all forms of
attachment. This is called "working with a void mind."

Actually, like you I think, I'm not sure why things need to be dualistic to be
"impermanent, lack any real substance, and not-self".
I.e., I'm not sure what dual/not dual adds to the Dhamma.

:anjali:
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:27 am

There's a very famous comedian here in Portugal that used to work for a journal of literature before becoming a comedian. He once interviewed a writer who wrote

"Autobiography in two verses:
My cats in the kitchen
play with the cockroaches"

He tried to interpret this poem, saying to her "I think what you're trying to say here is that the feline part of you, the part of you that is inteligent and agile plays with the part of you that is dark and unpleasant. Is that right?" She said: "No, no. It's just that I have two cats and they like to play with the cockroaches." This comedian says that that was the day he stopped trying to be a wise guy.

Why did I tell this story? Because I think that's what's going on with Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's interpretation of this story (not in the sense that he's trying to be a wise guy; in the sense that he's seeing meaning nowhere to be found).

In short, I think that Frank Zappa summed up much of Christianity with that interpretation.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby vinasp » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:03 am

Hi Mike,

Quote: "Any comments about this interpretation of the Dhamma?
"Whenever dualistic thoughts arise there is bound to be suffering... "
Quote: "I.e., I'm not sure what dual/not dual adds to the Dhamma."

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing? Where are long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:

Consciousness without feature,[1] without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness each is here brought to an end.'" [DN 11 - Kevaddha Sutta.]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby ground » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:02 am

From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.... then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

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


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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby vinasp » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:02 am

Hi everyone,

Some thoughts:

1. All conceptual thinking is dualistic, all thinking based on words is dualistic.

2. I think that Ven. Buddhadasa is correct that awakening requires that one somehow
transcends dualistic thinking.

3. The word used for non-dualistic thinking is panna - wisdom.

4. The problem is not the dualistic thoughts which arise now, but the fact that previous
dualistic thinking has led to the construction of a dualistic 'reality'. This dualistic
construction is the prison in which we are held.

5. The word for this dualistic construction is papanca. The state in which such a
dualistic construction has ceased is called - nipapanca.

6. We use language to construct a false 'reality', and then we do not see what is actual.

7. So awakening requires that we see that concepts and words are limited. The actual
cannot be expressed in words. Reality is inconceivable, which means that you are not
what you think you are.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Bakmoon » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:19 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Any comments about this interpretation of the Dhamma?
Whenever dualistic thoughts arise there is bound to be suffering...


:anjali:
Mike


That's pretty cool. I think that the Ven. Buddhadasa is certainly onto something.

In one sense, dualistic thinking is nessisary as good and evil need to be distinguished, and they are indeed distinguishable. However, although this distinction is valid, it is only at the level of Sammuti Dhamma, or of conventional reality.

Good and Evil don't exist at the level of ultimate reality, and are mere concepts. As long as we recognize that these are only part of conventional reality, we shouldn't have any problems, but of course, the human mind being what it is, mistakes these as part of ultimate reality and creates all sorts of problems.

That's just my take on it anyways.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby ground » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:27 am

Sam Vara wrote:3) What is non dualistic thinking like?

In reference to the thought there will be only the thought. :sage:
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:57 am

Dastardly dualism. Do I detect a bit of creeping Mahayana-ism?
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: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Aloka » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:10 am

Ajahn Sumedho had something to say about non-dualism in "The Way it Is"


NON-DUALISM

The significant offering of the Buddhist teaching lies in what we call non-dualism. Its the 'neither-nor' approach to philosophical questions. Monistic religion tends to talk about the One, the One God, or the Whole or the Buddha Nature, or the One Mind, and that's very inspiring. We turn to monistic doctrines for inspiration. But inspiration is only one level of religious experience, and you have to outgrow it. You have to let go of the desire for inspiration, or the belief in God or in the Oneness or in the One Mind or the all embracing benevolence or in the universal fairness.

I am not asking you to not disbelieve in those things either. But the non-dualistic practice is a way of letting go of all that, of seeing attachment to the views and opinions and perceptions, because the perception of one's mind is a perception, isn't it? The perception of a universal benevolence is perception which we can attach to. The Buddha-Nature is a perception. Buddha is a perception. The one God and everything as being one universal system, global village, all is one and one is all and everything is fair and everything is kind, God loves us: these are perceptions which might be very nice, but still they are perceptions which arise and cease. Perceptions of monistic doctrines arise and cease.

Now what does that do, as a practical experience, when you let things go and they cease? What's left, what's the remainder? This is what the Buddha is pointing to in teaching about the arising and cessation of conditions.


Continued :

http://www.amaravati.org/documents/the_way_it_is/18nod.html



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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:15 am

Aloka wrote: . . .
And certainly, non-dualism is just one more thing of which to let go.
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: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Aloka » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:44 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote: . . .
And certainly, non-dualism is just one more thing of which to let go.



He does say in the last paragraph:

I am not asking you to attach to a position of non-dualism


:anjali:
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:16 am

Aloka wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote: . . .
And certainly, non-dualism is just one more thing of which to let go.



He does say in the last paragraph:

I am not asking you to attach to a position of non-dualism


:anjali:
Non-dualism is at best is a tool, at worst, it is the worst sort of dualism.
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: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:And certainly, non-dualism is just one more thing of which to let go.


I'm happy to let go of it, because I never understood it anyway. :tongue:
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Mr Man » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:37 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Any comments about this interpretation of the Dhamma?
Whenever dualistic thoughts arise there is bound to be suffering...


It made me think of the teaching to Bāhiya http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.than.html

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Mr Man » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:46 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Non-dualism is at best is a tool, at worst, it is the worst sort of dualism.
Why the worst? Being fully committed to Non-dualism as a tool would be hard work if it didn't give results.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Dan74 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:03 pm

I think that Buddhadasa's interpretation of the Garden of Eden story far from being "too clever" and "reading too much into it" is very natural.

The story itself gives many clues that its true meaning is hidden. The Tree is called Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why would God not want Adam and Eve to know Good and Evil? Moreover He says they will die and they do not. God lies? Also the omnipotent Creator must've known that this is precisely what would happen. The Serpent tells Eve that she would become like God and in a way this is what happens - she and Adam become self-aware (realized they were naked), which is of course the beginnings of dualism.

The ancients were no fools and though the story is a sort of a parable, a myth, psychologically its meaning it has many layers of meaning, which is not to say it was necessarily consciously concealed. A similar interpretation would be standard in Jungian psychology where there is a lot more detail about each of the characters and their roles in the psyche.

As for dualistic thinking, this is simply papanca. Conceptual proliferation of categories and attaching to one kind. The Buddha talked about this in the 4 Noble Truths - attachment and aversion - the greatest dualism of all. So I don't quite buy into this notion that it is imported from Advaita, non-Buddhist, a distraction from the Dhamma, etc. It's a pretty radical recognition that our thinking is profoundly dualistic which helps peer beyond these categories and hopefully see it how it is before it is filtered through conditioned categories.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Aloka » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:06 pm

Mr Man wrote:It made me think of the teaching to Bāhiya http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.than.html


In "Small Boat, Great Mountain -Theravada Reflections on the Natural Great Perfection" with a forward by Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Ajahn Amaro mentions the above sutta on page 19. He also quotes ud 8.1 Nibbana Sutta on the previous page (though I think his translation must be the BB version and this one I'm quoting is by John Ireland) :
There is, bhikkhus, that base where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air; no base consisting of the infinity of space, no base consisting of the infinity of consciousness, no base consisting of nothingness, no base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this world nor another world nor both; neither sun nor moon. Here, bhikkhus, I say there is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, no uprising. Not fixed, not movable, it has no support. Just this is the end of suffering.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.8.01.irel.html


and after the ud 8.1quote, Ajahn Amaro comments:

Rigpa, non-dual awareness, is the direct knowing of this. It's the quality of mind that knows, while abiding nowhere.
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Re: Forbidden Fruit: Frank Zappa vs. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:58 pm

mikenz66 wrote:In No Religion http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... ORELIG.HTM he writes:
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu wrote:The word "die" provides another example. In people
language, "to die" means that the bodily functions have stopped,
which is the kind of death we can see with our eyes. However, "die"
in the language used by God has quite a different meaning, such as
when he spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden telling them not
to eat the fruit of a certain tree, "for in the day that you eat of it
you shall die" (Gen. 2:17). Eventually, Adam and Eve ate that fruit,
but we know that they didn't die in the ordinary sense, the kind that
puts people into coffins.


I think that again Buddhadasa is reading too much into ancient texts. The morale of Genesis 3 is simply that Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command and suffered the consequences.
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