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A Couple of Questions - Dhamma Wheel

A Couple of Questions

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
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Heaviside
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A Couple of Questions

Postby Heaviside » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:10 pm

This is my first post after lurking on the forum for some time.

I am a retired electrical engineering professor who has been interested in Therevada since some time in the 1960's. I had plans to go to Burma then to study, but the military takeover there happened at an inauspicious time for me. I have been trying to meditate off and on for many years without really measurablle success. It seems that a new world opens right away, then recedes into the ungraspable infinite distance.

I wonder if I might pose a couple of questions, one serious and one perhaps more seni-serious?

First question: It seems to me that the core of Therevada does not really involve gods and the supernatural; yet almost everthing I have consulted devolves sooner or later to the mystical. For instance the dissolution of the khandas and recombination into a new individual seems to have a strong parallel with modern genetics. However, the idea of rebirth in a lower or higher life form depending upon present karmic actions seems a bit far-fetched. And the Buddha himself would not state whether he was a god or not (the "noble silence"). If ego is a no-no, why do I sense a strong ego in many of the suttas?

Second question: Why are so many Buddhist monks obese? :roll:

All the best, with metta.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:34 pm

The second question is easy - they have to rely on the lay people for food, and the desire to provide delicious, exciting meals for the monks often trumps the desire to give them healthy food. I've even seen a few monasteries where they have a sign up that says, "Please consider the health of the monks" and then a little accompanying chart explaining calories, nutrients, etc. That vague suggestion is about has concrete as the monks can get without breaking Vinaya.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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daverupa
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:00 am


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:14 am

He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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pilgrim
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby pilgrim » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:43 am

Apart from the morning alms round which not all monks participate in regularly, there isn't much physical activity in the life of a monk. Maybe just some sweeping and washing.

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Heaviside
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Heaviside » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:19 am

Thanks for the responses folks. Please understand that I am not at all trying to be negative here. These are simply honest questions I have been mulling upon.

Modus Ponens said "Pride/ego, while not a virtue, was not a thing that the Buddha opposed firmly, afaik. What he opposed firmly was seeing the khandas as a self. which has little to do with pride, or ego in the western vocabulary." Well, it seems to me that the glue which holds holds the khandas together (in our self image) is the ego. I don't have immediate access to the suttas as I write this, but the Buddha often spoke of himself as "the perfect one" and likened his teaching to a handful of leaves as contrasted with all the leaves in the forest which, he said, were equivalent to his knowledge.

I don't claim at all to understand this for it seems to me to be quite a conundrum: we need a sense of self to exist in this world, which is filled with aggression and competiveness, but it leads us into a distorted sense of who we are.

Let me pose the following question. When I am meditating and a distraction arises, what recognizes it and decides to let it go? And where is this thing located?

All the best.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

pegembara
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby pegembara » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:16 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Sam Vara
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:43 am


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:03 pm

He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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kirk5a
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby kirk5a » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:07 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Heaviside
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Heaviside » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:44 pm

But the Buddha used a reductio ad absurdum in one of the suttas (wish I could remember which, but I could dig up the reference) to show that the "I" doesn't exist. He asked, for example, does it reside in any of the six sense bases and showed it could not. He thus eliminated all possibilities one by one. Ergo, the "I" does not exist.

Now I did not mean a material object when I asked what recognizes, but which faculty? I suppose it would have to be in the contact between mind and mental formations, but mind as a sense base has always seemed to me to be a rather vague concept.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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IanAnd
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby IanAnd » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Last edited by IanAnd on Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Sam Vara
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:36 pm


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Heaviside
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Heaviside » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:46 pm

Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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Nyorai
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby Nyorai » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:21 am

ImageTo become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image

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IanAnd
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Re: A Couple of Questions

Postby IanAnd » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:23 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV


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