gabrielbranbury wrote:I understand how science can be a very reliable tool for establishing how specific things happen and what they are like. I too give great credence to what is established in a scientific manner. Perhaps our Buddha used the language of Heavens and Hells because it was the most simple way to communicate to the people of his day.
That's a possibility.
But interpretations like this seem to argue the other side:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
After all the Buddha is recorded as saying something like "I teach suffering and the way to the end of suffering". Not knowing whether or not particular things exist out their is not the kind of ignorance which we need to overcome to be free.
Heavenstorm wrote:Besides, scientists will never call a dimension with very favourable or unfavourable conditions as heaven or hell even they fit the description. They will most certainly call those environments in the "scientific way" as utopian or exteremely hostile. Similarly, they call a highly advanced alien race as highly evolved or with a sophisticated culture rather than gods or devas. All this is due to their academic pride.
Personally, I would prefer for them to use terms like "utopian" or "unfavorable conditions." Words like "heaven", "hell", and "gods" carry too much religious baggage.
mettafuture wrote:My plan is to just look over this little tidbit, and keep my focus on practice.
Well done Mettafuture, well done!
If at any time you have doubts about this or that - refer back to the Apannaka Sutta (Incontrovertible Teaching) that Bhikkhu Pesala mentioned. The translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi in 'A translation of the Majjhima Nikaya' is particularly good and the end notes are excellent. In this discourse, the Buddha was addressing a group of people who were skeptics of rebirth and instead of just saying "rebirth exists - get over it!" appealed to their sense of logic. The Buddha didn't try to convince his interlocutors of the reality of rebirth but lead them via question and answer to a position where they accepted that to live a good life based on sila, renunciation and sense restraint was better than a life based on free licence. Anyway, although it is in response to skepticism of rebirth, I think the message is equally valid to those who may be equally skeptical of literal hell and heaven realms.
That's a good teaching. I'll keep the Apannaka Sutta in my rolodex.
I suggest having this discussion with Element/Dhamma Dhatu if he's still around. Here's an example of his response to a similar question elsewhere
Whatever the afterlife teaching, it is designed to encourage morality in people who are spirituality blind in that they cannot see good & evil for what they really are. The spiritually blind are taught via fear rather than via wisdom. The blind are not being taught 'sight' but, instead, fear.
This is one of my biggest problems that I have with the heaven and hell teachings. People who believe in heaven and hell do good because they want the fruits of heaven, and they avoid evil because they're terrified of hell. Why not do good just to do good, and avoid evil because its counterproductive? Would that not be the least selfish and intellectually honest approach to take?
The Buddha generally taught rebirth to those who already believed in it and taught 'not-self' to those pursuing the higher teachings that end suffering.
But a side of me still thinks he could have left the heaven / hell teachings out. But people can be stubborn, and difficult to talk to; I guess the Buddha did what he had to do to cut through their ignorance.
Aloka wrote:I interpret the different realms as states of mind from my personal experience in my present lifetime. Anything else is speculation and not relevant to my practice.
This is a good approach.
Buddhist meditation and the teachings on the middle way have been a great help in my life. I'm not going to give this up for what I perceive to be flaws. I'm going to take the advice given here and just put the heavens and hells aside, and continue practice.