Science-Earthquake

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Science-Earthquake

Postby rahula80 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:38 am

Hi,

"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

How do you understand this passage in light of science?

Thanks a lot,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:42 am

Well Rahula, maybe you can enlighten us?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby SamKR » Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:35 am

rahula80 wrote:Hi,

"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

How do you understand this passage in light of science?

Thanks a lot,
Rahula


Atmosphere?? I think the translation could be better. There are four Mahābhūta and Space as traditionally believed in Buddhism and Hinduism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81bh%C5%ABta) . And they can be understood in subtle sense (rather than in usual coarse sense). If understood in the subtle sense the reason of earthquake as some subtler Mahābhūta may make sense.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:59 am

I wonder how 'atmosphere' got in there.

rahula80 wrote:"This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes." (Digha Nikaya 16)

"Ayaṃ, ānanda, mahāpathavī udake patiṭṭhitā, udakaṃ vāte patiṭṭhitaṃ, vāto ākāsaṭṭho. Hoti kho so, ānanda, samayo, yaṃ mahāvātā vāyanti. Mahāvātā vāyantā udakaṃ kampenti. Udakaṃ kampitaṃ pathaviṃ kampeti. Ayaṃ paṭhamo hetu paṭhamo paccayo mahato bhūmicālassa pātubhāvāya."

wiki: "An atmosphere (New Latin atmosphaera, created in the 17th century from Greek ἀτμός [atmos] "vapor" and σφαῖρα [sphaira] "sphere") is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body."

[Warning: the following quote is not about the Pali word vaata]: "The word Vaata is derived from the Sanskrit root Va gatigandhanayoh. The word gati means movement. So Vaata is the initiator of all life processes that are dynamic in nature. It is similar to the air/wind and possesses the following six qualities:
1. Rooksha – dry
2. Laghu – light
3. Seeta – cold
4. Khara – rough
5. Sukshma – subtle (capable of passing through even the subtlest pore)
6. Chala – moving, unstable
Though all pervading by nature, Vaata has some specific locations in our body."
http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Three_Doshas#Vaata

Other translations have 'wind' in place of sister Vajira and Francis Story's 'atmosphere'.

also Visuddhimagga XIII, 183: "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in/out tranquillizing the bodily formation.' That being so, there is production of awareness of wind (vaato) and there is production of in-breaths and out-breaths..."

How is vaato related to the mahabhuuta vaayo?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Moth » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:33 am

Well if you consider lava to be liquid rock, then it makes sense that earthquakes are dependant upon shifts in liquids as these molten liquids are what move plates beneath the earth and thus cause them collide creating earthquakes.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:44 am

Greetings Rahula,

The Buddha was explaining this in accord with cosmology as it was understood at the time.

Whether he did know, or could have known otherwise, are rather speculative and ultimately unrewarding questions, that are neither connected with dukkha nor its cessation.

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sherab » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:The Buddha was explaining this in accord with cosmology as it was understood at the time.

Whether he did know, or could have known otherwise, are rather speculative and ultimately unrewarding questions, that are neither connected with dukkha nor its cessation.

Having a science background, seeing such passages in the suttas IS dukkha to me. :tantrum:
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:26 am

retrofuturist wrote:Whether he did know, or could have known otherwise, are rather speculative and ultimately unrewarding questions, that are neither connected with dukkha nor its cessation.

Yet it was taught by buddha, towards the end of his life, and to Ananda of all people. Odd circumstances for an unrewarding lie. What's wrong with saying "I don't know" or "There may also be another cause" or "It doesn't matter"? Could it be that we just haven't understood the Pali correctly? Cf. atmosphere, winds, etc.,...Buddha's rolling in his grave! :rofl:
The Buddha was explaining this in accord with cosmology as it was understood at the time.

A reasonable assumption. I wouldn't mind seeing where else this cause of earthquakes was previously recorded in the same terms.
Sherab wrote:Having a science background, seeing such passages in the suttas IS dukkha to me. :tantrum:

Which passages? How are they mistaken?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:18 am

Greetings Sherab,

Sherab wrote:Having a science background, seeing such passages in the suttas IS dukkha to me. :tantrum:

Whilst I sense there was an element of humour to your posting, it's worth investigating the cause of this dukkha you speak of, and observe that it is rooted in either craving or aversion.

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: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sherab » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sherab,

Sherab wrote:Having a science background, seeing such passages in the suttas IS dukkha to me. :tantrum:

Whilst I sense there was an element of humour to your posting, it's worth investigating the cause of this dukkha you speak of, and observe that it is rooted in either craving or aversion.

Metta,
Retro. :)

You are right Retro. It is rooted in my craving to understand what the Buddha was saying and in my aversion to apparent contradiction between what the Buddha said and modern science. :? :geek:
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Shonin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:59 am

The simple and realistic explanation is just that Buddha's area of expertise was the human condition and that some of his understandings about things were taken as given from the culture in which he lived. He didn't as far as we know challenge the basic physical facts of the universe as was understood at the time: the earth is flat with four continents, where they meet is a huge mountain (Mt Meru/Sumeru) with various level of beings living on it etc. I don't know if he specifically said any of this or not, but he doesn't seem to have challenged it. He certainly taught about various beings and realms which would have been 'common knowledge' at the time but which would make most modern people squint. He was not God and while he may have been awakened, he was not omniscient. I think it is healthier to accept that rather than practice a sort of Buddhist fundamentalism.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sherab » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:18 am

"Buddhist fundamentalism"? :roll:
"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. SN 56.31
I think the Buddha had to explain things according to the accepted knowledge of the times, even if he knew that the accepted knowledge was incorrect. Why? Because otherwise, he would end up wasting time and energy trying to refute the accepted knowledge, time and energy that would be best used to propagate his message.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:28 am

The simplest and (IMO) by far the best solution to the clash between the Buddha's cosmology and modern science is Shonin's: to say that the Buddha's area of expertise was human nature, not the hard sciences, and that it is perfectly reasonable to accept that modern science has surpassed the Buddha's knowledge in some areas.
Any other course leads to irreconcilable contradictions, which I haven't time to spell out now and most people should be able to work out for themselves anyway..
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Shonin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:37 am

Sherab wrote:"Buddhist fundamentalism"? :roll:


You better believe it

Sherab wrote:"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. SN 56.31
I think the Buddha had to explain things according to the accepted knowledge of the times, even if he knew that the accepted knowledge was incorrect. Why? Because otherwise, he would end up wasting time and energy trying to refute the accepted knowledge, time and energy that would be best used to propagate his message.


Your quote doesn't show that Buddha was omniscient. It only shows that he was a pragmatist who didn't share everything he knew or believed he knew. Evidence for omniscience might be revealing understanding of the world that was beyond that of that of his time and culture. In fact, aside from being a reformer of Vedic/Sramana thought at that time, his teachings correspond pretty much exactly to what we know of the culture of that time. You can believe that he was 'secretly omniscient' if you like, but this is a matter of faith, there's no evidence for it.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:55 am

Shonin wrote:He was not God and while he may have been awakened, he was not omniscient.

That's no reason to assume he would spread unnecessary BS among his closest students, those who already had full faith in his words and had been exposed to his methods for many years with all kinds of audiences.
Sherab wrote:I think the Buddha had to explain things according to the accepted knowledge of the times, even if he knew that the accepted knowledge was incorrect.

Even to a Sotapanna?
SamKR wrote:Atmosphere?? I think the translation could be better.

At least atmosphere is related to gravity, which plays as a part in the movement of liquid and earth (and wind).
http://www.ohhaveyouseenthis.com/2009/0 ... avity.html
http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/12418
Vāto ākāsaṭṭho...I think this kind of double nominative is usually an apposition, which would make this a Vāta that is ākāsaṭṭha, as opposed to a [non-ākāsaṭṭha] Vāta that is established upon ākāsaṭṭha as mahāpathavī is upon udaka.
If this--Vāto ākāsaṭṭho--is an idiom that continues the preceding pattern using nominatives instead of repeating the verb and normal noun declension, please show me where else it is used.
While this bare bones passage is clearly not an in-depth description of an earthquake cause/condition, I just want to know what part contradicts modern science: "Ayaṃ, ānanda, mahāpathavī udake patiṭṭhitā, udakaṃ vāte patiṭṭhitaṃ, vāto ākāsaṭṭho. Hoti kho so, ānanda, samayo, yaṃ mahāvātā vāyanti. Mahāvātā vāyantā udakaṃ kampenti. Udakaṃ kampitaṃ pathaviṃ kampeti. Ayaṃ paṭhamo hetu paṭhamo paccayo mahato bhūmicālassa pātubhāvāya."

http://www.etheric.com/GalacticCenter/GRB.html
Stellar winds, cosmic radiation, gravitational waves...far out! Vāto ākāsaṭṭho?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby Sherab » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:37 am

lojong1 wrote:
Sherab wrote:I think the Buddha had to explain things according to the accepted knowledge of the times, even if he knew that the accepted knowledge was incorrect.

Even to a Sotapanna?

Yes. Whatever he taught would be known eventually to others as well. Besides, do you think a Sotapanna has knowledge even close to a Buddha's?
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:10 am

Sherab wrote:
lojong1 wrote:
Sherab wrote:I think the Buddha had to explain things according to the accepted knowledge of the times, even if he knew that the accepted knowledge was incorrect.

Even to a Sotapanna?

Yes. Whatever he taught would be known eventually to others as well. Besides, do you think a Sotapanna has knowledge even close to a Buddha's?

A sotapanna does not have a buddha's knowledge, but he has faith in Buddha and all he teaches--especially strong faith when this particular sotapanna has personally attended Buddha for many years. His progress cannot be slowed by truth spoken by a Buddha--in person--even if contemporary science would not have accepted it.
Why teach non-truth to others that is already commonly accepted 'knowledge' of the times and also unrelated to liberation?
Buddha: "By the way, Ananda, this controversial earthquake business...some folks won't take it so well, so keep it to yourself eh?"
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:23 am

ākāsaṭṭho...I can't find much info on this word, except that some devas live there.
Oh found it, it's an adjective. Continuation of the "established upon" pattern is not entailed by the Pali. Vaato may not be to ākāsaṭṭho as earth to water and water to vaato.
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby rahula80 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:28 pm

Hi,

Many thanks to all of you. Interesting.

Lojong1, perhaps you could offer a translation? Maybe together with a commentary?

Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Earthquake

Postby lojong1 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:57 pm

rahula80 wrote:Lojong1, perhaps you could offer a translation? Maybe together with a commentary?
You slay me! I can't read Pali, and my native language skills are fading with disuse.
I just mug and bluff here because "Different types of people see the same thing differently and thus a group working together can get an all round understanding (this is only valid if the ‘work group’ contains enough diversity, which is often not the case); and differences between people can lead to useful ‘friction’ providing energy for inner work."
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