Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Santi253 »

cappuccino wrote:
binocular wrote:And yet not everyone who reads those stories believes them. Why not?
They're not desperate, they don't realize they're in a desperate situation.
The Lotus Sutra promises that those who call on the name of Avalokitesvara will be relieved of the three poisons, and will be granted fearlessness.

So at a deeper level, what praying to celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas does is give people the inner strength and peace to solve their own difficulties.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by binocular »

Santi253 wrote:So at a deeper level, what praying to celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas does is give people the inner strength and peace to solve their own difficulties.
It doesn't to me, and surely I am not the only one.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 5522
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by cappuccino »

doubt is absence of faith

faith is absence of doubt

reading is helpful
"All men's souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine." -Socrates
Good for Your Soul
chownah
Posts: 9099
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by chownah »

Santi253 wrote:
chownah wrote: People don't need to think "gee, I think it is because of the bodhisatva ideals that I think that they will answer my prayers"....all they have to do is to read the stories in the lotas sutra and believe them.
The altruistic intent of buddhahood in Mahayana Buddhism is why celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas are believed to hear and answer prayer in the first place.
Seems like you might have it backwards.
Perhaps it is "people read stories of bodhisattvas and buddhas answering prayers and so they figure that buddahood has alatruistic intent.
chownah
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Santi253 »

chownah wrote:
Santi253 wrote:
chownah wrote: People don't need to think "gee, I think it is because of the bodhisatva ideals that I think that they will answer my prayers"....all they have to do is to read the stories in the lotas sutra and believe them.
The altruistic intent of buddhahood in Mahayana Buddhism is why celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas are believed to hear and answer prayer in the first place.
Seems like you might have it backwards.
Perhaps it is "people read stories of bodhisattvas and buddhas answering prayers and so they figure that buddahood has alatruistic intent.
chownah
I think you might be ignoring how Mahayana doctrine developed in the first place. I recommend reading Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations or a similar book.

Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations
https://books.google.com/books?id=GMN-A ... &q&f=false
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
Santi253
Posts: 982
Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:37 am
Contact:

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Santi253 »

binocular wrote:
Santi253 wrote:So at a deeper level, what praying to celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas does is give people the inner strength and peace to solve their own difficulties.
It doesn't to me, and surely I am not the only one.
The Lotus Sutra itself says that those who call on the name of Avalokitesvara will be relieved of the three poisons and will be granted fearlessness. These parts refer to calling on Avalokitesvara's name for the sake of one's spiritual development, rather than asking for material blessings.

I recommend reading the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra for yourself before further commenting on it:
http://www.fodian.net/world/0262_25.html

Thank you.
Non-violence is the greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. - Mahatma Gandhi

http://www.matthewsatori.tumblr.com
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Coëmgenu »

Santi253 wrote:
binocular wrote:
Santi253 wrote:So at a deeper level, what praying to celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas does is give people the inner strength and peace to solve their own difficulties.
It doesn't to me, and surely I am not the only one.
The Lotus Sutra itself says that those who call on the name of Avalokitesvara will be relieved of the three poisons and will be granted fearlessness. These parts refer to calling on Avalokitesvara's name for the sake of one's spiritual development, rather than asking for material blessings.

I recommend reading the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra for yourself before further commenting on it:
http://www.fodian.net/world/0262_25.html

Thank you.
If someone doesn't believe in devāḥ and celestial bodhisattvāḥ, I don't think reading the Lotus Sutra will necessarily convince them. Many people read Pali scriptures, in which the existence of devāḥ and supernatural beings is taken for granted, and read them through a lens of modernism, where these "otherworldly" elements are understood as products of the time and place that Buddhism originated in. Others are more likely to take an agnostic approach, being open to the notion of the existence of such things, but not considering it highly relevant to the here-and-now. I am somewhat of this persuasion. I have never seen a deva, or an asura, or a nāga, and I do not think I am likely to. I suppose they might exist, but it doesn't seem relevant to the here-and-now.

But in relation to devāḥ, in the Pali Canon:
Ekamantaṃ nisinne kho sunidha­vassakāre maga­dha­mahā­matte bhagavā imāhi gāthāhi anumodi:
Yasmiṃ padese kappeti,
vāsaṃ paṇḍitajātiyo;
Sīlavantettha bhojetvā,
saññate brahmacārayo

Yā tattha devatā āsuṃ,
tāsaṃ dakkhiṇamādise;
Tā pūjitā pūjayanti,
mānitā mānayanti naṃ.

Tato naṃ anukampanti,
mātā puttaṃva orasaṃ;
Deva­tā­nukam­pito poso,
sadā bhadrāni passatī

Atha kho bhagavā sunidha­vassakāre maga­dha­mahā­matte imāhi gāthāhi anumoditvā uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkāmi.


While sitting on one side the Gracious One rejoiced the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra with these verses:

“In that place where he makes his dwelling, having entertained
The wise and virtuous here, the restrained, who live the spiritual life,
He should dedicate a gift of merit to those Divinities who were in that place.
Honoured, they pay honour, revered, they revere him.

Thereafter they have compassion on him, as a mother on her own son,
A man whom the Divinities has compassion on always sees what is auspicious.”

Then the Gracious One after rejoicing the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra with these verses, after rising from his seat, went away.
(DN 16 Mahāparinibbāṇasutta, 12: Building up Pāṭaligāma/7: Pāṭali­putta­nagara­māpana, the Pali-English may be off, my apologies if such is the case.)

Whereas this is not really a "central teaching" of the Buddha per se, the "divinities" spoken of are beneficent devāḥ, and this gāthā ("hymn" or "praising verse-song") references pūjā ("worship/offering/anointing") to these devāḥ with beneficent results. Now however we interpret this is up to each of us individually, obviously.

It might remind, perhaps, of some ancient Greeks who did not believe in the gods, but still advocated the civic religion for its perceived good effects on societal welfare.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by binocular »

Coëmgenu wrote:If someone doesn't believe in devāḥ and celestial bodhisattvāḥ, I don't think reading the Lotus Sutra will necessarily convince them.
Ever heard -- [url=http://proverbs_new.enacademic.com/998/God_is_high_above,_and_the_tsar_is_far_away]God is high above, and the tsar is far away[/url] ?

It's not that I don't believe in devas. It's that I don't believe they do or would care for humans, or at least not for humans like me. And the Lotus Sutra sure isn't convincing me that they do care or that it would make sense to rely on them.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Coëmgenu »

binocular wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:If someone doesn't believe in devāḥ and celestial bodhisattvāḥ, I don't think reading the Lotus Sutra will necessarily convince them.
Ever heard -- [url=http://proverbs_new.enacademic.com/998/God_is_high_above,_and_the_tsar_is_far_away]God is high above, and the tsar is far away[/url] ?

It's not that I don't believe in devas. It's that I don't believe they do or would care for humans, or at least not for humans like me. And the Lotus Sutra sure isn't convincing me that they do care or that it would make sense to rely on them.
As I recall, once Malcolm said, over at DharmaWheel, that devāḥ rarely bother with us, because we smell absolutely revolting to them. I have no clue what the source was for that, but it strikes me as having its own internal logic to it.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
chownah
Posts: 9099
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by chownah »

Santi253 wrote:
chownah wrote:
Santi253 wrote:The altruistic intent of buddhahood in Mahayana Buddhism is why celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas are believed to hear and answer prayer in the first place.
Seems like you might have it backwards.
Perhaps it is "people read stories of bodhisattvas and buddhas answering prayers and so they figure that buddahood has alatruistic intent.
chownah
I think you might be ignoring how Mahayana doctrine developed in the first place. I recommend reading Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations or a similar book.

Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations
https://books.google.com/books?id=GMN-A ... &q&f=false
We have been discussing how people come to accept certain beliefs. How a doctrine evolves has nothing to do with how someone today comes to accept certain beliefs. You suggest that people somehow accept a doctrine of bodhisattvas being altruistic in intent....you give no explanation of how they come to learn or accept this. I suggest that people by reading the lotus sutra and seeing how some stories there contain people beseeching bodhisattvas and getting relief develop the idea that bodhisattvas are altruistic in intent.
chownah
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Coëmgenu »

chownah wrote:
chownah wrote:Perhaps it is "people read stories of bodhisattvas and buddhas answering prayers and so they figure that buddahood has alatruistic intent.
[...]

I suggest that people by reading the lotus sutra and seeing how some stories there contain people beseeching bodhisattvas and getting relief develop the idea that bodhisattvas are altruistic in intent.
chownah
I suppose bodhicitta is "why" bodhisattvas are altruistic in intent. I think it works the other way around. People believe the Buddha practiced metta, as a basic bare minimum, as a ground assumption. People believe in Nibbaana as "freedom from" X rather than "severing from X", as the first step. This is reasonable, because both the language of "freedom from-" and "seperation/severing from" is used in the earlier Buddhavacana (EBTs, etc.). After that, the notion of a compassionate Buddha who is "free" from samsara but not "separate" from of severed from samsara is posited. This Buddha (or X amount) and those of similar attainments are then understood to be compassionate & free from samsara.

One doesn't have to agree with it necessarily, but the seeds are there from the beginning.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 5783
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Mae Wang Huai Rin, Li District, Lamphun

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Dhammanando »

Coëmgenu wrote:As I recall, once Malcolm said, over at DharmaWheel, that devāḥ rarely bother with us, because we smell absolutely revolting to them. I have no clue what the source was for that, but it strikes me as having its own internal logic to it.
In the Pāyāsi Sutta this is Kumārakassapa's explanation to Prince Pāyāsi about why his deceased virtuous relatives don't come from the deva world to visit him:
Pāyāsi:
“Foul, Master Kassapa, is a dung pit, foul and counted as such, stinking, disgusting, repulsive, and counted as such.”

Kumārakassapa:
“Even so, Prince, are human beings in the eyes of the devas, foul and counted as such, stinking, disgusting, repulsive, and counted as such. The smell of man offends the devas a hundred leagues away. What then? Shall your friends and companions, your kinsmen and connections who, having kept the precepts, are reborn into the bright and happy place, come and bring you word that there is another world, that there is rebirth other than by parentage, that there is fruit and result of deeds well-done and ill-done?”

And in the commentary to the Maṅgala Sutta, the question is raised as to why the deva who came to visit the Buddha chose to stand rather than to sit down. Buddhaghosa replies:
“It was out of his desire to get away quickly. For when devas come for any purpose to the human world, they do so like a man of clean habits coming to a latrine. In fact, the human world is naturally repulsive to them even at a hundred yojanas’ distance owing to its stench, and they find no delight in it. So this deva refrained from sitting down since he wanted to get away quickly as soon as he had done what he came to do.”
(Khp-a. 117)
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
binocular
Posts: 8292
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote:I suggest that people by reading the lotus sutra and seeing how some stories there contain people beseeching bodhisattvas and getting relief develop the idea that bodhisattvas are altruistic in intent.
That, and a bodhisattva is defined as having altruistic intent to begin with.

What I find more pertinent is the issue of how come people trust or rely on other people's (declared) altruistic intents. You carry heavy bags, and a stranger comes to you, saying, "Here, let me help you with your bags" -- why believe that?
Is it out of greed, naivete, convenience, a sense of entitlement, absent-mindedness, the belief that the world is basically a good place and that people are basically good, ...?
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
Garrib
Posts: 605
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 8:35 pm

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Garrib »

Are you saying you don't believe that people are capable of compassionate action? Seems to sort of run counter to the Buddha's understanding, doesn't it? Not to mention basically every other religion?
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Theistic Belief/Believing in God/Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Post by Coëmgenu »

Garrib wrote:Are you saying you don't believe that people are capable of compassionate action? Seems to sort of run counter to the Buddha's understanding, doesn't it? Not to mention basically every other religion?
I can't speak for others, but I don't think Binocular meant anything quite so extreme. I think it was intended more as an observation that many altruistic behaviours are performed out of want of something.

For instance, personally, I can think of many times when I was "extra nice" to someone because I thought I might get Y or Z. I would have been "nice" either way, but I was "extra nice".
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Post Reply