Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

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Sherab
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Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Sherab »

The Buddha kept his mouth shut on certain subjects. Why didn't he keep his mouth shut on these?
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retrofuturist
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Sherab,
Sherab wrote:The Buddha kept his mouth shut on certain subjects. Why didn't he keep his mouth shut on these?
It's worth differentiating between conventional wisdom and experiential wisdom.

Experiential wisdom is that which you have confirmed through your own experience. It is that which you know to be true.

Conventional wisdom is that which is understood to be 'the way of the world'. It is that which you accept to be true, and does not disagree with what you know to be true.

What the Buddha professed to be an expert on was that pertaining to the Four Noble Truths. Where conventional wisdom was used as a means of communicating the Dhamma by the Buddha, it did not conflict with that which he knew to be true.

Therefore, if the Four Noble Truths is the domain of one's interest (which arguably it should be for a Buddhist), then the falsity of conventional wisdom is irrelevant where it does not compromise what the Buddha knew and taught to be true in relation to the Four Noble Truths.

Therefore, making scientific objects to certain sutta passage a complete irrelevancy, in my opinion. Just as you wouldn't ask a biologist or physicist for definitive answers on spiritual matters, don't go to spiritual masters in search of definitive answers on questions of biology and physics.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Sherab
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Sherab »

Hi Retro, you missed the point I was trying to make.

Buddha did not comment on certain things because any comments he make on those things would not be conducive to tranquilling the mind, reduction of suffering, progress towards liberation from samsara etc. If so, the same criteria should apply to things like earthquakes, Meru and Big Fish in the deep oceans.

So my "Why" remains unanswered.
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Sherab,
Sherab wrote:you missed the point I was trying to make.
I wonder why if you had a point to make you were doing it in the Discovering Theravada forum which is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)"
Sherab wrote:Buddha did not comment on certain things because any comments he make on those things would not be conducive to tranquilling the mind, reduction of suffering, progress towards liberation from samsara etc. If so, the same criteria should apply to things like earthquakes, Meru and Big Fish in the deep oceans.

So my "Why" remains unanswered.
The Buddha (as recorded in the Suttas, at least) did not speak about these things arbitrarily and for the purpose of speaking of them, in and of themselves. The lessons were always connected to the Dhamma - the earthquake, Meru and big fish were just a means of communicating the underlying message.

So to answer the "why", I would suggest it was to teach the Dhamma (not to teach physics or biology) for the benefit of sentient beings.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Kenshou »

I think Retro is right, all these extraordinary tales are usually just kind of there as a conceptual reference point.

Though Mt. Meru doesn't actually exist the people have/had a certain concept of it, which is, really really big and all that, and so this concept can be used as a point of reference to communicate a point on dhamma. Just working off the common knowledge of the people for the sake of communication even if that reference point isn't even factual.
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Sherab
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Sherab »

retrofuturist wrote:
Sherab wrote:you missed the point I was trying to make.
I wonder why if you had a point to make you were doing it in the Discovering Theravada forum which is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)"
Because the topics "Science-Earthquake", "Science-Meru" and "Science-Big Fish?" were already in this sub-forum.
retrofuturist wrote:
Sherab wrote:Buddha did not comment on certain things because any comments he make on those things would not be conducive to tranquilling the mind, reduction of suffering, progress towards liberation from samsara etc. If so, the same criteria should apply to things like earthquakes, Meru and Big Fish in the deep oceans.

So my "Why" remains unanswered.
The Buddha (as recorded in the Suttas, at least) did not speak about these things arbitrarily and for the purpose of speaking of them, in and of themselves. The lessons were always connected to the Dhamma - the earthquake, Meru and big fish were just a means of communicating the underlying message.

So to answer the "why", I would suggest it was to teach the Dhamma (not to teach physics or biology) for the benefit of sentient beings.
Precisely. The focus was on the Dhamma and not on correcting the extant knowledge.

So as far as I am concerned, the "The Buddha was not an expert in these fields" argument does not answer the question. In fact, if someone were to say that the Buddha was not an expert in these areas, one could retort that then the Buddha should keep his mouth shut. As a figure of authority, he has no business making those statements as if he was an expert in those areas. He should just be honest and say sorry guys, these are not my field of expertise.
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Sherab,
Sherab wrote:As a figure of authority, he has no business making those statements as if he was an expert in those areas.
I think you are super-imposing your own value judgements and expectations in a particularly unskilful way.

The fact you have constructed this dilemma and are in turn conflicted by it, is a fabrication conducive to dukkha. If you wish to confound yourself with such speculation and conceptual proliferation then that's ultimately your volition.

On the other hand, I would not recommend what you are doing, and would suggest perhaps that if you've not already done so, you may wish to read the...

MN 18: Madhupindika Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

... and consider how you can apply it to the situation you find yourself in.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Paññāsikhara »

Sherab wrote:The Buddha kept his mouth shut on certain subjects. Why didn't he keep his mouth shut on these?
Can you first please cite the sources where the Buddha taught these three points - earthquake, meru and big fish?
Then we'll have a look at the sources, in their various readings. We can see if these are found in all the versions of the texts, which indicates some higher degree of antiquity, or if they are differing, given perhaps an indication of them being later additions.
Then, take out the other sources of these ideas in other Indian traditions, see where we can trace them to. And see what they mean.

Answer first the question of "Did the Buddha even make these statements?", rather than taking this as an a priori assumption.

It helps to have a, ahem, "scientific" approach to such questions, (commonly known as "philology"), especially if we are going to use rather emotive language like "Why didn't [the Buddha] keep his mouth shut on these?"

How about it?

(Or, the other option is, everything that falls under the big banner of "it's in the suttas!", we accept as being taught by the Buddha himself, word for word. ... But of course, how, um,... "scientific" is that?)
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Paññāsikhara »

The ironic question to ask, may be - anyone here really an "expert" on what the Buddha said, or did not say? :sage:
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Ben »

Dear Venerable,
Paññāsikhara wrote:The ironic question to ask, may be - anyone here really an "expert" on what the Buddha said, or did not say? :sage:
You are, indeed, a jewel.
Thanks for being here.
with metta

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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rahula80
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by rahula80 »

Hi Paññāsikhara,

> Can you first please cite the sources where the Buddha taught these three points - earthquake, meru and big fish?<

I believed I had done it for earthquake and big fist, in my first post under the respective topic. It would not be too difficult to locate the mere reference, if you want it.

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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Paññāsikhara »

rahula80 wrote:Hi Paññāsikhara,

> Can you first please cite the sources where the Buddha taught these three points - earthquake, meru and big fish?<

I believed I had done it for earthquake and big fist, in my first post under the respective topic. It would not be too difficult to locate the mere reference, if you want it.

Best wishes,
Rahula
Please do!
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by rahula80 »

Hi,

Paññāsikhara, for Meru:

AN VII.62 (Sattasuriya Sutta)
Sineru, monks, the monarch of montains, is eighty-four thousand yojanas in length and breadth; eighty-four thousand yojanas deep in the great ocean, and eighty-four thousand above it.

Samyutta Nikaya 13:11 The Mountain
“O monks, suppose that a man would place on Sineru, the king of mountains, seven grains of
gravel the size of mung beans. What do you think, which is more: the seven grains of gravel the
size of mung beans that have been placed there or Sineru, the king of mountains?”


Majjhima Nikaya i.228 (Maratajjaniya Sutta)
30. "I am one who, by liberaion,
Has touched the peak of Mount Sineru,
Visited India and Pubbavideha
And all the regions of the earth.
---------------

By the way, I just discover this:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5689" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by rahula80 »

Sumeru is said to be shaped like an hourglass. Now, I wonder if it is referring to wormhole?
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Re: Science - Earthquake, Meru, Big Fish

Post by Shonin »

rahula80 wrote:Sumeru is said to be shaped like an hourglass. Now, I wonder if it is referring to wormhole?
No. He is clearly referring to J.Lo
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