Buddhism 101:

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Oh My
FANCY IMPORTANT NOTICE: This is not a debate thread. The purpose is not to debate the validity of Buddhism or the rationality of its followers or followers of religions in general.

Inspired by the Hinduism thread and opened partly in memory of the long lost Buddhism thread of OTC here is this shiny new thread on the topic.

Buddhism. It's one of the world's major religions. It came from India which is home to like three fourths of the world's religions and languages because it's crazy like that. Buddhism was founded by the former prince Siddhartha Gautama or Siddhatta Gotama. Most people know this man by the title of Buddha.

Not many know the intricacies of the religion however. This thread exists in part to deal with that! The rest of it being my own amusement but eh...The former thing is the more important goal.

So Buddhism? What's it point? What's the purpose?

To get to that let's talk about something we all know very well. Suffering. Suffering exists. We can't ignore that. From the most extreme of pains to the slightest of ailments suffering exists. There are anxieties, physical pains, illnesses, depression, fear, anger, distress, and so on.

Suffering isn't a constant however and it doesn't just randomly appear. There's causes to it. Maybe you have a chemical imbalance that has cursed you with the hell that is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Whatever it is there is a cause.

For most things there are held to be three causes. These are desire, attachment, and ignorance.

Let's say you want a puppy. Like really bad. You find a puppy that you think is totally awesome but you can't get it. This hurts. You want that puppy.

And then your parents get you the puppy. You're jumping off the walls with joy and you take good care of that dog. But one day it gets sick. Now what in the fuck do you do? You have no idea! Your dog is sick and hurting and you don't want it to be. You don't want to lose your precious dog! But what is wrong with it? You take it to the vet to find out and over time your dog gets better.

You return to normal life.

Now these are Truths 1 and 2 of The Four Noble Truths. They are the very foundation of Buddhism. The first true truths are the problem and the diagnosis.

But "There is suffering and this is why" isn't much of a foundation for a religion now is it? Surely there's a cure? There is. This cure is, according to The Buddha and followers of Buddhism, The Eightfold Path. A life plan and a way of living and carrying yourself that, in theory, will reduce your suffering and over time free you from the chains of rebirth.

These are truths 3 and 4. The existence of a cure and the cure.

So we have...
  1. There is suffering
  2. There is a cause to suffering: desire, attachment, and ignorance
  3. There is a cure
  4. The Eightfold Path is the cure

This is Buddhism's goal. To deal with the problem of suffering. All the books and weird koans and meditation. It all revolves around making life better for the individual and those around them. Because suffering sucks. A lot.

edited 16th Sep '11 2:23:40 PM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
Oh My
Let's talk about that cure some now. The Eightfold Path. There is right action, right livelihood, right speech, right effort, right view, right concentration, right mindfulness, and right intention. These are split into three categories.

The first and most basic of these are the moral truths. The ones related to ethical conduct. They are right action, right livelihood, and right speech.

These can be easily explained by our moral guidelines that all Buddhists undertake. The Pancasila or Five Precepts. They are as follows:
  1. Abstain from the physical harm and killing of sentient beings (this includes non-humans like dogs and ants).
  2. Abstain from the usage of hurtful or deceitful language. Abstain from lying and mindless small talk. Speak with purpose, truth, kindness, and reason.
  3. Abstain from taking that which is not given. Abstain from stealing.
  4. Abstain from sexual misconduct (there are many definitions of this term but rape and cheating are by and large always part of them).
  5. Abstain from the drinking of alcohol and from the usage of other mind altering drugs.

Let's look into right speech first...We have the very definition of it in the Pancasila. Don't lie, don't say hurtful things. If you must say something harsh that is truth to help say it in a way that minimizes the suffering of the person and gets the point across most effectively. Also avoid pointless small talk.

Right action we can see in the rest of the Pancasila. Don't kill things, don't hurt things, don't get smashed, don't be a druggy, don't rape people and so on.

Right livelihood refers to one's occupation. Look back at right action. You're not supposed to kill things right? As such one should try to avoid life as a butcher or a soldier. That can't always be, but it's the optimal way to go about life according to Buddhism. Don't be a taker of lives, a seller of sex, a seller of death, a seller of lives, a seller of drink and other drugs, a maker of drugs and drink and so on.

That's morality according to Buddhism. Our ethics are not cold hard fast rules however. Please note that. They are situational. There are times when killing is permitted for example. Like say there's some crazy bastard trying to kill you and your family. Though it's preferred that this person not die they're dying may be necessary to spare your lives.

The Pancasila and the other precepts (there are sets of 8 and 10 as well, I'll get to them later) are guidelines. The monks follow the Vinaya which are vows that they aren't supposed to break under threat of punishment. Though even for them it depends on the circumstances. This ties heavily in with karma/kamma and we'll get to that and the rest of the metaphysics later.

For now back to The Path. We did the moral steps. Now it's time for Wisdom. The wisdom steps consist of right view and right intention.

Right view relates to seeing reality just as it is. To see the truth of things by a Buddhist view point. To be aware that you will die, that all things must die, that there is no eternal life, that there is ugliness in beauty and beauty in ugliness, that there is loathsomeness in what is not loathsome and a things that are not loathsome in loathsomeness.

Right view is to never be deluded by dichotomies, fallacies, lies, and falsehoods.

Right intention refers to your...well...intention. The intention behind your actions makes those actions. You don't act without an intention. Your intention must be in line with The Dharma/Dhamma to be right intention. If you kill a living being it is to be for a right reason. Such as needing to feed yourself. You eat for the right reason which is only to sustain your body and health. Not for personal enjoyment. You say things for the right reasons. To spread truth and help. You walk for the right reasons. And so on.

This leaves us with our last category which is, funnily enough, the one thing people tend to focus on or know anything about when it comes to Buddhism. The mental discipline. This is what Buddhism is famous for. Meditation and mental discipline.

Right concentration, right mindfulness, and right effort fall into this.

Right concentration refers to your ability to focus on things. Is your mind scattered and hard to focus or can you bring it to a topic that needs attention with ease? Can you take your mind from thoughts such as "I hate myself. I want to die. I deserve to die,"? Or do you linger on them and ignore your work? Right concentration deals with this and it is built largely by meditation. It is to be applied to every last bit of your life. It is a twofold issue. Can you concentrate and can you concentrate on what is right? What is needed?

That is right concentration.

Right mindfulness refers to your awareness of the world around you. Is the world a haze that you ignore? Do you purposefully try to keep the world and all its ugliness out? Or do you look upon it with open eyes and see it? Do you seek to know and understand it? Mindfulness is awareness to all that happens. It is avoiding tunnel vision or willful blinding of yourself to the truth of things around you. This doesn't mean that you have to focus nonstop on say your neighbor's annoying ass music, but it also means that you shouldn't be ignoring what your dog is doing while your cooking. Be aware of your surroundings or bad things things might happen.

This also refers to feelings. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Don't try to ignore it and pass it out of mind. You face your fears and pains head on. You seek to understand them and cure them.

Now...right effort. This refers to how much effort you put into things obviously. Do you put effort into the things you do or are you lazy and neglectful? Also do you put effort into things that are useful and skillful or you fritter all your time away on meaningless pursuits that help no one? Those are the questions that right effort forces us to ask ourselves.

So basically...Don't be lazy and apathetic. Put effort into the things you do and be sure to put that effort into good pursuits. Don't be the most effortful drug dealer for example. Be the most effortful therapist instead or something.

And that there is The Eightfold Path. The cure. There are two additional steps that make it The Tenfold Path of Complete Awakening. These other two steps are right knowledge; the knowledge that you are Enlightened and that you will be leaving the world, and right liberation; the freedom from all desire, ignorance, and attachment while you still live.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
3 Ramus16th Sep 2011 03:00:19 PM from some computer somwhere.
Hmm, naming the basic rules, huh? Yeah, I suppose that would be a good place to start for a religion like Buddhism. Though to this day, pointless small talk and such has always struck me as rather hard to define and follow. Still, this should be interesting and enjoyable to read.
The emotions of others can seem like such well guarded mysteries, people 8egin to 8elieve that's how their own emotions should 8e treated.
Uncle George
I have a small question.

If we assume that 1. All living things are part of the circle of reincarnation
2. All living things are in hierarchy, with an enlightened human at the pinnacle
3. Bad karma leads to reincarnating as a lesser being
4. Higher up you move the ladder, the more you rely on various beings below you, and
5. there are vastly more non-human creatures than there are humans, and vastly more humans than enlightened humans

then doesn't the whole process look a bit bleak?
This love so bold goes undeclared/a joy unseen, a world unknown/a love that dare not speak its name/hidden treasure, precious stone
Oh My
It's typically where I and most people start...Sort of ease you into the frightening world of the philosophy with the basic foundations that its built on...Then we can start talking about how reality exists in your mind and your lack of a true self!

As for the small talk thing...Yeah that isn't defined clearly. It's like sexual misconduct in that regard. It's up to the individual followers to decide the meaning.

I myself ignore that thing except when taking The Eight Precepts. To follow that portion of it I attempt to speak only of things related to Buddhism, Enlightenment, and helping myself or others. I try to refrain from talking about things like music and how much I like it. I can talk about music in the fashion that I can explain the views on music in Buddhism and how you're not supposed to listen to it, play it, dance to it and so on when taking more than 5 precepts.

Things like that.

It's a very grey thing though and I'm not sure I want to define it in exact terms myself.

^Jethro: Yes. Yes it does. The Buddha points that out at various points in a variety of ways. Like his turtle and drift wood analogy that explains how hard it is to become human. Generally it is assumed that once you reach the human realm you won't go back to the animal realm. Generally.

The kamma system is a right bitch and it doesn't give a damn about you. This is one reason that working together and helping those who fuck up is so highly praised within Buddhism. The road is long and hard and you were once at the bottom. You might go back to the bottom. We aren't getting out without support from others and giving support to others. Enlightenment's a group effort. A very hard group effort.

The difficulty of it all actually lead to the birth of a few schools such as Shin Pure Land. You venerate and worship the Amitabha who will bring you into his Pure Land where you will be purified and be set on the way to reaching Enlightenment. The rules are very lax and the general idea is "It's so hard to do on without his aid that you basically need Amitabha's help".

edited 16th Sep '11 3:12:57 PM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
*squiddleTron has read this thread and finds it very interesting. Aon knows a lot of things about Buddhism, squiddleTron thinks!* 8]
Oh My
You have any questions, Squiddle?
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
Oh My
All right. Smiling Cloud has brought up interest in the subject of meditation in another thread in relation to this one. So that will be my next order of business.

Meditation. It is the thing Buddhism is known for. The Buddha sits on the ground, his legs crossed and his eyes closed. Focused on...something. It is indeed a very important part of the religion and is spoken of a great deal in The Tipitaka and the other canonical texts (there are a few canons).

But just what is meditation? Well there are two types of meditation first off. Samatha and vipassana. Samatha is concentration meditation and vipassana is insight meditation. Samatha builds you up a foundation for vipassana and it is the primary form of meditation practiced. So we'll be talking about that first.

The basic idea behind samatha is very simple. You choose a focus point or object and you concentrate on that thing. This focus point can be anything though typically it is the breath. Sitting-breathing meditation is the type most spoken of. You sit in a position that is comfortable, but not too comfortable, close your eyes, breath, watch the breath as it enters and leaves through your nose, and count the breaths thusly "Inhale, exhale 1; inhale, exhale 2..." all the way up to 5, 8, or 10 and then you count back to 1. Should you be distracted by something you make a note of that and then let the thought go. You go back to your focus point. You keep your awareness of what happens around you. You note noises and so on, but you always go back to your focus point.

This is done for a few reasons. The first reason that is the primary reason many Westerners practice it is relaxation. Meditation is a very relaxing activity. You work towards calming the mind, stilling it, and focusing it on a certain thing. It brings an immediate calmness and is reputed to bring a longer lasting calmness if practiced regularly.

The next reason we can find in the name. Samatha. Concentration. You do this to build up concentration for, you guessed it, Right Concentration. Concentrating is hard. A lot harder than many may think. You get drawn away from your focus point a lot and may drift off and entertain those thoughts. We call this lack of focus, this tendency to jump about, the monkey mind. Samatha works in part to kill that.

The next purpose is to build up mindfulness. Rememeber you aren't blocking out the world. You're still aware of what goes on in it. You're just focused on something in particular. This is why you note things that happen to you and around you. This is why you note your thoughts. To be mindful and aware of what goes on around you.

The final purpose is to build up effort. Meditation takes effort and resolve. You need to work at it and practice because chances are you won't be able to focus on breathing for an hour with ease. So you have to work up effort and apply it to this practice for the sake of discipline.

Now...what the bobby hell is the point of this? Simple. The point is to build up these skills so that you can better apply them to life. Let's give an example. Say you're at work. You're a sales associate. You have been tasked with fixing up the polyfig display by your boss. So you set to this.

But you get distracted. Because you had a fight with your boyfriend last night. You're not sure what to do about it and you feel like shit. You have to organize that display though. Those stupid, cheap figurines need to be straightened up. As such you put the thoughts of the fight and what to do about it aside and throw yourself into your work. You concentrate on that wall, you remain aware of what happens around you because customers might need help or something might break and need to be cleaned up, and you put effort into this task because a job not well done and in a decent time is piss poor.

In theory this is what meditation is supposed to enable you to do when it comes to your life. It's supposed to help you be better able to focus on things that are important for that moment and better use your time to get shit done.

The other thing of course is preparing you for vipassana. I admittedly need to read more on the topic and talk with the abbot about it because I don't quite understand it. I get the basic idea. I just don't understand what you're supposed to do.


Yes. Meditation doesn't just involve sitting on your ass! YOU CAN MEDITATE WHILE DOING OTHER THINGS. LIKE WALKING. In fact pacing meditation is the second most described form of meditation in the canon (well canons...)!

If you want to try this out...First find yourself a stretch of straight walking space. Mark out where you will start and where you will end. Then stand there and think about standing. Observe your standing. Be aware of it. Then observe your intention to walk. Then observe the lifting of your right foot, the thrusting forward of your right foot, and the setting down of your right foot. Do that with the left and continue until you reach your end point. Then return to observing that you are standing. Next observe your intention to turn around. Then begin to turn around slowly observing every movement you make. Repeat this process for a length of time.

Yoga too can be meditation! EVERYTHING CAN.

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
You are a good little person, what with your answering my questions.

edited 16th Sep '11 8:38:33 PM by Smilingcloud

Oh My
Then you have a few options...

One you keep at it very persistently and meditate regularly. Alternatively some people find it easier to meditate in groups or with a teacher. You can find meditation classes and what not at temples and such. Look online for those. Or you could pick a different focus object. Not everyone can so easily focus on breaths. Maybe instead you do better with the ticking of a clock.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
You have any questions, Squiddle?

Yes. Meditation doesn't just involve sitting on your ass! YOU CAN MEDITATE WHILE DOING OTHER THINGS. LIKE WALKING. In fact pacing meditation is the second most described form of meditation in the canon (well canons...)!

If walking can be meditation too, why did squiddleTron think meditation had to be sitting down with closed eyes? Is this a more effective method than walking?
Oh My
It is not necessarily a superior method though some have greater ease with sitting meditations than ones that involve movement.

I suppose it is appropriate now to move to the philosophy in somewhat greater depth. To explain why exactly The Eightfold Path asks of you what it does.

So let's talk about suffering again. Suffering or, more appropriately, Dukkha is one of The Three Factors of Existence. These are three truths to existence that are believed to always hold true. Ignorance of the factors is considered to result in more Dukkha. Now the factors themselves are...Impermanence, Dukkha, and anatta.

Impermanence is easy to describe. It is as it sounds. Nothing lasts forever. People are born and they die. Buildings submit to the elements. No storm can last forever. Our planet and even the entire universe itself have a limited time to exist. This of course also applies to happiness. Yes you have your dog and your happy with him, but that happiness is as fleeting as the life of that dog and of yourself.

The next that we haven't discussed is anatta which is commonly translated as no-self or no-soul. The idea is this: There is no such thing as a static and enduring self. You will change over your life. Your beliefs change, your body grows, and you will die. Your body will be broken down and the components of it will be used to make something else. Souls too in Buddhism are not static. These also break down following death. You'll carry to the next life a fourth of what you once were memory and personality wise and eventually over time you will be more or less completely lost to everything. The bits that once made you as you are now will be so small as to be completely insignificant.

This all sounds rather depressing. We're all going to die as is everything we love. Not even our tacky knick nacks will last forever. Unless they're plastic. Maybe plastic can survive the death of the universe.

But yeah the great recycling process of the universe is going to eat us all up and as far as we know we can't stop this process. So what now?

Well this is why The Buddha preached detachment. When someone you love dies you let them go. You take what lessons and good feelings you got from them, but you let them go. You don't fall into deep grief and curse whatever killed them. You let go. When you die you let go. When someone eats your cream puff you let go.

This doesn't mean to hate everything. Hate's an attachment too. It's a negative one. This doesn't mean you can't be close to people and love them either. You can. You just shouldn't cling to them and let yourself be broken by a sudden lack of this person. You pick yourself up, realize that it had to happen at some point, and you keep walking to your own grave.

Detachment also doesn't mean that you just drop everything right away and shave your head. No. That's silly. You'll probably go into shock over it and fuck up badly. You're in this for the long haul. It's a slow path so take your time. Don't rush headlong into monkhood or something or you might end up stabbing yourself in the foot. If you're going to devote your life to monkhood then take things slow. You've got all the time you need to reach Enlightenment.

Now some may point out "BUT THE UNIVERSE WILL DIE TOO". Yes. Yes it will. The universe is believed in Buddhism to be part of the vast cosmic recycling process that is reality. This means that while the universe will spiral down into nothingness it will also explode forth back into everything. With a big bang.

That's getting into our cosmology briefly. The complex specifics of it will be discussed in greater length later.

For now let's sum up what we've learned about the Buddhist view on things.
  1. Things change and die. This often leads to suffering.
  2. We must come to accept this and face it head on.
  3. Becoming detached leads to a lack of suffering or at the least lingering and intense suffering.
  4. Being detached doesn't mean you must ignore the world and never love.
  5. Becoming detached takes a long time.

Next up: Desire and attachment and how this can help you reach Enlightenment and are in fact NEEDED to reach Enlightenment. Desire, attachment, ignorance, and suffering aren't useless and totally bad!
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
This all sounds rather depressing. We're all going to die as is everything we love

Technically to some, the thought that changes can happen is redeeming to them, after all, some people come from a way of life that teaches them their actions will weigh eternally on them till the end of time.

>Feel your emotions, don't subscribe to them.

>Technically, if you're wondering how long the universe has, It's about 10 billion years.

14 Zersk18th Sep 2011 10:10:39 AM from Columbia District, BNA
This is pretty interesting stuff. :3

But I'm curious about the cosmology. :3 Could you maybe explain the pleasure realms a bit more? :3 Or were you going to do something else first? >.>

edited 18th Sep '11 10:10:49 AM by Zersk

ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
Oh My
I didn't want to get to the cosmology much soon because I don't feel it's terribly important to most. Really a brief "You'll go here if you fuck up too much" is all that's needed.

So. Cosmology. The universe in Buddhism is very, very large. Larger than we humans are capable of realizing. We're ants in the grand scheme of things when compared to the vastness of reality. The universe consists of 31 Realms. 6 of these realms we humans are, were, and can be born into. We call these Samsara of the Realms of Pleasure. These Six Realms of Life are, from most pleasant to least pleasant, deva, human, asura, animal, ghost, and Hell. Now let's explain each...

Deva: The Deva are a race of gods. They live in their own plane of existence that runs on a separate time-space cycle thing. They are very long lived, quite powerful, open to much more knowledge than we are, and live lives of bliss. So while we toil down on Earth the Deva are having interstellar pool parties and talking about the nature of reality. This is Heaven. Heaven isn't permanent in Buddhism though. Gods die. Another flaw they have going for them is this: Because Deva live such privileged and happy lives they have severe empathy problems. The higher up in their ranks you are the less capability you have to understand suffering. As such most Deva don't help humans or even care about them. Why care about lesser beings when you have everything you could possibly ever want save eternal life? A few Deva seek to help lesser beings. Very few are named and worthy of worship though. You must work up a great deal of positive kamma to be reborn here.

Human: This is the realm that we currently reside in. The human realm shares the same space of existence as the animal realm (to be specific it's the non-human/god animal realm, but animal realm is easier to type). The human realm is reputed to be the hardest of the realms to reach. It is also in the middle way of things. We aren't profoundly happy like Deva and we aren't miserable like people in Hell. We have the ability to reason unlike most animals and we aren't all defined by incredible pride and anger. This makes the human realm the best realm to seek Enlightenment in. Or at the least to reach the state of a Non-returner. A series of extremely auspicious events are needed for you to be first reborn here. If you are already a human chances are you will be reborn here.

Asura: The Asura are yet another race of gods. The Asura are a very violent people. They seek to fight and prove themselves constantly. Asura are driven almost entirely by pride and anger. Looking at an Asura wrong might lead to you being disemboweled while the god sets your house on fire and bathes in the blood of your wife that he defiled. Asura aren't evil though. Not completely. They suffer pain like everyone else and they aren't always complete fucking dicks. Still it's best that you avoid Asura. Like Deva Asura aren't inherently worthy of worship. The especially prideful and violent are reborn here.

Animal: This realm consists of all animals that aren't gods or humans. All animals. Ants, dolphins, spiders, cats, dogs, parrots, ducks, giraffes, dinosaurs. All of them. As with all life in the Six Realms these animals are held to be sentient. This means that they have senses to some extent or another. They aren't sapient though (to our knowledge). Meaning that animals lack the capability to reason and understand the kamma system. Most souls live in the animal realm and it's very, very hard to escape it. You get booted back here if you are ruled entirely by instinct.

Hungry ghost or Petta: The Petta are a race of shades that live in a sort of world between worlds. They can phase in and out from their realm to our realm. The Petta are always in a state of extreme want. Typically what they want is food or drink. Petta however cannot satisfy their wants to the extent that they want. This may be because they are actually physically incapable of doing so or because they are just too blinded by their pain to realize that what they want is right in front of them. Many people take pity on Petta and leave offerings of food them in the hopes that they can assuage their pain a bit. Those driven entirely by extreme greed and desire that leads to the suffering of many are reborn here.

Hell or Naraka: Naraka is a vast labyrinth of torture chambers. They are ruled by demons who torment the truly horrid beings for many years. The shortest stay in Naraka is 20 times the age you were when you died. This is the shortest stay. You'll be there for a long, long, long time. Naraka of course exists in a separate space-time plane from us. It's in its own little pocket of time. You have to fuck really, really bad to be reborn in Naraka. You have to be the greediest, most violent, empathy lacking sonnuvabitch to be born here. Naraka is for the worst of the worst in Buddhism. After you go through this suffering to work off your huge amounts of negative kamma you are reborn in the human realm. And you'll probably be scared as fuck of the concept of Hell and may even be tormented by dreams of your stay there. The pain of Hell lingers in souls.

edited 18th Sep '11 11:49:11 AM by Aondeug

If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
16 Zersk18th Sep 2011 12:22:53 PM from Columbia District, BNA
Ooh, okay. :O Thanks. :3

Um, just curious, but do you know some of the names of the other realms?
ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
Oh My
I do not no. I haven't looked into the whole thing as deeply as I can. I'm still working on just the philosophy in that regard...
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
18 Zersk18th Sep 2011 12:33:09 PM from Columbia District, BNA
Oh okay. :O Still, that's pretty interesting. :3
ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
Oh My
Indeed. I like how big the universe is and how we're only a very small part of it in Buddhism...
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
20 Zersk18th Sep 2011 12:40:56 PM from Columbia District, BNA
It makes the universe feel more complete, yeah. :3
ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
21 Justice424318th Sep 2011 01:01:46 PM from Portland, OR, USA
just curious, but do you know some of the names of the other realms?

They’re a mouthful, English translated or otherwise. Here’s a link.

The wiki article there is a nice crash course. There are some interesting realms in there.

One in particular I found interesting:

Tuṣita or Tusita (Tib: dga' ldan) – The world of the "joyful" devas. This world is best known for being the world in which a Bodhisattva lives before being reborn in the world of humans. Until a few thousand years ago, the Bodhisattva of this world was Śvetaketu (Pāli: Setaketu), who was reborn as Siddhārtha, who would become the Buddha Śākyamuni; since then the Bodhisattva has been Nātha (or Nāthadeva) who will be reborn as Ajita and will become the Buddha Maitreya (Pāli Metteyya). While this Bodhisattva is the foremost of the dwellers in Tuṣita, the ruler of this world is another deva called Santuṣita (Pāli: Santusita). The beings of this world are 3,000 feet (910 m) tall and live for 576,000,000 years (Sarvāstivāda tradition). The height of this world is 320 yojanas above the Earth.

But they’re all a wealth of interesting creatures and insights into the religion.

Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.Proverbs21:15

22 Zersk18th Sep 2011 01:04:31 PM from Columbia District, BNA
Ooh, okay. :O Thanks! :3
ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
Oh My
Okay then. Since we're in the realm of our weird cosmology and since it relates to our ethics and conduct let's talk about karma which I will henceforth refer to as kamma because I am Theravadan and therefore obligated to use Pali terms.

So. Kamma. We all know about it for the most part. If you do something bad you get bit in the ass by some cosmic force of retribution, but if you do good things you get showered with awesometude.

Kamma is much more complicated than that though. First let's explain what kamma is. The word kamma means action. Every action has a consequence. If you let go of a ball you are holding, it falls. If you punch Aunt Harriet in the she might kick you in the balls. That is what kamma is. It is a law of cause and effect.

Every single action you make generates kamma. Every one. You ate breakfast? You generated kamma. You talked? More kamma. You kicked a puppy? Kamma. Had wild sex? More kamma. Everything you do generates kamma. Once kamma is born it has to grow. Once it has matured it comes to fruition and a reaction occurs. We call this the fruit.

Now. Some may be saying "Well my drinking water isn't really bad or good so how can kamma come of it?" The answer to this is simple. Not all kamma produces useful reactions that really affect you greatly. There are four types of kamma. Positive kamma, negative kamma, neutral useless kamma, and the kamma that leads to Enlightenment and the death of kamma. Normally we all generate the first three types. The fourth type is generated only by higher level Buddhists nearing Enlightenment.

Just as we have multiple types of kamma we have multiple types of growth periods. There is kamma that matures almost instantly, kamma that matures later in this life time, kamma that matures when we are heading to the next life (this kamma determines what sort of life we are born into; whether or not we're healthy, whether or not we live in a safe home, whether or not we live in an area with Buddhism and so on), kamma that matures in the next life time, and kamma that matures many lifetimes down the road.

Kamma also isn't so simple as "Johnny kicked a dog. That's bad. So someone ends up kicking Johnny later on" when it comes to how it is judged. Kamma is judged on circumstance, intention, action, and result. So this means that in some circumstances Johnny kicking that dog won't knock him down much if at all. Hell it might even be null kamma. This means that, as I have said before, Buddhist ethics are situational. We have general guidelines, but in the end it all comes down to the unique circumstances surrounding the event.

Other things about kamma...It will always come to fruition. You can't just drop it and expect it to go away. Your kamma sticks and it will come to fruition. Even if a god takes it from you it's still come to fruition. It's just affecting the god instead of you. Kamma keeps growing too. You keep making more and more kamma all the time. Kamma is hideously stubborn and hard to get rid of. Which is why we need the fourth type which we will get into at a later date.

This means that you have lots of old and new kamma. You are constantly generating new kamma which interacts with the old kamma and so on. So your life isn't predetermined! WHOO. The kamma does remove a portion of your freedom over your life, but your life isn't set in stone. The results of kamma aren't certain. You can drown out the immense negative kamma born from killing someone for shits and giggles by building up a lot of positive kamma. So if you're a murderer you're not immediately doomed and irredeemable (no one is in Buddhism; even if you die a horrible person you get many more chances). This also means that just because you do good things at times that you're exempt from being taken down a notch in the kammic scheme of things. You have to be ever vigilant in your wholesome acts.

For now let's mention the last important thing about kamma...You don't exist in a bubble. Your kamma and the kamma of ALL the beings around you intermingle and react. You are affected by the moral status of those beings around you and you affect them. You live in a world supported by kamma and you can't escape from it while within reality. Even to get out of reality you need kamma!

As Jethro up there pointed out this system isn't the most fair or easy to work with thing. The odds are stacked VERY high against us. Hence why Buddhism is a group effort that places a good deal of focus on compassion and helping others. Including murderers and rapists and whatnot. The system is harsh but through our own effort and lots of teamwork we can make things better for ourselves and eventually make it out.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
*squiddleTron wonders what squiddleTron might have been doing in a past life to reborn as such an strange creature as squiddleTron!* 8p

A question: is kamma in a person's life ever the result of supernatural intervention or influence (aside from rebirth or enlightenment after death), or does it only take the form of natural consequences?

edited 22nd Sep '11 12:40:46 PM by squiddleTron

Aodeung, ten spiritual realms. Basically,:
  • Buddha
  • Bodhisattva
  • Pratyekka aka Realization
  • Shravaka aka Learning
  • Deva aka Heaven or Rapture
  • Asura aka Arrogance or Anger / Human aka Passionate Idealism
  • Asura aka Arrogance or Anger / Human aka Passionate Idealism
  • Preta aka Hungry Ghost or Hunger / Animal aka Animality
  • Preta aka Hungry Ghost or Hunger / Animal aka Animality

Note: /s are because ranks vary according to list for two pairs who get swapped in some lists ie Humans and Asuras or Animals and Pretas with one being above each other in their respective pairs in some lists while reversed in others.
  • Naraka aka Hell

edited 22nd Sep '11 12:43:23 PM by secretist

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