Welcome admin !

It is currently Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:44 pm
Pathway:  Board index General Buddhist Discussion Theravadan Buddhism

The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Discussion of Theravada Buddhism in the light of Zen.

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby Huifeng on Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:47 am

sunyavadi wrote:I am interested in a particular passage from the Brahmajala Sutta. This is the first Sutta in the Digha Nikaya, the ‘long discourses’. What interests me is one particular paragraph in the Sutta.

The second and third parts of the sutta discuss the 62 beliefs which were devoutly practised by ascetics in the India of the Buddha’s day. These are divided into: 18 beliefs related to the past (pubbantanuditthino), and 44 beliefs about the future (aparantakappika). These beliefs cover a wide spectrum of philosophical views of life, many of which are still represented in the world today.

There are two verses (17-18) which criticize a view called ‘fortuitous origins’. This is the view that the world and the beings in it arise ‘without cause’. There are two forms of this view, the second of which is expressed as follows:

"Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin is a rationalist, an investigator. He declares his view — hammered out by reason, deduced from his investigations, following his own flight of thought — thus: 'The self and the world originate fortuitously.'


Now, this is presented as an ‘incorrect view’, one of the views which are a fetter or a hindrance to the seeking of liberation. Yet this is more or less the view of those who propose that life and the Universe are the consequence of ‘chance’, or arise fortuitously over long periods of time. This view is typically espoused by scientists, in opposition to the Christian idea of ‘special creation’ - and I suspect that in many parts of the world, this is the view of the educated majority of secular people.

Clearly in the case of Buddhism, the contrary to the view of ‘fortuitous origins’ is not that of ‘special creation’. In other words, while the view of 'fortuitous origins' might be an incorrect view, the alternative is not the view proposed by Special Creation. So - what is the alternative? If the origin of the world is neither the consequence of ‘special creation’, nor of ‘fortuitous origins’, then what is the correct view?

This is a difficult question. I am just looking for sources and perspective on it at this point. Any ideas gratefully received.

:Namaste:


Hi,

I'd recommend getting your hands on a copy of Bhikkhu Bodhi's stand alone translation of this sutta and it's classical commentaries. They provide an abundance of clarity on this particular view, and others which are refuted.

~~ Huifeng
Bhikṣu & Mahāyāna bodhisattva ordination by Ven Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師) et al, Foguang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) Taiwan.
Teaching: http://buddhist.fgu.edu.tw/main.php Blog: http://prajnacara.blogspot.com/
User avatar
Huifeng
Teacher
 
Posts: 1400
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 11:42 am
Location: Fo Guang University (佛光大學), Ilan (宜蘭), Taiwan.

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby sunyavadi on Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:00 am

Thanks, Ven Huifeng.

I have discovered that Biikkhu Bodhi's translation and commentary is indeed in my University library, so I shall definitely take it out on next visit.

:Namaste:
he that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
sunyavadi
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:02 am
Location: Sydney

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby sunyavadi on Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:12 am

I got out the Bikkhu Bodhi book on the Brahmajala Sutta. The comments on this particular view are not that extensive. The first of the 'two views' pertain to beings who have entered one of the planes of existence where nothing is perceived, and stayed there a long time. (From my understanding of Buddhist cosmology, when they say 'a long time', this might mean thousands or millions of years.) When they are finally reborn in the human realm, they have no recollection of their previous existence(s), so they assume that 'existence has arisen fortuitously'.

The second of the two views is simply those who do not recall any previous existences, or believe that there were any, and so they assume that 'existence is fortuitous' (i.e. 'happens by chance'.) Bikkhu Bodhi notes that 'this, in fact, has become the dominant outlook of the present-day materialist, which he takes to be the dictum conclusively proven by modern science'. So, in other words, this is in accordance with my view of the topic, where I said 'I suspect that in many parts of the world, this is the view of the educated majority of secular people.'

What had confused me was that in Buddhism, there is no notion of 'the creation of the World', which is so central to Christianity. But I am starting to understand this. Buddha's teaching is not particularly concerned with questions such as 'the origin of everything', but with 'the origin of suffering'. Speculation about 'whether the Universe is eternal or not' is one of the undetermined questions. The world is 'mind-created' in the sense that we experience the pleasant or painful consequences of our previous karma. The purpose of the teaching is to transcend this condition altogether, not wonder about the origins of the world. Nevertheless, the Buddhist view does not favour the idea that 'everything arises by chance'. It arises because of causes and conditions. So this is neither the nihilist view of materialism, nor the eternalist view of creationism.

It is, as always, the Middle Path.

:Namaste:
he that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
sunyavadi
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:02 am
Location: Sydney

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby Bob Skank on Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:31 pm

Proving the truth of reincarnation, the reality of previous and subsequent lives, is a very hard slog. Science supports the concept of the eternal present, the idea that every instant is the sum total of all previous instants, that the sphere of being continuously reconstitutes itself, but science can find no evidence of previous lives as that Buddhist concept is often, perhaps fallaciously, taught and understood. To believe in the Buddha's experience of previous lives requires for many of us a faith as great as the Christian belief in God, Heaven, and Hell. For a man like me, the honest position most compatible with integrity is "I don't know," an attitude also plentifully supported in Buddhist literature and doctrine.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Skank
 
Posts: 1187
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:23 am

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby sunyavadi on Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:45 am

Bob wrote:science can find no evidence of previous lives as that Buddhist concept is often, perhaps fallaciously, taught and understood.


As a matter of fact, were there to be such a thing as rebirth, it is the only kind of after-death theory that could be empirically investigated. I mean, you can't investigate whether someone has gone to heaven. But re-birth is different. Why? Because it would be possible to investigate those cases where people do claim to remember their previous lives, and then correlate what they said with empirical evidence of the claimed 'previous existence'.

As it happens. there was a researcher by the name of Ian Stevenson, at the University of Virginia, who received funds donated by Chester Carlson, the inventor of xerography, to conduct exactly this research. The Wikipedia article on Carslon notes the following:

Carlson's wife Dorris got him interested in Hinduism, particularly the ancient texts known as the Vedanta, as well as in Zen Buddhism.They hosted Buddhist meetings, with meditation, at their home. After reading Philip Kapleau's book The Three Pillars of Zen, Dorris invited Kapleau to join their meditation group; in June 1966, they provided the funding that allowed Kapleau to start the Rochester Zen Center.


(I didn't know that when I started writing this post. Friends of the family!)

Stevenson travelled widely, interviewing children who showed evidence of recalling their past lives, and then comparing their evidence with historical records, newspaper stories, and so on, to try and validate their stories. He was careful never to claim that he had proved re-birth; instead he said that his evidence suggested it.

During this time, Stevenson observed strict protocols to ensure the deliberate fraud and attempts at deception were excluded. In fact, he excluded many more cases than he reported, for these reasons. Nevertheless he was able to document many cases which were very hard to explain by other means. Typical cases were those where a young child, around the time they learned to speak, would start saying 'you are not my family. This is not my name. My name is [x] and I live in [some village] where my father is a mechanic. Our house is pink with a cedar tree in the back.'

Stevenson would then endeavour to find evidence of the alleged former life. This would include accounts of the life and death of the remembered person.

Stevenson was a sane and sober researcher who died at an old age with a lot of data. As expected, his research is derided, rejected or labelled 'pseudo-science' by most mainstream science (insofar as they bother to talk about it.) Why is this? Because apparently the 'laws of physics' do not provide for any mechanism by which information could be transmitted from life to life. And, we all know that 'the laws of physics' are the final arbiter of what may or may not happen in the Universe. So it is not a matter of whether science can find such evidence, but whether 'the scientific worldview' could ever bring itself to admit that such a thing is possible.

His chair has now been taken over by Jim B Tucker.
he that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
sunyavadi
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:02 am
Location: Sydney

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby Bob Skank on Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:35 am

As I said, Sunyavadi, proving the truth of reincarnation, the reality of previous and subsequent lives, is a very hard slog.

Of reincarnation I have no fear and no hope.

I don't know and I don't care.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Skank
 
Posts: 1187
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:23 am

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby sunyavadi on Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:04 am

Oh well. I hope someone else likes the post. I thought the connection between Chester Carlson and the Rochester Zen Center was really interesting.
he that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
sunyavadi
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:02 am
Location: Sydney

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby Carol on Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:25 pm

sunyavadi wrote:Oh well. I hope someone else likes the post. I thought the connection between Chester Carlson and the Rochester Zen Center was really interesting.


I do find Stevenson's research interesting. I think there is enough evidence to suggest reincarnation to the open minded and curious person. The laws of physics will continue to develop and are in no way the final word at this point.

BTW, Chester and Doris Carlson also funded Dai Bosatsu and the Zen Studies Society.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
User avatar
Carol
 
Posts: 10326
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:52 am
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby sunyavadi on Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:31 am

Isn't that interesting. Six degrees of separation and all that. I read a long interview with Ian Stevenson published just before he died. He was a very genuine individual, obviously spiritually inclined, but at the same time extremely diligent and scrupulous in his observation of scientific method. He was rightly dissappointed in the reception his research got in the halls of academe, but it is one of those taboo subjects in orthodox circles.
he that knows it, knows it not.
User avatar
sunyavadi
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:02 am
Location: Sydney

Re: The Teaching on "Fortuitous Origins"

Postby Nonin on Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:09 am

Jim B. Tucker, M.D., Dr. Ian Stevenson's colleague at the University of Virginia, who heads the Division of Personality Studies there and also serves as director of the Child & Family Psychiatry Clinic, where doctors have done a ton of research on the rebirth subject, has published a book based on this research. It's titled, Life before Life; A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives. It contains a foreword by Ian Stevenson, M.D. Stevenson only wrote for the scientific community; Tucker's book was written for the general public. I found it fascinating.

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin
Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
http://www.prairiewindzen.org
User avatar
Nonin
Teacher
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:30 pm
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Previous

Return to Theravadan Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

 
RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest