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I understood almost all the philosophical texts of the Western countries I read, because the West separates philosophical issues from religious and nationalist issues. But when I read about Buddhism, I do not understand anything! So I'm at a loss as to what the philosophical importance of the Buddha's activities have been.

  1. What was it about the Buddha's philosophy that made him so important and like a prophet to some people?
  2. Is there anything like that in the Western world, philosophers whose insights aren't just philosophy?

closed as too broad by Eliran, Frank Hubeny, virmaior, christo183, Chelonian Nov 16 '18 at 12:38

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    This does seem too broad, but perhaps you can formulate multiple, more specific questions perhaps by breaking up the questions above and then finding references illustrating each of them. Best wishes and welcome to this SE. – Frank Hubeny Nov 16 '18 at 6:25
  • There is also a Buddhism SE. You might get different but still useful insights into your questions there. – syntonicC Nov 16 '18 at 11:41
  • it may seem too obvious, but the buddha was meant to have achieved something that is beyond mere words and thinking. that's probably why his sayings are not really treated like a philosophical literature. and further, paying homage to the buddha is meant to generate merit etc – confused Nov 16 '18 at 15:16
  • Non-attachment. Even to the Buddha, even to the doctrine. – Gordon Nov 16 '18 at 17:07
  • This is interesting. The lay Buddhist. accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel294.html But don't become attached to it. :). – Gordon Nov 16 '18 at 17:20
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Well it is not hard to reply, but it is very long and introducing quickly the new vocabulary is a burden. And managing to project,on the suttas, the fantasy of nationalism created by humanists a few centuries ago does not bode well for supporting any claim of ''intellectual understanding'', like puthujjanas love to say, so it takes even longer to contrast the claim of the buddha and the claim of the humanists, who cling to their fantasy of separating their politics from religion and who end up craving politicizing each bit of their fancy ''secular institutions'' and secular humanist philosophy while claiming to avoid the bad passionate behavior of the christian people wherefrom they took power.

Really the shortest answer is: The claim of the buddha is that hedonism of the 6 senses [5 usual senses+ mano [= ''mind'']] is a failure to stop ''dukkha'', just as asceticism of the those 6 senses is. It turns out that there is something else than ''the 6 senses'' and this stuff is called ''having the citta in samadhi from the jhanas'', but even ''the jhanas'' are not ''nirvana'' [also called nibanna], So there are three main experiences for a puthujjana:

  • the sensual realm, or kama, which is experiencing the 6 senses
  • the jhanas, which are the ''seclusion from the senses'' and where joy and equanimity, tranquility prevail/ the jhanas are the tranquilization of ''the citta'' [= again ''mind''] and, badly phrased, the temporary suspension of dukkha The buddha calls the jhanas abiding in the enjoyment of ''in the here and now'', which is what people call today ''the present moment''
  • nibanna, which is the end of dukkha and nibanna is reached by ''knowing'' many things https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.063.than.html

now rest of the claim of the buddha is:

  • the sensual realm, basing life on the senses, desire for delight of senses is always bad
  • the jhanas are good, or at least less bad than kama and that when a puthujjana wants to have pleasures, the jhanas are the only ''safe pleasures''
  • nibanna is the only good thing to experience [having the citta in samadhi from the jhanas is not permanent]

Puthujjanas bath in some stuff which are ''conditioned'' and as long as a human bath in those conditioned stuff, dukkha is generated and the human is miserable.

The way to stop dukkha is to stop taking a bath in what is conditioned.

The method to stop bathing in what is conditioned is to discriminate among what constitutes the life of a puhtujjanas: intentions, effort, livelihood, people around, talk, actions,...., and the most mysterious ''activity'' of the citta [= again ''mind''] called samadhi.

THis discrimination among the various events and surroundings constituting the life of a puthujjana is ''sila'' which puthujjana call today ''morality''. It turns out that, for instance, :

  • not all activities are bad, not all activities are good, but some activities are good, some are bad
  • not all intentions are good, not all intentions are bad, but some intentions are good and some are bad
  • not all livelihoods are good, not all livelihood are bad, but some livelihood are good and some are bad
  • not all talks are good, not all talks are bad, but some talks are good, some talks are bad
  • not all samadhis are good, not all samadhis are good, but some samadhis are bad, some samadhis are good
  • not all people have good behavior, not all people have bad behavior, some people have good behavior, some people have bad behavior

At this point, puthujjanas love to say that they already know what they are doing, know what is good for people, what is bad for people, how people should behave, know what people should do and should not do. From this, the Puthujjanas love to create rules and chase people who appear to them to not follow those rules, in order to judge them and punish them, and educate them to their rules. Then puthujjanas also manage to get off from breaking rules and doing taboo activities. Puthujjanas have a toxic relation to rules : they think that creating rules is a mighty activity, that they call ''law making'', and for the humanist even more deluded, that debating is the way to create good laws and make people adhere to them, then they get upset when they think some people do not follow their rules and they they manage to enjoy breaking the rules [puthujjanas like the humanists love to mix their sensual pleasures with their fantasy of being subversive of the current rules and customs]

But at the end of the day, a puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality, no matter what puthujjanas claim: Puthujjanas do not know what is right,Puthujjanas do not know what is wrong, Puthujjanas do not know how do stop doing wrong in order to start doing right.

THe only good thing a puthujjana can do is:

  • acknowledge that this puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality
  • ask a buddha what are good actions and wrong actions and how to avoid bad actions and how to act well
  • memorize word for word the reply
  • strive to do good and avoid at all cost doing bad

The other big mistake by puthujjanas is that they love to be rationalist: they love to create concepts, they love to ''attempt'' to define things, to create categories of concepts, to classify those concepts, to order them and later on they mix their idea of morality with their concepts: they build systems, philosophies, logics, fairy tales. In terms of knowledge, Puthujjanas are famous for claiming that:

  • the knowledge of the senses is indeed a knoweldge
  • the religious puthujjanas say that the memory of their reiligous texts is also knowledge
  • there is also knowledge that is intelectual knowledge, knowledge by inference, created by intellectuals, philosophers, daydreamers, logicians, scholars, speculators, rationalists... THose puthujjanas claim that truth is attained by ''inferences'' which are speculations or speculative statements which are validated by ''some principle'' (or ''inference rules'') that those puthujjanas have themselves created. the most famous rule of inference is called the ''modus ponens''and of course the ''principle of non-contradiction''. Afterwards, they build the concept of ''accuracy of a thought'', which is the fantasy that what they experience is captured by one of their statement [=''defini-tion]. according to those rationalists, this ''accuracy of a thought'' is how to validate a statement by ''nature itself'', instead of validating a statement by a chain of statements outputted by inference rules. When they claim that one of their statement is the truth, they claim that this statement describe accurately ''reality'' and if the statement was uttered before the event happened, they claim that ''the chain of inferences'' that they imagined which leads to this ''accurate statement'' describe the hidden workings of the nature, reality, cosmos, universe (phutjjanas who are scholars love to claim that reality has a veiled ''workings'' and that the senses and perceptions cannot access the truth which is the ''hidden workings'')

The rationalist Puthujjanas love to turn their speculations into ''knowledge'' because speculating and fantasizing is what they are good at and they have nothing else in their life. Rationalists love to claim that the ''senses are corruptible'' and that perception cannot lead to truth. Those philosophers quickly create the idea of relativism, of solipsism, of ''subjective reality'', subjective truths, create the moronic dichotomy of ''objective-subjective'', of dualities, of non-duality, of relative truth, conventional truth and so on.

THe golden illustration of the failure of the activity of the ''mano [=mind]'' which is called mental masturbation [=Viveka + vitakka+ papanca] is through words like "freely/willingly choose" and determinism which are bad words created by puthujjanas who cling to their bad ideas cling to philosophy, to vitakka+vicara+papanca, be it ''buddhist'' or not, then they create their moronic dichotomies, like ''free will''-determinism and then they mix their dichotomies with morality, only to be left stuck on one side of their dichotomy [they love to polarize their opposite ideas, like ''choosing'' is good and ''not choosing'' is turned into ''suffering''[meaning bearing something], into 'enduring'' something [that is not willed] which means it is bad]. Do not rely on ideas created by puthujjanas to understand the dhamma, until you manage to find a buddha who expresses the dhamma with their words...

Most of the ideas of the puthujjanas are bad and when the dhamma is expressed with their words, the buddha use their words against them. Like the fire worshipers that the buddha met, mentioned in ''the fire sermon'' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.nymo.html. THose puhtujjanas worshiped fir, idealized it, they created a whole doctrine about the cosmos with the vocabulary of fire. Then the buddha arrives and tell them that ''yeah okay, all is fire, fire is bad and the holy life is to destroy this fire''. hence nirvana has the putting out of fire. There were puthujjanas in greece who said that ''everything was water''. If the buddha met them, he would have said ''yeah everything is water, and water is bad and the goal is to dry everything that is wet'' [typically, to dry the flow of asavas [=defilements, rotten mental activities, fermentations]].

The claim of the buddha is precisely that sanna [=perception] of admirable topics [=contemplation] is what leads to nibanna or truth. Truth beyond an ''accurate statement'' is nibanna, truth beyond a statement is what gets you calm once and for all. Once you reach truth, you are not agitated and you no longer seek anything. Truth is what ends. ''Intellectual knowledge'' never ends.

So now that daydreaming and creating rules is not the way to stop being a bad person, the buddha explains the method to indeed stop being a bad person: The buddha calls that ''the noble path'' which has famously 8 branches https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html

As you know now, there are sankharas and karmas and there are puthujjanas who claim that:

  • only actions [thoughts, talks, movements of the body] matters to be a good human, intentions do not matter. Those puthujjanas love to turn their activities into rituals. For instance, if their ritual is to put a fork on the left of a plate, they claim that they can think of, let's say, the favorite singer and songs while they put the fork on the left of the plate and they claim since the forkis at the proper place, the ritual is complete and they have generated ''merit'' (even thought they thought of something else than putting the fork on the left of the plate) or a good action and therefore they are good people.

  • only intentions matter. A human can do any action, as long as the human has right intentions behind those actions, this human is a good person. Those puthujjanas love to claim that caring about the outcome of an action is useless or even detrimental to the fruit of the action. Those puthujjanas claim that as long as they have a good intention, like compassion, while they do an action, no matter what this action is , since they feel sad and delude themselves that they are compassionate and detached from the outcome of the action, they are good people. Those puthujjanas are the most dangerous since they can do horrible actions like euthanizing animals or humans and they delude themselves into being righteous. They are so messed up in their heads that they believe that as long as they feel sad and act only to alleviate the suffering of people by killing them, they do right actions. SOme of those puthujjanas claim that they are good people, because they feel detached from the outcome of their actions: you can do whatever you want as long as you are detached from the outcome.

Now the claim of the buddha is precisely that you cannot separate the intention from the karma of an action. The buddha claimed famously that

'"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect."'' "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect."

some puthujjanas like the ones who claim that ''only intentions matter, any actions are permitted as long as the right intentions are behind the actions'' love to cut the quote at "Intention, I tell you, is kamma.'' to justify their horrible ways and their horrible doctrine which never stops the suffering.

Karma is a stuff that is done and the source of that karma is the ''intending'' according to the buddha. There are sankharas, which are typically called intentions today, and the output of the sankharas are actions which are tainted by karmas, which means that they are colored by karma. There are 3 color of karmas which are useless to stop the suffering of puthujjanas https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html

Now the claim of the buddha is that karma and sankharas are a bad thing, since they are conditioned. And whatever is conditioned leads to suffering sooner or later. So as long as you perform actions which are of those 3 karmic colors, you will suffer and the people who crave delights that you try to help by karmic deeds will suffer too.

Fortunately, the buddha claims he found the way to stop this horrible karma and sankharas and he claims that There is only one color of actions which leads to the cessation of suffering:

"And what is kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma.

"And what is the cessation of kamma? From the cessation of contact is the cessation of kamma; and just this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.

"Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns kamma in this way, the cause by which kamma comes into play in this way, the diversity of kamma in this way, the result of kamma in this way, the cessation of kamma in this way, & the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of kamma.

The path is not about choices, nor even sankaras [=''intention'' which lead to actions tainted by karma, there is no sammāsaṅkhāra], it is about effort to reject ''thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness'' and to follow ''thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness '' [and avoiding the confusion by a few puthujjanas of the ''kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma'' with ''the kamma that is bright with bright result''] by ''Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill-will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.'' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html which leads to ''right samadhi'' instead of wrong samadhi https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

But later on the training, those efforts become easier and the path is not even about wishing nor effort. Ideally, the path does not resort on ''exertion'' or wishes, or will, because the path is conditioned too, https://suttacentral.net/an11.2/en/sujato , and once a puthujjana only wants to stop dukkha, the observation that ''thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.''' kills the bad thoughts automatically. And when the ''body was calm & unaroused'', the ''mind concentrated & single. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities,'' the jhanas occurs naturally, through the joy of being moral and having sama sankappas [or vitakka] : saṅkappas of nekkhamma, saṅkappas of abyāpāda, saṅkappas of avihiṃsā. http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/maha/sn45-008.html Puthujjanas fail completely to see that joy springs from morality and renunciation. Puthujjanas also confuse the sama sankappas with compassion and love, because those puthujjanas are stuck between their moronic dichotomy of egotism-selflessness and they create the view that the negation of ''thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness'' is the sankara which leads to ''the kamma that is bright with bright result'' which the sankara of compassion and unconidtional love and feeling sad that destitute puthujjanas do not have the means to enjoy themselves. These puthujjanas completely skip the ''intention, aspiration, thought, resolve, of sensual desire''...

The easiest way to have morality is to follow the 5 precept [in order to stop doing bad actions], and giving stuff to ''contemplatives'' who already see the danger in ''sensuality'' and ill-will, and those 5 precepts + giving lead easily to getting the citta into samadhi. Now giving some stuff to a human is an action, sometimes it is a karmic action which will therefore lead to suffering for somebody, but a few times the human who gives stuff to another human will color this action by the right karma, the ''kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result'' and that stuff leads to less suffering.

now ''human gives stuff to another human'' is an action that involves two human and the the fruit of the action involves the two humans. First the human who gives must have the right citta and mano during the offering. It is not easy for a puthujjana to use rightfully the citta and mano during the offering, because puthujjanas have created so many mistakenviews tied to giving.

As usual with the phutjjanas their views stems from their idiotic dichotomies, the most famous one being the egotistical-selfless dichotomy. Some puthujjanas claim that being egotistical is good and selfless is bad, some puthujjanas claim the opposite. But both managed to tie their mistaken view of egotism and selflessness to giving. THe buddha listed a few of their mistaken ways here https://suttacentral.net/an7.52/en/thanissaro THe giving of great fruit is always the giving that leads to the cessation of suffering for the human who gives. It turns out that this giving is not even about the view that giving is right because it calms the citta, but because ''it is an ornament of the citta'' which just means that giving to people who have sense restrain is the right thing to do.

But the fruit also depends on the human who receives the offering:

"I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, 'May whatever animals live here feed on this,' that would be a source of merit, to say nothing of what is given to human beings. But I do say that what is given to a virtuous person is of great fruit, and not so much what is given to an unvirtuous person. And the virtuous person has abandoned five factors and is endowed with five.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.057.than.html

THe human who receives the offering matters a lot. When you give to puthujjanas who crave to delight in sensuality, you may only make things worse for them, even though you may improve your own situation. but when you give to any human who strives for ''sense restrain'', you can go blindly and not even care about what this human will do with your offering, precisely because this human will not delight in your offering and will not generate more craving and more afflictions. The times where you can stop caring about the outcome of your offering are the times when give stuff to THe humans who do not delight in sensuality.

The buddha rephrased all that here:

"And how is a donation endowed with six factors? There is the case where there are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients.

"And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is bright & clear; and after giving is gratified. These are the three factors of the donor.

"And which are the three factors of the recipients? There is the case where the recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.

"Such are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients. And this is how a donation is endowed with six factors.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.037.than.html

Once a puthujjana has a solid ''morality'', putting the citta into ''right samadhi'' from the joy of embracing the thoughts of renunciation and good-will is easy. Puthujjans today call ''meditation'' this ''putting the citta into samadhi''. There are 4 main methods to get the citta into samadhi [the normal question is : 4 methods give 4 different samadhi or is it the same samadhi?]

THe most famous is the jhana which is ''abiding in the here and now'' or ''in this very life'' http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/anguttara/04/an04-041.html (puthujjanas today love to slap ''present moment'' on any pleasing attempt at their mediation, but for the buddha ''present moment'' means the jhanas. It turns out that the ''pleasant abiding here and now'' for the buddha means being secluded from the senses, so tracking the objects of the senses like puhtujjana claim is the opposite of ''enjoying the present moment''.)

Anapanasati is the typical way to go from puthujjana to non-puthujjana, first you get to know something, like the body, piti, then get to be sensitive to various sankharas, then as usual you calm all the sankharas that you find, once they are calmed, you try to find out the condition of the pile of garbage that is each aggregate, this quest is what the buddha called yonisomanasikara. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.006.than.html

In the night of his awakening, the buddha got 3 vijjās, last one after he directed his citta in samadhi to '' the ending of the mental fermentations'' which means the sankharas. and the citta in samadhi directed to this is the yonisomanikara or ''the destruction of the āsavas'' http://www.buddha-vacana.org/formulae/asavak.html#color

but before that he directed his citta into samadhi towards how karma, shankaras and jati are linked, and he says that this is the result of doing the āloka·saññaṃ manasi karoti, so perhaps he did that. [the normal question is whether the perception of light is the natural light or the light he mentions as in

"This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. ]

Before that, the citta in samadhi from the jhanas was directed towards the countless rebirths.

Before that he get the citta into samadhi with the jhanas.

before that he said he discriminated between sensual thoughts and renunciation thoughts

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

before that, he did the wrong samadhi that all puthujjanas do: striving to grasp at some objects, not '' imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality'' like he phrases it, which springs various aches... https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html

Let's end with the words contact and craving. THe most famous claim of the buddha is that it is when sensual contact arises that sensual craving arises. However, some puthujjanas who love to be intellectuals manage to claim:

  • that there can be contact without craving, so humans can still partake in their various enjoyable sensual activities. The philosophers who invented this system are called the Mahayanist

    • that there are ''skillful'' sensual activities. kama is not always bad, because they claim that they invented a way to end kama through kama itself [instead of through getting the citta into samadhi by thought of renouncing kama]. Those intellectuals are called Vajraynaist

Their confusion stems from their confusion of the dependent origination of the 5 aggregates with the dependent origination that they invented which they called ''inter-being'' which is just the eastern humanism where people depend on each others. Those puthujjanas prefer to care more about the thousands little objects and humans they see each day and slap the words sunnata and dependent origination on it Whereas the claim of the buddha is precisely that instead of caring about those objects, what matters is to see how conditioned the 5 aggregates are. Puthujjanas who do not cling to mental masturbation already know that objects and livelihood are conditioned, and this knowledge doe snot get them enlightened, but a few intellectuals pass this dull, bland, common knowledge as being awaken.

The philosophers are the textbook case of overthinking, they focus on a few words and they build a new system around it, a new semantics, a new doctrine. Their story begins with the a famous claim that what is anicca is dukkha, what is dukkha is anatta. THen a natural question by Puthujjanas is ''why are things anatta'' and of course, the answer is that ''things are anatta because it is the way they are''. IT is a disappointing answer, because it is a stupid question in the first place.

But of course, for the Puthujjanas who are intellectuals, this answer is not intellectual enough. No, what matter to those Puthujjanas is to put another ''...because XYZ'' after ''because they are anatta'': They claim that things are anatta because they are sunyata. They picked the word sunyata and blew it out of proportion, by using it on their deep craving to find an essence in things. When those Puthujjanas run out of ideas to intellectualize further their views, they stop and claim that the last bit of their sequence of ideas is in fact how reality is, so it goes

idea A because idea B, idea B because idea C, .... , idea X because idea Y, idea Y because idea Z, and idea Z because reality is Z (expressed by idea Z). Which means ''Y because Z because it is the way it is, end of the story''

Now it turns out that the story imagined by those Puthujjanas does indeed stop at sunyata: things are sunyata because things are sunyata, because that is what things are, because it is the way things are. And of course, those people love to feel smart for applying their fantasy to the most attractive word there is:

Nibbana (the Unconditioned) is anatta because nibanna is sunyata. And Why is nibanna sunyata? Nibanna is sunyata because nibanna is sunyata.

With the crown of their speculations being the fantasy that:

sunyata itself is sunyata

THis jewel of theirs is precisely what neuters their speculations. It puts a stop to the chain of ''because XYZ'' and adds nothing to the story. Thus, It is easy for those puthujjanas to claim that ''

If dependent origination is true, then my attainment of enlightenment is mutually dependent on the attainment of all other beings.

So their craving for slapping sunyata eveyrwhere is utterly useless. They had an extra word and they stop here. It is already bad to intellectualize, but intellectualizing further by adding a useless word is embarrassing. But at least they obtain what they craved all along, fantasizing a true nature of ''the self'', as if things had a true nature and a not so true nature. Later on, they cannot help themselves from claiming that their intellectualization is the dhamma and even more embarrassing, that it is a better dhama than the one from what they call the ''pali canon'' today,

But the intellectuals do not stop here. Those puthujjanas crave so much speculating and basing their life on their fantasies that they picked another word and blew it out of proportion by mixing it with their favorite topic: craving to attribute an essence or a true nature to things that they perceive. Their new and equally toxic fairy tale is about applying what they read about dependent origination to their craving for true nature of things like the external object.

  • Welcome Veiculo longo. You have plainly give much time and thought to this answer but it is too long by community standards. If you can reduce it to roughy a quarter (25%) of its present length, it can remain. Otherwise I will need to remove it. I have to follow community standards. Don't be discouraged - see what you can do. Best - Geoffrey Thomas – Geoffrey Thomas Nov 16 '18 at 10:07
  • this is the longest answer i have ever seen!! – confused Nov 17 '18 at 4:34
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THe dependent origination is and always will be about the conditions for the birth of an aggregate and the condition for the death of an aggregate. Dependent origination is never ever about the condition of the birth of the objects that Puthujjanas love to cling to and which live ''in reality'' like they say. On the contrary, if there is ONE thing that the buddha does NOT focus on is precisely those stuff of what Puthujjanas call ''objective reality''. It is utterly useless and never conductive to nirvana.

In fact, Puthujjanas know very well that the objects they crave are fabricated. Puthujjanas know that the meal they cook is sunyata.Puthujjanas know very well that their car is sunyata, that clouds are sunyata. THey know that when they change the summer tires on their car, to put a winter tires, the drive-ability of the car changes a lot, that the fuel consumption changes a lot, to the point of driving a totally different car. They know that when they change the gearbox or the engine, the car no longer behaves like the car before to the point of being a different car. And knowing that all those objects are sunyata does not get them to stop being Puthujjanas, does not stop the cravings they have for the objects nor the craving they have to find the ''real nature'' of things. Knowing that a carrot is fabricated is not reaching nibanna. The dependent origination is never ever about the condition of the birth of a carrot nor the about the condition of the death of a carrot.

THe buddha and the bikkhus used the analogy of the fabricated chariot and the scent of the flower, the sound of a lute https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.205.than.html to talk about the 5 aggregates precisely because Puthujjanas know those objects and that the all those objects are fabricated. The fabrication of the chariot is not new to Puthujjanas. What is new to Puthujjanas is that the 5 aggregates are fabricated, just like their car is fabricated. This is the claim which is amazing.

Claiming that a carrot is sunyata is the most bland, common, vulgar claim for the Puthujjanas who do not build much views beyond sakkya-ditthi. On the contrary, for the toxic Puthujjanas who love to pat themselves on the back for intellectualizing even more the few bits they read about the dhamma, the claim that a carrot is sunyata is amazing, is deep, is the most profound revelation that there is. The intellectuals find amazing what the Puthujjanas who do not create much views beyond sakkya ditthi do not find amazing at all.

it's like living in a builidng with many floors. Puthujjanas who know that the objects they fabricate are fabricated live on the floor 0, and the one who cannot help themselves from intellectualizing live on floor 100. Puthujjanas who love to live up their dreams high at the floor 100 have completely forgotten that floor 0 exist. Then they pat themselves on the back for constructing a whole fairy tale leading them to discover that floor 0 have always existed. THen , the buddha lives at floor -1 and tells the Puthujjanas at floor 0 that there is a floor below them.

But it gets worst for those Puthujjanas clinging to rationalize that they experience. Because they exhaust themselves by struggling to fight their views, they run out of energy when it is time to kill the lusts for the various 5 senses. In fact, the most toxic Puthujjanas are not even interested in restraining their actions and prefer to claim that they already are awaken, because they delude themselves even more by creating the view that all that matters to reach nibanna is to have good intentions, so they go on carrying on their actions of Puthujjanas while building the fantasy that they have good intention while they are doing them. In order to express this new view, that they love to pass as deep and pragmatic, They create the most moronic claim ever uttered by a deluded Puthujjana :

''Samsara is only nirvana seen from a place of confusion'' or "Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water".

https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/15921/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-zen-quote-before-enlightenment-chop-wood-carry-wat

They really feel smart and deep when they say that. On the contrary, the Puthujjanas who already know that carrots are sunyata have zero need to kill the speculations created by the toxic Puthujjanas. The Puthujjanas who do not build much views beyond sakkyaditthi struggle the least to reach nibbanna. Those Puthujjanas are easy to talk to and the easiest way to make them ''understand'' that the 5 aggregates are conditioned is to talk to them and create analogies from their daily life with all those objects that they work so hard to fabricate and service. Those non-philosopers Puthujjanas do not confuse samsara with nirvana. Those Puthujjanas do not get awaken by seeing that cars are fabricated, they get awaken by seeing that the 5 aggregates are conditioned which leads to the death of the lusts for the aggregates which kills the aggregates at least at parinibbanna, if not at nibanna.

The goal is not to see that a carrot is sunyata, nor that to see that a car is sunyata , nor that a sound is sunyata . The goal is only to see that the aggregates are sunyata which leads to see that in the ''sound there is only the sound'' (an no other stuff like lust), to cognize the earth element as only the earth element, contrary to puthujjanas who cognize the earth element as earth element+sakkaya ditthi and later on, speculate on this sakkayaditthi and turn that into their numerous mist

aken:

The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html

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This question is better answered by referring to the literature that asking here, but I'll have a crack at it.

The first thing to say is that Buddhists are all at different stages of their practice and so have a wide range of views about the Buddha. If we have no knowledge of this practice and where it leads then we will not be able to understand who the Buddha was or what he achieved. For this reason it is difficult to give a clear answer to some 'lay' questions.

You ask what Buddha did to make him famous but this cannot be explained without some grasp of what the practice is about. He realised the truth about Consciousness and Reality and became the truth by 'yoga' or union. Thus when he speaks about Reality he does so with complete confidence and no need to speculate.

He is not alone in this achievement but there are factors that distinguish him from other masters and sages. These may be the extent of his realisation and understanding and the astonishing breadth and depth of his teaching. He taught for forty years and the extent of the sutras is vast.

What was the Buddha's philosophy that differentiated him from others?

His focus is on the cessation of suffering and compassion and he rarely spoke about what Westerners would call philosophy. His under-pinning philosophy is later explained by Nagarjuna. The Buddha advises us not to worry about metaphysics and just let it sort itself out as we acquire knowledge, but scholars would need to read Nagarjuna or others for even a clue as to what his teachings imply for philosophy.

Is there the equivalent of Buddhist philosophy in the Western world?

Buddhism is a tradition within the Perennial philosophy so shares a metaphysical foundation with advaita Vedanta, philosophical Taoism, Sufism. Plotinus and so forth. In the West their doctrine has for a long time been considered heretical so it tends to be presented obscurely or not at all. However, there are many Christians who would see the teachings of Jesus as bang in line with those of the Buddha and who believe they would have been best mates had they met. Buddhism is unique in certain respects, its approach, some of it methods, its focus on suffering, but its central message is shared by many traditions. After all, we all live in the same universe and there can only be one Truth and one true 'theory of everything'.

If Buddha was a philosopher, then why do the Asians worship him "like a prophet"?

He was not a philosopher by most definitions. His method was entirely practical and non-speculative and he might be better thought of as a scientist.

Why should you worship a philosopher?

You shouldn't. Worship is a complex topic. Buddhists venerate the Buddha but worship is a technique. For instance, 'guru-worship' is a way to cultivate guru-like qualities. Worship is a naive approach to the Buddha if it is not a technique with a purpose. There are no empty rituals, every practice has a purpose.

Can you explain to me in three short sentences, or under, what the essence is of Buddhist philosophy.

Nothing really exists or ever really happens. All distinctions and divisions are emergent and not-fundamental. The self is non-existent. Psycho-physical phenomena are of the nature of 'appearance-emptiness'. All positive metaphysical positions are false. To realise all this is 'enlightenment' or being 'awake'.

These claims are not unique to Buddhism. For instance, Beautiful Painted Arrow, a shaman of the Pueblo Indians, tells us that in his culture there are two states of consciousness available to a human being which in translation are 'Believing we exist' and 'Awakened Awareness'. This is standard stuff in mysticism, just what we discover when we investigate.

There are many excellent introductory books. For a clear description of the Buddha's philosophical position there is Nagarajuna's writings. An excellent, clear and well-explained commentary would be The Sun of Wisdom by Gyamptso (Shambala).

For the soteriological teachings and practices there are countless good introductions. Or you could read Alan Watts, Rupert Spira, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Rumi, Krishna Prem and many others. It's the same message underneath the different approaches. Eagle Editions (Arcturus) have a good series of books under the title 'The Essence of ...' that covers Taoism, Gnosticism, Buddhism and other traditions.

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