Buddhism and the Self
marting at NSWCC.ORG.AU
Thu Sep 18 03:43:38 CDT 1997
At 08:42 PM 16/09/97 -0800, Allan wrote:
>I'd like to make one last general comment about the conduct of this list.
>More than one list member seems to feel that Advaita-L should be confined
>to discussions of orthodox Hinduism rather than the wider interpretation of
>Advaita sometimes called the "perennial philosophy" or "primordial
Hi All !
Perhaps there are 4 approaches to the word 'Advaita' for our purposes.
1. Traditional scriptural based advaita.
2. Non-traditional scriptures with similarities of expression to traditional
3. Living claimers of realisation that call theire realisation advaita.
4. Theoretical advaita for those who have not realised.
I presume our purpose is to realise non-duality. Some try to do it through
investigating and discussing scriptures. Some try to do it through hanging
out with a supposedly realised sage. Some try to do it with contemplation of
a mixture of many seemingly related thoughts.
So if you _believe_ in only one of the above then you would automatically
reject all else. But if the bottom line is realising non-duality then you
will listen to anything that helps.
I would add that it's very safe to keep to inanimate scriptures while a real
guru is more likely to blow our cherished limiting ideas away. Not to
mention the energetic factor of a true guru's presence.
I can't imagine a real guru saying eg. "yes you are right, Buddhism is/isn't
advaita". Wouldn't s/he be more inclined to say "don't worry about that,
worry about who you are and what life is all about experientially rather
>From Thu Sep 18 11:32:40 1997
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 11:32:40 -0400
Reply-To: chandran at email.econ.ag.gov
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ram Chandran <chandran at EMAIL.ECON.AG.GOV>
Organization: Economic Research Service
Subject: Buddhism and Self
Comments: cc: chandran at tidalwave.net
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Nanda Kumar <nkumar at OPPENHEIMERFUNDS.COM> writes:
> In fact, I was the first to object to Ramakrishnan's objectionable
> tone in his postings. But the members should understand that there are
> quite a few of us on this list who're very new to this and trying to
> learn. And if the contributor's on this list aren't responsible and
> careful about their postings, we could easily be misguided.
Nanda Kumar has made a valid point on the issue of objectionable tone
of postings in recent weeks. It is very important that we demonstrate
tolerance toward other viewpoints without prejudice. I hope that my
discussions below can help all of us to focus the attention on the
subject matter rather than the personalities. The Tamil poet,
Thiruvalluvar in a volume of short poems of two line verses defines good
and bad language as follows. " Iniya ulavaaka innaatha kooral
kaniirupa kai kavarnthatru" (Tamil). English translation - Use of
offensive language instead of pleasant language is like eating bitter
and unripened fruits when sweet ripened ones are at hand. English
translation of "Thirukural" is available in the Internet at:
(http://rbhatnagar.csm.uc.edu:8080/scriptures/kural). The Win-win
option for all of us is to follow the advice of Thiruvalluvar in the
choice of our words and language.
As human beings, we are susceptible to losing patience and we are
accustomed to accusing others for our actions. Can we stop this
behavior? The answer is yes provided we determine to change. The main
objective of this article is to help us to cultivate habits to listen to
other viewpoints without prejudice and avoid jumping into incorrect and
inappropriate conclusions. The first step toward this goal is to
display tolerance toward view points expressed by others. We have two
choices: either to look for the "good points" or to search for the "bad
points." The win-win strategy is to assume that others are right and
they have rights to express their viewpoints.
We always tell our kids that the sign of maturity is to understand our
own faults before finding the faults of others. As human beings, we are
inclined to be impatient and always ready to jump into conclusions
without thinking it over. Sooner or later, we become irritable and
express our mental agitation explicitly. Instead of us controlling the
situation, we allow the situation to take control over us. Consequently,
we employ substandard language and impolite words. We demand infinite
patience from others without recognizing our childish behavior. In the
long-run, we lose our dignity and identity. If we fail to correct our
actions, we will be isolated from the community. Our parents, spouse,
kids, friends and neighbors will start expressing their disappointments
and disapproval. After damaging our reputation, even if we verbalize
our good ideas and our virtues, we will be ignored. We become our own
enemy, we acquire more anger, and we generate more enemies. When our
anger reaches the threshold level, we lose our discriminatory power
(Buddhi) and we become intolerable and unreasonable. We begin to accuse
everybody for our misfortunes. The only way to avoid this path of
self-destruction is to realize our faults and take more care to express
our views with courtesy and coolness. There can be no Self-realization
if we pursue the path of Self-destruction.
We all know that spirituality is not something that we can start
discussing and arguing among ourselves to spend our valuable time. It
is to be understood in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with an
open mind. If we show kindness and respect to other viewpoints, we are
sure to get back kindness and respect from others. Religious disputes
and doctrinal conflicts are always motivated by egoism. The very
existence and practice of different religions demonstrate that no single
religious perspective is absolute and complete.
Let us dedicate some time to read and understand the viewpoints of
world religions to remove our bias and prejudice. In a multi-cultural
society like ours, it is necessary that we get better perspective of
other religions and cultures. There will be no peace in earth if we do
not show tolerance and open mindedness while listening or reading.
Plenty of "goodness" is readily available in other religious scripts if
we seek for it. The following excerpts will illustrate that the
ultimate goal of any religion is to seek the truth and this is the
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.15: Truth has many aspects. Infinite truth has
infinite expressions. Though the sages speak in diverse ways, they
express one and the same Truth. Ignorant is he who says, "What I say and
know is true; others are wrong." It is because of this attitude of the
ignorant that there have been doubts and misunderstandings about God.
This attitude it is that causes dispute among men. But all doubts
vanish when one gains self-control and attain tranquillity by realizing
the heart of Truth. Thereupon dispute, too, is at an end.
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3: Like the bee, gathering honey from different
flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different scriptures and
sees only the good in all religions.
Bible, 1 Peter 2.12: Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so
that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your
good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Sanmatitarka of Siddhasena 1.28: All the doctrines are right in their
own respective spheres--but if they encroach upon the province of other
doctrines and try to refute their views, they are wrong. A man who
holds the view of the cumulative character of truth never says that a
particular view is right or that a particular view is
Qur'an: 2.256 & 10.99-100: There is no compulsion in religion. Will you
then compel mankind, against their will, to believe? No soul can
believe, except by the Will of God.
Chuang Tzu 2: Suppose you and I have had an argument. If you have
beaten me instead of my beating you, then are you necessarily right and
am I necessarily wrong? If I have beaten you instead of your beating
me, then am I necessarily right and are you necessarily wrong? Is one
of us right and the other wrong? Are both of us right or are both of us
wrong? If you and I don't know the answer, then other people are bound
to be even more in the dark. Whom shall we get to decide what is
right? Shall we get someone who agrees with you to decide? But if he
already agrees with you, how can he decide fairly? Shall we get someone
who agrees with me? But if he already agrees with me, how can he
decide? Shall we get someone who disagrees with both of us?... But
waiting for one shifting voice [to decide for] another is the same as
waiting for none of them. Harmonize them all with the Heavenly
Equality, leave them to their endless changes, and so live out your
years. What do I mean by harmonizing them with the Heavenly Equality?
Right is not right; so is not so. If right were really right, it would
differ so clearly from not right that there would be no need for
argument. If so were really so, it would differ so clearly from not so
that there would be no need for argument. Forget the years; forget
distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home!
Well Known Indian Tale - The Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant
A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are
living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits and scholars who indulge
in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal
and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul
dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth.
What, Sir, would you say concerning them?" The Buddha answered, "Once
upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said,
'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of
Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good,
sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the
blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he
presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a
tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail,
saying to each one that was the elephant. "When the blind men had felt
the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, 'Well,
blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an
elephant?' "Thereupon the men who were presented with the head
answered, 'Sire, an elephant is like a pot.' And the men who had
observed the ear replied, 'An elephant is like a winnowing basket.'
Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a plough-share.
Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body
was a granary; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a
pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush. "Then they began to quarrel,
shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!'
'Yes, it's like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the
matter. "Brethren, the raja was delighted with the scene. "Just so are
these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and
unseeing.... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome,
wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and
thus." Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this
verse of uplift, O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim For
preacher and monk the honored name! For, quarreling, each to his view
they cling. Such folk see only one side of a thing. (This well-known
Indian tale is from the Buddhist canon, but some assert it is of Jain
origin. It does illustrate well the Jain doctrine of Anekanta, the
manysidedness of things: Cf. Tattvarthaslokavartika 116, p 806. Mihir
Yast 10.2: Cf. Analects 15.5, p.1020. Udana 68-69).
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