dmattwads

Mahayana vs Theravada

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1 hour ago, Cheshire Cat said:

I once heard a dharma talk by John Peacock, "Buddhism before theravada" which you can find online with Google and that helped me a lot by pointing at some relevant information on how therevada came to be and especially how their meditation system - which has wisdom as a crown jewel- was adopted. 

 

As for the mantra practice, I think it's significant that it's not mentioned in the Suttas and it's present in the theravada tradition just as a personal contribution of some teachers (there are theravada practitioners who use the mantra "Buddho" for example). 

 

I would also like to know why mantras are not described as meditation objects in the visuddhimagga. 

 

They were developed/revealed later or just kept secret? 

 

 

The Buddhanussati Gatha (Sanskrit for song/verse/recitation) below is widely used in the Visuddhimagga to venerate/contemplate the Buddha's nine qualities (nava guna). Its not a mantra per se since the origins of mantras predates Buddhism and is believed by Theravadin elders to contain elements of magic and mysticism, both of which are not held in high regard, although its worth noting that very early on in the history of Buddhism (around 540 BCE) paritta texts were formatted, apparently at the advice of Gautama, as protective gathas to ward off various mundane afflictions that beset lay communities, including the placation of pesky and antagonistic earth elementals and other forms of spirit disturbances.  This seems to contradict whats allegedly believed by the Theravadin elders cited above. 

 

The Buddhanussati Gatha

"Thus indeed is the Exalted One (1) an accomplished one, (2) a fully-enlightened one, (3) endowed with knowledge and good conduct, (4) well gone or gone to bliss, (5) a knower of the world, (6) an unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, (7) a teacher of humans and devas, (8) the awakened or the one who knows, (9) the sublime or exalted." 

Iti’ pi so bhagava araham sammasambuddho vijjacaranasampanno sugato lokavidu anuttaro purisadammasarathi sattha devamanussanam buddho bhagava’ti.

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5 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:

especially how their meditation system - which has wisdom as a crown jewel- was adopted. 

 

This to me is exactly what's causing me to question things about Theravada. It makes so much sense on one hand yet on the other hand I felt like it just wasn't working for me. I felt like for the most part the more I meditated the worse I felt.

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5 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:

I once heard a dharma talk by John Peacock, "Buddhism before theravada" which you can find online with Google and that helped me a lot by pointing at some relevant information on how therevada came to be and especially how their meditation system - which has wisdom as a crown jewel- was adopted. 

 

As for the mantra practice, I think it's significant that it's not mentioned in the Suttas and it's present in the theravada tradition just as a personal contribution of some teachers (there are theravada practitioners who use the mantra "Buddho" for example). 

 

I would also like to know why mantras are not described as meditation objects in the visuddhimagga. 

 

They were developed/revealed later or just kept secret? 

 

 

https://www.audiodharma.org/series/207/talk/2602/

 

- for John Peacock.

 

I think the use of mantras emerged with vajrayana (which is also called mantrayana) - why? is a big subject in itself.

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

https://www.audiodharma.org/series/207/talk/2602/

 

- for John Peacock.

 

I think the use of mantras emerged with vajrayana (which is also called mantrayana) - why? is a big subject in itself.

 

The earliest mention of mantras that I'm aware of is in the Pali Canon but it's talking about The Vedic mantras that the brahmins used.

 

But I think to keep with the spirit of your comment it does make me wonder what was happening the cause mantras to be introduced or as they hadn't been into Buddhism earlier? Effects of the Kali Yuga? The age of Dharma decline? Something else?

Edited by dmattwads
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I believe an argument for the apparently late appearance of the Mahayana sutras is that they were hidden in the realm of the Nagas until it was time for them to be revealed in our world. Terma have similar explanations in Vajrayana. Religions change, expand, elaborate, like everything else in human society; trying to reconstruct an original, pristine version of anything is just another form of innovation.

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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

I believe an argument for the apparently late appearance of the Mahayana sutras is that they were hidden in the realm of the Nagas until it was time for them to be revealed in our world. Terma have similar explanations in Vajrayana. Religions change, expand, elaborate, like everything else in human society; trying to reconstruct an original, pristine version of anything is just another form of innovation.

 

I suppose that's always a possibility but on the other hand it seems like if you created some sutras later on in the timeline and you wanted to try to make them sound legitimate this would be a line that would be used for this purpose.

 Actually what baffles me more is the efficacy of nam-myoho-renge-kyo what does chanting the title of the lotus sutra and yet text Jewel scholarship has shown it to be written much later and buy several different authors. So it seems very doubtful it was actually said by the Buddha yet chanting is title seems to be very effective. To me the shows that later innovation isn't necessarily a bad thing.

 I've even heard said by some scholars that attributing later Mahayana texts to quoting the Buddha wasn't meant to be taken literally but it was a literary device that was taken for granted.

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It's true that a lot of ideas we have today about authorship, plagiarism, etc. were not shared for most of history since literacy came about. To write a sutra and ascribe it to the Buddha may have seemed perfectly honest and straightforward if the doctrines taught were logical extensions of what the Buddha taught elsewhere. In that sense it wasn't something new but an unfolding of what had already been delivered.

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Posted (edited)

So much to say, but let me start by acknowledging that I'm not drawn to mantra repetition myself, and I can't comment on its efficacy, so far as inducing happiness.  I'll take your word for that.

First, may I offer a set of notes on the Pali Suttas--talking here about the first four Nikayas, as the fifth is apparently of later composition and may not accurately represent the teachings of Gautama:

http://zenmudra.com/Making Sense of the Pali Sutta--the Wheel of the Sayings.pdf

Second, regarding the origin of what came to be known as Mahayana Buddhism, I rely on A. K. Warder's "Indian Buddhism":


"We seem led to the conclusion that the two parties (the Sthaviravada and the Mahasamgha) were less far apart than at first sight they appear to be, except on the first ground (the five grounds:  1) that an arhant can be seduced by another person; 2) that an arhant may be ignorant of some matters; 3) that an arhant may be in doubt; 4) that an arhant may receive information [be instructed by] another person; 5) that one may enter the Way as the result of spoken words--both parties restricted 2-4 to dharma matters, so the answer was no, and although it's not clear to me from Warder's expansion it would appear the answer to 5 was also no for both parties).   The Sthaviravada were categorical that an arhant was by nature beyond the reach of any possible seduction; the Mahasamgha allowed an arhant to be seduced in a dream.  Between these two opinions no compromise could be found, despite all the Buddha's injunctions (in the Vinaya) on the reconciliation of dissident views. 

.... No compromise having been reached, the two parties separated and became two schools of Buddhism. ... (The Mahasamgha) ... having relaxed or at least not made more stringent the conditions for an arhant, found it desirable to make a clear distinction in the case of Buddha; he was a being of quite a different nature, far above other human beings or perhaps not really a human being at all.  They thus began that transformation of the Buddha, and his doctrine, which led step by step to the Mahayana, from the humanism of the original Tripitaka to the supernaturalism of most of the Mahayana sutras."  (pg 217-218)


Third, as to the teaching in the first four Nikayas, having once read all the volumes, it's possible to piece together the core of the teaching.   Of course it has to do with suffering, but here's a declension of the origin of suffering that makes more sense to me than most, provided the description of "birth, decay and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair" is understood to be "in short, the five groups of grasping" (AN I 176, Pali Text Society Vol I pg 160):
 

"That which we will…, and that which we intend to do and that wherewithal we are occupied:–this becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being there, there comes to be a station of consciousness. Consciousness being stationed and growing, rebirth of renewed existance takes place in the future, and here from birth, decay, and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this mass of ill.
 

Even if we do not will, or intend to do, and yet are occupied with something, this too becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness… whence birth… takes place.
 

But if we neither will, nor intend to do, nor are occupied about something, there is no becoming of an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being absent, there comes to be no station of consciousness. Consciousness not being stationed and growing, no rebirth of renewed existence takes place in the future, and herefrom birth, decay-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of ill."
 

(SN II 65 “Kindred Sayings on Cause” XII, 4, chapter 38 “Will”, Pali Text Society vol. 2 pg 45)


The teaching is about the cessation of intentional or volitive activity, and Gautama taught that this occurs gradually as the meditative states unfold.  In particular and necessary to the mindfulness he described as his "way of living" (SN V 320-322, Pali Text Society SN V pg 285) was the cessation of action of the body in the fourth of the rupa jhanas, and the "survey sign" of the concentration (ok, that would be my opinion, but it's very true--as my father used to say).  

How is it possible, to sit and relinquish willful activity in the body?  What's it like when action of the body takes place involuntarily, as though a part of the movement of breath?

Here's Kobun Chino Otogawa (who came from Eiheiji to help Shunryu Suzuki found Tassajara Monastery):
 

It’s impossible to teach the meaning of sitting. You won’t believe it. Not because I say something wrong, but until you experience it and confirm it by yourself, you cannot believe it.
 

(“Embracing Mind”, edited by Cosgrove & Hall, pg 48)

 

And that would be why it's hard to make sense out of Gautama's teachings, but you know there's this:

 

“…What do you think about this, reverend Jain: Is King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha, without moving his body, without uttering a word, able to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for seven nights and days?”

 

“No, your reverence.”

 

… “But I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for one night and day. I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for two nights and days, for three, four, five, six, for seven nights and days.”
 

(“Cujadukkhakkhandhasutta”, MN I 94, Pali Text Society Vol I pg 123-124)

 

Edited by Mark Foote

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22 hours ago, Apech said:

 

Sorry old bean that is completely wrong.  There was no Hindu front runner.  There were two cultural areas in India in 500 BC - one in the East of Northern India and the other in the West.  The one in the west had the Sramana tradition which gave rise to Buddhism as well as Jainism and others.  The one in the East had traditional Vedic Brahmanism - which was not the same as Hinduism as we know it now.

 

The narrative you are using is exactly the same as Western academics of the 19th and 20th century used and is wrong.

 

How about the story then that Gautama - after having left the comfort of his parental palace - knocked around with a group of Hindu based yoga practitioners first? Whose ascetic practices he eventually abandoned in favour of his famous 'Middle Way'? Which occurred to him after he had helped himself to a little bit of food, whereupon he took the first glance at Enlightenment...

 

In my book, that story has always been pretty much at the core of what Buddhism stands for. Or is all of that wrong as well in your esteemed opinion?

 

You cocky cat? :D

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2 minutes ago, Michael Sternbach said:

 

How about the story then that Gautama - after having left the comfort of his parental palace - knocked around with a group of Hindu based yoga practitioners first? Whose ascetic practices he eventually abandoned in favour of his famous 'Middle Way'? Which occurred to him after he had helped himself to a little bit of food, whereupon he took the first glance at Enlightenment...

 

In my book, that story has always been pretty much at the core of what Buddhism stands for. Or is all of that wrong as well in your esteemed opinion?

 

You cocky cat? :D

 

 

Not Hindu - Samkhya .

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14 minutes ago, Michael Sternbach said:

 

"Samkhya (Sanskrit: सांख्य, IAST: sāṃkhya) is one of the six āstika schools of Hindu philosophy.[1][2][3] It is most related to the Yoga school of Hinduism, and it was influential on other schools of Indian philosophy.[4]"

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samkhya

 

There was no such thing as Hindu then.  Wiki is wrong.

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1 hour ago, Apech said:

 

There was no such thing as Hindu then.  Wiki is wrong.

 

Maybe proto-Hindu would be an adequate term?

 

The point about the Buddha learning advanced meditation from those teachers and then him deciding that it wasn't enough really resonates with me. I was pretty much mediating every day, usually several hours, some days practically all day and while I could at times get into some pretty deep meditative states, it just wasn't "doing it for me". This would explain my current interest in mantras and the study of wisdom.

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49 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

Maybe proto-Hindu would be an adequate term?

 

The point about the Buddha learning advanced meditation from those teachers and then him deciding that it wasn't enough really resonates with me. I was pretty much mediating every day, usually several hours, some days practically all day and while I could at times get into some pretty deep meditative states, it just wasn't "doing it for me". This would explain my current interest in mantras and the study of wisdom.

 

In my simplistic way of expressing things I would say that the Buddha became awakened after he had rejected all the available practices - sat down under a tree and said 'right I've got to sort this out for myself'.

 

I have found, and obviously you take this or leave it, that all meditative techniques are just like useful toys which you can use or not use depending on if they work or not.  Obviously there might be things which you think are not working but actually they are - which is where a teacher or guide comes in.  Another way of putting it is that all the practices have a 'key' which is often not given.  Not because its some kind of guarded secret but because it relies on you realising what it is you are trying to do in meditation.  If you don't realise then you are practicing in an outer way - but not in the real way - and you may get some results but not the full ones.  So you have to see for yourself what is going on in the mind when you are doing .. mantras or whatever.  In Buddha-tantra mantras are said to be 'protection for the mind' - this is mentioned by Guenther in Ch. 10  'The Dawn of Tantra' https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dawn-Tantra-Herbert-V-Guenther/dp/1570628963/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+dawn+of+tantra&qid=1587693279&sr=8-1

but this is probably still obscure.  

 

Going back to the history thing - in the first John Peacock lecture posted above he says words to the effect that there was nothing like Hinduism at the time of the Buddha but there was Vedic Brahmanism.  And actually there were two adjacent cultural areas - one is called Kuru-Pancala and the other the Eastern Ganetic area.  In Kuru-Pancala a very ritualistic and conservative vedic tradition was being practiced by the Brahmin priests who were a specific 'varna' or caste group - you had to be born into this.  While in the other region a different style was practiced based around wandering sages or sramanas.  Buddha and Mahavira came from this later area.  Buddha was critical of the brahmins but mostly because they were not being very good brahmins.  He was not a reform figure from within the strict vedic tradition - he was commenting from his own tradition alongside it.  But he did take and use many terms (like karma) but subtly changed their meaning, for instance saying karma is intent and not a ritual act.

 

In addition to these two traditions there was a religion involving yakshas, nagas and other deities/entities which probably stretched back to the Indus Valley culture.  In fact Vajrapani was a yaksha - a protective deity of the capital of the Buddhas home state.  I would suggest that this underlying religious 'strata' was some from of shamanism which predated the vedic pantheon but became mixed with it on the journey towards what we now call Hinduism.

 

Hinduism doesn't really mean that much anyway - and probably comes from Alexander the Great describing anything beyond the Indus River - and then was used by the British Raj as a general term for incredibly diverse religious culture in India.  The Brits in trying to understand how the Buddha fitted in to the rest of Indian religious life reinvented him as a Hindu reformer - which he never was.

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39 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

In my simplistic way of expressing things I would say that the Buddha became awakened after he had rejected all the available practices - sat down under a tree and said 'right I've got to sort this out for myself'.

 

I have found, and obviously you take this or leave it, that all meditative techniques are just like useful toys which you can use or not use depending on if they work or not.  Obviously there might be things which you think are not working but actually they are - which is where a teacher or guide comes in.  Another way of putting it is that all the practices have a 'key' which is often not given.  Not because its some kind of guarded secret but because it relies on you realising what it is you are trying to do in meditation.  If you don't realise then you are practicing in an outer way - but not in the real way - and you may get some results but not the full ones.  So you have to see for yourself what is going on in the mind when you are doing .. mantras or whatever.  In Buddha-tantra mantras are said to be 'protection for the mind' - this is mentioned by Guenther in Ch. 10  'The Dawn of Tantra' https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dawn-Tantra-Herbert-V-Guenther/dp/1570628963/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+dawn+of+tantra&qid=1587693279&sr=8-1

but this is probably still obscure.  

 

Going back to the history thing - in the first John Peacock lecture posted above he says words to the effect that there was nothing like Hinduism at the time of the Buddha but there was Vedic Brahmanism.  And actually there were two adjacent cultural areas - one is called Kuru-Pancala and the other the Eastern Ganetic area.  In Kuru-Pancala a very ritualistic and conservative vedic tradition was being practiced by the Brahmin priests who were a specific 'varna' or caste group - you had to be born into this.  While in the other region a different style was practiced based around wandering sages or sramanas.  Buddha and Mahavira came from this later area.  Buddha was critical of the brahmins but mostly because they were not being very good brahmins.  He was not a reform figure from within the strict vedic tradition - he was commenting from his own tradition alongside it.  But he did take and use many terms (like karma) but subtly changed their meaning, for instance saying karma is intent and not a ritual act.

 

In addition to these two traditions there was a religion involving yakshas, nagas and other deities/entities which probably stretched back to the Indus Valley culture.  In fact Vajrapani was a yaksha - a protective deity of the capital of the Buddhas home state.  I would suggest that this underlying religious 'strata' was some from of shamanism which predated the vedic pantheon but became mixed with it on the journey towards what we now call Hinduism.

 

Hinduism doesn't really mean that much anyway - and probably comes from Alexander the Great describing anything beyond the Indus River - and then was used by the British Raj as a general term for incredibly diverse religious culture in India.  The Brits in trying to understand how the Buddha fitted in to the rest of Indian religious life reinvented him as a Hindu reformer - which he never was.

 

From my understanding The Vedic culture being Indo-European from the Aryans had much more in common with the Greco-Roman and Viking religions than the original Dravidic religions of India.

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On 23/04/2020 at 12:02 AM, Apech said:

Personally I reject this as much as I reject the 'psychological' treatment of dharma e.g. Jungian and so on.

 

A side note to your otherwise insightful commentary:

 

You’re making a straw man of Jung. At the heart of Jung’s project is his attempt to reconnect our religious traditions with the direct experiences of the numinous that shaped them. His personal experiential connection goes right back to ancient Western shamanism. From my reading of your posts, I would think there’s much commonality between Jung’s insights and your own evolving perspective.  (Or am I completely misinterpreting you?)

 

Here’s Peter Kingsley, a classics scholar whose special interest is in the mystery and magic of ancient Greek culture, talking with Jungian analyst, Murray Stein:

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, dmattwads said:

 

From my understanding The Vedic culture being Indo-European from the Aryans had much more in common with the Greco-Roman and Viking religions than the original Dravidic religions of India.

 

Yes, unless you hold to the Out of India hypotheses.  

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Yueya said:

 

A side note to your otherwise insightful commentary:

 

You’re making a straw man of Jung. At the heart of Jung’s project is his attempt to reconnect our religious traditions with the direct experiences of the numinous that shaped them. His personal experiential connection goes right back to ancient Western shamanism. From my reading of your posts, I would think there’s much commonality between Jung’s insights and your own evolving perspective.  (Or am I completely misinterpreting you?)

 

Here’s Peter Kingsley, a classics scholar whose special interest is in the mystery and magic of ancient Greek culture, talking with Jungian analyst, Murray Stein:

 

...

 

 

I guess you are right - I shouldn't have picked Jung as an example as he is more sympatico.

 

But I'll give an example of what I meant.  In the Buddhist ngondro you are supposed to do 100,000 prostrations.  One explanation for this is that it helps remove pride.  i.e. a psychological explanation.  Whereas my experience is that the purpose of the prostrations is not really this - if you lose pride then that's more of a spin off.  And it is certainly possible to have great pride in having completed them.  To place the psychological reason as central is really to suggest that dharma or the spiritual path is about becoming better adjusted to the world.  But of course part of one's path might be periods of isolation - in retreats - far from the world or society.  Or again if you want to meditate you need to learn to relax - but if you meditate to relax you are missing the whole point.  In fact it is possible to say periods of stress are part of the path and if you avoid them you will get no where.

 

 

Edited by Apech
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I think upon reflecting on the essence of this post a little more if I was going to streamline the issue for myself personally I would say the main difference for me is methods of practice that is mostly meditation-based or a mantra practice. I found that the more meditation based practice made me feel worse in the mantra based practice made me feel better. I think in the end for me that's what it ultimately came down to.

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Posted (edited)

I was looking at the nam-myoho-renge-kyo mantra from a technical perspective. From my view it seems like some Buddhist practitioner finally hit the milestone and once he got the big belly and flappy ears, he asked the question...."how can i create a tool for my disciples to align and travel to this same state?" 

 

In analyzing the mantra....it seems like a heat seeking missile for Buddha-hood....so as long as you align with the energy you'll eventually "get there". If your sole goal is that then it is a useful method. 

 

What results does the mantra have for the practitioner? (Divination)

-Aligns the individual with cosmic law

-Opens up the path of Buddha-hood

 

 

Edited by RiverSnake
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I should probably clarifying even with some mantras I have to use them sparingly like the Zhunti mantra. With that and with regular meditation the reaction with me is just too much karma release too soon.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Apech said:

 

I guess you are right - I shouldn't have picked Jung as an example as he is more sympatico.

 

But I'll give an example of what I meant.  In the Buddhist ngondro you are supposed to do 100,000 prostrations.  One explanation for this is that it helps remove pride.  i.e. a psychological explanation.  Whereas my experience is that the purpose of the prostrations is not really this - if you lose pride then that's more of a spin off.  And it is certainly possible to have great pride in having completed them.  To place the psychological reason as central is really to suggest that dharma or the spiritual path is about becoming better adjusted to the world.  But of course part of one's path might be periods of isolation - in retreats - far from the world or society.  Or again if you want to meditate you need to learn to relax - but if you meditate to relax you are missing the whole point.  In fact it is possible to say periods of stress are part of the path and if you avoid them you will get no where.

 

 

 

I very much agree with all you've written except the part I've highlighted in bold.  While that might be a valid observation for much of contemporary psychology, it’s only a small aspect of insight into the great mystery of our human psyche. It certainly doesn’t apply to Jung. He calls psychology that deals with adjustment to the outer world external psychology, whereas his focus was on inner psychology. Hence, anyone who practises introspection in any form is involved in inner psychology. However, insight into Jung’s far reaching perspective is outside the intent of this topic. It’s something for anyone interested in Jung to pursue. 

 

BTW. There’s an entry on Wikipedia that explores Buddhism and psychology.

 

Edit to add some information on Jung's meaning of the word 'psyche' : 

 

“The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the “sin qua non” [indispensable ingredient] of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western man, with but very few - and ever fewer - exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge [the psyche] has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming nonexistence.”

-- Carl Jung

 

Jung understands psyche as the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious.  He uses the term ‘psyche’ rather than ‘mind’, since mind is used in common parlance to refer to the aspects of mental functioning which are conscious. Jung maintained that the psyche is a self-regulating system (like the body).   For Jung, the psyche strives to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while at the same time actively seeking its own development or as he called it, individuation.

 

 

Edited by Yueya

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45 minutes ago, Yueya said:

 

I very much agree with all you've written except the part I've highlighted in bold.  While that might be a valid observation for much of contemporary psychology, it’s only a small aspect of insight into the great mystery of our human psyche. It certainly doesn’t apply to Jung. He calls psychology that deals with adjustment to the outer world external psychology, whereas his focus was on inner psychology. Hence, anyone who practises introspection in any form is involved in inner psychology. However, insight into Jung’s far reaching perspective is outside the intent of this topic. It’s something for anyone interested in Jung to pursue. 

 

BTW. There’s an entry on Wikipedia that explores Buddhism and psychology.

 

Edit to add some information on Jung's meaning of the word 'psyche' : 

 

“The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the “sin qua non” [indispensable ingredient] of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western man, with but very few - and ever fewer - exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge [the psyche] has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming nonexistence.”

-- Carl Jung

 

Jung understands psyche as the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious.  He uses the term ‘psyche’ rather than ‘mind’, since mind is used in common parlance to refer to the aspects of mental functioning which are conscious. Jung maintained that the psyche is a self-regulating system (like the body).   For Jung, the psyche strives to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while at the same time actively seeking its own development or as he called it, individuation.

 

 

 

 

I bow to your greater knowledge of Jung.  But I still have problems with that link on Buddhist psychology.  But maybe that's just me.

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1 hour ago, Apech said:

But I still have problems with that link on Buddhist psychology.  But maybe that's just me.

 

Yeah, me too. I only referenced it to give some overview of the topic as contemporarily understood. 

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On 4/21/2020 at 8:18 PM, dmattwads said:

This topic has been the focus of a lot of my attention as of late. Here is the back ground.

 

Originally I was raised a Protestant Christian. During college I came to realize that this belief system didn't make a lot of rational sense and lost faith in it.

 

Fast forward a few years and I became active in Theravada Buddhism. It seemed very rational and made sense and didn't require much faith. It was easy to see that craving lead to suffering and to end suffering one needed to let go of craving by gaining insight into it. I also appreciated that the Buddha had an attitude of free inquiry that was based upon ones own experience. Herein also was the foundation of my own personal dilemma.

 As much sense as Theravada Buddhism made rationally, it didn't seem to be working for me in real life as far as making me happier and more peaceful. This being the case I began to experimentally try Mahayana practices even though they seemed less rational to me. 

 The "problem" was that the less rational Mahayana practices seemed to work better at making me happier and more peaceful, where as Theravada practice seemed to stress me out often.

 Being as it is I currently have a predominantly Mahayana practice even though Theravada seems to "make more sense" to me logically.

 Had anyone else had a similar experience? I'm not sure why Theravada practice hasn't worked well for me even though it makes more sense to me?

 

I have not yet read through the thread and would simply like to share some initial reactions.

There is certainly value to engaging the rational mind when approaching the Dharma, for as long as we need and benefit from that.

The other side is that the Dharma is not created by or ever fully captured by discursive thought.

For me, a big part of connecting to Dharma is to see the role the discursive mind plays in our lives and to find balance between its value and limitations. 

So I would not put too much emphasis solely on what makes sense and allow yourself to develop some trust in what you are experiencing, whether or not it yet makes sense. 

For many it is a bad word, but in that lies the beginnings of faith which is an enormously powerful fuel to spiritual practice. 

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