Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Buddha is simply THE Buddha

Question (Unedited)
dear justinchoo,
    My apology for bothering you again,as you have mention that the buddha do not believe in a creator
God,does that mean he is a evolutionist?

Hi P..,

You are not bothering me.  I enjoy answering your questions.  
You can say that the Buddha was an evolutionist because he revealed that not only our lives evolved but also the whole vast universe.  Before we try to label who the Buddha was, we must first understand that (as I said before) the Buddha is THE Buddha.  The correct description of the Buddha is he was the All-knowing One, the Fully Enlightened One, who knew what needed to be known, and had done what needed to be done.  He was also Omniscient in that he possessed supernatural powers.  He was also the Teacher of gods and men.  

On one occasion, someone saw the vibrant body of the Buddha and asked him whether he was God.  The Buddha replied in the negative.  Then he was asked that he must be an ordinary being.  He again replied negatively.  "Then who are you?" the man asked.  The Buddha replied, "I am the Buddha."

Coming back to your label "evolutionist", the Buddha revealed that everything in existence was subject to change and impermanence.  Everything evolved; formation, evolution, dissolution, and destruction. Then the cycle starts all over again.  Take the example of living beings.  We can clearly see this cycle.  Scientists have also discovered that somewhere at any point in time planets are being formed, evolved, dissolved and destroyed.  The whole universe is ever changing, evolving, in perpetual cycles in clockwork precision.  If a person is wise enough to realize this truth of impermanence, then he will take steps to reduce his greed, hatred and delusion.  He is just a very insignificant and minute speck existing only for the duration of a blink of the eye in this vast universe with infinite time and space.  His ego is not worth a grain of salt.  Then he will know how to live in peace with himself and with others.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Agganna Sutta

Question : (Unedited)
Dear justinchoo,
    hello,its me again,I have just read the agganna sutta
and personally I don't think it shouid be taken literally.I
would like to know what is the orthodox view regarding the sutta.thanks!

Hi P...,

Actually, the different tenses used have baffled me.  This sutta is usually quoted to explain the evolution of the world and how beings first appeared and evolved through a very very long period of time.  The orthodox view, I suppose, is to interpret it in a broader perspective while retaining the evolution thesis.  (This is my personal opinion.)

I always have difficulties in reading and understanding the suttas.  The continual repetitions and difficult terms make it a very tedious exercise.  Personally, I make it very simple by just practising the Buddha's simple advice, that is, avoid doing evil, do good, and purify the mind.  Very simple instruction in very simple English.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What is violence?

Question: (Unedited)
I read your answer to the non-violence question. What is the Buddhist definition of violence? Does violence also relate to harmful verbal communications, actions, and self-mentalities? I have to interview a Buddhist for my Philosophy class. I appreciate your help. Thanks. (You'll probably come across other questions of mine...)

Hi D...,

We don't need a Buddhist definition of "violence".  We need a common-sense definition.  Buddhism is for all to practise.  It is very universal.  So what is violence?  We are fearful of others hurting us.  Actions that hurt others can be considered "violence", in various degrees.  I would consider anything that hurts us and others as "violence".  On the extreme, of course violence means killing people.  On the lower end of the continuum, speech and thought that are hurtful are a sort of "violence".  It's just semantic.  Take your choice.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Calling an orange, "orange"

Question : (Unedited)
Following the concept of emptiness -an orange is an orange, merely a label that our minds give to the orange. It is the mind that gives attribute of good or bad to the item, and so on, whch bring about fear/paranoia/self-doubt.

My question is, is having an imagination (something essential to being an author), contradicting the view on emptiness and thus, also in a way breaking inner peace? I mean, to let your imagination run wild, in order to write a story, isn't that in itself, not seeing an orange as an orange?

I hope you understand my question :) Thank you.

My comment:
Hi L....,

Thank you for asking me.

It will solve your problem if you consider two aspects of your life.  One is the mundane, and the other is the spiritual.  You have to maintain a reasonable balance in this dichotomy of our existence as a lay person.  It is very difficult to always follow strictly the correct spiritual path and interpretation taught by the Buddha, while still living a worldly life.  A lot of our worldly activities and thinking, stands in the way of our spiritual progress.  That was why the Buddha encouraged his serious followers to become monks and concentrate only on the spiritual path, leaving behind the mundane activities of the world.      

I am sure by now your apparent contradictions are resolved.  Your first paragraph is on the spiritual aspect.  Wisdom is attained when you can see through the hallucination of concepts as interpreted by our deluded mind.  We label an orange as "orange" because of our accepted convention to call it such. This is what we called "conventional truth", which we use to communicate with our fellow beings. In reality it is not an "orange".  As an "ultimate truth", it is not an "orange".  Most often we need to express in conventional truths (terms) so as to conduct our lives smoothly and practically.  We cannot insist on sticking to ultimate truths (terms) and become impractical and a nuisance to society.

Now coming to your second paragraph, you are now using your mental faculty and human intelligence to produce an intellectual creation for the conventional world.  This is an intellectual contribution to the world, although spiritually there is nothing beneficial.   

Strike a balance; this is the middle way, the way of moderation, leading to tolerance, understanding, happiness and wisdom.
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