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Thread: On Reincarnation

  1. #11
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Binocular: "What moral lessons can be learned from the Jataka Tales? Could you give some examples?"
    One that comes to mind tells the story of the bodhisatta Gotama as a hare coming across a family of starving tigers. The mother had been injured and could not hunt to feed her cubs. Buddha gave himself to this family, thereby reinforcing the merit of compassion.

    Olderron wrote: "The truth is always the truth, whether beneficial or harmful."
    To which Binocular responded: Only in a morally corrupt universe.
    Benefit and harmfulness are a matter of perspective. In some cultures killing someone, who is trying to kill you makes you a hero. In the Buddhist Culture we have "The Simile of The Saw", which advises that all forms of killing causes harm. The "truth" is that killing is killing no matter what culture in which you live. And no matter what your rationale. As Buddha explained: "Violence leads only to more violence." The countermeasure for violence is always compassion and loving-kindness., hence, The Simile of The Saw.

  2. #12
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    One that comes to mind tells the story of the bodhisatta Gotama as a hare coming across a family of starving tigers. The mother had been injured and could not hunt to feed her cubs. Buddha gave himself to this family, thereby reinforcing the merit of compassion.
    Personally, this is the type of story I consider renders the Jataka as unbeneficial. Exactly what type of merit exists in feeding your body to a tigress or other beast of prey, such as a white pointer shark?

    The salient characteristic of Jataka stories is the "being" in them was unenlightened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    Benefit and harmfulness are a matter of perspective. In some cultures killing someone, who is trying to kill you makes you a hero. In the Buddhist Culture we have "The Simile of The Saw", which advises that all forms of killing causes harm. The "truth" is that killing is killing no matter what culture in which you live. And no matter what your rationale. As Buddha explained: "Violence leads only to more violence." The countermeasure for violence is always compassion and loving-kindness., hence, The Simile of The Saw.
    "The Simile of The Saw" is for monks and not lay people. Importantly, it is not related to reincarnation or the Jataka. It exemplifies the purpose of the life of a monk, which is to exemplify non-violence.

    Unlike the fable of the Hungry Tigress, the "The Simile of The Saw" is not about sacrificing your life for another. It is about liberation.


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    Many years ago I decided to study philosophy. Now there's something with conflicting views! I only managed to get a handle on the 'What's true?' question when I realised it didn't matter. What was important was to pose the question, 'What would the world be like if this way of looking at it was true?', and then look at each philosophical argument in this same way. I may not have reached 'truth', but the journey through the ideas was valuable.

    In the same way, each idea or myth or parable or story in Buddhism is useful to contemplate. You don't have to buy into any particular version, but they all have value. The 'value' comes with additional meditation practice and following the path, when it results in changes to how you see the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    The salient characteristic of Jataka stories is the "being" in them was unenlightened.
    Exactly.

    Or the Jataka tale that has served as the foundation for one of the Secondary Bodhisattva Vows in Mahayana Buddhism -- the tale about the people in the boat where one person intends to kill all the others, but the Buddha who was then still an unelightened Bodhisattva, decides it would be best to kill that person and does so. That story, if we are to take it as a lesson in morality, is then expecting us to believe that the best that a boat full of able-bodied, able-minded people, one of whom is even able to read minds, can do is to kill the one person who poses some threat to them, whereby this person is armed neither with poison gas nor with an AK-47 or some other similar weapon for mass destruction, so that it is resonable to assume that that person could be simply physically restrained by two or more other persons.

    The story can certainly serve as an example of a potential diffusion of responsibility -- "a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present", and reminds of the harm that can come from that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    Benefit and harmfulness are a matter of perspective. In some cultures killing someone, who is trying to kill you makes you a hero. In the Buddhist Culture we have "The Simile of The Saw", which advises that all forms of killing causes harm. The "truth" is that killing is killing no matter what culture in which you live. And no matter what your rationale. As Buddha explained: "Violence leads only to more violence." The countermeasure for violence is always compassion and loving-kindness., hence, The Simile of The Saw.
    Not necessarily in Mahayana, for example.

    You said, "The truth is always the truth, whether beneficial or harmful."
    To say that the truth can be harmful is to say that the universe is ultimately a competitive place in which some are winners and some are losers (for all eternity, at that), or that the ultimate nature of the universe is/includes pain and suffering.

  6. #16
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by binocular View Post
    The story can certainly serve as an example of a potential diffusion of responsibility -- "a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present"...
    Whoa!

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by binocular View Post

    Or the Jataka tale that has served as the foundation for one of the Secondary Bodhisattva Vows in Mahayana Buddhism.... .

    Could you provide a link to the story and also to the Secondary Bodhisattva vow that you mentioned, please, binocular?

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    (4) Not committing a destructive action when love and compassion call for it

    Occasionally, certain extreme situations arise in which the welfare of others is seriously jeopardized and there is no alternative left to prevent a tragedy other than committing one of the seven destructive physical or verbal actions. These seven are taking a life, taking what has not been given to us, indulging in inappropriate sexual behavior, lying, speaking divisively, using harsh and cruel language, or chattering meaninglessly. If we commit such an action without any disturbing emotion at the time, such as anger, desire, or naivety about cause and effect, but are motivated only by the wish to prevent others' suffering – being totally willing to accept on ourselves whatever negative consequences may come, even hellish pain – we do not damage our far-reaching ethical self-discipline. In fact, we build up a tremendous amount of positive force that speeds us on our spiritual paths.
    /.../
    https://studybuddhism.com/en/advance...dhisattva-vows
    It's too much to copy-paste more here, but relevant, so please see more at the link.

    See also this post here: https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph...art=80#p383394
    A discussion with references here under "Did the Buddha kill?" http://www.alanpeto.com/buddhism/bud...dier-military/
    and here: https://books.google.si/books?id=9CT...0sutra&f=false
    Last edited by binocular; 02 May 17 at 16:41.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    Whoa!
    Well, yes. Imagine the scenario: There are 500 able-bodied, able-minded people there on that ship who supposedly can do nothing but just stand there, haplessly, like deer in the headlights, as one person is killing them one by one with a knife. Really? This is supposed to be realistic?

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by binocular
    It's too much to copy-paste more here, but relevant, so please see more at the link.
    Ok, thanks.

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