Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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pael
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby pael » Sat Nov 28, 2015 12:26 pm

Aemilius wrote:
pael wrote:Buddha said mankind developed from Abhassaras. (Agganna Sutta) Where animals (mammals and reptiles) come from? Who/What/Which are their ancestor according by the Buddha/Sutras?


That does not mean that Abhassaras are a substantial, self-existing cause and origin for the development of humanity. Such idea is contrary to Buddhism.
How and when did Abhassaras/Abhasvaras arise? Can You please tell us?

I remember Abhassaras are devas. Devas born miracleously.
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

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Aemilius
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Aemilius » Tue Dec 01, 2015 10:48 am

pael wrote:
Aemilius wrote:
pael wrote:Buddha said mankind developed from Abhassaras. (Agganna Sutta) Where animals (mammals and reptiles) come from? Who/What/Which are their ancestor according by the Buddha/Sutras?


That does not mean that Abhassaras are a substantial, self-existing cause and origin for the development of humanity. Such idea is contrary to Buddhism.
How and when did Abhassaras/Abhasvaras arise? Can You please tell us?

I remember Abhassaras are devas. Devas born miracleously.


Devas are still in Samsara, the Wheel of Rebirth, which means that they existed in someway before their state as devas. This mode of birth is also called birth by transformation.
The buddhist explanations say that a miraculous birth requires only one factor, the necessary karma, for its occurrence. I.e. no womb, egg or elements are needed. It can sometimes occur even in the human and animal realms.

See
http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php/Birth_by_transformation
http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama6/shurangama6_17.asp
http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_modes_of_birth
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:24 pm

Mod note: This thread isn't a discussion of Buddhist academia, but a question about the basics of Buddhist doctrine. Therefore, I'm moving this thread from the Academic Discussion subforum to Exploring Buddhism.
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:47 am

Seishin wrote:I have heard some scholars say that this sutta was not meant to be taken literally, but was a rebuttal, almost taking the mickey, of the Brahman creation story. What are your thoughts on this?


That's one possible interpretation, but it's also interesting to see what Buddhist masters throughout history have written on the sutra.

This is what Master Sheng Yen wrote based on the Agganna Sutta:
http://ddmbachicago.org/where-did-the-u ... come-from/

This is what Master Hsuan Hua wrote based on the sutra:
http://www.drbachinese.org/online_readi ... -ce-08.htm

This was also written by Master Hsuan Hua:
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoo ... nature.htm

If you read the Agganna Sutra for the plainest meaning of the text, then the Buddha is giving an explanation for human origins very similar to the Vedas, that humans devolved from god-like beings rather than evolving from lower creatures. Also, the Buddhist and Hindu scriptures say that humans existed millions and millions of years sooner than in the Darwinian timeline.

This is not special creation by a theistic god, like the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. Instead, the traditional Buddhist and Vedic stories describe spiritual beings becoming more physical over time, due to the outworking of karma, after descending from a higher realm.

What reason would one have, other than Darwin's theory of evolution, to doubt the Buddha's account in the Agganna Sutta for human origins? What if there were scientific evidence which suggested that the Buddha was correct in describing the origin of humanity?

In Forbidden Archeology, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson documented dozens of cases from mainstream scientific literature in which human tools and skeletal remains were found millions of years deeper into the fossil record than where they belong according to a Darwinian timeline:
http://www.krishnapath.org/library/vedi ... -download/

At the time when Forbidden Archeology was first published, it was reviewed in mainstream science publications, in which even detractors of the book admitted that it had been thoroughly researched and well-written.

When I read the Agganna Sutta for myself for the first time, without reading any modern presuppositions into the text, it changed the way that I look at the rest of Buddhist scripture and how I understand our place in the world.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:22 pm

Please keep in mind that whatever one believes about human origins is a matter of personal belief and interpretation, especially if our beliefs are determined by our individual karma. Buddhism can tolerate within itself a diversity of perspectives, and one of those perspectives might be taking the Buddha's words in the Agganna Sutta for the plainest meaning of the text.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Aemilius » Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:44 am

There is also the Flower Ornament Sutra chapter 4, Formation of Worlds.
There are chinese commentaries to the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Ornament Scripture). I don't know what these commentaries say, but the topic of the origin and appearance of worlds and beings is one of themes in Avatamsaka sutra.
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:50 am

Aemilius wrote:There is also the Flower Ornament Sutra chapter 4, Formation of Worlds.
And there are chinese commentaries to the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Ornament Scripture).


Thank you for those recommendations. For the first time, I am seeking to interpret human prehistory based on what the sutras taught rather than what Darwin taught. That doesn't mean, however, that I will judge people who have a difference of opinion. It just so happens that the evidences presented by Michael Cremo happen to fit the extreme human antiquity described in the Buddhist scriptures:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEjPC_Tta7Q

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Aemilius » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:57 am

The Lankavatara sutra says in the beginning of Chapter Two (D.T.Suzuki transl.) that the material world exist not and thus there is no genesis of it. The genesis is only a discrimination of mind, it does not exist materially.
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Aemilius » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:05 pm

Chandrakirti says that in the Abhidharma Buddha teaches that world and beings exist. And in the Yogacara and Prajñaparamita he teaches that world and beings do not exist.
As a madhyamika Candrakirti naturally says that Yogacara is kind of halfway to the complete truth.
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Chandrakirti: Madhyamaka Avatara and its commentary Madhyamaka Avatara Bhasya, english transl. C. W. Huntington
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:32 am

I don't really mind if individual Buddhists accept Darwin's theory of evolution, since that's their own prerogative. What I don't appreciate is when so-called scholars of the Buddha's teachings read into the Agganna Sutta what isn't there. I've read the Agganna Sutta several times, and so far, I see no evidence within the text itself that the Buddha intended for it to be heard as a non-historical parody or spoof.

Buddhist masters throughout history have relied on the Agganna Sutta for the Buddha's explanation for the origin of the human race and human suffering on this earth. Why read into the sutra a meaning that isn't there simply because it conflicts with Darwinism?

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:01 pm

Another book critical of human evolution that fits the Agganna Sutta's account that we devolved from higher beings is The Bone Peddlers: Selling Evolution by William Fix. This video summarizes Fix's book:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDeBSAO-b60

Some might not like Fix's use of terms like psychokinesis, but if beings from a higher realm descended to this world and, over time, manifested material bodies for themselves, without the intervention of a theistic God, that would be similar to psychokinesis.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:14 am

More evidences against human evolution might also be found if we start by asking the question, "What is a human being?" There are major differences between chimps and humans that, if realistically assessed, might cast into doubt that we originated from a blind, purely materialistic process.

This includes the vast leap in language, intelligence, and mathematical ability between humans and chimps, who are believed to be the closest living relative to humans. Furthermore, the human sense of right and wrong and our altruistic impulse might call into question that we arose from the survival of the fittest.

On top of that, research into near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and past-life memories calls into question that human consciousness is purely resulting from chemical processes in the human brain, as the Darwinian worldview would suggest.

What if, instead of evolving from lower species through a blind, mechanistic process, we instead devolved from more advanced beings who fell from a higher realm? This might be a more compelling explanation for human intelligence, our altruistic impulse, human consciousness, etc.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:25 am

Nietzsche explained rather effectively that scientific objectivity is a myth. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, brings their own perspectives to the table in evaluating the evidence.

Perspectivism (German: Perspektivismus) is the term coined by Friedrich Nietzsche in developing the philosophical view (touched upon as far back as Plato's rendition of Protagoras) that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made. This is often taken to imply that no way of seeing the world can be taken as definitively "true", but does not necessarily entail that all perspectives are equally valid.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspectivism


In the absence of absolute proof, evolution is one of many possible explanations for human origins, which happens to also be the most widely accepted naturalistic one.

Why would a person who isn't limited to methodological naturalism in evaluating the available evidence be required to believe a purely naturalistic explanation for human origins, especially considering the dramatic differences between chimps and humans in language, intelligence, mathematical ability, spiritual and moral faculties, etc.?

A more compelling explanation, according to a majority of the world's people, is that humans have intelligence, consciousness, etc. precisely because it came from another intelligence and another source of consciousness, whether that be a God, a being from a higher realm, or whatever that intelligence might be.

The explanation from the Agganna Sutta is that we are here on this earth because we devolved from higher beings. I am tolerant of a variety of perspectives on human origins, especially since no one was there to witness and record what happened.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:55 am

Here is an evolutionist from Talk Origins, one of the main websites for promoting evolution, showing honesty on the evidence for human evolution and the uncertainty involved:

There are a number of clear trends (which were neither continuous nor uniform) from early australopithecines to recent humans: increasing brain size, increasing body size, increasing use of and sophistication in tools, decreasing tooth size, decreasing skeletal robustness. There are no clear dividing lines between some of the later gracile australopithecines and some of the early Homo, between erectus and archaic sapiens, or archaic sapiens and modern sapiens.

Despite this, there is little consensus on what our family tree is. Everyone accepts that the robust australopithecines (aethiopicus,robustus and boisei) are not ancestral to us, being a side branch that left no descendants. Whether H. habilis is descended from A. afarensis, africanus, both of them, or neither of them, is still a matter of debate. It is possible that none of the known australopithecines is our ancestor.

A number of new genera and species have been discovered within the last decade (Ar. ramidus, Au. amanensis, Au. bahrelghazali, Au. garhi, Orrorin, Kenyanthropus, Sahelanthropus) and no consensus has yet formed on how they are related to each other or to humans. It is generally accepted that Homo erectus is descended from Homo habilis (or, at least, some of the fossils often assigned to habilis), but the relationship between erectus, sapiens and the Neandertals is still unclear. Neandertal affinities can be detected in some specimens of both archaic and modern sapiens.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/specimen.html

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Aemilius » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:07 am

Dharma Flower wrote:I don't really mind if individual Buddhists accept Darwin's theory of evolution, since that's their own prerogative. What I don't appreciate is when so-called scholars of the Buddha's teachings read into the Agganna Sutta what isn't there. I've read the Agganna Sutta several times, and so far, I see no evidence within the text itself that the Buddha intended for it to be heard as a non-historical parody or spoof.

Buddhist masters throughout history have relied on the Agganna Sutta for the Buddha's explanation for the origin of the human race and human suffering on this earth. Why read into the sutra a meaning that isn't there simply because it conflicts with Darwinism?


The view of devolution is also found in the Abhidharma. Abhidharma is one of the Three Pitakas. This means that the Buddhist view of the origin or reappearance of life is well established in Dharma. It is without all doubt meant to be taken seriously. It has been taken seriously in the history of Buddhism where ever its teachings have penetrated.
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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:56 am

Aemilius wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:I don't really mind if individual Buddhists accept Darwin's theory of evolution, since that's their own prerogative. What I don't appreciate is when so-called scholars of the Buddha's teachings read into the Agganna Sutta what isn't there. I've read the Agganna Sutta several times, and so far, I see no evidence within the text itself that the Buddha intended for it to be heard as a non-historical parody or spoof.

Buddhist masters throughout history have relied on the Agganna Sutta for the Buddha's explanation for the origin of the human race and human suffering on this earth. Why read into the sutra a meaning that isn't there simply because it conflicts with Darwinism?


The view of devolution is also found in the Abhidharma. Abhidharma is one of the Three Pitakas. This means that the Buddhist view of the origin or reappearance of life is well established in Dharma. It is without all doubt meant to be taken seriously. It has been taken seriously in the history of Buddhism where ever its teachings have penetrated.


Thank you for your response. I happen to agree with you on this. Do Buddhist scholars today provide any evidence for their interpretation of the Agganna Sutta as just a parody or spoof?

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:37 pm

I strongly disagree with Dr. Ben Carson's religious beliefs. But as a neurosurgeon, he knows more about the human brain and human intelligence than any of us do. This is a talk that Dr. Carson gave on evolution, and the most compelling part of the video is when he discusses the human brain:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPqq6fr2CF4

If you ask me personally, the Buddha's story in the Agganna Sutta is a more compelling explanation for human intelligence, human morality, etc. than evolution.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Dharma Flower » Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:41 am

Are there any other sutras I should read about human origins besides the Agganna Sutta? I appreciate your recommendations.

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:14 am

I think it's a mistake for Buddhists to get into creationism. The scientific account of evolution is perfectly sound, as far as it goes, but the Buddha never came to proclaim a scientific theory about the origin of species. He was concerned with demonstrating the origin of suffering because of dependent origination, and this doesn't depend on any specific theory about the origin of mankind and animals.

No use starting an argument where there need not be one.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Origin of mankind and animals according Buddhism.

Postby Ayu » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:45 am

Wayfarer wrote:...
No use starting an argument where there need not be one.

:good:
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