Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:18 pm

pemachophel wrote:Johnny,

"Honestly the one place where I tend to find traditional Buddhist commentary mostly unhelpful is modern gender and sexual politics, the categories are so different now, context is so different."

I understand what you are saying. However, what if the Buddhist teaching that we are in the nyug-mai du, the "time of dregs"/degenerate time is true? IOW, that all or most of the modern changes in the world, society, our ideas, and mores are the result of increasing ignorance and kleshas. That these changes are not positive progress but rather further degeneration fueled by delusion. From that POV, the "traditional Buddhist commentary" may not be so wide of the mark. In fact, it may be spot on.

Something to consider.

:namaste:
This is an interesting idea, one worth exploring. Which "traditional Buddhist commentaries" are we referring to? It seems to me that there are many different traditional approaches to gender and sexuality that have developed in Buddhist cultures.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:32 pm

rory wrote:, it's about the public seeing us a regular people, families, who are no different than they are.
It's about fitting in with all the normal folk. But who says "normal "is good? "Normal" seems to be failing abysmally.
Women for the most part desire a single partner...
Evidence? And evidence to prove the insinuation that most men don't..., that they desire hot sex with a stranger rather than intimacy? Any proof that it is a common male fantasy?
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:54 pm

pemachophel wrote:...what if the Buddhist teaching that we are in the nyug-mai du, the "time of dregs"/degenerate time is true? IOW, that all or most of the modern changes in the world, society, our ideas, and mores are the result of increasing ignorance and kleshas. That these changes are not positive progress but rather further degeneration fueled by delusion. From that POV, the "traditional Buddhist commentary" may not be so wide of the mark. In fact, it may be spot on.
Johnny Dangerous wrote: When I read the stuff (as an admittedly vaguely remembered offhand example) that Nagarjuna writes about women and wives, or that Buddhagosa writes about homosexuality...it really doesn't read like anything but the conservative sexual and gender views of their respective times. Am I supposed to simply give these more credence due to "oh well its the degenerate age, so all modern ideas are by definition incorrect, and all older ideas more correct"? Not a convincing argument, at all if indeed it's similar to what you are saying.

Would you apply this same form of reasoning to all aspects of modernity outside the realm of sexuality? Is the end of slavery in the US, taken on it's own merits..a sign of the degenerate age?

More specifically, in such a case..which is an aspect of the degenerate age, slavery, fights to end slavery, or both? If the answer is both, you might as well just not talk about any kind of views, at all. Even in Samsara, even in the degenerate age, we have to choose what we can reason is the least harmful thing.
IIRC, before the Buddha passed away, he instructed the sangha that they could abolish or adjust the minor rules of conduct. Several occasions arose when the rules came to be reconsidered. The biggest problem was Ananda et al. forgot to ask which rules were minor and which ones major. At least in the early instances, failing to come to a consensus on what the minor rules of conduct were, the Sangha elected to keep all of them. Later, though, schisms arose on account of differences in opinion on the rules of conduct as much as doctrine.

It appears you two are voicing the general viewpoints that came to be at odds when the sangha considered abolishing the minor rules - one group saying, "these "minor" rules just don't fit the times", and the other saying, "All these rules indeed fit the times and might be even more appropriate now as we are more degenerate than the time of the Buddha". I don't have any solution to offer, but when considering which rules/views to preserve and which to dispense with, Buddhist history could offer some insight and guidance.

As an aside, and maybe this should be another thread - Pemachopel, If this is the degenerate age, can you briefly explain what the implications of this are for the pursuit of the Buddhist path from your perspective? Does this demand a sort of archaism ie. a return to the old ways? Or something else? Thanks.
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Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:15 pm

Queequeg wrote:As an aside, and maybe this should be another thread - Pemachopel, If this is the degenerate age, can you briefly explain what the implications of this are for the pursuit of the Buddhist path from your perspective? Does this demand a sort of archaism ie. a return to the old ways? Or something else? Thanks.
Good question!
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by pemachophel » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:22 am

"If this is the degenerate age, can you briefly explain what the implications of this are for the pursuit of the Buddhist path from your perspective? Does this demand a sort of archaism ie. a return to the old ways? Or something else?"

Yes, this is a good question -- a very good question.

My answer is "something else," and that something else is the development of faith in the Buddhadharma.

The word "archaism" immediately reveals the relativist bias of historical progressivism, and I do see this philosophical trend as part of the degeneration of this age. Historical progressivism make real faith in the Buddhadharma very difficult to cultivate, and, without real faith, treading the path of Buddhism as a liberating practice is (at least from the POV of Tibetan Buddhism) impossible. Historical progressivism is a kind of eternalism that assumes the true existence of an objective world, and the existence of such an objectively existing world is rejected by higher (i.e., Madyamaka) philosophy and the views of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. In terms of traditional Buddhist teachings on sexual ethics, I think one has to be very careful and very reticent in jettisoning fundamental teachings of the Buddha and the realized Sangha in favor of current humanist/materialist assumptions and values.

Are all the teachings of the Buddha comfortable and easy to follow? Not by a long shot. Is it easy to keep the 10 virtuous actions and give up the 10 non-virtuous actions? Hardly. Is is easy to practice the six paramitas and always work for the welfare of all sentient beings. Harder still. And what about keeping the Vajrayana samayas? Almost impossible. But, if we are following that path, we have to try and we have to have faith that the path will lead us to liberation from samsara/conditioned existence.

If we continue to prejudice our individual "rational" thinking mind, we will not make real progress on the path. We will not have the meditative experiences that show actual progress. We will just keep spinning our wheels the way we have done for countless lifetimes, fascinating ourselves with what is, essentially, an illusion. The dichotomy of archaism versus modernity is just another conceptual illusion.

Sorry, I probably shouldn't've weighed in on this thread. I'm not a scholar. So my answer may seem very simplistic and naive. I'm a full-time practitioner and I'm not much given to intellectual debate. Back during the 70s, Chatral Rinpoche visited the Sanskrit University in Varanasi where many young Tibetans were studying from all four sects. They asked Him to address them. According to the late Lama Tharchin, Chatral Rinpoche hoped that they would all try to practice virtue. However, short of that, He asked them to at least not debate.

In any case, the fundamentals of Buddhism are quite simple to define.

Do not commit any sin (dig-pa),
Practice virtue (ge-wa) perfectly,
Subdue your own mind --
This is the Teaching of the Buddha.

According to my Teachers, the degeneration of this nyug-mai du are due to we sentient beings ever increasingly practicing non-virtue and failing to practice virtue. Take that as you wish.

Good luck & best wishes.

:namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by DGA » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:39 am

Thank you, pemachophel, for your detailed post, and in particular for grounding it in this:
pemachophel wrote:
Do not commit any sin (dig-pa),
Practice virtue (ge-wa) perfectly,
Subdue your own mind --
This is the Teaching of the Buddha.
because this core of the teaching is proven. It works, and it is good. The question for each of us, of course, is this: how do you do that in the circumstances you face?

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:07 am

pema chopel wrote:According to my Teachers, the degeneration of this nyug-mai du are due to we sentient beings ever increasingly practicing non-virtue and failing to practice virtue. Take that as you wish.

Good luck & best wishes.
I like the tone of some what you had to say, but you avoided the (I think relevant) questions of what constitutes "degenerate" in terms of individual acts, groups, "causes", what have you in favor of assuming I was relying on some notion of historical progress, or some materialist view of history. I'm not, and I don't need to do that to ask the question. I'm just talking about the day to day choices one has to make - in this case whether or not you should or shouldn't support non-standard sexual relationships in terms of legality. In the the other example, whether you should or shouldn't support abolition of slavery (albeit a question for a previous time)..or whatever.

You can easily say that we should simply focus on Buddhadharma and not worry about it, but really in context that seems to be avoiding the question a bit - especially since you seemingly commented previously in the affirmative that (I guess?) you believe alternative sexual setups are a result of degeneration - this also requires allegiance to certain historical assumptions that may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with the practice of Dharma. Being historically reactionary is no less in error than being historically progressive - in the sense that you are referring to it.
If we continue to prejudice our individual "rational" thinking mind, we will not make real progress on the path. We will not have the meditative experiences that show actual progress. We will just keep spinning our wheels the way we have done for countless lifetimes, fascinating ourselves with what is, essentially, an illusion. The dichotomy of archaism versus modernity is just another conceptual illusion.
Right, i'm not making some argument about "engaged Buddhism" or similar, i'm simply stating what is fact for some people - that in some cases you are forced by circumstances to take a position (we could even use something like the current political situation in Tibet as a similar question), and it is necessary to take a position, or at least try to, that is the least harmful one. In addition, to get back to your original comment, it's also often a place where traditional Buddhist commentary on things like sexuality some up a bit short in terms of nuance, and relevant advice. You can choose to intellectually deflect that problem by simply saying it isn't important - but for some it is, and that is unavoidable.

If you feel modern sexually permissive attitudes are degenerate, that is fine - it's an opinion expressed here with relative frequency...frankly though, i'm not sure i'm comfortable with avoiding defense of such a view with simply an exhortation to practice harder, or a general statement about avoiding non virtue. If you are saying something else and I misunderstand you, I apologize, and thanks for sharing your views either way.
In terms of traditional Buddhist teachings on sexual ethics, I think one has to be very careful and very reticent in jettisoning fundamental teachings of the Buddha and the realized Sangha in favor of current humanist/materialist assumptions and values.
It really depends on what you mean, if you mean I should agree with Nagarjuna on the duties of a proper wife, or risk somehow being "less Buddhist", or losing faith in Dharma, then I think that's a position that can be dismissed out of hand on its lack of substance. If you mean that I should not fall into step with modern ideas of splintered sexual identity politics, then I think you might have a point - the modern world is unquestionably obsessed with sexual identity in a very non-Buddhist way. So it would be good to know which Buddhist sexual ethics are in danger of being ignored by my comments, maybe.
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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:53 pm

pemachophel wrote: The word "archaism" immediately reveals the relativist bias of historical progressivism, and I do see this philosophical trend as part of the degeneration of this age.
I don't know if I agree that archaism necessarily has something to do with historical progressivism, although that connection is certainly valid in respects. Have you read Toynbee's Study of History? I guess I'm primarily using "archaism" in the sense that he used it.

As background for those unfamiliar - IIRC Toynbee started writing A Study of History in the years leading up to WWII. His primary concern was the survival of civilization. The destruction of the atomic bomb sharpened his concern even more. There is a sense in which Toynbee's study could be understood as a study of progress, but I don't think it carried the hopeful implications a progressivist would read into historical events. I think he was ultimately rather neutral about what we could identify as progress and was more concerned with survival of the species in the face of serious existential threats (threats as serious as a heart attack, to put it colloquially). He wasn't offering some false hope that we're destined to always get better - being a student of history he knew very well that all things die, people, cultures, civilizations, species. The only question is when and under what circumstances. He seemed to be of the view that if we could overcome the threat of annihilation at the hands of our technology, we might survive for another millennia and get to face another existential threat then. Toynbee was not peddling a golden future. He was very sober about our prospects.

Toynbee proposed an overall pattern of Challenge and Response, which could be applied at every level of human endeavor. The chain of causation, which is ceaseless, necessarily raises challenges, which an entity either overcomes or succumbs to. Overcoming means survival; succumbing means death. In Study of History, Toynbee was primarily concerned with how this pattern affected civilizations. I don't think there is anything at odds with Buddhism in any of this.

Within this context, he identified archaism as one of several types of responses that people can take in the face of existential threats. It is the impulse to return to some perceived past way of life where and when the current problems were not immediate, if not present at all. The assumption is that by resurrecting certain past modes of living, the present problems will be resolved. I suppose this can work if the present problems are indeed caused by one's mode of conduct, or if the adoption of these past modes of living adequately prepare one to overcome the present problems. If, however, the present problems have some other cause, or are of such a magnitude that the adopted mode of conduct is not enough to overcome them, the response will fail and vitality will wane, ending in death, sooner or later.

Anyway, archaism, we can agree is a mistaken response to a problem.

So, anyway, "Something else".
that something else is the development of faith in the Buddhadharma.
Full disclosure - I'm very interested in the Himalayan Buddhist view on the degenerate age because it’s a central issue in my tradition, Nichiren Buddhism, and indeed, in much of East Asian Buddhism. For East Asians, with of course exceptions, the degenerate age began almost 1000 years ago - in 1054. I believe that this widespread belief is a primary reason for the popularity of Pure Land thought in East Asia. It’s certainly one of the central issues in so-called Japanese Kamakura Buddhism. I'm curious to see how others deal with the problem of the Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings losing efficacy. Nichiren came to this same general conclusion you suggest, although I suspect it plays out differently.
Historical progressivism is a kind of eternalism that assumes the true existence of an objective world, and the existence of such an objectively existing world is rejected by higher (i.e., Madyamaka) philosophy and the views of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.
I can't speak to the latter two paths, but I don't think that Madhyamika rejects an objective reality (and maybe this distinguishes what I'm saying from what you're saying?) That objective reality can't be said to "exist", but it doesn't go as far as asserting nothingness, either, and the between of those extremes is immeasurable. It’s this between that is the concern of Buddhism as far as I understand.
In terms of traditional Buddhist teachings on sexual ethics, I think one has to be very careful and very reticent in jettisoning fundamental teachings of the Buddha and the realized Sangha... if we are following that path, we have to try and we have to have faith that the path will lead us to liberation from samsara/conditioned existence.
I'm not going to address the exact issue of sexual ethics, but focus on the bigger question underlying the turn this discussion has taken.

Faith in Buddhadharma requires us to accept this teaching on the degenerate age. This is a conundrum. If the degenerate age has commenced, Buddhadharma has lost efficacy. There is no realized sangha - Its a categorical impossibility. Treading the path is futile. It is archaism to try and put ourselves back into the box of views our Buddhist predecessors lived in, ie. resurrecting a past way of life in hopes that it will ameliorate the problems we presently face. Rectifying ourselves in right view as taught in the Buddhist texts will have no good effects as the causes and conditions of the degenerate age are far beyond our actions; only a Buddha can fix this problem of the degenerate age by appearing and turning the wheel again.

I'm not saying this is how it is. I'm just pointing out this problem. This is the problem they were stuck on in East Asia. It may be nothing but a problem of logic that is unrelated to ultimate reality. But if this is the case, ie, that its just a conundrum created by the internal logic of Buddhadharma, an energetic breakthrough is necessary that picks and chooses which of the Buddhist teachings to keep and which to drop. Or, transcend the perceived limitations by appealing to something deeper.

It seems your teachers believe that our conduct has brought on the degenerate age and that we can reverse it by returning to correct Buddhist practice. Is that not archaism?
Sorry, I probably shouldn't've weighed in on this thread. I'm not a scholar. So my answer may seem very simplistic and naive. I'm a full-time practitioner and I'm not much given to intellectual debate. Back during the 70s, Chatral Rinpoche visited the Sanskrit University in Varanasi where many young Tibetans were studying from all four sects. They asked Him to address them. According to the late Lama Tharchin, Chatral Rinpoche hoped that they would all try to practice virtue. However, short of that, He asked them to at least not debate.
I think that by all means you should weigh in.

Another view on debate is that it is like the black smith's hammer, pounding out the impurities.

I think debate is an indispensable tool in the process of developing wisdom. Forums like this permit us to put our views out and open them up for critique so that we can grow. I have never learned as much as when my views have utterly been destroyed in a discussion with others. I may not like it at the time - it might rouse anger - but I have found that when the emotions died down, my understanding had grown and deepened, much more than if I had been left to enjoy my subjective views. Have this happen enough and you find that the process also teaches us to not be attached to our views and lets us pursue wisdom dispassionately. Some might say this is a Western view on debate grounded in the Socratic tradition, and that is certainly true. I also will venture, the Socratic tradition has many aspects to recommend it. I'll also point out that debate has long been a central part of the Buddhist tradition, all the way back to the Buddha. Certainly the cultivation of virtue is critical, but excessive adherence to the cultivation of virtue to the exclusion of engagement with Buddhist fellows, and even non-Buddhists, is a reversion back to the Hinayana.

Edit* My comments on debate should be read completely exclusively from the discussion above.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:45 pm

:good:
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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Zhen Li » Sat Nov 01, 2014 5:46 pm

So what's the conclusion? Is Polygamy and Polyandry acceptable in Buddhism?

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Nirveda » Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:15 pm

It would seem necessary to understand the difference between what the core teachings of Buddhism have to say about it (e.g. Eightfold Path), which is nothing, and what different cultures in which Buddhism has integrated (which is a lot). Whether it's accepted in one culture but not another has nothing to do with the core dharma, which tends not to get specific and legalistic in terms of ethics. Instead it gives the general principles of acting with the intentions of kindness, compassion, generosity, ahimsa, etc. To the extent that unskillful intentions are present (craving, clinging, aversion, pride, jealousy, etc.), then those actions will cause harm in one form or another. When this is understood throroughly, consenting adults will be able to make their own social arrangements as they see appropriate.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:16 pm

Zhen Li wrote:So what's the conclusion? Is Polygamy and Polyandry acceptable in Buddhism?

Completely acceptable. Buddha had many wives, and in some parts of Central Tibet, several brothers will marry one woman.
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The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:43 pm

Queequeg wrote:Anyway, archaism, we can agree is a mistaken response to a problem.
Not always. I believe that some issues can quite obviously be solved by reverting to earlier approaches. For example: the problems surrounding factory farming can be overcome by decentralising livestock "production" and returning to a diet that emphasises plant based foods (especially the consumption of pulses for protein). This, in turn, will also lead to a reduction in diet based illnesses. It is quite feasible, even if some may see it as a form of archaism.
Full disclosure - I'm very interested in the Himalayan Buddhist view on the degenerate age because it’s a central issue in my tradition, Nichiren Buddhism, and indeed, in much of East Asian Buddhism. For East Asians, with of course exceptions, the degenerate age began almost 1000 years ago - in 1054.
Looks like everybody has their own beginning date for the degenerate period. Funnily enough it tends to kick in exactly when their philosophical/doxological frameworks needs it in order to justify its existence. According to the Buddha of the Pali Canon it seems would start just some 500 years after his demise. Anyway... It seems kind of contradictory to say that ones Buddhist practice is the best, if it comes into existence during the worst period. One would think that the best teachings existed before the decline... but I guess I am just being archaic. :smile:
If the degenerate age has commenced, Buddhadharma has lost efficacy.
Well that's a weird way (for me) to look at it. If the teachings of the Buddha have been passed down intact, then it seems to me that it is not a case of the Dharma losing its efficacy, as it is a case of us losing our capacity. In which case your statements that:
There is no realized sangha - Its a categorical impossibility. Treading the path is futile.
...is actually a construct of ignorance, coz it seems to me that cause and effect are still in effect, so any path which (at least) recognises and works with this reality will have the hypothetical outcomes associated with it: ie the capacity to achieve Arhathood. The degeneration of the teachings does not imply a degeneration of the truth (Dharma) that these teachings point to. The Buddha himself stated that the path he set out was not a new path, or his path, but that he rediscovered and cleared the path the previous Buddhas followed. As such Dharma is eternal and thus not subject to degeneration. Right?
It is archaism to try and put ourselves back into the box of views our Buddhist predecessors lived in, ie. resurrecting a past way of life in hopes that it will ameliorate the problems we presently face.
So you reckon the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path (for example) are an archaism and inapplicable?
Rectifying ourselves in right view as taught in the Buddhist texts will have no good effects as the causes and conditions of the degenerate age are far beyond our actions;
So wholesome actions based in wholesome motivation (suddenly) do not bring about "positive" results?
...only a Buddha can fix this problem of the degenerate age by appearing and turning the wheel again.
The Wheel hasn't stopped turning yet. And even when it was being turned sentient beings still were overwhelmed by the consequences of their actions. Even when it was not turning there were still Pratyekabuddhas liberating themselves. Again this points to the eternal nature of Dharma. Buddhas, by the way, can't fix anything. If they could then, I am sure, they would. Buddhas are not "God".
It seems your teachers believe that our conduct has brought on the degenerate age and that we can reverse it by returning to correct Buddhist practice. Is that not archaism?
In the past people would tell other people not to stick their hands in burning fire so that they would avoid getting burnt. If you tell "modern" people not to stick their hand in the fire, are you guilty of archaism?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:11 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:I believe that some issues can quite obviously be solved by reverting to earlier approaches. For example: the problems surrounding factory farming can be overcome by decentralising livestock "production" and returning to a diet that emphasises plant based foods (especially the consumption of pulses for protein). This, in turn, will also lead to a reduction in diet based illnesses. It is quite feasible, even if some may see it as a form of archaism.
What you're describing is not archaism. Archaism in the example of food production would be putting on britches and plowing with oxen.
Anyway... It seems kind of contradictory to say that ones Buddhist practice is the best, if it comes into existence during the worst period. One would think that the best teachings existed before the decline... but I guess I am just being archaic. :smile:
No. What did I say you are when you assume? You're addressing a Queequeg you've constructed in your mind. You're imagining that I wrote something, and responding, snarkily, to that. I can't speak for the Queequeg you've conjured in your mind.
If the degenerate age has commenced, Buddhadharma has lost efficacy.
Well that's a weird way (for me) to look at it. If the teachings of the Buddha have been passed down intact, then it seems to me that it is not a case of the Dharma losing its efficacy, as it is a case of us losing our capacity.
[Emphasis added]

If we start with the proposition that we have entered the degenerate age, this means certain things have transpired, according to Buddhist thinking on the subject. For one, as you observe, people's capacities have declined. Your assumption that Buddhadharma has been passed down intact, however, is not the case. Along with the decline in capacity, the Buddhadharma that is transmitted has become corrupt, infused with the speculation, commentary and interpretation of people of diminished capacities.

Its like medicine that is so old and so adulterated that the active ingredients no longer do what they are supposed to do, and then administering it to someone whose illness is so far gone that even if the medicine hadn't been ruined, it would be hopeless.
In which case your statements that:
There is no realized sangha - Its a categorical impossibility. Treading the path is futile.
...is actually a construct of ignorance,
Could be. Notwithstanding, they are certainly things that follow from the supposition that the degenerate age has commenced.
coz it seems to me that cause and effect are still in effect, so any path which (at least) recognises and works with this reality will have the hypothetical outcomes associated with it: ie the capacity to achieve Arhathood.
Agree with some of that. Disagree with other parts. Returning to the True Aspect of Reality is indeed one of the proposed solutions to the problem of the degenerate age in Japanese Buddhism. Whether the outcome of the Buddhist path is Arhathood, well. Not all Buddhists believe Arhathood is the goal of practice. Some of us believe that Buddhahood is the goal.
So you reckon the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path (for example) are an archaism and inapplicable?
I did not venture an opinion on that. In the context of this thread, return to past views on sexuality however was proposed. To that, I'll say I don't know if that is a good idea.

As for Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path - Nagarjuna opened the way to questions about these doctrines, and in East Asia, anyway, where the Lotus and Mahayana Parinirvana Sutras have been popular, and Nagarjuna is understood through the prism of not just the Mulamadhyamikakarika, but the Ta Chi Tu Lun, it has gone further than that. I have no settled opinion on this.
So wholesome actions based in wholesome motivation (suddenly) do not bring about "positive" results?
This is one of the questions that was raised in the context of wrestling with the idea of the degenerate age in Japan.
...only a Buddha can fix this problem of the degenerate age by appearing and turning the wheel again.
The Wheel hasn't stopped turning yet.
phpBB [video]


Maybe it is still spinning. Maybe not. Maybe there's no wheel. :shrug:
Again this points to the eternal nature of Dharma.
And, as pointed out above, this is one of the solutions to the fretting about the degenerate age. I happen to agree with this.
Buddhas, by the way, can't fix anything. If they could then, I am sure, they would. Buddhas are not "God".
They can fix the problem of the degenerate age by turning the wheel again. You know, Maitreya and all that.
In the past people would tell other people not to stick their hands in burning fire so that they would avoid getting burnt. If you tell "modern" people not to stick their hand in the fire, are you guilty of archaism?
So, are you now saying we should return to some of the old conservative Buddhist attitudes to sexuality?!!!

I believe that you do not really understand the term "archaism".
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:30 am

Dropping back in on the thread after a long time away from it ...
Zhen Li wrote:So what's the conclusion? Is Polygamy and Polyandry acceptable in Buddhism?
Nirveda wrote:It would seem necessary to understand the difference between what the core teachings of Buddhism have to say about it (e.g. Eightfold Path), which is nothing, and what different cultures in which Buddhism has integrated (which is a lot). Whether it's accepted in one culture but not another has nothing to do with the core dharma, which tends not to get specific and legalistic in terms of ethics. Instead it gives the general principles of acting with the intentions of kindness, compassion, generosity, ahimsa, etc. To the extent that unskillful intentions are present (craving, clinging, aversion, pride, jealousy, etc.), then those actions will cause harm in one form or another. When this is understood throroughly, consenting adults will be able to make their own social arrangements as they see appropriate.
:good:
I think this sums up everything that can usefully be said in response to the core question.

Some of the broader discussion has been quite interesting in its own right, however.

:coffee:
Kim

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:53 am

Queequeg wrote:No. What did I say you are when you assume? You're addressing a Queequeg you've constructed in your mind. You're imagining that I wrote something, and responding, snarkily, to that. I can't speak for the Queequeg you've conjured in your mind.
Actually I am not talking about Queequeg at all, I am talking in general. So maybe Queequeg can take a close look at their mind and find why they are reacting in this manner?

Anyway, the same 'argument" can be applied to the claims of many Vajrayana schools too, so I can't see what you are getting your britches in a knot over.
If we start with the proposition that we have entered the degenerate age, this means certain things have transpired, according to Buddhist thinking on the subject. For one, as you observe, people's capacities have declined.
That's what we believe. But do we actually have any evidence to support the theory about a decline in capacity? Do we have data from "the golden age" to compare with now? No. So... :shrug:
Your assumption that Buddhadharma has been passed down intact, however, is not the case. Along with the decline in capacity, the Buddhadharma that is transmitted has become corrupt, infused with the speculation, commentary and interpretation of people of diminished capacities.
Again, is there any proof? There were commentaries, charlatans, speculative individuals and people of low capacity in the Buddhas day too. There were wars, rape, theft, murder, prostitution, gambling, etc... in the Buddhas day too.
Its like medicine that is so old and so adulterated that the active ingredients no longer do what they are supposed to do, and then administering it to someone whose illness is so far gone that even if the medicine hadn't been ruined, it would be hopeless.
So you believe that wholesome actions no longer give positive results? That karma no longer applies? I know I asked you this before, but you didn't really answer the question. You chose to focus on irrelevant details.
As for Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path - Nagarjuna opened the way to questions about these doctrines, and in East Asia, anyway, where the Lotus and Mahayana Parinirvana Sutras have been popular, and Nagarjuna is understood through the prism of not just the Mulamadhyamikakarika, but the Ta Chi Tu Lun, it has gone further than that. I have no settled opinion on this.
So you don't really know if Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path are an archaism and inapplicable? Hmmmmmm... :thinking:
So wholesome actions based in wholesome motivation (suddenly) do not bring about "positive" results?
This is one of the questions that was raised in the context of wrestling with the idea of the degenerate age in Japan.
Great, so what do YOU believe? That karma no longer functions?
Maybe it is still spinning. Maybe not. Maybe there's no wheel. :shrug:
Of course it is spinning. The Dharma is still being taught by the Sangha and we can still recollect the Buddha. So it is still spinning. Maybe it is slowing down, but it is still spinning.
They can fix the problem of the degenerate age by turning the wheel again. You know, Maitreya and all that.
Actually they don't fix the problems of the degenerate age. The teachings have to vanish completely and then Maitreya will appear to set the wheel in motion again. Like Buddha Shakyamuni he will just present the (already existent, but overgrown) path again. The Dharma(kaya) is the Dharma(kaya). It doesn't change. It cannot be destroyed.
So, are you now saying we should return to some of the old conservative Buddhist attitudes to sexuality?!!!
Where did I say this? I don't know how "conservative" things were in the "old" days, but here where I live men were doing this:
ancient lovers.jpg
ancient lovers.jpg (40.86 KiB) Viewed 3755 times
ancient egypt.jpg
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And women were writing poetry like this:
http://www.sappho.com/poetry/sappho.html
So, it seems, archaic does not always mean "conservative". And what is conservative and what is radical is (quite obviously) dependent on historical and social context. Just how sexually conservative ancient Indians were...?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Nemo » Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:13 am

Zhen Li wrote:So what's the conclusion? Is Polygamy and Polyandry acceptable in Buddhism?
The Buddha practiced it when he was a Prince, and yes concubines count. It would take some mental gymnastics to come out against it. Owning slaves was ubiquitous, and the female slaves didn't just take out the trash if you catch my meaning. It was not the golden age when Shakyamuni was here. The world was a mess then too. We simply have a different mess.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by DGA » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:45 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote: So, it seems, archaic does not always mean "conservative". And what is conservative and what is radical is (quite obviously) dependent on historical and social context. Just how sexually conservative ancient Indians were...?
I have reason to think that attitudes toward sexuality within and among Buddhist cultures have varied quite widely historically and in different geographic contexts. It's very difficult to pin down precisely what the traditional Buddhist attitude toward the forms of sexuality might be.

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:11 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Actually I am not talking about Queequeg at all, I am talking in general.
You'll have to pardon my misunderstanding. This is a quote of the full context.
Queequeg wrote:Full disclosure - I'm very interested in the Himalayan Buddhist view on the degenerate age because it’s a central issue in my tradition, Nichiren Buddhism, and indeed, in much of East Asian Buddhism. For East Asians, with of course exceptions, the degenerate age began almost 1000 years ago - in 1054.
Looks like everybody has their own beginning date for the degenerate period. Funnily enough it tends to kick in exactly when their philosophical/doxological frameworks needs it in order to justify its existence. According to the Buddha of the Pali Canon it seems would start just some 500 years after his demise. Anyway... It seems kind of contradictory to say that ones Buddhist practice is the best, if it comes into existence during the worst period. One would think that the best teachings existed before the decline... but I guess I am just being archaic. :smile:
No matter how you cut it, the italicized part is nearly a complete a non sequitur. You're injecting an opinion on a matter that is not even under discussion. Where is it even intimated that Buddhist traditions which accept that the degenerate age has begun are "best"? Who are you addressing? Either you're crazy, just blurting out things that randomly pop into your head, or you're following along some thread of logic you have formed in your mind but are not spelling out here.
So maybe Queequeg can take a close look at their mind and find why they are reacting in this manner?
LOL. Pretension to the high road.

I've examined my mind, and I think I found the answer as set out above. You may wish to take your own medicine.
Anyway, the same 'argument" can be applied to the claims of many Vajrayana schools too, so I can't see what you are getting your britches in a knot over.
You throw in this afterthought, ostensibly to establish that your comments were general. Not compelling that you had this in mind all along, but its ambiguous, so I have to give you the benefit of the doubt.
If we start with the proposition that we have entered the degenerate age, this means certain things have transpired, according to Buddhist thinking on the subject.
In case you had missed it earlier, I tried to make it clear, again, that as far as I'm concerned, this whole degenerate age thing is a supposition that is held by some in the Buddhist community. It is a description of what some Buddhists in the past have believed, and what indeed some Buddhists now apparently believe. Standard logical construction. "If A, then B and C." "If the degenerate age has begun, then that means people's capacities have declined and the teachings are corrupted." I approached this as a platonic inquiry, initially, because I was curious how pemachophel would explain the implications of the arrival of the degenerate age.
For one, as you observe, people's capacities have declined.
That's what we believe. But do we actually have any evidence to support the theory about a decline in capacity?
You mean aside from the anecdotal evidence of your example?
Your assumption that Buddhadharma has been passed down intact, however, is not the case. Along with the decline in capacity, the Buddhadharma that is transmitted has become corrupt, infused with the speculation, commentary and interpretation of people of diminished capacities.
Again, is there any proof? There were commentaries, charlatans, speculative individuals and people of low capacity in the Buddhas day too. There were wars, rape, theft, murder, prostitution, gambling, etc... in the Buddhas day too.
Not to belabor the point, but I just want to make clear, as I don't want to be misunderstood by you - Proof of whether people's capacities have declined or whether the teachings have been corrupted is irrelevant. If someone supposes that the degenerate age has begun, these things are presumed to have happened, also. We're not talking about whether the thinking on the degenerate age actually has any factual reality. However, if one does believe these things, it will tend to determine one's options with regard to Buddhist practice. And that's what we're talking about here. Not your petty animosity against me.
So you believe that wholesome actions no longer give positive results? That karma no longer applies? I know I asked you this before, but you didn't really answer the question. You chose to focus on irrelevant details.
Case in point. This was your response to this:
So wholesome actions based in wholesome motivation (suddenly) do not bring about "positive" results?
This is one of the questions that was raised in the context of wrestling with the idea of the degenerate age in Japan.
You believe these are irrelevant details because you presumed that I was offering my personal opinions on these subjects related to the degenerate age. As I've repeatedly expressed, I have no settled opinion on most of this. Queequeg is not very bright and rarely has an original thought. Its why my Buddhist path is Sraddha, the one for those of weak capacities. I am actually interested in what other people have to say on these subjects, and I like to discuss them with others. I like to take these various propositions that people make and explore them. Maybe, some Truth can be gleaned from it all. Do I personally believe that wholesome motivations bring about "positive" results? I like to believe so, but I've also seen that "the road to ruin is paved with good intentions." It has led me to have questions about the correlation between intent and material results.
So you don't really know if Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path are an archaism and inapplicable? Hmmmmmm... :thinking:
Again, you don't seem to understand what Archaism means. Since you seem to be disposed to making assumptions about Queequeg, let me speak for myself. An accurate statement would be, "I don't know if the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are True. I am told that they are True by figures who hold themselves out as knowing, and, to the extent that I trust them, I tentatively take these propositions to be True."

Archaism is an affectation. A similar phenomena is Futurism, the difference being that the person is adopting an affectation which they believe is some mode of existence from the future. In both cases, the problem is that the person adopting these approaches is disconnected from the present. They are failing to see the present circumstances, as they are, and adopt some mode of being that applies certain meaning to the world around them which is not necessarily actually connected in any way to the reality around them. Terminology aside, I think this is a very Buddhist way to analyze why a person presently suffers - its more or less the phenomena described by the 12 linked chain of causation.
So, it seems, archaic does not always mean "conservative". And what is conservative and what is radical is (quite obviously) dependent on historical and social context. Just how sexually conservative ancient Indians were...?
Not "archaic", we're talking about Archaism. And right, it does not necessarily mean a response is "conservative" or "liberal" or "progressive" or "regressive" or anything like that. What it does mean is that there is a disconnect between what one does and the present reality - in the face of present problems, one self-consciously adopts anachronistic modes of being as a solution. It may work as well as a termite that chews out the letter "A" in a block of wood.

Jikan I think had the best answer in this entire thread to the whole question of what Buddhism has to say about sexual ethics (paraphrasing - apologies if I got it wrong): The intent of the Buddha is to put us into a position to make responsible decisions about our life. Full Stop.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Polygamy / Polyandry & Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:40 pm

Queequeg wrote:No matter how you cut it, the italicized part is nearly a complete a non sequitur. You're injecting an opinion on a matter that is not even under discussion. Where is it even intimated that Buddhist traditions which accept that the degenerate age has begun are "best"? Who are you addressing? Either you're crazy, just blurting out things that randomly pop into your head, or you're following along some thread of logic you have formed in your mind but are not spelling out here.
If you don't accept the fact that I am telling you that it wasn't personal, then it is not my issue to deal with.
I've examined my mind, and I think I found the answer as set out above. You may wish to take your own medicine.
Whatever.
You throw in this afterthought, ostensibly to establish that your comments were general. Not compelling that you had this in mind all along, but its ambiguous, so I have to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Yipeee!!! Can we move on now?
You mean aside from the anecdotal evidence of your example?
Should I take that to mean that we have no real "hard evidence"?
... Not your petty animosity against me.
Now you are verging on paranoia.
Do I personally believe that wholesome motivations bring about "positive" results? I like to believe so, but I've also seen that "the road to ruin is paved with good intentions." It has led me to have questions about the correlation between intent and material results.
Fair enough. But we are limited to seeing results in this lifetime only right? Could be that the conditions for the ripening of the karma just did not exist yet.
Since you seem to be disposed to making assumptions about Queequeg, let me speak for myself. An accurate statement would be, "I don't know if the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are True. I am told that they are True by figures who hold themselves out as knowing, and, to the extent that I trust them, I tentatively take these propositions to be True."
You don't know if samsaric existence is suffering and that suffering arises from ignorance? I mean, okay, I can understand that you may not be 100% sure of the path to end suffering, and that Nirvana is the end of suffering (I'm not 100% on those yet either), but the first two?
...the problem is that the person adopting these approaches is disconnected from the present.
I think you'll find that most Westerners would consider Buddhism an archaism.
Not "archaic", we're talking about Archaism.
Would it be better if I used the term archaistic? Linguistically (Greek linguistics, that is, since it is a Greek term) it is not a correct term, but anyway... the point being, well... you know the point, and it's not all that important anyway (pedant :tongue: ).
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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