When the Monks Met the Muslims

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Queequeg
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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:28 pm

Nemo wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:21 pm
Neonazis ruin everything.
Indeed, they can't do anything right.
I had misgivings about the Koran and the history of Islamic intolerance decades ago. It was fine to have a critical and unromanticized view of Abrahamic religions back then. Then the neonazis and fascists had to jump on board and demonize Islam. Murderous wars for natural resources had to be justified. Now it's impossible to have a conversation about it. It is the story of a saintly man pushed over the edge by corrupt rulers and turning into a war criminal. It's most holy place where all devout Muslims must physically visit is the piled up religious images of his slaughtered enemies buried under a box. Dangerous stuff if you ask me.
Neonazis on one side and The Enforcers of Justice, Righteousness, and Correct Thought on the other (not that I equate them morally in any way). I'm often sucked into the dynamic, too, but it makes having a sober conversation very difficult.

I heard a rabbi talk about the student takeover of Columbia University. He was a student at the time and told me he was part of the reactionaries (my description, not his) that stormed the buildings and tried to throw the protesters out. He remarked that it was a low point in the life of the mind at Columbia because people could not have open conversations without being shouted down. Seems we've come back around to that point.

IMHO, Abrahamic religions with their Old Testament jealous God with exclusive Covenants has been in some regards a boon to humanity and in other turns, a contagious pox. When it unites, gives people strength to endure hardship, and posits a fundamentally just order to reality, its a useful idea. When it is used to define who's in and who's out, it devolves into giving universal order to conflicts inflected with notions of divine endorsement. Has been invoked in all kinds of horrors.

Maybe the argument can be made that both ends of the intellectual spectrum that prevails in the West at this time are characterized by these two implications of God in conflict with each other.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by tkp67 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:28 pm
Nemo wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:21 pm
Neonazis ruin everything.
Indeed, they can't do anything right.
I had misgivings about the Koran and the history of Islamic intolerance decades ago. It was fine to have a critical and unromanticized view of Abrahamic religions back then. Then the neonazis and fascists had to jump on board and demonize Islam. Murderous wars for natural resources had to be justified. Now it's impossible to have a conversation about it. It is the story of a saintly man pushed over the edge by corrupt rulers and turning into a war criminal. It's most holy place where all devout Muslims must physically visit is the piled up religious images of his slaughtered enemies buried under a box. Dangerous stuff if you ask me.
Neonazis on one side and The Enforcers of Justice, Righteousness, and Correct Thought on the other (not that I equate them morally in any way). I'm often sucked into the dynamic, too, but it makes having a sober conversation very difficult.

I heard a rabbi talk about the student takeover of Columbia University. He was a student at the time and told me he was part of the reactionaries (my description, not his) that stormed the buildings and tried to throw the protesters out. He remarked that it was a low point in the life of the mind at Columbia because people could not have open conversations without being shouted down. Seems we've come back around to that point.

IMHO, Abrahamic religions with their Old Testament jealous God with exclusive Covenants has been in some regards a boon to humanity and in other turns, a contagious pox. When it unites, gives people strength to endure hardship, and posits a fundamentally just order to reality, its a useful idea. When it is used to define who's in and who's out, it devolves into giving universal order to conflicts inflected with notions of divine endorsement. Has been invoked in all kinds of horrors.

Maybe the argument can be made that both ends of the intellectual spectrum that prevails in the West at this time are characterized by these two implications of God in conflict with each other.
In my experience the god of Abraham and the peoples who believe are grossly misrepresented and misunderstood even by those who believe and worship.

For me the deepest meanings of those texts and the deepest meanings of the buddha's teachings (I base this on my interpretive of the lotus sutra) have many parallels and the distance between adherents is simply ONE side of the same phenomenon.

I can expound on this greatly and have lifetimes of experience that I can share that reveal a completely different narrative than mainstream delusion.

I don't feel it is necessary but there seems to be unhealthy projection about the state of those who fit any stereotype that defies reality and I personally have the patience to unravel the perceptions and realities regarding belief and the human condition.

One grand example that comes to mind is of the black man who has convinced 100's of KKK members to leave the KKK simply by engaging them compassionately.

https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/54486193 ... heir-robes

in the short compassion may be the ONLY cause for change in these scenarios but one so potent that peace and harmony are far more accessible to the human race than we allow ourselves to believe.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:48 pm

tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm

In my experience the god of Abraham and the peoples who believe are grossly misrepresented and misunderstood even by those who believe and worship.
Deist is as deist does. :smile:
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by tkp67 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:19 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:48 pm
tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm

In my experience the god of Abraham and the peoples who believe are grossly misrepresented and misunderstood even by those who believe and worship.
Deist is as deist does. :smile:
True enough but I don't think that irony is exclusive to deists but rather is an aspect of the human condition that can often be expressed regardless even in light of any teaching.

One of the notions that I came to understand (which very well could be incorrect) in the contrasting teachings of the Lotus Sutra is the difference in between provisional and absolute. In this regard I envisioned the aspect that any benefit derived from any teaching that improved the human condition would feel transcendental to the person experiencing it.

It made great sense to me then why people are so protective of what they have learned when they encounter the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, perhaps the allegory of the cave is fitting in this regard.

When I read opening of the eyes and the commentary of the wisdom sutra that all non-buddhist teachings are buddhist teachings it made sense to me that there are developmental plateaus within these teachings and that many must fear that the benefit of a current teaching will be lost in an attempt to understand a greater truth.

As I understand it all these benefits are manifest in the absolute teachings of the Lotus Sutra bringing absolute credence to the potential of mutual possession of the ten realms in all teachings and within all phenomenon.

This is one of the main derivatives of Nichiren's teachings that really resonated with me personally and why I was able to reconcile past practices (provisional teachings) to the absolute (the Lotus Sutra as understood through the teachings and mind of Nichiren).

I think this dynamic plays out everywhere we look in all humanitarian teachings and is one of those aspects of the mind that is difficult to challenge and over come.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by PeterC » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:27 am

tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm
In my experience the god of Abraham and the peoples who believe are grossly misrepresented and misunderstood even by those who believe and worship.

For me the deepest meanings of those texts and the deepest meanings of the buddha's teachings (I base this on my interpretive of the lotus sutra) have many parallels and the distance between adherents is simply ONE side of the same phenomenon.

I can expound on this greatly and have lifetimes of experience that I can share that reveal a completely different narrative than mainstream delusion.
I would politely disagree on two points.

First, the teachings of the Dharma and those of Islam/Christianity/Judaism are absolutely and fundamentally irreconcilable. To claim otherwise betrays a basic misunderstanding of the dharma, and is I think unfair to both traditions: if a Christian were to claim equivalence I would accuse them of not understanding their own articles of faith.

Second, if we’re not talking about the view but about conduct, I think the question is moot: it only matters if you care about peoples’ rationalizations for their actions, which I do not. Most systems of morality, whether religious or not, generally agree on which actions are good and which are evil. However people will argue endlessly about religious exceptions to this general consensus. The simple answer is as always the more reliable one.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:18 am

tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm
One grand example that comes to mind is of the black man who has convinced 100's of KKK members to leave the KKK simply by engaging them compassionately.

https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/54486193 ... heir-robes

in the short compassion may be the ONLY cause for change in these scenarios but one so potent that peace and harmony are far more accessible to the human race than we allow ourselves to believe.
Similarly here:
Deeyah Khan: Up close and personal with extremists
https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programm ... extremists

:heart:
Mike

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by tkp67 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:24 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:27 am
tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm
In my experience the god of Abraham and the peoples who believe are grossly misrepresented and misunderstood even by those who believe and worship.

For me the deepest meanings of those texts and the deepest meanings of the buddha's teachings (I base this on my interpretive of the lotus sutra) have many parallels and the distance between adherents is simply ONE side of the same phenomenon.

I can expound on this greatly and have lifetimes of experience that I can share that reveal a completely different narrative than mainstream delusion.
I would politely disagree on two points.

First, the teachings of the Dharma and those of Islam/Christianity/Judaism are absolutely and fundamentally irreconcilable. To claim otherwise betrays a basic misunderstanding of the dharma, and is I think unfair to both traditions: if a Christian were to claim equivalence I would accuse them of not understanding their own articles of faith.

Second, if we’re not talking about the view but about conduct, I think the question is moot: it only matters if you care about peoples’ rationalizations for their actions, which I do not. Most systems of morality, whether religious or not, generally agree on which actions are good and which are evil. However people will argue endlessly about religious exceptions to this general consensus. The simple answer is as always the more reliable one.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my words and responding. I appreciate your input. On the first point I would like to add clarity to my statement using references from the teachings I follow and some simple commentary to put it in relative context.

This quotes speak of both the dynamic of parallel meaning and reconciliation.
This indicates that non-Buddhist texts should be regarded as a first step toward Buddhist doctrine. Confucius first taught propriety and music 10 so that, when the Buddhist scripture fs were

brought to China, the concepts of the precepts, meditation, and wisdom 11 could be more readily grasped.
The Nirvana Sutra remarks, “All of the non-Buddhist scriptures and writings in society are themselves Buddhist p.223 teachings, not non-Buddhist teachings.”
https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/30li

Now let us examine of the aspects of the Abrahamic religions that seems incompatible with Buddhism but can be viewed differently in the context of the Lotus Sutra as taught by Nichiren according to my interpretation. I hope that anyone with superior understanding quickly corrects any slanderous interpretation in regards to my view of these teachings if they are incorrect.

The concept of soul and mind seem completely different yet if we look at aspects of these concepts more deeply they have some parallels. for example the Implication that actions in this physical lifetime matters after death. While the notion of what happens after death is arguably different the concept that our actions have implications past this existence is denied by nihilism all the same.

Furthermore, in this way an argument between the two practices strengths the nihilist notion that neither are valid yet both put great focus on our behavior as human beings in this existence so denying a treatise between the two becomes counter intuitive to both.

This is one tiny aspect of the subject I broached, there is a wealth of treatise on these practices from various lenses and in my personal experience your statement does not hold true since I discuss dharma with adherents Muslim, Jewish and christian faiths alike. Most adherents of the Abrahamic religions I have met and talked to respect the other Abraham religions as parallel doctrine which is counter intuitive to mainstream perception but the reality I dominantly experience.

However to support your opinion that they are incompatible I will leave the topic here.

In this manner I am deeply sorry for challenging your point of view on this manner topic but since mine IS predicated on a Buddhist practice and since I have a experience within the context of Christianity, Judaism and Muslim interfaith interactions that counters your statement I felt it necessary to remark.

Interestingly enough (to me at least) there is the very important and yes parallel reality in all these teachings and that is if you are to know them at the deepest level (the torah for example has 4 levels of spiritual interpretation some of which are hidden) one must embrace their practice with 100% focus and belief and deviation from this focus can undermine the revealing of those deepest meanings.

These are the types of observations confirm the teachings of the Lotus Sutra but since even these teachings can be viewed as contrarian to other Buddhist practitioners I will also end on this point.

As to the second point it only furthers my commentary on the Lotus Sutra which reveal pre lotus and non buddhist teachings as (and I am paraphrasing) truths relative to the conditions of the people of a given age (such as capacity and cause) in contrast to the Lotus Sutra which puts all relative teachings in context to the ultimate truth which is the teaching of the lotus sutra. Expedient means (or skillful means) comes to mind.

The line of reasoning may be abstract and I can offer more clarity but I don't believe it is necessary unless someone so requests as the point is not to assert one practice over another but rather to simply illustrate my interpretation to avoid propagating any of this outside of that particular context. That is to say these are my interpretations and any implied karmic impediments should be mine to bare.

I do agree the simplest method is the most potent simply does not equate to easy. The simplest practice as I understand it is chanting the daimoku of the lotus sutra as revealed by Nichiren however great faith needed to manifest this practice. This seems to be the challenging aspect of this very simple and potent practice.

I hope this finds you well and thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by tkp67 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:30 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:18 am
tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:53 pm
One grand example that comes to mind is of the black man who has convinced 100's of KKK members to leave the KKK simply by engaging them compassionately.

https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/54486193 ... heir-robes

in the short compassion may be the ONLY cause for change in these scenarios but one so potent that peace and harmony are far more accessible to the human race than we allow ourselves to believe.
Similarly here:
Deeyah Khan: Up close and personal with extremists
https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programm ... extremists

:heart:
Mike
:good:

for the record my statement should read in short compassion may not be the ONLY cause* and this is only assumption not based on actual teachings available to my mind's eyes at this time

my apologies

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:13 pm

A short exposure to Catholic/Protestant contemplatives and the their practices used to handle and compose the mind shows we have more in common than may be evident, particularly when viewing the question from a belief perspective.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by KeithA » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:54 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:13 pm
A short exposure to Catholic/Protestant contemplatives and the their practices used to handle and compose the mind shows we have more in common than may be evident, particularly when viewing the question from a belief perspective.
Agree. I had no idea, not being raised Christian, until I was asked to speak to a church group about buddhism. It was quite a revelation to me.
You make, you get.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by Nemo » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:36 am

Talking about genuine spirituality in Abrahamic religions is like me talking about the amazing academic training I received in the army.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by KeithA » Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:39 am

Nemo wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:36 am
Talking about genuine spirituality in Abrahamic religions is like me talking about the amazing academic training I received in the army.
Hmm...imo, this a sadly mistaken view. And, I was in the Army! lol!
You make, you get.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by narhwal90 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:02 am

I had occasion to work with an ex-army infantryman- he got busted up in Iraq 2 and a sharp guy, and did actually receive a good bit of instruction in the Army. It was mostly military doctrine but we had a number of conversations tracing modern procedure and methods back through history; considerations of how the old Napoleonic war British infantry squares have their form in modern squad tactics which look superficially a lot different. I think we only ended up talking about that stuff because I didn't go right for the warfare conversations, which he shared eventually as the PTSD abated.

One of the things that annoyed him was the difficulty of getting specialist support; no easy access to electricians, welders, mechanics, machinists etc to help them do the work, not even shop facilities to help them fix their hardware-. That can be seen in some of the contemporary youtube vids of combat from armored vehicles, stuff is sometimes not in proper order- sometimes barely working, whatever the armourer could get out the door into action I guess. I miss working with him- was far more interesting than the usual office talk of sports and movies.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by tkp67 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:56 am

There is a great irony that exist that have observed. Many people when they experience another person's belief judge the object of that belief based on that person's interpretation. The only way that would logically have any basis for benefit is if all objects of belief where interpreted exactly the same by all other human beings who held that belief.

is there any Buddhist scripture, practice or teaching that it was impossible to incorrectly interpret?

If the answer is not and If it happens with the most perfect teachings what does that say about human belief in regards to it correctly reflecting the object they base that belief in?

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by PeterC » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am

I’m not sure you’re fairly representing either the Buddhist perspective - even the East Asian version, which is way more substantialist than its Indian antecedents - or the Christian/Islamic/Talmudic perspective.

One of them has a creator god, an immortal soul, no reincarnation, sin. The other has pratityasamutpada, anatman, karma. We could go on but the distinction here is sufficient - this is a gap that cannot be closed by posting some deeper meaning, unless you posit that one side is a provisional teaching, and neither side would accept that statement of their own beliefs.

Even when you go into the less mainstream teachings of either side, the gulf remains. The tathagatagarbha teachings do not refute the above points, nor do the Dzogchen tantras - which indeed provide more explanation as to how Buddhas and sentient beings respectively arise. The esoteric forms of the Abrahamic religions (Sufism etc.) similarly do not refute the basic tenets of their beliefs.

One could claim that there are, perhaps, similarities in techniques. But this is not sufficient to say they are “essentially the same” or “pointing to the same thing”. Most of the meditational techniques of Buddhism can be found in the Vedic traditions: however the view is profoundly different between the two, centuries of interaction and debate established them to be incompatible.

The view matters. When HHDL speaks at interfaith conferences he will say reassuring platitudes about all religions seeking the same thing, the fundamental human problem being the same for all people, etc etc. But then when he teaches the Dharma he will prostrate before an image of the Buddha and say something like, I bow before the Buddha who taught the Dharma for the purpose of eliminating wrong views. I forget the exact words he likes to use. My point is that the ecumenical spirit is good, because we have to live together with people who hold different views, and mutual tolerance is necessary. But it is wrong to say that religions are essentially the same.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by PeterC » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:12 am

Nemo wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:36 am
Talking about genuine spirituality in Abrahamic religions is like me talking about the amazing academic training I received in the army.
In the US at least, joining the military has historically been a way to get yourself funded through college without it costing you an arm and a leg. Though of course, that decision might cost you a real arm or leg.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by ford_truckin » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:58 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am
I’m not sure you’re fairly representing either the Buddhist perspective - even the East Asian version, which is way more substantialist than its Indian antecedents - or the Christian/Islamic/Talmudic perspective.

One of them has a creator god, an immortal soul, no reincarnation, sin. The other has pratityasamutpada, anatman, karma. We could go on but the distinction here is sufficient - this is a gap that cannot be closed by posting some deeper meaning, unless you posit that one side is a provisional teaching, and neither side would accept that statement of their own beliefs.

Even when you go into the less mainstream teachings of either side, the gulf remains. The tathagatagarbha teachings do not refute the above points, nor do the Dzogchen tantras - which indeed provide more explanation as to how Buddhas and sentient beings respectively arise. The esoteric forms of the Abrahamic religions (Sufism etc.) similarly do not refute the basic tenets of their beliefs.

One could claim that there are, perhaps, similarities in techniques. But this is not sufficient to say they are “essentially the same” or “pointing to the same thing”. Most of the meditational techniques of Buddhism can be found in the Vedic traditions: however the view is profoundly different between the two, centuries of interaction and debate established them to be incompatible.

The view matters. When HHDL speaks at interfaith conferences he will say reassuring platitudes about all religions seeking the same thing, the fundamental human problem being the same for all people, etc etc. But then when he teaches the Dharma he will prostrate before an image of the Buddha and say something like, I bow before the Buddha who taught the Dharma for the purpose of eliminating wrong views. I forget the exact words he likes to use. My point is that the ecumenical spirit is good, because we have to live together with people who hold different views, and mutual tolerance is necessary. But it is wrong to say that religions are essentially the same.
Could be possible the're all pointing to the same thing but using different language to explain it?

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:18 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am
One of them has a creator god, an immortal soul, no reincarnation, sin. The other has pratityasamutpada, anatman, karma. We could go on but the distinction here is sufficient - this is a gap that cannot be closed by posting some deeper meaning, unless you posit that one side is a provisional teaching, and neither side would accept that statement of their own beliefs.
While at the theoretical level this may be the case, I am a more practical person.

What I see many times is Abrahamists involved in service for the needy (even if just motivated by their own liberation) and Buddhists talking about compassion, but actually acting like complete assholes.

In a similar discussion on the other Wheel site, I mentioned that, generally speaking, since neither Abrahamists nor Buddhists perfect their practices, the theory that their practices are based on is practically irrelevant.

If you have somebody that does not have anatman as their view, but practices selfless actions and you have somebody that theoretically holds the view of anatman, but is a selfish self-centered prick... Which of the two is gathering the merit necessary to take the next step towards liberation (given they are not going to be liberated in this lifetime)?
"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: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by PeterC » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:26 pm

ford_truckin wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:58 am

Could be possible the're all pointing to the same thing but using different language to explain it?
No - the language makes it very clear that we’re talking about totally different things.

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Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Post by PeterC » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:37 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:18 am
PeterC wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am
One of them has a creator god, an immortal soul, no reincarnation, sin. The other has pratityasamutpada, anatman, karma. We could go on but the distinction here is sufficient - this is a gap that cannot be closed by posting some deeper meaning, unless you posit that one side is a provisional teaching, and neither side would accept that statement of their own beliefs.
While at the theoretical level this may be the case, I am a more practical person.

What I see many times is Abrahamists involved in service for the needy (even if just motivated by their own liberation) and Buddhists talking about compassion, but actually acting like complete assholes.

In a similar discussion on the other Wheel site, I mentioned that, generally speaking, since neither Abrahamists nor Buddhists perfect their practices, the theory that their practices are based on is practically irrelevant.

If you have somebody that does not have anatman as their view, but practices selfless actions and you have somebody that theoretically holds the view of anatman, but is a selfish self-centered prick... Which of the two is gathering the merit necessary to take the next step towards liberation (given they are not going to be liberated in this lifetime)?
But we are not talking here about the anecdotal actions of individuals: we’re talking about what the different doctrines actually say. We know that lots of catholic priests molest children. That doesn’t then imply that Catholicism as a religious doctrine encourages or requires this.

In any case: I don’t dispute your observation that there are morally good and bad adherents of pretty much any religion one can choose. That doesn’t mean that they’re practising or believing the same thing. It’s remarkable how frequently we have discussions here, on a Buddhist discussion forum, with nominal Buddhists who claim equivalence between the Dharma and a host of other religions. That’s not a position that any of the great scholars of the Dharma in the past would ever have agreed with, so neither can I.

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