Sunday, August 2, 2009

Nothing in the universe to everything in the universe IV

“What kinds of qualities of a good man will make him pass those endless whirls of the Ocean of Sansara (Cycle of rebirths)?”

Demon Arthavaka'

“Arthavaka, I may say Bhakti and Prajná. With these two main qualities accumulated, a good man will pass this endless Ocean of Sansara

Lord Buddha'

In Nothing in the universe to everything in the universe I, I started to argue that the enjoyment of Moksha, the final liberation was not the mutually exclusive right for Buddhists. Instead, liberation or enlightenment should be the universal right for a person of any religion or even for an atheist, who are wise and thoroughly industrious in exploring their true purpose of life.

Burmese, in fact, have been the virtual prisoners’ race for a thousand years since the military rulers of Pagan or even before. When every possible path of external liberty of Burmese are heavily blocked by typical barriers and oppressions of a totalitarian society ruled by military dictatorship, the only possible outlet of those down-trodden proletariats is finding the inner freedom of one’s self . The unequal are becoming completely equal in this inner liberty that they could search on their own. The external liberty is for the Western, American wealthy materialists who possess but are very ignorant; the internal liberty is for smart penniless Buddhists who don’t possess but are very wise. This is always a classical excuse of the well-learned devout Buddhists in our country. What these learned Buddhists don’t aware is that many educated Indian converts from Hinduism to Christianity also always make their classical excuse by saying: “Hindus are very selfish. They worship the gods only for themselves and their family. They practice meditation only for their liberation. Hindus have no sense that a person should think about the others, and all others should gather and help a person in trouble. This kind of unselfishness is only observed in Christianity; therefore Christianity is a morally sound religion”. Honestly speaking, I can’t find any armor to defend a similar critique for the current practice of Theravadism as an individual's self-liberation nowadays in Burma. Morally, we can have a thrilled sense that our practice of Burmese Buddhism is on a wrong track, and we are in serious need to find remedial measures for coming up as appreciable Buddhism. In his Wheel of Dharma, Buddha proclaimed that the rightful practice comes from rightful understanding. In this sense, I also need to say that we have many wrong understandings in our accepted ways of Buddhism.

In her reply to a journalist, Daw Aung San Su Kyi said a prominent legacy of Theravadism to Burmese is individualism, one of the most important mind-sets for the founding pillars of Western democracy. Nevertheless, we need to notice that individualism is very close to ego-centrism, and the imminent danger from individualism is it could easily be corrupted into moral relativism that has been the experience of many democracy nations including contemporary America. The misunderstanding of Bhakti, that is commonly known to Burmese Buddhists as Saddha, is one of the misguided forces toward the rise of such moral tyranny from our Burmese Buddhist community, for whom all other diverse religious concepts and practices across the globe are purgative, and only the Buddhists, especially, the privileged Burmese as last defenders of Buddha’s original doctrine with their affirmative Bhakti are graceful in doing their religious acts.

The failure of the progress of a person has started but he may not have noticed, when he thinks himself that his knowledge is supreme to anybody else. In Mahayana Buddhism, the end of humanity has already been decided by the supreme compassion and wisdom of Bodhisattvas, and in Theravada Buddhism, the end is already decided by an individual’s noble devotion toward pre-conceived, sure-to-gain wisdom. In this way, the weak minds of Buddhist nations are dismally deluded, thinking themselves that at least they are supreme to non-Buddhists or even arrogant towards fellow Buddhists who might not know the more supreme Dharma such as Abidharma; so even the fellow Buddhists are also very ignorant in view of the possessor of knowledge of supreme wisdom. Why they could be so sure to be rewarded enlightenment as a Buddha may enjoy, a critical western thinker may ask. They will say their Bhakati, that is devotion of belief in Dharma, the true way of enlightenment, is firmly persistent in their unblemished mind so that they are sure to achieve the ultimate illumination of Dharma. The critical thinker may still argue what happens when the saints of other religions are so pure in their minds for devotion to their other way of practice for enlightenment. The Burmese who regards himself as the only one who is able to know the ultimate truth as a Buddhist will argue, “They are in illusion. Their purity is not the real Bhakati. In fact, their other practice is the way of evils”. Burmese are one of the most frankly speaking races, commensurable with their frugal simplicity in knowledge. Therefore, a response from an arrogant Buddhist member of this tight-fist society to a critique or a proposal of alternate thinking is quite typical: “My knowledge is always right and all other else are wrong, and all other else are to be discarded as they are completely wrong and evils.”

In Burma, most often, the Buddhist scholars publish the writings that often rebuke Hinduism as a perfectly wrong religion. What they don’t notice is the fundamental meditation practices of Buddhism were inherited from Hinduism. If Hinduism is completely wrong in their ways of practice as most Burmese scholars are saying and most Burmese are thinking, then our Burmese Buddhism will be also an absolutely wrong religion. The practice of the idolatry worship of the Buddhas’, Arahats’ and heaven god’s statues is also the cultural transmission from Hindus’ rituals of India, and this fetish culture is quite meaningless and not relevant to the original philosophy of Buddhism. The Burmese script we are writing today was also adopted from Tamil people of Southern India. In a similar way, for a common Burman, the understanding of Bhakati as devotion to Buddha is similar to a typical Hindu devout, who devotes to Lord Krishna he adores in hope that his Karma of transmigration will progress from his love for this Lord of the universe. An irony is by adopting Bhakati, in other words Saddha for the liberation of one’s self from the attachment, the most common thing is that we are claiming to do whatever we like from the power of clarity awarded from bowing to supernatural gods, Buddha or our imagined Dharma. I may say that such clarity has never existed because as a practitioner, nobody knows who the Buddha is or who Lord Krishna is or what the supreme Dharma is. Only in our fancy of imagination, we ourselves create Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna. If Krishna and Buddha are the real gods of the universe, our creation is far apart from the real qualities of these Lords. Our knowledge is far away from understanding the ethical principles of our Lords. As a matter of fact, we are worshipping our imagination and never have the ability to worship the real Buddha or Lord Krishna, or the perfect Dharma.

We may still counter argue that even if these imagined Lords or their Dharma is not in perfect shapes as they are supposed to be, they could contribute some help in promotion of our spirituality. Even if this counter argument is right, the result is a liars’ paradox. I want to show a sentence of a liar such as “I know that I know nothing”. In this sentence you are saying in its beginning that you know something. If it is so, the predicate that follows “I know nothing” is becoming meaningless. At least you know that you know nothing. This is a similar happening in the current understanding of Bhakati as a liar’s paradox for the practitioner in search of Moksha that is liberation from attachment in both Hinduism and Buddhism. If the meaning of Moksha is liberation from attachment, and Bhakati (Saddha) is devotion to Lords and our presupposed illumination of Dharma, it is found out that we are mired in our own spider's web of attachment to devotion.It is evident that we never have attempted to cut this spider's string and we never have been directed to renunciation. In this logical presentation, if Buddha was right in saying that Moksha could be obtained by the quality of Bhakati, the meaning of Bhakati should not be devotion, however, it should be a very different one, or perhaps, our limited cognition has not caught up sufficiently with what is seemed to be actually meant by Buddha for "devotion".

(To be cont., How Mahatma Gandhi understood Bhakati completely different from the conventional acceptance of Hinduism)

N.B: His new understanding of Bhakati (Saddha) was the most powerful moral force to be adopted by Gandhi to rise as the spiritual leader of India. Hinduism was no longer confined to castes in his consistent understanding and has become a universal religion.


Karaweik ကရဝိတ္ 妙声鸟 Alvin (Sumedha) said...

Perhaps Saddha should be seen more as 'being' than 'devotion' or 'faith'. Being it, instead of loving it or believing in it. That was what Mahatma Ghandi did... the embodiment of what he thought should be it.

Green Energy said...

I think faith/devotion is one of the key components for the achievement of Shanti Sukha/Moksha.The caveat is it should not be excessive.If faith is excessive,it will get a person blind. As Burmakin notes, arrogance happens as in the cases, the pride of some people of Abidhammaism.

MG said...

I love what Ko Sumedha thought. Among most famous talks of Buddha, condemnation of Vakali is one of my favorites. At that point of banishing Vakali, Buddha said: "Seeing and believing me, loving my handsomeness and my charisma is none a worthy merit.He is still a blind person to Buddha.Only a person who sees Dharma can be called to possess the eyes to be able to see the real Buddha".

Vakali was later awarded the title, "the master of devotion to the Lord" after his real seeing of the Lord. Of course, Vakali is awarded just a title for his noblest devotion but not as the master of Saddha as Burmese texts translated.


Jimmy said...

What i noticed in this article is the writer has a purpose of saying that morality should be maintained without identification of a religion.
Of course, if morality is indulged with identification of a religion, it is more likely that it is not morality but merely a manifest of our ego in identifying ourselves as a just person to be religious.

Nova Lantern said...

Actually, the critical problem of all metaphysical experiences is the problem of "verification". Somewhere in this web, a provocative question about comparing the third person's experience of scientific methods and the first person's experience of introspective meditation practices of Buddhism is presented. Both methods claim themselves to be based on their empirical experience for reflecting the reality of truth; but my question is how we or I verify these kinds of experiences to be right or absolutely true, or never be false.The demarcation of a full-fledged scientist and enlightenment seeker of Buddhism is not in the authority of claiming their empirical experiences, as knowledge of both persons may be still too little to catch up with the actual reality. Meanwhile it is very likely that both "ists" may be practicing, at least,partially wrong methods. The real demarcation is that a scientist is not dogmatic about his method as final truth,but always tries to observe more and more about liable errors, and construct more and more elaborate theories and alternative reasoning methods to support his developed hypothesis with detailed exceptions, whereas Buddhists, mostly in the sect of Theravadism, thinks of ending the whole humanity with his or her very small practice,experience and limited knowledge.As expressed in chunks in this blog, the problem of Burmese Buddhists is the problem of generalization to the whole universal truth from their narrow scopes of experience. It might be that other Buddhist races are doing the same thing of generalization without ever thinking a need of verification.

My suggestion is unless verified, let us assume that all our methods and experience in metaphysics or Buddhism might still be false or very incomplete.Then unification of Buddhism and sciences might be possible as Buddhists have claimed thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read the comments here.How you guys think about it? The most important factor for enlightenment seems to be knowledge but faith could be a supporting factor of knowledge.If faith could support knowledge, it may be tentatively defined as Saddha. If it is not, it may be otherwise blindness or dogmatism.We can demarcate good faith from bad faith in this way: good faith contributes knowledge whereas bad faith contributes dogmatism.

Referring to Nova Lantern's comment, knowledge needs verification and knowledge seems to be very incomplete at every step of wisdom progress.The caveat may be thus we should not have faith in your current knowledge that is still incomplete and prone to erroneous in many ways. But we are said to be in good faith when we don't have faith of our current knowledge that will make a person aware of and repair his weakness and errors, getting him on the way of progress of knowledge.As a matter of fact,not to have faith for happening good faith is a paradox of the gain of pure wisdom.Of course, pure means purification! That should be a very likely meaning of the process of generation of good faith or Saddha.