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 Post subject: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:13 pm 
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For years I've wanted to talk to a Buddhist or Muslim about their beliefs. I'll trust a conversation's accuracy much more than media garbage or professors with their own agendas. So, anybody here I can talk with?

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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:08 am 
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I'm not exactly an "active" buddhist, but I might answer some questions here. I was studying in a Buddhist School for a year, before I went for graphics. I also met some monks and a Lama during my martial artistic years


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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:52 pm 
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Which martial art? I practiced Goju-Ryu karate for several years, before moving to a new state (where the local karate sensei was an American-style goob).

How is the Buddhist system set up? The physical side of things; I know there are monasteries, monks, etc... how do they relate to each other? I've learned a few basics about the belief system, but I know next to nothing about how it's practiced or the organizational aspects of it. (Though I do realize it isn't set up in "traditional" western-Christian ways.)

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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:30 pm 
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Master_Xan wrote:
Which martial art? I practiced Goju-Ryu karate for several years, before moving to a new state (where the local karate sensei was an American-style goob).

How is the Buddhist system set up? The physical side of things; I know there are monasteries, monks, etc... how do they relate to each other? I've learned a few basics about the belief system, but I know next to nothing about how it's practiced or the organizational aspects of it. (Though I do realize it isn't set up in "traditional" western-Christian ways.)


I've studied Shaolin kung-fu for about 10 years, and mostly I've met warrior monks. In the buddhist school there were guest teachers from Tibet and so on..
Buddhism monasticism is different in many things: first of all, they don't really have a hierarchy, rather they respect the old and more experienced monks.
There are some limitations before one reaches the age of about 18-20 and becomes a fully ordained monk.
Lamas are also 'ranked' monks,but they are respected as 'great teachers', somekind of gurus.
Things are decided and discussed on huge meetings, where everyone has a word. It is of course regulated by the monastry rules.

This is the basis, but buddhism has alot of variatons accross the globe. Traditions may also vary with theravada, mahayna teachings.
Buddhism was transformed alot during it's 'travels'. In Thailand for example, hierarchy does play a major role in the monastic life. Let me quote from wiki here:
"Modern Thai monks are ranked according to their ability to pass examinations in Buddhist doctrine and the Pali language, and are appointed to successively higher positions in the ecclesiastic hierarchy on the basis of these exams"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_monasticism

The cause of this diversity is, as you probably know, the tolerance and adaptivity of buddhist missions and teachings.
Buddhist missionaries never really converted people, they rather melded into the local religions or even goverment systems, as you can see in Thailand.
Ironically, it almost disappeared from India, as it was not even nearly that 'colorful' and entertaining as hinduism with all it's gods and demons and who know what else :)

As all organizations, the buddhist church also has it's problems. We know some flaws of the Vatican.. well Buddhism has some idiots too.
Corruption, monks striving for power, fights among different schools yeah they all have that. But hey, that's life :)
You can't blame Jesus or Buddha for that. Buddha actually forbid to write down his words, now we have monastries full with sutras :)
(that's actually a good thing of course, but an interesting thing to think about)

As a plus ( I know you didn't ask, but one of my favourite topics) there is a HUGE:) misunderstandment in the heads over here in the West.
BUDDHIST DO EAT MEAT! Face it! :D I know, there are monastries and maybe even countries, where it is forbidden to them, but still.
Buddha himself did eat meat, and I'm sure he loved it! He loved good meals.. But it's also obvious, that He respected that gift much more, then we do nowadays.
Humans consume their enviroment, and that's not quite easy to face. Buddha himself needed 6 years to learn that.

Not directly relevant, but this lovely man could help understand it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W083nSzx1Rc
Don't care about the title of the video though, it's dumb :) Some comments are quite good however.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:01 pm 
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Alright, tell me if I get this right.
Throughout most of the Buddhist world, their is no hierarchy or ranking.
More experienced monks are revered, much as "elders" in other societies.
Underage monks must follow additional rules or guidelines, limiting them somewhat.
"Monk" is a standard title, while "lama" denotes a monk with increased wisdom, and hence respected more.

There are just as many variations in Buddhism as there are in Christianity.
No original writings exist from Buddha himself, though nowadays sutras are written which contain... what? How do Buddhists view sutras?
Modern Buddhism is made up of humans who sometimes abuse their power. (surprise!) Just like every other organization since the dawn of time.

Now, did I get the gist of everything right?

I've read Siddhartha, and greatly enjoyed it. I'm curious, what place do samanas (or shramanas) have in modern Buddhism?

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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:10 am 
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Yes, you gut it.
Sutras are older than buddhism itself, as are the shramanas. Buddhist sutras contain the teachings of Buddha (discourses attributed to the Buddha or one of his close disciples).
The theravada buddhist believe, the Pali canon (which is the oldest sutra, ment to be used to reach enlightment) is nothing less than the words of Gautama himself.
Other schools are more sceptical, as it was written long after Buddhas death.
Sutra writing is a common learning procedure: you copy the script of a teaching several times to memorize it's content.

Shramanas are not directly linked to buddhism, they are ascets leaving their families and society to finally leave this world through meditation and other practices.
Some buddhists were also wandering around, and founding their own schools following a quite similar lifestyle. Boddhidarma was one of these wandering monks, who actually founded chinese buddhism and shaolin kung fu.
The whole system is a bit complicated, though you must see, that 'buddhism' is more like a philosophy and not a real religion.
The word 'buddhism' itself is a western creation, there was no definition like this before. Following the Inner Path was a quite common practice even before Buddha arrived and reformed it a bit, and shramanas also lived that way. To be a buddhist only means, that you walk this Inner Path with the help of his teachings. I don't think modern Buddhism influenced shramanas in any ways, though I never met one in person and I don't know much about them.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Buddhists/Muslims in the house?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:31 pm 
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I'm glad I read that book (Siddhartha). It seems to have represented things fairly accurately.

So, again let me get this straight: sutras are considered "scripture" by only one group of Buddhists, the Theravada. And I use the word "scripture" loosely; I realize it isn't an exact match, but it's the closest word I can come up with. In reality, sutras are more guidelines or examples of wisdom, not requirements or commandments as in western Christianity.

The word "buddhist" didn't actually originate with buddhists themselves, having been coined by westerners trying to define the religion (probably without really understanding it at the time). In fact, buddhism is less an organized religion as it is a philosophy, a way of viewing the world. Which makes sense, as I've met a few people who consider themselves both buddhist and followers of another religion.

Shramanas existed prior to Gautama, and have not been absorbed or really become a part of buddhism per se. There are buddhists who are also shramanas, but that's where the connection ends.

Is that correct?

I'm also curious; are there still other followers of the Inner Path who are not Buddhists? I know there used to be (Siddhartha is quite clear on that, as there were samanas and other groups who sought their own means to achieve the same ultimate goal). But is there another major "religion" or "movement" which follows Inner Path ideals and pre-dates Buddhism? Or are the other groups much smaller, such as the individual or small-group shramanas?

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