Manjusri, possibly the most important enlightened being next to Buddha Gautama in Mahayana Buddhism, is the personification of Transcendent Wisdom.
His name names Sweet Splendor. His flaming swords slashes the fetters of ignorance, liberating all beings who channel his wisdom.
Pretty cool guy, eh?
life and death
are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by
and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to
Do Not Squander Your Life.
Not truly Buddhist, but I know a little about Buddhism, so I’ll try to answer some of these playing devils advocate.
If enlightenment, the attainment of knowledge to reach Nirvana is the ultimate goal of Buddhism, then why is it a religion that is practiced so widely by this generation, particularly in the modern western world where attachment to the things of this earth is so great ?
The reason Buddhism, and other ideologies in which liberation is key (Hinduism, Sufism, etc), are on the rise in the Western world is probably because of attachment to things, material objects and external pleasure; people have had enough of seeking happiness through objects, and perhaps a few, such as myself, have become disillusioned and believe that happiness isn’t to be found in the external world, but internally. It’s not a case of “despite ever-increasing materialism”, but a case of “because of it…” I find anyway.
If detachment from this world and self is the main goal of Buddhism, to free yourself from the pain and suffering of this world, then what do those who do not become monks and nuns hope to achieve?
Peace and happiness. It’s possible to become peaceful and liberated without a total renunciation of life, all it takes is an awakening, the Awakening, a realisation that the external world, as long as you cling to it, will never deliver you happiness. A person can live in the ‘normal’ world, as a lay-person, and not cling to it, just as one can own objects without clinging to them. The Dalai Lama owns many gifts, for example, he loves cars, but he doesn’t depend upon them for liberation or happiness.
There’s a concept of the Bodhisattva in Buddhism, which is an individual who becomes liberated through compassion for others, and they delay total liberation to facilitate the enlightenment of other people; Maitreya for example, is a a eschatalogical (future) Bodhisattva. For this, interaction with others in the real world is necessary.
The teaching of Dharmma (the Buddhist teachings) must also involve interaction with others in daily life necessarily.
The Effects of Karma
Karma affects our future rebirths and influences what we experience during our lives: how others treat us, our wealth, social status etc. Karma also affects our personality and character: our talents, strong personality traits and habits. The kind of environment we are born into is also influenced by Karma.
What kind of wrong could someone have committed in a past life to deserve a slow death of starvation, or live with depression, or be raped in this life? How is this fair? And when I say someone, in Buddhism, it’s more like…
At rebirth one dharma arises, while another stops; but the to processes take place almost simultaneously (they are continuous). Therefore the first act of consciousness in the new existence is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence, nor is it another.
Similar to physics, a positive force is met with an equal, negative force, and vice versa. This is the mechanism by which karmic causality works. It is deemed fair because we have moral responsibilities as sentient beings, and what we sow, we reap, whether in this life or another. Total moral equalisation for all sentient beings seems the fairest system of all moral justification theories.
Edit: Just did a little reading, and I’ve something to add from the perspective above. Karma is justification. Rape is not justification, it is a wrong doing done on the behalf of someone else, which means that the rapist is carrying negative karma, whereas the victim is carrying positive karma. This applies to any other wrongdoing not brought upon by an individual.
I’ll keep the initial idea there about moral counter-balancing as a perspective of some Buddhists, or other ‘what-goes-around-comes-around’ ideologies.
Kaufman suggests that the total lack of memory renders the theory more of a revenge theory than a retributive one, and hence morally unacceptable. Thoughts?
Our largest obstacle to understanding or even believing in kamma may be time. The ‘re-actions’ or results of our actions show up with a time delay, and it becomes extremely hard to tell which action caused which result. Actions done in a previous life can create results in this life, but who can remember his past live?
Karma merely makes sense the Kantian way. Through practical reason, we see that the unjust aren’t punished in this life, and the just typically are. We need balancing, and Buddhists believe this is attained through rebirth and moral justification. Nobody claims metaphysical karma for definite, as far as I know, it is a postulation, and non-metaphysical karma is possible, though it may undermine other Buddhist teachings. For instance, a person who cheats on their partner, and gets away with it, will never know true love. That is the consequence of a negative action.
Does that mean you have a moral obligation to your future karmic heir?
You have a moral obligation as a sentient being to have compassion and love for all other beings. If you fulfil this obligation sufficiently, you will have, in turn, fulfilled an obligation to your future rebirth — though this language is fishy because Buddhists don’t believe that the future rebirth is ‘you’ or ‘yours.’ There is no ‘you’ in Buddhism.
If you can be reincarnated into an animal, how do you fulfil one’s duty so that you can have a better reincarnation at death?
It depends what kind of animal you are. Sentient animals can think, and so actions are moral; the actions of something without sentience aren’t truly moral, and the means by which such a being moves about the planes of existence aren’t clear. Some Buddhists believe in a plane of existence where merely body exists, without mind. Again, I’m not sure of the mechanism by which these entities would be ‘judged,’ or how they would attain karma.
Edit: Did a little research and it seems to be the case that non-sentient entities are reborn until their negative karma is exhausted, in which case they’ll be reborn with sentience to pursue enlightenment. Sentient animals, like humans, can be become enlightened through skilfulness in the Eight Fold Path, or at least the Folds that are applicable to the being.
These are genuine questions.
Hopefully this helped a little!
Only resistance to change is painful
To think harder, lighten up.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.