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Rebirth, antaraabhava, Metteyya, petas and more to come?

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  • Ong Yong Peng
    Dear Ven. Kumara, Ven. Yuttadhamma, Frank, Gunnar, Piya, Robert, Stephen, Suan, Teng Kee, Thomas, Tim, Yifer and friends, it is not difficult to notice that
    Message 1 of 3 , May 31, 2005
      Dear Ven. Kumara, Ven. Yuttadhamma, Frank, Gunnar, Piya, Robert,
      Stephen, Suan, Teng Kee, Thomas, Tim, Yifer and friends,

      it is not difficult to notice that recently there has been a stir
      over some topics such as antaraabhava, Metteyya, etc. It is amazing
      to me how a new topic arises before another ceases. The ongoing
      discussions may arise due to renewed interests within the academic,
      monastic, or lay communities. I do not know for sure until I can
      investigate further on its causes.

      It is indeed very noble of Stephen and others to emphasize the
      importance of understanding our conditions of being after death.
      However, it is also important to maintain a harmonious atmosphere
      before any proper sharing and learning can take place. Considering
      the number of people who are Buddhists and believe in antaraabhava,
      that leave quite a few billions to be convinced.

      I would like to point out, as in another post, that while we may find
      traces of certain concepts in the Pali Tipitaka, they are never
      treated in the systematic way as they are done in the Mahayana
      discourses.

      For example, there are several Mahayana sutras dealing with the
      genesis of the future Buddha Metteyya, the Bodhisatta's pure land,
      and detailed discussion of his eventual enlightenment and the
      conditions of the world during his time. There is even a minor school
      in China (history has that the school originated in Asia-Minor)
      devoted to Metteyya Pure Land practices.

      Then, there is also the bulk of literature dealing with antaraabhava
      among the Mahayana (particularly Tibetan) texts. These writings are
      probably formed at the last stage of Mahayana development in India,
      and then further developed outside India.

      I like to say that, even so, these form just a small portion of the
      overall Mahayana literature. Their significance varies according to
      cultural, political and economic factors under different social
      settings. In the Theravada context, of course, they have very little
      significance. But, that is not to say that we can't discuss them at
      all. Having said thus, I hope that this list remains Pali-focused and
      Nikaya-centric. Therefore, let's discuss things within the context of
      the Pali Tipitaka as much as possible.

      One last point to raise is the practice of jhana. As much as I am
      aware, jhana is important to the development of concentration as much
      as books are important for the acquisition of knowledge. I remember
      the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhana, as
      though there is a dark force lurking behind. LOL :-) Most, if not
      all, of Buddha's formost disciples are great jhana masters. However,
      jhana is never regarded as highly as other jhanic-based religions. If
      I am not wrong, Mara is also capable of advance jhana attainments(?).
      Further, jhana is no indication of /any/ progress on the path. It is
      merely a practice well-suited for people to obtain the concentration
      necessary for contemplating on, for example, the four noble truths.
      It is, simply put, a mean to an end.

      metta,
      Yong Peng.
    • Stephen Hodge
      Dear Yong Peng, ... Sorry to persist with this, but the most extensive treatment in extant Indian sources of the antaraabhava is found in the Sarvastivadin
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 1, 2005
        Dear Yong Peng,

        > Then, there is also the bulk of literature dealing with antaraabhava
        > among the Mahayana (particularly Tibetan) texts.
        Sorry to persist with this, but the most extensive treatment in extant
        Indian sources of the antaraabhava is found in the Sarvastivadin
        Mahavibhasha. My impression is that it was taken as a given by many
        Mahayana people and so they never discussed it a great length. The Tibetan
        material seems to have been inspired by the above-mentioned lengthy
        treatment by the Sarvastivadins.

        > One last point to raise is the practice of jhana.
        I should stress that I do want to encourage people to attempt jhana
        meditation by themselves without expert guidance.

        > I remember the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhana
        Difficult since, properly speaking, there are only four jhanas.

        > However, jhana is never regarded as highly as other jhanic-based
        > religions.
        On the contrary, I think one can argue that the jhanas were an extremely
        important part of the Buddha's path, perhaps the originally central element.
        But I would rather not get into a long discussion about this, because I can
        already hear the howls of disagreement :)

        Best wishes,
        Stephen Hodge
      • Kumaara Bhikkhu
        ... Hope you still remember where you came across this, as I m *very* interested. If you manage to find out only after I leave the discussion, hope you would
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 2, 2005
          At 02:55 PM 01-06-05, Ong Yong Peng wrote:
          >I remember
          >the Buddha advised people not to go beyond the fourth jhana

          Hope you still remember where you came across this, as I'm *very* interested. If you manage to find out only after I leave the discussion, hope you would remember to send it to me personally. No promises, of course.

          Btw, you might be interested to know that the so-called "5th jhana" and onwards are known as ayatanas in the suttas. They are called jhanas only in the commentaries.


          peace

          Kumâra Bhikkhu
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