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5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood

Realist Model Attainment is a limited reduction in suffering. And limited positive externalities for others.
Aspirational Model Attainment is complete end of personal suffering, perfect virtue, omniscience used towards ending suffering for all sentient beings.

MCTB is one example, of a realistic model of enlightenment. People on DhO will generally have a good idea of the benefits of the realistic model. And I agree the realistic models are important and useful.

But we would be mistaken to dismiss the classical aspirational ideal of Buddhahood as useless myth.

Quite to the contrary, I have found the aspiration model has many important pragmatic uses, here are a few:

1) Empowering rather than limiting belief
Rather than limiting oneself to a set attainment, that may well fall short of what it possible. The aspirational model encourages people to further their practice. And setting a high goal of what may be possible empowers people to achieve great things for everyone's benefit.

2) Focus on the process rather than attainment
Basically by being pretty far out and seemingly impossible. It encourages focus on the ongoing learning, improving skill sets. And avoids falling into the trap of obsessing over arriving at some sort of imaginary destination.

3) Uncovers blind-spots
To work towards the enlightenment of all sentient beings requires full engagement with the world. Doing this while holding a high standard for personal virtue and wisdom, will to bring to fore and shadows or blind spots that may otherwise be missed.

4) Avoids the trap of nihilism
Nihilism can be a trap due to incomplete or flawed understanding of essencelessness. But it even in the face of such misunderstanding, the aspirational model of enlightenment side can conquer nihilism, by presenting a goal that has yet to be achieved and providing a sense of purpose and direction.

5) Cultivates humility and compassion
In the face of such insurmountable goals. There is less likelyhood of falling into egotism at having attained something. And by focusing on benefiting others, deep selflessness is possible. There is a greater chance at attaining a genuine opening of the heart. In realistic terms this is the birth of compassionate concern for others that is not dependent on conditions.

With these points in mind I encourage you to reaffirm a completely unrealistic intent to attain enlightenment, perfect wisdom, perfect virtue, and accomplish other great things for the benefit of all sentient beings.

emoticon

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/13/14 8:02 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
Very well articulated, thanks!
My experience of practicing in a Vajrayana style resonates with what you wrote here. The devotional/aspirational element of relating to one's teachers seems to work this way, especially if one can see some elements of their style and capacity which exceed the standard external results of prag dharma (those being non-existent, basically).

I also agree that both realist and aspirational models are useful and helpful in different ways.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
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2/14/14 12:06 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
True.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/14/14 12:25 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
Agree about empowering.

Disagree about focus on process instead of attainment. That sounds like a cop-out. The suttas are very clear that it's a goal and that you should strive towards it. There's even a sutta about why it's not contradictory to have a desire to end all desire.

As to "full engagement with the world" - no way. The path the Pali Canon lays out is one of renunciation and living in a monastery with a bunch of other monks, not one of fully engaging with the world.

Traps of nihilism, maybe, why not. This contradicts your #2 though since #2 says focus on process, and #4 says focus on goal.

As to #5, probably. But remember that this achievement is very highly-regarded and extolled in the Pali Canon. The ones who have attained it are Noble Ones, wise and to be listened to by non-Noble Ones. Buddha also loudly proclaimed his enlightenment as soon as he attained it. Not sure if this is an example of humility.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/15/14 12:42 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Agree about empowering.

Disagree about focus on process instead of attainment. That sounds like a cop-out. The suttas are very clear that it's a goal and that you should strive towards it. There's even a sutta about why it's not contradictory to have a desire to end all desire.

As to "full engagement with the world" - no way. The path the Pali Canon lays out is one of renunciation and living in a monastery with a bunch of other monks, not one of fully engaging with the world.

Traps of nihilism, maybe, why not. This contradicts your #2 though since #2 says focus on process, and #4 says focus on goal.

As to #5, probably. But remember that this achievement is very highly-regarded and extolled in the Pali Canon. The ones who have attained it are Noble Ones, wise and to be listened to by non-Noble Ones. Buddha also loudly proclaimed his enlightenment as soon as he attained it. Not sure if this is an example of humility.


I don't know too much about the Pali Canon compared many people on this forum, but enough so it sounds like something the Pali Canon would say. emoticon

But in reading your and Daniel's responses. Maybe we are be looking at conceptuality in very different ways.

Consider the following...

1) No conceptual model of reality can be intrinsically True. (Map is not the territory)
2) Concepts, models, and maps can be either useful (true) or useless (false) depending on context.

This historical Buddhists probably knew this**. So all Buddhist teachings can be viewed as attempts at upaya / skillful means within a certain context, to a certain audience (mostly monks, teaching other monks).

The 3 C's, No-self etc is just skillful means to lead to ending of craving / aversion (tanha).

So perhaps in some contexts the Bodhisattva ideal can be useful, in other the pragmatic approach can be useful, and in still others it is best to just take some Vicodin. etc.

Humility can be useful, proclaiming attainments can be useful. etc.

Kind of like tools in a toolbox. A screwdriver isn't superior to a hammer. Or vice versa.

**As an example Nagarjuana's Madhyamaka takes this sort of viewpoint a few steps further.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/15/14 4:55 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
[quote=(D Z) Dhru Val]
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Agree about empowering.

Disagree about focus on process instead of attainment. That sounds like a cop-out. The suttas are very clear that it's a goal and that you should strive towards it. There's even a sutta about why it's not contradictory to have a desire to end all desire.

As to "full engagement with the world" - no way. The path the Pali Canon lays out is one of renunciation and living in a monastery with a bunch of other monks, not one of fully engaging with the world.

Traps of nihilism, maybe, why not. This contradicts your #2 though since #2 says focus on process, and #4 says focus on goal.

As to #5, probably. But remember that this achievement is very highly-regarded and extolled in the Pali Canon. The ones who have attained it are Noble Ones, wise and to be listened to by non-Noble Ones. Buddha also loudly proclaimed his enlightenment as soon as he attained it. Not sure if this is an example of humility.


I don't know too much about the Pali Canon compared many people on this forum, but enough so it sounds like something the Pali Canon would say. emoticon
So this is interesting. Do you consider yourself a Buddhist or not? Do you agree with the aims and/or follow the aims of Buddhism or not? If yes then how could you not study the Canon? If not then what makes you interested in Buddhism at all (e.g. MCTB which is Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha)?

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/15/14 12:10 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
So this is interesting. Do you consider yourself a Buddhist or not? Do you agree with the aims and/or follow the aims of Buddhism or not? If yes then how could you not study the Canon? If not then what makes you interested in Buddhism at all (e.g. MCTB which is Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha)?

I know of a guy who never read the pali cannon but got totally enlightened. I'm not sure if he was a Buddhist or not but I think his name was Siddhartha. emoticon
~D

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/18/14 4:35 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
[quote=(D Z) Dhru Val]
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Agree about empowering.

Disagree about focus on process instead of attainment. That sounds like a cop-out. The suttas are very clear that it's a goal and that you should strive towards it. There's even a sutta about why it's not contradictory to have a desire to end all desire.

As to "full engagement with the world" - no way. The path the Pali Canon lays out is one of renunciation and living in a monastery with a bunch of other monks, not one of fully engaging with the world.

Traps of nihilism, maybe, why not. This contradicts your #2 though since #2 says focus on process, and #4 says focus on goal.

As to #5, probably. But remember that this achievement is very highly-regarded and extolled in the Pali Canon. The ones who have attained it are Noble Ones, wise and to be listened to by non-Noble Ones. Buddha also loudly proclaimed his enlightenment as soon as he attained it. Not sure if this is an example of humility.


I don't know too much about the Pali Canon compared many people on this forum, but enough so it sounds like something the Pali Canon would say. emoticon

So this is interesting. Do you consider yourself a Buddhist or not? Do you agree with the aims and/or follow the aims of Buddhism or not? If yes then how could you not study the Canon? If not then what makes you interested in Buddhism at all (e.g. MCTB which is Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha)?

I don't get it; if Dhru is interested in Buddhism he needs to follow the Canon as law?
Even more interesting: If I value harmlessness should I follow Buddhism or Actualism or Christianity? Maybe pick the one closest to my other beliefs? And what about cherry-picking whatever "works"? Since you obviously made your choice in this regard, why did you choose the fixed menu over the buffet? ...This should be almost on topic.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/14/14 1:56 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
It is not like there is any lack of abundance of the more mythic and idealized models, and actually they make up perhaps 99.9% of the ideals advertised out there, so arguing for those models is like arguing for McDonald's or for Coca-Cola or something like that: hugely popular, clearly people seem to get something out of them or they wouldn't be spending zillions on them across the globe, and basically unstoppable.

Arguing for, say, Kale and Quinoa, or something like that, as we do here, metaphorically, is never going to be popular or appeal to most people.

It is like arguing for, say, rational thought over national politics, or for generosity over corporate greed, or Fox News over The Nation magazine: sort of preposterous, really.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/14/14 1:58 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is not like there is any lack of abundance of the more mythic and idealized models, and actually they make up perhaps 99.9% of the ideals advertised out there, so arguing for those models is like arguing for McDonald's or for Coca-Cola or something like that: hugely popular, clearly people seem to get something out of them or they wouldn't be spending zillions on them across the globe, and basically unstoppable.

Arguing for, say, Kale and Quinoa, or something like that, as we do here, metaphorically, is never going to be popular or appeal to most people.

It is like arguing for, say, rational thought over national politics, or for generosity over corporate greed, or Fox News over The Nation magazine: sort of preposterous, really.

True, but consider that 99.9% of this community argues against the model... so this is like a counter-counter-reaction =)

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/14/14 2:04 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
True, and he does present the skillful end of the argument for why we should, say, sell Santa Clause to children, or encourage them to be good so that they get presents on Christmas, or whatever, and there is much naive beauty in that. My own moral standards were very high long before I found Buddhism, arising from being raised by intellectual secular humanist yuppie idealists, but if one finds the same basic thing in Buddhism and it helps them live well, it is hard to argue with that, at least on that axis of the thing.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/15/14 12:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is not like there is any lack of abundance of the more mythic and idealized models, and actually they make up perhaps 99.9% of the ideals advertised out there, so arguing for those models is like arguing for McDonald's or for Coca-Cola or something like that: hugely popular, clearly people seem to get something out of them or they wouldn't be spending zillions on them across the globe, and basically unstoppable.

Arguing for, say, Kale and Quinoa, or something like that, as we do here, metaphorically, is never going to be popular or appeal to most people.

It is like arguing for, say, rational thought over national politics, or for generosity over corporate greed, or Fox News over The Nation magazine: sort of preposterous, really.


I am not really advocating that people should adopt the mythical model in a devotional sense. Rather they should adopt it for pragmatic reasons when it suits them.


To continue with your analogy...

Sure it is good nutritional advice for the average person to eat Kale / Quinoa over Fast Food.
And one can become healthier than average by following that advice

But if you are an athlete preparing for a boxing match.

A more nuanced understanding of nutrition is in order.

You want to eat Kale and Quinoa. Get the micronutrients in Kale, and low glycemic index carbs in Quinoa.

But need to know a bowl full of Quinoa has a far lower protein to calorie ratio compared to Wendy's BLT Cobb Salad (without dressing).

An important fact if you are trying to cut weight while preserving lean mass.

No to the religion of Fast Food. No to the religion of Quinoa.

Yes to what works.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/17/14 10:29 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
Regarding "works", that is really the huge topic.

Works might be selling books, supporting a monastery, converting devotees, promoting good behavior, having a career, paying the rent, feeling good about one's self, doing something that is not harmful and may be helpful, etc.

Plenty of mythological versions of Buddhism (and plenty of other religions) may help with those things in some way, and also help with plenty of other things that might be considered to be useful from whatever point of view.

So, when you say "works", what do you mean? Obviously "works" varies widely between people, and hence the various models and myths and advertising strategies, as each may, at its best, promote something that works somehow, or it wouldn't have been perpetuated, I would think, this representing some sort of loose Darwinian notion of myths.

I agree that nutritional nuance is important, and it is a topic that I actually spend a lot of time on, being a doctor and health-food person in my spare time. I actually largely avoid quinoa as it has a moderately high oxalate content, and agree its carb/protein ratio is also not great on its own compared to plenty of other things, and that a lean salad with meat would clearly be a good option in various circumstances and depending on your thoughts on meat, etc. but I will leave off of more due to keeping this thing a bit more on track.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/21/14 1:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Regarding "works", that is really the huge topic.

Works might be selling books, supporting a monastery, converting devotees, promoting good behavior, having a career, paying the rent, feeling good about one's self, doing something that is not harmful and may be helpful, etc.

Plenty of mythological versions of Buddhism (and plenty of other religions) may help with those things in some way, and also help with plenty of other things that might be considered to be useful from whatever point of view.

So, when you say "works", what do you mean? Obviously "works" varies widely between people, and hence the various models and myths and advertising strategies, as each may, at its best, promote something that works somehow, or it wouldn't have been perpetuated, I would think, this representing some sort of loose Darwinian notion of myths.

I agree that nutritional nuance is important, and it is a topic that I actually spend a lot of time on, being a doctor and health-food person in my spare time. I actually largely avoid quinoa as it has a moderately high oxalate content, and agree its carb/protein ratio is also not great on its own compared to plenty of other things, and that a lean salad with meat would clearly be a good option in various circumstances and depending on your thoughts on meat, etc. but I will leave off of more due to keeping this thing a bit more on track.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Regarding "works", that is really the huge topic.

Works might be selling books, supporting a monastery, converting devotees, promoting good behavior, having a career, paying the rent, feeling good about one's self, doing something that is not harmful and may be helpful, etc.

Plenty of mythological versions of Buddhism (and plenty of other religions) may help with those things in some way, and also help with plenty of other things that might be considered to be useful from whatever point of view.

So, when you say "works", what do you mean? Obviously "works" varies widely between people, and hence the various models and myths and advertising strategies, as each may, at its best, promote something that works somehow, or it wouldn't have been perpetuated, I would think, this representing some sort of loose Darwinian notion of myths.
.


Some good points here, I basically agree with all of them. To be honest I am not sure what you are getting at here ?

For this post 'works', means is effective in reducing suffering for myself and others. Which I guess is a common goal for people on these forums.

I like a diversity of models, viewpoints and myths. That they have different strengths and weaknesses towards achieving a particular goal. And none of them can be absolutely true. But we can still have them and use them.

Goals are also based on models of reality, and should not be taken as inherently true. But we can still have them. And use them. In relation to other phenomenon.

By better understanding these different strengths and weaknesses. We can improve our effectiveness in achieving the goals.

So here I am suggesting how adopting an aspirational viewpoint help people reduce suffering for themselves and others.

RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/18/14 3:47 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
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RE: 5 pragmatic benefits of the totally unrealstic model of Buddhahood
Answer
2/21/14 1:07 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:

I totally agree that realistic models are great and I owe immense gratitude to MCTB. The interpretation of the paths that Daniel / Kenneth have popularised has been an amazing thing, a brilliant and necessary light in the murky non-attainmentness of western Dharma.


Yep. I wouldn't even be into this stuff at all, if it wasn't for the pragmatic models.

Part of the reason I am making this post is because for a long time I didn't see any value in the aspirational stuff at all.