Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

for ex-BKs to discuss matters related to experiences in BKWSU & after leaving.
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ex-l

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post20 Aug 2010

filthy Shudra wrote:if you took the time to understand what others write, rather than see each post as an opportunity to reinforce your own echo, you may have picked up what was said. The Buddhist concept of Self is not ... The Buddhist teaching is ...

Over looking the habitually barbed personal insults aimed at me in he rest of your post elsewhere, in all humility and with as much politeness as I can muster

    ... I think you might be wrong.
I think you are wrong in the first place for simply stating "The Buddhist concept of Self ... The Buddhist teaching is ...".

I suggest there is not one Buddhist concept of Self or teaching. There are many Buddhist concepts of Self or teaching (... or many interpretation of the Buddha's imagined concept of self, if you prefer). As button slammer wrote, the Buddha never wrote it down. We are less than sure of what it actually was or how he existed. And, of course, the Buddha also said that our ability to understand was going to keep decline and becoming impure over time until now ... just like the Brahma Kumaris do.

Then, I think you might be secondly and dangerously wrong for the implicit suggestion that you know what it is, or understand it properly.

That is to say, you understand the mind of the Buddha perfectly (... without actually being enlightened yourself because you say enlightenment does not exist, suggesting the Buddhism got that bit wrong). And I think this is why people react negatively against on this forum.

And then, lastly, I think you might be wrong because when asked point-blank to take a position the question of whether or not there is a self ...

    ... the Buddha himself is recorded to have refused to answer.
That is to say, the idea of there being "no self" was not a metaphysical assertion but a means to an end ... the goal being release from suffering. From the little I understand, his priority was not about an arid philosophically question of whether there was or was not any self ... but whether going on and on about it stopped suffering or not. The cessation of suffering, not philosophizing, was his priority.

Unlike the BKs, he reckoned that thinking about it all the time did not stop suffering, so kept out of it. Simple as that. Correct me if that is wrong.

But, just to keep on topic, surely what that actually means is that Buddhism and Brahma Kumarist concept of the self as a soul are not actually incompatible. He was not saying there was no atma, as the BKs call it. Wasn't his position was that there was no point going on and on about it ...

    ... rather like mr green's really?
Me, I have no position on it either way. It has no practical value for me in my life. I have no eternal awareness. Today and tomorrow is hard enough to imagine, never mind another life. Even if someone handed me a temple tomorrow (and there are plenty going spare), I doubt I could make a dinner out of it, never mind an income stream. So what is the point?
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Mr Green

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post20 Aug 2010

I wanted to say to FS that, you are right about many things, but you too do that which you see in others. You are human like me and therefore are innocent and worthy of wrong and mistake, and you can be a bit challenging as well, to be frank. But I really like you and I suspect ex-l does too, and he enjoys debating with you. But he can be impossible. I've never met him in the flesh, as I suspect you, have but I have spoken on the phone, and he has a strong character which is great really.

ex-l, you haven't replied to my email, have you changed your addy?
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filthy shudra

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post21 Aug 2010

Mr Green wrote:I wanted to say to FS that, you are right about many things, but you too do that which you see in others.

Yes, I got that from your "thought for the day." As I stated elsewhere, I respond in kind. You'll note I don't reply to your posts the way I reply to some others.
ex-l wrote:I suggest there is not one Buddhist concept of Self or teaching. There are many Buddhist concepts of Self or teaching (... or many interpretation of the Buddha's imagined concept of self, if you prefer). As button slammer wrote, the Buddha never wrote it down ... Buddhism and Brahma Kumarist concept of the self as a soul are not actually incompatible. He was not saying there was no atma, as the BKs call it.

One word - anattā (Pāli) or anātman (Sanskrit: अनात्मन्).

1. One main difference between Buddhism and the theistic traditions which I have mentioned elsewhere, is that the theists always insistently look back to the source of their authority, to prove the truth of their beliefs. God inspired, spoke through, revealed ... whatever ... therefore it is absolute fixed truth that mere humans misinterpret - especially those of "other' denominations and faiths.

2. To apply to Buddhism the criteria of theistic beliefs mentioned above - i.e. revealed by an absolute supernatural authority - is not appropriate. Buddhism is not only what the Buddha taught. But what Buddha taught is applied as the matrix from which "buddhists' work - it is a hypothesis from which grows a living evolving tradition. A more appropriate analogy for Buddhism would be scientific method. Theistic traditions would in this analogy think that scientific knowledge should include only what was understood at the time the scientific method was first formulated (and that's B.C.).

3. You are right to say that there are many interpretations, but the concept of Anatta and the five skhandas (five aggregates) goes back to the earliest days of Buddhism with quotes attributed to the Buddha."In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha is recorded as saying that "just as the concept 'Chariot' exists on the basis of the aggregation of parts, even so the concept of 'being' exists when the five aggregates are available.". (The five aggregates we function by are - Rupa, Vedana, Samjna, Samskara, Vijnana - or - Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Formation, Consciousness).

Also within its core teaching IS the clear notion that misinterpretation is bound to happen because of these, so to understand the meaning requires personal application (doing one's own experiment). We can talk about what mango tastes like, but the memory of the last mango is not the same, not as whole or real as the experience of eating it. And then that one is gone ...

4. To suggest that because Buddha never wrote it down and to state 'there are many intepretations" is to use generalisation to divert from the fact that "anatta" and the 5 skandhas is a common teaching across Buddhism from the very earliest times. Three months after his death, 500 of his followers met to recite the entire body of his teachings. Memorising was the main form of learning as literacy was mainly a preserve of the Brahmin castes.

5. If you have examples of alternative Buddhist teaching of the self that is not based on these two principles, please share.
ex-l wrote:I think you might be wrong because when asked point-blank to take a position the question of whether or not there is a self ... ... the Buddha himself is recorded to have refused to answer.

I refer you to an earlier post that the Buddha taught according to what he felt the audience/questioner would grasp, e.g. the way he brought the Charvaka around. There is another example of this "targeted" teaching in the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra ""In the presence of those with conceit (of their superior knowledge - the Brahmins usually) the Buddha said - it is important to keep from lust, anger and stupidity in the quest of liberation; but where those with conceit are absent, he said that the underlying nature of lust, anger and stupidity (ie the "self" nature) is identical with liberation." NB I quote this as an example of "his "horses for courses" teaching, not meant to discuss its controversial content (which I have taken part in elsewhere, it's fascinating when unravelled).

Another thing it also immediately reveals, is that there is an esoteric stream within Buddhism that goes way way back to the beginning. (The BKs do have teachings they do not openly share, but I would not call them esoteric in that sense - more like "secret" because they are either bad PR, embarrassing, unscientific, ridiculous or self-serving).

*The author of this post speaks on behalf of no-one but himself. Any references to Buddha, Buddhism or any other religion or personage, real or fictional are purely coincidental. No animals were hurt in the typing of this post.
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button slammer

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post21 Aug 2010

Good response Filthy ... Seems you are a warrior monk after all ...
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ex-l

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post23 Aug 2010

filthy Shudra wrote:The BKs do have teachings they do not openly share, but I would not call them esoteric in that sense - more like "secret" because they are either bad PR, embarrassing, unscientific, ridiculous or self-serving.

*The author of this post speaks on behalf of no-one but himself. Any references to Buddha, Buddhism or any other religion or personage, real or fictional are purely coincidental..

Well, I liked it when you finally got 'on topic' and related your statement to the title of this thread and Brahma Kumarism. And, thank you for the final line with which I would agree ... most references to Buddha and Buddhism in the West these days are a kind of self-serving agrandisement designed to add weight to an individual's ideas or status based on how stylishly and discriminately "The Buddha" and Buddhism have been marketed.

Have you ever read the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra you mention? It makes the old 6 page Sakar Murlis, or even Big Mohini's trance messages, appear modest and understated by comparison ... life is too short.

As for "the self", I agree with the theory assigned to this mythological Indian chappie ... to debate the nature of the self is about as useful as being fantasy football team manager. In all fairness, that is not exactly the Buddha's own quote but had he lived today, it probably would have been. The "no-self theory" was not a theory about the self but a rejection of all such theories.

There is a danger when we start believing that we can understand perfectly some great mind in that, basically, we are putting ourselves in a superior position to them ... able not just to grasp their final, most complete conclusions but also perceive which bit was the "absolute truth" and which bit when was they were just "teaching what people could accept" at the time.

I think this happens a lot in Brahma Kumarism where adherents are, somehow, really made to believe they "understand it all" ... the mind of God ... The Knowledge ... and are "Master Oceans of Knowledge" after learning to parrot the 7 Days Course. They think they are "yog-yukt" (connected to God) enough to "take the pulse" and know what every soul needs at all times. I am sure you saw such examples when you were in the BKWSU. It is that kind of false confidence that I worry we carry with ourselves after we leave the BKWSU.

Can anyone say they honestly knew and met any BKs who were able to do so ... or equally enlightened Buddhists? Both may be equally mythic.

For me, a lot of religion or philosophy seems to be mental warfare and theories wielded as subtly as clubs.
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ex-l

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post25 Aug 2010

Say one thing for the old guy ... he has a good sense of comic timing but WTF is going on here? The Dalai Lama meeting someone dressed up in a fur rug at the Parliament of World Religions, Melbourne, Australia in 2009. Do we really need these people running our lives?

I discussed elsewhere Dr Ambedkar and Neo-Buddhism and how it was being used to freeing Untouchables etc from Hinduism and asked others to compare that to the Brahma Kumaris and what they were doing for the lower castes.

This piece is an extract from Koenraad Elst, a PhD in Indology, Sinology and Philosophy, who discusses the fairly uncool connections between Buddhism and slavery and paints a fairly consistent picture of religious and philosophical elites, one which I argue underlines a large part of their practise and nature ...

    it is not about liberating the downtrodden but rather learning the psychological tools to climb on their backs and eat off their labour.
I ask again if becoming a BK adherent is not a strange kind of voluntary life slavery to an unelected, undemocratic and, I would say, fairly unenlightened theocratic power (a theocracy is a government or State ruled by a "divinely empowered" religious authority). A slavery induced at a mental that enslaves people at an emotional and physical level controlling and restricting them just as much as classic slaves would be. More perhaps. Many slaves could at least eat what they could with whom they wanted and fornicate when they wished. The Brahma Kumaris demand total control.

What for me therefore also arises is a two fold nature of individuals who might be attracted to joining the BKWSU, e.g. those attracted to becoming slaves (BK followers) and those attracted to ruling them (BK leaders - center-in-charges) ... and what happens to those tendencies after leaving the BKWSU.
Who is a Hindu? Hindu Revivalist Views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Other Offshoots of Hinduism

The rhetoric about egalitarian Buddhism vs. oppressive Hinduism is now so influential in India's collective consciousness ...

To ensure peace for itself and avoid trouble with society (creditors, aggrieved slave-owners etc), it was a logical decision for the Buddhist Sangha to keep out all those who could attract angry attention (e.g. runaway slaves, tribes people, "criminals", the chronically ill, the indebted and aboriginals). The encounter with worldly suffering had convinced Gautama to turn away from the world and to focus on spiritual exercises.

The monks did not want to be disturbed with social problems, and the atmosphere they created for themselves in their monasteries was meant to focus their attention on their spiritual practice, not on the social needs of the laymen.

No rotting half-eaten corpse, no leprous beggar with festering sores mars the smooth harmony of sumptuous frescoes and reliefs to remind the monk of the Founder's doctrine. Nor does the art portray the normal hardships of the poorest villager, whose surplus the monk could eat, but whose misery was easily discounted on the callous theory that the suffering must have been deserved because of misdeeds in some previous birth.

Not unlike clerics in other religions (including Brahmins), Buddhist monks tended to develop a certain smugness regarding the privileges which came with their spiritual prestige. This is but a general human failing and cannot be held against Buddhism as such, but it is nonetheless notable that if Buddhism wasnt any worse than others in this respect, it wasnt any better either.

Where slavery existed, Buddhism did not abolish it.

The Buddha never ordered the masters to set the slaves free, nor the slaves to revolt against their masters. Buddhist monasteries continued the labour arrangements existing in society at large. In his study on slavery in ancient India, the Marxist historian Dev Raj Chanana noticed the stark contrast between the actual history of Buddhist social practice and the more progressive picture given by modern writers, who fail to register the existence of serfdom in connection with the Buddhist monasteries.


On reading the modern works concerning the Buddhist order in India one gains the impression that no slave labour was employed in the monasteries ... However, a study of Pali literature shows clearly that the situation was otherwise.

From the beginning, Buddhism shared the disdain for manual labour expressed by certain Brahminical and ancient Greek sources, which held that philosophical pursuits required a freedom from labour tasks.

In the case of Buddhism, however, we must not forget that the Buddha, anxious to free his monks of material preoccupations, had forbidden almost all manual labour to them.

To the slaves, Buddhism gave the same justification of their condition as is always scornfully attributed to Hinduism. On the other hand he advised the slaves to bear patiently with their lot and explained the same as follows. If a person is born a slave, it is the consequence of some bad acts of an earlier life and the best way for him is to submit willingly to his lot. He should submit to all sorts of treatment at the hands of his master and should never allow any feeling of revenge to grow within himself, even if the other should try to kill him. In such cases, a change of destiny is promised to the slave in the next birth. In case, however, such a person is lucky enough to obtain manumission from his master, he may obtain ordination and thus try to secure salvation from The Cycle of transmigration, i.e. release from the slavery of life and death.

Buddhisms non-interest in social reform is amply demonstrated by its career outside India. Everywhere it integrated itself into the existing social and political set-up, from bureaucratic centralism in China to feudal militarism in Japan.

There is no known case of any of these branches of Buddhism calling for social reform, let alone for a social revolution as far-reaching as the abolition of caste would have meant in India.

After centuries of profound impact of Buddhism, Tibetan society was in such a state that the Chinese Communists could claim in 1950 (with exaggeration, but not without a kernel of truth) that 95% of the Tibetans were living in slavery. Buddhism does not seem to have made Tibets traditional feudalism any more egalitarian than it had been in the pre-Buddhist past.

Outside India, a number of sources confirm that Buddhist monasteries employed slaves: There are numerous references to prove the existence of slaves in the Buddhist monasteries in China. These slaves were normally in charge of the maintenance of the monasteries but could also be sent to aid the peasants at the time of ploughing, harvesting, etc.

Public slaves and criminals used to be formed into groups and known as the families of the Buddha. Perhaps slave is too strong a term here, as many slaveholding societies had intermediate forms of semi-free serfdom; but egalitarianism is certainly a different thing. Apart from slave-owning, the monasteries also upheld milder forms of social inequality.

In China, they were feudal landlords, and under the Tang dynasty (618-907) the Sangha was even the biggest land-owner in the empire, until it was expropriated (in what has been mis-termed the Buddhist persecution) because its tax-exempt status disrupted the economy.

It also goes without saying that the traditional inequality between men and women was fully accepted: nuns were always lower in rank than monks. We may therefore agree that by and large, Buddhism cannot be considered a pioneer of modern egalitarianism.

Buddhisms lack of interest in social reform was implicitly admitted by Dr. Ambedkar himself, when as Law Minister he defended the inclusion of Buddhists in the category of citizens to whom the Hindu Code Bill would apply. He declared: When the Buddha differed from the Vedic Brahmins, he did so only in matters of creed, but left the Hindu legal framework intact.
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ex-l

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post28 Sep 2010

I think theoretical discussion about stuff you really don't know about are a waste of time. I also think that all religions are pretty much a waste of time for most people and a nothing more than a financial and political vessel for a few who wish to be the overlords of others using their intellects (Brahmins) rather than their power (Kshatriya). It is the same the world over. Buddhism was just as involved in collating land and wealth and running private armies as any other religions. Just not as ambitious as Christians or Moslems were.

But ... there is a question in life to answer, "whose 'tower' does one lean one's ladder against". The first two parts of life are a game of ascendency; from childhood to adulthood, from poor, dependent and immature to wealthy, independent and mature. They say the thrid part of life is sustenance and then the final part of life, which can be very quick, is decline to death.

Buddhism, or Brahma Kumarism, the Civil Service (to use an old Indian fascination), or banking, farming, the armed forces or nursing etc are all "towers" in life. So are religions. Compiled power and wealth which are passed down from generation to generation. Most people, at a young age, chose or have chosen for them, where their "ladder" is set and where they climb in society. It is sensible to decide to invest oneself in finding a position in life, especially one that will take care of oneself once one becomes old. In India, the family system is one, the renunciant system is the other. In Tibet and the West, the monastic system was another. They were all complete systems designed to see us through all stages of life as best possible.

Where cults like the Brahma Kumaris differ is that they are not complete systems. There is little to no consideration of the individual and their stages in life. The individuals is a disposable energy unit to be sucked dry and then disposed off when it become too weak or problematic. The leaders know this. They go along with it. There is a struggle between them to grab the most and keep a hold of the reins of the bucking horse they are on ... so that THEY are looked after for their 4 stages of life ... that is the truth of the game.

An individual's first responsibility is their themselves and their own whole life sustenance. Not some fat Senior Sister who has never done a proper days work in their life and only crawled and elbowed their way up to a Brahmins position within a Hindu society, and who is living off it now.

But then what if there is a spiritual reality to life? Spiritual "Towers"?

OK, you are serious about spirituality. You believe there are "Spiritual Towers" to ascend. Where do you lean your ladder (your efforts, your ambitions)? the Brahma Kumaris may well give you a buzz (at least for the early days) but how 'high' is their tower really?

In Buddhism, and many other spiritual traditions there are not one but many spiritual realms, or level of consciousness ... higher and higher ... and 100s of years of traditions in all lands about their existence. Brahma Kumarism dismisses all of them.

"Soul, Cycle, 5,000 years and that is it. No questions. No questions about The Knowledge. No questions about our authority". The individual is capped. Plugged. Stuck into one single reality for eternity of which the Brahma Kumaris and their god spirit eternally rule and feed off.

How does that fit into other world views such as Buddhism, Vedantic Hinduism or mystical Christianity? At what level does it fit within Buddhist, Vedantic Hindu or Christian philosophy?

Not a very high level in my opinion. Your opinion might differ.

starchild

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Re: Comparing Buddhism and Brahma Kumarism

Post01 Oct 2010

ex-l wrote:How does that compare to other world views

Not on a very high level because it is a philosophy without hope. (Unless you are a person who that lifestyle suits for whatever reason). Otherwise, according to that philosophy you are ****ed. Eternally.

I am a questioner. And I was a questioner during my time in the BKs, although the longer I was in it the more I accepted the fudging. I think that happens when you get so caught up in the day to day intensity of the lifestyle.

If we are coming from the supposition that there is a spiritual dimension, then this would be an eternally unjust system that we are caught up in. I asked what is the starting point of karma. The answer from the BKs was that it is just in some peoples fortunes. Even the lowliest BK is apparently higher on the spiritual ladder than Buddha or Christ. And your fortune is your fortune, fixed forever. One wonders what all the fuss and stress is about.

I am interested in the question, 'what is the spiritual need in humans for a spiritual dimension/nourishment?'

Is that not what brought many of us to the BK meditation?
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