Buddhism vs Mystical Traditions

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    • #47793

      When learning about mystical traditions from other religions, I have encountered that they have a pretty similar pattern, they are mostly trying to advance and upgrade their existence, compared to real Buddhism which strives to be extinguished and “not exist” anymore.

      In summary, Buddhism seeks to be “less” but other religions and mystical traditions strive to be or get “more”.

      This is not to say that mystical traditions are bogus or absolute mumbo jumbo at all, in fact, some of them probably had legitimate experiences of meeting a celestial being with intense love, and some of them also really had their lives totally turned around (sometimes they suddenly stopped being depressed altogether and becomes much kinder to other people), but rather they lack the necessary parameters to really gauge spiritual advancements.

      A general problem that arises with this mystical stream way of teaching is that some questions will always be at the back of one’s mind, like: “What differentiates a regular person from a person accomplished in the path? A convenient answer is that a real Buddha is not concerned with whether he is enlightened or not (avoiding the question to cover the lack of theoretical understanding)

      But The Buddha presented spiritual parameters in a clear-cut way like a scientist. A Sotapanna had broken these bonds, an Arahant had broken these and that bonds, etc.

      So you cannot say that you are enlightened and still be angry with people, or suddenly marry in old age after having plenty of money and followers (apparently common in Buddha’s time as well for spiritualists and ascetics to suddenly fall down and take wives and build houses in their later stage of life, since some lay followers have said that The Sangha and The Buddha lead a spiritual life completely full and pure, compared to some other ascetics)

      So there are very clear parameters to look for in real Buddhism, if this is comprehended clearly, one will be able to see that it cannot disolves into a system where there is a believe that everyone is a Buddha and you just have to realise it (mystical tendency) because there is a very clear parameters that had to be broken first before one achieves a certain state, mystical labelings like “everyone is a Buddha” can be harmful in the long run since the practitioner will have to idea about what to do next after achieving certain states, in fact this is probably what happened to Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, they had achieved extremely high anariya jhana states, and they thought that they already enlightened, but The Buddha, after achieving the same states, keenly sense that these states are temporary and doesn’t lead to total and permanent extinguishment and absolute peace, they are still temporary achievements because it doesn’t lead to permanent breaking down of bonds of craving, especially arupa-raga. 

      So Buddhism can be seen as scientific spiritualism. Compared to mystical traditions which are more similar to magic. 

      The Buddha famously said to Baka Brahma in MN 49 that He sees the earth as earth and the world as the world, and so He does not say that the world is mine, or “I am the world”, or “I have become the world”. Most mystical traditions will usually have union with God/Brahma as the end goal.

      So The Buddha implicitly implies that his teachings (The Dhamma) are superior to the various mystical traditions around the world, since those practices lead to continued existence (although extremely long) in the world, compared to Nibbana which stops existence altogether in the world.

      This is why The Buddha said “My teachings have never been heard before in the world” since it totally goes against conventional understandings, even with all advanced religious beliefs.

      I wonder what everyone thinks about this.

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    • #47801

      Thank you for your comments and insights.

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