Hinduism - Lesson 13

The Voice of Dissent: The Emergence of Buddhism

The three major dissent movements that area a challenge Hinduism are Buddhism, Janism and materialism. Hinduism is adept at absorbing other movements. Buddhism claims that there is a teaching that makes it possible for you to reach the state of Nirvana which is liberation from all suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama. The content of his teaching is the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

Lesson 13
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The Voice of Dissent: The Emergence of Buddhism

I. Introduction

II. Defining Buddhism

III. Early History of Buddhism

A. Birth and chariot ride

B. 1st great renunciation

C. 2nd great renunciation

D. Enlightenment

1. Four stages of Dhayana

2. Six superknowledges

3. Turning the wheel of Dharma

III. Content of Buddha's Enlightenment: The Four Noble Truths

Class Resources
  • Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and one of the oldest. It is about 12% of the world population and about 95% are in India. Hinduism is difficult to define. There is evidence of civilization in the Indus valley as early as 2800 BC. The sacred literature that is the basis for Hinduism was created and developed over hundreds of years. It was originally transmitted orally and was eventually written down.

  • Introduction to fundamental ideas and literature that are basic to the Hindu religion. The first lecture given for this class is not available at this time. This lecture begins on the class outline at II, C.

  • Discussion of the influence that the Vedic tradition has on Hinduism. 

  • Mahavakyas is made up of two words meaning, “great utterances.” The creation stories are a collection of different stories with various themes. The world is created by a divine figure dismembering themself and their body becomes the world. The caste system has a racial element to it based on some of the creation narratives in the RgVeda.

  • The Upanishads are one strand of the Vedas. Brahman refers to the all-pervading reality in the Upanishads, not the Brahmin caste. The question throughout the Upanishads is, “Who or what is Brahman?”

  • Brahman is the ultimate reality of the universe. Our atman is encrusted with karma and stuck on the wheel of Samsara. A Hindu's goal, in the process of being reincarnated through thousands of lifetimes, is to rid themselves of karma so they can achieve moksa, oneness with Brahman.

  • Maya is the ability of the gods to create the world and give it the appearance they choose, thereby concealing the true nature of Brahman. Karma is the principle that what you sow, you alone reap.

  • A Hindu must work off their karma to be released from the wheel of Samsara and achieve moksa when their atman becomes one with Brahman. Yoga was developed as a way to achieve the goals of the Samkhya philosophy. Hindus see God as a material cause of the universe, not an efficient cause.

  • The Mahavakyas are “great sayings” that give you insights into core teachings of Hinduism. The Brehed Aranyaka Upanishad shows that Hindus believe that diversity can come through oneness and not be an “other.”

  • Sankara says that Brahman is unknowable and we can't perceive any of his qualities. The rope-snake metaphor is often used by Hindus to discuss the difference between perception and reality.

  • Hindu writers often use metaphors to illustrate and teach the essentials of the Hindu philosophy. In their writings, they refer to these metaphors in a way that assumes that you know and understand them.

  • The purpose of this lecture is to see the structure of Hinduism at a glance. Hinduism operates and a philosophical level and a popular level. Hinduism attempts to resolve the relationship between knowledge, works and devotion. The four stages of life and the caste system determine much of cultural structure of Hinduism. Hindus worship many Gods.

  • The three major dissent movements that area a challenge Hinduism are Buddhism, Janism and materialism. Hinduism is adept at absorbing other movements. Buddhism claims that there is a teaching that makes it possible for you to reach the state of Nirvana which is liberation from all suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama. The content of his teaching is the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

  • The key insight of the Upanishads is the identification of atman with Brahman. Buddhists deny both atman and Brahman.

  • The Bhakti marga is branch of Hinduism that emphasizes a spiritual journey undertaken by a devotee that will culminate in a state of union with God or mutual indwelling of the deity and the bhakta.

  • The Hindu gods have identifying characteristics that make them easy to recognize when you see them in temples or other settings. The Trimrti are the three major gods of India which are Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is not often visually represented, so Vishnu and Shiva are seen the most. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. Vishnu has 10 incarnations or avatars. These are partial incarnations and don’t represent the fullness of Vishnu.

  • The Siva icon always has the presence of the Trishal, which is a sacred weapon of destruction. There is also the nag (cobra), damaru (drum), third eye, Ganges river flowing out of his head. The dancing Siva has a damaru in one hand and a flame of fire in the other that represents creation and destruction of the world. He also has dreadlocks and the trunk of an elephant.  The third eye of siva is what Hindu women have on their forehead. The Siva Lingum is the most dominant icon in north India.

  • The Brahminical branch teaches that works and devotion lead to true knowledge (Upanishadic vision, tat twam asi). Bhaktis say that knowledge and works should lead to devotion.

  • The Ramayana is an epic account of India. It is the story or epic of Rama and Sita, and is the origin of the tradition of Suti. Mahabharata is the epic of India. It’s the longest collection of poems in the world. The Bhagavad-Gita  is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It talks about both the dharma of caste and the dharma of denial and renunciation.

  • Gurus integrate different parts of the marga system. Paramahamsa Ramakrishna declared the unity of all religions. He claimed to have visions of Hindu gods and Jesus Christ and Mohammed and that all religions lead to the same ultimate reality, sat chit ananda. Swami Vivekananda was the most well-known follower of Ramadrishna and brought his message to the western world. He accepts tat twam asi, the great insight of the Upanishads, but thinks that everyone, not just Brahmans can perceive that unity. (The last point of the lecture was cut short due to a technical limitation.)

    You may download the text of Vivekananda's speech by clicking on the Handouts link in the upper left corner.

  • These are nine of the major holidays celebrated in India. Sankara has been called India’s greatest philosopher. Sankara emphasized universals and Ramanuja emphasized the particulars, similar to Plato and Aristotle in Western thought. Sankara has greater status as a philosopher, but Ramanuja has had a great influence on how the masses practice Hinduism.

    The chart Dr. Tennent refers to near the end of the lecture is the “Three Vehicle Structure of Hinduism,” which is labeled Lecture 6 in the complete class outline pdf document on the class page.

  • Brahmabandhav Upadhyay was an upper jati Brahman teacher who converted to Catholicism. He attempts to explain Christianity by using Advadic motifs. Brahmabandhav is an example of how a Brahman can address the Brahminical community using a Brahminical line of reasoning.

  • There are opportunities for preaching the gospel and planting churches, but there are significant challenges. There is a difference between being unreached and being unevangelized. Homogenus unit principle is one factor that makes it difficult for the gospel to spread in India. It’s important to send people to unreached groups and use a strategy that is effective for those groups.

In-depth survey of philosophical and popular Hinduism’s historical and theological themes. Exposure to current strategies being used to bring the gospel to Hindus and how Christian theology is being formulated in the Indian context.

Dr. Tennent occasionally uses pictures of Hindu gods or other visual resources in his lectures. You can download a document with these pictures by clicking on the Hindu Deity Pictures link. 



Dr. Timothy Tennent
The Voice of Dissent: The Emergence of Buddhism
Lesson Transcript


We're calling about the Senate, but this is one of the great gifts of the Penguin Classic series that they've put so many of these Hindu documents into popular paperbacks. And this is a translation by Tony Doniger of the Laws of Manchu, available through Penguin Classics. I don't know what it costs, but it was very reasonable and says, here are ten bucks. It's really amazing that this material is now in translation and is available also. We haven't yet discussed the ethics, but the mammalian Mahabharata are now available in a number of translations. There are very many variations of these stories, but this one has been a particular one as well. Another one is in print, so many multiple printings. These famous epics of India are also available, so virtually everything we're talking about in this class is available in translation, and that makes it really nice. In fact, the a lot of the stories, which I think brings us back to our topic for today, a lot of the famous stories in the Western world that we grew up telling our children originate in India, but in a very different context because in the Indian context, they weren't allowed. As you might imagine, you're allowed to criticize the Brahmins. If you criticize the Brahmins, you can have your you know, you can be burned alive or have terrible tortures. So they were very, very clever, the Indians on this, because they naturally, everyone has had the same kind of feeling of being trapped by the political domination. So what they do, they created what is known as frame stories. India is the most famous example of producing frame story literature. Now, what is a frame story? A frame story is where you have a story that's going along.


Here's like, here's Plot A that usually involves people of some kind. Now, in the course of this story, the people in the story will meet an animal, typically an animal who they will talk to or there'll be some encounter with with maybe somebody else in the story who in who talks about when they talk to animals or whatever. So what you have is you have a story that emerges inside of another story. So here's a story about two people. One of these people tells the story of two animals. All right. So in order to be very careful to protect the story, what will often happen is the animals will tell a story. All right. So the animals will tell yet another story about, for example, a fox and a cat or whatever. And there's no question everybody knows that the Fox represents the Raymond, for example. So they will tell a story, but you can't put the fox in the jail because the fox told the story. This, guys is telling a story about these animals who themselves told the story. So, you know, sometimes you have multiple frames, so you have story like the old thing about, you know, when we were growing up, it was a dark and rainy night. How does it go? It was dark and rainy night. All the men gathered on the campfire and one of the men said, Captain, tell us the story. You know this. And the captain said it was a dark and stormy night. And all the men go in the campfire. One of the men said, Captain tells the story and the captain says, Dark and stormy. You know, it goes on forever. And the whole point was and that's like a very unimaginative one.


But as the example is, you have a story being told inside a story. Is that a story? And I never, never ends. And so we always tell it like 50 times. We all like died laughing. And that is like night boring youth retreat or something. But India perfected this. Now, if I was in Edinburgh, where my doctor work, we read the story, we translated a lot of them from Sanskrit because they're such powerful insights into the way Indian literature works and how groups are allowed to dissent in a democratic environment. And they often do it through storytelling. And so what happens is somewhere deep down in this frame where you have a story being told by someone who tells a story about someone who tells a story, and you eventually have this story about a snake and a fox and a cat and so forth, almost always involves animals. And later on, this story gets taken out of the frames and taken into the Western world by people who are traveling, so forth. And these become the kind of basic building blocks of many of the stories in the ancient world, like the Grimm stories. This kind of stories that we grew up telling. A lot of these stories have origin in the frame stories of India. India has been called the storehouse of the world. Stories are the world's storytellers. Not to say that there wasn't plenty of innovation and independent thinking part of Western writers. I'm just saying that there's a lot of a lot of work has been done demonstrating parallels and sources in Indian frame stories that were later brought out and used and retold in various other context. And these stories would spread through the Silk Road and came back to the Western world.


This is kind of one of the ways that the dissents take place, and this is what we're. Currently looking at the political dissent. Yes, I understand the significance of the fact that the stories are frame stories with there being a way to communicate this. Okay. Because if I say to you, once upon a time there was a Brahmin who was mistreated, a shoe drop. And I tell this very clever story. It shows how the shooter got back at the Brahmin. Then that's a story that could incite violence against you because it's so overt. So what you do is, rather than telling a story that overtly you tell about someone else who tells the story, and so it makes you one step away from the storytelling, and then the next step away is by creating symbolic characters. Usually there's certain characters which typically represent the Brahmins, and you have like a crow or a fox represents the Brahmins, and then you have other characters represent different people groups. And because as animals, it also creates a little more of a buffer between the criticism. So these stories are definitely frame stories are almost always and top political dissent stories in their original setting. And then when you dismantle them and bring them into the West, it can just be a story. But in its original context, these stories are descent stories. And when I read these stories, I was amazed. These are stories I heard as a child growing up. And here I am finding these stories embedded in ancient Indian storytelling in the midst of another set of frames had nothing to do with anything we ever heard about in our own storytelling. Does that make sense? Okay, so what are some of those stories, like the story of the the fox and the grape? Know that story? The story of the just a lot of those are not I cannot remember now exactly, because I'm not very good at that kind of stuff, but because my kids were young.


I knew all these stories, but now I haven't told them in a while. When you read them, you know you really recognize them. One of the best collections of these, if you're interested, is a group of writings called The Punch of Tantra. That's a collection of these stories. It's available in English. I have no, I don't know. I doubt our library has it, but it's a famous collection of these frame stories. And you could read them. Okay. Any of the questions or comments about the frame stories? We are in the middle of this discussion of the medical challenge, the voice of dissent by the Buddhist. We are trying to really, really streamline what we say about Buddhism in order to as much as possible, keep our focus on Hinduism. There's a few things we need to bring out and to emphasize. So last time we talked about the the challenge of the Buddha, and there were several points we made about how that created this dissent. The first big challenge was that he did not believe that a moksha was caste specific. So therefore we have a challenge against the rabbinical corner on Moksha. Because of that, the government was a Choudhary or not a Brahmin. Secondly, you not only have the emphasis deemed on caste, but also you have the laying down of the eightfold path, which is a singular way in which someone can follow. This creates a much more decided kind of Marga and what we see in the past. This is a way to salvation. If you follow it, you'll be liberated off the will of samsara. The other big things which we, I think is now page lecture number eight here is the challenging of the key insight of the upon shards.


And that's if we can explore this a little bit. The the upon shards, as you call the key insight was the identification of Ottoman with Brahman. Now, the Buddhist are going to deny Ottoman and Brahman because the Buddhists say that the desire for self, for the preservation of self is part of the attachments which lead to karmic bondage. And therefore, the only way to be truly free from karmic predispositions, karmic bondage is to recognize that there is no ultimate reality to the self. Now, what that means, and I hope you appreciate the ontological significance of the vertical challenge, because in Hinduism, in many ways, Hinduism is much closer to Christianity than either is to Buddhism, because at least in Christianity and Hinduism you have an ontology. In the Hindu system, you have Brahman as the ontological basis for all that exist. This is reflected in the Ottoman, which is the self that's in all of us. Our personal ottoman is known as Jive Ottoman, but the concept of Ottoman soul is one with the the essence of the universe. So despite various descriptions about whether the world has little our reality big, our reality and all that, this whole perceptual issues, snake and rope and all that, there's no fundamental denial that at the base behind everything, there is some foundation which is Brahman. That's basically Hinduism. So Hinduism does have an ontological base. In Buddhism, you have the denial of Brahman and Ottoman. Now that creates a huge challenge for the Buddhists because they have to build a system. How do you explain the existence of anything if you don't have any first cause? Some Buddhism, you have the there are no first causes. So instead of first causes, which would eliminate the possibility of a creator or any kind of beginning or whatever.


Instead, they institute this doctrine, which I have on the handout here, again, just for your information, because we are trying to make a transition here, but we've got to have a few things. And in our minds, this doctrine of protecting it, some old pada now product to date, some opera is extremely important term. It can be translated as interdependent arising. And the essential idea and I even have a picture here to help you see it is that there are actually 12 links which give rise to the nexus of the perception of existence and life. So as this poem goes, when this is that is this arising, that arises when this is not that is not. This ceases, that seizes. So the idea is because of these various 12 aggregates in the core causal links, it gives rise to all of the things that we see. So you can see, for example, there is ignorant ignorance, karmic predispositions, consciousness, name and form. That is, you have a name and you look at your body, you have forms, five senses in the mind, contact, feeling, response, craving, desire, grasping for an object, action toward life, rebirth, old age and death. So each of these things give rise to the other. So you say where the word is. If you start in the middle of this in number four, where it is name in form come from, what do I call myself? Ten, ten. Why do I have this form in this body? Well, it's because that was given rise by consciousness. Where does conscious come from? It comes from karmic predispositions. Where does that come from? Comes from ignorance. Where does that come from? It come from. It's passed over from the transmigration. When I. When I get old and I die, the migration goes next thing goes back to rebirth.


Everything goes back. So this everything is linked to everything else. So essentially, you have a perception of reality, which is actually a web of misperceptions. Which independently arrives. That's what's called interdependent arising. These are this is how you explain the existence of the world without any kind of ontology. Now I'm going through this very rapidly because I don't want us to to dwell on it too much. But I want to at least make sure we understand the basic idea behind it. What you have on this chart here is a very ancient picture of this by a very ancient Buddhist author. And essentially this is the wheel of samsara that's been held together by this demon God, Mara. But Mara, this is a mara is not some kind of transcendent Brahman figure. This is just the way it's depicted impermanence, death, that's the will of samsara. So you can see that when somebody dies and goes to heaven or hell, you can see that in the inner circle. Heaven and hell are there. This is all part of the will of samsara. So you don't really have any transcendent ontology that transcends the will of samsara. In fact, there are two major schools of thought in Buddhism schools, two major philosophical schools, which we will not explore, but one of them, both them are dealing with what is the basis of reality. One argues that the basis of reality is what they call nothingness or emptiness. So there's a denial ontology, and they argue there is no ontology. Essentially, both argue there's no ontology. But the other school of thought says that the only reality that exist is in your mind, because if you didn't have mind, you couldn't make these arguments, you couldn't have a logical conversation about it.


So they argue that Sita, which is mind, is the storehouse of consciousness to which reality exist. But in either case, whether it's in your mind or in this concept of Zenyatta or nothingness, emptiness, there is no ontology that a Christian would recognize. From a Christian point of view, a Christian worldview or a Hindu worldview would recognize as any kind of foundation upon which the system is built. That's the that's the that's what makes Buddhism Buddhism. So I had a very open exchange with a man. And and it's this past year, and I gave a paper on Buddhist ethics. And I was basically saying that because Buddhist ethics operates without an ontology, you can't make any formal distinction between the one who shows mercy and one who receives mercy. There was one very ordinary man in the crowd who doesn't like this, and we had this big debate about and he kept saying, well, you know, who are you to say that Buddhism has no ontology? As well. I'm not trying to say it is what the Buddhist say, but then he keeps pressing the point and he says he he doesn't like the fact that I I'm prepared to define Buddhism in these terms now that the room is full of scholars, everybody in the whole room was perfectly happy with the paper. And just to exactly what I was saying, this one guy was just very ornery. He always had this in his eats crowd. So we went back and forth about it afterwards and he said, I thought your paper was great. I just don't like the fact that you tried to define Buddhism. Because it isn't so amorphous. Well, you know, all these things are amorphous. You already know that already. But the problem is, if you try to, as some people do, is even some Buddhist try to do today and he's right.


If you try to import an ontology into Buddhism because of various kinds of crises that this worldview develops, and it does, and over time, all kinds of things happen in Buddhism. But what actually happens is you are no longer a Buddhist. You may have a Buddhist, but you're actually not a true Buddhist. Now, this is the point that he didn't like because he said, Well, if somebody calls for Buddhist, who are we to say you're not a Buddhist? Prasad But wait a minute, any movement has the right to draw their own boundaries. There are many people who call themselves Christians. And who walk around and believe they are Christians. But by historic standards, they cannot be called Christians. For example, if you deny the resurrection of Christ, you can't be a Christian. You may cause of a Christian that you are sub Christian. You're working. You're operating in a sub category of some kind. You or your opera is a Christian in a category that is not historically recognized. So with Hinduism and with Buddhism, you have all kinds of people who try to tweak things into a way to create some kind of ontology. But by doing so, they deny the fundamental inside of Buddhism, which is denial and denial. Brahman. Some apart. This is basic to all Buddhist thought. So that's the first point. We have a basic denial of Hindu ontology. Are any questions about that before we carry on? Any thoughts about without getting into a huge discussion of Buddhism? Just mainly just recognize how different Buddhist worldview is than a Hindu worldview. And part of the reason I bring this up is to show how difficult it is for Hinduism to absorb Buddhism into it, because it's such a major challenge to the Hindu worldview.


Yes, it's one of the main tenants of Buddhism that it's all experiential. And to try to define it or think about it as something less or I'm not actually following you what you're saying. Are you saying that the Buddhist belief that the only reality that we can experience is embedded in our experience? Is that what you're saying? The only true experience of Buddhism is to be a Buddhist and experience it and not to think about it and talk about it and classify it. Okay. No, that would only be a particular school of Buddhist thought that would argue that. So you have a number of Buddhist, different ideas about how to talk or not talk about reality. So for example, there are some groups that advocate very strongly the importance of deep philosophical meditation. And so for others that are very, very religious, I mean, there's this group called The Sense and who believe that you shouldn't have the Enlightenment in the course of your ordinary life. So you should not take time to think about it, to promote enlightenment. So you'll be sleeping on the floor one day and you'll just have the enlightenment. You realize the truth of Buddhism, of I've argued for deep kinds of almost torturous reflections and meditation. So it depends on the School of Buddha. One One of the groups advocates the sitting meditation where you're there meditating on this, what they call such ness. The Zen master will come up to you and quietly sneak up behind you while you're meditating, and he'll cut off one of your fingers. And what happens is the immediate flash of pain that occurs when someone, your teacher, cut your finger off. I have never tried this at Gordon Conwell. That would create such a powerful moment of enlightenment that you would gain the inside of the Buddha.


There's another famous Zen saying that says, I love. I use my book. If you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him. I love that same Zen saying, If you should meet the boy in the rose, you kill him. Because the whole point is that the stroke of Buddha means nothing. All that matters is the idea is that he embodies the Dharma Buddhism, a fascinating religion. You should, in the fall, come take the class you already have. If you already know, if I tell you something, Pada, then you've got a big step ahead of anybody else. So to give you an example of the fact that the middle way, which is the Buddhist kind of conception of realities, everything is in the middle, is that the eightfold path is this way. So you have this idea of, okay, here's a person trudging along, you know, going through the eightfold path. It could take thousands of lifetimes, all of that. This is the sane. Misery only exist, but none miserable. You hear that? Misery exists, but nobody miserable. No doer is there. But the deeds are found. Nirvana is there, but not the man who seeks it. The eightfold path exists, but not the traveler on it. So you have the eightfold path. There's actually no true traveler on the path. You have misery in the world, but there's nobody who's actually miserable. Because if you say there's a body who's miserable, or if you say there's a traveler on the road, then you have to admit ontology and there's no ontology in Buddhism. So this is a very tricky thing. Now, the importance of this for the Hindu concept is that after some time there was a further dissent within Buddhism itself that sought to say that in fact the Buddhist descent was not enough of a descent, because, according to the current scheme, the only way you could ever make it through the Eightfold Path was if you were a Buddhist monk, what they call an AR hot.


So you had to be a Buddhist monk or a Buddhist nun. They have nuns in order to escape from the wheel of samsara. Well, that ended up being effectively another form of Brahmin, a call kind of, you know, closure, because it's like the Brahmans who say you can only achieve Moksha if you're if you're a Brahman. And then the Buddhist come along and say, oh, anybody can become enlightened, but you have to follow the eightfold path. And if you're a layperson, you can never get past the second step of the eightfold path. You can't ever go past up to it's an eightfold path. How do you get to step three, four or five, six, seven, eight, and going to go into Moksha, going to Nirvana? Well, the only answer to that was you had to devote yourself more completely to meditation and so forth, which creates the possibility of what they call a sunken community, which is a monastic community. So early Buddhism was a monastic community. And if you after you've been to Varanasi, did you didn't did you go over and I'll say, did you go to Bonanza when you're there? Anybody have been to Varanasi? So have you been India? Varanasi is the it's like the Mecca. Mecca is to Muslims, Jerusalem is to Jews, Varanasi is to Hindus. This is the place where in the Ganges Valley. In a state of utter Pradesh where the official sacred fires there from Vedic times, it's in Varanasi, where the body cremations take place. All of this is also in the city of Varanasi. The British call it the Norris. In that same town is where Buddhists established the first monastery. And so if you have to become a monk, which they call an hour hot, then that create another kind of exclusive community.


So there was a lay movement within Buddhism that began to challenge the US and to say, we really believe that enlightenment could be possible. Apart from the monastic ideal and this group, they're known as the Great Assembly ites, or the Marcus and Gekas, who believe that even a layperson could achieve enlightenment. And so this create another very powerful challenge within the Buddhist worldview. And so what happens is they believe what they argue is that the Buddha, when he was there at Varanasi, he turns the wheel of Dharma can remember what the what does the word dharma mean in a Buddhist context? What's it mean in a Hindu context? What's the word Dharma mean? Kodama is like truth, and in Buddhist context, Dharma is the teaching of Buddha is called the Dharma. So what happens is he turns the will of Dharma, and the result are the four noble truths. And the Eightfold Path. Okay. That's the that's what I have on the handout. Earlier, I had the Portable truths Eightfold Path. The gist of the Four Noble Truths is that when you have this causal link, a pretty small pada, there's one weak link. If you look at the chart on page two of the handout of the the karmic wheel there, what is number eight? What is link eight desire? The gist of the four noble truths is that desire is the weak link. If you can cause your desires to cease, then the whole chain breaks. If the chain breaks, the whole nexus of the phenomenal world goes into nothingness. If complete goes an emptiness Zenyatta. So this whole monastic life is focused on eliminating desire. It's focused on number eight. How do you eliminate desire in someone's life? So, for example, Buddha was once asked, What is Nirvana? And his answer was this very, very insightful into the Buddhist worldview.


He said, Nirvana is like someone who has an oil lamp. They no longer put in the oil into it, and eventually the flame gets lower and lower and lower and then just becomes out of smoke until it is Now with the smoke, that's nirvana. The idea of the oil represents desires. As long as you have desires that feeds into your your your life, you have desires, you reach your grasp of things. You think you have self form, body name. It creates all the nexus of the phenomenal world. If you can eliminate all desire, then the whole thing can collapse into nothingness. So that was largely believed to be a monastic ideal. This other group of the laity challenged the monks just the way Buddha had challenged the Brahmins and said that he. But they believe that when Buddha turned the wheel the first time out in front of all truths Eightfold path. But they believe that he turned the wheel a second time. And created new doctrines. And that's what's important for us to look at. Yes, what I think is true, he said. Is that ultimately the goal is to get rid of this. So it's going to be close to the end goal in at least from the Buddhist goal, what you described there. To destroy that. Right. I mean, I be very careful because I'm not sure how careful you're being in the in the precise wording. But when we talk about destroying, we're not talking about destroying something that exist. Right. We're talking about the realization that this does not exist. So there's no ontology to the wheel either. But. Okay. But yeah, the elimination of the wheel, the wheel falls apart. There's no question it's a major difference. The question is what? What is the point where the major difference strikes harm the most? I think the seems to me at least the major point of difference is that for the Hindu, the moksha is tied fully into becoming in union with Brahman.


Which is the ontology. Whereas in the Buddhist context, the release in the will of samsara is going into emptiness or nothingness. There's a lot of debate in Buddhism, which we have time to discuss whether you should translate the word emptiness or nothingness. But we'll just, for our purposes, keep both these terms out. There should not die emptiness, nothingness. And so in that sense, that is a huge difference because one has ontology, one doesn't. That's Nirvana. Nirvana is not a place. It's not like, you know, going to heaven. All the heaven and hell. Talking in Buddhism is inside the will of samsara. It's part of the nexus is part of the illusion. What happens is, is this lay people have several what they believe insights that come from the second turning of the wheel. That first turn of the wheel is that the Buddha taught some secret things that he didn't teach. This was his public teaching. He also gave some private teaching to classic Eastern approach. So it's like, okay, there's like the standard, you know, community of faith. Then there's like some private things that a few of you get initiated into. So it's creates a kind of a gnostic distinction. So once you have secret things, you have a lot of insights into this text that you don't have. They argue that Buddha was not just a teacher, he was a divine figure. Now that creates all kinds of things. Well, in what way is he divine? What does this mean? So that's something we will have to let. Let's just hang out on the hanger for now. We won't have time to look at that in this class. But the third thing, and this is probably the most important, is that Siddartha gotten was not the only Buddha.


Now, traditional Buddhism is always taught that. It's not that Gottman was the one and only enlightened being in the history of the world. Soon after Gottman achieved this enlightenment, he alone is the Buddha. There's only one Buddha, and that's Siddartha Gautama. So if you're in a place like Sri Lanka, any place that has what's called Theravada Buddhism, that is the classic monastic Buddhism that affirms the enlightenment of the Buddha, the historical nature of the Buddha and all that. But 85% of Buddhist are not that. So we're talking a pretty major movement. 85% of Buddhist are following this lay movement. Because what happened is when they introduced this doctrine of the idea of many, many Buddhas, if Buddha came once, why couldn't he have come before? What can he come again? Why aren't there many enlightened beings? Once you introduce that idea, then it creates all kinds of potential shifts. So what they do is they persecute this group and they run them out of India. So they travel the Silk Road all the way to China and Japan, Korea, and they bring Buddhism with them. So essentially what happens is because they're persecuted by the Indian Buddhism, they become the missionaries and they export their version of Buddhism all over the world. That's very important. Essentially, you have what a true blue Buddhists would say a heresy of Buddhism, which get propagated as Buddhism around the world. So today the what they call it now is Mahayana Buddhism. Now Mahayana as opposed to Tara. Vada, let me just give you the meaning of these terms. Theravada means the way of the elders, which, of course, you can imagine. This is talking about, you know, the original conservative group of people who are monastic leaders who believe in a certain way Theravada the Maha What is Maha mean? Great.


What's Jannah mean? Means embody no vehicle, right? Very great vehicle. So what they're saying this is the great vehicle. This they renamed Theravada and what is known as today as Henna Yana. That's often what it goes by today. Henna Yana means little vehicle. Henna Yana Mahayana. Little vehicle. Big vehicle. This way only brings a little peeled enlightenment. Just a few small groups. People who become monks. Mahayana Everybody can get inside. They can all be liberated. So this is like, okay, is this so much like the Reformation, you know, where you've got an insight that occurs and there are people who say, Hey, you didn't listen to your own teaching, you didn't go far enough. Let's really bring out the implications of that. So the Mahayana, I think in seed form is there from the beginning in the descent, but it totally overturns the applecart. So what eventually develops is what becomes the key insight of Mahayana. And of course, the key inside of the term. What is this Monk cut art hood is the idea of a bodhisattvas. That's the point I wanted to get to, because this is the this is the issue that Indian Hinduism has to respond to a body sought for the word sort. We know from sort tit, Ananda, what does the word soft mean? Being very good being body. Shall we discuss it? The word body is the word for enlightenment. The Buddha. This is a very important word. In the East, Bodhi means enlightened. So this is an enlightened being to what is a suffix the the end of things. One who has been enlightened and enlightened being Bodie Sutra. We call it now there's bodhisattvas. Now a bodhisattva is a being that comes on behalf of others to enlighten the human race.


So the Buddha is now one of multitudes of bodhisattvas. So essentially you create this new universe of deities that can now assist and help and transform and all the rest. So the way these bodhisattvas occur, I think I mentioned last time kind of preparedness for this point is that a person goes through the eightfold path, they go through the perennial truths. They accept no truths, they follow this arduous path. They become monks. They go through the whole process of Teradata, but then they finally get after hundreds of lifetimes, they are being reborn and reborn and reborn, moving up the chain of the karmic chain of life. So they finally released the world samsara. But when they get to the point of being released from Samsara and going into Nirvana at the point when they can step off the wheel, they choose to step back on the wheel. Now, this is this is a you got to see the power of this in terms of how this affects the whole Indian worldview. Because in India, karmic life is always totally individualistic. There is no way that anybody can do anything for you cannot affect you in any way. Everyone's karma is individualized. So the idea of somebody assisting you or helping you is a huge theological doorway that creates the possibility of ethics, which was largely absent from Hinduism. Even today. You know, I've been in Haridwar or Varanasi, and you see there are hundreds of beggars there begging. And I am insisting before where people won't. People refuse to give because they're there, because they deserve to be there. The law of karma cannot be unjust. There's. Nobody is experiencing anything they've not deserved to experience. And yet when the person dies, when a person, a beggar in India dies, here's a person they won't be will not give the tourists give them money.


All the Western missionaries give them money. All the tourists coming through give plenty of money. That's why they beg. But the Hindus will not give. When the person dies, they will cover their body with coins after they're dead. Because that's good karma. That's a very pathetic ethical context. So here's Buddhism, which creates the idea that somebody is willing to forgo their enlightenment or their final moksha, forego their entrance into the state of Nirvana, come back onto the wheel of suffering, come back and visit people who are caught up in ignorance, dispositions, consciousness, name in form, all this and teach them and help them to be delivered from the will. Samsara creates a very powerful thing. Of course, from a point of view of Christianity, this is hugely important because this is fundamental to Christian theology that Jesus Christ suffers vicariously for those who benefit from his work on the cross. So the Buddhist descent creates, for the first time in India, the possibility of vicarious suffering. Being seriously discussed and debated in Indian circles is simply wasn't part of their their worldview. All right. So once you have a very sort of an enlightened being, then suddenly and this is plenty of blame and plenty of Mahayana people that get infiltrated in India as a back a lodge from this, they eventually overwhelm the terror wardens who relocate to places in Southeast Asia. If you're in places like some parts of Thailand and Cambodia and Sri Lanka and so forth, you have the original Theravada Buddhism. But the impact from Mahayana is really felt all over the world. And so the result is the Hindus have to find a way to absorb it. And the only way to absorb it is to deal with the possibility of gods or deities that can function kind of like the bodhisattvas, kind of like savior figures.


Because one of the things that happens in Buddhism is that these bodhisattvas can be known personally. You can pray to them, you can meditate on them, You can enter into a relationship with them. So create all these possibilities for a relationship with God or with a deity that is impossible with Brahman because it is holding their goodness again a thing. So in India, there was no this was like a closed sphere. So no one can really know God. Now Buddhism challenges all of that. So the result is the emergence of a movement in India known as Bhakti Azm, where you have the early emergence of many, many new emphasis and stories on the role of Hindu deities and gods and goddesses that can perform all kinds of feats and create new possibilities for what Hinduism looks like. Okay. Questions or comments about this? Yes. There's no travel and. No cell phone, no person. Yeah. If you think that the body sort of has any ultimate personhood, then of course you misunderstood us, because the Mossad does not. So the very site is merrily at the point or the voice of a recognizes that there is no self, but he or she chooses to stay encrusted with the false notion of self temporarily to help. And one of the problems in my book is that the very SOP, of course, is just as much in need of salvation as the person that they're seeking to save, because anybody that's encrusted in the reality of self is a part of this whole illusion. So the body sort for is not does not have any ontology, is still very much Buddhist, but it has a functional ontology. The bird is very sought for, operates functionally as a transcendent being because if you look at the wheel of samsara, you have this heaven and hell.


So for example, the most dominant of of my out of Buddhism in China is pure land Buddhism. Now, what give you a little snapshot of this? The pure land Buddhist are very fascinated with the possibilities of a particular bodhisattva known as Amy Taba or a meta Buddha. Now what they say is I made the Buddha went through all of this process and all that got to the point of enlightenment. And he took several vowels. He took 48 vowels. One of these vowels was Do not let me be enlightened unless Assam enlightened. Anyone who calls in my name will also be enlightened because he was enlightened. So this creates Oh, now this is wonderful, because now they have this doctrine called normalcy, which means if you recite the name of that Buddha, you will be enlightened. It's like the fast track. No. Hundreds of live toms toiling through monastic life. You simply say, Please, never me. I might have a Buddha. Now they torture this into, well, you know, have you really said it with a pure heart? You know, some people say you've got to say it so many times, thousands of times, that he'll go on. I might have. I might have. I might have. I might have a they have these prayer wheels where you'll pay somebody, you'll put the name into the prayer wheel. And so every time you turn the prayer a one time, it means as his if you pray that prayer. So you hire somebody all day long. June, June, June. All right. So there's no end the way all of this permeates out. But the basic idea, though, is that this person, this enlightened being, is still in that heaven. He's not out here in some transcendent B place, even heaven and hell that's say, I want to die and go to the pure land to be with Amitava.


But the whole pure land, which is like the great paradise, is inside the will of samsara. So that's why it is Buddhism. This is the analogy they use to answer that question. They say, You're right. If you're asking the question, is there any fundamental reality to a self who chooses it doesn't choose and all that. You're right, it doesn't exist. But they say if you are caught in this raging storm or a raging river and you're trying to get over to the shore of enlightenment, someone comes along with a raft. You get on the raft and the raft helps you get across to the other by other shore. Once you get to the shore, what do you do with the raft? You take it because it's of no value, because it has no meaning. Once you get across, as all matters are getting across. So what they say is that all of this body stuff is saying, though, it has no ultimate reality. It is like a raft. It helps you get across the rivers of suffering and Buddhism. You have to talk about the distinction between ontological reality. What's truly has been talking about and functional ontology, what happens on a functional basis that operates effectively like an ontology so Buddhist can talk about dying and going to heaven. And so they long for this deity, they worship this deity all that functions and satisfies the religious needs as if it was an ontology, even though it's not. Ontology is a functional, not a real ontology. I can just tell you just we're going to run to the nearest temple and become a Buddhist. It takes a lot more time to develop, you know, maybe this in a more comprehensive way, but I'm just trying to mainly this point to introduce the concept of bodhisattvas.


Because unless you understand the world is such a concept and the major challenge this was and now this creates all kinds of new possibilities religiously in people's lives, then it's difficult to see what happens when this kid is absorbed into Hinduism. I mean, the amazing thing is, and I won't discuss in this class, but the amazing thing is when they do absorb Buddhism back into Hinduism, how this is just changed when you have this kind of deities operate with an ontology on top of it and it creates problems for the problem of evil. In Paul Lim's class today, I'm lecturing on the theodicy. In Hinduism, Buddhism, it creates some really fascinating ways that the problem of evil is worked out in Buddhism, in Hinduism. Any other questions or comments about this kind of very brief spread from the emergence of Buddhism to the Mahayana descent? Because that's kind of the backdrop to developing bhakti ism on a practical level. How much you're expecting. Well, the only thing I want you to be aware of is how Buddhism serves to create this new emergence in Hinduism. That's the main thing, I think, is, you know, what a Buddhist sutra is. And I think you should be aware of how the Buddhism is different from Hinduism on the final page. I want to go to now, but other than that, I wouldn't worry about any of the Buddhist concepts. Buddhism is very fascinating religion, and I really it's definitely worth studying. And I think that if like everything else, what I'm hoping you're seeing is that we really don't have an entity called Hinduism. This is a misnomer. This is a reification, you know, the term reification, where essentially you have Western scholarship that is tried to make sense of this multiple religious strands, and it gets amalgamated into a religious system called Hinduism.


This is called the reification of our religion. So what's happened in this class is that we are looking at these various strands and how they relate to each other. So up to this point, what we've really explored is not so much Hinduism as Brahmin ism. Right now we've discovered the Brahmin in the class kind of strand of things. We'll come back to it more later. So Brahman ism is a very important part of the Hindu puzzle because everything is either controlled by that or reacting against that. So minimalism is really, really important. We are also going to be looking at the whole Bhakti movement, which is another one of these very important multifaceted strands. And even within the Bhakti movement, each of these could be viewed as separate religions.