Thursday, 31 March 2011

Buddhist Criticism on Extremist View


At the time of the Buddha Indian religions were based on epistemological principles. Many they therefore were presenting some new knowledge to the world. Even the Buddha accepted with the following statement that occurs in the Brahamajalasutta of DN:

ßanti bhikkhave eke samaNabrhamaNA aneka vihitAni adhivuttipadAni abhivadanti
=O monks! There are some recluses and Brahmins who proclaimed various philosophical views.

      Their views were based on some true facts like absorption, logic or ethics, something all the three or few. Therefore their views were having a strong base although they were not sound in a final sense.

      According to the Vacchagotasutta of MN there are ten philosophical topics that were discussed in philosophical and doctrinal circles at the time of the Buddha. Almost every philosophical thinkers or religious teachers express their views on these ten topics of philosophical interest. 
1.  ßassato loko is the world eternal?
2.  åsassato loko is the world not eternal?
3.  åto vA loko is the world finite?
4.  ånanto vA loko is the world infinite?
5.   TaM jIvaM taM sarIraM is the soul and the body one and same?
6.  åJJaM jIvaM aJJaM sarIraM is the soul and the body different?
7.   Hoti tathAgato parammaraNA does the liberated one exist after death?
8.  ña hoti tathAgato parammaraNA does not the liberated one exist after death?
9.   Hoti ca na hoti ca tathAgato parammaraNA does the liberated one exist or not exist after death?
10. ñeva hoti na hoti tathAgato parammaraNA does not the liberated one exist or not exist after death?

Having given these ten questions to the Buddha’s notice Vaccagotta questioned whether they are true or false or does the Buddha accept anything of them. The Buddha replied that he will not emphasize any one of them as true. Vacchagotta further questioned that the bad effect of coming to these conclusions as philosophical views.

      “∂iTThagatametaM diTThigataM diTThikantAraM, diTThivisUkaM sadukkhaM savighAtaM saupAyAsaM saparilAhaM na nibbidAya na nirodhAya na upasamAya na abhiJJAya na sambodhAya na nibbAnAya saMvattati. imam kho ahaM Vaccha AdinavaM sampassamAno evaM imAni sabbaso diTThigatAni anupagato

=This went to extreme views, taking of extreme views, a desert of them, a deformation of them, with suffering tiresome, boring and exist for uneasiness, not for calm not for appeasement, not for tranquility, not for deep knowledge, not for good understanding, and not for liberation. O Vaccha! Seeing these bad effects, did not come to all these views.

      Then Vaccha questioned the Buddha whether he has any such views. The Buddha says all such views (dogma) are given up by the Buddha ∂iTThigatati kho Vaccha apanItametaM tathAgatass.
      The µettasutta of Sn also states the Buddhist way is free dogmas (diTThiJca anupagamma ).
      Ven. îsidatta has given a very clear explanation on the origin of ten points mentioned above. Householder Citta begins a discussion with Ven. Isidatta and the later makes the following statements:

      “YAnicimAni dvAsaTTHi diTTHigatAni BrahmajAle bhaNitAni. imA kho gahapati diTThIyo sakkAya diTThIyA sati honti
=These sixty two views said in the BrahmajAla, O Housholder! Are theories born when there is self-view?

      According to this explanation the philosophical view of Eternalism and Nihilism etc. are born from self-view. Therefore it is given as the first of ten fetters. The åbyAkatavatthusutta of AN says that with the cessation of views there will be no doubts in the trained disciples on the ten unanswered questions (diTThi nirodhA kho bhikkhave sutavato ariyasAvakassa vicikocchA nUpapajjati abyAkatavatthusu).

      Very often in the suttas the ten wrong views occur that which are born from extremist views:

11. ñatthi dinnaM – There is no meaning of charity
12. ñatthi yiTThaM – There is no meaning of sacrifice
13. ñatthi hutaM – There is no meaning of fire sacrifice
14. ñatthi sukaTa dukkatAnaM kammAnaM phalaM vipAko – There is no result of good and bad deeds
15. ñatthi ayaM loko – There is no this world
16. ñatthi paro loko – There is no the other world
17. ñatthi mAtA – There is no mother
18. ñatthi pitA – There is no father
19. ñatthi opapAtikA sattA – There are no spontaneous beings
20. ñatthi loke samanabrAhmaNa sammaggatA, sammA paTipannA, ye imaJca lokaM paraJca lokaM sayaM abhiJJA sacchikatvA pavedenti – There are no in the world a recluse or a Brahmin who is well born, practiced well and who properly says having realized this world and the other worlds by himself.

                                                        (åpaNNakasutta, µñ)
These ten wrong views were held by ücchedavAdins and they show that that these thinkers did not accept even family and social ethics. Buddhism considered dealing with such fanatic views to be useless and they are not to serve any purpose for the betterment of spiritual progress. 

      When the two views Eternalism and Nihilism are strongly held by a person he does not get the change of beginning any form of noble conduct that is the general nature of extreme. They will not make space for human personalities to blossom at free and full levels. The Buddha says when these two views are held the noble life is impossible. Whether world is eternal or not birth, decay, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, unhappiness, and being tire would be there.

      “ßassato loko vA µAlunkyaputta diTThiyA sati brahmacariyavAso abhavissAti, evaM no asassato lokoti va µAlunkyaputta diTThiyA sati brahmacariyAvAso abhavissAti evampi akkheva jAti, atthi maraNaM, atthi sakaparidevadukkhadomanasUpayAsa
                                            (µAlunkyaputtasutta, µñ II)
      The circle of birth and death prolong due to self-view and construction of formations when there is no a proper teacher who sees reality. There can be no opportunity for the world to know about destroy. Sentient beings are not always mindful; therefore they were on their wrong view and perception. Buddhism recommended that they should kept in mind any of the defilements which protect sensual enjoyment, remembering and materialistic views.

      “∂iTThisaMyojanasaMyutto bhikkhave assutavA puthujjano na parimucchati jAtiyA jarAmaraNehi sokehi paridevehi dukkhehi domanassehi upAyAshi na parimucchti dukkhasmAti vadAmi
                                             (ßabbAsavasutta, µñ)
= O monks! The unheard worldling who is with views and fetters does not free himself from birth, decay, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, unhappiness, and being tired. I declare that he does not free himself from suffering.

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