Tibetan Buddhism's Doctrine That Human Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2586 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 47  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

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As the deeds of body and speech depend upon the mind, we must therefore constructively transform the mind. The ways of constructively transforming the mind are to cause mistaken states of consciousness not to be generated and good states to be both generated and increased."

Thus, Tibetan Buddhism believes in the willful evolution of consciousness: "So, if you trace our present mind or consciousness back, then you will find that you are tracing the origin of the continuity of mind, just like the origin of the material universe, into an infinite dimension .... Therefore, there must be successive rebirths that allow that continuum of mind to be there."

Of course, it could be argued that the "continuity of mind" principle need not necessarily be through a process of reincarnation or rebirths but through each generation of humanity passing on its body of knowledge to the next. However, this is not strictly incongruent with the Tibetan Buddhist theory, which believes that what provides the continuity between lives is ultimately the subtlest levels of consciousness, and not an unchanging entity like a soul or ego.

Indeed, this is precisely why the religion emphasizes that the karmic determination of an individual's future good or ill can be avoided or aborted by mental purification and concentration.

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Karma then is not fatalistic, or predetermined by some judgmental God. Instead, the Tibetan Buddhism view of karma is that it is a creative process of cause and effect, which is masterminded by the individual.

In fact, this is precisely why life and death are seen as a continuum or one whole in the Buddhist approach, leading to the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In this teaching, the whole of life and death is presented as a series of constantly changing transitional realities known as bardos.

Term Paper on Tibetan Buddhism's Doctrine That Human Assignment

The bardo is a word that is commonly understood to denote the intermediate state between death and rebirth, but in point of fact, bardos, the Tibetans believe occur continuously throughout life and death, and are junctures where the possibility of liberation, or enlightenment is heightened. The greatest of these bardos are, however, seen as the moment of death.

Because at that moment, the empiric consciousness, or consciousness of objects is lost, unveiling Pure Consciousness or the Clear Light of the Void. Thus, it is possible for any soul to identify itself with this light and abandon all traces of self-consciousness and self-identification. However, Tibetan Buddhism believes that only the enlightened saints or masters will be able to use this opportunity to seek the consummation of existence, where personal consciousness is transcended, temporality is no more, and there is only the unqualifiable "suchness" of nirvana. Less evolved individuals are ultimately drawn away from this light because they are bound by their karmic cravings and deluded habits of thinking. Thus, the consciousness of the latter will ultimately get reborn.

It is important to note that the Tibetan Book of the Dead carries instructions for guiding consciousness at each stage following death. In all, there are considered to be three such stages, each corresponding to an opportunity to enter a different level of existence in an ontologically different form.

It is possible to draw a parallel here with the modern scientific view that "the process of nature is not a merely cyclical or rhythmical change, it is a creative advance; the organism is ... pursuing a process of evolution in which it is constantly taking new forms and producing new forms in every part of itself."

This parallel can be drawn because the process of rebirth can be interpreted as a second chance to pursue the path to realization and fulfillment.

In conclusion, it appears that the Tibetan theory of consciousness has a lot in common with modern natural science. Therefore, it appears that current efforts by Western philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists may well benefit from examining whether there is more to the human mind than neural mechanisms. Of course, the current research being done in genetics may well shed light on this subject, in terms of its amenability to human intervention.

Bibliography

Becker, C.B. Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism. Carbondale, IL:

Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Collingwood, R.G. The Idea of Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945.

Gyatso, T. "The Key to the Middle Way: A Treatise on the Realization of Emptiness." In The

Buddhism of Tibet. ed. Jeffrey Hopkins. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1987.

Jung, C. "The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation: Psychological Commentary." In The

Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Or, the Method of Realizing Nirvana through Knowing the Mind: Preceded by an Epitome of Padma-Sambhava's Biography. ed W.Y. Evans-Wentz. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Moltmann, J. Is There Life After Death? Milwaukee, IL: Marquette University Press, 1998.

Rinpoche, Sogyal. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Calcutta: Rupa Paperback, 1996.

Wallace, Alan B. A Science of Consciousness: Buddhism (1), the Modern West (0) [online].

Santa Barbara: Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Consciousness [cited 10 December 2004]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.shin-ibs.edu/pdfs/pwj3-4/02WL4.pdf.)

Widgery, A.G. Living Religions and Modern Thought. New York: Roundtable Press, 1936.

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Calcutta: Rupa Paperback, 1996), p. 13.

B. Alan Wallace, "A Science of Consciousness: Buddhism (1), the Modern West (0)," Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Consciousness, p. 11.

Wallace, p. 9.

Carl B. Becker, Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993), p. 90.

Rinpoche, p. 89.

Alban G. Widgery, Living Religions and Modern Thought (New York: Round Table Press, 1936), p. 51.

Rinpoche, p. 39.

Rinpoche, p. 38.

Rinpoche, p. 47.

Jurgen Moltmann, Is There Life After Death? (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1998), p. 29.

Carl Jung, "The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation: Psychological Commentary." In The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Or, the Method of Realizing Nirvana through Knowing the Mind: Preceded by an Epitome of Padma-Sambhava's Biography. ed W.Y. Evans-Wentz (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. xxix-xxxi.

Rinpoche, p. 47.

Wallace, p. 11.

Widgery, p. 62.

Wallace, p. 11-12.

Rinpoche, p. 46-47.

Rinpoche, p. 50.

Rinpoche, p. 51.

Wallace, p. 10.

Rinpoche, p. 37.

Moltmann, p. 26.

Rinpoche, p. 16.

Wallace, p. 10.

Wallace, p. 11.

Tenzin Gyatso, "The Key to the Middle Way: A Treatise on the Realization of Emptiness." In The Buddhism of Tibet. ed. Jeffrey Hopkins (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1987),… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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