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The Daily Enlightenment
 Quote: Three Authorities

There are only three kinds of authorities -
the totally enlightened,
the only somewhat enlightened
and the totally unenlightened.

Without a Buddha present,
the first does not exist.
With only the other two present,
this is why we must always question authority,
lest we become blind followers.

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 Realisation: Are There Manifestations Of Bodhisattvas Here?

We should respect all beings, even helpful humans, gods and ghosts. However, Buddhists only take refuge in the perfect Buddhas, Dharma and Aryasangha.

An interestingly phrased question arose recently – ‘Why do mediums not get any Buddha to answer their devotees’ questions?’ Before there is further confusion, we should be clear that the use of mediums is not a Buddhist practice. Instead, for Chinese culture, it is part of folk religion. There are naturally irreconcilable aspects of different religions, which is why they are different in the first place and remain so. In this sense, even if a medium of any religion claims to be able to ‘channel’ a Buddha or Bodhisattva through him or her, this is entirely frowned upon by all orthodox Buddhists with right understanding. The only exception is the traditional but very exclusive use of a few trusted oracles in Tibetan Buddhism involving time-tested and dedicated Dharma protector deities (who are not Buddhas or Bodhisattvas) for very special matters.

Even if there are some who claim advice from some mediums believed to represent Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to be effective, Buddhists should never consult their services. There are two kinds of ‘mediums’ – the false ones and the genuine ones. As it is difficult to discern one from the other, one might be paying (or contributing ‘donations’) while being tricked. For false mediums, there are again two kinds. The first are the downright fakes, who consciously put on theatrical acts to fool devotees to part with their money. The second are somewhat but not total fakes, who subconsciously autosuggest themselves, often also through peer pressure of those who believe they are special, to have the ability to call upon ‘higher beings’. Such ‘mediums’ are still false, even if they have no intention to deceive, and do wish to help others.

Despite power of the autosuggestable mind, that can even express seemingly superhuman feats of endurance, there are still obvious physical and spiritual limits. If a medium, say, is supposedly possessed by an ‘animal-god’, such as a ‘monkey’, why is he or she not able to climb and swing from trees, somersaulting like a real monkey? Unless… the medium was not really possessed by such a being, while being unable to fully autosuggest oneself to believe such feats can be done. Even if capable of some acrobatics, there is the puzzle of how a character from a fictitious novel can assist real people with real problems. If the Monkey King in ‘Journey to the West’ (which is not a proper Dharma text) was written to have learnt the Dharma, this begs the question of why, if he is real, his ‘mediums’ do not preach it directly, which would surely lead to full house classes attended by thousands... Continue here

Even helpful humans, gods and ghosts
who have yet to take refuge
in perfect Buddhas, Dharma and Aryasangha
have yet to truly realise their worth.

Related Courses:

The Heart of ‘The Heart Sutra’ [Run 8]
Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra [13th Run]
Project Rebirth: Rediscover, Reflect, Recharge [Round 8]

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 Excerpt: Is Buddhism Against Birth Control?

Lust greases the gears
on the wheel of giving birth
and being reborn.

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In accordance with the basic principles of Buddhism, as long as one does not break the precept against killing a person by having an abortion, there is no reason to oppose birth control. Birth control is moral if it is done to improve the [already existing] children's quality of life and education, or to avoid financial burden. Abortion is strictly forbidden in Buddhism and is considered equivalent to killing a human being. It does not matter whether the aborted fetus has developed recognizably human features or not; any abortion is the same as killing a person. So Buddhism is opposed to birth control through abortion. So we need to investigate the various techniques of birth control.

Mahāyāna Buddhists believe that the intermediate-state body (zhongyin shen) (the spirit-body in the stage of existence between death and rebirth) enters into the mother's womb while its parents are copulating. Seeing its future parents united, the spirit becomes deluded; if it feels passion for the father, it enters the womb to become a female, and if it feels passion for the mother, it will become a male. It also clings to the father's ejaculated sperm and the mother's ovum as its "self." But as we can deduce from embryology, this concept of self should not arise until the ovum is actually fertilized—that is, at conception—which does not necessarily occur while the parents are copulating…

It follows then, if one wishes to use birth control, it should be done before the sperm fertilizes the ovum in order to avoid abortion, which constitutes killing. It may be moral if prior to sexual intercourse one takes anti-pregnancy pills or installs anti-pregnancy devices and/or medication inside the uterus or vagina. Such treatments will prevent the sperm from reaching the ovum or cause the sperm and eggs to lose their potency. But one must be absolutely sure that one is not killing the fertilized ovum. Otherwise, it's best not to use birth control at all, and to instead use the method that Buddhism praises most highly—to practice sexual restraint.

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 Orthodox Chinese Buddhism:
 A Contemporary Chan Master's Answers To Common Questions
 Chan Master Sheng Yen

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Super Short Stories

319: Crowd
318: Home
317: Chase
316: Centre
315: Figure Of Speech
314: Fat
313: Hell Hath No Fury

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