In the interest of (maybe) a new discussion... (Agnosticism)

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 00:03 (495 days ago) @ dhw

Next comes the discussion of “eternalists” versus “materialists”:

xeno: As suggested in the podcast, the Buddha proposed a "middle path" which says "It's not either/or, its both." I wish he went into more detail here.

I’m afraid this is a major problem, and Brahmali simply glosses it over. He goes on and on about rebirth being a (the?) central point. David and I are in total agreement on this. What/who are we when we are reborn – and what is reborn if there is no immaterial “soul”?

In trying to track this down for you (and for myself, frankly) I discovered this: https://suttacentral.net/sn12.61/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=as...
Different translation from what I have on my shelf but mostly the same idea. But at any rate, when you examine all of the processes of consciousness and cognition you determine that it is nothing but a cause and effect chain with no end. It’s better to think of your body as your “self” because the nature of human consciousness isn’t stable. Have you ever apologized to someone and said “I’m sorry, I wasn’t myself?” Well the Buddha points out that this is us *all* of the time. It would be better for us, any time we refer to “I” or “me” or “self” to add the modifier “at this moment” to better reflect the idea that the Buddha is getting at. The Buddha is aiming to demonstrate to us that our idea of the self as some unchanging phenomenon is what is false, which ties in with your comments a little further on.

I don’t recall this being discussed in the podcast (maybe I nodded off?), but it’s nothing more than the question of whether or not we have free will. Did Gotama really teach you to remember that you act like a zombie though you think you’re an autonomous being?

More or less yes, and modern pyschology actually agrees with his observation. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-brain-work/201011/new-study-shows-humans-a...

It’s not that we’re non-autonomous zombies, but that we’re essentially dreaming while awake. One goal of Buddhist meditation is to decrease the amount of time we spend in that sleepwalking state. For me—catching myself in thoughts feels 100% like waking up from a dream.

I don’t think my “self” is an illusion.
I may not be in control of what makes me “me”, and I have changed and am still changing, but I’m fully aware of my personal characteristics, and I challenge the right of anyone to tell me these are “illusory”.

I would challenge that you would have to be in a mental state where your mind was stilled to the point where the only thing present would be your ability to observe—in order to understand what the Buddha means by “true self,” as opposed to “illusory self.” I would argue that during the 50% of my own waking hours that are spent not doing anything in particular—I’m not being myself. I would argue (based on my understanding of Buddhist psychology) that we’re only “ourselves” when we’re fully engaged in self-aware, intentional action.

You could charge maybe that I'm playing with definitions here but if its one teaching that I have internalized and appreciated from Buddhism it's that intentional action isn't as bad as our puritan forefathers and their theology of "The path to hell is paved with good intentions" wants us to believe. And yes, there's not necessarily anything special here that I have that a dedicated Humanist couldn't have studying default mode/flow state psychology, however I was never able to connect with humanism in any meaningful way.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"


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