Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 17:08 (29 days ago) @ xeno6696

MATT: The next stage after that last one is "Nibbana," which is "extinction," which in Pali means the same thing as putting out a candle. […] You're still very much alive, but your mind is permanently changed. The reason why this breaks the cycle of rebirth is that a person who achieves nibbana is utterly incapable of engaging in impure acts, and can no longer generate kamma.

dhw: The person is utterly incapable of engaging in any acts at all!


Matt: How is that so when the Buddha was on this earth teaching for 40yrs after he achieved it?


MATT: it's clear to me that your consciousness doesn't get destroyed, the consciousness being that place where all your memories and seeds were stored […] it isn't clear to me what this means other than possibly just returning to the primordial stuff of the universe.

dhw: I have no idea what purpose can possibly be served by having all your memories – good and bad – stored in a consciousness which is no longer yours. Returning to the primordial stuff of the universe is precisely what happens when we die, and so the ultimate goal of Buddhism seems to be the total blank we call death. Frankly, this is one of the few subjects on which I actually agree with David: I love life, and I accept the grief and pain as the price that must sometimes be paid for the pleasure, rapture, joy and love. And I do my best to help others cope with their grief and pain, and I think that caring for others is infinitely preferable to “pure” equanimity (= indifference).

Thank you, dhw.


Matt: This is more interesting discussion here. I would suggest that what you think is *your* consciousness, isn't really yours. Ownership is illusion. I mean, do you even have a title granting you ownership? Can you make your consciousness do whatever you will? For as long as you will? Nietzsche said this best, "A thought comes when it wills, not when I will." The act of imagining or creating, as a writer yourself, when you have tried to "command" the entire process how good was the result vs when you were "in the zone" and it flowed from you naturally? Returning to the main theme, probably the only actual control you have over your consciousness is your ability to end your own life, and I think its obvious why that's considered anathema in almost all religions. (sans some warrior cultures)

I feel like I have more control than that.


Matt: As for the parts about grief and whatnot: Nowhere does it say not to grieve, but the steps here I originally posted was from a summary given to monks about the final stages of meditation before you break through to Nibbana. Even prior to the first Jhana, you've already done alot of work to recognize that you are simply part of a bigger cosmos, that any sense of ownership you have is illusory and fleeting. It pops up with the protestants too, "God giveth, God Taketh away." All religions have a sense for this: give up your desire for control. Buddhism takes it a little farther by drawing those lines to all the things that go on inside your head as well.

I think though, I've found the spots that seem the most "sticky" to your thinking, "equanimity," and "attachment." I've hopefully filled out the definition for equanimity more fully, as well as filled out a little better the discussion on attachments. Just like with stoicism, the idea isn't to become robots, the idea is to have a better recognition for what's fleeting so you don't overidentify with those things and cause more suffering for yourself than you otherwise would have.

For some folks, stuck with hurtful memories, leaving the past is difficult. It is like fighting the inevitable. Losses must happen.


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