Nibbana tangent part 1 (Agnosticism)

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Thursday, May 16, 2024, 21:16 (69 days ago) @ dhw

I snipped parts that don't require a response to save space.

dhw: Rapture and pleasure seem mighty positive to me, but at a single stroke the jhana eliminates what for me is the greatest imaginable source of rapture and pleasure, which is love for others, including partner and children. Seclusion demands absolute focus on the self, which contradicts what I thought was another central precept of Buddhism: empathy and compassion for others.

So, think of the phrase, "Before you help/love others, you have to help/love yourself." Now, I've not reached the first Jhana myself, but what I can tell you is that meditation is something that is a secluded practice even when you're doing it in a group. You're turning inwards. And I can tell you that my progression through earlier states of meditation before the first demonstrates a definite progression towards a peaceful and sublime state that sticks with me when its over. That state heightens my ability for love and makes me more easily express compassion and forgiveness. In order to be better for everyone else, I need to be alone and secluded. Right, so these aren't discrete activities, you only do one thing, and then you only do the other, you create a feedback loop (imagine a figure-8 if that helps) between seclusion and your people.

Forgive me, but I don’t understand this. You seem to be saying initially that prior to becoming a monk, your Buddhist has experienced the rapture of love and has shown compassion etc., but now leaves all that behind him in order to focus purely on himself. But then you say it’s never going to happen, so are you telling us that only misery-guts who have had lousy lives will enter the monastery? How can the rapture of isolation teach you to love and be kind to others? And how does begging teach you to be compassionate when all it does is make YOU the recipient of compassion?

So the jhanas that I had shared, those are the end games for the monks. Its possible for lay people to do all of those things, but its incredibly rare simply because you'd pretty much have to be a billionaire to have enough free time to do it. My main goal in sharing that sequence was to demonstrate how each step in the continuum pushes into finer and finer views of consciousness, where you walk right on past all the normal daily states of consciousness to a place where you're still aware but all concept of self disappears, which is a far better idea of what nibbana means than the rest. The Nibbana question is the one I was aiming to answer, these other questions while related, are different.

The "rapture of isolation," I mean, that's the happiness that gets generated by meditation. See my figure-8 comment above on how isolation benefits the practitioner and other people. As for the begging question, there's several things at play, first off, you have to have a subdued sense of self in order to do it. Regardless of spiritual tradition, (Franciscan, Kwan Um Zen...) part of what you're shunning is your own ego. I have a harder time--with as well read as you are--understanding why you think this monastic practice wouldn't teach you to have more love and compassion? We have the saying, walk a mile in a man's shoes before you judge, right? Even if you weren't a monastic, anyone who I've known who has engaged in a fasting practice understands the link between hunger and the poor, which generates compassion. And then there is gratitude in being given a free gift that sustains life. Franciscans call it the Grace of God. And then there's the debt you owe as the receiver of the gift to also impart some spiritual gift to make up the distance... something immaterial for something material. (Though I would argue, wisdom often provides material benefits.) Then there's just general gratitude which is also a part of the Brahmavihara practices.

Upekkha: equanimity – impartiality towards living beings (opposite: attachment and resentment).
MATT: […] I suspect Upekkha might give you heartburn…

Yes, it does. Impartiality implies no feelings, and it is not the opposite of resentment. Empathy and compassion towards living beings is what I would expect as the ideal opposite.

It cannot imply NO feelings. That's not possible. Okay, maybe I have to deepen this one a bit. Equanimity isn't built on feelings towards others, it's built on feelings towards yourself:

Hoping for positive circumstances

1. Hope for pleasure (physical comfort and mental happiness)
2. Hope for gain (material wealth and prosperity)
3. Hope for praise (heard directly)
4. Hope for a good reputation or fame (in one’s society)

Fearing negative circumstances

5. Fear of pain (physical and mental)
6. Fear of loss (material wealth and prosperity)
7. Fear of criticism (heard directly)
8. Fear of having a bad reputation (in one’s society)

Equanimity is in response to the 8 worldly concerns, hopefully this is sufficient to clear that up. The equanimity we want is the equanimity that leads us not to desire for things that feed our ego, and/or are out of our control anyway. I had to look this up to get you a better answer here, so throw out what I was trying to say before about impartiality. (Though it still applies that you can't control what others do, so why worry here?)

\"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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