Nibbana tangent part 1 (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Saturday, May 18, 2024, 08:53 (26 days ago) @ xeno6696

MATT: Nice, we're moving right along! =-) I would heartily agree that so far my experience of Buddhism has been precisely therapeutic.

This implies that you have been aware of something in yourself that was out of balance, and so I can only applaud whatever it is that has restored you to what you consider the right balance.

dhw: Of course love should not entail possession or control. Whenever the ego or self leads to imbalance or to negative attitudes, there will be suffering. That doesn’t mean the ego/self must disappear! It must make the adjustments that will achieve a balance between itself and the other person’s ego/self.

MATT: Au contraire! The extent to which any of us is capable of having a wholesome and uplifting love for someone is precisely the same sliding scale that removes "us" from the equation. The more you care for someone or some thing, the less "you" is in that, and the more the object is within it.

Within what, and why something? We seem to be talking about different kinds of love here. If I love my motor car, is it the same as loving my wife, or as loving God? My comment was specifically about the relations between two people, and frankly if the wife totally removed her “self” and existed entirely for the husband, she might just as well be a robot. And ditto the other way round.(Did you ever see the film “Stepford Wives”?)

MATT: You admit there's a balance, a sliding scale if you will. I picture at one end, Agape, and at the other end, desiring the object's destruction. (There's an interesting conversation to be had in that perhaps indifference is worse than a spiteful hate, but maybe later.)

But we’re not talking about the obvious opposites. We’re talking about the Buddhist ideal, in which “all concept of self disappears”, and how this is to be applied in our daily lives. And I am arguing (rather fiercely!) that the total disappearance of self will destroy everything that makes the individual’s life worth living, and what is essential is that we achieve a balance between what is good for our self and also what is good for other selves.

dhw: I agree that everything is fleeting, and my own philosophy is make the most of what is fleetingly available to you, enjoy it as much as you can, and help others to enjoy it too. What bugs me is still the notion that Nirvana – the Buddhist ideal – is actually death. […]

MATT: While all the various sects of Buddhism have different ideas about what Nibbana actually means, in none of them does it imply death. […]Nibbana isn't death, it just stops the cycle of rebirth that suffering causes. You will not take another physical form. You're simply freely liberated until the current universe cycle ends.

dhw: I find the concept of rebirth “that suffering causes” extremely confusing. Are we reborn because of the suffering we’ve caused, or because of the suffering we’ve endured? Why is rebirth automatically regarded as something negative that needs to be stopped? It’s as if Buddhists believe that being alive is some kind of punishment! Secondly, if you have no physical form, no joy, no suffering, no individuality, what DO you have? Some definitions describe Nibbana as a place of perfect peace. What can be more peaceful than the grave? You say “freely liberated”. If you have no body and no self, what are you free to do, and how and where can you do it?

MATT: So I tried to answer part of that puzzle by pointing out that in Buddhism, there's a level of the universe that lacks physical components--totally mind-made. There's no body like what you have on earth. We get into areas where I've not explored deeply because alot of it appears hogwash to someone who's predilection leans heavily materialist.

Nothing to do with materialism. Lack of physical components is no different from the western concept of an afterlife, in which the individual lives on as a soul or spirit. The huge difference lies in the fact that in the western concept, the individual keeps his or her individual identity, whereas what you are proposing is an immaterial being without an individual identity (the self has disappeared). If the something that lives on is not “you”, then “you” might as well be dead.

MATT: [..] my read is that whatever we are after shedding, when we dissolve into the universe we're joining something far greater than ourselves. We join the great cosmic "we." ;-)

Religious people would say we join God. Both concepts are equally nebulous. WHAT (or WHO) joins, and WHAT (or WHO) are/is the cosmic “we”? And if “I” have lost my individuality, what’s the point?

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