Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 18, 2024, 16:48 (26 days ago) @ dhw

MATT: As to "why rebirth at all?" you have to understand that it comes from the continuity of Hinduism and their conceptions of the universe. I'm fine with a Buddhism that lacks rebirth, but I will agree that the longer-term perspective the idea of rebirth offers opens up more avenues to foster long-term decision making. (Or for more terrible hedonisms, though to be honest there's only so much pleasure one can take before you get utterly bored of all of them.)

dhw: If you’re fine rejecting the whole concept of rebirth, with all the confusion it creates, then we can drop the subject. Perhaps you’re also fine with dropping the goal of complete obliteration of the self?

MATT: And that's an interesting materialist interpretation for me--Siddharta Gotama was a prince who grew up with a total lack of want. If you get bored of all pleasures, and then engage in all the most terrible ascetic practices (Gotama at one point was trying to live off of a cup of milk a day or less) you'll reach a point where you've experienced all that life has to offer.

dhw: I’m far from convinced that anyone can possibly experience all that life has to offer during the time that we have at our disposal, but your point about boredom is an absolute winner with me. Can you imagine being conscious for the rest of eternity? No wonder Nibbana has you losing your self. And no wonder your friend dhw says that perfect peace is surely synonymous with death!

MATT: From this perspective, I can see a position where it appears death is the final goal, it's just that Nibbana means something different than death. The word for death after achieving nibbana is "parinibbana." Your body dies, but it's clear you're not dead.

dhw: So your selfless self lives on. How fortunate that it is no longer the conscious individual you that you once were. Otherwise, you would certainly be bored….to death!

MATT(answering David): People still claim that the Buddha appears to them, if you believe that (which I think we must if we accept NDEs and OBEs as real things and not hallucinations) […] then Nibbana and Parinibbana simply can't mean death.

dhw: So Buddha and the people who see Buddha are westernized believers that there is a recognizable, conscious, individual spirit or soul that survives bodily death, in spite of the fact that they are only in Nibbana because they finally lost their recognizable, conscious, individual self.


MATT: I've recalled a tendency not just here but even a couple years back where when I bring up how the practices of Buddhism have affected me personally.
That wasn't an attempt to put up some sort of a defensive wall (like, this is personal to me, don't criticize it).
if a question seems thorny, a monk will either fill in the gaps with their own experience, or give you exercises to help you realize whatever sticking point you have in the text.
Obviously with the really big questions, there's a definite gap--not every monk achieves Nibbana for example, no monk can really train you beyond their own experience.

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

dhw: Under no circumstances would I wish to dispute anything that is of therapeutic value to you, and it is precisely the “big” questions that I am focusing on. Nothing personal. I find the concept of rebirth extremely confusing, and it’s clear from your response that you do too. Nibbana is so nebulous that to me it suggests eternal death as the ideal state. You have tried to explain why it isn’t. There is no “methodology” involved other than each of us trying to understand something which basically is a total mystery! The concept of self and above all loss of self is the only one which clearly enters the more personal realm, and I apologize if my arguments offend you. But as in all my discussions with David, I am arguing against theories not against personal faith. A monk’s experience doesn’t explain to me why I should rid myself of all the personal desires which are integral to my individuality and the fulfilment of which have given me the greatest joy in life. But I can understand totally that if my desires cause unhappiness for me or other people, then I need to make changes to myself. Thumbs up for therapy:-) , thumbs down for dogma:-( .

Your human personality forces itself into all your theories about God. You must learn to separate yourself.

Complete thread:

 RSS Feed of thread

powered by my little forum