Nibbana tangent part 1 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 18, 2024, 16:52 (26 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: So I actually think we've closed alot of distance between each other, and the sticky bits we're discussing coincidentally align with different definitions of 'self.'

I say coincidentally because as I was eating breakfast it struck me that this definition might be a problem, and your response here almost perfectly aligns with what seems to be this remaining controversy.

If I may restate your position, I think you're viewing that my 'self' is the sum of individual experiences.

This seems to be in conflict with the Buddhist concept of 'self.' I think again, that the problem is in definitions.

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.


Let me illustrate with a concrete example. When I say "the less 'me' there is in something, the closer I am to reality," take my changing views on talking about NDE/OBE. Until a few years ago, while I would indulge you and Dr. Turell in some of those conversations, by and large I was dismissive. A huge part of that was because I had a strong 'identity view' as they say in Buddhism. This is one example of an attachment. I had the view, "I am a strict empiricist." This is a problem. Because now, I've engaged myself so strongly with a particular view about my self, I've created a distortion that at minimum makes me less compassionate about the lived experiences of others. There's a feeling involved with this, quite subtle, but it's the imposition of the ego between myself and reality. The Buddhist ideal, in this concrete case is to modify "I am a strict empiricist." to "I am a strict empiricist." This takes more work and effort than just changing the bold, but this is a concrete case. At the end of the day, that is what removing an attachment entails. But I could take that a step further, why bother making a statement in words about being an empiricist at all, what if toss that out of the window and just apprehend reality as it is without constructing a filter that mediates between reality and my consciousness? Meditation teaches me precisely how to do that. Cut the subtle threads of ego, remove your 'self' from the equation. "I am a strict empiricist" is a concept. One that might be useful for certain things, but "I am a strict empiricist" gets in the way. The 'self' is also a language-mediated concept. Let's get beyond that.

Back in the beginning, I tried to explain that in Buddhism, what we typically think of as our 'self,' is at best an incomplete approximation of reality. To return to that original conversation, my 'self,' this 'Matt' is a deeply embedded onion in the universe. Now, taking the Buddhist claims to rebirth at face value, which life is "me?" This one, or any of the ones that came before it? All of them? If your sense of I is too strong, your attachment to this self (I instead of I) will miss the possibility of learning your "true" self, which would rightly be not just *you* in the sense of this life, but the totality of *you*. More accurately, my 'self' isn't just Matt in this life, it's Matt and all the previous lives rolled into one continuity. In order to apprehend all of that, I need to peel away those layers of that onion that's deeply embedded in the universe. I need to change all I's to I. (I'm using onion but this is usually described with a blooming lotus, the final state being a fully opened flower.)

Now, Hinduism more or less stops here, it maintains that this perspective is the final perspective. Your "true self" is all of those lives including this one. The Buddha, in what I shared earlier, detailed that no, there's several more layers of the onion to penetrate until you have changed all the I's to I. THAT is where Nibbana happens. Remember where I said that Buddhism centers the self on more or less "bare awareness?" This much I know for fact: The more layers of the self that you transmute, the stronger your awareness becomes and the longer it lasts. That's the compass towards Nibbana. The sense of feeling that I get when I follow that compass, is that my mind is lighter, and my interactions with the world are more peaceful and kind. It isn't derogatory towards the self, this life, or any others, it's a much lighter and cleaner experience overall. What's at the center of the onion? The end.

An excellent entry for explanation.


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