Nibbana tangent parts 1 & 2 (Agnosticism)

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Sunday, May 19, 2024, 16:25 (66 days ago) @ dhw

Although we have consensus on many “realities”, they’re all subjective experiences that run through the filter of bolded I, I or the ego. And as far as these are (or this is) concerned, I see no possibility of the self ever being knowable as a totality. The example you’ve chosen is not even a trait of personality but as you say, a simple change of view: your opinion re NDEs changed because you learned something new. I would distinguish between opinions about particular subjects and the general characteristics which make up the “I” that forms those opinions. However, if you’ve been a bigot and new information or new experiences teach you not to be a bigot, then of course the “I” will change, and this is how I see it – a mixture of the actual and the potential, and the potential can never become totally actual unless you undergo every experience life can offer you. Which is impossible. I thought you remained at best open-minded about rebirth, but that only complicates matters. Have your previous lives created the characteristics you were born with? Your present “you” certainly can’t learn anything from your previous experiences if you don’t even know what they were. Whatever they were, you can still only work on those you have now.

I think I can apply a couple of correctives here. The first being simply this, I've considered myself a scientist for a very long time now. Part of being a scientist is being an empiricist, and it's impossible for those things to not influence your personality, so I reject your rejection here! You can measure your extent to your ego's involvement by how you feel when someone challenges you about it. The other part, learning how to dissolve attachments also grants you the ability to watch them as they form, and say, "but not that." When you learn to dissolve existing attachments you also prevent new ones from forming, and--you can't help this. It becomes automatic--again--part of your personality. It's exactly the same thing as when my botanist friend can point against a wall of green and say, WHOA, LOOK AT THAT Sphaeralcea munroana! It's the same mental process, you're just applying it to the thoughts in your head. "Whoa, this idea, it really energizes me, I should take note of that and not let it excite me too much!" For some people, that might "dull" life, but to me that's a healthy enjoyment, that also prevents my ego from harming myself or others. ;-)

MATT: What's at the center of the onion? The end.

I don’t dislike the onion image, as it corresponds to the above concept: you have endless layers of potential “I”, but only new experiences will peel them. However, for me it fails because we can never know the centre. If you think you’ll go on peeling (= having new experiences) for the rest of eternity, so be it. If you think you WILL reach the centre, then there’s nothing more to experience. And that is supposed to lead to the perfect peace when “all concept of self disappears”. No bolded “I”, “I” or “ego”? Might as well not exist. Hence the end = death.

So the central truth of Buddhism is precisely that we CAN dissolve the ego out of our subjective experience, and the reason I like both the onion and the lotus similes is that when the flower is open, there's nothing left to open, only the flower remains, and with the onion, very similarly, once you've gotten to the bud, there's no more work to do. The psychological transformation of removing that last "I AM" is supposed to be radically profound, you are at maximum peace, in this very life. But you still clearly experience things--the Buddha lived for 40yrs after Nibbana. But those experiences will no longer generate an ego-attachment.

\"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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