Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Monday, May 27, 2024, 11:53 (59 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I’ve left out the rest of your statement because the misunderstanding is apparent on both sides. If you read my comment above, you’ll see that our disagreement has nothing to do with your personal circumstances. It is the Buddhist “doctrine” that I oppose: namely, the belief that for someone to achieve the ideal of Nibbana, they must lose all concept of self and all desires. I’m delighted that you have found your own “balance” without what I consider to be a renunciation of all that I consider to be fundamental to the enjoyment and I might even say the value of human life (in the context of those desires that benefit us and others). I think we actually agree - but I'm sure you'll tell me if we don't!

MATT: The personal circumstances bit is soley to level set, because I feel almost ignored by having to repeat that Nibbana line as many times as I have. Buddhism doesn't say to restore the "vital balance" you do those things. It only says 'if you want to transcend *all* suffering, do these things.' […] If you're on the path to Nibbana, it is impossible to avoid the dissolution of the sense of self, and it is impossible not to become more ascetic, worldly desires get replaced by meditative desires.

The “vital balance” is the therapeutic side, which I can only applaud. I understand the attraction of the monastic life if your aim is to avoid all suffering. You and I clearly agree that there is more to life than avoiding all suffering, because (I think) you and I also want to enjoy life, which frequently entails the fulfilment of our desires, providing they do not harm others (and preferably that they also help others). I don’t see any disagreement here.

MATT: it seems like you're taking aim at the Buddhist ideal from the perspective where it's ineffable (like God.) I've tried to demonstrate with the compass analogy, that whatever it is that YOU think Nibbana is, I think your conception is mistaken.

If by taking aim you mean criticizing, I do most certainly criticize the “doctrine” that encourages people to “lose all concept of self” and abandon all desires. No need to repeat the arguments. I do not criticize the concept of Nibanna. I’m trying to understand it. But clearly, if we reach the point where something is ineffable, it can’t be discussed with words, and so you can say that any verbalized conception is mistaken! All I have done is examine the words you have used, and extrapolate conclusions: if you tell me that Nibanna means that all concept of self disappears and there is no such thing as an eternal self, my conclusion is that you might as well be dead. (By the way, I don’t have a problem with eternal death. But since I love life, I'd like to delay my death as long as possible!)

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