Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Thursday, May 30, 2024, 13:53 (56 days ago) @ dhw

MATT: Do you own your body? I would say no, because I can't control when I die, and my body will dissolve in to the elements from whence it came.

Why are you suddenly talking of ownership? That has nothing to do with the “self”! You can hardly deny that your body is part of your “self”. And just like your mental attributes, it can be changed at any time. If you suffer from any physical illness, you are probably more conscious of your physical “self” than you are of your mental “self”.

MATT: The sense I get of Nibbana, doesn't feel like death, and it can't be death because the Buddha lived after it. On this, you're just wrong my friend.

You seemed to agree with my account of what the Buddha would have done in his last 40 years. My point was precisely that his “sense of self” could not have disappeared, and nor could all his desires. Hence my own concept of Nibbana:
Nibbana: As I understand it, the ideal state would be for the self to be rid of all attributes that cause suffering to oneself or to others.

My point is that if the concept is as you have described it – “all concept of self must disappear”, together with all our desires – we might as well be dead.

Summary: The self is the sum total of all our attributes, both physical and mental, at any given time. Any attribute can be changed by new circumstances or experiences. We do not have to be conscious of all attributes at all times for those attributes to be real.

MATT: But our brains construct our consciousness out of what's at hand, and that isn't always constant in time.

“At any given time” means “what’s at hand”, and I have said that this can be changed (= not always constant). Once again you seem to disagree with something you agree with!

dhw: If there is an afterlife but we are not aware that it's our self living on, then once more we might as well be dead. But maybe, as you say, the Buddha deliberately left this part of the “doctrine” undeclared.

MATT: The problem here is precisely that the Buddha left this undeclared, and you're engaging in raw speculation.

There is no speculation on my part! It’s a simple conditional sentence, based on the concepts you offered us: if all sense of self has disappeared, and if there is an afterlife, you might as well be dead. If there is no afterlife, you will be dead anyway. I myself have no set view on the subject. I’ll wait and see what happens, or of course I shan’t ever know what happens!

MATT: I have told you, that whatever Nibbana means as an experience, it cannot mean death.

Once more: my point is that (a) if you attain Nibbana during your life on Earth, but that means you lose all sense of self and have no more desires, you might as well be dead. See my speculation on the Buddha’s last 40 years; and (b) see above for the question concerning a possible afterlife. That is why I have offered you an alternative definition of Nibbana. Do you agree with it or not?

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