Nibbana tangent part 2 (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Friday, May 31, 2024, 12:54 (55 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.

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

MATT: You've logically contradicted yourself on 1-3. First off, part OF a sense of self is some concept of possession. They co-arise together. This is betrayed on your third sentence where you reflexively state that 'the body is part of your "self".' I'm a part of nature, if I belong to anything, I belong to this world. I didn't create this body, I can't shape shift into other forms so I have little control over it.

I have no idea why you have suddenly introduced the concept of ownership and possession and “belonging” to something. There is a perfectly simple concept that doesn’t need any of these terms: this is my body. What don’t you understand? And my body is part of my “self”. What don’t you understand? And just like the rest of my “self” the body can undergo changes. And most of the time, I am not conscious of my body. The fact that your Mum and Dad created it and you can’t become a wolf doesn’t mean it’s not yours! Do people really go around saying: “I own my house, my car, my TV and my body”?

dhw: 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.

MATT: Well there's your problem, you've already said you're using your own concept of Nibbana!

No, that is the concept you spelled out for us! And my comment is on what you told us.

MATT: Which is fine, but then we're not really talking about Buddhism anymore. The Buddha was clear: Nibbana isn't annihilation, it isn't an eternal self, to attain Nibbana, the last thread to cut is to your sense of self. I'll call out what I said in bold: “all concept of self must disappear”.

Precisely the point I have made above, except that you’ve left out the very important bit about desires. So you’ve just confirmed that we really are talking about Buddhism.

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

dhw: 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: That's some lovely cheekiness, I do say! ;-) I mean, I'm immediately in your boat at least as far as the end result. I don't really know about an end result, life's final great mystery ;-)
But I disagree that Nibbana is as off-putting as what you're saying right here. Again, not my goal, but I mean, as far as afterlives go, it sounds a helluva lot better than singing someone's praises for eternity!

Nibbana in this present life as you have defined it is definitely off-putting for me. As far as afterlives go, yep, you’ve given me a good laugh. Thank you! I really can’t help wondering what one could possibly enjoy doing for the rest of eternity, and maybe the Buddha was hinting at something very wise with his rejection of the concept of an eternal soul!

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?

MATT: I do not, I go with the definition that the Buddha gave, since he discovered it. As for my own understanding on that, I will hold to the compass analogy.

The only “definition” you have given us so far is the need to obliterate the self and get rid of all desires. My “definition” was: “the ideal state would be for the self to be rid of all attributes that cause suffering to oneself or others.” Please explain why you disagree.

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